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NAG HAMMADI CODICES- SETH- by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz


Das Tier



by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

Introduced by

Joseph A. Gibbons

Translated by

Roger A. Bullard and Joseph A. Gibbons

SETH in ägyptischem Text


The Second Treatise of the Great Seth is a revelation dialogue allegedly delivered by Jesus Christ to an audience of “perfect and incorruptible ones,” that is, gnostic believers. Apart from the title, the name Seth never occurs in the text, though perhaps Jesus Christ is meant to be identified with Seth. The treatise presents, in a brief and simple way, the true story of the Savior’s commission by the heavenly Assembly, his descent to earth, his encounter with the worldly powers and apparent crucifixion, and his return to the Pleroma. To this story of the Savior are added an exhortation to the Savior’s followers and a promise of future blessedness. As the Savior says to the gnostic believers at the close of his discourse, “Rest then with me, my fellow spirits and my brothers, for ever.”

There is no doubt that The Second Treatise of the Great Seth is a work that is both Christian and gnostic. On the one hand, Christian elements are tightly woven into the fabric of the treatise. The tractate accepts the New Testament or parts of it, and claims to be the revelation of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the crucifixion figures prominently in the tractate; in fact, it is described in three separate scenes within the tractate. On the other hand, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth is also clearly gnostic: knowledge is the means of salvation. The God of this world is evil and ignorant, and can be identified with the God of the Old Testament; in addition, all his minions are mere counterfeits and laughingstocks. The interpretation of the crucifixion is that of the Gnostic Basilides as presented by the heresiologist Irenaeus: Simon of Cyrene is crucified in the place of the laughing Jesus.

The purpose for which The Second Treatise of the Great Seth was written is plainly polemical. The entire first part (49, 10–59, 18) describes the true history of Jesus Christ and emphasizes, over against orthodox Christianity, his docetic passion. The second part of the tractate (59, 19–70, 10) is a refutation of orthodoxy’s claim to be the true church. Despite the trials and persecutions apparently instigated by the orthodox church, by those ignorant and imitative persons “who think that they are advancing the name of Christ,” the gnostic believers will enjoy true brotherhood on earth, and bliss in the joy and union of eternal life.


VII 49, 10–70, 12

And the perfect Majesty is at rest | in the | ineffable light, | in the truth of the mother | of all these, and all of you 15 that attain to me, | to me alone who am perfect, because of | the Word. For I exist with all the | greatness of the Spirit, which is a | friend to us and our 20 kindred alike, since I brought | forth a word to the glory | of our Father, through | his goodness, as well as an | imperishable thought; that is, the Word 25 within him — | it is slavery that we shall die with | Christ — and an imperishable | and undefiled thought, an | incomprehensible marvel, the writing 30 of the ineffable water | which is | the word from us. It is I who am in | you (pl.) and you | are in me, just as the 35 Father is in you 50 in innocence.

Let us | gather an assembly together. | Let us visit that creation | of his. Let us send someone 5 forth in it, just as he visited | <the> Ennoias, the regions | below. And I said these things | to the whole multitude of the | multitudinous assembly of the 10 rejoicing Majesty. | The whole house of the Father of Truth rejoiced | that I am the one who is | from them. I produced thought | about the Ennoias which came 15 out of the undefiled Spirit, | about the descent upon the water, | that is, the regions below. | And they all had | a single mind, since it 20 is out of one. They charged | me since I was willing. | I came forth to reveal | the glory to my kindred | and my fellow spirits. 25

For those who were | in the world had been prepared by the will | of our sister Sophia — | she who is a whore — | because of the innocence which 30 has not been uttered. And she did not | ask anything from | the All, nor from the greatness | of the Assembly, nor from the | Pleroma. Since she was first she came forth 51 to prepare monads and | places for the Son of Light, | and the fellow workers | which she took from 5 the elements below | to build | bodily dwellings from them. | But, having come into being in an | empty glory, they ended 10 in destruction in the dwellings | in which they were, since they were | prepared by | Sophia. They stand ready | to receive 15 the life-giving word of | the ineffable Monad | and of the greatness of the assembly | of all those who persevere | and those who are 20 in me.

