BEFORE THE BEGINNING
Since everyone—the gods of the world and people—says that nothing existed prior to chaos, I shall demonstrate that they all are mistaken, since they do not know the origin of chaos and its root. Here is the demonstration.
How agreeable it is to all people to say that chaos is darkness! But actually chaos comes from a shadow that has been called darkness. The shadow comes from something existing from the beginning. So it is obvious that something in the beginning existed before chaos came into being, and that chaos came after what was in the beginning.
Now let us consider the facts of the matter, and in particular what was in the beginning, from which chaos came. In this way the truth will be clearly demonstrated.
BIRTH OF SOPHIA AND THE FORCES OF DARKNESS
After the nature of the immortals was completed out of the infinite one, then a likeness called Sophia flowed out of Pistis, with the wish that something should come into being like the light that first existed. Immediately her wish appeared as a heavenly likeness with an incomprehensible greatness. This came between the immortals and those who came into being after them, like what is above. It was a veil separating people from the things above.
Now, the eternal realm of truth has no shadow within it because the immeasurable light is everywhere within it. Outside it, however, is a shadow, and it was called darkness. From it appeared a power over the darkness. And the powers that came into being afterward called the shadow the limitless chaos. From it every kind of deity was brought forth, one after another, along with the whole place. Consequently, the shadow too is subsequent to what was in the beginning. The shadow appeared in the abyss, which is derived from Pistis, whom we have mentioned.
The shadow perceived that there was one stronger than it. It was jealous, and when it became self-impregnated, it immediately bore envy. Since that day the principle of envy has appeared in all of the aeons and their worlds. But envy was found to be an aborted fetus without any spirit in it. It became like the shadows in a great watery substance.
Then the bitter wrath that came into being from the shadow was cast into a region of chaos. Since that day a watery substance has appeared. What was enclosed in the shadow flowed forth, appearing in chaos. Just as all the useless afterbirth of one who bears a little child falls, likewise the matter that came into being from the shadow was cast aside. Matter did not come out of chaos, but it was in chaos, existing in a part of it.
YALDABAOTH ESTABLISHES HIS RULE
Now, after these things happened, Pistis came and appeared over the matter of chaos, which was cast off like an aborted fetus, since there was no spirit in it. For all of that is a boundless darkness and water of unfathomable depth. And when Pistis saw what came into being from her deficiency, she was disturbed. And the disturbance appeared as something frightful, and it fled to her in the chaos. She turned to it and breathed into its face in the abyss, which is beneath all of the heavens.
Now, when Pistis Sophia wanted to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and rule over matter and over all its powers, a ruler first appeared out of the waters, lionlike in appearance, androgynous, with great authority within himself but ignorant of whence he came into being.
When Pistis Sophia saw him moving in the depth of the waters, she said to him, “Youth, pass over here,” which is interpreted as “Yaldabaoth.” Since that day, the first principle of the word that referred to the gods and angels and people has appeared. And the gods and angels and people constitute that which came into being by means of the word. Moreover, the ruler Yaldabaoth is ignorant of the power of Pistis. He did not see her face, but he saw in the water the likeness that spoke with him. And from that voice he called himself Yaldabaoth. But the perfect ones call him Ariael because he was like a lion. And after he came to possess authority over matter, Pistis Sophia withdrew up to her light.
YALDABAOTH CREATES HEAVEN AND EARTH AND BEARS THREE SONS
When the ruler saw his greatness, he saw only himself; he saw nothing else, except water and darkness. Then he thought that he alone existed. His thought was made complete by means of the word, and it appeared as a spirit moving to and fro over the waters. And when that spirit appeared, the ruler separated the watery substance to one region and the dry substance to another region. From matter he created a dwelling place for himself and called it heaven. And from matter the ruler created a footstool and called it earth.
Afterward the ruler thought, according to his nature, and he created an androgynous being by means of the word. He opened his mouth and cooed to him. When his eyes were opened, he saw his father and said to him, “Eee.” So his father called him Yao. Again he created the second son and cooed to him. He opened his eyes and said to his father, “Eh.” So his father called him Eloai. Again he created the third son and cooed to him. He opened his eyes and said to his father, “Asss.” So his father called him Astaphaios. These are the three sons of their father.
