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The Gospel of Truth

A Valentinian Meditation on the Gospel

Translation from the Coptic and Commentary by Kendrick Grobel

Abingdon Press, New York & Nashville: 1960

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-5231




Page 7

Abbreviations and Signs in the Text


The Valentinian Meditation on the Gospel


The Plot of Planē (17:14)


The Withheld Completeness (18:38)


The Teacher of the Book (19:18)


Jesus Suffers for the Book (20: 10)


The Book Grants Completion (21:3)


Meditation I on the Name (21:30)


Similitude of Drunkenness (22:16)


Hymn on the Perfect Book (23:3)


Revelation (24:9)


Similitude of Ignorance and Darkness (24:32)


Jars and Judgment (25:25)


Illusory Existence (27:34)


The Nightmare Parable (28:28)


A Beatitude (30:12)


The Shepherd of the Sheep that Strayed (31:35)


-Original page 5-

Salvation on the Sabbath (32:18)


Those Who Were Yours (33:35)


The Anointing (36:17)


The Logos (37:4)


The Will (37:21)


The Name II (38:8)


The Place (41:4)


Epilogue (42:39)






The first of the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls came to light in 1947. A few years earlier,1 not later than 1945, peasant laborers making an excavation in Upper Egypt had made an equally interesting find. Without archaeological intent they accidentally dug into a tomb of the early Christian period, probably fourth century. It contained a large jar full of books, a regular library comprising about forty-eight works.2 One volume, deposited in the Coptic Museum in 1946, was later purchased by the Museum, and there it remains. Another volume— the one containing the Gospel of Truth— was sold into private hands that same year. Early in 1949 the rest of the volumes were deposited in the Coptic Museum. In 1952, after protracted negotiations and ultimately by seizure3 the entire find (minus the volume already privately sold) became the



From the early accounts in Vigiliae Christianae, 1948 and 1949, all that could be gathered about the date was that one of the volumes of the find was offered to the Coptic Museum, Cairo, in October, 1946, and that the codex later to bear the title Codex Jung was first purchased during that same year. The first press notice of the find is said to have appeared in the Cairo papers of January 11 and 12, 1948. In 1949, M. Doresse, of the Louvre, visited the locality and decided upon 1945 as the probable year of the discovery.


Doresee now counts forty-nine by recognizing a new division among the Hermetic tracts of what he once called Volume IX, but now calls Volume VI. See Vigiliae Christianae, 3 ( 1949), 137; and J. Doresse, Livres Secrets des Gnostiques d' Égypte, pp. 166-67, 169.


Pahor Labib. Coptic Gnostic Papyri in the Coptic Museum at old Cairo ( Cairo: Government Press, 1956). p. 1.


property of the Coptic Museum. Of this vast material at Cairo there has so far been published a single volume consisting of 158 photographic plates. (See footnote 3.)

The site of the discovery lies on the eastward bend of the Nile just south of the middle of Egypt, some three hundred miles from Cairo and about thirty miles short— north— of Luxor. The discoverers were first reported to have been fellahin from the small city on the west bank of the river where the railroad crosses to the other side— Nag Hammadi.4 But the investigation of Doresse5 at the site established that they were from Debbah and Hamra-Doum, villages on the east side of the Nile, and that they were working on their own side of the river at the foot of Jebel-et-Tarif, about five miles northeast of the bridge. This is about where the ancient town of Chenoboskion6 once was, known in Christian history as the site of an early monastery (ca. AD 320) of Pachomius and hence one of the earliest of all Christian monasteries. At first this find was given the popular appellation Library of Nag Hammadi. Evidently it was from there that it was first heard of. One can readily conjecture that it was simply the nearest larger town where the discoverers could find a merchant willing to risk the 3£ Egyptian ($8.50), which was all they got for their important discovery. It now seems more appropriate to call it after the nearer and more historic site, Library of Chenoboskion.

The library, though it comprises so many titles, consists of eleven volumes, some substantially complete and in their



Population in 1908, 4400 (Baedeker). The transcription of the name varies in both parts: Nag, Nagc, or Nagca; and Hamadi or Hammadi.


J. Doresse, ‘Sur les Traces des Papyrus Gnostiques: Recherches A Chénoboskion’ in Académie Royale de Belgique. Bulletin de la Classe des Lettres et des Sciences Morales et Politiques 5. Série, XXXVI (1950), pp. 432-39; also Doresse, Livres Secrets, pp. 133-56.


Xηνοβóσκιον ‘Goose-pasture!’ Coptic: Sheneset.


bindings (nine, apparently), two without bindings, and minor remnants of two otherwise vanished books. All of the books are— or were— codices, not scrolls, and written on papyrus, bound in leather (with some blind tooling, to judge from a photograph in V.C. III.128),7 with envelope flaps and attached thongs to tie the volumes shut. The papyrus pages, in spite of their brittleness, are said to be in excellent condition; the photographic facsimiles so far published bear this out. Most of the one-thousand-odd pages in the find are whole; relatively few pages are missing or out of place.

All of the writing is in Coptic— the youngest form of the old Hamitic language of Egypt— but in most cases, perhaps all, is translated from a Greek original. Nine of the volumes are in the Sahidic dialectic of Coptic (the dialect of Upper Egypt and the most important literary medium), a more archaic Sahidic, according to Doresse, than any hitherto known. Two (?) others are in a long disputed dialect closest to Subakhmimic; one other contains writings some of which are in this dialect and some in Sahidic. Doresse judges them to be of various dates but all within the period of approximately AD 250 to 350; Puech and Quispel extend the later date to about the end of the fourth century as a safer but still uncertain boundary.

Of this large find a single volume has reached the outside world, the one which contains among its five writings the Gospel of Truth.8 How it left Egypt is, for understandable reasons, kept mysterious except that we are told that it was



A very similar photograph can now be seen in Doresse, Livres Secrets, between pages 136 and 137.


The recent photographic facsimiles of Coptic Gnostic Papyri, Vol. I, make indirectly available all that has survived of what is missing from the Codex Jung and 112 pages of the 175 pages of Doresse Vol. X: The John Apocryphon, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, and the Hypostasis of the Archons (the latter probably still to be completed).


at the instigation of a Belgian antiquary, since deceased, named Eid. It was brought to the United States in search of a purchaser, nearly found one, but was taken back to Belgium, where for some time its location remained unknown to scholars. It was located by Gilles Quispel, professor of the University of Utrecht, through whom it was purchased in 1952 by George H. Page, a resident of a suburb of Zurich, as a gift to the Jung Institute in Zurich. In honor of the famous director of the institute, Carl G. Jung, the papyrus has been named Codex Jung.

This codex differs from all the others in both format and content. As to format, the other codices have pages about three fifths as wide as they are tall, approximating the page proportions of our familiar octavo books of today width/height = about ⅔; but Codex Jung is narrow and tall, the pages 14 x 29 cm. (ca. 5½ × 11½ in.) and the written area 9.5 x 24 cm. (ca. 3¾ × 9½ in.).9 Since its discovery the Codex has lost its leather binding and come apart, but the pages bear their ancient numeration in the middle of the upper margin. One hundred pages remain, ninety-six with numbers, two that have lost their numbers by mutilation, and two that may have been the last leaf of the book, though now showing no number. The numbered pages are 1-32, 37-48, 51-58, and 91-134. The first gap (lacuna) lies within the Gospel of Truth, but according to Doresse certain leaves from this Codex are on deposit at the Cairo Museum and among them is some of the text of the Gospel of Truth. Fortunately both the missing leaves from the Gospel of Truth are there and have now been published



It may be of some significance that another of the very few extant books in this dialect has this same unusual format. This is the Gospel of John published by H. Thompson in 1924. It measures 13 x 26 cm. (ca 5 ¼ × 10½ in.) (page) and 8.5 × 21 cm. (ca. 3 ¼ × 8 ¼ in.) (written area). I.e., in ratio of width to height, .50 (page) and .40 (writing) as compared with Codex Jung's .48 (page) and .39 (writing).


in the photographic edition mentioned on page 7. These pages (33-36 of the MS) are here published in English for the first time. On these high, narrow pages the lines of writing are necessarily short, averaging about twenty letters, but the number of lines per page is correspondingly high, ranging (within the compass of the Gospel of Truth) from thirty-four to forty-one lines. To facilitate line-by-line reference to the printed Coptic text or to the photographic facsimiles behind it, the lines of the original are approximately preserved in this translation except where doing so would have intolerably wrenched English syntax; in such cases a word or phrase may be displaced by as much as two lines.

Internally two things set this codex apart from the rest of the library. (1) It is written in the non-Sahidic dialect which only very few of the books exhibit. Whatever may be the case with the other non-Sahidic works, it now becomes clear that the Gospel of Truth is to all intents and purposes written in Subakhmimic (A2), a dialect recognized by Copticists for at least fifty years. It is the dialect once spoken downstream from Akhmim at and round about Asyût, something more than a hundred miles downstream from Chenoboskion. At or near Asyût, then, this translation of the Greek Gospel of Truth must have been made; there, too, in all likelihood this copy of the translation was made and from there later brought up river to Chenoboskion.10 There are some differences from the A2 documents hitherto known, but they may plausibly be attributed to three factors: idiosyncrasies of the translator, the early date



In The Jung Codex’ the translator lets Puech say that Subakhmimic was the dialect spoken ‘where the Codex was found’ (p.17). Did Puech not write: ‘where the Codex was written? For the overwhelming majority of the volumes, being in Sahidic, indicate that the Gnostic community of Chenoboskion spoke Sahidic just as Pachomius' orthodox community did at the same place and time. The modern Arabic name for the place is also suggestive: Kasr es Saijad.


of the manuscript and the fact that all the previously known A2 documents are either orthodox Christian or Manichean-this is the first Christian Gnostic document in A2 that has been published— and each of these religious groups probably had traditional linguistic mannerisms of its own. The more important internal difference is that (2) while the majority of the library's writings belong to a Gnostic sect labeled ‘Sethian’ by Puech and Quispel, this whole Codex is of the Valentinian sect. What was that?