I visited a | bodily dwelling. I cast | out the one who was | in it first, and I | went in. And 25 the whole multitude | of the archons became troubled. | And all the matter of the archons | as well as all the begotten powers of the earth | were shaken when 30 it saw the likeness of the Image, | since it was mixed. And I am the one who | was in it, not resembling | him who was in it | first. For he was an 52 earthly man, but I, | I am from above | the heavens. I did not refuse | them even to become 5 a Christ, but I did not reveal | myself to them in the love | which was coming forth from me. | I revealed that I am a | stranger to the regions 10 below.

There was a great | disturbance in | the whole earthly area with | confusion and flight, as well as (in) the plan | of the archons. And some 15 were persuaded, when they saw | the wonders which were being accomplished by | me. And | all these, with the race, that came | down, flee from him 20 who had fled from the throne | to the Sophia of hope, | since she had earlier given the sign | concerning us and all the ones | with me — those of the race 25 of Adonaios. Others | also fled, as if | from the Cosmocrator | and those with them, | since they have brought every (kind of) punishment 30 upon me. And there was a flight | of their mind | about what they would counsel | concerning me, thinking | that she (Sophia) is the whole greatness, and 35 speaking false witness, | moreover, against the Man and the whole greatness 53 of the assembly. | It was not possible for them to know | who the Father of | Truth, the Man of the 5 Greatness, is. But they who received | the name because of contact with | ignorance — which (is) a burning | and a vessel — having created | it to destroy Adam 10 whom they had made, in order to | cover up those who are theirs | in the same way. But they, | the archons, those of the place of Yaldabaoth, | reveal the realm of 15 the angels, which | humanity was seeking | in order that they may not know the Man of Truth. | For Adam, | whom they had formed, appeared to them. 20 And a fearful motion came about | throughout their entire dwelling, lest | the angels | surrounding them rebel. For without those | who were offering praise — I did 25 not really die lest | their archangel become empty. |

And then | a voice — of the Cosmocrator — | came to the angels: 30 “I am God and | there is no other beside me.” But I laughed joyfully | when I examined his empty glory. | But he went on to 35 say, “Who 54 is man?” And the entire host | of his angels who had | seen Adam and his dwelling were laughing | at his smallness. And 5 thus did their Ennoia come to be | removed outside the Majesty | of the heavens, i.e. the | Man of Truth, | whose name they saw since he is 10 in a small dwelling place, | since they are small (and) senseless | in their empty Ennoia, | namely their laughter. It was | contagion for them.

The whole greatness 15 of the Fatherhood of the | Spirit was at rest in | his places. And I am he | who was with him, since I have | an Ennoia of a single emanation 20 from the eternal ones | and the | undefiled and immeasurable incomprehensibilities. | I placed the small Ennoia | in the world, 25 having disturbed them and | frightened the whole multitude of the | angels and their ruler. And I | was visiting them all | with fire and 30 flame because of my Ennoia. And | everything pertaining to them was brought about | because of me. And there came about a disturbance | and a fight around | the Seraphim and Cherubim, 35 since their glory will fade, 55 and the confusion around | Adonaios on both sides | and their dwelling — to the Cosmocrator | and him who said, 5 “Let us seize him”; others | again, “The plan will certainly not materialize.” |

For Adonaios knows me | because of hope. | And I was 10 in the mouths of lions. And | the plan which they devised | about me to release | their Error and their senselessness — | I did not succumb to them as 15 they had planned. But I was | not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished | me. And | I did not die in reality | but in appearance, lest 20 I be put to shame by them | because these are my kinsfolk. I | removed the shame from me | and I did not become fainthearted in the face of what | happened to me at their hands. 25 I was about to | succumb to fear, and I | <suffered> according to their sight | and thought, in order that | they may never find any word to speak 30 about them. For my death | which they think happened, | (happened) to them in their | error and blindness, | since they nailed their 35 man unto their death. | For their Ennoias did not see 56 me, for they were deaf | and blind. | But in doing these things, they condemn | themselves. Yes, they saw 5 me; they punished me. | It was another, their father, | who drank the gall and the vinegar; | it was not I. They struck | me with the reed; it was another, Simon, 10 who bore the cross on | his shoulder. | I was another upon whom they placed | the crown of thorns. | But I was rejoicing in the height 15 over all the wealth | of the archons and the offspring | of their error, of their | empty glory. And I was | laughing at their ignorance. 20

