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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

NAG HAMMADI CODICES- Teachings of SILVANUS; by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz


„PAN, FAUN“- Sagengestalt Roms



by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

Introduced and translated by

Malcolm L. Peel and Jan Zandee

The eclectic spirit of the second and early third centuries is clearly reflected in the fourth tractate of Codex VII, The Teachings of Silvanus. Its author, like other educated Christians, found it necessary both to reject erroneous pagan thought and yet, simultaneously, to appropriate the best of such thought to clarify and make cogent the Faith. The resultant text, a rare specimen of Hellenistic Christian wisdom literature, displays a remarkable synthesis of biblical and late Jewish ideas with Middle Platonic and late Stoic anthropological, ethical, and theological concepts. The synthesis has a didactic purpose: to impart the wisdom of Christ which confers the self-controlled and “quiet” life, enables one to be “pleasing to ” the Divine, and, ultimately, helps one “become like God.”

Unlike the other four tractates in Codex VII, Teach. Silv. is not gnostic and may even contain some anti-gnostic polemic. It is explicitly affirmed, for example, that all creation has been brought into being by God through his “hand,” the Christ. Thus, unlike the gnostic dualists, one should never describe the Creator (demiurge!) as “ignorant,” in spite of the author’s pessimism regarding interpersonal relations (97, 30–98, 10). Moreover, instead of a docetic view of Christ, the author states that the Savior “bore affliction” for our sins, “died” as a “ransom” and gave his life for others, and put on “humanity.” With respect to anthropology, while the author does espouse a tripartite view of man (“mind,” “soul,” and “body”) similar to the gnostic, he departs sharply from their views that one is “saved by nature.” Every human being, the text maintains, possesses both divine “reason” and “mind” and thus has the capacity for salvation; God wishes for all to be saved.

Perhaps what helped attract the Teach. Silv. to the predominantly gnostic collection of writings that constitute the Nag Hammadi library, however, was its rather austere and somewhat ascetic ethic. The text counsels keeping under control base passions, passions and unclean thoughts which are induced by the adversary, Satan. One is to have God alone as a friend, for all the world is deceitful and full of pain. Moreover, “austerity” is a type of life to be preferred, and “fornication” is to be avoided rigorously, as is “lust.” Especially must one struggle with Satan, the adversary, who offers temptations in subtle disguises, and whose evil powers seek to infest one’s life. Such an ascetic and almost “anchoritic” ethic could have appealed to Gnostics, as could also other concepts in the text, such as the “bridal chamber” in 94, 27–29.

The literary genre of Teach. Silv. is clearly indebted to Jewish and Hellenistic Jewish wisdom literature; though the author is also influenced by the Cynic-Stoic diatribe and the Hellenistic hymn styles. Influence from the Jewish side, though, is exhibited in the direct quotes in Teach. Silv. of canonical and apocryphal (e.g., 112, 37–113, 7 = Wis 7:25–26) wisdom writings.

With respect to content, the first part of Teach. Silv. is more Hellenistic and philosophical in character. The latter part is more specifically Christian and biblical in imagery.

In the initial part (84, 15–99, 4) the writer’s main concern is with the state of the soul. To prevent its being inhabited and overcome by base passions and irrational impulses (symbolically described as “robbers” and “wild, savage beasts,” the reader is admonished to let the “mind” (nous) become his “guiding principle” and “reason” (logos) become his “teacher.” The terminology and emphases clearly echo the anthropology and ethics of the late Stoa and of Middle Platonism.

In the second part of the tractate (99, 6–118, 7), on the other hand, emphasis is placed on the salvation of the soul made possible by the Redeemer-Revealer Christ, Son of Almighty God. At the outset, the author echoes the Platonic discussion of the “One and the many,” utilizing this concept to discuss how Christ and God, like the “mind” in man’s body, is present all places without being confined to a single place. Such “topological theology” both presupposes a nondualistic cosmology in rather anti-gnostic fashion and offers an implicit refutation of the pantheistic theology of Stoicism. In conclusion, the reader is exhorted to seek Christ’s inward help in illuminating “reason,” in escaping the control of evil powers, in purifying one’s life, and in seeking the lasting rewards of his wisdom and God’s way (117, 5–118, 7).