THE SEVEN HEAVENS OF CHAOS
Seven appeared in chaos as androgynous beings. They have their masculine name and their feminine name. The feminine name of Yaldabaoth is forethought Sambathas, which is the week. His son is called Yao, and his feminine name is lordship. Sabaoth’s feminine name is divinity. Adonaios’s feminine name is kingship. Eloaios’s feminine name is envy. Oraios’s feminine name is wealth. Astaphaios’s feminine name is Sophia. These are the seven powers of the seven heavens of chaos. And they came into being as androgynous beings according to the immortal pattern that existed before them and in accord with the will of Pistis, so that the likeness of what existed from the first might rule until the end.
You will find the function of these names and the power of the males in the Archangelic Book of Moses the Prophet. But the feminine names are in the First Book of Noraia.
Now since the chief creator Yaldabaoth had great authority, he created for each of his sons, by means of the word, beautiful heavens as dwelling places, and for each heaven great glories, seven times exquisite. Each one has within his heaven thrones, dwelling places, and temples, as well as chariots and spiritual virgins and their glories, looking up to an invisible realm, and also armies of divine, lordly, angelic, and archangelic powers, myriads without number, in order to serve.
The report concerning these you will find accurately in the First Account of Noraia.
Now, they were completed in this way up to the sixth heaven, the one belonging to Sophia. And the heaven and its earth were disrupted by the troublemaker, who was beneath all of them. The six heavens trembled, for the powers of chaos knew who it was who disturbed the heaven beneath them. And when Pistis knew of the harm caused by the troublemaker, she blew her breath, and she bound him and cast him down to Tartaros.
THE BOASTING OF YALDABAOTH
Since that day, the heaven has been consolidated along with its earth by means of Sophia, the daughter of Yaldabaoth, who is beneath them all. After the heavens and their powers and all of their government set themselves aright, the chief creator exalted himself and was glorified by the whole army of angels. And all the gods and their angels gave him praise and glory.
And he rejoiced in his heart, and he boasted continually, saying to them, “I do not need anything. I am god and there is no other god but me.” But when he said these things, he sinned against all of the immortal imperishable ones, and they kept their eyes on him.
Moreover, when Pistis saw the impiety of the chief ruler, she was angry. Without being seen, she said, “You’re wrong, Samael,” that is, “blind god.” “An enlightened, immortal human exists before you and will appear within your fashioned bodies. The human will trample upon you as potter’s clay is trampled. And you will go with those who are yours down to your mother, the abyss. For in the consummation of your works, all of the deficiency that appeared in the truth will be dissolved. It will cease, and it will be like something that never existed.”
After Pistis said these things, she revealed the likeness of her greatness in the waters. And so she withdrew up to her light.
SABAOTH WORSHIPS PISTIS
When Sabaoth, the son of Yaldabaoth, heard the voice of Pistis, he worshiped her. He condemned his father and mother on account of the word of Pistis. He glorified her because she informed them of an immortal human and the light of the human. Then Pistis Sophia stretched forth her finger and poured upon him light from her light for a condemnation of his father. When Sabaoth received light, he received great authority against all of the powers of chaos. Since that day he has been called “the lord of the powers.” He hated his father, the darkness, and his mother, the abyss. He loathed his sister, the thought of the chief creator, the one who moves to and fro over the water.
On account of his light, all of the authorities of chaos were jealous of him. And when they were disturbed, they made a great war in the seven heavens. Then when Pistis Sophia saw the war, she sent seven archangels from her light to Sabaoth. They snatched him away up to the seventh heaven. They took their stand before him as servants. Furthermore, she sent him three other archangels and established the kingdom for him above everyone so that he might dwell above the twelve gods of chaos.
When Sabaoth received the place of rest because of his repentance, Pistis also gave him her daughter, Zoe, with great authority, so that she might inform him about everything that exists in the eighth heaven. And since he had authority, he first created a dwelling place for himself. It is huge, magnificent, seven times as great as all those that exist in the seven heavens.
Then in front of his dwelling place he created a great throne on a chariot with four faces, called cherubim. And the cherubim throne has eight shapes on each side of the four corners—forms of lions and bulls and humans and eagles—so that all of the forms total sixty-four forms. And seven archangels stand before him. He is the eighth, having authority. All of the forms total seventy-two. For from this chariot the seventy-two gods took shape; they took shape so that they might rule over the seventy-two languages of the nations. And by that throne he created other dragon-shaped angels called seraphim, who glorify him continually.
