Monday, November 20, 2006

Sophia Source Material

The excerpts below exemplify the ancient literature on Sophia. Part A is passages about Sophia from the King James Version of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. I have arranged them into lines, as if they were poetry, to highlight the poetic nature of the texts and also how they might have been used in responsive reading, with the rabbi speaking one line and the congregation the next (or the next two, perhaps). In that way they might have been part of rituals. I have no idea whether ancient Judaism did have responsive reading. Certainly its Christian successors did.

Part B is three stand-alone poems or hymns to Sophia from the Gnostic tradition. They could well have been the basis for responsive reading. The first is a hymn to Barbelo, the highest form of Sophia, corresponding closely to the Hebrew Bible's Sophia. The second, the so-called "Naasene Psalm," is a hymn in which Sophia is more the exiled soul. The third, "Thunder, Perfect Mind," capitalizes on the contradictory aspects of various manifestations of Sophia.

Part C has excerpts from narrative myths describing the trials and tribulations of Sophia. These should be understood as prose poems written for specific purposes. Essentially, they cast the stories of the Judeo-Christian tradition in ironic terms, attempting to criticize them by relativizing them in a more inclusive vision of humanity and the cosmos. But they are by no means accounts of Gnostic "beliefs," any more than, for example, Moby Dick describes Melville's beliefs about a real sea captain and a real whale!

I begin with excerpts from two summaries by the anti-Gnostic polemicist Irenaeus of Lyons, in the 3rd century. The original of the first myth, by Ptolemy (or Ptolemaeus), did not survive; however what Irenaeus presents in the excerpts I here fit what we know from other sources about the Valentinian Gnostics. Not all of Irenaeus is so reliable, but that which is not, does not have to do especially with Sophia.

The second excerpt is his summary of a group that he--or a later Christian editor--called "Ophites." Ophus is Greek for "snake." There is nothing in Irenaeus's initial summary to suggest any glorification of snakes. However a note at the end says that "some of them" do glorify the serpent in the Garden of Eden, saying that it is a manifestation of Sophia. These ironic versions of Judeo-Christian religious stories share much of Ptolemy's perspective, but are a bit more radical. (Scholars, again following Irenaeus, put Ptolemy in a larger tradition called "Valentinian" after its founder, Valentinus, and the Ophites in a tradition called "Sethian," after its mythical ancestor Seth. My guess is that the Valentinians sounded less radical because they were trying to fit their myths to the words of the Great Church, in which they were working, so as to give them another meaning; the Sethians apparently were independent of the Great Church.)

In these cases, we do have sources that correspond at least in part to Irenaeus's summaries, notably the "Apocryphon of John," and the "Hypostasis of the Archons." These are my third and fourth narrative sources. "Apocryphon" is Greek for "Secret Book." It is quite fascinating to compare Irenaeus's account with the corresponding sections of the Apocryphon. "Hypostasis" is Greek for "Reality" and "Archons" means "rulers." Thus a true translation into English would be "Reality of the Rulers." I am not including anything from another creation-text, "Origin of the World," because it gives substantially the same picture as "Hypostasis of the Archons," only with more references to obscure cults and more personal innovations of the author's.

The next source is "Exegesis of the Soul," about the suffering soul that has forgotten its origin and longs for something it cannot name. In its state of ignorance it can be neither wise nor faithful; in so far as it is about the spirit of Sophia in the individual human soul, it is a more radical version of the Sophia of the Naassene Psalm and expresses the less exalted aspects of "Thunder, Perfect Mind."

Next come two excerpts that prominently feature Mary Magdalene: one from the Gospel of Philip and the other from Gospel of Mary. Only the first one mentions Sophia. These texts continue the theme of the yearning soul that was expressed in the "Exegesis on the Soul," the first one bringing it back to Adam and Eve and the second one to the myth of ascent through the spheres that applies to Sophia in Ptolemy's myth.

For my last excerpt from a Gnostic source, I include all or part of several chapters of the Pistis Sophia. It poetically depicts the suffering soul explicitly named as the divine emanation Sophia, fallen into the chaos. It is also quite long, 51 chapters. My condensed version is about 10% of the total, enough for the reader to get a sense of the whole. In fact, I think it is easier to grasp the whole from these excerpts than from the whole book, because there is so much extra material there. The version here is still the longest excerpt of all the ones included. Those who want to read more are referred to the "archive" section of "," under the "G.R.S. Mead," the translator.

One peculiarity of the Pistis Sophia is the high status it gives the apostle Peter, whom most Gnostic texts denigrate or do not mention. In the Pistis Sophia Jesus tells Peter that no one will be admitted to Heaven who was not first admitted by Peter, i.e. the Church (Chapter 37). This edict goes against the usual Gnostic doctrine that it is Gnosis, knowledge, that saves, not any priestly individuals in this world guarding the gate! Similarly, while showing the usual Gnostic antagonism between Peter and Mary Magdalene, the Pistis Sophia Mary makes a charge of sexism against Peter (Chapter 72), but Peter speaks only against Mary, not other women, and the charge is that she tries to dominate (Chapter 36). Mary's charge of sexism then looks like arrogant self-justification, as a spirit-filled woman, against Peter's reasonable concern that others are filled with the spirit, too.

There are other peculiarities about this text, having to do with Sophia herself. First, she is much more passive than the other Sophias, rarely taking initiative and simply asking the light to rescue her. When, at the beginning, she does take initiative, the result is disastrous. Second, in contrast to other Sophias, she shows little compassion for those beings under her. Part of her transgression was her failure to honor the other beings in her aeon and below, and of being too fixated on the light above her. She never repents of this failure nor shows any awareness of it at all. She only repents of going after a piece of the light she saw below her. She continues to fixate on the light above, asking it to save her, without any thought that perhaps she could win some friends in her own aeon if she showed them some respect. Third, light in this text is mainly a source of power and destruction, rather than enlightenment, rather like the laser-beams in "Star Wars," to be awarded to those who honor authority sufficiently! All in all, the ideology of Pistis Sophia, although dressed up in Gnostic language, is more that of the Jehovah of old than of the Gnostics. However many consider it an exemplar of the genre, so I include it for your inspection.

At the end I include an excerpt from the Grimm Brothers' "Cinderella," so you can see the parallels. Walt Disney removed some of them in his version!

For the most part I have cut and pasted the Gnostic sources from the "Gnosis" website. Then I looked up the relevant page references in standard print sources and given them at the end of each excerpt. In some cases the wording on the website that I adopted is arranged slightly differently from the print source. The advantage of reading my excerpts, in conjunction with my "Story of Sophia" elsewhere on this blog, is that the unedited originals have an enormous amount of repetition and variation, events placed out of sequence, and obscure sidetracks, probably referring to rituals and myths long since forgotten.

Appendix A: Hymns to Wisdom in the Hebrew Bible

Doth not wisdom cry?
And understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places,
by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city,
at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call;
and my voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom:
and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart…
Receive my instruction, and not silver;
and knowledge rather than choice gold.
For wisdom is better than rubies;
and all the things that may be desired
are not to be compared to it.
(Proverbs 8:1-5, 10-11)

I love them that love me;
and those that seek me early shall find me.
Riches and honor are with me; yea,
durable riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold;
and my revenue than fine silver.
I lead in the way of righteousness,
in the midst of the paths of judgment:
That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance;
and I will fill their treasures.
(Proverbs 8:17-21)

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,
before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning,
or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths I was brought forth;
when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills, was I brought forth.
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields,
nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens, I was there;
when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When he established the clouds above:
when he strengthened the fountains of the deep;
when he gave to the sea his decree,
that the waters should not pass his commandment;
when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth;
and my delights were with the sons of men.
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children;
for blessed are they that keep my ways.
(Proverbs 8:22-32)

Where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
Men knoweth not the price thereof,
neither is it found in the land of the living.
The depth saith, it is not in me;
and the sea saith; It is not with me.
It cannot be gotten for gold,
neither shall silver be weight for the price thereof.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,
with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it:
and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls;
for the price of wisdom is above rubies (18).
The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,
neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
Whence then cometh wisdom?
And where is the place of understanding?
Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living,
and kept close from the fowls of the air.
Destruction and death say,
We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
God understandeth the way thereof,
and he knoweth the place thereof.
For he looketh to the ends of the earth,
and seeth under the whole heaven;
to make the weight for the winds;
and he weigheth the waters by measure.
When he made a decree for the rain,
and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
Then did he see it, and declare it;
he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
And unto man he said, Behold,
the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:12-28)

