The Nag Hammadi Library


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"And there shall be others of those who are outside our number who name themselves bishop and also deacons, as if they have received their authority from God. They bend themselves under the judgment of the leaders. Those people are dry canals."

But I said " I am afraid because of what you have told me, that indeed little (ones) are, in our view, the counterfeit ones, indeed, that there are multitudes that will mislead other

multitudes of living ones, and destroy them among themselves. And when they speak your name they will be believed."

The Savior said, "For a time determined for them in proportion to their error they will rule over the little ones. And after the completion of the error, the never-aging one of the immortal understanding shall become young, and they (the little ones) shall rule over those who are their rulers. The root of their error he shall pluck out, and he shall put it to shame so that it shall be manifest in all the impudence which it has assumed to itself. And such ones shall become unchangeable, O Peter."

"Come therefore, let us go on with the completion of the will of the incorruptible Father. For behold, those who will bring them judgment are coming, and they will put them to shame. But me they cannot touch. And you, O Peter, shall stand in their midst. Do not be afraid because of your cowardice. Their minds shall be closed, for the invisible one has opposed them."

When he had said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said "What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"

The Savior said to me, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."

But I, when I had looked, said "Lord, no one is looking at you. Let us flee this place."

But he said to me, "I have told you, 'Leave the blind alone!'. And you, see how they do not know what they are saying. For the son of their glory instead of my servant, they have put to shame."

And I saw someone about to approach us resembling him, even him who was laughing on the tree. And he was <filled> with a Holy Spirit, and he is the Savior. And there was a great, ineffable light around them, and the multitude of ineffable and invisible angels blessing them. And when I looked at him, the one who gives praise was revealed.

And he said to me, "Be strong, for you are the one to whom these mysteries have been

given, to know them through revelation, that he whom they crucified is the first-born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel in which they dwell, of Elohim, of the cross, which is under the Law. But he who stands near him is the living Savior, the first in him, whom they seized and released, who stands joyfully looking at those who did him violence, while they are divided among themselves. Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind. So then the one susceptible to suffering shall come, since the body is the substitute. But what they released was my incorporeal

body. But I am the intellectual Spirit filled with radiant light. He whom you saw coming to me is our intellectual Pleroma, which unites the perfect light with my Holy Spirit."

"These things, then, which you saw you shall present to those of another race who are not of this age. For there will be no honor in any man who is not immortal, but only (in) those who were chosen from an immortal substance, which has shown that it is able to contain him who gives his abundance. Therefore I said, 'Every one who has, it will be given to him, and he will have plenty.' But he who does not have, that is, the man of this place, who is completely dead, who is removed from the planting of the creation of what is begotten, whom, if one of the immortal essence appears, they think that they possess him - it will be taken from him and be added to the one who is. You, therefore, be courageous and do not fear at all. For I shall be with you in order that none of your enemies may prevail unto you. Peace be to you, Be strong!"

When he (Jesus) had said these things, he (Peter) came to himself.

Apocalypse of Peter

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 James

image

Translated by Francis E. Williams

James writes to [...]: Peace be with you from Peace, love from Love, grace from Grace, faith from Faith, life from Holy Life!

Since you asked that I send you a secret book which was revealed to me and Peter by the Lord, I could not turn you away or gainsay (?) you; but I have written it in the Hebrew alphabet and sent it to you, and you alone. But since you are a minister of the salvation of the saints, endeavor earnestly and take care not to rehearse this text to many - this that the Savior did not wish to tell to all of us, his twelve disciples. But blessed will they be who will be saved through the faith of this discourse.

I also sent you, ten months ago, another secret book which the Savior had revealed to me. Under the circumstances, however, regard that one as revealed to me, James; but this one

... [untranslatable fragments]

... the twelve disciples were all sitting together and recalling what the Savior had said to each one of them, whether in secret or openly, and putting it in books - But I was writing that which was in my book - lo, the Savior appeared, after departing from us while we gazed after him. And five hundred and fifty days since he had risen from the dead, we said to him, "Have you departed and removed yourself from us?" But Jesus said, "No, but I shall go to the place from whence I came. If you wish to come with me, come!"

They all answered and said, "If you bid us, we come."

He said, "Verily I say unto you, no one will ever enter the kingdom of heaven at my bidding, but (only) because you yourselves are full. Leave James and Peter to me, that I may fill them." And having called these two, he drew them aside and bade the rest

occupy themselves with that which they were about.

The Savior said, "You have received mercy ... (7 lines missing)

Do you not, then, desire to be filled? And your heart is drunken; do you not, then, desire

to be sober? Therefore, be ashamed! Henceforth, waking or sleeping, remember that you have seen the Son of Man, and spoken with him in person, and listened to him in person. Woe to those who have seen the Son of Man; blessed will they be who have not seen the man, and they who have not consorted with him, and they who have not spoken with him, and they who have not listened to anything from him; yours is life! Know, then, that he

healed you when you were ill, that you might reign. Woe to those who have found relief from their illness, for they will relapse into illness. Blessed are they who have not been ill, and have known relief before falling ill; yours is the kingdom of God. Therefore, I say to you, 'Become full, and leave no space within you empty, for he who is coming can mock you."

