The Nag Hammadi Library


The First who appeared before the universe in infinity is Self-grown, Self-constructed Father, and is full of shining, ineffable light. In the beginning, he decided to have his likeness become a great power. Immediately, the principle (or beginning) of that Light appeared as Immortal Androgynous Man. His male name is ‘Begotten, Perfect Mind’. And his female name is ‘All-wise Begettress Sophia’. It is also said that she resembles her brother and her consort. She is uncontested truth; for here below, error, which exists with truth, contests it.

Through Immortal Man appeared the first designation, namely, divinity and kingdom, for the Father, who is called ‘Self-Father Man’ revealed this. He created a great aeon for his own majesty. He gave him great authority, and he ruled over all creations. He created gods and archangels and angels, myriads without number for retinue.

Now through that Man originated divinity and kingdom. Therefore he was called ‘God of gods’, ‘King of kings’.

First Man is ‘Faith’ (‘pistis’) for those who will come afterward. He has, within, a unique mind and thought – just as he is it (thought) – reflecting and considering, rationality and power. All the attributes that exist are perfect and immortal. In respect to imperishableness, they are indeed equal. (But) in respect to power, there is a difference, like the difference between father and son, and son and thought, and the thought and the remainder.

As I said earlier, among the things that were created the monad is first, the dyad follows it, and the triad, up to the tenths. Now the tenths rule the hundredths; the hundredths rule the thousandths; the thousands rule the ten thousands. This is the pattern <among the> immortals. First Man is like this: His monad […].

Again it is this pattern that exists among the immortals: the monad and the thought are those things that belong to Immortal Man. The thinkings are for <the> decads, and the hundreds are the teachings, and the thousands are the counsels, and the ten thousands are the powers. Now those who come from the […] exist with their […] in every aeon […].

[…] In the beginning, thought and thinkings appeared from mind, then teachings from thinkings, counsels from teachings, and power from counsels. And after all the attributes, all that was revealed appeared from his powers. And from what was created, what was fashioned appeared. And what was formed appeared from what was fashioned. What was named appeared from what was formed, while the difference among begotten things appeared from what was named, from beginning to end, by power of all the aeons. Now Immortal Man is full of every imperishable glory and ineffable joy. His whole kingdom rejoices in everlasting rejoicing, those who never have been heard of or known in any aeon that came after them and its worlds.

Afterward another principle came from Immortal Man, who is called ‘Self-perfected Begetter.’ When he received the consent of his consort, Great Sophia, he revealed that first-begotten androgyne, who is called, ‘First-begotten Son of God’. His female aspect is ‘First-begotten Sophia, Mother of the Universe,’ whom some call ‘Love’. Now, First- begotten, since he has his authority from his father, created angels, myriads without number, for retinue. The whole multitude of those angels are called ‘Assembly of the Holy Ones, the Shadowless Lights.’ Now when these greet each other, their embraces become like angels like themselves.

First Begetter Father is called ‘Adam of the Light.’ And the kingdom of Son of Man is full of ineffable joy and unchanging jubilation, ever rejoicing in ineffable joy over their imperishable glory, which has never been heard nor has it been revealed to all the aeons that came to be and their worlds.

Then Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous Light. His masculine name is designated ‘Savior, Begetter of All things’. His feminine name is designated ‘Sophia, All-Begettress’. Some call her ‘Pistis’ (faith).

Then Savior consented with his consort, Pistis Sophia, and revealed six androgynous spiritual beings who are the type of those who preceded them. Their male names are

these: first, ‘Unbegotten’; second, ‘Self-begotten’; third, ‘Begetter’; fourth, ‘First begetter’; fifth, ‘All-begetter’; sixth, ‘Arch-begetter’. Also the names of the females are these; first,

‘All-wise Sophia’; second, ‘All-Mother Sophia’; third, ‘All-Begettress Sophia’; fourth, ‘First Begettress Sophia’; fifth, ‘Love Sophia’; sixth, ‘Pistis Sophia’.

From the consenting of those I have just mentioned, thoughts appeared in the aeons that exist. From thoughts, reflectings; from reflectings, considerings; from considerings, rationalities, from rationalities, wills, from wills, words.