Wisdom is more moving than any motion;
she passeth and goeth through all things
by reason of her pureness.
For she is the breath of the power of God,
and a pure influence,
flowing from the glory of the Almighty;
therefore can no defiled thing fall into her.
For she is the brightness of the everlasting light,
the unspotted mirror of the power of God,
and the image of his Goodness.
And being but one, she can do all things;
and remaining in herself, she maketh all things new;
and in all ages entering into holy souls,
she maketh them friends of God, and prophets.
For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom.
(Wisdom of Solomon 7:22-28)

Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily;
and sweetly doth she order all things.
I loved her, and sought her out from my youth,
I desired to make her my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty.
In that she is conversant with God, she magnifieth her nobility;
yea, the Lord of all things himself loved her.
For she is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God,
and a lover of his works. (Wisdom of Solomon 8:1-4)

If riches be a possession to be desired in this life;
what is richer than wisdom, that worketh all things?
And if prudence work:
who of all that are is a more cunning workman than she?
And if a man love righteousness, her labours are virtues:
for she teacheth temperance and prudence,
justice and fortitude; which are such things,
as men can have nothing more profitable in their life.
If a man desire much experience, she knoweth things of old,
and conjectureth aright what is to come;
she knoweth the subtleties of speeches,
and can expound dark sentences;
she forseeth signs and wonders,
and the events of seasons and times.
Therefore I purposed to take her to me to live with me,
knowing that she would be a counsellor of good things,
and a comfort in cares and grief.
(Wisdom of Solomon 8:5-9)

After I am come into mine house,
I will repose with her;
for her conversation hath no bitterness;
and to live with her hath no sorrow,
but mirth and joy.
Now when I considered these things in myself,
and pondered them in my heart,
how that to be allied unto wisdom is immortality.
(Wisdom of Solomon 8: 16-17.)

O God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy
who has made all things with thy word,
And ordained man through thy wisdom,
that he should have dominion
over the creatures which thou has made,
and order the world according to equity and righteousness,
and execute judgment with an upright heart:
Give me wisdom, that sitteth by thy throne;
and reject me not from among thy children…
Wisdom was with thee, which knoweth thy works,
and was present when thou madest the world,
and knew what was acceptable in thy sight,
and right in thy commandment.
O send her out of thy heavens,
and from the throne of thy glory,
that being present she may labour with me,
that I may know what is pleasing unto thee.
For she knoweth and understandeth all things,
and she shall lead me soberly in my doings,
and preserve me in her power.
(Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-5, 9-11)

What man is he that can know the counsel of God?
Or who can think what the will of the Lord is?
For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable,
and our devices are but uncertain.
For the corruptible body presseth down the soul,
and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down
the mind that museth upon many things.
And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth,
and with labor do we find that things that are before us;
but the things that are in heaven, who hath searched out?
And thy counsel who hath known, except to give wisdom,
and send thy Holy Spirit from above?
For so the ways of them which lived on the earth were reformed,
and men were taught the things that are pleasing unto thee,
and were saved through wisdom.
(Wis. Solomon 9:13-18)

She preserved the first formed father of the world,
that was created alone, and brought him out of his fall.
And gave him power to rule all things.
But when the unrighteous went away from her in his anger,
he perished also in the fury wherewith he murdered his brother.
For whose cause the earth being drowned with the flood,
wisdom again preserved it, and directed the course
of the righteous in a piece of wood of small value.
Moreover, the nations in their wicked conspiracy being confounded,
she found out the righteous, and preserved him blameless unto God,
and kept him strong against his tender compassion toward his son.
When the ungodly perished, she delivered the righteous man,
who fled from the fire which fell down upon the five cities.
(Wisdom of Solomon 10:1-6)

To know thee is perfect righteousness;
to know thy power is the root of immortality.
(Wis. Solomon 15:3)

Wisdom exalteth her children,
and layeth hold of them that seek her.
He that loveth her loveth life;
and they that seek her early shall be filled with joy.
He that holdeth her fast shall inherit glory;
and wheresoever she entereth, the Lord will bless.
They that serve her shall minister to the Holy One;
and them that love her the Lord doth love.
(Ecclesiasticus 4:11-14)

She is very unpleasant to the unlearned:
he that is without understanding will not remain with her.
She will lie upon him as a mighty stone of trial;
and he will cast her from him ere it be long.
For wisdom is according to her name,
and she is not manifest unto many…
Put thy feet into her fetters,
and thy neck into her chain.
Bow down thy shoulder, and bear her,
and be not grieved with her bonds.
Come unto her with thy whole heart,
and keep her ways with all thy power.
Search, and seek,
and she shall be made known unto thee;
and when thou hast got hold of her, let her not go.
For at the last thou shalt find her rest,
and that shall be turned to thy joy.
Then shall her fetters be a strong defence for thee,
and her chains a robe of glory.
For there is a golden ornament upon her,
and her bands are purple lace.
Thou shalt put her on as a robe of honour,
and shalt put her about thee as a crown of joy.
(Ecclesiasticus 6:18-31)

Wisdom shall praise herself,
and shall glory in the midst of her people.
In the congregation of the most High shall she open her mouth,
and triumph before his power:
I came out of the mouth of the Most High,
and covered the earth as a cloud.
I dwelt in high places,
and my throne is in a cloudy pillar.
I alone compassed the circuit of heaven,
and walked in the bottom of the deep.
In the waves of the sea, and in all the earth,
and in every people and nation, I got a possession.
With all these things I sought rest:
and in whose inheritance shall I abide?
So the Creator of all things gave me a commandment,
and he that made me caused my tabernacle to rest,
and said, let thy dwelling be in Jacob,
and thine inheritance in Israel.
He created me from the beginning before the world,
and I shall never fail.
In the holy tabernacle I served before him;
and so I was established in Sion.
(Ecclesiasticus 24:1-10)

I am the mother of fair love, and fear,
and knowledge, and holy hope:
I therefore, being eternal, am given
to all my children which are named of him.
Come unto me, all ye that be desirous of me,
and fill yourselves with my fruits.
For my memorial is sweeter than honey,
and mine inheritance than the honeycomb.
(Ecclesiasticus 24:12-20)

Faint not to be strong in the Lord;
that he may confirm you, cleave unto him;
for the Lord Almighty is God alone,
and beside him there is no other Savior.
He filleth all things with his wisdom,
as Phison and as Tigris in the time of the new fruits.
He maketh the doctrine of knowledge appear as the light,
and as Geon in the time of vintage.
The first man knew her not perfectly;
no more shall the last find her out.
For her thoughts are more than the sea,
and her counsels profounder than the great deep.
(Ecclesiasticus 24:24-29).

Part B: Hymns to Sophia from the Gnostic Literature

1. From “The three steles of Seth.
Great is the first aeon, male virginal Barbelo,
the first glory of the invisible Father, she who is called “perfect.”
Thou (fem.) hast seen first the one
who truly pre-exists because he is non-being.
And from him and through him thou hast pre-existed eternally,
the non-being from one indivisible, triple power, thou a triple power,
thou a great monad from a pure monad, thou an elect monad,
the first shadow of the holy Father, light from light...

Salvation has come to us; from thee is salvation.
Thou art wisdom [Sophia], thou knowledge; thou art truthfulness.
On account of thee is life; from thee is life.
On account of thee is mind; from thee is mind.
Thou art mind, thou a world of truthfulness,
thou a triple power, thou threefold.
Truly thou art thrice, the aeon of aeons.
It is thou only who sees purely the first eternal ones and the unbegotten ones.
(Robinson 399, 400)

2. The Naassene Psalm:

The Law of Universal Genesis was the firstborn nous;
the second, Chaos, shed by the firstborn.
The third was received by the soul [.....]
Clad in the shape of a hind,
she is worn away with death´s slavery,
Now she has mastery and glimpses of light:
now she is plunged in misery and weeps.
Now she is mourned, and her self rejoices.
Now she weeps and is finally condemned.
Now she is condemned and finally dies.
And now she reaches the point
where hemmed in by evil, she knows no way out.
Misled, she has entered a labyrinth.
Then Jesus said "Behold, Father,
she wanders the earth pursued by evil.
Far from thy Breath she is going astray.
She is trying to flee bitter Chaos,
and does not know how she is to escape.
Send me forth, o Father, therefore,
and I, bearing the seal,
shall descend and wander all Aeons through,
all mysteries reveal.
I shall manifest the forms of the gods
and teach them the secrets
of the holy way which I call Gnosis [.....]
(Barnstone, 636)

3. From “The thunder, perfect mind.”

I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one
and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
I am the slave of him who prepared me.
I am the ruler of my offspring...