Then Peter replied, "Lo, three times you have told us, 'Become full'; but we are full." The Savior answered and said, "For this cause I have said to you, 'Become full,' that you may not be in want. They who are in want, however, will not be saved. For it is good to be full, and bad to be in want. Hence, just as it is good that you be in want and, conversely, bad that you be full, so he who is full is in want, and he who is in want does not become full as he who is in want becomes full, and he who has been filled, in turn attains due perfection. Therefore, you must be in want while it is possible to fill you, and

be full while it is possible for you to be in want, so that you may be able to fill yourselves

the more. Hence, become full of the Spirit, but be in want of reason, for reason <belongs to> the soul; in turn, it is (of the nature of) soul."

But I answered and said to him, "Lord, we can obey you if you wish, for we have forsaken our fathers and our mothers and our villages, and followed you. Grant us, therefore, not to be tempted by the devil, the evil one."

The Lord answered and said, "What is your merit if you do the will of the Father and it is not given to you from him as a gift while you are tempted by Satan? But if you are oppressed by Satan, and persecuted, and you do his (i.e., the Father's) will, I say that he will love you, and make you equal with me, and reckon you to have become beloved through his providence by your own choice. So will you not cease loving the flesh and being afraid of sufferings? Or do you not know that you have yet to be abused and to be accused unjustly; and have yet to be shut up in prison, and condemned unlawfully, and crucified <without> reason, and buried as I myself, by the evil one? Do you dare to spare the flesh, you for whom the Spirit is an encircling wall? If you consider how long the world existed <before> you, and how long it will exist after you, you will find that your life is one single day, and your sufferings one single hour. For the good will not enter into the world. Scorn death, therefore, and take thought for life! Remember my cross and my death, and you will live!"

But I answered and said to him, "Lord, do not mention to us the cross and death, for they are far from you."

The Lord answered and said, "Verily, I say unto you, none will be saved unless they

believe in my cross. But those who have believed in my cross, theirs is the kingdom of God. Therefore, become seekers for death, like the dead who seek for life; for that which they seek is revealed to them. And what is there to trouble them? As for you, when you examine death, it will teach you election. Verily, I say unto you, none of those who fear death will be saved; for the kingdom belongs to those who put themselves to death. Become better than I; make yourselves like the son of the Holy Spirit!"

Then I asked him, "Lord, how shall we be able to prophesy to those who request us to prophesy to them? For there are many who ask us, and look to us to hear an oracle from

us."

The Lord answered and said, "Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off

with John?"

But I said, "Lord, can it be possible to remove the head of prophecy?"

The Lord said to me, "When you come to know what 'head' means, and that prophecy issues from the head, (then) understand the meaning of 'Its head was removed.' At first I spoke to you in parables, and you did not understand; now I speak to you openly, and you (still) do not perceive. Yet, it was you who served me as a parable in parables, and as that which is open in the (words) that are open.

"Hasten to be saved without being urged! Instead, be eager of your own accord, and, if possible, arrive even before me; for thus the Father will love you."

"Come to hate hypocrisy and the evil thought; for it is the thought that gives birth to hypocrisy; but hypocrisy is far from truth."

"Do not allow the kingdom of heaven to wither; for it is like a palm shoot whose fruit has dropped down around it. They (i.e., the fallen fruit) put forth leaves, and after they had sprouted, they caused their womb to dry up. So it is also with the fruit which had grown from this single root; when it had been picked (?), fruit was borne by many (?). It (the root) was certainly good, (and) if it were possible for you to produce the new plants now,

<you> would find it."

"Since I have already been glorified in this fashion, why do you hold me back in my eagerness to go? For after the labor, you have compelled me to stay with you another eighteen days for the sake of the parables. It was enough for some <to listen> to the teaching and understand 'The Shepherds' and 'The Seed' and 'The Building' and 'The Lamps of the Virgins' and 'The Wage of the Workmen' and the 'Didrachmae' and 'The Woman.'"

"Become earnest about the word! For as to the word, its first part is faith; the second, love; the third, works; for from these comes life. For the word is like a grain of wheat; when someone had sown it, he had faith in it; and when it had sprouted, he loved it, because he had seen many grains in place of one. And when he had worked, he was saved, because he had prepared it for food, (and) again he left (some) to sow. So also can you yourselves receive the kingdom of heaven; unless you receive this through knowledge, you will not be able to find it."

"Therefore, I say to you, be sober; do not be deceived! And many times have I said to you all together, and also to you alone, James, have I said, 'Be saved!' And I have commanded you to follow me, and I have taught you what to say before the archons. Observe that I have descended and have spoken and undergone tribulation, and carried off my crown after saving you. For I came down to dwell with you, so that you in turn might dwell with me. And, finding your houses unceiled, I have made my abode in the houses that could receive me at the time of my descent."

"Therefore, trust in me, my brethren; understand what the great light is. The Father has no need of me, - for a father does not need a son, but it is the son who needs the father - though I go to him. For the Father of the Son has no need of you."

"Hearken to the word, understand knowledge, love life, and no one will persecute you, nor will anyone oppress you, other than you yourselves."

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