The Nag Hammadi Library

Elohim has a bear’s face. Yahweh has a cat’s face.

One is righteous; One is not.

Yahweh is righteous; Elohim is not.

Yahweh would command fire and wind Elohim would command water and earth.]

Yaldabaoth deceptively named the two: Cain and Abel. [From then until now sexual intercourse has persisted

Thanks to the Chief Ruler

Who put desire for reproduction into the woman who accompanies Adam. Through intercourse the Ruler caused new human bodies to be produced And he blew his artificial spirit into each of them.]

Yaldabaoth installed the two with authority over natural elements So they can to rule over the tomb.

The Children of Seth Populate the World

Adam had intercourse with the image of his foreknowledge (prognosis) He begot a son like the Son of Man

And he called that son Seth

Modeling him on the heavenly race in the higher realms.

In the same way the mother sent down her spirit The image of herself

A model of the full higher realm,

In order to prepare a place for the descent of the realms.

The Chief Ruler, though, forced the humans to drink From waters of forgetfulness

So that they might not know their true place of origin.

The children (of Seth) remained in this condition for a while In order that when the Spirit descends from the holy realms

The Spirit can raise up the children and heal them from all defects And thus restore complete holiness to the fullness of God.

Six Questions about the Soul

I asked the Savior, “Lord, will every soul be saved and enter the pure light?”

He replied, “You are asking an important question, one it will be impossible to answer for anyone who is not a member of the unmoved race. They are the people upon whom the Spirit of Life will descend and the power will enable them to be saved and to become perfect and worthy of greatness. They expunge evil from themselves and they will care nothing for wickedness, wanting only that which is not corrupt. They will achieve freedom from rage, envy, jealousy, desire, or craving.”

“The physical body will negatively effect them. They wear it as they look forward to the time when they will meet up with those who will remove it. Those people deserve indestructible eternal life. They endure everything, bearing up under everything that happens so that they can deserve the good and inherit life eternal.”

Then I asked him, “Lord, what about the souls who didn’t do these things even though the Spirit of Life’s power descended on them?“

He answered, “If the Spirit descends to people they will be transformed and saved. The power descends on everyone and, without it, no one can even stand up. After they are born, if the Spirit of Life increases in them, power comes to them and their souls are strengthened. Nothing then can leave them astray into wickedness. But if the artificial spirit comes into people, it leads them astray.”

Then I said, “Lord, when souls come out of the flesh where do they go?”

He replied, smiling, “If the soul is strong it has more of power than it has of the artificial spirit and so it flees from wickedness. With the assistance of the Incorruptible One that soul is saved and it attains eternal rest.”

I then asked him, “Lord, what of the souls of the people who do not know whose people they are? Where do they go?”

He responded, “In those people the artificial spirit has grown strong and they have gone astray. Their souls are burdened, drawn to wickedness, and cast into forgetfulness.”

“When they come forth from the body, such a soul is given over to the powers created by the rulers, bound in chains, and cast into prison again. Around and around it goes until it manages to become free from forgetfulness through knowledge. And so, eventually, it becomes perfect and is saved.”

Then I asked, “Lord, how does the soul shrink down so as to be able to enter its mother or a man?

He was happy that I asked this and said, “You are truly blessed because you have understood. The soul should be guided by another within whom is the Spirit of Life. It will be saved by that means and accordingly will not have to enter a body again.

And I said, “Lord, what happens to the souls of people who achieved true knowledge, but who turned away from it?”

He said to me, “Demons of poverty will take them to a place where there is no possibility of repentance. There they will stay until the time when those who blasphemed against the spirit will be tortured and subjected to punishment forever.”

I asked, “Lord, where did the artificial spirit come from?” And he told me:

Three Plots against Humanity

The Mother-Father is merciful

A Holy Spirit sympathizing with us. Through the Epinoia of the Providence of the light

It raises up the children of the perfect race Raising up their thought, their light eternal.