As to the authorship of Teach. Silv., we know of several early prominent Christians who bore the name “Silvanus.” The late dates of their activity, however, and the differences of their teaching from that of our tractate seem to rule out consideration of any of them as its author. Rather, we are probably to recognize in the name “Silvanus” that common device used in Christian apocryphal literature of attributing a later, anonynous writing to a figure known by name in the New Testament canon. Such a “Silas” or “Silvanus” was a prominent member of the Jerusalem Church, cotraveller with Paul (Ac 15:22–40; 16:19–29; etc.), and possibly the amanuensis of “Peter’s” named in 1 Peter 5:12. So, here is yet another Nag Hammadi tractate identified with the circle of influence emanating from Paul and Peter (cf. Pr. Paul, Apoc. Paul, Acts Pet. 12 Apost., Apoc. Pet. and Ep. Pet. Phil.). As to who the author of Teach. Silv. actually was, however, we must state (as did Origen of the author of Hebrews) “in truth (only) God knows!”

In dating the text, we are mainly dependent on internal evidence, though dates have been found in the cartonnage used to strengthen the leather envelope that contained Codex VII. These dates point toward the third quarter of the fourth century as the probable time of the manuscript’s burial near ancient Chenoboskia. Internal evidence includes the author’s apparent knowledge of all major divisions of Old and New Testament canons; the stage of development of the Church’s doctrine of Christ’s “Descent into Hell” that was familiar to the author; the affinities of the text’s “Logos” and “Wisdom” Christology to that of the Alexandrine Fathers, Clement of Alexandria and Origen; and the close parallels of the thought of the later Stoa (notably, Marcus Aurelius) and Middle Platonists (especially Albinus) with that of the author of Teach. Silv. Cumulatively, such evidence points toward the late second to early third century.

Many striking parallels that can be adduced to our text from Philo, Sent. Sextus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and even Athanasius underscore its affinities with what has become known as Alexandrian theology. Its theology, Christology, cosmology, anthropology, and ethics all point, in their similarity, toward Alexandrian Egypt as the probable provenance.

The concluding note (118, 8–9) is secondary, probably added by the copyist. It is surrounded by magical signs related to Christ’s designation as “ichthys” (“fish”), an acrostic signifying “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” It may well have been added by the copyist in response to the impressive Christology he has just copied in the text. For him Christ is truly the “extraordinary wonder”!


VII 84, 115–118, 7
118, 8–9

The Teachings of Silvanus |

Abolish every childish time of life, | acquire for yourself strength | of mind and soul, | and intensify the struggle against 20 every folly of the passions | of love and base wickedness, | and love of praise, | and fondness of contention, | and tiresome jealousy and wrath, 25 and anger and the desire | of avarice. Guard | your (pl.) camp and | weapons and spears. Arm | yourself and all the soldiers 30 which are the words, and the commanders | which are the counsels, and your 85 mind as a guiding principle.

My | son, throw every robber | out of your gates. Guard | all your gates with torches 5 which are the words, and | you will acquire through all these things a | quiet life. But he who will not guard | these things will become like a | city which is desolate since it has been 10 captured. All kinds of wild beasts have | trampled upon it, for thoughts which | are not good are evil wild beasts. | And your city | will be filled with robbers, and you 15 will not be able to acquire peace, | but only all kinds of savage wild beasts. | The Wicked One, who is | a tyrant, is lord over these. While | directing this, he (the Wicked One) is beneath the great 20 mire. The whole city | which is your soul will perish. |

Remove yourself from these things, O | wretched soul. | Bring in your guide and 25 your teacher. The mind is the guide, | but reason is the teacher. | They will bring you | out of destruction and dangers. |

Listen, my son, to my 30 advice! Do not show your back | [to] your enemies and flee, but | rather pursue them as a [strong one]. 86 Be not an animal, with men | pursuing you; but | rather, be a man, with you pursuing | the evil wild beasts, lest somehow 5 they become victorious over you and trample | upon you as on a dead man, | and you perish due to | their wickedness.