Then the twelve powers, whom I have just discussed, consented with each other. <Six> males (and) females (each) were revealed, so that there are seventy-two powers. Each one of the seventy-two revealed five spiritual (powers), which (together) are the three hundred and sixty powers. The union of them all is the will.

Therefore our aeon came to be as the type of Immortal Man. Time came to be as the type of First Begetter, his son. The year came to be as the type of Savior. The twelve months came to be as the type of the twelve powers. The three hundred and sixty days of the year came to be as the three hundred and sixty powers who appeared from Savior. Their hours and moments came to be as the type of the angels who came from them (the powers), who are without number.

And when those whom I have discussed appeared, All-Begetter, their father, very soon created twelve aeons for retinue for the twelve angels. And in each aeon there were six (heavens), so there are seventy-two heavens of the seventy-two powers who appeared from him. And in each of the heavens there were five firmaments, so there are (altogether) three hundred sixty firmaments of the three hundred sixty powers that appeared from them. When the firmaments were complete, they were called ‘The Three Hundred Sixty Heavens’, according to the name of the heavens that were before them. And all these are perfect and good. And in this way the defect of femaleness appeared.

The first aeon, then, is that of Immortal Man. The second aeon is that of Son of Man, who is called ‘First Begetter’ (“who is called ‘Savior'” added in Codex V). That which embraces these is the aeon over which there is no kingdom, (the aeon) of the Eternal Infinite God, the aeon of the aeon of the immortals who are in it, (the aeon) above the Eighth that appeared in chaos.

Now Immortal Man revealed aeons and powers and kingdoms and gave authority to everyone who appeared from him, to make whatever they desire until the days that are above chaos. For these consented with each other and revealed every magnificence, even from spirit, multitudinous lights that are glorious and without number. These received

names in the beginning, that is, the first, the middle, the perfect; that is, the first aeon and the second and the third. The first was called ‘Unity and Rest’. Since each one has its (own) name, the <third> aeon was designated ‘Assembly’, from the great multitude that appeared in the multitudinous one. Therefore, when the multitude gathers and comes to a unity, they are called ‘Assembly’, from the Assembly that surpassed heaven. Therefore, the Assembly of the Eighth was revealed as androgynous and was named partly as male and partly as female. The male was called ‘Assembly’, the female, ‘Life’, that it might be shown that from a female came the life in all the aeons. Every name was received, starting from the beginning.

From his concurrence with his thought, the powers appeared who where called ‘gods’; and the gods from their considerings revealed divine gods; and the gods from their considerings revealed lords; and the lords of the lords from their words revealed lords; and the lords from their powers revealed archangels; the archangels revealed angels; from

<them,> the semblance appeared, with structure and form for naming all the aeons and their worlds.

All the immortals, whom I have just described, have authority – all of them – from the power of Immortal Man and Sophia, his consort, who was called ‘Silence’, who was named ‘Silence’ because by reflecting without speech she perfected her own majesty. Since the imperishabilities had the authority, each provided great kingdoms in all the immortal heavens and their firmaments, thrones (and) temples, for their own majesty.

Some, Indeed, (who are) in dwellings and in chariots, being in ineffable glory and not able to be sent into any creature, provided for themselves hosts of angels, myriads without number for retinue and glory, even virgin spirits, the ineffable lights. They have no sickness nor weakness, but it is only will: it comes to be in an instant. Thus were completed the aeons with their heavens and firmaments for the glory of Immortal Man and Sophia, his consort: the area which <contained the pattern of> every aeon and their worlds and those that came afterward, in order to provide the types from there, their likenesses in the heavens of chaos and their worlds.

And all natures from the Immortal One, from Unbegotten to the revelation of chaos, are in the light that shines without shadow and (in) ineffable joy and unutterable jubilation. They ever delight themselves on account of their glory that does not change, and the rest that is not measured, which cannot be described or conceived among all the aeons that came to be and their powers. But this much is enough. All I have just said to you, I said in the way that you might accept, until the one who need not be taught appears among you, and he will speak all these things to you joyously and in pure knowledge.

Eugnostos the Blessed

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


The Nag Hammadi Library

The Exegesis on the Soul


Translated by William C. Robinson Jr.

Wise men of old gave the soul a feminine name. Indeed she is female in her nature as well. She even has her womb.