I am the knowledge of my inquiry,
and the finding of those who seek after me…
I am the one who is honored, and who is praised,
and who is despised scornfully.
I am peace, and war has come because of me.
And I am an alien and a citizen;
I am the substance and the one who has no substance.

Hear me in gentleness, and learn of me in roughness.
I am she who cries out,
and I am cast forth upon the face of the earth...
I am the one who cries out, and I listen.
I am the one who is called Truth, and iniquity.
Hear me, you hearers,
and learn of my words, you who know me.
I am the hearing that is attainable to everything;
I am the speech that cannot be grasped.
I am the name of the sound
and the sound of the name…
Give heed then, you hearers
and you also, the angels and those who have been sent,
and you spirits who have arisen from the dead.
For I am the one who alone exists,
and I have no one who will judge me.

For many are the pleasant forms which exist
in numerous sins,
and incontinencies,
and disgraceful passions,
and fleeting pleasures,
which men embrace until they become sober
and go up to their resting place.
And they will find me there,
and they will live,
and they will not die again.
(Robinson 297-303)

Appendix C: Narratives about Sophia

1. From Irenaeus, Against Heresies, paraphrasing Ptolemy (or Ptolemaeus), a follower of Valentinus:

There is a perfect preexistent Aeon, dwelling in the invisible and unnameable elevations; this is Pre-Beginning and Forefather and Depth...With him is Thought, which is also called Grace and Silence. Once Upon a time, Depth thought of emitting from himself a Beginning of all, like a seed, and he deposited this rejected emission, as in a womb, in that Silence who is with him. Silence received this seed and became pregnant and bore Mind, which resembled and was equal to him who emitted him. Mind alone comprehends the magnitude of his Father...Along with him, Truth was emitted; this makes the first Four, the root of all: Depth and Silence, then Mind and Truth... (Barnstone 611. After these four come another four, then another ten, and then another twelve.)

It was the very last and youngest of the twelve derived from Man and Church, the Aeon Sophia, which leaped forth and experienced passion apart from the embrace of her consort, Willed. That longing which started at those about Mind and Truth fell suddenly on this erring Aeon, on the pretext of love but actually because of audacity, because she did not have fellowship with the perfect Father such as Mind enjoyed. Her passion was the search for the Father; for which she wished to comprehend. When she was unable to do so, because she had an impossible task, so that she would finally have been swallowed up...if she had not encountered the power...called Limit. (Barnstone 612)

When the desire of the Sophia above, also called Achamoth, had been banished from the Pleroma above, by necessity she was cast with her passion in places of Shadow and the Void. She was outside the Light and the Pleroma; she was shapeless and ugly, like an abortion, because she had comprehended nothing. The Christ above took pity on her and was extended through the Cross to form her shape by his own power, a shape which was in substance only, not in knowledge. When he had done this, he returned above, withdrawing his power, and left her, so that she might sense the passion related to her because of her departure from the Pleroma and might strive for better things, since she had a certain aroma of imperishability which had been left her by Christ and the Holy Spirit. For this reason she is called by both names, Sophia after her mother and Holy Spirit from the Spirit with Christ. (Barnstone 614)

Sometimes she cried and grieved because of being left alone in the darkness and the void;
sometimes she reached a thought of the light that had left her and she cheered and laughed;
sometimes she was afraid; and other times she became uncertain and distraught.
From her tears comes every humid substance; from her laughter that which shines with light,
and from her grief and consternation come the corporeal elements of the universe

Our mother passed through every passion and barely emerged from them, she turned to supplicate the light which had left her, i.e., Christ. When he ascended to the Pleroma, he sent the Paraclete to her, i.e. the Savior, having given him all the power of the Father...He was sent out to her along with the angels who were his peers. (Barnstone 615)

When Achamoth was relieved of passion, and joyfully conceived the vision of the angels with him and in her longing became pregnant with fruits after their image, a spiritual embryo after the likeness of the guards of the Savior.

When these three kinds of materials existed--matter from passion, the psychic from conversion [i.e. her supplications], the spiritual which she conceived--she turned to shaping them. ..From the psychic nature she formed the Father and King of all who are of the same nature as he is--which are of the right hand--and of those who come from passion and matter--which are of the left hand. He shaped all the beings after himself, secretly moved by the Mother; hence is called Mother-Father and Fatherless and Demiurge and Father... (Barnstone 615)

The embryo...was unknown to the Demiurge and was secretly inserted into him while he remained ignorant, so that through him it might be sown into the soul created by him and into the material body, might grow and increase in them, and might become ready for the reception of the perfect Logos... (Barnstone 616)

There are these three elements in man: the material, also called "left," which necessarily perishes since it cannot possibly receive the breath of imperishability, the psychic, also called "right," which lies between the spiritual and the material and extends to either one as it has the inclination; and the spiritual, which was sent forth to be shaped in union with the psychic and to be instructed with it in its conduct. This last element is the "salt" and the "light of the world"; for it needed psychic and perceptible instructions; for this reason the universe was constructed. And the Savior came to this psychic element, since it has free will, in order to save it. He assumed the primary elements of those beings which he was going to save... (Barnstone 617)

When the whole seed is perfected, then our mother Achamoth will depart from the place of the Middle and will enter into the Pleroma and will receive the Savior, made from all the Aeons, as her bridegroom so that there will be a union of the Savior and the Sophia who is Achamoth. These are the bridegroom and the bride [cf. John 3:29] and the bridechamber is the whole Pleroma. (Barnstone 617-618)

2. From Irenaeus, Against Heresies, paraphrasing the "Ophites":

...the First Man with his Son rejoiced over the beauty of the female Spirit, and he illuminated her and from her generated an imperishable Light, the Third Man, who is called Christ, the Son of the First and Second Man and the Holy Spirit, the First Woman, when the Father and Son lay with the Woman, who is called the Mother of the Living. But when she was unable to carry or receive the greatness of the Light, it overflowed to the regions of the left side...

The power which overflowed from the Woman and has the moist nature of light [another translation says "secretion of light"], fell from above, from its fathers. By its own will it has the moist nature of light, and is called left and Prunicos and Sophia and Male-Female. It came down directly upon the waters, when they were motionless, and set them in motion, moving boldly as far as the abysses; and it took a body for itself from them.. When it was bound down by the body of matter, it lay low, though it tried to escape the waters and ascend to the Mother, though it could not do so because of the weight of the surrounding body. ..It tried to hide the light which had come from above, fearing that the light would be injured by the lower elements as it itself had been... This body is called female, after the First Woman... (Barnstone 661. Her son--his origin is not clear--by himself has a son, who generates a son, who generates a son, and so on til there are seven in all plus the mother.)

Ialdabaoth exulted, boasting because all these were beneath him, "I am Father and God, and above me is no one." The mother heard and cried out against him, "Do not speak falsely, Ialdabaoth..."

...the Mother gave them the idea of man so that through him she might drive them out from the spiritual power...they came together and formed a man who was immeasurable in breath and length. When he did nothing but writhe, they bore him to his Father, Ialdabaoth...Ialdabaoth breathed into man the breath of life and was thus secretly deprived of the power...Immediately he gave thanks to the First Man, abandoning the powers.

The jealous Ialdabaoth wanted a plan for depriving man of the moist nature of Light through woman, and from his own desire he brought forth a woman whom Prunicos took and invisibly deprived of power. The others came and admired her beauty and called her Eve; they desired her and from her generated sons who are called angels. But their Mother, Sophia, planned to seduce Adam and Eve through a serpent so that they would transgress the commandment of Ialdabaoth. Eve, hearing this word as if it came directly from the Son of God, readily believed it and persuaded Adam to eat from the tree of which Ialdabaoth said not to eat. When they ate, they knew the Power that was above all and they departed from those who had made them...Ialdabaoth...cast Adam and Eve out of Paradise, since they had transgressed his commandment. (Barnstone 662)

At first, Adam and Eve had light and bright bodies, "spiritual bodies," as they were formed originally. When they came to this place, they became darker and thicker and more sluggish...Prunicos took pity on them and gave them the odor of the sweetness of the moist nature of light Through this they came to remembrance of themselves; they recognized that they were naked and knew the material nature of the body and they knew that they bore the burden of death; but they were patient, recognizing that the body contained them only for a time. They found food to eat by the guidance of Sophia, and when they were filled they had sexual intercourse and generated Cain. ..After this , by the providence of Sophia, Seth was generated and then Norea... (Barnstone 663)

Ialdabaoth was angry with men because they did not worship or honor him as Father and God; he sent a deluge upon them to destroy all of them at the same time. But Sophia withstood him at this point, too, and saved those who were with Noah in the ark because of the moist nature of that light which originated from her; through it the world was again filled with men... (Barnstone 663)

Some of them say that the serpent was Sophia herself; for this reason it was opposed to the maker of Adam and gave knowledge to men, and therefore is called the wisest of all. And the position of our intestines through which food is taken in, and their shape, shows that the hidden Mother of the shape of the serpent is a substance within us. (Barnstone 664)

3. From the Apocryphon of John:

And he [the Father, the first man] looked at Barbelo with the pure light which surrounds the invisible Spirit, and (with) his spark, and she conceived from him. He begot a spark of light with a light resembling blessedness. But it does not equal his greatness. This was an only-begotten child of the Mother-Father which had come forth; it is the only offspring, the only-begotten one of the Father, the pure Light.
And the invisible, virginal Spirit rejoiced over the light which came forth, that which was brought forth first by the first power of his forethought, which is Barbelo. And he anointed it with his goodness until it became perfect, not lacking in any goodness... (Robinson, 108. After this other aeons come forth.)