O wretched | man, what will you 10 do if you fall into their | hands? Protect yourself | lest you be delivered into the hands of your | enemies. Entrust yourself to this | pair of friends, reason 15 and mind, and no one | will be victorious over you. May God | dwell in your camp, | may his Spirit protect your | gates, and may the mind of divinity 20 protect the walls. Let holy reason | become a | torch in your mind, burning | the wood which is the whole of sin. |

And if you do these things, O my son, 25 you will be victorious over all your enemies, | and they will not be able to wage war | against you, neither will they be able | to resist, nor will they | be able to get in your way. 30 For if you find these, you will despise | them as deniers of truth. | They will speak with you, [cajoling] | you and enticing (you), not because they are [afraid] 87 of you, but because they are afraid of | those who dwell within you, | namely, the guardians of the divinity | and the teaching.

My son, 5 accept the education and the teaching. | Do not flee from the education and | the teaching, but when you are taught, | accept (it) with joy. And if | you are educated in 10 any matter, do what is good. | You will plait a crown of | education by your guiding principle. | Put on the holy teaching | like a robe. Make yourself noble-minded 15 through good conduct. | Obtain the austerity of | good discipline. Judge | yourself like a wise judge. | Do not go astray from my teaching, 20 and do not acquire ignorance, | lest you lead your people astray. | Do not flee from the divine | and the teaching which are within | you, for he who is teaching 25 you loves you very much. | For he shall bequeath to you a worthy austerity. | Cast out the animal nature | which is within you, | and 30 do not allow base thought to enter you. For … you | know the way which I teach.

If it is good to rule over the [few], | as you see it, 35 [how] much better is it that you 88 rule over everyone, since you are exalted | above every congregation and every people, | (are) prominent in every respect, | and (are) a divine reason, having 5 become master over every power | which kills the soul.

My son, does anyone | want to be a slave? | Why, then, do you trouble yourself wrongly? |

My son, do not 10 fear anyone except | God alone, the Exalted One. | Cast the deceitfulness of the Devil | from you. Accept the light | for your eyes, and cast 15 the darkness from you. Live | in Christ, and you will acquire | a treasure in heaven. Do not become | a sausage (made) of many things | which are useless, and do not 20 become a guide | in your blind ignorance. |

My son, listen to my | teaching which is good and useful, | and end the sleep which weighs heavily upon you. 25 Depart from the forgetfulness | which fills you with darkness, | since if you were unable | to do anything, I would not have said these things | to you. But Christ has come in order to give you 30 this gift. Why do you | pursue the darkness when the light | is at your disposal? Why | do you drink stale water though | sweet is available for you? 35 Wisdom summons [you], 89 yet you desire folly. | Not by your own desire do you do | these things, but it is the animal nature | within you that does them. 5

Wisdom summons you | in her goodness, saying, | “Come to me, all of you, | O foolish ones, that you may receive a | gift, the understanding which is 10 good and excellent. I am giving to you | a high-priestly garment | which is woven from every (kind of) wisdom.” What else | is evil death except | ignorance? What else is 15 evil darkness except familiarity | with forgetfulness! Cast your anxiety | upon God alone. Do not become | desirous of gold and silver | which are profitless, but 20 clothe yourself with wisdom like | a robe, put knowledge | on yourself like | a crown, and be seated upon a throne | of perception. For these are yours, 25 and you will receive them again on high | another time.

For a foolish man | usually puts on folly | like a robe, and | like a garment of sorrow 30 he puts on shame. And | he crowns himself with ignorance | and takes his seat | upon a throne of | [nescience]. For while he is [without reason], 90 he leads only himself astray, for | he is guided by ignorance. | And he goes the ways | of the desire of every passion. 5 He swims in the desires | of life and has sunk. | To be sure, he thinks that he finds profit | when he does all the things | which are without profit. The 10 wretched man who goes | through all these things will die because | he does not have the mind, | the helmsman. But he is like | a ship which the wind tosses 15 to and fro, and like | a loose horse which has no rider. | For this (man) | needed the rider which is reason. | For the wretched one went astray 20 because he did not want | advice. He was thrown to and | fro by these three misfortunes; | he acquired death as | a father, ignorance 25 as a mother, and evil counsels – | he acquired them | as friends and brothers. | Therefore, foolish one, you should mourn for yourself. |

From now on, then, my son, return 30 to your divine nature. | Cast from [you] these evil, | deceiving friends! | [Accept] Christ, [this true friend], 91 as a good teacher. Cast | from you death, which has | become a father to you. | For death did not exist, nor 5 will it exist at the end.