To answer this question one must say something of the remarkable man Valentinus. Born in northern Egyptca. AD 100-110 (deduction only) probably in a Greek-speaking family in spite of his Latin name, which he may have adopted later, he received a thorough Hellenistic education at Alexandria. When he became a Christian is unknown, but he was already teaching in Egypt before he moved to Rome, where he lived and worked about 136-155 (or 165?) in uneasy rapport with the church there. In fact he was ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the Roman congregation of the Great Church. Tertullian, too young to have known him, abhors his name, telling us (de praescriptione haer.) that he and Marcion had been semel et iterum ejecti— ‘cast out [of the Church] once and again’ if we take his counting literally (but perhaps ‘repeatedly’). In order to be ejected even twice, a man must have been readmitted once, and readmission implies that at this one time at least (and lasting how long?) the Christians at Rome had no serious misgivings about his orthodoxy. If Tertullian may be believed further, then either before his first ejection or after his restitution (less likely) his standing in that congregation was so high that he had a not altogether unreasonable expectation of being made a bishop. Not unreasonable— at least Tertullian refrains from any ironic exclamations at so preposterous a hope, such as we would expect of Tertullian if


he really had considered it preposterous. On the contrary, he even leans in the other direction and, in spite of himself as it were, wrings from his pen a testimony that is all the more noteworthy, as coming from him, a testimony that goes far toward justifying Valentinus' episcopal aspirations. ‘Because both as to talent and eloquence he was an able man’ (de praescriptione, 30). This is an amazing admission! But it is certainly muted and dampened by Tertullian's orthodox revulsion. All the Christians of the second century are personalities in a deep historical shadow, even where considerable of their writing has survived. We can at least speculate that if Ignatius, Valentinus, and Justin Martyr had been equally fortunate as to the survival of their writings, Valentinus might turn out to have been both the ablest in ‘talent and eloquence’ and the most original of the three and of their whole century— originality, of course, being always an entirely ambivalent endowment, capable of producing a great poet or an arch liar of the same man (even both in the same man), depending upon how it is used. Had Valentinus' originality only been harnessed in and by the Great Church! He was not made bishop. Tertullian does not hesitate to ascribe Valentinus' rupture ‘from the Church of authentic rule’ to his offended dignity at being thus passed over. He may well be right. However we do not know when the break took place nor how, nor how long he still taught in Rome as a heretical Christian. According to Ireneus he was in Rome at least until Anicetus became bishop (154 or 155)— but how long had he been heretical? Before his death (date unknown) he apparently left Rome and taught somewhere farther east— on Cyprus, Epiphanius says, but that may only be his local patriotism. Epiphanius was a Cypriote.

With the additional fact that he was able to attract to himself gifted and passionate disciples who for several generations


taught and expanded his ideas (and ultimately distorted them beyond recognition), that is all we know about Valentinus-except his teaching.

But do we know all that we are told about Valentinus' teaching? The source materials are abundant but with the exception of a few direct quotations, probably genuine, they all turn out to be secondary, tertiary, or of even remoter degree. Conventionally Ireneus' Against Heresies has been regarded as the chief source. Close in time (ca. 180-90) and written at no great distance from Rome (Lyons— Lugdunum), its information is precious. But the grandiose system described in the first eight chapters of Book I, while it may be Valentinian, turns out to be three times removed from Valentinus himself. It is: (1) Ireneus' never quite sympathetic account of the system (upoqesiV, I.8.1) taught by anonymous (2) disciples of (3) Ptolemy (§2 of Ireneus' Preface), who had been a direct pupil of Valentinus. Each transfer gives opportunity for distortion of the original teaching— probably greatest between numbers three and two. For the letter of Ptolemy to Flora preserved in Epiphanius 33.3-7 reveals to us a very ‘moderate Gnostic’ (Bultmann) indeed who says nothing that would make one guess the existence of the bizarre speculations of Ireneus' chapters 1-8, though of course no one can know what lies behind the vague allusions at the end of the letter (§ 9). Since the general tendency of the whole gnostic movement from the second to the fourth centuries seems to be toward more vivid mythology and more and more daring speculation, it is probably permissible to assume that the wild heterodoxy of Ptolemy's disciples bears somewhat the same kind of relation to Ptolemy's mild heterodoxy, as this does to Valentinus' relatively unknown position. If so, we would expect to find Valentinus more nearly orthodox than Ptolemy— perhaps on the outer edge of orthodoxy or over the border in heterodoxy


but still not far from orthodoxy. Yet when Ireneus for the extent of one page (I,11,1) purports to be reporting the specific teaching of Valentinus himself, he offers us the same old system of chapters 1-8 ( Ptolemy's disciples) with some details changed but basically the same scheme: thirty Eons or stages of being emanated serially from (or within?) the ineffable Deity and grouped in three ranks, one of eight members, one of ten, and one of twelve. One from the twelve-group ‘fell’ and in a here unexplained way created the rest of the universe— it is evidently the myth of Sophia in tersest allusive form. Add a slightly more complicated Horos-speculation and a variation as to the origin of the celestial (the pre-existent) Christ, and you have Ireneus' account. Then either our expectation that we would find Valentinus nearer to orthodoxy was wrong— or Ireneus did not know but merely deduced what Valentinus had taught from his firsthand knowledge of what Valentinians were still teaching. Karl Heussi11 judges that Valentinus was ‘incomparably closer to normative Christianity than his disciples who much more than he, were influenced by syncretism.’ (‘Dass sein System . . . dem Gemeindechristentum ungleich náher stand, als seine viel mehr durch den Synkretismus bestimmten Schüler,’ §13r). Probably Heussi here has in mind and is approving the convincing attempt of Eugène de Faye12 to understand Valentinus solely from the few reasonably reliable direct quotations that have come down from him, principally in the Miscellanies of Clement of Alexandria. In contrast to the heresiologies of the church fathers the most striking thing in the fragments is that they reveal a Valentinus whose soteriology is Christocentric-not pleromatocentric or sophiacentric— and a man whose thought still shows the virtue of simplicity. As to the relative



Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte, 7th ed., 1930.


Gnostiques et Gnosticisme, 2nd ed., pp. 57-74.


amount of mythical symbol and metaphysical speculation to be attributed to the historical Valentinus, we must remember the evidence for a development within him away from orthodox Christianity. At the end of his teaching days he was likely indulging in speculations and using myth symbols which had been foreign to his earlier days, or embryonic, or veiled with ambiguity. If we had enough of his actual words we might be able to detect three stages of Valentinus: (1) Valentinus the catholic Christian (though with a tendency to daring expression), (2) Valentinus the bizarre Christian of doubtful acceptability to the Great Church, (3) Valentinus the brilliant heretic, a speculative Gnostic, but nevertheless closer to the Church's teaching than even Ptolemy or Heracleon. From seeking the Valentinus behind the fragments, De Faye could say:

Valentine appears to have been a highly cultured person, long familiar with Plato, obsessed by the deepest religious and ethical aspirations of his time, haunted by the problem of evil and that of salvation, a man who came to Christianity because he felt that in it he had found satisfaction for the needs of his conscience and the solution for the problems with which he was preoccupied. Having become a Christian, he continued to meditate and dig. Christianity, far from halting his mind's flight, only stimulated it the more. By this route he became the most daring speculative mind in the second century.13

These appraisals of De Faye and Heussi were made three decades ago when no one dreamed that a whole Gnostic library was soon to be unearthed and in it a volume that is distinctly of the Valentinian school of Gnosticism, not of the later schools derivative from it or parallel with it— the Codex Jung.

How do we know that the Codex Jung is Valentinian? Not by any author's name found within it. All five of the writings



Ibid., p. 74.


are strictly anonymous: (1) An aprocyphal Letter of James, (2) our present Gospel of Truth, (3) a Letter of Rheginos (or Reginus) on the Resurrection, (4) a Treatise on the Three Natures, (5) a fragment of a prayer attributed to an apostle. Only the second has as yet been published,14 but Puech and Quispel have published the results of their preliminary study of the first and the third.15 Concerning the first they write:

In the letter itself there are not indications numerous enough or explicit enough to permit us to affirm without any reservation whatever that it is the work of a Gnostic and not of some more or less orthodox Christian. Although we should be inclined, personally, to regard it as a document of Valentinian Gnosticism, we would readily grant that it would not be impossible to see in it, as in the Epistula Apostolorum, a stray product of early Christian literature.16

Concerning the third they go further: ‘The Letter to Rheginos comes either from a teacher belonging to the eastern branch of Valentinianism— or from Valentinus himself. As to the choice between these two possibilities, we would decide for ourselves, with all due reservations, in favor of the latter.’ Whetted by such a judgment from two cautious scholars, many now impatiently await their edition and translation of this third writing.

Our present interest is in item two. It has neither a title, nor an ascription of authorship, nor any colophon, but its first words are: ‘The Gospel of Truth.’ By its incipit it was known, as were many ancient books. Now a book popularly



From the Cairo residue of the Codex Jung, Coptic Gnostic Papyri now makes available in photographic facsimile four pages of the second and the last two pages of the third.


Les écrits gnostiques du Codex Jung.’ See Bibliography within.


Ibid., p. 11.


designated by this term has been known, as a mere name, since the writings of Ireneus. In III.11.9, he writes:

But they who are from Valentinus, being here again without any reverence, bring forth their own compositions and boast of having more Gospels than there are. In fact they have gone to such lengths of audacity as to entitle what was not long ago composed by them [The] Gospel of Truth, though it in no way agrees with the Gospels of the apostles, lest even the Gospel should be without blasphemy among them. For if what is brought forth by them is the Gospel of Truth but is unlike those which were passed on to us by the apostle, ‘those who will can learn’ (as Scripture itself intimates17) that what was passed on by the apostles is no longer the Gospel of the truth.

This is rather general. Conceivably two different works could have had this same name, whether title or incipit. Is there no more specific identification? There is. In Ireneus II.24.6, where the author is refuting the Valentinian scheme in general without naming any particular subdivision, he well-nigh quotes Gospel of Truth 31:35 ff.— though evidently at secondhand, for there is no evidence that he had ever examined an actual copy of it— in these words:

But further, though ‘they’ call material things ‘left hand’ and say that whatever is of the left hand necessarily falls into perdition and that the Savior came to the lost sheep to transfer it to the ‘right hand’— that is, to those ninety-nine sheep who belong to salvation and did not perish but remained in the fold— they still have to admit that (the latter), being a gesture of the left hand, do not [by their own definition] belong to salvation.