And the Sophia of the Epinoia [Greek for After-thought], being an aeon, conceived a thought from herself and the conception of the invisible Spirit and foreknowledge. She wanted to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the Spirit - he had not approved - and without her consort, and without his consideration... And because of the invincible power which is in her, her thought did not remain idle, and something came out of her which was imperfect and different from her appearance, because she had created it without her consort. And it was dissimilar to the likeness of its mother, for it has another form.
And when she saw (the consequences of) her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash. She cast it away from her, outside that place, that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance. And she surrounded it with a luminous cloud, and she placed a throne in the middle of the cloud that no one might see it except the holy Spirit who is called the mother of the living. And she called his name Yaltabaoth.
(obinson 110)

This is the first archon who took a great power from his mother. And he removed himself from her and moved away from the places in which he was born. He became strong and created for himself other aeons with a flame of luminous fire which (still) exists now. And he joined with his arrogance which is in him and begot authorities for himself...And he placed seven kings--each corresponding to the firmaments of heaven--over the seven heavens...(Robinson 110-111)

...And when he saw the creation which surrounds him and the multitude of the angels around him which had come forth from him, he said to them "I am a jealous God and there is no other God beside me"...Then the mother began to move to and fro. She became aware of the deficiency when the brightness of her light diminished... (Robinson 112)

And when the mother recognized that the garment of darkness was imperfect,..she repented with much weeping. And the whole pleroma heard the prayer of her repentance, and they praised on her behalf the invisible, virginal Spirit...And she was taken up not to her own aeon but above her son, that she might be in the ninth until she has corrected her deficiency... (Robinson 112-113)

And he said to the authorities which attend him, 'Come, let us create a man according to the image of God and according to our likeness, that his image may become a light for us.' And they created by means of their respective powers in correspondence with the characteristics which were given...And they said, 'Let us call him Adam, that his name may become a power of light for us.' (Robinson 113)

...And all the angels and demons worked until they had constructed the natural body. And their product was completely inactive and motionless for a long time.
And when the mother wanted to retrieve the power which she had given to the chief archon, she petitioned the Mother-Father of the All who is most merciful. He sent...the five lights...They said to Yaltabaoth, 'Blow into his face something of your spirit and his body will arise.' And he blew into his face the spirit which is the power of his mother. He did not know this for he exists in ignorance...The body moved and gained strength, and it was luminous. (Robinson 115-116)

And in that moment the rest of the powers became jealous... When they recognized that he was luminous, and that he could think better than they, and that he was free from wickedness, they took him and threw him into the lowest region of all matter.
But the blessed One, the Mother-Father, ...sent a helper to Adam, luminous Epinoia which comes out of him, who is called Life. And she assists the whole creature, by toiling with him and by restoring him to his fullness and by teaching him about the descent of his seed and by teaching him about the way of ascent, which is the way he came down...The chief archon wanted to bring her out of his rib. But the Epinoia of the light cannot be grasped. (Robinson 116-118).

I [Jesus] appeared in the form of an eagle on the tree of knowledge, which is the Epinoia from the foreknowledge of the pure light, that I might teach them and awake them out of the depth of sleep. For they were both in a fallen state and they recognized their nakedness. The Epinoia appeared to them as a light and she awakened their thinking. (Robinson 118)

And when Yaltabaoth noticed that they withdrew from him, he cursed his earth.... And he cast them out of paradise and he clothed them in gloomy darkness. And the chief archon saw the virgin who stood by Adam, and that the luminous Epinoia of life had appeared in her. And Yaltabaoth was full of ignorance. And when the foreknowledge of the All noticed (it) she sent some (angels) and they snatched life out of Eve. And the chief archon seduced her and he begot in her two sons...And these he called with the names Cain and Abel... (Robinson 118-119)

And when Adam recognized the likeness of his own foreknowledge, he begot the likeness of the son of man. He called him Seth according to the way of the race in the aeons. Likewise the mother also sent down her spirit which is in her likeness and a copy of those who are in the pleroma, for she will prepare a dwelling place for the aeons which will come down... (Robinson 119)

And he (the chief archon) repented for everything which had come into being through him. This time he planned to bring a flood upon the work of man. But the greatness of the light of the foreknowledge informed Noah, and he proclaimed it to all the offspring which are the sons of men. But those who were strangers to him did not listen to him. It is not as Moses said, 'They hid themselves in an ark', but they hid a luminous cloud. And he (Noah) recognized his authority, and she who belongs to the light was with him, having shone on them because he (the chief archon) had brought darkness upon the whole earth. (Robinson 121)

4. From “Hypostasis of the Archons”:

...The rulers took counsel with one another and said, "Come, let us cause a deep sleep to fall upon Adam." And he slept. - Now the deep sleep that they "caused to fall upon him, and he slept" is Ignorance. - They opened his side like a living woman. And they built up his side with some flesh in place of her, and Adam came to be endowed only with soul.

And the spirit-endowed woman came to him and spoke with him, saying, "Arise, Adam." And when he saw her, he said, "It is you who have given me life; you will be called 'mother of the living'. - For it is she who is my mother. It is she who is the physician, and the woman, and she who has given birth."
Then the authorities came up to their Adam. And when they saw his female counterpart speaking with him, they became agitated with great agitation; and they became enamored of her. They said to one another, "Come, let us sow our seed in her," and they pursued her. And she laughed at them for their witlessness and their blindness; and in their clutches she became a tree, and left before them her shadowy reflection resembling herself; and they defiled it foully. - And they defiled the stamp of her voice, so that by the form they had modeled, together with their (own) image, they made themselves liable to condemnation.

Then the female spiritual principle came in the snake, the instructor; and it taught them, saying, "What did he say to you? Was it, 'From every tree in the garden shall you eat; yet - from the tree of recognizing good and evil do not eat'?"
The carnal woman said, "Not only did he say 'Do not eat', but even 'Do not touch it; for the day you eat from it, with death you are going to die.'"
And the snake, the instructor, said, "With death you shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said this to you. Rather your eyes shall open and you shall come to be like gods, recognizing evil and good." And the female instructing principle was taken away from the snake, and she left it behind, merely a thing of the earth.

And the carnal woman took from the tree and ate; and she gave to her husband as well as herself; and these beings that possessed only a soul, ate. And their imperfection became apparent in their lack of knowledge; and they recognized that they were naked of the spiritual element, and took fig leaves and bound them upon their loins.

Then the chief ruler came; and he said, "Adam! Where are you?" - for he did not understand what had happened. And Adam said, "I heard your voice and was afraid because I was naked; and I hid."
The ruler said, "Why did you hide, unless it is because you have eaten from the tree from which alone I commanded you not to eat? And you have eaten!"
Adam said, "The woman that you gave me, she gave to me and I ate." And the arrogant ruler cursed the woman.
The woman said, "It was the snake that led me astray and I ate." They turned to the snake and cursed its shadowy reflection, [...] powerless, not comprehending that it was a form they themselves had modeled. From that day, the snake came to be under the curse of the authorities; until the all-powerful man was to come, that curse fell upon the snake.

They turned to their Adam and took him and expelled him from the garden along with his wife; for they have no blessing, since they too are beneath the curse. Moreover, they threw mankind into great distraction and into a life of toil, so that their mankind might be occupied by worldly affairs, and might not have the opportunity of being devoted to the holy spirit.