But | since you cast from yourself | God, the holy Father, | the true Life, the Spring | of Life, therefore you have 10 obtained death as a father | and have acquired ignorance | as a mother. They have robbed | you of the true knowledge. |

But return, my son, to 15 your first Father, God, | and Wisdom your mother, | from whom you came into being | from the very first in order that you might fight against | all of your enemies, the Powers 20 of the Adversary.

Listen, | my son, to my advice. | Do not be arrogant in opposition to | every good opinion, | but take for yourself the side of the divinity 25 of reason. Keep the holy | commandments of Jesus Christ, and | you will reign over every place | on earth and will be | honored by the angels 30 and the archangels. | Then you will acquire them as friends and | fellow servants, and you will acquire | places in [heaven | above].

Do not bring 92 grief or trouble to the divine [which is] | within you. But when you will care for | it, will request of it | that you remain pure, and will become 5 self-controlled in your soul | and body, you will become | a throne of wisdom and | one belonging to God’s household. He will | give you a great light through 10 it (wisdom).

But before everything (else), | know your birth. Know | yourself, that is, from what substance you are, | or from what | race, or from what species. 15 Understand that you have come into being | from three races: | from the earth, from the | formed, and from the created. | The body has come into being from 20 the earth with an earthly substance, | but the formed, for the sake of | the soul, has come into being from the thought | of the Divine. The created, however, is the mind, | which has come into being in conformity with the image 25 of God. The divine mind | has substance | from the Divine, but the soul | is that which he (God) has formed for their | own hearts. For I think 30 that it (the soul) exists as wife of that which | has come into being in conformity with the image, | but matter is the substance | of the body which has come into being from the earth. |

[If] you mix yourself, you will acquire the 93 three parts as you | fall from virtue into | inferiority. Live according to | the mind. Do not think about things belonging to 5 the flesh. Acquire strength, | for the mind is strong. | If you fall from | this other, you have become male-female. | And if you cast out of yourself the substance of the mind, 10 which is thought, | you have cut off | the male part and turned yourself to the female part | alone. You have become psychic | since you have received the substance of the 15 formed. If you cast out the smallest part of this | so that | you do not acquire again a | human part – but you have accepted for | yourself the animal thought and 20 likeness – you have become fleshly | since you have taken on animal nature. | For (if) it is difficult to find a psychical man, | how much more so to find | the Lord!

But I say that 25 God is the spiritual one. | Man has taken shape from | the substance of God. | The divine soul | shares partly in this One (God); furthermore, 30 it shares partly in the flesh. | The base soul | is wont to turn from side to side | […] which it imagines the truth. |

It is [good] for you, O man, 94 to turn yourself toward the human rather | than toward the animal nature – | I mean toward the fleshly (nature). You | will take on the likeness of the part toward which you will turn yourself. 5

I shall say something further | to you. Again, for what | will you (masc. sg.) be zealous? Did you (fem. sg.) wish | to become animal when you had come into | this kind of nature? 10 But rather, share in | a true nature of life. | To be sure, animality will guide you | into the race of the earth, | but the rational nature will 15 guide you in rational ways. | Turn toward the rational nature | and cast from | yourself the earth–begotten nature. |

O soul, persistent one, 20 be sober and shake off your | drunkenness, which is the work of | ignorance. If you persist | and live in the | body, you dwell in rusticity. 25 When you entered | into a bodily birth, you were | begotten. Come into being inside | the bridal chamber! Be illuminated | in mind!

