Tuesday 29 June 2021

Who is Seth

Who is Seth

Seth: The third son of Adam and Eve, given to replace Abel after he had been murdered by Cain (Gen. 4:25). For certain Gnostic sects known as Sethians, who took their name from him, he was a savior figure and the paradigm of the Gnostic.
25 And Adam proceeded to have intercourse again with his wife and so she gave birth to a son and called his name Seth, because, as she said: God has appointed another seed underneath Abel, because Cain killed him. (Genesis 4 NWT).

The Hebrew word for 'appointed' (Isa. 22:7), TO PUT, TO SET, TO PLACE. (Gesenius).

His name signifies appointed. Eve's comment on the birth of this son reveals that she had a proper understanding of the purpose of God in him.
likeness and image
Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

The import of the phrase 'in the image, after the likeness' is suggested by the testimony that 'Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.' In this respect, Seth stands related to Adam, as Adam did to the Elohim ... The very same thing is meant by Adam being in the image of the Elohim ... The resemblance therefore of Adam to the Elohim as their image was of bodily form ... In shape, Seth was like Adam, Adam like the Elohim, and the Elohim the image of the invisible Uncreated, the great and glorious Archetype of the intelligent universe."
Abel and Seth
The death of Abel is made good by the birth of Seth. Seth comes to make up for the loss of Abel, and this fact parallels how God’s law works for us. This particular law of God is the one which sees to it that a compensation comes to make up for what seems to have been taken out.

Seth the son of Adam and Eve born when Adam was 130 years old. Eve named him Seth because, as she said, “God has appointed another seed in place of Abel, because Cain killed him.” Seth may not have been the third child of Adam and Eve. According to Genesis 5:4, Adam had “sons and daughters,” some of whom may have been born before Seth.

Seth is worthy of note because through him the present-day race of mankind, descended from him, not from the murderous Cain. At the age of 105 years Seth became father to Enosh. Seth died at the age of 912 years .—Gen 4:17, 25, 26; 5:3-8; 1Ch 1:1-4; Lu 3:38.

According to Eve's words, Seth's name means "set", "appointed" or "placed". Seth replaced the position previously held by Abel, and therefore his name was expressive of God's mercy. Seth kept alive the principles of faith and hope that were distorted and destroyed by the descendants of Cain, introduced to us in the previous chapter. Seth commenced the genealogy of true worshippers. In him it was demonstrated that Godliness was possible among men

as she said: God has appointed another seed underneath Abel, because Cain killed him. This shows remarkable perception on Eve's part: She realised that Abel, because of his upright and godly way of life, had been the beginning of the line which would descend through her "until the seed should come". Therefore, in the birth of Seth she recognised Yahweh's guarantee that the seed would be continued until the divine purpose had been brought to fruition.

The events of Abel's life foreshadow those of Christ.
The appointment of Seth typified the resurrection of the Lord;

In replacing Abel with Seth, God typically raised the former from the dead. Eve's words on the birth of this son suggest that she understood this. Evidently she had been given a revelation of the Divine purpose in replacing Abel with Seth

we are brought to Seth, in whom the murdered Abel comes to life. His name signifies "Watering," for the Mind waters the senses, as the Word of God waters the Virtues, which are symbolized by the four "heads" of the river going out of Eden. The word "heads" is used to indicate the sovereignty conferred by Virtues. The "River" is the Word of God, ever flowing for souls that love God.

And he begat sons and daughters" — Many other sons and daughters were born to Adam and Eve in addition to those named, and from these Cain and others obtained their wives. Hence the appointment of Seth to replace Abel means more than the mere birth of a son; it represented the appointment of this son to the position of privilege as legal "firstborn" with its office of priesthood and leadership within the family of Adam.

Of course the Cainites, driven from the presence of Yahweh, and the seat of worship, would not have recognised the appointment or privilege of Seth, any more than do their counterparts today recognise the status of the resurrected Christ.

"Abel became the type of Jesus, wounded in the heel;" while Seth typifies him in his reappearance among the sons of men to bruise sin underfoot, and to exterminate in the course of his reign , the Serpent's seed from the face of the earth (p. 117). This has been the hope of all God's faithful servants throughout the ages. "So the Christ also, having been once offered in sacrifice in order that he might bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, separated from sin, to those who are eagerly expecting him, to make their salvation complete.. . Amen. Come, Lord Jesus ..." (Heb. 9:28; Rev. 22:20. Wey.)

Seth was appointed by God after the death of Abel in office of priesthood because both Abel and Seth were mediators of pre flood office of priesthood

"And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos" — His name signifies weak, mortal man. It is a name applied to man in his weakness both physically and morally (see Psa. 9:20), and suggests a deterioration in the line of Seth at this time

So Seth begins to look for a higher power to express in his life--he calls upon the name of Yahweh. It is the activity of the awakening of the spiritual consciousness within him that causes him first to realise the pointlessness of his human efforts to better himself, and then to recognise the one Source of all Truth.

Thus he evolves, grows; and finally he shall come into a full consciousness of the divine mind or logos he grows into Christ-likeness which is accelerated greatly as he comes into a knowledge of the Truth that makes free, and thinks and acts consciously, voluntarily, in harmony with it.

Seth an emanation who has spoken through the prophets

Seth is the father of the incorruptible generation

The birth of Seth 'is by the providence of God's wisdom

Seth as born at the instigation of God's wisdom after Abel's death and was anointed with divine power.

the three classes of men, ‘material' or carnal, ‘soulful' or those who have not yet awakened to the higher consciousness, and 'spiritual' those who have entered into the Christ consciousness, correspond to Cain, Abel, and Seth.

Seth is therefore the symbolic Father and representative of ‘spiritual' believers,

The ‘Great Seth' is the heavenly son of Man,

The Apocryphon of john Seth is referred to as the 'image' of the Son of Man; the latter could, at first glance, be taken as a designation for the heavenly Seth.

He also plays a saviour role, for he is sent into the lower world to rescue the elect, ‘putting on' Jesus for that purpose.

The ‘Son of Man' terminology occurs in Eugnostos the Blessed (NHC 111,3; V,1) and The Sophia of Jesus Christ (NHC 111,4; BG 3).

The Role of Jesus in Valentinianism


The Role of Jesus in Valentinianism


Valentinianism is a profoundly Christo-centric form of Christian mysticism. The entire mythology can be seen as Christology. In Valentinian thought, the decisive event in the history of the world was the ministry of Jesus. Prior to his coming, the true God was unknown ( Against Heresies 1:19:3-1:20:3). This is because "no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27 cf. Against Heresies 1:20:3). This is the point of the Sophia myth. Throughout the ages, human beings sought to find God, but in the absence of Christ, they succeeded only in producing a defective image of the divine i.e. the Craftsman (demiurge). In their error they worshipped an imperfect image of God as lawgiver and Craftsman of the material world instead of the true God.