And I subjected all their powers. | For as I came | downward no one saw me. | For I was altering my shapes, | changing from 25 form to form. And | therefore, when I was at their gates | I assumed their likeness. | For I passed them by | quietly, and I was viewing the 30 places, and I was not afraid | nor ashamed, | for I was undefiled. And I was | speaking with them, | mingling with | them through those who are 35 mine, and trampling on those who 57 are harsh to them with zeal, | and quenching the flame. | And I was doing all these things | because of my desire 5 to accomplish what I desired | by the will of the Father above. |

And the Son | of the Majesty, who was hidden | in the regions below, 10 we brought to the height where I <was> | in all these aeons with them, | which (height) no one has seen | nor known, where | the wedding of the wedding robe is, 15 the new one and | not the old, nor does it perish. | For it is a new and perfect bridal chamber of the | heavens, as I | have revealed (that) there are 20 three ways: an | undefiled mystery in a | spirit of this aeon, which does not | perish, nor is it fragmentary, | nor able to be spoken 25 of; rather, it is | undivided, universal, | and permanent. For the soul, the one | from the height, will not speak | about the error which is here, nor 30 transfer from these aeons, | since it will be | transferred when it becomes free and when it | is endowed with nobility | in the world, standing 58 before the Father without weariness | and fear, always mixed | with the Nous of power (and) | of form. They will see me 5 from every side without hatred. | For since they see me, they are being seen (and) | are mixed with them. Since they | did not put me to shame, they were not | put to shame. Since they were not afraid 10 before me, they will pass by | every gate without fear and | will be perfected in the third | glory.

It was | my going to 15 the revealed height which the world did not accept, | my third baptism in a revealed image. | When they had fled from | the fire of the | seven Authorities, and 20 the sun of the powers of | the archons set, darkness took them. | And the world became poor | when he was restrained with a multitude | of fetters. They nailed him 25 to the tree, and they fixed him with | four nails of brass. The | veil of his temple | he tore with his hands. It was a | trembling which seized 30 the chaos of the earth, | for the souls which were | in the sleep below were released. | And they arose. They went about | boldly, having shed 59 zealous service of ignorance | and unlearnedness | beside the dead tombs, | having put on the new man, 5 since they have come to know | that perfect Blessed One of | the eternal and incomprehensible Father | and the infinite light, | which is I, since I came to 10 my own and united | them with myself. There is no need | for many words, | for our Ennoia was with their Ennoia. | Therefore they knew what 15 I speak of, for we took counsel | about the destruction of the | archons. And therefore I did | the will of the Father, who is I. |

After we went forth from our home, 20 and came down to this world, | and came into being in the world | in bodies, we were hated | and persecuted, not only | by those who are ignorant, but 25 also by those who think that | they are advancing the name of Christ, | since they were unknowingly empty, | not knowing | who they are, like dumb animals. 30 They | persecuted those who have been liberated | by me, since they hate them — | those who, should they shut | their mouth, would weep with a 35 profitless groaning because 60 they did not fully know me. | Instead, they served two masters, | even a multitude. But you will become | victorious in everything, in 5 war and battles, | jealous division | and wrath. But in the | uprightness of our love we are | innocent, pure, 10 (and) good, since we have a mind | of the Father in an | ineffable mystery. |

For it was ludicrous. It is I | who bear witness that it was ludicrous, 15 since the archons do not know | that it is an | ineffable union of | undefiled truth, as exists | among the sons of light, 20 of which they made an imitation, | having proclaimed | a doctrine of a dead man | and lies so as to resemble the freedom | and purity of 25 the perfect assembly, | (and) <joining> themselves with their doctrine | to fear and slavery, | worldly cares, | and abandoned worship, 30 being small (and) ignorant since they do not | contain the | nobility of the truth | for they hate the one in whom | they are, and love 35 the one in whom they are not. | For they did not know the 61 Knowledge of the Greatness, | that it is from above | and (from) a fountain of truth, and that | it is not from slavery 5 and jealousy, | fear and love of | worldly matter. For that | which is not theirs and that which | is theirs they use 10 fearlessly and freely. | They do not desire because | they have authority, and (they have) a | law from themselves over | whatever they will wish. 15