SABAOTH CREATES AN ASSEMBLY WITH JESUS AND THE VIRGIN
Afterward he created an angelic assembly —thousands, myriads without number belong to it—that was like the assembly in the eighth heaven, and a first-born called Israel, that is, the one who sees god, and also another called Jesus Christ, who is like the savior above in the eighth heaven and who sits at his right upon an excellent throne. But at his left the virgin of the holy spirit sits upon a throne praising him. And the seven virgins stand before her, with thirty lyres and harps and trumpets in their hands, glorifying him. And all of the armies of angels glorify him and praise him. But he sits on a throne concealed by a great light-cloud. And there was no one with him in the cloud except Sophia, the daughter of Pistis, teaching him about all those that exist in the eighth heaven, so that the likeness of those might be created, in order that his kingdom might continue until the consummation of the heavens of chaos and their powers.
Now, Pistis Sophia separated him from the darkness and summoned him to her right, but the chief creator she put at her left. Since that day right has been called justice, but left has been called injustice. Moreover, because of this they all received a realm in the assembly of justice, and injustice is set over all their creations.
YALDABAOTH RETALIATES BY CREATING DEATH
When the chief creator of chaos saw his son Sabaoth, and that the glory in which he dwells is more exquisite than all the authorities of chaos, he was jealous of him. And when he was angry, he conceived death from his own death. It was set up over the sixth heaven; Sabaoth had been snatched away from there. And thus the number of the six authorities of chaos was completed.
Then, since death was androgynous, he mixed with his nature and conceived seven androgynous children. These are the names of the males: envy, wrath, weeping, sighing, mourning, lamenting, tearful groaning. And these are the names of the females: wrath, grief, lust, sighing, cursing, bitterness, quarrelsomeness. They had intercourse with one another, and each one conceived seven, so that the children total forty-nine androgynous demons.
Their names and their functions you will find in the Book of Solomon.
In the presence of these, Zoe, who dwells with Sabaoth, created seven good androgynous powers. These are the names of the males: not-jealous, blessed, joyful, true, not-envious, beloved, trustworthy. And these are the names of the females: peace, gladness, rejoicing, blessedness, truth, love, faith. And many good and guileless spirits come from these.
Their accomplishments and their functions you will find in the Configurations of the Fate of Heaven beneath the Twelve.
YALDABAOTH REALIZES HIS MISTAKE
But when the chief creator saw the likeness of Pistis in the waters, he grieved, especially when he heard her voice, which was like the first voice that called to him out of the water. When he knew that this was the one who named him, he groaned and was ashamed on account of his transgression. And when he actually knew that an enlightened, immortal human existed before him, he was greatly disturbed, because previously he had said to all the gods and their angels, “I am god and there is no other god but me.”
For he had been afraid that they might know that another existed before him and condemn him. But he, like a fool, despised the condemnation and acted recklessly, and said, “If something exists before me, let it appear so that we might see its light.” And immediately, look, light came out of the eighth heaven above and passed through all the heavens of the earth.
When the chief creator saw that the light was beautiful as it shone forth, he was amazed and very much ashamed. When the light appeared, a human likeness, which was very wonderful, was revealed within it; and no one saw it except the chief creator alone and the forethought who was with him. But its light appeared to all the powers of the heavens. Therefore they were all disturbed by it.
ADAM OF LIGHT SHINES FORTH
Then when forethought saw the messenger, she became enamored of him, but he hated her because she was in darkness. Moreover, she desired to embrace him, but she was not able. When she was unable to quench her love, she poured out her light upon the earth. From that day, that messenger was called Adam of light, which is interpreted the enlightened man of blood. And the earth upon which the light spread was called holy Adamas, which is interpreted as “the holy steel-like earth.” At that time, all the authorities began to honor the blood of the virgin, and the earth was purified because of the blood of the virgin. But especially the water was purified by the likeness of Pistis Sophia, who appeared to the chief creator in the waters. Rightly, then, has it been said, “through the waters.” Since the holy water gives life to everything, it purifies it too.