The Human Jesus and the Divine Christ

Valentinian tradition draws a sharp distinction between the human and the divine Jesus. By a special dispensation, the human Jesus was born (Against Heresies 1:15:3). Some Valentinians accepted the virgin birth (e.g Second Apocalypse of James 50:10f) while others believed Jesus was the true son of Mary and Joseph (Gospel of Philip 55:23-26). According to Valentinian theologians, Jesus derived his animate "body" or essence from the Craftsman. His spiritual essence is the entire "church of the superior seed" (Excerpts of Theodotus 17:1) deriving from Wisdom (Sophia). That is why the angel told Mary, "The Holy Spirit (i.e. Wisdom) will come upon you and the power of the Most High (i.e. the Craftsman) will overshadow you" (Luke 1:35 cf. Refutation of Heresies 6:35:3-4, also Excerpt of Theodotus 60, Against Heresies 1:15:3). According to Ptolemy, the contributions from Wisdom (Sophia) and the Craftsman pass through Mary into Jesus "like water through a pipe" (Against Heresies 1:7:2). This human being is the "lamb of God" (John 1:26 cf. Fragments of Herakleon 10), that is, the one the "Father of All chose to obtain knowledge of himself" ( Against Heresies 1:15:3).

Jesus became closely identified with humanity by taking on a human body. His human body is seen as consubstantial with the Church. Drawing on the metaphor from Saint Paul that the church is the body of Christ, Theodotus says, "The visible part of Jesus was Sophia (Wisdom) and the church of the superior seed which he put on through the body but the invisible part was the Name which is the only begotten Son" (Excerpts of Theodotus 26:1). The corresponding metaphor in the Gospel of Truth is the "living book" which contains the names of all the saved that the Son takes up (Gospel of Truth 20:10-14 cf. Revelation 20:15).

Valentinians divide the human personality into three distinct parts: chous (carnal), psyche (soul) and pneuma (spirit). The chous is closely linked the physical body and consists of the instinctual drives to self-gratification. It is said to directly derive from deficiency and suffering. By a special dispensation, Jesus was born without chous. For this reason, his physical body is sometimes said to be directly connected with psyche. Hence Ptolemy describes Jesus as having a "psychic" rather than a carnal (choic) body ( Against Heresies 1:6:1, 1:7:2).

The Baptism of Jesus

When he was thirty years old, he went to John the Baptist to be baptized (Luke 3:23). As soon as he went down into the water, "he came out laughing at everything (of this world), not because he considers it a trifle, but because he is full of contempt for it" (Gospel of Philip 71:3-15). The divine Savior, referred to as the "Spirit of the Thought of the Father", descended on him in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16 and parallels cf. Against Heresies 1:7:2, 1:15:3, Excerpts of Theodotus 61:6, Refutation of Heresies 35:3) and the "Word became flesh" (John 1:14).

Jesus' baptism and the descent of the "Spirit" is his redemption (Gospel of Philip 70:34-36). Redemption was necessary even for Jesus so that "he might not be detained by the thought of the deficiency in which he was placed" (Excerpts of Theodotus 22:7 cf. also Tripartite Tractate 124:31-125:11). This is the true "virgin birth" and resurrection from the dead, for he was reborn of the virgin Spirit (cf. Gospel of Philip 70:34-71:7, Refutation of Heresies 35:5, Gospel of Philip 56:15-18). According to Theodotus, the Savior's angels were also baptized "through the redemption of the Name which came upon Jesus in the dove and redeemed him" (Excerpts of Theodotus 22:1-2). The angels are those who are "baptized for the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:29), that is, for human beings who are in ignorance of the true God (Excerpts of Theodotus 21:1-2).

The human Jesus is the "lamb of God", the Savior is the one "who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29 cf. Herakleon 10). He came to reveal knowledge (gnosis) of the Father (Gospel of Truth 20:15-24, Against Heresies 1:15:2, Interpretation of Knowledge 14:28-30). By knowledge (gnosis), the two elements which had been separated (i.e. the seeds and the angels) are rejoined (cf. Gospel of Philip 70:12-15 etc.) and restored to the Fullness (Treatise on the Resurrection 44:26-30). He also came to conquer death by means of the resurrection ( Against Heresies 1:15:3, Treatise on the Resurrection 44:26-30). He accomplished this by "sharing with the dispensational (i.e. human) Christ his power and his name" ( Against Heresies 3:16:1).

Valentinian Christology emphasizes that the human Jesus is redeemed by being joined with the Savior at his baptism. The Son is "the Name which came down upon Jesus in the dove and redeemed him" (Excerpts of Theodotus 22:6). The redemption of the human Jesus is seen by the Valentinians as applying to all who form part of the "church of the superior seed". The human Jesus is joined to the Savior. All who form part of the spiritual church which is identical with the human Jesus are also joined to the Savior. In the Interpretation of Knowledge, the human Jesus who represents the Church is called the "humiliated one"(12:18-22)and the "reproached one" (12:29-31). Again it is the Savior who redeems: "Who is it that redeemed the one that was reproached? It is the emanation of the Name (i.e. the Savior)" (Interpretation of Knowledge 12:29-31cf also 12:18-22). The descent of the Son into Jesus at his baptism is simultaneously the redemption of the human Jesus and the redemption of all who are joined with him.

The Public Career of Jesus

Following his baptism, he taught for twelve months in order to "proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of retribution" (Isaiah 61:2 cf. Against Heresies 2:22:1). In order to reveal his dual nature, the Acts of John reports that at times he was substantial like an ordinary human being, but that at other times he seemed insubstantial and did not even seem to leave footprints. (Acts of John 88-89). Everything he did was "a symbol and a dispensation for the conversion and salvation of humanity" (Acts of John 102 cf. also Against Heresies 1:8:2). He taught he disciples "first in a figurative and mystical way, then in parables and riddles and thirdly clearly and directly in private" (Excerpts of Theodotus 66 cf. John 16:25, Luke 8:9-10).

In the Gospel of Philip, Mary Magdalene is regarded as a full-fledged apostle. She was seen as having had a special relationship with Jesus and is said to be the apostle he loved more that the others (Gospel of Philip 64:1-2 cf. Gospel of Mary 18:14-15). She is sometimes interpreted as a symbol of Wisdom (Sophia). As such she is described as Jesus' consort and it is implied that they are married (Gospel of Philip 63:32-33, 56:6-10 cf. Gospel of Mary 10:2-3). His brother James also plays an important role in some Valentinian sources such as the First Apocalypse of James.

The Crufixion

The forces of ignorance rose up against Jesus, and, not comprehending his true nature, attempted to destroy him (Gospel of Truth 18:21-26). His passion and death have a special symbolic value according to Ptolemy who says that Jesus "came to his suffering in the last times of the world for the purpose of revealing the suffering arising with the last of the Aeons and through its end to reveal for all to see the final aim of the events in the world of the Aeons" ( Against Heresies 1:8:2).

Valentinians interpreted Jesus' suffering and death in terms of his dual nature. Inasmuch as Jesus is a human being, he suffered pain and died on the cross (cf. Against Heresies 1:7:2). However, his divine nature (i.e. the Savior) transcends physical pain and death ( Against Heresies 1:6:3, 1 Apocalypse of James 131:17-19). Instead, his divine aspect endured only the emotional sufferings of grief, fear and confusion in order to bring them to nothing. This distinction is expressed by the risen Christ in the following words: "What they (i.e. ordinary Christians) say of me, I did not endure, but what they do not say, those things I did suffer" (Acts of John 101).

