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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

NAG HAMMADI CODICES- NOREA; by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz


The Musical- NOREIA, Frau des NOAH, bekämpft die ACHONTEN



by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

Introduced by

Birger A. Pearson

Translated by

Søren Giversen and Birger A. Pearson







Comprising only 52 lines of text, this tractate is one of the shortest of the Nag Hammadi corpus. The pages of the manuscript on which it is found are damaged, but they preserve enough text to allow for the restoration of almost the entire tractate. The Coptic text, however, is manifestly corrupt at points, and textual emendation has been deemed necessary here and there (indicated in the translation with pointed brackets).

The tractate bears no title in the manuscript. The one used in this edition is a phrase found in the text itself, at the end of the tractate (29, 3). Another title is in use in German scholarship: “Ode on Norea,” a designation that also defines the literary genre of this writing: an ode or hymn.

The hymnic features evident in the text include parallelismus membrorum, repetition, and a balanced structure, characteristics of Semitic poetry. Norea does not, however, satisfy the requirements of Greek poetry, for no traditional Greek meter can be ascribed to the original Greek text of which this Coptic version is a translation.

The tractate has a clear fourfold structure:

  1. 27,11–20: The tractate begins with an invocation addressed to a divine triad consisting of Father, Mother, and Son, the basic primal triad found in Sethian Gnosticism. The incomprehensible Father is a primal Mind, here also called Adamas (28,30; 27,26), whose Thought (ennoia) is a primal spiritual Mother. Their son is Mind (nous), also called Logos (27, 18) and Autogenes (28,6).
  2. 27, 21–28, 12: The invocation is expressly attributed to Norea: “It is Norea who [cries out] to them” (27, 21–22). Her cry for deliverance results in her restoration to the divine world, her proper place (= the Pleroma), 27, 23; 28, 22).

III. 28, 12–23: While remaining in the pleroma, Norea also has a saving role to play in propagating “words of Life” (28, 13–14).

  1. 28, 24–29, 5: Norea’s own salvation is aided by the intercession of the “four holy helpers” (28, 27–28), figures who are easily identifiable as the four “luminaries” of Sethian Gnosticism: Harmozel, Oroiael, Daveithe, and Eleleth (cf., e.g., Melch. IX 6, 3–5). Her “thought” (29, 3) is the gnosis that brings about for all of her spiritual progeny ultimate reintegration into the godhead. Thus, in saving others, Norea saves herself.

From what has already been said, there can be no doubt that Norea is a gnostic text in the full technical sense of that term. It has justifiably been included among those gnostic texts which are classified as Sethian, in the sense that they share essential features of a discrete gnostic system conveniently labeled as Sethian. (Hans-Martin Schenke is the foremost proponent of this classification, which applies to the following texts of the Nag Hammadi corpus: Ap. John, Hyp. Arch., Gos. Eg., Apoc. Adam, Steles Seth, Zost., Norea, Marsanes, Allogenes, and Trim. Prot.) The Sethian system includes the following essential elements: 1) the gnostic triad of Father, Mother, and Son; 2) the four “luminaries” subordinate to the Son; and 3) the figure of Seth and/or his feminine counterpart, Norea. All of these elements are found in our tractate.

There are no clear indications of Christian influence in this tractate, and such Jewish influence as can be found in it belongs to its prehistory, i.e., the earlier formulations of the Sethian system which is reflected in it.

The most interesting feature of Norea is the savior figure depicted in it, Norea. This figure occurs in a wide range of gnostic literature, Sethian and non-Sethian, with considerable variation in the spelling of her name: Norea, Orea, Noraia, Oraia, Horaia, Nora, Noria, Nuraita, and Nhuraita. She is represented in the literature as the daughter of Adam and Eve, sister-wife of Seth, or as the wife of Noah or Shem. She is sometimes portrayed as the intended victim of rape by the wicked archons, as in The Hypostasis of the Archons (II,4), a text which stands in close relationship with Norea. Comparative analysis of the gnostic texts, together with certain traditions from Jewish aggadah featuring a Cainite woman called Naamah (cf. Gn 4:22), shows that Norea is a gnostic derivative of the figure of Naamah. The original spelling of her name in Greek is Horaia, the semantic equivalent of Hebrew Na’amah (“pleasing, lovely“).