EROS AND PSYCHE
Out of this first blood Eros appeared, being androgynous. His masculine nature is Himeros, because he is fire from the light. His feminine nature is that of a soul of blood and is derived from the substance of forethought. He is very handsome in his beauty, having more loveliness than all the creatures of chaos. Then when all the gods and their angels saw Eros, they became enamored of him. But when he appeared among all of them, he made them inflamed. Just as many lamps are kindled from a single lamp and the light shines but the lamp is not diminished, so also Eros was scattered in all the creatures of chaos but was not diminished. Just as Eros appeared out of the midpoint between light and darkness, and in the midst of the angels and people the intercourse of Eros was consummated, so too the first sensual pleasure sprouted upon the earth.
The woman followed the earth, and marriage followed the woman, and reproduction followed marriage, and death followed reproduction.
After Eros, the grapevine sprouted up from the blood that was shed upon the earth. Therefore those who drink the vine acquire the desire for intercourse. After the grapevine, a fig tree and a pomegranate tree sprouted up from the earth, together with the rest of the trees, according to their kind, their seed deriving from the seed of the authorities and their angels.
THE CREATION OF PARADISE
Then justice created the beautiful paradise. It is outside the circuit of the moon and the circuit of the sun in the luxuriant earth, which is in the east in the midst of stones. And desire is in the midst of trees, since they are beautiful and appealing. And the tree of immortal life, as it was revealed by the will of god, is in the north of paradise to give life to the immortal saints, who will come out of the fashioned bodies of poverty in the consummation of the age. Now, the color of the tree of life is like the sun, and its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like those of the cypress, and its fruit is like clusters of white grapes. Its height rises up to heaven. And next to it is the tree of knowledge, possessing the power of god. Its glory is like the moon shining forth brilliantly, and its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like fig leaves, and its fruit is like good, delicious dates. And this tree is in the north of paradise to raise up the souls from the stupor of the demons, so they might come to the tree of life and eat its fruit and condemn the authorities and their angels.
The effect of this tree is described in the Holy Book as follows:
You are the tree of knowledge, which is in paradise, from which the first man ate and which opened his mind, so that he loved his female partner, and condemned other alien likenesses, and loathed them.
Now, after this there sprouted up the olive tree, which was to purify kings and chief priests of justice, who will appear in the last days. The olive tree appeared in the light of the first Adam for the sake of the anointing that they will receive.
THE CREATION OF PLANTS, ANIMALS, AND HEAVENLY ORBS
But the first Psyche loved Eros, who was with her, and poured her blood upon him and upon the earth. Then from that blood the first rose sprouted upon the earth out of the thorn bush, for a joy in the light that was to appear in the bramble. After this the beautiful, fragrant flowers sprouted up from the earth according to their kind from the blood of each of the virgins of the daughters of forethought. When they had become enamored of Eros, they poured out their blood upon him and upon the earth. After these things every herb sprouted up in the earth according to its kind, having the seed of the authorities and their angels. After these things the authorities created from the waters all species of beasts and reptiles and birds according to their kind, having the seed of the authorities and their angels.
But before all these things, when Adam of light appeared on the first day, he remained upon the earth about two days. He left the lower forethought in heaven and began to ascend to his light. And immediately darkness came upon the whole world. Now, when Sophia, who is in the lower heaven, wanted to receive authority from Pistis, she created great luminaries and all the stars, and put them in the heaven to shine upon the earth and to perfect chronological signs and seasons and years and months and days and nights and seconds, and so on. And thus everything up in the sky was ordered.
Now, when Adam of light wanted to enter his light, that is, the eighth heaven, he was unable because of the poverty that had mixed with his light. Then he created a great eternal realm for himself; in that eternal realm he created six realms and their worlds, six in number, which are seven times better than the heavens of chaos and their worlds. But all these realms and their worlds exist within the infinite region that is between the eighth and chaos beneath it, and they are reckoned with the world that belongs to the poverty.
If you wish to know the arrangement of these, you will find it written in the Seventh Cosmos of Hieralias the Prophet.
THE CREATION OF HUMANKIND
Before Adam of light withdrew in the chaos, the authorities saw him. They laughed at the chief creator because he lied, saying, “I am god and there is no other god but me.” When they came to him, they said, “Is this not the god who ruined our work?” He answered and said, “Yes, but if you wish that he not be able to ruin our work, come, let’s create a human being from the earth according to the image of our body and according to the likeness of this being, to serve us, so that whenever this being sees his likeness, he may become enamored of it. Then he will no longer ruin our work, but we shall make those who are born from the light our servants through all the time of this age.”