According to Ptolemy, the Savior expressed his grief with the words, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death" (Matthew 26:38). When he says, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matthew 26:39) he shows fear. Similarly, his statement, "And what shall I say" (John 12:27) shows his confusion. ( Against Heresies 1:8:2). The reality of this suffering is affirmed in many places (Gospel of Truth 20:10-14, 20:28-30, Interpretation of Knowledge 5:30-35, Herakleon 12)

The identity of the Jesus' body with the Church lead some Valentinians to identify the suffering of Jesus with the suffering of the individual Christians that make up that body. In the Letter of Peter to Philip, it says "Our illuminator came down and was crucified..Jesus is a stranger to this suffering. But we are the ones who suffered through the transgression of the Mother. And because of this he did everything like us" (139:15-25).

According to the Apocalypse of Peter, Jesus was laughing on the cross at his persecutors: "He laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind" (Apocalypse of Peter 83:1-3). They foolishly thought they were killing him but in reality they were setting him free from the flesh. Only the human Jesus was being put to death.

According to Theodotus, when Jesus said, "Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit" (Luke 23:4), he committed the lower Wisdom and her seed to the Father, having accomplished his work of redemption (Excerpts of Theodotus 1:1-2). The Savior then withdrew from Jesus and his human part died (Excerpts of Theodotus 61:6). That is why the human Jesus said with his dying breath, "My God, my God, why o Lord have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46), for "he was divided in that place" (Gospel of Philip 68:26-28 cf. also Interpretation of Knowledge 13:14-16).

The Resurrection

When the human body died, his non-corporeal spiritual body rose up from it (Refutation of Heresies 10:7, Apocalypse of Peter 83:6-8, cf. also Treatise on the Resurrection 45:14-17). The Gospel of Truth puts it thus, "Having stripped himself of perishable rags, he put on imperishability" (Gospel of Truth 20:30-32 cf. also Treatise on the Resurrection 45:14-22).

According to a tradition preserved in the Acts of John, the risen Savior appeared immediately to the apostle John on the Mount of Olives while the multitude was still gathered around his human body nailed to the cross. The Savior revealed to him that the cross could be seen as a symbol of the Limit that separates the lower realm from the Fullness (Acts of John 97-100). When he told John that "those who are outside the mystery" (Acts of John 100) were saying that he had perished on the cross, John laughed at their foolishness (Acts of John 102).

On the third day after his human body died, the Savior sent forth a ray of power which destroyed death, and "he raised the mortal body after he scattered the sufferings (i.e. the physical and carnal natures)" (Excerpts of Theodotus 61:6). This body which he raised is not the material body, "for what is flesh and blood cannot share in God's kingdom" (1 Corinthians 15:50). Instead, it was a body of animate essence specially transformed so that it could be seen and felt (cf. Excerpts of Theodotus 59:4, Against Heresies 1:6:1, 1:7:1).

The risen Savior only took up those elements he wished to save, that is, the animate soul and the spiritual seed ( Against Heresies1:6:1). It is this animate and spiritual body of Christ which is consubstantial with the Church (Excerpts of Theodotus 42:3, 58:1, cf. Ephesians 4:15-16). Theodotus puts it in these words, "The visible part of Jesus was Wisdom (Sophia) and the Church of the superior seed which he put on through the body" (Excerpts of Theodotus 26:1).

The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

The risen Jesus appeared to different people in various forms, that is "in the manner in which they would be able to see him" (Gospel of Philip 57:28-35 cf. also Excerpts of Theodotus 23:4, Acts of Peter 21). That is why Mary did not recognize him at the tomb (John 20:15) and the disciples did not recognize him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:16).

According to a tradition known to the Valentinians, Jesus remained for eighteen months after his crucifixion ( Against Heresies 1:3:2, Secret Book of James 2:19). During this time he instructed his disciples "plainly about the Father" (John 16:25 cf. Excerpts of Theodotus 66). Valentinians believed that the secret tradition passed on to them was revealed to the disciples during this period.

After giving final instructions to Peter and James (Secret Book of James), the Savior and Wisdom (Sophia) ascended to the eighth heaven. The animate Christ remained in the seventh heaven on the right hand of the Craftsman (Excerpts of Theodotus 62:1 cf. Psalm 110). He will remain there until the consummation so that "they may see him whom they pierced" (Revelation 1:7 cf. Excerpts of Theodotus 62:2).


Jesus sows the spiritual seed in all who hear the message. He is the sower in the parable (Matthew 13:1-8 cf. Interpretation of Knowledge 5:16-19). The spiritual seed bears fruit in the Church, "therefore the signs of the Spirit - healing and prophesying - are accomplished through the Church" (Excerpts of Theodotus 24:1).

Jesus is absolutely central to Valentinian theology. Their understanding of his incarnation places great emphasis on both his human and divine nature. The human Jesus alone died on the cross since the divine transcends pain and death. This is distinctly different from "docetism". Valentinians never claimed that Jesus only appeared to suffer or that his body was an apparition.



Friday 25 June 2021

Prophecy of the Ogdoad Sibylline Oracles 7

Prophecy of the Ogdoad Sibylline Oracles 7
the Lord's Day the Ogdoad Sibylline Oracles book 7

Sibylline Oracles 7

But they will endure extreme toil who, for gain,

will prophesy base things, augmenting an evil time;

who putting on the shaggy hides of sheep

135 will falsely claim to be Hebrews, which is not their race.

But speaking with words, making profit by woes,

they will not change their life and will not persuade the righteous

and those who propitiate God through the heart, most faithfully.

Restoration of the world

In the third lot of circling years,

140 of the first ogdoad, another world is seen again.

All will be night, long and unyielding,

and then a terrible smell of brimstone will extend

announcing murders, when those men perish

by night and famine. Then he will beget a pure mind

145 of men and will set up your race as it was before for you.

No longer will anyone cut a deep furrow with a crooked plow;

no oxen will plunge down the guiding iron.

There will be no vine branches or ear of corn, but all, at once,

will eat the dewy manna with white teeth

After the third “circling of years” when the first Ogdoad is seen, he will begat a “pure mind of men” and no one will plow a crooked row anymore (139-149).

Ogdoad is also a Gnostic concept relating to the aeons (Edwin Yamauchi, “The Gnostics and History” JETS 14 (1971): 29-40, 31). 

The word is used to describe a place in the Hermetic Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth:  “The Eighth or Ogdoad is described as the place or sphere where souls and angels continuously praise the Ninth with hymns; the Ninth is the dwelling place of Nous or Divine Mind” (Ruth Majerick, “Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth” in ABD 2:210-211). 

It is possible this reference refers to Jesus in some kind of numeric wordplay, since the name Jesus Christ is often rendered 888. Finally, all people in this restored world will “eat dewy manna with white teeth” (148-149, cf. Revelation 2:17).

63 Now the repose of the spiritual elements on the Lord's Day, that is, in the Ogdoad, which is called the Lord's Day, is with the Mother, who keeps their souls, the (wedding) garments, until the end; but the other faithful souls are with the Creator, but at the end they also go up in the Ogdoad. Then comes the marriage feast, common to all who are saved, until all are equal and know each other. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotu)

The Lord's day is the first day of the week, or day after the seventh, and therefore styled the eighth day. It is termed His day, because it is the week-day of His resurrection. Upon this day the disciples of Christ assembled to show forth His death, and to celebrate His resurrection;The fact that the Lord’s resurrection took place on a Sunday, the eighth day, is interpreted as a symbolic reference to this redemptive ascent of the spirituals at the end of the age.

