The Nag Hammadi Library

“And he (the chief archon) repented for everything which had come into being through him. This time he planned to bring a flood upon the work of man. But the greatness of the light of the foreknowledge informed Noah, and he proclaimed (it) to all the offspring which are the sons of men. But those who were strangers to him did not listen to him. It is

not as Moses said, ‘They hid themselves in an ark’ (Gn 7: 7), but they hid themselves in a place, not only Noah, but also many other people from the immovable race. They went into a place and hid themselves in a luminous cloud. And he (Noah) recognized his authority, and she who belongs to the light was with him, having shone on them because he (the chief archon) had brought darkness upon the whole earth.

“And he made a plan with his powers. He sent his angels to the daughters of men, that they might take some of them for themselves and raise offspring for their enjoyment. And at first they did not succeed. When they had no success, they gathered together again and they made a plan together. They created a counterfeit spirit, who resembles the Spirit who had descended, so as to pollute the souls through it. And the angels changed themselves in their likeness into the likeness of their mates (the daughters of men), filling them with the spirit of darkness, which they had mixed for them, and with evil. They brought gold and silver and a gift and copper and iron and metal and all kinds of things. And they steered the people who had followed them into great troubles, by leading them astray with many deceptions. They (the people) became old without having enjoyment. They died, not having found truth and without knowing the God of truth. And thus the whole creation became enslaved forever, from the foundation of the world until now. And they took women and begot children out of the darkness according to the likeness of their spirit. And they closed their hearts, and they hardened themselves through the hardness of the counterfeit spirit until now.

“I, therefore, the perfect Pronoia of the all, changed myself into my seed, for I existed first, going on every road. For I am the richness of the light; I am the remembrance of the pleroma.

“And I went into the realm of darkness and I endured till I entered the middle of the prison. And the foundations of chaos shook. And I hid myself from them because of their wickedness, and they did not recognize me.

“Again I returned for the second time, and I went about. I came forth from those who belong to the light, which is I, the remembrance of the Pronoia. I entered into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades, since I was seeking (to accomplish) my task. And the foundations of chaos shook, that they might fall down upon those who are in chaos and might destroy them. And again I ran up to my root of light, lest they be destroyed before

the time.

“Still for a third time I went – I am the light which exists in the light, I am the remembrance of the Pronoia – that I might enter into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades. And I filled my face with the light of the completion of their aeon. And I entered into the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body. And I said, ‘He who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep.’ And he wept and shed tears. Bitter tears he wiped from himself and he said, ‘Who is it that calls my name, and from where has this hope come to me, while I am in the chains of the prison?’ And I said, ‘I am the Pronoia of the pure light; I am the thinking of the virginal Spirit, who raised you up to the honored place. Arise and remember that it is you who hearkened, and follow your root, which is I,

the merciful one, and guard yourself against the angels of poverty and the demons of chaos and all those who ensnare you, and beware of the deep sleep and the enclosure of the inside of Hades.

“And I raised him up, and sealed him in the light of the water with five seals, in order that death might not have power over him from this time on.

“And behold, now I shall go up to the perfect aeon. I have completed everything for you in your hearing. And I have said everything to you that you might write them down and give them secretly to your fellow spirits, for this is the mystery of the immovable race.”

And the savior presented these things to him that he might write them down and keep them secure. And he said to him, “Cursed be everyone who will exchange these things for a gift or for food or for drink or for clothing or for any other such thing.” And these things were presented to him in a mystery, and immediately he disappeared from him. And he went to his fellow disciples and related to them what the savior had told him.

Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Apocryphon According to John

Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.

THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY

The Nag Hammadi Library

The Apocryphon of John

(The Secret Book of John The Secret Revelation of Jon)

Short Version

Berlin Codex (BG 8502,2) & Nag Hammadi Codex III,1

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Translated by Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse Edited and Formatted by Lance Owens

The Apocryphon of John is commonly referenced by two other names: The Secret Book of John and The Secret Revelation of John, each depending upon how the word “Apocryphon” is translated. The two surviving Coptic manuscripts of the shorter version of The Apocryphon of John — found in the Berlin Codex and Nag Hammadi Library Codex III — are very similar, but they are not identical. In this edition prepared for the Gnostic Society Library both manuscripts have been edited together. Where the reading of NHL Codex III,1 varies from the Berlin Codex BG 8502,2, the variant version of the passages from Codex III are shown with blue text enclosed in brackets {}.