Now, all this came to pass according to the forethought of Pistis in order that humankind might appear after this likeness and condemn them on account of their fashioned bodies. And their fashioned bodies became fences for the light.
Then the authorities received knowledge necessary to create people. Sophia Zoe, who is with Sabaoth, anticipated them and laughed at their decision because they were blind—in ignorance they created him against themselves. They do not know what they do. Because of this she anticipated them. She created her human being first in order that he might tell their fashioned body how to scorn them and thus to escape them.
Now, the birth of the instructor occurred in this way. When Sophia let a drop of light fall, it floated on the water. Immediately a human being appeared, being androgynous. She molded that drop first as a female body. Afterward she molded it, with the body, in the likeness of the mother who appeared, and she finished it in twelve months. An androgynous human being was conceived, whom the Greeks call Hermaphrodite, while the Jews call his mother Eve of life, that is, the instructor of life. Her child is the creature who is lord. Afterward, the authorities called it the beast in order to lead their fashioned bodies astray. The meaning of the beast is the instructor, for it was found to be wiser than all beings. Moreover, Eve is the first virgin who gave birth without a man. She is the one who functioned as her own midwife.
SONG OF EVE
On account of this it is said concerning her that she said,
I am part of my mother, and I am the mother.
I am the wife, I am the virgin.
I am pregnant. I am the midwife.
I am the one who comforts during labor pains.
My husband produced me, and I am his mother,
and he is my father and my lord.
He is my potency; what he desires he speaks with reason.
I am becoming, but I have borne a lordly man.
Now these things were revealed by the will of Sabaoth and his Christ to the souls who will come to the fashioned bodies of the authorities. Concerning these the holy voice said, “Multiply and flourish to rule over all the creatures.” And these are the ones who are taken captive by the chief creator according to their destinies, and thus they were locked in the prisons of the fashioned bodies until the consummation of the age.
THE COSMIC RULERS MOLD ADAM
At that time the chief creator then expressed his opinion about humankind to those who were with him. Then each of them cast his seed into the midst of the navel of the earth. Since that day, the seven rulers have formed humankind with his body like their body, but his likeness is like the human who appeared to them. His fashioned body came into being one part at a time, and their chief created the brain and nervous system. Afterward the person appeared like the one before him. He became a person with soul, and he was called Adam, that is, father, after the name of the one who was before him.
Now, after Adam was made, he left him as a lifeless vessel, since he had taken form like an aborted fetus, with no spirit in him. Regarding this, when the chief ruler remembered the word of Pistis, he was afraid that the true human might come into his fashioned body and rule over it. Because of this, he left this fashioned body forty days without soul. And he withdrew and left him.
But on the fortieth day Sophia Zoe sent her breath into Adam, who was without soul. He began to move upon the earth, but he could not stand up. Now, when the seven rulers came and saw him, they were very much disturbed. They walked up to him and seized him, and the chief ruler said to the breath within him, “Who are you? And from where have you come here?” It answered and said, “I came through the power of the human for the destruction of your work.” When they heard, they glorified him because he gave them rest from their fear and concern. Then they called that day the day of rest, because they rested themselves from their troubles. And when they saw that Adam could not stand up, they rejoiced. They took him and left him in paradise and withdrew up to their heavens.
EVE GIVES ADAM LIFE
After the day of rest, Sophia sent Zoe, her daughter, who is called Eve, as an instructor to raise up Adam, in whom there was no soul, so that those whom he would produce might become vessels of the light. When Eve saw her male partner cast down, she pitied him, and she said, “Adam, live! Rise up on the earth!” Immediately her word became an accomplished deed. For when Adam rose up, immediately he opened his eyes. When he saw her, he said, “You will be called the mother of the living, because you are the one who gave me life.”
THE COSMIC RULERS RAPE THE EARTHLY EVE
Then the authorities were informed that their fashioned body was alive, and had risen, and they were very much disturbed. They sent seven archangels to see what had happened. They came to Adam, and when they saw Eve speaking with him, they said to one another, “What is this enlightened woman? For truly she resembles the likeness that appeared to us in the light. Now come, let us seize her and cast our seed into her, so that when she is polluted she will not be able to ascend to her light, but those whom she bears will serve us. But let us not tell Adam, because he is not from us. Rather, let us bring a stupor upon him, and suggest to him in his sleep that she came into being from his rib, so that the woman may serve and he may rule over her.”