God shows Enoch the age of this world, its existence of seven thousand years, and the eighth thousand is the end, neither years, nor months, nor weeks, nor days

2Enoch 33:1 And I appointed the eighth day also, that the eighth day should be the first-created after my work, that it should revolve in the revolution of the seventh thousand, so that the eighth thousand might be in the beginning of a time not reckoned and unending with neither years nor months nor weeks nor days nor hours like the first day of the week, so also that the eighth day of the week might return continually.
2 And now, Enoch, all that I have told thee, all that thou hast understood, all that thou hast seen of heavenly things, all that thou hast seen on earth, and all that I have written in books by my great wisdom, all these things I have devised and created from the uppermost foundation to the lower and to the end, and there is no counsellor nor inheritor to my creations.
3 I am self-eternal, not made with hands, and without change.
4 My thought is my counsellor, my wisdom and my word are made, and my eyes observe all things how they stand here and tremble with terror.

The big find in Barnabas is chapter 15, concerning the sabbath, which says...

1 Furthermore it was written concerning the Sabbath in the ten words which he spake on Mount Sinai face to face to Moses. "Sanctify also the Sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and a pure heart."
2 And in another place he says, "If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I bestow my mercy upon them."
3 He speaks of the Sabbath at the beginning of the Creation, "And God made in 6x days the works of his hands and on the 7th day he made an end, and rested in it and sanctified it."
4 Notice, children, what is the meaning of "He made an end in 6 days"? He means this: that the Lord will make an end of everything in 6,000 years, for a day with him means a thousand years. And he himself is my witness when he says, "Lo, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years." So then, children, in 6 days, that is in 6 thousand years, everything will be completed.
5 "And he rested on the 7th day." This means, when his Son comes [at the start of that day] he will destroy the time of the wicked one, and will judge the godless, and will change the sun and the moon and the stars, and then he will truly rest on the 7th day [Amen].
6 Furthermore he says, "Thou shalt sanctify it with clean hands and a pure heart." If, then, anyone has at present the power to keep holy the day which God made holy, by being pure in heart, we are altogether deceived.
7 See that we shall indeed keep it holy at that time, when we enjoy true rest, when we shall be able to do so because we have been made righteous ourselves and have received the promise, when there is no more sin, but all things have been made new by the Lord  then we shall be able to keep it holy because we ourselves have first been made holy.
8 Furthermore he says to them, "Your new moons and the sabbaths I cannot away with." Do you see what he means? The present sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but that which I have made, in which I will give rest to all things and make the beginning of an eighth day, that is the beginning of another world.
9 Wherefore we also celebrate with gladness the eighth day in which Jesus also rose from the dead, and was made manifest, and ascended into Heaven (Chapter 15)

These Sabbaths will be no longer celebrated on the seventh day. They will be changed from the seventh to the eighth or first day of the week, which are the same. The "dispensation of the fullness of times" (Eph 1:10), popularly styled the Millennium, will be the antitype, or substance, of the Mosaic feast of tabernacles which was "a shadow of things to come." In this type, or pattern, Israel were to rejoice before Yahweh for seven days, beginning "on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when they had gathered the fruit of the land." In relation to the first day of the seven, the law says, "it shall be a sacred assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein." This was what we call Sunday. The regulation then continues, "on the eighth day," also Sunday, "shall be a sacred assembly unto you, and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein." Again, "on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath" (Lev 23:34-43).

This change of the sabbath from the seventh to the eighth, or first day of the week, is the full development and establishment of the observance of the Lord's day by the disciples of Jesus since the times of the apostles.

Thursday 24 June 2021

We Shall Become Gods John 10:34

Our destiny is to become Gods like Yahweh, the Elohim and Jesus

24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his lord
25 It is enough for the disciple to become as his teacher, and the slave as his lord (Matthew 10)

So we all are to becomes Gods like Jesus if he is our Lord and our Teacher.

John 20:28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus became a God like Yahweh both in nature and moral character, after he gave his life as a ransom. He was given the name that is above every other name named, which name is Yahweh.

20 with which he has operated in the case of the Christ when he raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
21 far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come (Ephesians 1).
How are we to be come gods?
By becoming sharing in the divine nature. If we share God's divine nature therefore we will be divine and a god just like the Father

2 Peter 1:4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Partakers"—A partaker is a sharer, and believers are called to share that same "divine nature" unto which the Lord attained through his resurrection from the dead (1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:21; John 1:12). What Christ is now, we can become.

"Divine nature"—This is immortality,a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:46), made like unto the angels (Luke 20:36), who are "made spirits" (Heb. 1:7). Notice the six transition-features of the coming resurrection, as outlined in 1 Cor. 15:42-54, all expressive of "divine nature:"
Paul said: 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3 NWT)

So the target that Paul set, that we fall short of, was the glory of God. One does not get the glory of God until one has become a God!

2Thel 2:14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one;

John 17:24 ¶ Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
34 Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your Law, I said: You are Gods? (John 10).

GODS: That is, God's appointed representatives, called "elohim" or "gods" in Psa 82:1-6. See Exo 7:1; 21:6; 22:8,28. Angels also may bear the Yahweh-name (Act 7:30).

Here are all the scriptures in the bible using the phrase God of Gods...

17 For Yahweh your Gods he [is] the Gods of Gods [these could all be polite plurals] and the Lord of lords, the God great, mighty and fear-inspiring, who treats none with partiality nor accepts a bribe, (Deuteronomy 10 NWT)

2 Give ye thanks to the Gods [polite plural] of Gods, For to the age {is} His kindness. (Psalms 136 YLT)

47 The king answered Daniel and said, Your Gods truly [is] a Gods of Gods [these could all be polite plurals] and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret. (Daniel 2 GLT)

36 And the king will actually do according to his own will, and he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every God; and against the God of Gods he will speak marvellous things. And he will certainly prove successful until [the] denunciation will have come to a finish; because the thing decided upon must be done. (Daniel 11 NWT)

Nowhere in the bible is Elohim in the singular. This may be because God's wife is a composite God. So there have always been two Gods. She is divine, individuals in her cannot sin.
The Divine Name
God told Israel that His Name was YAHWEH, meaning "I am that I am" or, more correctly translated, 'I will be who I will be' (Ex.3:13-15). This name was then slightly extended: "God said moreover (i.e. in addition) unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD (Yahweh) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob...this is My name for ever, and my memorial to all generations" (Ex.3:15).

God's full name is therefore "The LORD God".

The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew, and our English translation inevitably misses out a lot of detail when it comes to translating the Hebrew words for 'God'. One of the common Hebrew words translated 'God' is 'Elohim', meaning 'mighty ones'. God's "memorial", the Name by which He wants us to remember Him, is therefore

It is therefore God's purpose to reveal His character and His essential being in a large group of people. By obedience to His word we can develop some of God's characteristics in ourselves now, so that in a very limited sense God is revealing Himself in the true believers in this life. But God's Name is a prophecy of the time to come when the earth will be filled with people who are like Him, both in character and by nature (cp. 2 Pet.1:4). If we wish to be associated with the purpose of God and to become like God to die no more, living for ever in complete moral perfection, then we must associate ourselves with His Name. The way to do this is to be baptized into the Name - i.e. Yahweh Elohim (Matt.28:19). This also makes us the descendants ("seed") of Abraham (Gal.3:27-29) who were promised the eternal inheritance of the earth (Gen.17:8; Rom.4:13) - the group of 'mighty ones' ('Elohim') in whom the prophecy of God's Name will be fulfilled

Moroni 7:48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (The Book of Mormon)

This is echoed in the Gospel of Philip’s statement that where the Gnostic is described as no longer a Christian, but Christ.