When the Chief Archon learned that they were elevated above him And that their mental ability surpassed his

He wanted to put a stop to their thought

But he did not know the extent of their mental superiority And he could not stop them.

He made a plan with his demons Who are his powers

Each of them fornicated with Wisdom (Sophia)

And produced fate

The last variety of imprisonment.

Fate changes unpredictably

It is of different sorts just as the demons are of different sorts. Fate is hard.

Fate is stronger than

The gods, the authorities, the demons, the generations of people Who are caught up in it.

Out of fate emerged

Sinfulness, violence, blasphemy, forgetfulness, ignorance, Weighty commandments

Heavy sins

Terrible fear.

In this way all of creation became blind, Ignorant of God above everything.

Because of imprisonment in forgetfulness They are unaware of their sins,

They are bound into periods of time and seasons By fate who is lord of it all.

Yaldabaoth eventually came to regret everything he had created.

He decided to bring a great flood Upon creation, upon mankind.

But the great light of Providence warned Noah.

He preached to all of the children, The sons of men,

But if they were strangers to him they didn’t listen.

[It was not the way Moses said: “they hid in an ark.” Rather, they hid in a special place,

Not just Noah

but also many other people from the immovable race. They went into hiding within a cloud of light.]

Noah knew his own authority

And that of the light Being who illuminated them

Although the Chief Ruler poured darkness over all the world.

The Chief Ruler and his powers plotted a strategy, To send his demons to human daughters

And make themselves children by them to enjoy. But they failed.

After their failure they made another plan.

They created an artificial spirit Modeled on the Spirit who descended

So, to impregnate souls by means of this spirit,

The demons changed appearance to look like the women’s husbands

They filled the women with that spirit of darkness and wickedness.

They brought into being

Gold and silver, Money and coins,

Iron and other metals and all things of this sort.

And the people who were attracted were led astray into troubles And were greatly misled.

And grew old

Experiencing no pleasure, And died

Finding no truth, Never knowing the true God.

This is the way that they enslaved all of creation From the foundation of the world until now.

[They took some women and produced children out of darkness And they closed their hearts

And they hardened themselves

in the hardness of their artificial spirit Until the present day.]

The Providence Hymn

I am the Providence of everything.

I became like my own human children.

I existed from the first.

I walked down every possible road.

I am the wealth of the light.

I am the remembering of the fullness.

I walked into the place of greatest darkness and on down. I entered the central part of the prison.

The foundations of chaos quaked. I hid because of their evil.

They did not recognize me.

I came down a second time continuing on.

I emerged from among those of light I am the remembering of Providence

I entered the middle of darkness,

The inner part of the underworld To pursue my mission.

The foundations of chaos quaked.

Threatening to collapse upon all who were there And utterly destroy them

I soared upward again

To my roots in light

So as not to destroy them all yet. I descended a third time.

I am light

I am dwelling in light

I am the remembering of Providence

I entered the midst of darkness

I came to the deepest part of the underworld.

I let my face light up

Thinking of the end of their time I entered their prison

The body is that prison

I cried out:

“Anyone who hears,

Rise up from your deep sleep!”

And the sleeping one awoke and wept Wiping bitter tears saying “Who calls me?”

“Where has my hope come from

As I lie in the depths of this prison?”

“I am the Providence of pure light,” I replied, “I am the thought of the Virgin Spirit

Raising you up to an honored place. Rise up!

Remember what you have heard.

Trace back your roots

To me.

The merciful one.

Guard against the poverty demons. Guard against the chaos demons. Guard against all who would bind you.

Awaken! Stay awake!

Rise out of the depths of the underworld!

I raised him up

I sealed him with the light/water of the five seals. Death had no power over him ever again.

I ascend again to the perfect realm.

I completed everything and you have heard it.”


“I have told you everything now so that you can write it all down And share it with your fellow spirits secretly

For this is the mystery of the unmoved race.”

The Savior gave all of this to him to write and to keep carefully. He said to him, “Anyone who exchanges it for a present, or for food, or for drink, or for clothing, or for anything else of that sort will be cursed.”

