The Nag Hammadi Library


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own desire. And it has fettered them with its chains and bound all their limbs with the bitterness of the bondage of lust for those visible things that will decay and change and swerve by impulse. They have always been attracted downwards; as they are killed, they are assimilated to all the beasts of the perishable realm."

Thomas answered and said, "It is obvious and has been said, 'Many are [...] those who do not know [...] soul.'"

And the savior answered, saying, "Blessed is the wise man who sought after the truth, and when he found it, he rested upon it forever and was unafraid of those who wanted to disturb him."

Thomas answered and said, "It is beneficial for us, lord, to rest among our own?"

The savior said, "Yes, it is useful. And it is good for you, since things visible among men will dissolve - for the vessel of their flesh will dissolve, and when it is brought to naught it will come to be among visible things, among things that are seen. And then the fire which they see gives them pain on account of love for the faith they formerly possessed.

They will be gathered back to that which is visible. Moreover, those who have sight

among things that are not visible, without the first love they will perish in the concern for this life and the scorching of the fire. Only a little while longer, and that which is visible will dissolve; then shapeless shades will emerge, and in the midst of tombs they will forever dwell upon the corpses in pain and corruption of soul."

Thomas answered and said, "What have we to say in the face of these things? What shall we say to blind men? What doctrine should we express to these miserable mortals who say, "We came to do good and not curse," and yet claim, "Had we not been begotten in the flesh, we would not have known iniquity"?"

The savior said, "Truly, as for those, do not esteem them as men, but regard them as beasts, for just as beasts devour one another, so also men of this sort devour one another. On the contrary, they are deprived of the kingdom since they love the sweetness of the fire and are servants of death and rush to the works of corruption. They fulfill the lust of

their fathers. They will be thrown down to the abyss and be afflicted by the torment of the

bitterness of their evil nature. For they will be scourged so as to make them rush backwards, whither they do not know, and they will recede from their limbs not patiently, but with despair. And they rejoice over [...] madness and derangement [...] They pursue

this derangement without realizing their madness, thinking that they are wise. They [...]

their body [...] Their mind is directed to their own selves, for their thought is occupied with their deeds. But it is the fire that will burn them."

And Thomas answered and said, "Lord, what will the one thrown down to them do? For I am most anxious about them; many are those who fight them."

The savior answered and said, "What is your own opinion?"

Judas - the one called Thomas - said, "It is you, lord, whom it befits to speak, and me to listen."

The savior replied, "Listen to what I am going to tell you and believe in the truth. That which sows and that which is sown will dissolve in the fire - within the fire and the water

  • and they will hide in tombs of darkness. And after a long time they shall show forth thefruit of the evil trees, being punished, being slain in the mouth of beasts and men at the instigation of the rains and winds and air and the light that shines above."Thomas replied, "You have certainly persuaded us, lord. We realize in our heart, and it is obvious, that this is so, and that your word is sufficient. But these words that you speak to us are ridiculous and contemptible to the world since they are misunderstood. So how can we go preach them, since we are not esteemed in the world?"The savior answered and said, "Truly I tell you that he who will listen to your word and turn away his face or sneer at it or smirk at these things, truly I tell you that he will be handed over to the ruler above who rules over all the powers as their king, and he will turn that one around and cast him from heaven down to the abyss, and he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place. Moreover, he can neither turn nor move on account of the great depth of Tartaros and the heavy bitterness of Hades that is steadfast [...] them to it [...] they will not forgive [...] pursue you. They will hand [...] over to [...] angel Tartarouchos [...] fire pursuing them [...] fiery scourges that cast a shower of sparks into the face of the one who is pursued. If he flees westward, he finds the fire. If he turns southward, he finds it there as well. If he turns northward, the threat of seething fire meets him again. Nor does he find the way to the east so as to flee there and be saved, for he did not find it in the day he was in the body, so that he might find it in the day of judgment."Then the savior continued, saying, "Woe to you, godless ones, who have no hope, who rely on things that will not happen!"Woe to you who hope in the flesh and in the prison that will perish! How long will you be oblivious? And how long will you suppose that the imperishables will perish too? Your hope is set upon the world, and your god is this life! You are corrupting your souls!

    "Woe to you within the fire that burns in you, for it is insatiable! "Woe to you because of the wheel that turns in your minds!

    "Woe to you within the grip of the burning that is in you, for it will devour your flesh openly and rend your souls secretly, and prepare you for your companions!

    "Woe to you, captives, for you are bound in caverns! You laugh! In mad laughter you rejoice! You neither realize your perdition, nor do you reflect on your circumstances, nor have you understood that you dwell in darkness and death! On the contrary, you are drunk with the fire and full of bitterness. Your mind is deranged on account of the

    burning that is in you, and sweet to you are the poison and the blows of your enemies! And the darkness rose for you like the light, for you surrendered your freedom for servitude! You darkened your hearts and surrendered your thoughts to folly, and you filled your thoughts with the smoke of the fire that is in you! And your light has hidden in the cloud of [...] and the garment that is put upon you, you [...]. And you were seized by the hope that does not exist. And whom is it you have believed? Do you not know that you all dwell among those who that [...] you as though you [...]. You baptized your souls in the water of darkness ! You walked by your own whims!

    "Woe to you who dwell in error, heedless that the light of the sun which judges and looks down upon the all will circle around all things so as to enslave the enemies. You do not even notice the moon, how by night and day it looks down, looking at the bodies of your slaughters!