My son, do not 30 swim in any water, | and do not allow yourself to be defiled | by strange kinds of knowledge. | Certainly you know [that] 95 the schemes of the Adversary | are not few and (that) | the tricks which he has | are varied? Especially has the noetic 5 man been robbed | of the intelligence | of the snake. For it is fitting for you | to be in agreement with the | intelligence of (these) two: with the 10 intelligence of the snake and with | the innocence of the dove – | lest he (the Adversary) come into you | in the guise of a flatterer, | as a true friend, saying, 15 “I advise | good things for you.” |

But you did not recognize the | deceitfulness of this one when | you received him as a true friend. 20 For he casts into your heart | evil thoughts | as good ones, and | hypocrisy in the guise of | true wisdom, 25 avidity in the guise | of conservative frugality, | love of glory | in the guise of that which is beautiful, | boastfulness and 30 pride in the guise | of great austerity, and | godlessness as | [great] godliness. 96 For he who says, “I have | many gods,” is godless. | And he casts spurious knowledge | into your 5 heart in the guise of mysterious words. | Who | will be able to comprehend his thoughts and | devices which are varied since he is | a Great Mind for those who wish 10 to accept him as king?

My | son, how will you be able | to comprehend the schemes of this one or his | soul-killing counsel? | For his devices and the 15 schemes of his wickedness are many. And | think about his entrances, that is, how | he will enter your | soul and in what garment | he will enter you.

Accept 20 Christ, who is able | to set you free, and who has | taken on the devices of that one | so that through these he | might destroy him by 25 deceit. For this is the king whom you have | who is forever invincible, | against whom | no one will be able to fight nor | say a word. This is 30 your king and your father, | for there is no one like him. | The divine teacher is with [you] 97 always. He is a helper, | and he meets you because of the good | which is in you.

Do not put maliciousness | in your judgment, 5 for every malicious man | harms his heart. | For only a foolish man is wont | to his destruction, | but a wise man knows 10 his way.

And a foolish man | does not guard against speaking (a) mystery. | A wise man, (however), | does not blurt out every word, | but he will be discriminating 15 toward those who hear. Do not mention | everything in the presence | of those whom you do not know. |

Have a great number of friends, | but not counselors. 20 First, examine your | counselor, for do not | honor anyone who flatters. | Their word, to be sure, is sweet as | honey, but their heart is full 25 of hellebore. For whenever | they think that they have become | a reliable friend, | then they will deceitfully turn | against you, and they will cast you down 30 into the mire.

Do not | trust anyone as a friend, | for this whole world | has come into being deceitfully, and | every [man] is troubled 35 [in vain]. All things [of] 98 the world are not profitable, | but they happen in vain. | There is no one, not even a brother, (who is trustworthy), | since each one is seeking 5 his own advantage.

My son, do not | have anyone as a friend. | But if you do acquire one, do not entrust yourself | to him. Entrust yourself to | God alone as father 10 and as friend. For everyone | proceeds deceitfully, | while the whole earth is full of suffering and | pain – things in which there is no profit. | If you wish to pass your 15 life in quiet, do not keep company | with anyone. And if you do keep | company with them, be as if | you do not. Be pleasing | to God, and you will 20 not need anyone.

Live | with Christ, and he will save | you. For he is the true light | and the sun of life. | For just as the sun which is visible 25 and makes light for the eyes of the flesh, | so Christ | illuminates every mind | and the heart. For (if) a wicked man | (who is) in the body (has) an evil death, 30 how much more so (does) | he who has | his mind blind. | For every blind man [goes along | in such a way] that he (?) is seen [just] 99 as one who does not have | his mind sane. He does not | delight in acquiring the light | of Christ, which is reason. 5

For everything which is visible | is a copy of that which | is hidden. For as a fire which | burns in a place without being confined | to it, so it is with 10 the sun which is in the sky, all of whose rays | extend to places | on the earth. Similarly, | Christ has a single being, | and 15 he gives light to every place. This | is also the way in which he speaks of our | mind, as if it were a lamp | which burns and lights up the place. | (Being) in a part of the soul, 20 it gives light to all the parts. |

Furthermore, I shall speak of what is | more exalted than this: the mind, with respect to | actual being, is in a place, | which means it is in the body; 25 but with respect to thought, the mind | is not in a place. For how can it | be in a place when | it contemplates every place? |

But we are able 30 to mention what is more exalted than this: | for do not think in your heart | that God exists | [in a] place. If | you localize the [Lord of] all 100 in a place, then it is fitting for you to | say that the place is more exalted than he who | dwells in it. For that which contains | is more exalted than that which is contained. 5 For there is no place which is called | incorporeal. | For it is not right for us to say that | God is corporeal. | For the consequence (would be) that we (must) attribute both 10 increase and decrease to the corporeal, | but also that he (God) who is subject to these | will not remain imperishable. |

Now, it is not difficult to know | the Creator of all creatures, 15 but it is impossible to comprehend | the likeness of this One. For | it is difficult not only for men to | comprehend God, but it is (also) difficult | for every divine being, (both) the angels 20 and the archangels. | It is necessary to know | God as he is. | You cannot | know God through 25 anyone except Christ | who has | the image of the Father, | for this image reveals the true likeness | in correspondence to that which is revealed. 30 A king is not usually known apart from | an image.