Though the Gospel of Truth is not here named, this passage coupled with III.11.9, is explicit identification. (I.16.1 & 2



Where? Possibly I Cor. 14:35 in Greek (the only language in which it was available to Ireneus) which can be translated: ‘If they wish to learn . . . let them ask. . . .’


had already indicated that a similar teaching was repeated by the school of the Valentinian pupil Marcus with numerological elaboration.)

Ireneus evidently did not know by whom this work was written; he vaguely says (see quotation above from III.11.9) ‘by them’— someone or other of the Valentinian school. If he had suspected that Valentinus himself might be the author he would almost certainly have accused him of it, as he does not hesitate to saddle him, by implication, with all the inventions of Ptolemy's disciples (Valentinus' ‘grandchildren’), in the witty parody at I.11.4: ‘the delirious melons of Valentinus.’ Neither do we know who wrote it, nor does any ancient writer tell us unambiguously. But the unknown author of Against All Heresies (Pseudo-Tertullian) tells us (ch. IV) of Valentinus: ‘He also has his own gospel beyond these of ours.’ He writes ‘has,’ not ‘wrote.’ Nevertheless, what are we to suppose is meant by ‘his own gospel’? One that he approved and used? Surely— and a fifth gospel, not one of the canonical four. But by whom was it written? We know of no Christian-Gnostic predecessor who could have written a gospel that would have led this brilliant and original thinker to adopt it for his own use. Nor is it at all likely that this fertile teacher would have adopted the work of one of his own pupils. Furthermore the most probable interpretation of ‘his own gospel’ is that he had it as his own because he had written it. Whether the words are true can of course be questioned. Pseudo-Tertullian may be mistaken or mendacious. Or he may be making ‘Valentinus’ simply eponymous for all that was Valentinian in his own time, as others evidently did. But let us keep open the possibility that he knew the facts and was speaking truth— that Valentinus himself wrote a ‘gospel,’ this Gospel of Truth.

Brief acquaintance with our present text quickly reveals


that Ireneus is right in saying that it ‘in no way agrees with the Gospels of the apostles’— at least so far as content, plan, and method are concerned.18 It is in no sense a narrative, and it contains not a single story about Jesus, though it alludes to some. It never explicitly cites words of Jesus,19 though again it alludes to some known from the Canon. It never names any country or city or other geographical entity nor any date; it never mentions any apostle or disciple nor uses the name of any human being except Jesus (three times, ‘Jesus Christ’ once, and once ‘Christ’ alone). More important still, it nowhere makes the slightest claim to be either a gospel or the gospel. The gospel of which it speaks is the gospel in Paul's sense— the good news proclaimed and embodied by Christ and now bequeathed to believers as a responsibility for further proclamation. The ‘Book’ of which it often speaks is this preliterary gospel of Paul which is pre-existent not merely to Christ's advent but to the universe itself insofar as the author identifies it with the Living Book of the Living. The ‘Book’ certainly is none of the canonical gospels, nor this nameless writing itself. Nor does there seem to be any polemic against the canonical gospels (or other books of the Canon, for that matter) as if they were rivals. Rather, their validity and their content seem to be accepted as beyond discussion and alluded to in much the same way as in Ignatius' letters. The gospel which is the subject of praise and reflection in this writing is the underlying good news behind the four canonical gospels and the NT as a whole. Pseudo-Tertullian is right, if ‘gospel’ be marked as a popular



Though it would be rash to assert that the underlying ideas of the canonical Gospels and those of this document are completely, or even mainly, at variance with each other.


36:14 ff. comes close to doing so.


and inaccurate designation. ‘He has his own 'gospel' beyond these of ours’— beyond, not in place of— in addition to, not in competition with— the Church's gospels. Had he been less partisan, Pseudo-Tertullian might have and should have continued, ‘and, in all candor, the book has no title and claims 'Gospel' only as its subject, fit subject for any Christian.’ If the author of our work had felt a real need for a title he might very well have chosen his own phrase 37:3, ‘Words of Meditation,’ adding perhaps ‘Concerning the Gospel.’ As a descriptive designation, at any rate, these words are placed over the following translation.

Where does this meditation stand between orthodoxy and heterodoxy? Deity, far from being a thirtyfold complex à la Ireneus, consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. ‘God’ as an explicit word (noute) occurs twice; once in the most Hebraic passage of the whole work (37:33), and the context leaves no doubt that the Hebrew-Christian God is meant, God whose will is supreme and who, Himself— not some Demiurge— is the creator of the universe. Otherwise God is always called the Father, and with no suggestion of a distinction between a Propator and a being emanated from him to be called merely Pater (or Nous or Monogenes). ‘Nous’ occurs but as the Father's mind (16:36; 19:37) not a relatively independent hypostasis except perhaps at 37:10. Bythos never occurs. The synonym ‘bathos’ (depth, or height) occurs, but as the depth ‘of Him’ (22:25) or ‘of His thought’ (37:7); only in 40:27 might bathos be thought to have a certain independence. Several of the other attributes and epithets of God from which the thirty Eons of the Pleroma bore their names in the system of Ptolemy's disciples occur either in transparent Coptic translation or left as Greek, but


they occur as attributes and epithets of God, not as independent mythological persons.20

There is but one Son, not a whole genealogy of several generations of Eons— the Father's beloved Son (30:31) who preexisted as the Father's secret, His Word (only twice ‘Logos,’ otherwise Coptic equivalent), upon whom he conferred his name, whom the Father revealed, and who thereupon revealed the Father, thus bestowing saving knowledge of Him, salvation. There is no suggestion of a split Son, a Jesus and a Christ, much less of a fourfold split into a heavenly Jesus and an earthly Jesus, a heavenly Christ and a Christ on earth. Though the category of history is rarely touched, the history of Jesus' passion is both implicitly and explicitly present. Even whether Jesus on earth is Docetically conceived is at least uncertain; the one expression which might decide the matter (31:6) is ambiguous. (See commentary below.)

The (Holy) Spirit is not prominent in the meditation. Complete with the adjective the expression occurs only three times, of which two seem to be within glosses (24:11; 26:36); the third (27:4) is an echo of John 20:22. But just as in the NT, Spirit also occurs with article or possessive pronoun and no adjective yet pretty certainly means Holy Spirit; in two of these cases the Spirit appears as Helper (30:17) or Sustainer (42:33); the third is obscure (43:17). Once ‘the spirit of



This is a noteworthy confirmation of what Tertullian says (Against the Valentinians, IV): ‘Upon that [sc. path of Valentinus] Ptolemy (we are inclined to understand rather: the disciples of Ptolemy] later entered by separating the names and numbers of the Eons into personal beings defined, however, as being outside of God, whereas Valentinus had included them, as movements of thought and feeling, within the sum total of Divinity itself.’ (Taken by itself— and do we really know yet how to put it into the original context of Valentinus' own thought?— the last clause would also describe the too rarely criticized ‘orthodox’ speculations on the inner motives of God indulged in by most medieval and modern theologians.)


power’ (31:18) is mentioned (cf. II Tim. 1:7, Isa. 11:2), but there is about it the same ambiguity as in the Canon. While clearly of divine origin, it is loaned to certain men and becomes a characteristic of them— the ambiguity is beautifully illustrated by the distribution of ‘Spirit’ and ‘spirit’ in RSV Isa. 11:2. There is no suggestion that Pneuma ( Heb. Ruach, fem.) is a female, which has to be the case in the system of Ptolemy's disciples where Pneuma is the heavenly spouse of Christus (Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, XI). Neither for Pneuma nor any other attribute is anything like a syzygy intimated. In fact in the meditation as in the NT, it may be doubted that the Holy Spirit has even the degree of independence which the later concept of the third person of the Trinity ascribed to it; it is a function of God.

There is neither mention of, nor allusion to, any sort of Horos-speculation— contrary to the expectation aroused by Ireneus I.11.1.

The most striking lack of all is the absence of Sophia. She is the central figure— whether heroine or villainess is hard to say, more nearly the latter— of the drama of creation in all the heresiologists when they treat of the Valentinian ‘fable’ or myth. The meditation once uses the Greek word ‘sophia,’ but with a verb so appropriate (r-.meleta, ‘meditate’) that there can be little doubt but that ‘sophia’ here is the ordinary appellative, not a proper name. Whose wisdom is not easy to decide. The pioneer translators thought God's; if so, then in the nonmythological (or at least no longer mythological) way in which the Bible usually speaks of God's wisdom. On stylistic grounds I think it more likely that it means the believer's (knower's) wisdom conferred upon him by the Book (see notes at 23:18). Coptic synonyms of the root ‘wise’ (sbw and rm-.n-.6ht) occur, but without mythological suggestiveness. The key figure, the Eon Sophia, whose troubles


led to the release of the forces of creation and resulted in the creation of this, gnostically speaking, lamentable universe, and the concomitant need for salvation from it, is missing. On the whole, one would be inclined to characterize this meditation as either nonmythological— or mythological only as the Christology of the NT is mythological— or, at the most, veiledly mythological, were it not for one other figure not yet mentioned. This is t.planh, ‘the error’ or ‘Error.’ Among the ten occurrences of this term there are all the following possibilities: (1) a simple appellative with no personal implication (22:21, 24; 31:25; 32:37), (2) the appellative personified, (3) the appellative hypostatized but wavering as all hypostasis does between poetic personification and personal independence, and (4) a mythological person with a history of her own who then demands a proper name. Four21 passages seem to demand that we recognize the probability of an Error myth here. Consequently in the translation planh is always transliterated and capitalized— Planē. This device looks more confident than it really is; it only intends to reflect the translator's growing conviction that a hitherto unrecognized myth is here present. (See the notes within.) Resemblances to the Sophia myth and important differences from it are there pointed out. May it be that this Planē myth is the mother in Valentinus' own teaching of the later Sophia myth— though the latter must have other roots that are centuries older than Valentinus— in the Valentinian school and then in the Ptolemaic?22 Perhaps the other works in the Codex Jung will throw light upon the question.

Apart from its blurred mythology the meditation is unmis-



17:16-21, 30-35; 18:2; 26:19-25.