Then Eve, since she existed as a power, laughed at their false intention. She darkened their eyes and secretly left her likeness there with Adam. She entered the tree of knowledge and remained there. They pursued her, and she revealed to them that she had entered the tree and had become the tree. And when the blind ones fell into a great fear, they ran away.
Afterward, when they sobered up from the stupor, they came to Adam. And when they saw the likeness of that woman with him, they were troubled, thinking that this was the true Eve. And they acted recklessly, and came to her and seized her and cast their seed upon her. They did it deceitfully, defiling her not only naturally but also abominably, first defiling the seal of her voice, which had spoken with them, saying, “What is it that exists before you?” They meant to defile those who might say at the consummation of the age that they had been born of a true human by means of the word. And they were deceived, not knowing that they had defiled their own body. It was the likeness that the authorities and their angels defiled in every way.
EVE BEARS THE CHILDREN OF THE COSMIC POWERS
First Eve conceived Abel from the first ruler; and she bore the rest of the sons from the seven authorities and their angels. Now, all this came to pass according to the forethought of the chief creator, so that the first mother might bear within herself every seed, mixed and joined together with the fate of the world and its configurations and justice. A plan came into being because of Eve, so that the fashioned bodies of the authorities might become fences for the light. Then the light will condemn them through their fashioned bodies.
The first Adam of light is spiritual and appeared on the first day. The second Adam is a person with soul and appeared on the sixth day, called Aphrodite. The third Adam is earthly, that is, a man of law, who appeared on the eighth day, after the rest of poverty, which is called Sunday. Now, the progeny of the earthly Adam multiplied and was completed and produced within itself all the technical skill of the Adam with soul. But all were in ignorance.
THE TREES OF PARADISE AND THE BEAST
Next, let me continue. When the rulers saw him and the woman who was with him erring in ignorance like beasts, they rejoiced greatly. When they learned that an immortal human was not going to pass them by, but that they would even have to fear the woman who had turned into a tree, they were troubled and said, “Is this, perhaps, the true human, who blinded us and taught us about this defiled woman who is like him, that we might be conquered?”
Then the seven took counsel. They came to Adam and Eve timidly, and they said to him, “The fruit of every tree created for you in paradise may be eaten, but beware, don’t eat from the tree of knowledge. If you do eat, you will die.” After they gave them a great fright, they withdrew up to their authorities.
Then came the one who is wiser than all creatures, who was called the beast. When he saw the likeness of their mother, Eve, he said to her, “What is it that god said to you? ‘Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge’?” She said, “He said not only ‘Don’t eat from it’ but also ‘Don’t touch it, lest you die.’” He said to her, “Don’t be afraid! You certainly shall not die. For he knows that when you eat from it your mind will be sobered and you will become like gods, knowing the difference between evil and good people. For he said this to you because he is jealous, so that you would not eat from it.”
Now, Eve believed the words of the instructor. She looked at the tree and saw that it was beautiful and appealing, and she desired it. She took some of its fruit and ate, and she gave to her husband also, and he ate too. Then their minds opened. For when they ate, the light of knowledge shone for them. When they put on shame, they knew that they were naked with regard to knowledge. When they sobered up, they saw that they were naked, and they became enamored of one another. When they saw that their makers had beastly forms, they loathed them. They understood a great deal.
HAVE YOU EATEN FROM THE TREE?
Then when the rulers knew that Adam and Eve had transgressed their commandment, they entered paradise and came to Adam and Eve in an earthquake and a great threat, to see the result of the help that was given. Then Adam and Eve were very much disturbed and hid under the trees in paradise. The rulers did not know where they were and said, “Adam, where are you?” He said, “I am here. But because of fear of you I hid after I became ashamed.” But they said to him, in ignorance, “Who is the one who spoke to you of the shame that you put on—unless you ate from the tree?” He said, “The woman whom you gave me, she is the one who gave to me, and I ate.” Then they said to that woman, “What is this you have done?” She answered and said, “The instructor is the one who incited me, and I ate.” Then the rulers came to the instructor. Their eyes were blinded by him so they were not able to do anything to him. They merely cursed him, since they were powerless. Afterward they came to the woman, and they cursed her and her offspring. After the woman they cursed Adam and the earth and the fruit because of him. And everything that they created they cursed. There is no blessing from them. Good cannot come from evil.