But those who have not are poor, | that is, those who do not possess him. | And they desire him and | lead astray those, who through | them have become like those who possess 20 the truth of their freedom, | just as they bought us for | servitude and constraint of | care and fear. This person is | in slavery. 25 And he who is brought by | constraint of force and threat | has been guarded by | God. But the entire nobility | of the Fatherhood 30 is not guarded, since he guards only him | who is from him, without | word and constraint, since he is united | with his will, he who belongs only to the | Ennoia of the Fatherhood, 35 to make it perfect | and ineffable through 62 the living water, to be | with you mutually in wisdom, | not only in word | of hearing but in deed 5 and fulfilled word. | For the perfect ones are worthy to be established | in this way and to be | united with me, in order that they may not share | in any enmity, in 10 a good friendship. I | accomplish everything through the Good One, | for this is the union of the truth, | that they should have no adversary. | But everyone 15 who brings division — and | he will learn no wisdom at all | because he brings division and | is not a friend — is hostile to | them all. But he who lives 20 in harmony and friendship | of brotherly love, | naturally and not artificially, | completely and | not partially, this person is truly the desire 25 of the Father. He is the | universal one and perfect love. |

For Adam was a laughingstock, | since he was made a counterfeit | type of man 30 by the Hebdomad, | as if he had become stronger | than I and my brothers. We | are innocent with respect to him, | since we have not sinned. 35 And Abraham and Isaac | and Jacob were a laughingstock, since they, | the counterfeit fathers, were given a name | by the Hebdomad, as if 63 he had become stronger than I | and my brothers. We are | innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. | David was a laughingstock 5 in that his son was named the Son | of Man, having been influenced | by the Hebdomad, | as if he had become stronger than I | and the follow members of my race. 10 But we are innocent with respect to him; | we have not sinned. Solomon was a laughingstock, | since he thought that he was Christ, | having become vain through | the Hebdomad, as if he had become 15 stronger than I and my brothers. | But we are innocent with respect to | him. I have not sinned. | The 12 prophets were laughingstocks, | since they have come forth as imitations of 20 the true prophets. They came into being | as counterfeits through | the Hebdomad, as if | he had become stronger than I | and my brothers. But we are 25 innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. | Moses, | a faithful servant, was a laughingstock, | having been named “the Friend,” | since they perversely bore witness concerning him 30 who never | knew me. Neither he | nor those before him, from | Adam to Moses and | John the Baptist, 35 none of them knew me nor 64 my brothers.

For they had a | doctrine of angels | to observe dietary laws and | bitter slavery, since they never 5 knew truth, | nor will they know it. | For there is a great deception | upon their soul making it impossible | for them ever to find a Nous of 10 freedom in order to know | him, until they come to know the Son | of Man. Now concerning my Father, | I am he whom the world | did not know, and because of this, 15 it (the world) rose up against me and my brothers. | But we are innocent with respect to | him; we have not sinned. |

For the Archon was a laughingstock because he said, | “I am God, and 20 there is none greater than I. I | alone am the Father, the Lord, and | there is no other beside me. I | am a jealous God, who | brings the sins of the fathers 25 upon the children for three and | four generations. ” As if he had | become stronger than I and my brothers! | But we are innocent | with respect to him, in that we have not sinned, 30 since we mastered his teaching. Thus | he was in an empty glory. | And he does not agree | with our Father. And thus | through our fellowship 35 we grasped his teaching, since he | was vain in an | empty glory. And he does | not agree with our Father, | for he was a laughingstock and 65 judgment and false prophecy. |

O those who do | not see, you do not see your | blindness, i.e. this which was 5 not known, nor | has it ever been known, nor | has it been known about him. | They did not listen to firm obedience. | Therefore they proceeded 10 in a judgment of error, | and they raised their | defiled and murderous hands against him | as if they were beating the air. | And the senseless and blind ones 15 are always senseless, | always being slaves | of law and | earthly fear.