    "Woe to you who love intimacy with womankind and polluted intercourse with them! Woe to you in the grip of the powers of your body, for they will afflict you! Woe to you in the grip of the forces of the evil demons! Woe to you who beguile your limbs with fire! Who is it that will rain a refreshing dew on you to extinguish the mass of fire from you along with your burning? Who is it that will cause the sun to shine upon you to disperse the darkness in you and hide the darkness and polluted water?

    "The sun and the moon will give a fragrance to you together with the air and the spirit and the earth and the water. For if the sun does not shine upon these bodies, they will wither and perish just like weeds or grass. If the sun shines on them, they prevail and choke the grapevine; but if the grapevine prevails and shades those weeds and all the other brush growing alongside, and spreads and flourishes, it alone inherits the land in which it grows; and every place it has shaded it dominates. And when it grows up, it dominates all the land and is bountiful for its master, and it pleases him even more, for he would have suffered great pains on account of these plants until he uprooted them. But the grapevine alone removed them and choked them, and they died and became like the soil."

    Then Jesus continued and said to them, "Woe to you, for you did not receive the doctrine, and those who are [...] will labor at preaching [...]. And you are rushing into [...] will send them down [...] you kill them daily in order that they might rise from death.

    "Blessed are you who have prior knowledge of the stumbling blocks and who flee alien things.

    "Blessed are you who are reviled and not esteemed on account of the love their lord has for them.

    "Blessed are you who weep and are oppressed by those without hope, for you will be released from every bondage.

    "Watch and pray that you not come to be in the flesh, but rather that you come forth from the bondage of the bitterness of this life. And as you pray, you will find rest, for you have left behind the suffering and the disgrace. For when you come forth from the sufferings and passions of the body, you will receive rest from the good one, and you will reign with the king, you joined with him and he with you, from now on, for ever and ever, Amen."

    The Book of Thomas The Contender Writing To the Perfect Remember me also, my brethren, in your prayers:

    Peace to the saints and those who are spiritual.

    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 Concept of Our Great Power

    image

    Translated by Frederik Wisse

    The Perception of Understanding The Concept of the Great Power

    He who will know our great Power will become invisible, and fire will not be able to consume him. But it will purge and destroy all of your possessions. For everyone in whom my form will appear will be saved, from (the age of) seven days up to one hundred and twenty years. (Those) whom I constrained to gather all that is fallen - and the writings of our great Power, in order that he may inscribe your name in our great light - and their thoughts and their works may be ended, that they may be purged, and be scattered and be destroyed, and be gathered in the place which no one in it sees. But you will see me, and you will prepare your dwelling places in our great Power.

    Know how what has departed came to be, in order that you may know how to discern what lives to become: of what appearance that aeon is, or what kind it is, or how it will come to be. Why do you not ask what kind you will become, (or) rather how you came to be?

    Discern what size the water is, that it is immeasurable (and) incomprehensible, both its beginning and its end. It supports the earth; it blows in the air where the gods and the angels are. But in him who is exalted above all these there is the fear and the light, and in him are my writings revealed. I have given them as a service to the creation of the physical things, for it is not possible for anyone to stand without that One, nor is it possible for the aeon to live without him. It is he who possesses what is in him by discerning (it) in purity.

    Then behold the Spirit and know where he is. He gave himself to men that they may receive life from him every day, since he has his life within him; he gives to them all.

    Then the darkness together with Hades took the fire. And he (the darkness) will release from himself what is mine. His eyes were not able to endure my light. After the spirits and the waters moved, the remainder came into being: the whole aeon of the creation, and their <powers>. The fire came forth from them and the Power came in the midst of the powers. And the powers desired to see my image. And the soul became its replica.

    This is the work that came into being. See what it is like, that before it comes into being it does not see, because the aeon of the flesh came to be in the great bodies. And there were apportioned to them long days in the creation. For when they had polluted themselves and had entered into the flesh, the father of the flesh, the water, avenged himself. For when he had found that Noah was pious (and) worthy - and it is the father of the flesh who holds the angels in subjection. And he (Noah) preached piety for one hundred and twenty years. And no one listened to him. And he made a wooden ark, and whom he had found entered it. And the flood took place.

    And thus Noah was saved with his sons. For if indeed the ark had not been meant for man to enter, then the water of the flood would not have come. In this way he intended (and) planned to save the gods and the angels, and the powers, the greatness of all of these, and the <nourishment> and the way of life. And he moves them from the aeon (and) nourishes them in the permanent places. And the judgment of the flesh was unleashed. Only the work of the Power stood up.

    Next the psychic aeon. It is a small one, which is mixed with bodies, by begetting in the souls (and) defiling (them). For the first defilement of the creation found strength. And it begot every work: many works of wrath, anger, envy, malice, hatred, slander, contempt and war, lying and evil counsels, sorrows and pleasures, basenesses and defilements, falsehoods and diseases, evil judgments that they decree according to their desires.

    Yet you are sleeping, dreaming dreams. Wake up and return, taste and eat the true food! Hand out the word and the water of life! Cease from the evil lusts and desires and (the teachings of) the Anomoeans, evil heresies that have no basis.

    And the mother of the fire was impotent. She brought the fire upon the soul and the earth, and she burned all <the> dwellings that are in it. And its shepherd perished. Moreover, when she does not find anything else to burn, she will destroy herself. And it will become incorporeal, without body, and it will burn matter, until it has cleansed everything, - and all wickedness. For when it does not find anything else to burn, it will turn against itself until it has destroyed itself.

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    Methinks I am a conspiracy theorist. Art thou? Thou block, thou stone, thou worse than senseless thing, for whilst thou slept didst this become a badge of honor. Informed dissent shall always prevail, wherefore art thou worthy, or art thou this unwholesome fool in the group conformity experiment herein?