Consider these things about | God: he is in every place; | on the other hand, he is in [no] | place. [With respect to power], 101 to be sure, he is in every place; | but with respect to divinity, he is in no | place. So, then, it is | possible to know God a 5 little. With respect to his power, | he fills every place, but in | the exaltation of his divinity | nothing contains him. | Everything is in God, 10 but God is not in anything. |

Now what is it to know God? | God is all which is in the truth. | But it is as impossible | to look at Christ as 15 at the sun. God sees | everyone; no one looks at | him. But Christ without | being jealous receives and gives. He | is the Light of the Father, as he gives 20 light without being jealous. | In this manner he gives light to every place. |

And all is Christ, | he who has inherited all | from the Existent One. 25 For Christ is the idea | of incorruptibility, and 30 he is the Light which is shining undefiled. | For the sun (shines) on every impure place, | and yet it is not defiled. | So it is with Christ: even if | [he is in the] deficiency, yet [he] is without deficiency. 35 And even if [he has been begotten], 102 he is (still) unbegotten. So it is with | Christ: if, on the one hand, he is comprehensible, | on the other he is incomprehensible | with respect to his actual being. 5 Christ is all. | He who does not possess all is unable to | know Christ.

My son, | do not dare to say a word about | this One, and do not confine the God of all 10 to mental images. | For he (God) who condemns | may not be condemned by the one who | condemns. Indeed, it is good | to ask and to know who 15 God is. Reason and mind | are male names. Indeed, let him who wishes | to know about this One | quietly and | reverently ask. For there is no small danger 20 in speaking about these things, since you | know that you will be judged | on the basis of everything that you say. |

And understand by this that he who is in | darkness will not be able to see anything 25 unless he receives the light and recovers (his) sight | by means of it. Examine yourself (to see) | whether you wholly have | the light, so that if you | ask about these things, you may understand 30 how you will escape. | For many are seeking in | darkness, and they grope about, | wishing to understand since | there is no light for them.

My 103 son, do not allow your mind to stare | downward, but rather let | it look by means of the light | at things above. 5 For the light will always come from above. | Even if it (the mind) is upon the earth, | let it seek to pursue the | things above. Enlighten your | mind with the light of heaven 10 so that you may turn to | the light of heaven.

Do not tire | of knocking on the door of reason, | and do not cease | walking in the way of 15 Christ. Walk in it so that | you may receive rest from your | labors. If you walk in another | way, there will be no | profit in it. For also those who walk 20 in the broad way | will go down at their end | to the perdition of the mire. | For the Underworld is open wide for the soul, | and the place of perdition is broad. 25 Accept Christ, | the narrow way. For he is oppressed | and bears affliction for your | sin.

O soul, persistent one, | in what ignorance you exist! 30 For who | is your guide | into the darkness? How many likenesses | did Christ take on because of you? | Although he was God, he [was found] 104 among men as a man. | He descended to the Underworld. He released | the children of death. They were | in travail, as 5 the scripture of God has said. And | he sealed up the (very) heart | of it (the Underworld). And he broke its (the Underworld’s) strong bows | completely. And | when all the powers had seen 10 him, they fled so that he might | bring you, wretched one, | up from the Abyss, and might die for you | as a ransom for your sin. He saved | you from the strong hand of the Underworld. 15

But you yourself, difficult (though it be), give to him your | fundamental assent with (even so much as) a hint | that he may take you up with | joy! Now the fundamental choice, | which is humility of heart, is the gift of Christ. 20 A contrite heart is the acceptable sacrifice. | If you humble yourself, you will be greatly exalted; | and if you exalt yourself, | you will be exceedingly humbled.