People cannot see anything that really is without becoming like it. It is not so with people in the world, who see the sun without becoming the sun and see the sky and earth and everything else without becoming them.
Rather, in the realm of truth,
you have seen things there and have become those things,
you have seen the spirit and have become spirit,
you have seen Christ and have become Christ,
you have seen the [father] and will become father. (Gospel of Philip)

[Here] in the world you see everything but do not [see] yourself, but there in that realm you see yourself, and you will [become] what you see.
Those who receive the name of the father, son, and holy spirit and have accepted them must do this. If someone does not accept them, the name will also be taken from that person. A person receives them in the chrism with the oil of the power of the cross. The apostles called this power the right and the left. This person is no longer a Christian but is Christ. (Gospel of Philip)

In the first Apocalypse of James, Christ exhorts James to cast away the bond of flesh that encircles him, and continues:

Then you will reach The-One-who-is. And you will no longer be James; rather you are The-One-who-is

In the thirteenth book of the Corpus Hermeticum, Hermes Trismegistus explains to his son Tat: Hermes: Even so it is my son, when a man is born from above; it is no longer a body of flesh and blood that he perceives but the incorruptible. Tat: Father, now that I know this, I see myself to be the All. I am in heaven and in earth, in water and in air; I am in beasts and plants. . .I am present everywhere. Hermes: Now, my son, you know what the rebirth is. (John 3:3) And also in the Gospel of Thomas, (saying 108) in which Jesus declares: whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me, I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to that one.

The ultimate object of gnosis is God/union with God and the direct reception of the wisdom of God through
experience of the divine. The event of gnosis within an individual transforms the knower of gnosis into a partaker and sharer in the divine essence. To know ones true self, the divine sp iritu a l element of ones being, is to know God. The sp iritu a l pneumatic element of ones true self is the linking, cohesive element, and the only - element, by which one is bound to the divine spiritual realm

Monday 21 June 2021

The Ebionites


Ebionites: (from Hebrew, “the poor ones”) A Jewish-Christian sect that fl ourished up to the fourth century but probably survived in pockets for much longer. Th e Ebionites retained Jewish practices, including full observance of the law of *Moses, and had an adoptionist *Christology, treating *Jesus as a human messiah who received the *Holy Spirit at his *baptism. Works attributed to the Ebionites include the *Gospel of the Ebionites and the *Gospel of the Hebrews, which survive only in quotation, and the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies.

The Nazoræans.

Epiphanius would have it that the Christians were first called Iessæi, and says they are mentioned under this name in the writings of Philo. The followers of the earliest converts of Jesus are also said to have been called Nazoræi. Even towards the end of the fourth century the Nazoræans were still found scattered throughout Cœle-Syria, Decapolis, Pella (whither they fled at the destruction of Jerusalem), the region beyond Jordan, and far away to Mesopotamia. Their collection of the logoi was called The Gospel according to the Hebrews, and differed greatly from the synoptic accounts of the Canon. Even to this day a remnant of the Nazoræans is said by some to survive in the Mandaïtes, a strange sect dwelling in the marshes of Southern Babylonia, but their curious scripture, The Book of Adam, as preserved in the Codex Nasaræus, bears no resemblance whatever to the known fragments of The Gospel according to the Hebrews, though some of their rites are very similar to the rites of some communities of the "Righteous" referred to in that strange Jewish pseudepigraph The Sibylline Oracles.

Who the original Iessæans or Nazoræans were, is wrapped in the greatest obscurity; under another of their designations, however, the Ebionites or "Poor Men," we can obtain some further information. These early outer followers of Jesus were finally ostracized from the orthodox fold, and so completely were their origin and history obscured by the subsequent industry of heresy-hunters, that we finally find them fathered on a certain Ebion, who is as non-existent as several other heretics, such as Epiphanes, Kolarbasus and Elkesai, who were invented by the zeal and ignorance of fourth-century hæresiologists and "historians." Epiphanes is the later personification of an unnamed "distinguished" (epiphanes) teacher; Kolarbasus is the personification of the "sacred four" (kol-arba), and Elkesai the personification of the "hidden power" (elkesai). So eager were the later refutators to add to their list of heretics, that they invented the names of persons from epithets and doctrines. So with Ebion.
The Poor Men.
The Ebionites were originally so called because they were "poor"; the later orthodox subsequently added "in intelligence" or "in their ideas about Christ." And this may very well have been the case, and doubtless many grossly misunderstood the public teaching of Jesus, for it should not be forgotten that one of the main factors to be taken into account in reviewing the subsequent rapid progress of the new religion was the social revolution. In the minds of the most ignorant of the earliest followers of the public teaching, the greatest hope aroused may well have been the near approach of the day when the "poor" should be elevated above the "rich." But this was the view of the most ignorant only; though doubtless they were numerous enough.

Nevertheless it was Ebionism which preserved the tradition of the earliest converts of the public teaching, and the Ebionite communities doubtless possessed a collection of the public Sayings and based their lives upon them.

It was against these original followers of the public teaching of Jesus that Paul contended in his efforts to gentilize Christianity. For many a long year this Petro-Pauline controversy was waged with great bitterness, and the Canon of the New Testament is thought by some to have been the means adopted to form the basis of a future reconciliation; the Petrine and Pauline documents were carefully edited, and between the Gospel portion and the Pauline letters was inserted the new-forged link of the Acts of the Apostles, a carefully edited selection from a huge mass of legendary Acts, welded together into a narrative and embellished with speeches after the manner of Thucydides.

The Ebionite Tradition of Jesus.

How then did the original Ebionites view the person and teaching of Jesus? They regarded their leader as a wise man, a prophet, a Jonas, nay even a Solomon. Moreover, he was a manifestation of the Messiah, the Anointed, who was to come, but he had not yet appeared as the Messiah; that would only be at his second coming. In his birth as Jesus, he was a prophet simply. The New Dispensation was but the continuation of the Old Law; all was essentially Jewish. They therefore expected the coming of the Messiah as literally prophesied by their men of old. He was to come as king, and then all the nations would be subjected to the power of the Chosen People, and for a thousand years there would be peace and prosperity and plenty on earth.

p. 129

Jesus was a man, born as all men, the human son of Joseph and Mary. It was only at his baptism, at thirty years of age, that the Spirit descended upon him and he became a prophet. They, therefore, guarded his Sayings as a precious deposit, handing them down by word of mouth. The Ebionites knew nothing of the pre-existence or divinity of their revered prophet. It is true that Jesus was "christ," but so also would all be who fulfilled the Law. Thus they naturally repudiated Paul and his new doctrine entirely; for them Paul was a deceiver and an apostate from the Law, they even denied that he was a Jew.

It was only later that they used The Gospel according to the Hebrews, which Jerome says was the same as The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles and The Gospel of the Nazarenes, that is to say, of the Nazoræans. It should be remembered that these Nazoræans knew nothing of the Nazareth legend, which was subsequently developed by the "in order that it might be fulfilled" school of historicizers.