I am Christ, | the Son of Man, the one 20 from you (pl.) who is among you. | I am despised for your sake, in | order that you yourselves | may forget the difference. | And do not become female, 25 lest you give birth to evil | and (its) brothers: jealousy | and division, anger | and wrath, fear | and a divided heart, and 30 empty, non-existent desire. | But I am | an ineffable mystery to you. |

Then before the | foundation of the world, 35 when the whole multitude | of the Assembly came together | upon the places of the Ogdoad, 66 when they had taken counsel about a | spiritual wedding which is in union, | and thus he was perfected | in the ineffable places 5 by a living word, | the undefiled wedding was consummated | through the Mesotes | of Jesus, who inhabits | them all and possesses 10 them, who abides in an | undivided love of power. | And surrounding him, he | appears to him as | a Monad of all these, 15 a thought and a father, since he is | one. And he stands | by them all, since he | as a whole came forth alone. And | he is life, since he came from the 20 Father of ineffable | and perfect Truth, | (the father) of those who are there, the union | of peace and a friend | of good things, and life 25 eternal and undefiled joy, | in a great harmony | of life and faith, | through eternal life | of fatherhood and 30 motherhood and sisterhood | and rational wisdom. | They had agreed with Nous, | who stretches out (and) will stretch | out in joyful union 35 and is trustworthy 67 and faithfully listens to | someone. And he is in fatherhood | and motherhood | and rational brotherhood 5 and wisdom. And this is a | wedding of truth, | and a repose of incorruption, | in a spirit of truth, | in every mind, and a 10 perfect light in an | unnameable mystery. | But this is not, nor | will it happen among us | in any region or place 15 in division and breach | of peace, but (in) union | and a mixture of love, all of which | are perfected in the one who is. |

It (fem.) also happened in the places 20 under heaven for their reconciliation. | Those who knew me | in salvation and undividedness, | and those who existed | for the glory of the father 25 and the truth, having been separated, | blended into the one | through the living word. | And I am in the spirit | and the truth of the 30 motherhood, just as he has been there; | I was among those | who are united in the friendship | of friends forever, | who neither know 35 hostility at all, | nor evil, but who are united 68 by my Knowledge | in word and peace | which exists in perfection | with everyone and in 5 them all. And those who | assumed the form of my type will | assume the form of my word. Indeed, these | will come forth in light forever, | and (in) friendship with each other 10 in the spirit, since they have known | in every respect (and) indivisibly | that what is is One. And | all of these are one. And thus | they will learn about the One, as (did) 15 the Assembly and those dwelling | in it. For the father | of all these exists, being immeasurable | (and) immutable: Nous | and Word and Division 20 and Envy and Fire. | And he is entirely one, being | the All with them all in a | single doctrine because all these | are from a single spirit. 25 O unseeing ones, why | did you not know the mystery | rightly? |

But the archons | around Yaldabaoth were disobedient because of 30 the Ennoia who went down to him | from her sister Sophia. | They made for themselves a union | with those who were with | them in a mixture of 69 a fiery cloud, which | was their Envy, and the rest | who were brought forth by | their creatures, as if 5 they had bruised the noble pleasure | of the Assembly. | And therefore they revealed | a mixture of ignorance | in a counterfeit 10 of fire and | earth and a murderer, since | they are small and untaught, | without knowledge having dared | these things, and not having understood 15 that light has fellowship | with light, and darkness | with darkness, and the | corruptible with the perishable, | and the imperishable with the incorruptible. 20

Now these things I have presented to you (pl.) — | I am Jesus Christ, the Son of | Man, who is exalted above the heavens —, | O perfect and incorruptible ones, | because of the 25 incorruptible and perfect mystery | and the ineffable one. | But they think that we decreed | them before the foundation | of the world in order that, 30 when we emerge from the places | of the world, we may present there | the symbols of | incorruption from the | spiritual union unto 70 knowledge. You (pl.) do not know | it because the fleshly cloud | overshadows you. | But I alone am the friend of Sophia. 5 I have been in the bosom | of the father from the beginning, in the place | of the sons of the truth, and | the Greatness. Rest then with me, | my fellow spirits and my brothers, 10 for ever. |

Second Treatise |

of the Great Seth

| 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. 362


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