Since that day the authorities knew that truly there was something stronger than they. They would not have known except that their commandment was broken. They brought a great envy into the world only because of the immortal human.
Now, when the rulers saw that their Adam had acquired a different knowledge, they wanted to test him. They gathered all the domestic animals and wild beasts of the earth and the birds of the heaven, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. When he saw them, he gave names to their creatures. They were troubled because Adam had sobered up from all ignorance. They gathered together and took counsel and said, “Look, Adam has become like one of us, so that he understands the difference between light and darkness. Now perhaps he will be deceived as with the tree of knowledge and will come to the tree of life and eat from it and become immortal and rule and condemn us and regard us and all our glory as folly. And then he will pass judgment on us and the world. Come, let’s cast him out of paradise down to the earth, the place from where he was taken, so that he will no longer be able to know anything better than we can.” And so they cast Adam and his wife out of paradise.
And what they had done did not satisfy them. Rather, they were still afraid. They came to the tree of life and they set great terrors around it, fiery living beings called cherubim; and they left a flaming sword in the midst, turning continually with a great terror, so that no one from among earthly beings might ever enter that place.
After these things, when the rulers had become jealous of Adam, they wanted to diminish the human lifetimes, but they were unable because of fate, which was established since the beginning. For their lifetimes were determined: for each of the people one thousand years according to the circuit of the luminaries. But although the rulers were not able to do this, each of the evildoers took away ten years. So all of the remaining time amounts to nine hundred thirty years, and these are spent in grief and weakness and in evil distractions. Thus life has gone, from that day until the consummation of the age.
PHOENIXES, WATER ANIMALS, BULLS OF EGYPT
Then when Sophia Zoe saw that the rulers of darkness cursed her companions, she was angry. And when she came out of the first heaven with every power, she chased the rulers from their heavens, and she cast them down to the sinful world, that they might dwell there as evil demons upon the earth. She sent the bird that was in paradise so that, until the consummation of the age, it might spend the thousand years in the rulers’ world: a vital living being with soul, called the phoenix, which kills itself and reanimates itself for a witness to their judgment, because they dealt unjustly with Adam and his race.
There are three human beings and their descendants in the world until the consummation of the age: the spiritual and the psychical and the earthly. This is like the three kinds of phoenixes of paradise: the first is immortal; the second attains one thousand years; as for the third, it is written in the Holy Book that it is consumed. Likewise three baptisms exist: the first is spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water.
Just as the phoenix appears as a witness for the angels, so too the water serpents in Egypt have become a witness to those who go down for the baptism of a true person. The two bulls in Egypt, insofar as they indicate the sun and the moon as a mystery, exist for a witness to Sabaoth, that Sophia of the world has been exalted above the sun and the moon, from the day when she created them and sealed her heaven until the consummation of the age. And the worm that is brought forth from the phoenix is also a human being. It is written of it, “The just will sprout like the phoenix.” The phoenix first appears alive, and dies, and rises again, as a sign of what appears at the consummation of the age. These great signs appeared only in Egypt, not in other lands, signifying that it is like the paradise of god.
ERROR AND IGNORANCE ENTER HUMAN HISTORY
Let us come back to the rulers of whom we spoke, that we might present an explanation of them. For when the seven rulers were cast from their heavens down upon the earth, they created for themselves angels, many demonic angels, to serve them. But these demons taught humankind many errors with magic and potions and idolatry, and shedding of blood, and altars, and temples, and sacrifices, and libations to all the demons of the earth, having as their co-worker fate, who came into being according to the agreement by the gods of injustice and justice. And thus when the world came into being, it wandered astray in distraction throughout all time. For all the people who are on the earth served the demons from the creation until the consummation of the age—both the angels of justice and the people of injustice. Thus the world came to be in distraction and ignorance and stupor. They all erred, until the appearance of the true human.
Enough for you to this point. Next we shall consider our world so that we might complete the discussion of its structure and its government in a precise manner. Then it will be clear how belief in hidden things, which have been apparent from the foundation to the consummation of the age, came about.