Now afterwards, she bore Cain, their son; and Cain cultivated the land. Thereupon he knew his wife; again becoming pregnant, she bore Abel; and Abel was a herdsman of sheep. Now Cain brought in from the crops of his field, but Abel brought in an offering (from) among his lambs. God looked upon the votive offerings of Abel; but he did not accept the votive offerings of Cain. And carnal Cain pursued Abel, his brother.

And God said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?"
He answered saying, "Am I, then, my brother's keeper?"
God said to Cain, "Listen! The voice of your brother's blood is crying up to me! You have sinned with your mouth. It will return to you: anyone who kills Cain will let loose seven vengeances, and you will exist groaning and trembling upon the earth."

And Adam knew his female counterpart Eve, and she became pregnant, and bore Seth to Adm. And she said, I have borne another man through God in place of Abel."

Again Eve became pregnant, and she bore Norea. And she said , "He has begotten on me a virgin as an assistance for many generations of mankind." She is the virgin whom the forces did not defile.

Then mankind began to multiply and improve. The rulers took counsel with one another and said, "Come, let us cause a deluge with our hands and obliterate all flesh, from man to beast." But when the ruler of the forces came to know of their decision, he said to Noah, "Make yourself an ark from some wood that does not rot and hide in it - you and your children and the beasts and the birds of heaven from small to large - and set it upon Mount Sir."

Then Orea came to him, wanting to board the ark. And when he would not let her, she blew upon the ark and caused it to be consumed by fire. Again he made the ark, for a second time.

The rulers went to meet her, intending to lead her astray. Their supreme chief said to her, "Your mother Eve came to us." But Norea turned to them and said to them, "It is you who are the rulers of the darkness; you are accursed. And you did not know my mother; instead it was your female counterpart that you knew. For I am not your descendant; rather it is from the world above that I am come."

The arrogant ruler turned, with all his might, and his countenance came to be like (a) black [...]; he said to her presumptuously, "You must render service to us, as did also your mother Eve; for I have been given [...]." But Norea turned, with the might of [...]; and in a loud voice, she cried out up to the holy one, the God of the entirety, "Rescue me from the rulers of unrighteousness and save me from their clutches - forthwith!"

The angel came down from the heavens and said to her, "Why are you crying up to God? Why do you act so boldly towards the holy spirit?"

Norea said, "Who are you?" The rulers of unrighteousness had withdrawn from her.

He said, "It is I who am Eleleth, sagacity, the great angel who stands in the presence of the holy spirit. I have been sent to speak with you and save you from the grasp of the lawless. And I shall teach you about your root."...

But I said, "Sir, teach me about the faculty of these authorities - how did they come into being, and by what kind of genesis, and of what material, and who created them and their force?"

And the great angel Eleleth, understanding, spoke to me: "Within limitless realms dwells incorruptibility. Sophia, who is called Pistis, wanted to create something, alone without her consort; and her product was a celestial thing. A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below; and shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart. And what she had created became a product in the matter, like an aborted fetus. And it assumed a plastic form molded out of shadow, and became an arrogant beast resembling a lion. It was androgynous, as I have already said, because it was from matter that it derived.

Opening his eyes, he saw a vast quantity of matter without limit; and he became arrogant, saying, "It is I who am God, and there is none other apart from me". When he said this, he sinned against the entirety. And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, "You are mistaken, Samael" - which is, 'god of the blind'.

And he said, "If any other thing exists before me, let it become visible to me!" And immediately Sophia stretched forth her finger and introduced light into matter; and she pursued it down to the region of chaos. And she returned up to her light; once again darkness [...] matter.

This ruler, by being androgynous, made himself a vast realm, an extent without limit. And he contemplated creating offspring for himself, and created for himself seven offspring, androgynous just like their parent. And he said to his offspring, "It is I who am god of the entirety."

And Zoe (Life), the daughter of Pistis Sophia, cried out and said to him, "You are mistaken, Sakla!" - for which the alternative name is Yaltabaoth. She breathed into his face, and her breath became a fiery angel for her; and that angel bound Yaldabaoth and cast him down into Tartaros below the abyss.

Now when his offspring Sabaoth saw the force of that angel, he repented and condemned his father and his mother, matter. He loathed her, but he sang songs of praise up to Sophia and her daughter Zoe. And Sophia and Zoe caught him up and gave him charge of the seventh heaven, below the veil between above and below. And he is called 'God of the forces, Sabaoth', since he is up above the forces of chaos, for Sophia established him.

Now when these (events) had come to pass, he made himself a huge four-faced chariot of cherubim, and infinitely many angels to act as ministers, and also harps and lyres. And Sophia took her daughter Zoe and had her sit upon his right to teach him about the things that exist in the eighth (heaven); and the angel of wrath she placed upon his left. Since that day, his right has been called 'life'; and the left has come to represent the unrighteousness of the realm of absolute power above. It was before your time that they came into being.

Now when Yaldabaoth saw him (Sabaoth) in this great splendor and at this height, he envied him; and the envy became an androgynous product, and this was the origin of envy. And envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes. But it was by the will of the father of the entirety that they all came into being - after the pattern of all the things above - so that the sum of chaos might be attained.

"There, I have taught you about the pattern of the rulers; and the matter in which it was expressed; and their parent; and their universe."

But I said, "Sir, am I also from their matter?"
"You, together with your offspring, are from the primeval father; from above, out of the imperishable light, their souls are come. Thus the authorities cannot approach them, because of the spirit of truth present within them; and all who have become acquainted with this way exist deathless in the midst of dying mankind. Still, that sown element will not become known now. Instead, after three generations it will come to be known, and it has freed them from the bondage of the authorities' error."

Then I said, "Sir, how much longer?"
He said to me, "Until the moment when the true man, within a modeled form, reveals the existence of the spirit of truth, which the father has sent.
Then he will teach them about everything, and he will anoint them with the unction of life eternal, given him from the undominated generation.
Then they will be freed of blind thought, and they will trample underfoot death, which is of the authorities, and they will ascend into the limitless light where this sown element belongs.
Then the authorities will relinquish their ages, and their angels will weep over their destruction, and their demons will lament their death.
Then all the children of the light will be truly acquainted with the truth and their root, and the father of the entirety and the holy spirit. They will all say with a single voice, 'The father's truth is just, and the son presides over the entirety", and from everyone unto the ages of ages, "Holy - holy - holy! Amen!'"
(Robinson 164-169)

5. From “Exegesis on the Soul”

As long as the soul keeps running about everywhere copulating with whomever she meets and defiling herself, she exists suffering her just deserts. But when she perceives the straits she is in and weeps before the father and repents, then the father will have mercy on her and he will make her womb turn from the external domain and will turn it again inward, so that the soul will regain her proper character. For it is not so with a woman. For the womb of the body is inside the body like the other internal organs, but the womb of the soul is around the outside like the male genitalia which is external. So when the womb of the soul, by the will of the father, turns itself inward, it is baptized and is immediately cleansed of the external pollution which was pressed upon it, just as garments, when dirty, are put into the water and turned about until their dirt is removed and they become clean.
And so the cleansing of the soul is to regain the newness of her former nature and to turn herself back again. That is her baptism.

From heaven the father sent her her man,
who is her brother, the firstborn.
Then the bridegroom came down to the bride.
She gave up her former prostitution
and cleansed herself of the pollutions of the adulterers,
and she was renewed so as to be a bride.
She cleansed herself in the bridal chamber;
she filled it with perfume;
she sat in it waiting for the true bridegroom.
No longer does she run about the market place,
copulating with whomever she desires,
but she continued to wait for him – (saying) "When will he come?" –
and to fear him, for she did not know what he looked like:
she no longer remembers since the time she fell from her father's house.
And she dreamed of him like a woman in love with a man.
Then the bridegroom, according to the father's will,
came down to her into the bridal chamber, which was prepared. (Robinson 194-195)

6. From The Gospel of Philip.

Some said, "Mary conceived by the holy spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman? Mary is the virgin whom no power defiled. ..And the lord would not have said "My father who is in heaven" unless he had had another father, but he would have said simply "My father."
(Robinson 143)

There were three who always walked with the lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary. (Robinson 145)

As for the Wisdom who is called "the barren," she is the mother of the angels. And the companion of the [lord was] Mary Magdalene. [He} loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her [mouth]. The rest of the disciples said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us? The savior answered and said to them "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness." (Robinson 148)

When Eve was still in Adam death did not exist. When she was separated from him death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more. (Robinson 150)

If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this Christ came to repair the separation which was from the beginning and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him. (Robinson 151-152).