This adjective throughout the book has nothing to do with the astronomer Ptolemy, but means ‘pertaining to Valentinus' disciple Ptolemy.’


takably Gnostic in thought and feeling— Gnostic in a wide enough sense to include some underlying presuppositions in Paul, John, Deutero-Paul, and Ignatius. Not that the Greek word Gnosis or any word on that stem occurs in the meditation. The Coptic root saune (Sah. sooun), verb and noun, represents it; the synonymns mme, ema6te, and 4wp may perhaps represent a Greek word of the stem gno, but saune is so prominent that I have reserved the translation Gnosis to it, though sometimes the verb with object forces one to let ‘know’ render it. I have tried to represent the synonymous stems by verbs other than ‘know.’ The capitalization of Gnosis in the translation is admittedly tendential. By the same device many a sentence of Paul or John could be made to seem more technically Gnostic than it is in reality. ‘Knowledge’ is a central and legitimate concern in all biblical faith. The reader of this transation should in every case make the experiment of reading the word without the capital. The capital only calls it to his special attention.

An important word of usual Gnostic vocabulary is strikingly absent: Proballein, ‘emanate.’ The frequent use of this word in Pistis Sophia suggests that the Greek verb was so established as a technical term that no native Coptic word had been sought or needed to express it. The meditation has neither the Greek verb nor a Coptic equivalent. The Father is indeed said to ‘beget’ as in the Canon, but to beget ‘the Son,’ again as in the Canon. Neither does the technical term Probolh ‘emanation’ occur (contrast Pistis Sophia). If there is a Coptic equivalent for it here, it is the problematic, not otherwise known, word 5h (six times) which the pioneer translators conjectured to have this meaning. Strange, however, that neither Pistis Sophia nor the Books of Jeû seem to know the word. Furthermore ‘emanation’ is derived from a basically verbal idea; the lack both of a cognate verb and of any


synonymous verb counsels the caution of leaving it an untranslated enigma for the present.

W.C. van Unnik, professor of NT at Utrecht, has declared unequivocally that Valentinus himself was the author of this work.23 I agree with him. Certainly the author must be sought within the Valentinian circle. If a pupil of Valentinus, he would seem to be an ‘earlier’ one than Ptolemy or Heracleon because he is less evolved in the irresistible mythological-heterodox trend than either of them (even Ptolemy distinguishes the Demiurge from God, as the meditation does not). It is also fairly certain that he wrote in the Latin-speaking half of the empire. The Greco-Latin hybrid phormē (27:20 = forma) for morphē points in this direction; so does the particular system of finger reckoning presupposed by page 32, for this system is known only from Latin lands. This does not necessarily mean Rome or even Italy, but it does not exclude Rome. Yet he wrote in Greek, evidently at a place in the Latin-speaking world where Christians still spoke Greek. That suggests either Rome or the Rhone valley, but if the bishop of Lugdunum had known that a notorious Valentinian had written in his own neighborhood he certainly would have mentioned it when he indignantly spoke of Gnostic morals there (Ireneus I.13.7). That leaves Rome. We know that the two outstanding leaders of western Valentinianism after Valentinus were Ptolemy and Heracleon, yet the surviving fragments of their writings do not favor their authorship of this work. We are left with the choice of a brilliant, unrecorded pupil of Valentinus early enough to have written at Rome this not even certainly heretical work— or Valentinus himself. Economy of theory favors the latter, the explicit statement of Pseudo-Tertullian supports it, and Ireneus'



The Jung Codex, pp. 81 ff.


vaguer remarks (see above, p. 19) are not against it. The ascription of authorship of many books of the NT rests upon more tenuous evidence than this. Puech and Quispel speak with respect (EvVer, p. xiv) of van Unnik's hypothesis but remain aloof from it. We shall provisionally treat the meditation as Valentinus' work.

The safest thing that can be said about the original date of the work is that it considerably antedates the writings of Ireneus' Against Heresies (written ca. AD 180-88). In that work Ireneus says the Valentinian ‘gospel’ was composed ‘not long ago’ (see p. 18 above). How long is ‘not long’? It is a relative term, of course, but Ireneus is using it relative to the age of the canonical Gospels, which he probably dates still within the first century, even though he would have to date them all after AD 80 ( Jesus lived fifty years!— Iren. II.22.5). To one looking backward a hundred years, probably anything appreciably younger than fifty years happened ‘not long ago.’ If this be assumed, we have narrowed the limits to ca. 140-70; had it been any later than 170 Ireneus would have said ‘very recently’ rather than ‘not long ago.’ But, by hypothesis, Valentinus wrote it himself while he was in Rome and while he was still in or not far out of the Great Church. Ireneus dates Valentinus' sojourn at Rome by the names of the bishops there: ‘Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished (or ‘reached his peak,’ hkmase) under Pius, and remained until Anicetus.’24 No reliable dates can be set for Hyginus, but Pius' office seems to have lasted ca. 140-54 and Anicetus' ca. 154-65. Unfortunately ‘until Anicetus’ does not unambiguously mean ‘up to, but not including, Anicetus,’25 even though that is the more likely meaning.



Latin tr., Against Heresies III.4.3. Quoted in the original Greek by Eusebius H.E. IV.11.


See, e.g. ewV in Matt. 5:25; 14:22; 26:36.


But does the verb for what he did under Pius mean simply ‘floruit’? Ireneus' purpose, if merely chronological, would seem to have been better served by saying simply that Valentinus came to Rome under Hyginus and stayed until (or until after) Anicetus became bishop. Why the remark that ‘he reached26 his acme’— his prime or peak— under Pius? Surely Ireneus does not use this expression out of any neutral biographical interest. Then probably out of his polemical, ironic animus, under Pius he ‘reached his peak’ not of manhood, nor of standing in the Church, but of madness— he ‘blossomed out’ (a literal meaning of akmozw as a heretic). But the meditation certainly appears to have been written before any such blossoming out— hence some years before 154, say 150 if not earlier. His early years in Rome were spent ‘in and out’ of the Church— at least twice ‘in’ and twice ‘out,’ which would take some years, say 135-45. Yet if the meditation was written any considerable time before his defection or exclusion from the Church, it is astonishing that it never got into the stream of the Church's literature; there is no indication that any but heretical Christians had ever read it before our own day. It remains a guess, but my guess is that it was written just before his final expulsion from the Church (there is no rancor in it) around AD 15027— this leaves five



Aor. not impf.


This agrees with the date arrived at through different reasoning by Puech and Quispel. (Preface, p. xv). It is five to ten years later than van Unnik's date (Jung Codex, p. 104) which rests upon taking Tertullian's remark about Valentinus' motive for leaving the church (Against the Valentinians, IV, see p. 13 above) at face value and assumes that it was Pius (ca. AD 140) who was the successful rival of Valentinus for the office. But if, as Harnack thought, Pius was the first monarchic bishop of Rome, this may refer to the years just before Pius, in which Valentinus may have hoped to be elected not the bishop, but a bishop-presbyter in the presbyterium. As to Valentinus' motives in leaving the Church, we


years for further mythological evolution before he left Rome and for the acquiring of the followers whom Ireneus reports Polycarp to have turned back to the Church of God when the aged Polycarp came to Rome (AD 154).

The text of the meditation was sumptuously published in 1956 under the title Evangelium Veritatis.28 The volume contains the text five times over, each with identical pagination: (1) the complete and legible photographic facsimiles of the papyrus itself, (2) the text in Coptic type with, (3) the French master translation facing each page, (4) a German translation, and (5) an English translation. There are also notes, pages 51-59, and nearly complete vocabularies in Greek (pp. 113ff.) and Coptic (pp. 114-27), both so contrived as to furnish a concordance to all but the commonest words in the whole work (except for pp. 33-36, which were then unknown). For any original work on the meditation that edition is indispensable.

The translation here offered was undertaken for the following reasons: (1) The English version is the least satisfactory of the three in EvVer. It is a translation of a translation— the French— with little or no reference to the Coptic, made by a translator whose mother tongue obviously was not English. (The German version, on the contrary, is a rethinking of the Coptic text into German.) (2) There are ambiguities in the Coptic, sometimes mentioned in the notes of EvVer, but often not, to which no single translation can do justice. It is hoped that the present translation has occasionally utilized



probably ought to learn them, if at all, from a less righteously vitriolic informant than Tertullian. His imputation of motives to his enemy is highly suspect, but his relucant praise of him carries its own guarantee.


Ediderunt Michel Malinine, Henri-Charles Puech, Gilles Quispel.


the context in such a way as to make the alternative it chooses convincing. (3) There are many who are neither technical theologians nor Copticists to whom a small and inexpensive form of this document ought to be welcome— theological students and students of history and philosophy, the nonspecialized student of comparative religion, and many a Christian layman interested even in the byways of the history of his faith.

The author is well aware that in many an obscure passage he has only succeeded in stirring up the darkness. Possibly even that may later aid a more penetrating reader to illumine it with understanding, if he, too, senses that there is something here worthy of being understood.

Abbreviations and Signs in the Text



Akhmimic dialect of Coptic


Subakhmimic dialect of Coptic (in which this meditation was written)


Bohairic dialect of Coptic


Evangelium Veritatis, Introduction


Evangelium Veritatis, page 16, line 35 of the printed Coptic text

16:35 E

Evangelium Veritatis, page 16, line 35, English version

16:35 F

Evangelium Veritatis, page 16, line 35, French version

16:35 G

Evangelium Veritatis, page 16, line 35, German version



Fayyumic dialect of Coptic


Sahidic dialect of Coptic


Vigiliae Christianae


[ . . . ]

Lacuna in the Coptic text; the number of dots indicates the approximate number of missing letters.

[ ]

Conjectural restoration within a lacuna.

( )

Translator's addition or query to facilitate understanding.

< >

Error of the scribe; to be omitted.


Inadvertent omission by the scribe.


Greek word within the Coptic text.


Conjectural emendation.

(( ))

Suspected interpolation.

{ }

Within lines so marked, elements of the original have been transposed from their proper lines for the benefit of English syntax.


The Valentinian Meditation on the Gospel

16:31 The Gospel of Truth1 is a joy2 for them who have received the boon,3 through the Father of Truth,4 of knowing5 it 6



This is not the title of this work but the opening phrase (incipit) by which it became known (Iren. III.11.9); cf. the ‘naming’ of the nameless books of the Pentateuch in the Hebrew tradition by their first words. ‘Gospel’ is not this book (as in Mark 1:1 it does not mean the Gospel of Mark) but its subject— the good news which Christ brought and is. There is no detectable hint that other books do not contain this good news. ‘Of Truth,’ an epexegetical genitive; i.e., the gospel and the truth are identical: The gospel which is the truth. Secondarily, then, it is also a genitive of quality: that which is truth is necessarily true (against van Unnik, Jung Codex, p. 105. Coptic is full of qualitative genitives. But van Unnik is right that this is no polemic against gospels that are not true.).