My son, 25 guard yourself against wickedness, | and do not let the Spirit of Wickedness | cast you down into the Abyss. | For he is mad and bitter. | He is terrifying, and he casts 30 everyone down into a pit | of mire.

It is a great | and good thing not to love | fornication and not even to think | of the wretched matter 105 at all, for to think of it is death. | It is not good for any man | to fall into death. | For a soul which has been found in 5 death will be without reason. | For it is better not to live than | to acquire an animal’s life. | Protect yourself lest you are burned | by the fires of fornication. 10 For many who are submerged in fire are | its servants whom | you do not know as | your enemies.

O my son, strip off | the old garment of fornication, 15 and put on the | garment which is clean and shining, | that you may be beautiful in it. | But when you have this garment, | protect it well. Release yourself 20 from every bond so that you may | acquire freedom. | If you cast out of yourself | the desire whose | devices are many, you will 25 release yourself from the sins of lust. |

Listen, O soul, to my | advice. Do not become | a den of foxes and snakes, nor | a hole of serpents and 30 asps, nor a dwelling place | of lions, or a place of refuge | of basilisk-snakes. When these things | happen to you, O soul, what | will you do? For these are the powers 106 of the Adversary. | Everything which is dead will come | into you through them (the powers). | For their food is everything which is dead 5 and every unclean thing. For when these | are within you, what living thing | will come into you? | The living angels will detest you. | You were 10 a temple, (but) you have made yourself a tomb. Cease | being a tomb, and become (again) | a temple, so that uprightness | and divinity may remain in | you.

Light the light within you. 15 Do not extinguish it. Certainly no one | lights a lamp for wild beasts or | their young. | Raise your dead who have died, | for they lived and have died for 20 you. Give them life. | They shall live again.

For the Tree of | Life is Christ. He is | Wisdom. For he is Wisdom; | he is also the Word. He 25 is the Life, the Power, | and the Door. He is the Light, | the Angel, and | the Good Shepherd. Entrust yourself | to this one who became 30 all for your sake.

Knock | on yourself as upon | a door, and walk upon | yourself as on a straight road. | For if you walk on the road, 35 it is impossible for you to go astray. 107 And if you knock with this one (Wisdom), you | knock on hidden treasures. |

For since he (Christ) is Wisdom, | he makes the foolish man wise. 5 It (Wisdom) is a holy kingdom | and a shining robe. | For it (Wisdom) is much gold | which gives you great honor. | The Wisdom of God 10 became a type of fool for you | so that it might take you up, | O foolish one, and make you a wise man. | And the Life died | for you when he (Christ) was powerless, 15 so that through his death | he might give life to you who have died. |

Entrust yourself to | reason and remove yourself from | animalism. For 20 the animal which has no | reason is made manifest. | For many think that they have | reason, but if you | look at them attentively, 25 their speech is animalistic. |

Give yourself gladness from the true | vine of Christ. | Satisfy yourself with the true wine | in which there is no drunkenness 30 nor error. | For it (the true wine) marks | the end of drinking since there | is usually in it what gives joy | to the soul and 35 the mind through the Spirit of God. 108 But first, nurture your reasoning powers | before you drink | of it (the true wine).

Do not pierce yourself with | the sword of sin. Do not burn yourself, 5 O wretched one, with the fire | of lust. Do not surrender yourself | to barbarians like a prisoner, | nor to | savage beasts which want 10 to trample upon you. | For they are as lions | which roar very loudly. Be not | dead lest they | trample upon you. You shall be man! 15 It is possible for you through reasoning | to conquer them. |

But the man who does nothing is unworthy of | (being called) rational man. The rational man | is he who fears God. 20 He who fears | God does nothing insolent. | And he who guards himself | against doing anything insolent is one | who keeps his guiding principle. 25 Although he is a man who exists | on earth, he makes himself like | God.

But he who makes himself like | God is one who does | nothing unworthy of God, 30 according to the statement of Paul | who has become like | Christ.

For who shows reverence | for God while not wanting | to do things which are pleasing 35 to him? For piety | is that which is 109 from the heart, | and piety from | the heart (characterizes) every soul which is near to | God.