7. From the Gospel of Mary.

Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of the women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember--which you know but we do not, nor have we heard them. Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you... (Robinson 525)

"...When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath. They ask the soul, 'Whence do you come, slayer of men, or where are you going conqueror of space? The soul answered and said, 'What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been overcome, and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died. In a world I was released from a world, and in a type from a heavenly type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.'"

When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, "Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at last do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas. Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: "Did he really speak with a woman without our knowledge and not openly? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did her prefer her to us?"

Then Mary wept and said to Peter, "My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?" Levi answered and said to Peter, "Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as he commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said." (Robinson 526-527)

8. From the Pistis Sophia.

The beginning of the story of Sophia, as told by Jesus to his disciples upon the Mount of Olives after his resurrection.


Jesus said unto his disciples: "It came to pass, when Pistis Sophia was in the thirteenth æon, and…she saw the light of the veil of the Treasury of the Light, and she longed to reach to that region…She ceased to perform the mystery of the thirteenth æon, and sang praises to the light of the height…

"It came to pass then… that all the rulers in the twelve æons, who are below, hated her, because she had ceased from their mysteries, and because she had desired to go into the height and be above them all. For this cause then they were enraged against her and hated her, [as did] the great triple-powered Self-willed… who is in the thirteenth æon…

"It came to pass that…he emanated out of himself a great lion-faced power, and out of his matter in him he emanated a host of other very violent material emanations, and sent them into the regions below, to the parts of the chaos, in order that they might there lie in wait for Pistis Sophia and take away her power out of her. … the great triple-powered Self-willed, pursued Sophia in the thirteenth æon, in order that she should look towards the parts below, so that she might see in that region his lion-faced light-power and long after it and go to that region, so that her light might be taken from her.


"It came to pass then thereafter that she looked below and saw his light-power in the parts below; and she knew not that it is that of the triple-powered Self-willed…. And she thought to herself: I will go into that region without my pair and take the light and thereout fashion for myself light-æons, so that I may go to the Light of lights, which is in the Height of heights.

"This then thinking, she went forth from her own region, the thirteenth æon, and went down to the twelve æons. The rulers of the æons pursued her and were enraged against her, because she had thought of grandeur. And she went forth also from the twelve æons, and came into the regions of the chaos and drew nigh to that lion-faced light-power to devour it. But all the material emanations of Self-willed surrounded her, and the great lion-faced light-power devoured all the light-powers in Sophia and cleaned out her light and devoured it, and her matter was thrust into the chaos; it became a lion-faced ruler in the chaos, of which one half is fire and the other darkness,--that is Yaldabaōth, of whom I have spoken unto you many times. When then this befell, Sophia became very greatly exhausted, and that lion-faced light-power set to work to take away from Sophia all her light-powers….


"And Pistis Sophia cried out most exceedingly, she cried to the Light of lights which she had seen from the beginning, in which she had had faith, and uttered this repentance, saying thus:

"'1. O Light of lights, in whom I have had faith from the beginning, hearken now then, O Light, unto my repentance. Save me, O Light, for evil thoughts have entered into me.

"'2. I gazed, O Light, into the lower parts and saw there a light, thinking: I will go to that region, in order that I may take that light. And I went and found myself in the darkness which is in the chaos below, and I could no more speed thence and go to my region, for I was sore pressed by all the emanations of Self-willed, and the lion-faced power took away my light in me.

"'3. And I cried for help, but my voice hath not reached out of the darkness. And I looked
unto the height, that the Light, in which I had had faith, might help me…

"'13. But I looked up unto the height towards thee and had faith in thee. Now, therefore, O Light of lights, I am sore pressed in the darkness of chaos. If now thou wilt come to save me,--great is thy mercy,--then hear me in truth and save me.

"'14. Save me out of the matter of this darkness, that I may not be submerged therein, that I may be saved from the emanations of god Self-willed which press me sore, and from their evil doings.

"'15. Let not this darkness submerge me, and let not this lion-faced power entirely devour the whole of my power, and let not this chaos shroud my power…

"'20. My power looked forth from the midst of the chaos and from the midst of the darkness, and I waited for my pair, that he should come and fight for me, and he came not, and I looked that he should come and lend me power, and I found him not.

"'21. And when I sought the light, they gave me darkness; and when I sought my power, they gave me matter.

"'22. Now, therefore, O Light of lights, may the darkness and the matter which the emanations of Self-willed have brought upon me, be unto them for a snare, and may they be ensnared therein, and recompense them and may they be made to stumble and not come into the region of their Self-willed.

"'23. May they remain in the darkness and not behold the light; may they behold the chaos for ever, and let them not look unto the height…

"'30. Now, therefore, O Light, which is in thee and is with me, I sing praises to thy name, O Light, in glory.

"'31. May my song of praise please thee, O Light, as an excellent mystery, which leadeth to the gates of the Light, which they who shall repent will utter, and the light of which will purify them.

"'32. Now, therefore, let all matters rejoice; seek ye all the Light, that the power of the stars which is in you, may live…

"'33. For the Light hath heard the matters, nor will it leave any without having purified them.

"'34. Let the souls and the matters praise the Lord of all æons, and [let] the matters and all that is in them [praise him].

"'35. For God shall save their soul from all matters, and a city shall be prepared in the Light, and all the souls who are saved, will dwell in that city and will inherit it.

"'36. And the soul of them who shall receive mysteries will abide in that region, and they who have received mysteries in its name will abide therein.'"

CHAPTER 34. (In Chapter 33, Jesus asked the disciples gathered on the Mount of Olives to “solve” Sophia's repentance, meaning to show how it was prophecied by scripture. Mary Magdalene answered, as she did often. She recited Psalm 68. )

It came to pass then, when Mary had finished speaking these words unto Jesus in the midst of the disciples, that she said unto him: "My Lord, this is the solution of the mystery of the repentance of Pistis Sophia."

It came to pass then, when Jesus had heard Mary speak these words, that he said unto her: "Well said, Mary, blessed one, the fulness, or all-blessed fulness, thou who shalt be sung of as blessed in all generations."

CHAPTER 36. (In Chapter 35, Jesus relates how, getting no aid from the Light, Sophia uttered a second repentance, omitted here, as similar to the first.)

It came to pass then, when Jesus had finished speaking these words unto his disciples, that he said unto them: "Do ye understand in what manner I discourse with you?"

And Peter started forward and said unto Jesus: "My Lord, we will not endure this woman, for she taketh the opportunity from us and hath let none of us speak, but she discourseth many times."

And Jesus answered and said unto his disciples: "Let him in whom the power of his spirit shall seethe, so that he understandeth what I say, come forward and speak. But now, Peter, I see thy power in thee, that it understandeth the solution of the mystery of the repentance which Pistis Sophia hath uttered. Now, therefore, Peter, speak the thought of her repentance in the midst of thy brethren."

And Peter answered and said unto Jesus "O Lord, give ear that I may speak the thought of her repentance, of which aforetime thy power prophesied through the prophet David, uttering her repentance in the seventieth Psalm. (Peter recites Psalm 70, here omitted.)


The Saviour answered and said unto Peter: "Finely, Peter; this is the solution of her. repentance. Blessed are ye before all men on the earth, because I have revealed unto you these mysteries. Amēn, amēn, I say unto you: I will perfect you in all fulness from the mysteries of the interior to the mysteries of the exterior and fill you with the spirit, so that ye shall be called 'spiritual, perfected in all fulness.' And, amēn, amēn, I say unto you: I will give unto you all the mysteries of all the regions of my Father and of all the regions of the First Mystery, so that he whom ye shall admit on earth, shall be admitted into the Light of the height; and he whom ye shall expel on earth, shall be expelled from the kingdom of my Father in the heaven. But hearken, therefore, and give ear attentively to all the repentances which Pistis Sophia hath uttered…"

CHAPTER 47. (Before this chapter, Jesus has told how the lion-faced power continued to weaken Sophia, who sang more repentances and more calls for deliverance, with no response from the Light. After hearing each repentance, the disciples “solved” it with reference to a Psalm or Ode of Solomon. There are thirteen "repentances" in all, one for each aeon from which she has fallen, ending in Chapter 57. After that, what she will utter are called "songs of praise," thanking the light for its help so far and asking for it again.)