An echo of I Cor. 13:6?


6mat also means ‘grace,’ but here it is a grace specified in the next line, ‘of knowing’; hence ‘boon’ is preferable.


God from whom flows all truth, but particularly the truth, the good news. (One might be tempted to mythologize and interpret according to the Ptolemaic system in which Bythos is the ‘father’ of the Eon Aletheia— if there were any clear indication that either Bythos or Aletheia or Coptic synonyms of them, were conceived as mythological persons anywhere in this work.)


The importance of saune to the writer is announced by its use in his first sentence. Here and throughout, the verb ‘know’ is reserved to this Coptic root; whenever the translator uses ‘Gnosis’ or a form of ‘Gnostic’ this same root only is being rendered.


by virtue of the Word7 who came from 16:35 the Pleroma,8 (the Word) who9 is in the thought. and-mind of the Father, (the Word) who is called



The reference of pronouns is one of the greatest sources of ambiguity here as in all Coptic writings. EvVer G, and probably F, understand ‘Him’ (the Father), perhaps rightly. But ‘Gospel’ (masculine in Coptic) seems to be the theme-and it is a joy only to those who know it through the Father by the Word. It, of course, mediates knowledge of the Father. EvVer F may mean the Savior by its ‘Him.’


Though the Coptic term, not Logos, is used here, it evidently means the pre-existent Johannine Logos who became the Savior, Jesus. The Ptolemaic Logos not only never leaves the Pleroma, but never leaves the Ogdoad and certainly is not the Savior.


The Greek word occurs eleven times, always rendered here by transliteration. It is not to be inferred from that that it means ‘the divine realm of the Eons’ (Blt. Joh. Ev. 51, n. 7) or the internal topography of the divine Person in technical Gnostic terminology. If any of the five occurrences are technical, the most likely are 41:14 and 43:16. If, as in the Odes of Solomon, it means here simply the divine world, heaven, then this is a Johannine statement in new terminology; he came from above, from heaven, from the Father.


What is the antecedent? If the nearest noun, then Pleroma, as EvVer G clearly takes it to be; EvVer E seems to understand it of the Word. If Pleroma is the antecedent, this directly contradicts the Ptolemaic system, in which the Pleroma contains the Father, the Word, and Nous (mind), but none of those could be said to contain the Pleroma. But is Pleroma the antecedent? The next relative clause 16:36-37, if it is to make sense, must jump back over a whole intervening clause and also over Pleroma to ‘the Word’ 16:34 for its antecedent. Hence both relative clauses, 16:35-36 and 16:36-37, would seem more likely to have ‘the Word’ as their common


the Soter,10 that being the name11 (Soteria?) of the work he is to do12 for the redemption (swte)13 of those14 who were 17:1 a-Gnostic15 of the Father when the N[ame . . .].16 The Gospel is the manifestation of the hoped-for,17 the treasure-trove18


antecedent. In the Greek original inflected participles probably kept straight a construction that is cumbersome for Coptic.


This was the favorite title for Jesus in the Valentinian sub-sects described by Ireneus, but it is also not infrequent in the NT nor in the orthodox fathers.


Curiously ‘the name of the work’ is not mentioned but merely left to be inferred: the work of a Soter (agent noun) must be sozein, ‘to save,’ or soteria, ‘salvation.’


The verb is future. But the Coptic translations of the NT often use a future tense for an event that is future only relatively to an event now past. Hence one may understand: was to do.


swte after swthr! Probably only the Coptic translator's association of ideas by similarity of sound and not a conscious bilingual pun. If this phenomenon were frequent, it would disprove the present conviction that this work is a translation. But it seems unique; then the Greek writer could not have meant that the term ‘redemption’ (apolytrosis) explained the title Soter.


Presumably all men before the gospel was revealed, or, as 17:1 seems to say, before the Name was revealed (the Name = the Son, 39:19).


This looks more confidently technical than it is intended to be. Allow at least the latitude of meaning which Clement of Alexandria claims for it in Stromateis II.19-20, IV.21, et passim.


ren; the first letter is certain; the following two are mere points on the edge of a break and may be wrong. The predicate is entirely broken off, but it cannot have consisted of more than three or four letters. As a pure guess, it may have been 6hp, ‘was hidden.’


elpiV, ‘hope,’ but I take it to be used in the sense,


of those who seek it.19 For indeed 17:5 the Totality (of creatures)20 have been searching after that21


known from the NT, of ‘object of hope’ (cf. Rom. 8:24, Col. 1:5, Tit. 2:13).


Perhaps too fanciful a rendering. But 2ine probably renders a, which like ermaion, means ‘a lucky find.’ (See Dibelius, on Philippians in Lietzmann Handbuch, 3rd ed., p. 75.)


The gospel or ‘him,’ the Father. (But how could any seek the Father when none yet knew him, 17:1? Only through finding the gospel could they know him.) The next sentence implies that the gospel is the potential treasure of all— in fact all are blindly searching for it because, unwittingly, they are seeking for the Unknown One whom only it can reveal!


p.thr.3-, a substantivized adjective (thr, all) singular but collective. In the meditation it may be treated as singular and plural within the same sentence. Since English acts similarly with some collectives (e.g., a host of men is or are; it . . . or they), I have tried to retain this fluidity with ‘the Totality of creatures’ where English can allow either singular or plural verb. The Greek behind this Coptic expression may not always be the same; ta panta comes immediately to mind-morphologically plural, but syntactically singular. But this alternates in both religious and philosophic texts with to pan synonymously; both = the universe (surely so at 20:2). Likewise pan and (oi) panta may lie behind some passages; all could be rendered by the one Coptic word. One meaning of ‘All’ can be eliminated at once: the synonym of the Eon Jesus in the Ptolemaic system (Iren. I.2.6) who was called ‘All, because he was made from all’; nowhere is this meaning suggested. ‘Totality of creatures’ is chosen so as to include all men but exclude neither supernatural beings nor all created things, though clearly persons are primarily intended, probably human. The Totality of the Eons conceivably might sometimes be meant.


(or Him) from which22 they emerged— and (all along) the Totality were within Him,23 the unthinkably Incomprehensible One,24 who is choicer than any thought!25— whilst this 17:10 not-knowing-the-Father became an anguish26 and a terror; and the anguish condensed like a fog



Their search was a blind, ignorant search. Not knowing whether the object of it was a What or a Who, they vaguely sought a What, which was manifested (by the gospel) to those who found to be a Who.


All men's (along with all things'?) origin out of God appears to be presupposed rather than some men's (i.e., the Gnostics'). But factually all men have forgotten this origin, and only he who has accepted supernatural reminder of it (the Gnostic) has effective possession of it.


Cf. 22:28 where the same thing is said to be a ‘great wonder’; the explanatory words ‘all along’ are intended to suggest a similar feeling here.


Two at privative adjectives, the first substantivized (definite article), the second with n. connective: a true adjective modifying the preceding substantive. But English, lacking gender, cannot make The Incomprehensible personal. Hence, I leave it an adjective and let it be modified by an adverb. These are only the first of several negative adjectives used of God— the via negativa of mysticism is certainly present. But these negative qualities of God are nowhere promoted to independent entities in the meditation (cf. Introd., p. 21). The same formula occurs in 17:22 and 18:32.


Cf. Phil. 4:7 (which, however, speaks not directly of God but of the ‘peace of God’). Cf. also Anselm's statement about God: aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari possit: ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived.’ (Cur Deus Homo, Prosl. 2.)


Anguish, terror, dread, darkness, fog, emptiness, ignorance, forgetting, drunkenness, nightmares— all these terms are symbols of natural man's sorry plight in this foreign world until he is supernaturally illumined by the gospel which is essentially a ‘reminder’ of his origin, of what he truly is but


so that none27 could see.

The Plot of Planē

Because of this,28 17:15 Planē29 took confidence.30 She set to work upon her substance31


cannot otherwise be. It is against this dark background that the gospel is a ‘joy’ (16:31).


Before the Gospel there were no exceptions to the fogginess of an existence without knowledge of the Father.


The fog of not knowing the Father. It gave Error the best of opportunities.


Cannot be mere doctrinal error, because only the coming of the gospel gave the possibility of rightness of doctrine. It might perhaps be used by synecdoche, metonymy for man determined in a particular way (i.e., by error), as ‘faith’ and ‘love’ can be used in the NT. But the predicates used of Planē are so curiously personal that the experiment must be made to understand her as a hypostasis (but of what?) or a downright mythical person. Planē literally is ‘wandering, unguided roaming,’ the inevitable consequence of an existence in foggy darkness (cf. John 12:35). But since the verbal stem is causative, Planē can also mean that which, or she who, causes to go astray, and, figuratively, Deceit. In the meditation the causative sense seems to prevail.*


The same verb translates Greek verbs with this meaning at Job 27:14 (S, cf. LXX) , Dan. 10: 19 (B) , Matt. 14:27 (F). Or understand: ‘took strength.’ (In the former case ‘confidence’ gave her strength also.)


Ambiguous: Is it the ulh, matter, which in some way is hers, in her power? Or is it her own essence, out of which Error (error) fashions a lying figure? Probably the latter. Origen (John Commentary, XIII.20) reports a related conception of Heracleon: ‘That which belongs to the Father is lost in the deep matter (ulh) of error (planh).’ But this is equally enigmatic.



Cf. Corp. Herm. I.27: ‘fellow-travelers with Error (planē) and partners with Ignorance.’ But this is rather clearly metaphorical personification, not hypostasis.


in a void32 in her ignorance of the Truth.33 She was at work upon a molded figure34 preparing as best she could with 17:20 beauty35 the substitute for the Truth.36 But this did not mean a defeat 37 for Him, the unthinkably Incomprehensible One, for they were naught— this anguish and this Forgetting38 and this deceitful figure— 17:25 whereas the abiding Truth is unchangeable,



The vacuum in which she works is precisely her ignorance of the truth.