Sectional numbering has been added following the system proposed by Karen King — for details, see Karen King, The Secret Revelation of John. In Dr. King’s system, sectional numbers are based on the texts from all four existing manuscripts. In the two “Short Version” manuscripts combined here, Berlin Codex and NHC III, some sections found in the “Long Version” are absent. For example, the introductory text in section 1 appears only in the long versions, and not in the short version. Thus the short version manuscripts begins with section 2.

This internet resource has been edited and formatted by Lance Owens and is based on the Waldstein and Wisse translations: Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse, The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1;III,1; And IV,1 With BG 8502,2 (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies), Brill Academic Pub, 1995. Also see: Karen King, The Secret Revelation of John , Harvard University Press, 2006.

For purposes of academic citation, please always refer to the print editions of the texts.

Visit the Apocryphon of John Collection for more information on this text.

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  1. Now it happened one day when John the brother of James, the sons of Zebedee, was going up to the temple, a Pharisee named Arimanios approached him. And he said to him, “Where is your teacher, the one whom you used to follow?”He said to him, “He returned to the place from which he came.” The Pharisee said to me, “This Nazorene deceived you (pl.) with error. [He filled [your (pl.) ears with lies], and he shut [your hearts]. He turned you (pl.) [from] the traditions of your fathers.” When I heard these things, I turned from the temple to the mountain which was a place of desert. And I grieved greatly in my heart, saying, “How was the Savior appointed? Why was he sent into the world by his father who sent him? Who is his father? And of what sort is that aeon to which we will go? He told us that the aeon is modeled on that indestructible aeon, but he did not teach us about what sort the latter is.”
  2. Just then, while I was thinking these things, the heavens opened, and the whole creation below the heaven was illuminated with light [below] heaven. And the [whole] world [quak]ed.I was afraid an[d I watch]ed. And behold a child [appeared to] me. Then [he changed himself] into the form of an old man [who had flight existing within him. [Although I was watch]ing him, I did not [understand this wonder, whether it is a [likeness] having numerous forms [in the flight—for its forms [appea]red through each oth[er—or] if it is one [likeness th]at has three aspects.[He sa]id [to me], “John, wh[y] are you doubting and [fearful]? For you are not a stranger [to this like]ness. Do not be faint[hearted]! I am the one who dwells with [you (pl.) al]ways. I am the [Father.] I am the Mother. [I] am [the S] on. I am the one who exists for ever, undefil[ed and un]mixed.N[ow I have come] to instruct you [about what] exists and what [has come] into being and what mu[st] come into being, so that you will [understand] the things which are invisible a[nd those which] are visible, and to t[each you] about the perfe[ct Human].Now then lift up your [face to] me and listen. [Receive the things that I] will tell you toda[y so that] you yourself will tell the[m to your fel]low spirits who are [from] the im[mov]able generation [of the] perfect Human.”
  3. And [I asked] to know.He said to me, “[The Unit]y is a monarchy [with nothing] ruling over it. [It is] the Gold and] Father of the All, the [h]oly, the invisible, [who ex]ists over the All, the one who [. ..] incorruption, [existing as] pure light, into which it is not possible for any light of the eye to gaze.It is the Spirit.It is not appropriate to think about It as god or that It is something similar. For It surpasses divinity. It is a dominion having nothing to rule over It. For there is nothing existing before It nor does It have need of them.It does not need life. For It is eternal. It does not need anything. For It cannot be made perfect as though It were deficient and only required perfecting. Rather It is always totally perfect.

    It is light. It cannot be limited because there is nothing before It to limit It. It is inscrutable for there is no one before It to scrutinize It.

    It is immeasurable because there is no other to measure It as though (anything) exists before It. It is invisible because there is no one to see It. (It is) an eternity existing forever. (It is) ineffable because no one has comprehended It in order to speak about It. (It is) the one whose name cannot be spoken because no one exists before It to name It.