The Ebionites did not return to Jerusalem when the emperor permitted the new colony of Ælia Capitolina to be established in 138, for no Jew was allowed to return. The new town was Gentile. Therefore, when we read of "the re-constitution of the mother church" at Ælia Colonia, in Church historians, little reliance can be placed upon such assertions. The "mother church," based on the public teaching, was Ebionite and remained Ebionite, the community at Ælia Colonia was Gentile and therefore Pauline.

p. 130

Christianity, as understood by the Ebionites, being an essentially national doctrine, Paulinism was a necessity if any public attempt at universality was to be made; therefore it was that the true historical side of popular Christianity (the original Ebionite tradition) became more and more obscured, until finally it had so completely disappeared from the area of such tradition, that a new "history" could with safety be developed to suit the dogmatic evolution inaugurated by Paul.

The later forms of Ebionism, however, which survived for several centuries, were of a Gnostic nature, and reveal the contact of these outer communities of primitive Christendom based on the public teaching with an inner Jewish tradition, which evidently existed contemporaneously with Paul, and may have existed far earlier.

Justin the Gnostic The Book of Baruch

 The Book of Baruch

The teachings of this Justin (not to be confused with the famous Christian apologist Justin Martyr) are among several different mythic and doctrinal systems summarized in an antihereticalwork probably composed in Rome by the Christian writer Hippolytus around 222–235 C.E.24 According to Hippolytus, Justin made use of several sacred books, but Hippolytus summarizes the myth found in a book that Justin himself deemed particularly noteworthy, a book bearing the name of one of its mythic figures, Baruch (Hippolytus, Ref. 5.24.2–3).

The following is the outline of the system.

There are three principles of the Universe: (i.) The Good, or all-wise Deity; (ii.) the Father, or Spirit, the creative power, called Elohīm; and (iii.) the World-Soul, symbolized as a woman above the middle and a serpent below, called Eden. From Elohīm (a plural used as a collective) and Eden twenty-four cosmic powers or angels come forth, twelve follow the will of the Father-Spirit, and twelve the nature of the Mother-Soul. The lower twelve are the World-Trees of the Garden of Eden. The Trees are divided into four groups, of three each, representing the four Rivers of Eden. The Trees are evidently of the same nature as the cosmic forces which are represented by the Hindus as having their roots or sources above and their branches or streams below. The name Eden means Pleasure or Desire.

Thus the whole creation comes into existence, and finally from the animal part of the Mother-Soul are generated animals, and from the human part men. The upper part of the Garden is called the "most beautiful Earth"; that is to say, Cosmic Earth, and the body of man is formed of the finest. Man having thus been formed, Eden and Elohīm depute their powers unto him; the World-Soul bestows on him the soul, and the World-Spirit infuses into him the spirit. Thus were men and women constituted.

And all creation was subjected to the four groups of the twelve powers of the World-Soul, according to their cycles, as they move round as in a circular dance

But when the man-stage was reached, the turning-point of the world--process, Elohīm, the Spirit, ascended into the celestial spaces, taking with him his own twelve powers. And in the highest part of the heaven he beheld the Great Light shining through the Gate (? the physical sun), which led to the Light-world of The Good. And he who had hitherto thought himself Lord of Creation, perceived that there was one above him, and cried aloud: "Open me the gates that I may acknowledge the [true] Lord; for I considered myself to be the Lord." And a voice came forth, saying: "This is the Gate of the Lord; through this the righteous enter in." And leaving his angels in the highest part of the heavens, the World-Father entered in and sat down at the right hand of the Good One.

And Elohīm desired to recover by force his spirit which was bound to men, from further degradation; but the Good Deity restrained him, for now that he had ascended to the Light-realm he could work no destruction.

And the Soul (Eden) perceiving herself abandoned by Elohīm, tricked herself out so as to entice him back; but the Spirit would not return to the arms of Mother Nature (now that the middle point of evolution was passed). Thereupon, the spirit that was left behind in man, was plagued by the soul; for the spirit or mind desired to follow its Father into the height, but the soul, incited by the powers of the Mother--Soul, and especially by the first group who rule over sexual passion and excess, gave way to adulteries and even greater vice; and the spirit in man was thereby tormented.

Now the angel, or power, of the World-Soul, which Baruch.especially incited the human soul to such misdeeds, was the third of the first group, called Naas (Heb. Nachash), the serpent, the symbol of animal passion. And Elohīm, seeing this, sent forth the third of his own angels, called Baruch, to succour the spirit in man. And Baruch came and stood in the midst of the Trees (the powers of the World-Soul), and declared unto man that of all the Trees of the Garden of Eden he might eat the fruit, but of the Tree Naas, he might not, for Naas had transgressed the law, and had given rise to adultery and unnatural intercourse.

And Baruch had also appeared to Moses and the prophets through the spirit in man, that the people might be converted to the Good One; but Naas had invariably obscured his precepts through the soul in man. And not only had Baruch taught the prophets of the Hebrews, but also the prophets of the uncircumcised. Thus, for instance, Hercules among the Syrians had been instructed, and his twelve labours were his conflicts with the twelve powers of the World-Soul. Yet Hercules also had finally failed, for after seeming to accomplish his labours, he is vanquished by Omphalē, or Venus, who divests him of his power by clothing him with her own robe, the power of Eden below.

Last of all Baruch appeared unto Jesus, a shepherd boy, son of Joseph and Mary, a child of Christology.twelve years. And Jesus remained faithful to the teachings of Baruch, in spite of the enticements of Naas. And Naas in wrath caused him to be "crucified," but he, leaving on the "tree" the body of Eden--that is to say, the psychic body or soul, and the gross physical body--and committing his spirit or mind to the hands of his Father (Elohīm), ascended to the Good One. And there he beholds "whatever things eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man"; and bathes in the ocean of life-giving water, no longer in the water below the firmament, the ocean of generation in which the physical and psychic bodies are bathed. This ocean of generation is, of course, the same as the Brāhmanical and Buddhistic saṁsāra, the ocean of rebirth.

Hippolytus tries to make out that Justinus was a very vile person, because he fearlessly pointed out one of the main obstacles to the spiritual life, and the horrors of animal sensuality; but Justinus evidently preached a doctrine of rigid asceticism, and ascribed the success of Jesus to his triumphant purity.

Sunday 20 June 2021

Will and Agency 2 Nephi 2:14

Will and Agency
The Tripartite Tractate and the book of Mormon

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.


the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.

The will of God, God's will is always perfection and all good for all His children; perfect health in mind and body; abundance of every good thing including joy, peace, wisdom, and eternal life. He does not will suffering or imperfection in any form.


the ability to take action or to choose what action to take:

The protest gave us a sense of agency, a sense of our own power to make a difference.
When the legal system acquitted these women on the grounds of insanity it denied their agency.