The abstract noun mn-t.mhe occurs nine times; in six of these (17:17, 21; 26:28, 33, 34; 27:1) it is preceded by 5.t., apparently both the strong article and the weak article. This seems too consistent to be a mere oversight, but I do not know its meaning— possibly demonstrative. It does not occur with any other feminine noun; nor do the masculine or plural equivalents occur.


What is this figure? Its nature must be untruth, for any substitute for truth (17:20-21) can only be not-truth. But is this untruth the tangible world? She made it of ulh. This is surely in some sense a cosmogony, but may not Planē's ulh be other than tangible? The ‘figure’ may be man himself who only supposes himself (without the Father) to exist. Or the ‘figure’ may be the phantasmal world which man, astray in the fog of not knowing the Father, casts up about himself as if it were reality. Is Planē only the objectification of his own self-deception?


Strange that Error should work with beauty! Or is it? Deceit (Planē) is seductive. Seduction requires the intriguing, that which has at least the appearance of beauty, fascination. (In view of the use of this stem for eidoV in Isa. 53:2a S and for oyiV in I Sam. 16:7 S., it might be justified to render: ‘fair appearance’ or ‘feigned beauty.’)


The truth is the reality of God— the reality which only God is. A plot against truth— to set up spurious truth— is a plot against God. Hence, the denial in line 21.


Literally, humiliation. EvVer G Erniedrigung is just right: the humiliation not of embarrassment but of defeat.


The antithesis of Gnosis. It means not knowing, the state of having forgotten, heedlessness, and sleep. ‘Forgetfulness’ was rejected because it suggests mere absent-mindedness.


unperturbed, unembellishable.39 Therefore look with scorn upon Planē: she was so 17:30 rootless40 (that) she was in a fog41 concerning the Father, occupied with preparing labors42 and forgettings and terrors, so that by means of them she43 might entice Those- 17:35 of-the-Middle44 and take them captive.45 Planē's Forgetting46 was


Oblivion’ was rejected because it allows the passive meaning — the state of having been forgotten. ‘Forgetting’ is always capitalized as a technical term; almost certainly represents an original lhqh. All three— anguish, forgetting, and the deceitful figure— are nothing, because they arise out of the negative fog— negative because it represents not knowing the Father.


All three are privative adjectives. The first and third by having an appended object pronoun are passive in meaning — unable to be changed or embellished. The middle one, without object, is probably intransitive— not getting perturbed. If truth (see on 17:21) stands for God's reality, they are indirect negative descriptions of God.


The only true root of being is the Father; one has it only by knowledge of him. This Planē lacks; hence she is ‘rootless.’


In 17:12 it was man who was in the fog; here, Planē. Clearly Planē is a potency of man.


Greek ergon with Coptic indef. article pl. I take it to mean works to be done, tasks, difficulties.


Planē seeks her ends not only by attraction (17:20) but also, as here, by repulsion and bewilderment. Either way she still ‘entices’ (17:34).


Apparently the Psychikoi (men of ‘soul’ but not of ‘spirit’). Not the Pneumatikoi, who are assumed to be ‘by nature saved,’ nor the Hylikoi, who are by nature lost, but those who can go either way and hence are the bone of contention between the cosmic powers.


Of the three classes of men, it is the yucikoi who are really vulnerable, for their fate is not a limine established. Here Planē plays a diabolic role.


Planē herself forgets (she is in a fog concerning the Father, 17:31), indeed she arose out of the fog of forgetting, but primarily she causes (man's) forgetting. It is almost an


not a (divine) manifestation;47 it did not constitute a 18:1 [. . . . . . ]48 with49 the Father. The Forgetting did not arise under the hand of the Father, though it did arise because of Him, but what arises in Him is Gnosis, 18:5 which made its appearance50 in order that Forgetting might be destroyed and the Father be known. Since Forgetting arose because the Father was not known, then 18:10 from < > the moment on when the Father becomes known, Forgetting will not be.51 This52 is the Gospel of that which (Him whom?)53 they are seeking,it54 has revealed him to the initiate55 through the mercies


pexegetical genitive: the forgetting with which Planē is identical.


ouwn6 seems to be restricted in the meditation to the Father. Only he manifests; only that is a manifestation which he has manifested.


The first three or four letters of the page are broken off, but the context indicates that it must have been a word meaning an act of creating or willing. Possibly [`ir]ena ‘being named,’ though this seems one letter too short.


6atm-, literally ‘under the hand of’ but it becomes a chameleon preposition. I take it to mean here ‘under the control of’ (cf. Jos. 9:25 S. for upoerioV), ‘at the instigation of.’ (It may also be written for 6a6tm-, which could mean ‘from.’) The forgetting is no part of the divine purpose— nor is Planē, then, since her essence is forgetting.


Gnosis ‘appeared’ by its vehicle, the Gospel.


18:6-11 says twice over that forgetting and knowledge of the Father (Gnosis) are antithetical, indeed that each is the negation of the other; and hence cannot coexist in the same mind. Cf. 24:28 where the same thing is said of the Lack-an interesting demonstration that the forgetting and the Lack are ultimately identical.


Not this book, this meditation. Rather, this— the just announced promise of the abolition of not knowing the Father— is the content of the good news, which can also be summarily denominated ‘Jesus the Christ’ (18:16).


As at 17:5, ‘they’ are vaguely seeking something; the gospel reveals it to be someone. EvVer G regards Jesus the Christ as the real subject. I take the subject to be it (the gospel).


It— that which they are seeking— is really He whom they are (unwittingly) seeking.


Probably for teleioV (cf. Phil. 3:15, Col. 1:28 B) which


8:15 of the Father (as) the secret mystery:56 Jesus the Christ57 through whom {it58 has illumined those who by reason of Forgetting were in the darkness; it illumined them. It59 gave them a Way, 18:20 and the Way is the Truth which it60 showed them. Because of this, Planē61 was enraged at it, she persecuted it: she was endangered62 by it, and brought to naught:63 he was nailed to a tree,64 he


might also mean adult, complete, or perfect. ‘Perfect’ seems too Manichean, ‘adult’ is here unmotivated. Perhaps we should understand: ‘to them who through the mercies of the Father are initiate . . .’


Or ‘hidden secret.’ An allusion to Col. 1:26? According to Hippol., Ref. VI.35.1, Valentinus quoted the (probably) Colossian passage.


Occurs only once more in the meditation, 36:14. (‘Jesus’ occurs three other times— 20:11, 24 and 24:8; is it mere accident that in all four cases i\h\s\, and likewise ‘Christ’' alone at 36:14, is the first word of a line?) I take ‘mystery’ to be in apposition to the object of the verb in line 13, and ‘Jesus the Christ’ to be a further appositive to ‘mystery.’ It is true, there should be a `e before a proper name in apposition. But for the delayed subject of EvVer G there should be a n-2i.


It’ occurs three times— 18:17-19— the gospel.


It’ (twice) 18:19, 21— again, the gospel. Or, He ( Jesus) gave them a way, and the way is the truth which he showed them. The allusion to John 14:6 seems clear. But ‘the gospel’ seems to dominate the whole complex 18:11-21.


It’ (eight times) 18:22-27. In all these cases the pronoun could refer either to the gospel or to Jesus. I prefer to think that gospel is the continuing topic.


The predicates of Planē seem vividly personal here.


Crum gives no example of 6w4 as a transitive verb. It means be in danger (see II Cor. 11:26 B., eight times).


EvVer F, G, and E all take this as active: brought him (Jesus) to naught, as if it read a.souos3.3-. The haplography of the suffix with the last consonant of the stem could be assumed, but the verb is still in the absolute, not the pronominal form and has no object. The intransitive meaning is also well attested. But how could Planē ‘be brought to naught’ by the gospel (or Jesus)? In the same way implied


18:25 became a fruit65 of Father-Gnosis, but it has not destroyed (any)66 because they ate it,67 but granted those who ate it to become a rejoicing over His (?)68 finding: that69 He 18:30 found them in Him70 and (that) they found Him in them, this unthinkably Incomprehensible One, the Father, the Perfect One, Him who created the Totality,71 in Whom the Totality is,


in I Cor. 2:8: ‘None of the arconteV; of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’— his crucifixion meant their downfall. Is Planē conceived as one of the Archons?


Cf. 20:27 where Jesus is said to have fastened to the cross the testamentary disposition of a covenant. Here Jesus and the gospel are one: it is nailed to the tree in his person.


Thought only nailed to a tree, the gospel became a fruit of knowledge, thereby making its tree into a tree of knowledge — but not knowledge of good and evil ( Gen. 2:9) — knowledge of the Father— Father Gnosis, 18:26.


In contrast to Eden's tree ( Gen. 3:3).


An allusion to the Eucharist? Probably not. The figures of speech seem too harmonious with the Genesis associations to make it likely. ‘It’ is directly the fruit which the gospel has become, but indirectly is the gospel which the fruit symbolizes. Without symbols, ‘to eat the fruit’ is to accept and thereby benefit from the gospel.


n-ta3 may be written as Sah. instead of the usual A2 n-te3 for the genitive of the pronoun. (The Coptic translator, or the scribe, is by no means consistent in writing e for Sah. a or a for Sah. o) If this is too unlikely, then read ‘this.’


Text reads n-`e; EvVer emends to n-de, unnecessarily. n-`e is known in B, S, and F as a rare variant of `e, ‘namely,’ ‘to wit.’ It does not occur again in the meditation.


If the conjecture about ‘His’ is correct, these two lines are a neat demonstration on the part of the author that he wanted that genitive to be taken as both subjective and objective at the same time.


Totality occurs four times— 18:34-38. Line 36 ‘their' shows the collective force of this term. The meaning seems to fluctuate: in 34a most naturally the universe, but 34ab ff. more likely personal: men (who of course also belong to the


18:35 and Whom the Totality lacks,72 for He withheld within Himself their completeness73 which He had not given the Totality.

The Withheld Completeness

He did not begrudge (it them), the Father, for what grudging (is there) which (could be) between 18:40 Him and His members?74 For if75 the way 19:1 of this Eon76 had77 [. . . . . .] they would not have been able to come [to?] the Father, who withholds within Himself their completeness,78 who 19:5 gives it to them as a return to Himself and (as) a Gnosis, (a Gnosis) characterized79 by per-


universe of created things).