    It is the immeasurable light, the pure one who is holy and unpolluted, the ineffable one who is incorruptibly perfect. It is neither perfection nor blessedness nor divinity, but It is a thing far superior to these. It is not boundless nor is It limited, but It is a thing far superior to these.

    For It is neither corporeal nor incorporeal. It is neither large nor small. It is not a quantity. It is not a creature. Neither is it possible for anyone to know It. It is not something pertaining to the All which exists, rather It is a thing which is better than these—not as being superior (to others as though It is comparable to them) but as that which belongs to Itself.

    It does not participate in an aeon (as a constitutive part of it). Time does not exist with regard to It. For whoever participates in an aeon would have to have had it prepared for It by others. And time was not delimited for It since It does not receive from another who sets limits. And It does not need (anything).

    Nothing from the All exists before It.

    All It asks for is Itself alone within the perfect light. It will contemplate the unmixed light, the immeasurable vastness.

    (It is) the eternity who gives eternalness, the light who gives light, the life who gives life, the blessed one who gives blessedness, the understanding which gives understanding, the ever good one who gives good, the one who does good-not such that It possesses but such that It gives—the mercy which gives mercy, the grace which gives grace.

  4. What shall I say to you about the immeasurable light?What is incomprehensible (can only be expressed as) the likeness of the light. In this manner, I will speak to you as far as I will be able to know It—for who could know It infinitely?His aeon is indestructible, being in a state of tranquility, at rest in silence. (It is) the one that exists before the All, for It is the head of all the aeons {(It is) the head of all the aeons because its goodness provides for all the aeons} —if another thing does exist with It.For none of those among us understood the things which belong to the immeasurable one except the one who appeared in It. It is he who told these things to us.(It is) the one who knows Itself alone in the light-water that surrounds It, which is the spring of living water, the light which is full of purity. The spring of the Spirit flowed from the living water of the light and it abundantly supplied all the aeons and the worlds.{and the spring of the Spirit from which the [living] water flows. It abundantly supplied all the aeons and their worlds.} In every way It perceived Its own image, seeing It in the pure light-water which surrounds It.

    And Its thinking become a thing. She appeared. She stood in Its presence in the brilliance of the light; she is the power which is before the All. It is she who appeared, she who is the perfect Pronoia of the All, the light, the likeness of the light, the image of the Invisible, she who is the perfect power, Barbelo, the perfect aeon of the glory.

    She glorifies It because she appeared through It and she perceived It. {the glory who glorifies It because she appeared through] It. And she glorified [It].} She is the primal Thought (Protennoia), Its image.

    She became a primal Human, which is the virginal Spirit, the triple male, the one belonging to the triple power, the triple na[med], the triple begotten one, the androgynous aeon which does not grow old, who came from Its Pronoia. {[the triple male, the triple] hymned, the [triple named, the tri]ple po[wer, the] androgynous aeon which does not grow o]ld, [which ca]me forth fr[om Its Pronoia].}

  5. And Barbelo requested It to give to him Foreknowledge. It assented. When It had assented, Foreknowledge appeared. He stood with Thought, who is Pronoia.She glorified the Invisible one and the perfect power, Barbelo, for they came into being through her.Again, this power requested (It) to give her Incorruption. And It assented. When It had assented, Incorruption appeared and she stood with Thought and Foreknowledge, glorifying the Invisible one and Barbelo since she had come into being because of her.{They glorified the invisible Spirit and Barbelon for they had come into being because of her.}She requested (It) to give her Eternal Life. It assented. When It had assented, Eternal Life appeared. And they stood {And he stood}, glorifying It and Barbelo for they had come into being because of her from the revelation of the invisible Spirit.This is the pentad of the Aeons of the Father, who is the primal Human, the image of the Invisible one, namely: Barbelo, Thought, Foreknowledge, Incorruptibility, and Eternal Life. This is the androgynous pentad which is the decad of the Aeons, the Father from the unbegotten Father. {This is the androgynous pentad which is the decad of the Aeons of

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