These things came to John in a mystery.

Instantly the Savior vanished.

John came to his fellow disciples and told them what the Savior had said to him.

Jesus the Christ.


The Apocryphon of John

© 2005 by Stevan Davies

This translation is presented in the Gnostic Society Library by exclusive permission of the author. All rights including right of electronic reproduction are reserved by the author.


The Nag Hammadi Library

Asclepius 21-29


Translated by James Brashler, Peter A. Dirkse, and Douglas M. Parrott

"And if you (Asclepius) wish to see the reality of this mystery, then you should see the wonderful representation of the intercourse that takes place between the male and the female. For when the semen reaches the climax, it leaps forth. In that moment, the female receives the strength of the male; the male, for his part, receives the strength of the female, while the semen does this.

"Therefore, the mystery of intercourse is performed in secret, in order that the two sexes might not disgrace themselves in front of many who do not experience that reality. For each of them (the sexes) contributes its (own part in) begetting. For if it happens in the presence of those who do not understand the reality, (it is) laughable and unbelievable. And, moreover, they are holy mysteries, of both words and deeds, because not only are they not heard, but also they are not seen.

"Therefore, such people (the unbelievers) are blasphemers. They are atheistic and impious. But the others are not many; rather, the pious who are counted are few. Therefore, wickedness remains among (the) many, since learning concerning the things which are ordained does not exist among them. For the knowledge of the things which are ordained is truly the healing of the passions of the matter. Therefore, learning is something derived from knowledge.

"But if there is ignorance, and learning does not exist in the soul of man, (then) the incurable passions persist in it (the soul). And additional evil comes with them (the passions), in the form of an incurable sore. And the sore constantly gnaws at the soul, and through it the soul produces worms from the evil, and stinks. But God is not the cause of these things, since he sent to men knowledge and learning.

"Trismegistus, did he send them to men alone?"

"Yes, Asclepius, he sent them to them alone. And it is fitting that we tell you why to men alone he granted knowledge and learning, the allotment of his good.

"And now listen! God and the Father, even the Lord, created man subsequent to the gods, and he took him from the region of matter. Since matter is involved in the creation of man, of [...], the passions are in it. Therefore, they continually flow over his body, for this living creature would not have existed in any other way except that he had taken this

food, since he is mortal. It is also inevitable that inopportune desires, which are harmful, dwell in him. For the gods, since they came into being out of a pure matter, do not need learning and knowledge. For the immortality of the gods is learning and knowledge, since they came into being out of pure matter. It (immortality) assumed for them the position of knowledge and learning. By necessity, he (God) set a boundary for man; he placed him in learning and knowledge.

"Concerning these things (learning and knowledge) which we have mentioned from the beginning, he (God) perfected them in order that by means of these things he might restrain passions and evils, according to his will. He brought his (man's) mortal existence into immortality; he (man) became good (and) immortal, just as I have said. For he (God) created (a) two-fold nature for him: the immortal and the mortal.

"And it happened this way because of the will of God that men be better than the gods, since, indeed, the gods are immortal, but men alone are both immortal and mortal. Therefore, man has become akin to the gods, and they know the affairs of each other with certainty. The gods know the things of men, and men know the things of the gods. And I am speaking about men, Asclepius, who have attained learning and knowledge. But (about) those who are more vain than these, it is not fitting that we say anything base, since we are divine and are introducing holy matters.

"Since we have entered the matter of the communion between the gods and men, know, Asclepius, that in which man can be strong! For just as the Father, the Lord of the universe, creates gods, in this very way man too, this mortal, earthly, living creature, the one who is not like God, also himself creates gods. Not only does he strengthen, but he is also strengthened. Not only is he god, but he also creates gods. Are you astonished, Asclepius? Are you yourself another disbeliever like the many?"

"Trismegistus, I agree with the words (spoken) to me. And I believe you as you speak. But I have also been astonished at the discourse about this. And I have decided that man is blessed, since he has enjoyed this great power."

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