As long as she was alone with the father, she was virgin and in form androgynous. But when she fell down into a body and came to this life, then she fell into the hands of many robbers. And the wanton creatures passed her from one to another and […] her. Some made use of her by force, while others did so by seducing her with a gift. In short, they defiled her, and she […] her virginity.

And in her body she prostituted herself and gave herself to one and all, considering each one she was about to embrace to be her husband. When she had given herself to wanton, unfaithful adulterers, so that they might make use of her, then she sighed deeply and repented. But even when she turns her face from those adulterers, she runs to others and they compel her to live with them and render service to them upon their bed, as if they were her masters. Out of shame she no longer dares to leave them, whereas they deceive her for a long time, pretending to be faithful, true husbands, as if they greatly respected her. And after all this they abandon her and go.

She then becomes a poor desolate widow, without help; not even a measure of food was left her from the time of her affliction. For from them she gained nothing except the defilements they gave her while they had sexual intercourse with her. And her offspring by the adulterers are dumb, blind and sickly. They are feebleminded.

But when the father who is above visits her and looks down upon her and sees her sighing – with her sufferings and disgrace – and repenting of the prostitution in which she engaged, and when she begins to call upon his name so that he might help her, […] all her heart, saying “Save me, my father, for behold I will render an account to thee, for I abandoned my house and fled from my maiden`s quarters. Restore me to thyself again.” When he sees her in such a state, then he will count her worthy of his mercy upon her, for many are the afflictions that have come upon her because she abandoned her house.

Now concerning the prostitution on the soul, the Holy Spirit prophesies in many places. For he said in the prophet Jeremiah (3:1-4),

If the husband divorces his wife and she goes and takes another man, can she return to him after that? Has not that woman utterly defiled herself? “And you prostituted yourself to many shepherds and you returned to me!” said the lord. “Take an honest look and see where you prostituted yourself. Were you not sitting in the streets defiling the land with your acts of prostitution and your vices? And you took many shepherds for a stumbling block for yourself. You became shameless with everyone. You did not call on me as kinsman or as father or author of your virginity”.

Again it is written in the prophet Hosea (2:2-7),

Come, go to law with your mother, for she is not to be a wife to me nor I a husband to her. I shall remove her prostitution from my presence, and I shall remove her adultery from between her breasts. I shall make her naked as on the day she was born, and I shall make her desolate like a land without water, and I shall make her longingly childless. I shall show her children no pity, for they are children of prostitution, since their mother prostituted herself and put her children to shame. For she said, “I shall prostitute myself to my lovers. It was they who gave me my bread and my water and my garments and my clothes and my wine and my oil and everything I needed.” Therefore behold I shall shut

them up so that she shall not be able to run after her adulterers. And when she seeks them and does not find them, she will say, ‘I shall return to my former husband, in those days I was better off than now.”

Again he said in Ezekiel (16:23-26),

It came to pass after much depravity, said the lord, you built yourself a brothel and you made yourself a beautiful place in the streets. And you built yourself brothels on every lane, and you wasted your beauty, and you spread your legs in every alley, and you multiplied your acts of prostitution. You prostituted yourself to the sons of Egypt, those who are your neighbors, men great of flesh.

But what does “the sons of Egypt, men great of flesh” mean, if not the domain of the flesh and the perceptible realm and the affairs of the earth, by which the soul has become defiled here, receiving bread from them, as well as wine, oil, clothing, and the other external nonsense surrounding the body – the things she thinks she needs.

But as to this prostitution, the apostles of the savior commanded (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25; 1Th 4:3; 1 Co 6:18; 2 Co 7:1): “Guard yourselves against it, purify yourselves from it,” speaking not just of the prostitution of the body but especially that of the soul. For this reason the apostles write to the churches of God, that such prostitution might not occur among us.

Yet the greatest struggle has to do with the prostitution of the soul. From it arises the prostitution of the body as well. Therefore Paul, writing to the Corinthians (1Co 5:9-10), said, “I wrote you in the letter, ‘Do not associate with prostitutes,’ not at all (meaning) the prostitutes of this world or the greedy or the thieves or the idolaters, since then you would have to go out from the world.” – here it is speaking spiritually – “For our struggle is not

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