THE BLESSED INNOCENT SPIRITS
Now I come to the main points about immortal humankind. I shall explain why the beings belonging to the immortal human are here. When a multitude of people came into being through Adam, who was fashioned, and from matter, and when the world was filled, the rulers reigned over it, that is to say, they held it in ignorance. What is the cause? It is this. Since the immortal father knows that deficiency of truth came into being among the eternal realms and their worlds, when he wanted to bring to naught the rulers of destruction by means of their fashioned creatures, he sent your likenesses, namely, the blessed little guileless spirits, down to the world of destruction. They are not strangers to knowledge. For all knowledge is in an angel who appears before them, who stands in front of the father and is not powerless to give them knowledge. Immediately, whenever they appear in the world of destruction, they will first reveal the pattern of incorruptibility for condemnation of the rulers and their powers. Moreover, when the blessed ones appeared in the fashioned bodies of the authorities, they were envied. And because of envy, the authorities mixed their seed with them to defile them, but they were not able. Moreover, when the blessed ones appeared in their light, they appeared distinctively. And each one of them from their land revealed their knowledge to the assembly that appeared in the fashioned bodies of destruction. The assembly was found to have every seed because of the seed of the authorities that was mixed with it. Then the savior made all of them one. And the spirits of these appeared, being superior and blessed but varying in election, and many others are kingless and superior to everyone who was before them. Consequently, four races exist. There are three that belong to the kings of the eighth heaven. But the fourth race is kingless and perfect, above them all. For these will enter into the holy place of their father, and they will reside in rest, and eternal, ineffable glory, and ceaseless joy. They are already kings, immortal within the mortal realm. They will pass judgment on the gods of chaos and their powers.
JESUS THE LOGOS
Now, the word, who is more exalted than anyone, was sent for this work only, to announce what is unknown. He said, “There is nothing hidden that will not appear, and what was unknown will be known.” Now these were sent so they might reveal what is hidden and expose the seven authorities of chaos and their impiety. And they were condemned to be killed. So when all the perfect ones appeared in the fashioned bodies of the rulers and revealed incomparable truth, they put to shame every wisdom of the gods, and their fate was discovered to be condemnable, their power dried up, their dominion was destroyed, and their forethought and their glory became empty.
THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE AND THE APOCALYPSE
Before the consummation of the age, the whole place will be shaken by great thunder. Then the rulers will lament, crying out on account of their death. The angels will mourn for their human beings, and the demons will weep for their times and seasons, and their people will mourn and cry out on account of their death. Then the age will begin, and they will be disturbed. Their kings will be drunk from the flaming sword and will make war against one another, so that the earth will be drunk from the blood that is poured out. And the seas will be troubled by that war. Then the sun will darken and the moon will lose its light. The stars of the heaven will disregard their course, and great thunder will come out of great power that is above all the powers of chaos, the place where the firmament of the woman is situated. When she has created the first work, she will take off her wise flame of afterthought and will put on irrational wrath. Then she will drive out the gods of chaos, whom she had created together with the chief creator. She will cast them down to the abyss. They will be wiped out by their own injustice. For they will become like the mountains that blaze out fire, and they will consume one another until they are destroyed by their chief creator. When he destroys them, he will turn against himself and destroy himself until he ceases to be. And their heavens will fall upon one another and their powers will burn. Their realms will also be overthrown. And the chief creator’s heaven will fall and split in two. Likewise, his stars in their sphere will fall down to the earth, and the earth will not be able to support them. They will fall down to the abyss, and the abyss will be overthrown.
THE LIGHT IS SAVED AND GNOSTICS RETURN HOME
The light will cover the darkness and obliterate it. It will become like something that never existed. And the source of the darkness will be dissolved. The deficiency will be plucked out at its root and thrown down to the darkness. And the light will withdraw up to its root, and the glory of the unconceived will appear, and it will fill all the eternal realms, when the prophetic utterances and the writings of those who are rulers are revealed and are fulfilled by those who are called perfect. Those who were not perfected in the unconceived father will receive their glories in their realms and in the kingdoms of immortals. But they will not ever enter the kingless realm.
For it is necessary that everyone enter the place from which he has come. Each one by his deeds and his gnosis will reveal his nature.
Translated by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer
BEFORE THE BEGINNING