Jesus continued again in the discourse and said unto his disciples: "It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia had uttered the seventh repentance in the chaos, that the commandment through the First Mystery had not come to me to save her and lead her up out of the chaos. Nevertheless of myself out of compassion without commandment I led her into a somewhat spacious region in the chaos. And when the material emanations of Self-willed had noticed that she had been led into a somewhat spacious region in the chaos, they ceased a little to oppress her, for they thought that she would be led up out of the chaos altogether. When this then took place, Pistis Sophia did not know that I was her helper; nor did she know me at all, but she continued and persisted withal singing praises to the Light of the Treasury, which she had seen aforetime and on which she had had faith, and she thought that it [sc. the Light] also was her helper and it was the same to which she had sung praises, thinking it was the Light in truth…

CHAPTER 52. (In the intervening chapters, the Lion-faced power discovered that she only moved a little way, just to a different region, and so he oppressed her again. Sophia repented for the ninth time, and no help came. )

It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia had proclaimed the ninth repentance, that the lion-faced power oppressed her again, desiring to take away all powers from her. She cried out again to the Light, saying:

"'O Light, in whom I have had faith from the beginning, for whose sake I have endured these great pains, help me.”'

And in that hour her repentance was accepted from her. The First Mystery hearkened unto her, and I was sent off at his command. I came to help her, and led her up out of the chaos, because she had repented, and also because she had had faith in the Light and had endured these great pains and these great perils. She had been deluded through the god-like Self-willed, and had not been deluded through anything else, save through a light-power, because of its resemblance to the Light in which she had had faith. For this cause then was I sent forth at the command of the First Mystery to help her secretly. I did not however yet go to the region of the æons at all; but I passed down through the midst out of them, without any single power knowing it, either those of the interior of the interior or those of the exterior of the exterior, save only the First Mystery.

It came to pass then, when I came into the chaos to help her, that she saw me, that I was understanding and shone exceedingly and was full of compassion for her. For I was not self-willed as the lion-faced power, which had taken away the light-power from Sophia, and had also oppressed her in order to take away from her the whole light in her. Sophia then saw me, that I shone ten-thousand times more than the lion-faced power, and that I was full of compassion for her. And she knew that I came out of the Height of heights, in whose light she had had faith from the beginning. Pistis Sophia then took courage

CHAPTER 55. (In the intervening chapters, Jesus gave Sophia a wreath of light around her and even sent Michael and Gabriel to her, forcing the lion-faced power to retreat. But then Jesus returned to the height.)

And forthwith the lion-faced power, it and all its emanations, surrounded Pistis Sophia, desiring to 'take away the whole light in Sophia. It came to pass then, when they oppressed Sophia, that she cried to the height, crying unto me that I should help her. It came to pass then, when she looked to the height, that she saw Self-willed exceedingly wrathful, and she was in fear, and uttered the twelfth repentance because of Self-willed and his emanations. She cried on high unto me, saying:

"'1. O Light, forget not my praise-singing…..

"'17. They loved to descend to the chaos; so let them abide therein, and they shall not be brought up [therefrom] from now on. They desired not the region of Righteousness for dwelling-place, and they shall not be taken thither from now on
'"18. He put on darkness as a garment, and it entered into him as water, and it entered in into all his powers as oil.

"'19. Let him wrap himself into the chaos as into a garment, and gird himself with the darkness as with a leathern girdle for ever.

"'20. Let this befall them who have brought this upon me for the Light's sake and have said: Let us take away her whole power.

"'21. But do thou, O Light, have mercy upon me for the sake of the mystery of thy name, and save me in the goodness of thy grace.

"'22. For they have taken away my light and my power; and my power hath inwardly tottered, and I could not stand upright in their midst.

"'23. I am become as matter which is fallen; I am tossed hither and thither as a demon in the air.

"'24. My power hath perished, because I possess no mystery; and my matter hath become dwindled because of my light, for they have taken it away.

"'25. And they mocked me; they looked at me, nodding at me.

"'26. Help me according to thy mercy.”

CHAPTER 67. (In the intervening chapters, another power, Adamas, sent a shaft of light to oppress Sophia, which turned into a dragon and a seven-headed basilisk)

It came to pass then, when they oppressed her and alarmed her exceedingly, that she cried again to the Light and sang praises, saying:

"'1. O Light, it is thou who hast helped me; let thy light come over me.

Sophia again crieth to the Light.

"'2. For thou art my protector, and I come hence unto thee, O Light, having faith in thee, O Light.

"'3. For thou art my saviour from the emanations of Self-willed and of Adamas, the Tyrant, and thou shalt save me from all his violent threats.”

And when Pistis Sophia had said this, then at the commandment of my Father, the First Mystery which looketh within, I sent again Gabriēl and Michaēl and the great light-stream, that they should help Pistis Sophia. And I gave commandment unto Gabriēl and Michaēl to bear Pistis Sophia in their hands, so that her feet should not touch the darkness below; and I gave them commandment moreover to guide her in the regions of the chaos, out of which she was to be led.

It came to pass then, when the angels had come down into the chaos, they and the light-stream, and moreover [when] all the emanations of Self-willed and the emanations of Adamas had seen the light-stream, how it shone very exceedingly and there was no measure for the light about it, that they became terror-stricken and quitted Pistis Sophia. And the great light-stream surrounded Pistis Sophia on all sides of her, on her left and on her right and on all her sides, and it became a light-wreath round her head.

It came to pass then, when the light-stream had surrounded Pistis Sophia, that she took great courage, and it ceased not to surround her on all her sides; and she was no longer in fear of the emanations of Self-willed which are in the chaos, nor was she any more in fear of the other new power of Self-willed which he had cast down into the chaos as a flying arrow, nor did she any more tremble at the demon power of Adamas which had come out of the æons.

And moreover by commandment of myself, the First Mystery which looketh without, the light-stream which surrounded Pistis Sophia on all her sides, shone most exceedingly, and Pistis Sophia abode in the midst of the light, a great light being on her left and on her right, and on all her sides, forming a wreath round her head. And all the emanations of Self-willed [could] not change their face again, nor could they bear the shock of the great light of the stream, which was a wreath round her head. And all the emanations of Self-willed,--many of them fell at her right, because she shone most exceedingly, and many others fell at her left, and were not able at all to draw nigh unto Pistis Sophia because of the great light; but they fell all one on another, or they all came near one another, and they could not inflict any ill on Pistis Sophia, because she had trusted in the Light.

And at the commandment of my Father, the First Mystery which looketh within, I myself went down into the chaos, shining most exceedingly, and approached the lion-faced power, which shone exceedingly, and took its whole light in it and held fast all the emanations of Self-willed, so that from now on they went not into their region, that is the thirteenth æon. And I took away the power of all the emanations of Self-willed, and they all fell down in the chaos powerless. And I led forth Pistis Sophia, she being on the right of Gabriēl and Michaēl. And the great light-stream entered again into her. And Pistis Sophia beheld with her eyes her foes, that I had taken their light-power from them. And I led Pistis Sophia forth from the chaos, she treading under foot the serpent-faced emanation of Self-willed, and moreover treading under foot the seven-faced-basilisk emanation, and treading under foot the lion- and dragon-faced power. I made Pistis Sophia continue to stand upon the seven-headed-basilisk emanation of Self-willed; and it was more mighty than them all in its evil doings. And I, the First Mystery, stood by it and took all the powers in it, and made to perish its whole matter, so that no seed should arise from it from now on."

CHAPTER 72. (By now Peter has interpreted several repentances as have others, including Mary Magdalene.)

It came to pass then, when the First Mystery had heard Matthew speak these words, that he said: "Well said, Matthew, and finely, beloved. This is the solution of the song which Pistis Sophia hath uttered."

And the First Mystery continued again and said:

"'1. I will declare: Thou art the higher Light, for that hast saved me and led me unto thee, and thou hast not let the emanations of Self-willed, which are hostile unto me, take my light.

"'2. O Light of lights, I sing praises unto thee; thou hast saved me.

"'3. O Light, thou hast led up my power out of the chaos; thou hast saved me from them which have gone down into the darkness.'

"These words again hath Pistis Sophia uttered, Now, therefore, whose mind hath become understanding, comprehending the words which Pistis Sophia hath uttered, let him come forward and set forth their solution."

It came to pass then, when the First Mystery had finished speaking these words unto the disciples, that Mary came forward and said: "My Lord, my mind is ever understanding, at every time to come forward and set forth the solution of the words which she hath uttered; but I am afraid of Peter, because he threatened me and hateth our sex."

And when she had said this, the First Mystery said unto her: "Every one who shall be filled with the spirit of light to come forward and set forth the solution of what I say,--no one shall be able to prevent him. Now, therefore, O Mary, set forth then the solution of the words which Pistis Sophia hath uttered."