The Fall of the Logos

This aeon was last to have <been> brought forth by mutual assistance, and he was small in magnitude. And before he begot anything else for the glory of the will and in agreement with the Totalities, he acted, magnanimously, from an abundant love, and set out toward that which surrounds the perfect glory, for it was not without the will of the Father that the Logos was produced, which is to say, not without it will he go forth. But he, the Father, had brought him forth for those about whom he knew that it was fitting that they should come into being. (
The Tripartite Tractate)

The Father and the Totalities drew away from him, so that the limit which the Father had set might be established - for it is not from grasping the incomprehensibility but by the will of the Father, - and furthermore, (they withdrew) so that the things which have come to be might become an organization which would come into being. If it were to come, it would not come into being by the manifestation of the Pleroma. Therefore, it is not fitting to criticize the movement which is the Logos, but it is fitting that we should say about the movement of the Logos that it is a cause of an organization which has been destined to come about. (
The Tripartite Tractate)

For the will held the Totality under sin (the subjection of the all to sin), so that by that will he might have mercy on the Totality and they might be saved, while a single one alone is appointed to give life, and all the rest need salvation. Therefore, it was from (reasons) of this sort that it began to receive grace to give the honors which were proclaimed by Jesus, which were suitable for him to proclaim to the rest, since a seed of the promise of Jesus Christ was set up, whom we have served in (his) revelation and union. (The Tripartite Tractate)

76:23-77:11. The fall occurred in accordance with the Father's will.

the fall is caused by an act of will, but is never described as the result of a prohairesis, which for him implies a rationally deliberated decision;

It is the Will of the Father that agency was given to all of the aeons

This explanation of the descent, which attributes it to the divine will, does not seem entirely compatible with the theory that the fall was caused by the autonomy of the soul-aeon

the Father allows the fall to take place (he also has foreknowledge of it: 76:29-30) rather than actively causes it.

The Fall of Man
The noble elect substance which is in him was more exalted. It created and it did not wound them. Therefore they issued a command, making a threat and bringing upon him a great danger, which is death. Only the enjoyment of the things which are evil did he allow him to taste, and from the other tree with the double (fruit) he did not allow him to eat, much less from the tree of life, so that they would not acquire honor [...] them, and so that they would not be [...] by the evil power which is called "the serpent." And he is more cunning than all the evil powers. He led man astray through the determination of those things which belong to the thought and the desires. <He> made him transgress the command, so that he would die. And he was expelled from every enjoyment of that place. (
The Tripartite Tractate)

This is the expulsion which was made for him, when he was expelled from the enjoyments of the things which belong to the likeness and those of the representation. It was a work of providence, so that it might be found that it is a short time until man will receive the enjoyment of the things which are eternally good, in which is the place of rest. This the spirit ordained when he first planned that man should experience the great evil, which is death, that is complete ignorance of the Totality, and that he should experience all the evils which come from this and, after the deprivations and cares which are in these, that he should receive of the greatest good, which is life eternal, that is, firm knowledge of the Totalities and the reception of all good things. Because of the transgression of the first man, death ruled. It was accustomed to slay every man in the manifestation of its domination, which had been given it as a kingdom because of the organization of the Father's will, of which we spoke previously. (
The Tripartite Tractate)

man must experience evil and death to the full in order to be able to appreciate the immense good of eternal life

The Fall according to the Gospel of Truth
Since error had no root, she was in a fog regarding the father. She was preparing works and forgetfulnesses and fears in order, by these means, to beguile those of the middle  and to make them captive. The forgetfulness of error was not revealed. It did not become light beside the father. Forgetfulness did not exist with the father, although it existed because of him.  What exists in him is knowledge, which was revealed so that forgetfulness might be destroyed and that the father might be known. Since forgetfulness existed because the father was not known, if the father comes to be known, from that moment on forgetfulness will cease to exist. (Gospel of Truth)

book of mormon 2 nephi 2:14-27

2:14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth.

20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.

21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and call things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Friday 18 June 2021

What is Fate?

 What is Fate?

In this study we will look at the Gnostic understanding of Fate. But first an introductory reading from The Apocryphon of John:

24 I said, "Christ, where did the counterfeit spirit come from?''

He said to me, "(It all began) when the Mother whose mercy is great and the holy Spirit, the compassionate, who troubles herself with us—the seed that is, the Epinoia of the light awakened the thinking of human beings of the generation of the eternal, luminous, perfect Human. Then the Chief Ruler knew that they surpassed him in the excellence of their wisdom. He wanted to restrict their plan for he was ignorant. He did not understand [that] they were wiser than he. He made a plan with his powers. {He made a plan and begot Fate.}

They begot Fate and they bound the gods of heaven and angels and demons and human beings with measures and seasons and times in order to keep them all in its fetter—for it was lord over them all. (The Apocryphon of John)

Understanding Fate
fate--"That which is destined or decreed; appointed lot. Fate suggests inevitability and immutability in strict use, but usually carries no clear implication of whether it is good or evil" (Webster). 

In the Greco-Roman world fate was considered to be the overwhelming force that determines the destiny of all earthly and heavenly 

The philosophy of the Stoics stressed fate or natural destiny; one should be of high virtue but strive for indifference to pain or pleasure.

Astrologers in the ancient world like today considered “the position of the stars at the hour of birth, by various arts of computation and divining . . . determined the fate of individuals.” (Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, translated by S. P. Tregelles, 1901, pp. 166, 167)

The Pharisees Regarding their ideas about fate or providence, Josephus reports: “[They] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates.”—The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14).

Valentinian Understanding
In the system of Valentinus, the seven heavens (referred to as the Hebdomad), and even the region above them (referred to as the Ogdoad), were regarded as but the lowest and last stage of the exercise of creative power. Above them was the Pleroma, where were exhibited the first manifestations of the evolution of subordinate existence from the great First Principle.

The Ogdoad, is a place where the fallen Wisdom dwells, having been formed “in being” (κατ᾿οὐσίαν) and “in knowledge” (κατὰ γνῶσιν) by two emanations of the Pleroma, viz. Christ and Holy Spirit. The formation “in being”seems to have given rise to the realm of the fixed stars, whereas the formation “in knowledge” led, on the one hand,to the separation of passions from the fallen Sophia, and, on the other hand, to the generation of the spiritual substance (τὸ πνευματικόν), which will play a crucial role in the Valentinian soteriology.
The separated passions were, in turn, transformed by the Holy Spirit into two other substances, the material and the psychic one.

The next level is the level of the Hebdomad. It is created by Wisdom from the psychic substance, along with its ruler and his angels. This ruler, called Demiurge, is responsible for the formation of the psychic and material elements, thus becoming a creator of the sublunary world. His realm, the Hebdomad, seems to correspond to the seven planetary spheres. Finally, along with the formation of the material elements, the Demiurge also created the devil and the evil spirits. The devil is described as κοσμοκράτωρ, the ruler of the (sublunary) world.