The totality lacks the Father by lacking knowledge of Him. (No exceptions are here implied, no ‘pneumatici saved by nature,’ because they never lacked this knowledge. Is such a doctrine ever present in the meditation?)


Their completeness or completion would be knowledge of Him.


It is Paul's word, I Cor. 12 and Rom. 12: meloV. But here Paul's ecclesiology seems transformed into cosmology; or is this simply an extension of I Cor. 12:12 and Eph. 5:30 by a closer identification of the Son with the Father?


I take ene.q.e to begin with the particle of contraryto-fact condition (Plumley, §380).


The sole occurrence of Eon in the singular. It seems to mean ‘this world’ as in the NT, with no reference to any Eon in the technical Gnostic sense.


The context would seem to be satisfied if we could suppose a verb in the lacuna meaning ‘prevailed’ or the like. But if the first word of line 2 is really n-teu, ‘of them’ (Plumley, §045), the implication is that the preceding word was a noun. Perhaps there was both a short verb and a noun; judging by line 4 (facsim.), there could have been six or even seven letters in the lacuna.


Possibly completion or complement would be better. For the sake of consistency ‘completeness’ is always used for `wk in this sort of context.


The form in which the Father bestows their completion is, in statement, double: (a) as a return to himself (or one's self— cf. 21:6; 22:18; 25:12; 30:13, but in this case one would expect the plural— themselves) and (b) as a perfect Gnosis. One would expect (b) first and then (a) as its consequence. But perhaps mn- is not here ‘and,’ but has its original prepositional force: ‘along with.’ Perhaps the Greek had an


fection80— He81 who made the Totality, and in Whom the Totality is, and whom the Totality lacked. 19:10 It is like the situation of a person with whom there are some who are unacquainted: that person is wont to desire that they know82 him and thus love him;83 for 19:15 what was it that the Totality lacked84 but Gnosis of the Father?

The Teacher of the Book

He85 became a quiet and leisurely guide. In a school86 he appeared, he spoke


Instrumental en, which would have been better rendered ‘by means of.’ Then the two forms of bestowal would fall together into one.


See note 436.


Syntactically puzzling. Either in apposition to Himself (line 5, in which case: Him) or identical with the pronominal subject of 19:3, 5— but, if the latter, the expected n-2i is omitted. A slight variation of the formula of 18:34-36.


Cf. the close connection between knowing and loving in Gospel of John and I John (I John 4:7-8; 5:2-3; John 14:15, 21). Cf. also Corpus Hermeticum I.31: ‘(God) desires to be known, and is known, by his own.’ X.4,15: ‘God is not unacquainted with man but knows him altogether and desires to be known.’


A simple simile from general human experience, but behind the simile is the implication that the Father desires to be known and consequently loved. (He is not aloof like the Ptolemaic Eons.) The connection between 19:14 and 19:15 is difficult, perhaps this: Love to and from God is requisite for man's completeness; but, just as an unknown human person cannot be loved so man's ignorance of God (a-Gnosis) was the insuperable lack which hitherto made his completion hopeless.


A key statement, even though in interrogative form. It neatly defines the (elsewhere mysterious) Lack as absence of knowledge of the Father.


The following context indicates that the Jesus of history must be meant in spite of remoteness of the last mention of him. One would like to read: ‘There came to be a . . . guide’ or ‘There arose . . . ,’ making ‘guide’ the logical subject, but the n-. of predication forbids it. Possibly, however, the Coptic is an inexact rendering of egeneto odhgoV.


Meaning synagogue?


19:20 the word87 in the capacity of a teacher88 {There came forth those who— in their own hearts89 only— were wise,90 testing him, but he put them to shame because 19:25 they were empty. They hated him because they were not truly wise men. After all these there came forth also little children,91 those to whom applies: theirs is the Gnosis 19:30 of the Father.92 When they became strong they had been taught about the face-forms(?)93 of the Father. They knew, they were known; they were glorified, they 19:35 {glorified.94 This living95 Book of the Living had been96 revealed in their heart,



Probably pregnant: the word of God, the content of the good news.


Literally, ‘scribe’ Probably not grammateuV, sopher, but a native Egyptian parallel to the Jewish semantic development; in both cultures the writer-reader became the teacher. The Coptic word also means ‘expert.’


I.e., opinion.


Evidently a reminiscence of the scribes and Pharisees, but summarizing, not alluding to any specific scene of any gospel.


Probably figurative of the humility requisite for faith. Cf. Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21 ‘. . . thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes.’ In fact 19:21-28 looks very much like a dramatization of this synoptic passage.


Is this a Gnostic transmutation of Matt. 5:8?


An enigmatic expression which occurs here and 24:2 and 5. If literal here, it would be highly anthropomorphic, but since it must be figurative in the other two cases, it probably is in all three. Here it perhaps means characteristics or attributes.


(Chiastic as to active and passive verbs). This is the mystic reciprocity formula often utilized in the fourth Gospel; cf. John 10: 14 t. r., 13:31 ff.


This seems, and is, pleonastic. Judging from 21:4-5 and 22:39 the author's name for the book is ‘Book of the Living.’ But this is the first time this name is mentioned, and the epithet ‘living’ (before Book) is not out of place this first time: the Book bears its name because it bestows life, and whatever bestows life is, in the causative sense, ‘living.’ This is the book of life of Ps. 69:28, Phil. 4:3, and Rev. 3:5, but singularly enriched: no longer merely the record of the names of the saved but the vehicle of salvation inasmuch as it is the good news, the saving message. Cf. the fluctuation in John


(the Book) that97 is written in the thought-and-mind98 20:1 [of the] Father and (which) since the foun-dation99 of the Totality100 is within His incomprehensibility101— this (Book) which none could take 20:5 because that remained for him who was to take102 it and be


between ‘living’ (4:11; 6:51; 7:38) and ‘of life’ (6:35, 48, 68; 8:12; 1 John 1:1) as descriptions of the metaphors for the salvation bringer or salvation itself.


Literally, ‘was.’ But since this describes the cause of 19:32-34, it must be understood in a pluperfect sense.


Two relative pronouns with very remote antecedent, obviously ‘Book’ in both cases. Such syntax supports the interpretation given above of 16:35 ff.


This Book is neither of the earth nor can it be adequately squeezed into any human book. In the lower left-hand corner of this page one can faintly read ‘19’ in the European (not the oriental) form of Arabic numerals. Likewise in the same corner of the next three pages, 20, 21, 22 appear in the same numerals; then one sees in the same corner of page 16 what looks like 18, but may be 16. These numbers must have been written after the jar was discovered and before the book came into the hands of persons who knew its value better than to deface it. (Cf., however, notes 424 and 486.)


It is pre-existent like the Word itself— or as the Word himself.


Certainly the universe here (apokatabolhV kosmou, frequent in NT, e.g. Mt 25:34). Though the NT never offers katabolhV pantwn, it does use ta panta for the universe; the author uses this synonym probably because, soterioligically, created individuals (viz., persons) take the first rank of his concern among all creation.


Probably for akatalhyia used in a passive sense. Since the Father himself is incomprehensible (at.4ap.3-: 17:7-8, 22; 18:32; 30:34), this resembles royal titles: ‘His Majesty’ for ‘he who is majestic.’


The tenses are troublesome. The problem lies in 20:5 (20:4 is a verbless Coptic expression which must take


slain.103 None could have been revealed, of those who believed in salvation, if had not appeared104 that Book.

Jesus Suffers for the Book

20:10 This is why the merciful one, the faithful one105— Jesus!— was patient106 to endure the sufferings until he took107 that Book, for he knows that this death of his (means) life for many.108 20:15 As in the case of a not yet opened testament109 {the estate110 of the dead master of the house remains concealed,} so also was the case of the Totality, which was concealed while the Father of the Totality was 20:20 invisible,111 being a unit112 within


its tense, in translation, from the next line). eskh, ‘remain,’ is II present and na.3it.3-, ‘will take it,’ I future. II present can be used for a preterite (Steindorff, §323) as it seems to be here. But the verb ‘take’ in the future is relative to that II present; hence ‘was to take’ instead of ‘will take’— especially since the imperfect of the future is so rarely used in the meditation.


The allusion to Rev. 5 is unmistakable (cf. Rev. 5:2-4, 9, 12; and 13:8).


ene. of contrary-to-fact condition (Plumley, §380).


An allusion to Heb. 2:17. (van Unnik, Jung Codex, p. 110).


Reminiscent of Heb. 5:8, especially if ‘submission’ be presupposed as the middle term connecting ‘patience’ and ‘obedience.’


See note 102.


Reminiscent of Mark 10:45. 20:10-14 is a patchwork of NT allusions by one who had no need to quote explicitly because his mind was full of NT imagery.


Here used literally of a human ‘last will and testament,’ but testament is retained in translation because 20:26 seems to allude to it in a figurative sense.


The logic of the comparison is obscure. Perhaps ‘estate’ (ousia) is used in a pregnant sense for both the extent and nature of the master's property and especially for its distribution, in which case it is really the heirs who remain concealed until the decisive moment. The thought approaches that of Rom. 8:19, ‘the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God’; i.e., the true heirs of his promises are not yet made public.


A partial synonym for ‘concealed.’ It implies that the invisible Father has become visible. How and when? In the coming of the Son ( John 14:9; 12:45). But the coming of the


Himself (?), out of Whom all the maeit113 are wont to go forth. This is why Jesus appeared: he opened 114 (cj.) that Book. 115 20:25 He was nailed to a tree, he


Son is identical with the coming of the good news, the opening of the pre-existent Book of the Living (which uncovers— reveals— the heirs).


Perhaps for Greek monoV wn en authw The Father was self-contained and unattainable until he sent forth his name (Self, see 38:8-40:29) as his Son.


This must be a new technical term, the meaning of which can only be deduced. Four times (including `au maeit guide of the way, 19:17) 18:19, 20; 31:29, and 19:17 the context assures the meaning, way, path, road. In one passage 22:22 it seems to mean ‘place’ (common in Bohairic). In the nine remaining occurrences EvVer F, G, and E render ‘space(s),’ and ‘espace’ is among the definitions in the vocabulary. The note EvVer, page 53, only says it ‘seems’ to mean ‘espace’ or something similar. I would add at least 20:35 to the meaning ‘place.’ (In seven of these nine passages nim, ‘all’ or ‘every,’ is added.) Twice at least they are spoken of as sentient beings (26:15; 27:10). Twice they are said to be in him (the Father): 27:25; 28: 11. ‘Creature’ or ‘created thing’ (including persons) would satisfy all or most of these contexts, but since there is no authority for such a meaning, I merely transcribe it awaiting further evidence.