Norea thus has a previous career in Jewish legend as a naughty girl, Naamah, cavorting with the fallen “sons of God” (Gn 6:2). A completely opposite picture of Norea is presented in Hyp. Arch., according to which she is an undefiled virgin and a spiritual helper to (gnostic) humankind (II 91, 34–92, 2; cf. Gn 2:18). It is this picture of Norea that is reflected in our tractate as well. Indeed, in Norea, the saving role of Seth has disappeared completely; it is Norea who is the gnostic “saved savior.” As such she can be regarded as a symbolic equivalent of Sophia (“wisdom”) as well as a symbol of the gnostic soul in need of redemption and reintegration into the godhead.

It is not possible to come to any definite conclusion as to the tractate’s provenance, but Syria or Egypt are the most likely possibilities. A date in the late second, or early third, century is plausible. We have no information on the question of its authorhsip, but Norea is one of the Nag Hammadi tractates that could easily have been written by a gnostic woman.


IX 27, 11–29, 5

Father of All, [Ennoia] | of the Light | [dwelling in the heights | above the (regions) below, 15 Light dwelling [in | the] heights, Voice of | Truth, upright Nous, | untouchable Logos, | and [ineffable] Voice, 20 [incomprehensible] Father! |

It is Norea who [cries out] | to them. They [heard], | (and) they received her into her place | forever. They gave it 25 to her in the Father of Nous, | Adamas, as well as the voice | of the Holy Ones, 28 in order that she might rest | in the ineffable Epinoia, | in order that <she> might inherit | the first mind 5 which <she> had received, and that <she> might rest | in the divine Autogenes, | and that she (too) might generate | herself, just as [she] also has | inherited the [living] Logos, 10 and that she might be joined to | all of the Imperishable Ones, and [speak] | with the mind of the Father.

And | [she began] to speak with words of | [Life], and <she> remained in the 15 [presence] of the Exalted One, [possessing | that] which she had received before | the world came into being. | [She has] the [great | mind] of the Invisible One, [and 20 she gives] glory to <her> Father, [and | she] dwells within those who […] | within the Pleroma, | [and] she beholds the Pleroma. |

There will be days when she will 25 [behold] the Pleroma, and | she will not be in deficiency, | for she has the four | holy helpers who intercede | on her behalf with the Father of 30 the All, Adamas. He it is 29 who is within all of the Adamas, | possessing the | thought of Norea who speaks | concerning the two names which create 5 a single name.

[ Square brackets indicate a lacuna in the manuscript. When the text cannot be reconstructed, three dots are placed within the brackets, regardless of the size of the lacuna; a fourth dot, if appropriate, may function as a period. An exception to this rule is the occasional use of a different number of dots to estimate the extent of the missing portion of a proper noun. In a few instances the dots are used without brackets to indicate a series of Coptic letters which do not constitute a translatable sense unit. A bracket is not allowed to divide a word, except for a hyphenated word or a proper noun. Other words are placed entirely inside or outside the brackets, depending on the certainty of the Coptic word and the number of Coptic letters visible.

| Small strokes above the line indicate line divisions. Every fifth line a small number is inserted in place of a stroke; the frequency of these numbers, however, may vary in tractates which are quite fragmentary. A new page is indicated with a number in bold type. When the beginning of a new line or page coincides with the opening of a paragraph, the line divider or number is placed at the end of the previous paragraph.

( Parentheses indicate material supplied by the editor or translator. Although this material may not directly reflect the text being translated, it provides useful information for the reader.

< Pointed brackets indicate a correction of a scribal omission or error. The translator has either inserted letters unintentionally omitted by the scribe, or replaced letters erroneously inserted with what the scribe presumably intended to write.

Robinson, James McConkey ; Smith, Richard ; Coptic Gnostic Library Project: The Nag Hammadi Library in English. 4th rev. ed. Leiden; New York : E.J. Brill, 1996, S. 445


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