It is against this background that a particular view of fate, widespread in early Christian literature, is reflected in the Valentinian narrative. This view includes two suppositions: (a) the notion of fate as a force exerted by or mediated through the heavenly bodies, which somehow determines the course of events, including human action, in the sublunary realm; (b) the belief that fate in this sense either does not exist or does not pertain to the Christians. Various versions of this view can be found in the Christian apologists, Bardaisan of Edessa, and some gnostic texts from the Nag Hammadi library.
The Powers and Forces
69 Fate is a union of many opposing forces and they are invisible and unseen, guiding the course of the stars and governing through them. For as each of them arrived, borne round by the movement of the world, it obtained power over those who were born at that very moment, as though they were its own children. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotu)

70 Therefore through the fixed stars and the planets, the invisible powers holding sway over them direct and watch over births. But the stars themselves do nothing but display the activity of the dominant powers, just as the flight of the birds (for omens) indicates something but effects nothing. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotu)

71 Now the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the seven stars which follow them rising now in conjunction, now in opposition, . . . these, moved by the powers, show the movement of substance toward the creation of living beings and the turn of circumstances. But both the stars and the powers are of different kinds: some are beneficent, some maleficent, some right, some left, and that which is born shares in both qualities. And each of them comes into being at its own time, the dominant sign fulfilling the course of nature, partly at the beginning, partly at the end. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotu)

As the heavenly bodies are carried around by the motion of the cosmos, these powers ride upon them, and whichever has reached the upper position obtains authority over those beings that are born in that particular moment.
The text says that the seven ‘planets’ (i.e. five planets plus the Sun and the Moon), moved by those powers, somehow indicate “the motion of the substance to the becoming of the animals”
(71): this enigmatic phrase probably refers to the above-­‐mentioned teaching of the psychic substance, from which the Demiurge creates the souls of beings generated in the sublunary realm. Our passage suggests that each generated being has its own dominant power, which also seems to be responsible for its coming to life and dying. This, 
at least, is how I take this sentence:  "And each of them comes into being at its own time, the dominant sign fulfilling the course of nature, partly at the beginning, partly at the end." (Exc. Th. 71).

that which is born finds itself in the midst of a battlefield: powers are different, some are right, some are left, some beneficient, some maleficent, and “that which is born is shared by them“, that is to say, that which is born can be subdued by either side of the battle,one being the side of God (i.e., presumably, the Demiurge) and the other the side of the devil:

72 From this situation and battle of the powers the Lord rescues us and supplies peace from the array of powers and angels, in which some are arrayed for us and others against us. For some are like soldiers fighting on our side as servants of God but others are like brigands. For the evil one girded himself, not taking the sword by the side of the king, but in madly plundering for himself. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotu)
74 Therefore the Lord came down bringing the peace which is from heaven to those on earth, as the Apostle says, “Peace on the earth and glory in the heights.” Therefore a strange and new star arose doing away with the old astral decree, shining with a new unearthly light, which revolved on a new path of salvation, as the Lord himself, men's guide, who came down to earth to transfer from Fate to his providence those who believed in Christ.

75 They say that the results prophecied show that Fate exists for the others and the consideration of calculations is a clear proof. For example, the Magi not only saw the Lord's star but they recognized the truth that a king was born and whose king he was, namely of the pious. At that time only the Jews were noted for piety; therefore the Saviour going down to the pious, came first to these who at that time were carrying fame for piety.

76 As, therefore, the birth of the Saviour released us from “becoming” and from Fate, so also his baptism rescued us from fire, and his Passion rescued us from passion in order that we might in all things follow him. For he who was baptised unto God advanced toward God and has received “power to walk upon scorpions and snakes,” the evil powers. And he commands the disciples “When ye go about, preach and them that believe baptise in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” in whom we are born again, becoming higher than all the other powers.

That’s why the Lord came, to show “a new path of salvation“ to those who believe him. This new path is a path leading beyond fate, liberating man from fate and delivering him to providence: „Therefore a strange and new star arose doing away with the old astral decree, shining with a new unearthly light, which revolved on a new path of salvation, as the Lord
himself, men's guide, who came down to earth to transfer from fate to his providence those who came to believe in Christ“ (74). According to our author, this delivery takes place through baptism, which is „called death and an end of the old life when we get rid of the evil principalities, but it is also called life according to Christ, of which he is the only Lord“
Freedom from Fate
According to Valentinian teaching, one's fate depended on whether one had attained to gnosis or not. Those who did not have gnosis were believed to be subject to judgement and punishment by the Craftsman (demiurge) and his associates in the "Middle" (Gospel of Philip 66:7-20).

78 Until baptism, they say, Fate is real, but after it the astrologists are no longer right. But it is not only the washing that is liberating, but the knowledge of/who we were, and what we have become, where we were or where we were placed, whither we hasten, from what we are redeemed, what birth is and what rebirth. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotu)

Thus baptism is a transcendence of fate, delivering the believer to providence: „Until baptism fate is real, but after it the astrologists are no longer right.“

Clement of Alexandria compares humans governed by fate to marionettes on strings.6 Tatian describes fate as an invention of evil demons who rule over nativities and generate various courses of life without any sense of justice, simply to amuse themselves like spectators in a theatre.“But we are above fate,“ says Tatian defiantly, “and instead of rambling (planetary) demons, we have come to know one ruler who does not ramble; we are not led by fate and have rejected its lawgivers.”7

Beyond Fate
Unlike the Pharisees, says Josephus, the Sadducees denied the workings of fate, maintaining that an individual, by his own actions, was solely responsible for what befell him. (Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 172, 173 [v, 9]) 

Like the Sadducees some Gnostics rejected the ideas of "self governed", "Fate", and "Providence"  

Eugnostos, the Blessed, to those who are his.

Rejoice in this, that you know. Greetings! I want you to know that all men born from the foundation of the world until now are dust. While they have inquired about God, who he is and what he is like, they have not found him. The wisest among them have speculated about the truth from the ordering of the world. And the speculation has not reached the truth. For the ordering is spoken of in three (different) opinions by all the philosophers; hence they do not agree. For some of them say about the world that it was directed by itself. Others, that it is providence (that directs it). Others, that it is fate. But it is none of these. Again, of three voices that I have just mentioned, none is true. For whatever is from itself is an empty life; it is self-made. Providence is foolish. Fate is an undiscerning thing.

Whoever, then, is able to get free of these three voices I have just mentioned and come by means of another voice to confess the God of truth and agree in everything concerning him, he is immortal dwelling in the midst of mortal men.

The Savior said to them: "I want you to know that all men are born on earth from the foundation of the world until now, being dust, while they have inquired about God, who he is and what he is like, have not found him. Now the wisest among them have speculated from the ordering of the world and (its) movement. But their speculation has not reached the truth. For it is said that the ordering is directed in three ways, by all the philosophers, (and) hence they do not agree. For some of them say about the world that it is directed by itself. Others, that it is providence (that directs it). Others, that it is fate. But it is none of these. Again, of the three voices I have just mentioned, none is close to the truth, and (they are) from man. But I, who came from Infinite Light, I am here - for I know him (Light) - that I might speak to you about the precise nature of the truth. For whatever is from itself is a polluted life; it is self-made. Providence has no wisdom in it. And fate does not discern. But to you it is given to know; and whoever is worthy of knowledge will receive (it), whoever has not been begotten by the sowing of unclean rubbing but by First Who Was Sent, for he is an immortal in the midst of mortal men."

Eugnostos starts by refuting three propositions about the nature of the world which to him represent the basic shortcomings of contemporary philosophy, or perhaps of philosophy as such: (1) the world is governed by itself, (2) by a providence, or (3) is subject to predestination. His refutation is neither philosophical in the proper sense of that word, nor does it deal with the implications of these propositions in detail: That which is from itself leads an empty life, providence is foolish, and that which is subject to destiny or fate is something that does not attain knowledge. According to Eugnostos, real insight is not reached through philosophy; what matters is to be able to refute the propositions of philosophy and by means of another proposition to gain access to and reveal the god of truth. The attainment of this, he says, means to be immortal amidst the mortals

Man, through his thought, is working out his own salvation; he is created in the image and likeness of God and is finally to reach "the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14).