Text: a.3.2ale.3put on (as a garment; Crum, 809a).’ Emend to a.3.2alp.3he opened it (Crum, 812a)’, the same verb which is used at 24:9; 27:6 in somewhat different sense (‘lay bare’). (EvVer assumes a Coptic error of translation from a possible analambaneintake up’ misunderstood to mean ‘put on something.’)


The reference is back to line 12, but in between lies ‘testament’ (diaqhkh), also a written document that was as yet closed. At least the opening of the Book is like the opening of a testament. Is the Church's special use of testament in


fastened the testamentary116 disposition117 from the Father to the Cross. Oh such magnanimity!118— such that he draws119 himself downward to death while eternal 20:30 life120 enclothes him.121 Having divested122


the back of the author's mind? It seems so. Property testament suggests (New) Testament— the good news— the Book.


In the NT only Col. 2:14 speaks of Christ's fastening anything to the Cross himself— indeed there he ‘nails it’ to the cross. What he there nails is a ‘handwriting’ (like the present testament) which consists of dogmata, for which the meditation's diatagma is a very fair synonym. There the resemblance ceases; in everything else the ‘algebraic signs’ are reversed. In Colossians the writing is ‘against us’ and is ‘expunged’ by Christ, while here it is (implicitly) for us and is validated by being fastened to the cross. There can be little doubt but that the Colossian passage inspired this one, but did so in an author who dared to vary images. (Cf. also I Pet. 2:24.)


Diatagma is the content of a will, the sum of its stipulations. This technical term confirms the suspicion that this mere comparison of the Book with a testament begun in 20:15 arrives at identifying Book and testament (the latter ambivalent, but mostly a legal instrument, figuratively used).


This rhapsodic outburst indicates how little the author is writing a polemic or a didactic work. Marvel, not argumentativeness, is his mood.


Evidently of voluntary humiliation. Cf. Phil. 2:8, John 10: 17 ff.


Is there any passage in NT saying that Jesus already in this life was clothed with eternal life? The Transfiguration? John 11:25?


Perhaps in spite of the tenses said entirely of events in pre-existence as in Phil. 2:6-8. If so, revise the tenses: ‘that he drew himself downward to death although eternal life (until then) enclothed him.’ (If this was expressed in participles in Greek, the Coptic translator could easily have misunderstood the time implications.)


himself of these perishing rags.123 he clothed himself with the imperishability which none has power to take from him.124 Having gone into 20:35 the empty maeit125 of the terrors, he passed through those who, through Forgetting, were naked, becoming a Gnosis and a completion as he proclaims what is in the heart 21:1 [of the Fathe]r126 . . . . . . . . . . . . . teach them who ac[cept] instru[ction].

The Book Grants Completion

But those who are to accept instruction— viz., the living127 ones who are inscribed in this Book 21:5 of the Living— are taught apart, alone,128 receiving themselves129



This is the terminology of II Cor. 5:4 (and of II Cor. 5:3 in D* G it Marcion), though there it applies not to Christ but to the believer.


A contemptuous metaphor for human flesh. It is reminiscent of Jer. 38:11 (LXX, 45:11) where, however, the expression is purely literal. Cf. "coats of skin," Odes of Solomon, 25, quoted in Pistis Sophia, c. 69.


This seems to be the point of view of John 10:18 transferred to the risen Christ.


Coming after 20:30-34 one might think "the empty places (?) of the terrors" to refer to the descent into hell, but "those who were naked through Forgetting" (20:37) are all men before the coming of the Son. Therefore it must refer to the whole realm of Planē: this world without the good news. Cf. Eph. 4:8-10 where "the lower parts of the earth" has a similar ambiguity. According to Bultmann (NT Theology, I.175), this refers to the Redeemer's descent to the earth; J. Schneider (Th. WB, I.520) agrees, but Büchsel (Th. WB, III.641 ff.) reverts to the earlier view that it refers to the descent into hell.


A lacuna of about five letters, after which stanch probably a t. A noun seems required; it probably was [m-.p.iw]t "the Father."


They have life by virtue of being inscribed in the Book of the Living. This is a predestination, certainly. But need it be any other kind than that of the Fourth Gospel, in which the "drawing" of the Father (6:49) occurs in the positive decision of faith? (See Bultmann, NT Theology, II.23, and Johannes-Evangelium, pp. 171-72, 174, 342.) "Those who accept instruction," by accepting it, demonstrate that they are written in the Book. Cf. John 6:37, 39, 44, 65; 17:2 ff.


Only they who "accept instruction" receive the benefits of the good news.


from the Father. They turn130 to Him again. Since the Totality's completion is in the Father, 21:10 it is necessary for the Totality to go {upward to Him.131 When one knows, then one132 is wont to receive those things that} are his own133 and is wont to draw them to Himself. For he who is an



This rendering would be dubious if it were not sup. ported by 22:18, 25: 11, and 30:13. He who by the good news is made Gnostic receives two things, God and his own lost or "forgotten" self. Knowledge of God and of one's true self are two sides of the same thing; one cannot have either without the other. Cf. the quotation from a Gospel of Philip [?]: (the soul ascending to heaven is to say,) "I have recognized myself and gathered myself together from everywhere.... I am of those who are from above" (Epiphanius, I.26.13). EvVer F, G, and E translate this word "it," faithfully remarking in a note that it literally means "them," but not adding that the same form can always mean "themselves." If read as "them" there is no antecedent, so it might be the surrogate (one of several) for the lacking Coptic neuter pronoun "it." But the meditation rarely, if ever, uses this surrogate. The parallel passages, especially 25:11, weigh in favor of "themselves."


Or, they return to him— the direct consequence of "receiving themselves" again. They now know that they have any true being only in reference to him. The return to him is more than a consequence; it is identical with the winning back of their true selves. (Cf. Paul's "For me to live is Christ," Phil. 1:21.)


Since "go upward to Him" is synonymous with "turn to him again," these lines emphasize that the assertion of 21:7-8 is not merely a fact, but a necessity.


"The Totality" of 21:9-10 is here resumed by "one" (the individual from among the totality) indicating that here totality means men, all the saved.


The "things that are his own" are his own true (but mislaid, forgotten) qualities, the sum of which constitutes his true self. By his new fundamental knowledge (Gnosis) he appropriates, "draws," them to himself, thereby becoming


21:15 a-Gnostic lacks,134 and it is a great thing that he lacks, for he lacks that which would complete him. Since the Totality's completion is in the Father135 and (since) it is necessary 21:20 for the Totality to go upward to Him, (and) for each person to receive the things that are his own,136 He pre-inscribed137 them, having prepared for this138 those who 21:25 came forth139 out of Him. Those whose {name he foreknew,140 at the end were called;} just as each one who has Gnosis, it is he whose name the Father has pronounced.141


himself again. This is an expansion of and commentary upon 21:6.


This is the negative statement of the development in 21:6-13. What the a-Gnostic (he who will not "accept instruction" from the Book, 21:3) lacks is precisely what the Gnostic has— knowledge of God and himself in one.


A letter-for-letter repetition of 21:8-11 except that the omissible verb 4oop is inserted the second time.


Cf. Iren. I.21.5


The predestinatory language of Paul (Rom. 8:29 f.) seems here to be enriched by a new verb, presumably in Greek proeggrafein.


a.teei (a. prep. + teei demonstrative— Sah. e.tai) "This" (Coptic feminine for the indefinite) refers to all that is mentioned in 21:18-22.


In the lack of a cosmogony from Valentinus himself at this early period, we can only conjecture whether a mythological image was found for the different origin of the ultimately lost. There need not have been. Perhaps their origin only became manifest by their own choice when confronted by the good news. At any rate if they did not "accept instruction" they showed that their definitive origin was not in Him.


Almost a paraphrase of Rom. 8:29a and 30b, but note the introduction of "whose name" where Paul has only "whom." "Name" is the topic of a long reflection 21:30 ff.


Predestination can only be expressed paradoxically, if preaching (involving choice) makes any sense. Though the one is plural, the other singular, "at the end were called" equals "it is he whose name the Father has pronounced." Each presupposes an unexpressed question: Who was, or is, called? The first clause in each case gives the answer to the same basic question, but also suggests a nuance to the question. In the first case it is as if it had been asked: Why is it that not all


Meditation I on the Name

21:30 For he whose name has not been spoken142 is an a-Gnostic.143 For how should one hearken if his name has not been uttered?144 For he who is an a- 21:35 Gnostic145 to the end is a figure146 (molded by)


were called— saved? The answer is: Because only some were foreknown by God to be future material for salvation. In the second case, as if one had asked: How does one recognize who is called? The answer is: He who has Gnosis. But anyone who chooses may "receive instruction." Only when one does, it is recognizable that his choice was foreknown, his name in the Book. It is, so to speak, an ex post facto predestination-where the factum is the acceptance of the good news.


Lines 30-31 are the negative counterpart of 21:28-29 (both subject and predicate negated in 30-31); moreover the two pairs of lines stand in chiastic relationship to each other (cf. subjects and predicates). So far as form is concerned, then, there should be no division here. Yet this seems to be the beginning of the first of two ponderings over the significance of "Name." (For the second, see 38:8 ff.)


The chiastic parallelism with 21:29 guarantees that "by the Father" is to be understood. Is this an allusion to the divine fiat of Gen. I? (There God merely speaks the name of light, for example, and lo, it is! Gen. 1: 3; cf. 1: 6, 9, 11, 14 ff., 20, 24. It is not in the account of Gen. 1 that man gives the creatures their names; in Gen. 1 the name of a thing is its germinal essence and is established from the moment that God speaks it.) If so, we would expect the predicate, 21:31, to be not "is an a-Gnostic," but "is nothing." However, is not "a-Gnostic" a Gnostic synonym for "nothing" or for "worse than nothing"? Lines 21:34-37 seem to corroborate that this is so.


Both the form and the context of the question recall one of Paul's questions in Rom. 10:14. To "hearken" here would be to come to true existence enlightened by knowledge (of God and one's self) for fellowship with and obedience to the Father.


This indicates that the meditation's predestinationism


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