Then Mary answered and said unto the First Mystery in the midst of the disciples: "My Lord, concerning the solution of the words which Pistis Sophia hath uttered, thus hath thy light-power prophesied aforetime through David:

"'1. I will exalt thee, O Lord, for thou hast received me, and thou hast not made glad my foes over me.

"'2. O Lord, my God, I cried up unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

"'3. O Lord, thou hast led up my soul out of hell; thou hast saved me from them which have gone down into the pit.'"

CHAPTER 75. (in Ch. 73, Sophia uttered another song of praise, interpreted in 74 by Mary and Andrew.)

And he continued again in the discourse and said unto the disciples: "These are all adventures which have befallen Pistis Sophia.. It came to pass then, when I had led her to the region which is below the thirteenth æon, and was about to go unto the Light and depart from her, that she said unto me:

"'O Light of lights, thou wilt go to the Light and depart from me. And Tyrant Adamas will know that thou hast departed from me and will know that my saviour is not at hand. And he will come again to this region, he and all his rulers who hate me, and Self-willed also will bestow power unto his lion-faced emanation, so that they all will come and constrain me all together and take my whole light from me, in order that I may become powerless and again without light. Now, therefore, O Light and my Light, take from them the power of their light, so that they may not be able to constrain me from now on.'

It came to pass then, when I heard these words which Pistis Sophia had spoken unto me, that I answered her, saying: 'My Father, who hath emanated me, hath not yet given me commandment to take their light from them; but I will seal the regions of Self-willed and of all his rulers who hate thee because thou hast had faith in the Light. And I will also seal the regions of Adamas and of his rulers, so that none of them may be able to fight with thee, until their time is completed and the season cometh that my Father give me commandment to take their light from them.'


"And thereafter I said again unto her: 'Hearken that I may speak with thee about their time, when this which I have said unto thee, will come to pass. It will come to pass when [the] three times are completed.'

"Pistis Sophia answered and said unto me: 'O Light, by what shall I know when the three times will take place, so that I may be glad and rejoice that the time is near for thee to bring me to my region, and moreover rejoice therein that the time is come when thou wilt take the light-power from all them which hate me, because I have had faith in thy light?'

"And I answered and said unto her: 'If thou seest the gate of the Treasury of the Great Light which is opened after the thirteenth æon, and that is the left [one],--when that gate is opened, then are the three times completed.'

"Pistis Sophia again answered and said: 'O Light, by what shall I know,--for I am in this region,--that that gate is opened?'

"And I answered and said unto her: 'When that gate is opened, they who are in all the æons will know because of the Great Light which will obtain in all their regions. But see, I have now settled that they shall venture no ill against thee, until the three times are completed. And thou wilt have the power of going down into their twelve æons, when it pleaseth thee, and also of returning and going into thy region, which is below the thirteenth æon, and in which thou now art. But thou wilt not have the power of passing through the gate of the Height which is in the thirteenth æon, so as to enter into thy region whence thou didst come down. Moreover, if then the three times are completed, Self-willed and all his rulers will again constrain thee, to take thy light from thee, being enraged against thee and thinking that thou hast imprisoned his power in the chaos, and thinking that thou hast taken its light from it. He will then be embittered against thee, to take from thee thy light, in order that he may send it down into the chaos and it may get down to that emanation of his, so that it may be able to come up out of the chaos and go to his region. Adamas will attempt this. But I will take all thy powers from him and give them unto thee, and I will come to take them. Now, therefore, if they constrain thee at that time, then sing praises to the Light, and I will not delay to help thee. And I will quickly come unto thee to the regions which are below thee. And I will come down to their regions to take their light from them. And I will come to this region whither I have removed thee, and which is below the thirteenth æon, until I bring thee to thy region whence thou art come.'

"It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia had heard me say these words unto her, that she rejoiced with great joy. But I removed her to the region which is below the thirteenth æon. I went to the Light and departed from her."

CHAPTER 81. (After Adamas again oppressed Sophia, sending two dark emanations to take her light)

: "It came to pass then after all this, that I took Pistis Sophia and led her into the thirteenth æon, shining most exceedingly, there being no measure for the light which was about me. I entered into the region of the four-and-twenty invisibles, shining most exceedingly. And they fell into great commotion; they looked and saw Sophia, who was with me. Her they knew, but me they knew not, who I was, but held me for some sort of emanation of the Light-land.

"It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia saw her fellows, the invisibles, that she rejoiced in great joy and exulted exceedingly and desired to proclaim the wonders which I had wrought on her below in the earth of mankind, until I saved her. She came into the midst of the invisibles, and in their midst sang praises unto me, saying:

“'1. I will give thanks unto thee, O Light, for thou art a saviour; thou art a deliverer for all time.

"'2. I will utter this song to the Light, for it hath saved me and saved me out of the hand of the rulers, my foes…

"'8. I will give thanks unto thee, O Light, that thou hast saved me, and for thy wondrous works unto the race of men.

"'9. When I failed of my power, thou hast given me power; and when I failed of my light, thou didst fill me with purified light.

"'10. I was in the darkness and in the shadow of the chaos, bound with the mighty fetters of the chaos, and no light was in me.

'19. And when I was constrained, I sang praises to the Light. It saved me out of all my afflictions.

"'20. Thou sentest thy stream; it gave me power and saved me out of all my afflictions.

"'21. I will give thanks unto thee, O Light, that thou hast saved me, and for thy wondrous works in the race of men.'

"This then is the song which Pistis Sophia hath uttered in the midst of the four-and-twenty invisibles, desiring that they should know all the wondrous works which I had done for her, and desiring that they should know that I have gone to the world of men and have given them the mysteries of the Height."

(In Chapter 82, the disciples relate this victory to Scripture, and the story of Sophia is finished.)

9. From Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales, “Cinderella,” translated by Ralph Mannheim, pp. 85-86:

Now it so happened that the king arranged for a celebration. It was to go on for three days and all the beautiful girls in the kingdom were invited, in order that his son might choose a bride. When the two stepsisters heard they had been asked, they were delighted. They called Cinderella and said: “Comb our hair, brush our shoes, and fasten our buckles. We’re going to the wedding at the king’s palace.” Cinderella obeyed, but she wept, for she too would have liked to go dancing, and she begged her stepmother to let her go. “You little sloven!” said the stepmother. “How can you go to a wedding when you’re all dusty and dirty? How can you go dancing when you have neither dress nor shoes?” But when Cinderella begged and begged, the stepmother finally said: “Here, I’ve dumped a bowlful of lentils in the ashes. If you can pick them out in two hours, you may go.”

The girl went out the back door to the garden and cried out: “O tame little doves, O turtledoves, and all the birds under heaven, come and help me put ‘the good ones in the pot,/ the bad ones in your crop.’” Two little white doves came flying through the kitchen window, and then came the turtledoves, and finally all the birds under heaven came flapping and fluttering and settled down by the ashes. The doves nodded their little heads and started in, peck peck peck peck, and all the others started in, peck, peck peck peck, and they sorted out all the good lentils and put them in the bowl. Then the girl brought the bowl to her stepmother, and she was happy, for she thought she’d be allowed to go to the wedding. But the stepmother said: “No, Cinderella. You have nothing to wear and don’t know how to dance. The people would laugh at you.”… Then she turned her back and hurried away with her two proud daughters.

When they had all gone out, Cinderella went to her mother’s grave. She stood under the hazel tree and cried: “Shake your branches, little tree,/ Throw gold and silver down on me.” Whereupon the bird tossed down a gold and silver dress and slippers embroidered with silk and silver. Cinderella slipped into the dress as fast as she could and went to the wedding. Her sisters and stepmother didn’t recognize her. She was so beautiful in her golden dress that they thought she must be the daughter of some foreign king. They never dreamed it could be Cinderella, for they thought she was sitting at home in her filthy rags, picking lentils out of the ashes. The king’s son came up to her, took her by the hand and danced with her. He wouldn’t dance with anyone else and he never let go her hand. When someone else asked for a dance, he said: “She is my partner.”...


For the Naassene Psalm and Irenaeus, "Against Heresies":

Barnstone, Willis (1984. The Other Bible. New York: Harper & Row. (Complete text of Book I of Irenaeus, from which these excerpts come, can be accessed at". The Naessene Psalm can be accessed at

For all other original Gnostic texts, except Pistis Sophia:

Robinson, James, ed. (1988). The Nag Hammadi Library in English, 3rd ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. (Also accessed at

For Pistis Sophia:

Mead, G.R.S., Trans. (1921). Pistis Sophia. London: J. M. Watkins. (Also accessed at http://www.gnosis/library/pistis-sophia/index.htm)


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