The soul which is 5 a member of God’s household is one which | is kept pure, | and the soul which has put on Christ | is one which is pure. | It is impossible for it to sin. 10 Now where Christ is, there | sin is idle.

Let Christ | alone enter your world, | and let him bring to naught | all powers which have come upon you. 15 Let him enter the temple which is | within you so that he may cast | out all the merchants. Let him | dwell in the temple which is | within you, and may you become 20 for him a priest and a Levite, | entering in purity. |

Blessed are you, O soul, if you | find this one in your temple. |

Blessed are you still more if you perform his 25 service.

But he who will defile | the temple of God, that one God | will destroy. For you lay yourself open, | O man, if you | cast this one out of you 30 temple. For whenever | the enemies do not see Christ | in you, then they will come into | you armed in order to crush | you.

O my son, I have given 35 you orders concerning these things many times 110 so that you would always guard your | soul. It is not you who | will cast him (Christ) out, but | he will cast you out. For 5 if you flee from him, you will | fall into great sin. | Again, if you flee from him, you will | become food for your enemies. | For all base persons flee from 10 their lord, and the (man) base in virtue | and wisdom flees from | Christ. For every man who is | separated (from him) falls into the claws | of the wild beasts.

Know who Christ is, 15 and acquire him as a friend, | for this is the friend who is faithful. | He is also God and | Teacher. This one, being God, became | man for your sake. It is this one who 20 broke the iron bars | of the Underworld and the bronze bolts. | It is this one who attacked | and cast down | every haughty tyrant. It is he 25 who loosened from himself the chains | of which he had taken hold. | He brought up the poor from the | Abyss and the mourners from | the Underworld. It is he who humbled 30 the haughty powers; | he who put to shame haughtiness | through humility; he who has cast | down the strong and | the boaster through weakness; 35 he who in his contempt scorned that which is 111 considered an honor | so that | humility for God’s sake might be highly exalted; | (and) he who has put on humanity. 5

And yet, the divine Word is God, | he who bears patiently with man always. | He wished to produce | humility in the exalted. He (Christ) who has | exalted man became like 10 God, not in order that he | might bring God down to | man, but that man might become | like God.

O this | great goodness of God! 15 O Christ, King who has revealed | to men the Great Divinity, | King of every virtue and | King of life, King of ages and | Great One of the heavens, hear my words 20 and forgive me!

Furthermore, | he manifested a great zeal | for Divinity.

Where is a man (who is) wise | or powerful in intelligence, | or a man whose devices are many 25 because he knows wisdom? | Let him speak wisdom; let him utter | great boasting! | For every man has become a fool and has spoken out of | his (own) knowledge. For he (Christ) confounded the 30 counsels of guileful people, and | he prevailed over those wise in their own | understanding.

Who will be able | to discover the counsel of the | Almighty, or to speak of the 35 Divinity, or to proclaim it correctly? 112 If we have not even been able to | understand the counsels of our companions, | who will be able to comprehend the Divinity | or the divinities of 5 the heavens? If | we scarcely find things on earth, | who will search for the things of | heaven? A Great Power | and Great Glory has made the world | known.

And the Life | of Heaven wishes to renew all, | that he may cast out that which is | weak and every black form, | that everyone may shine forth in 15 heavenly garments in order to make manifest | the command of the Father (who) is exceedingly brilliant, | and that he (Christ) may | crown those wishing to contend | well. Christ, being judge of the contest, 20 is he who crowned every one, | teaching every one | to contend. This one who contended | first received the crown, gained dominion, | and appeared, giving light 25 to everyone. And all were | made new through the Holy Spirit | and the Mind.

O Lord Almighty, | how much glory shall I give Thee? | No one has been able 30 to glorify God adequately. | It is Thou who hast given glory | to Thy Word in order to save | everyone, O Merciful God. (It is) he who | has come from Thy mouth and has risen from 35 Thy heart, the First-born, the Wisdom, | the Prototype, the First | Light.

For he is light from 113 the power of God, and | he is an emanation of the pure glory | of the Almighty. | He is the spotless mirror of the working 5 of God, and he is the image of his | goodness. For he is also the Light | of the Eternal Light. He is the eye | which looks at the invisible | Father, always serving 10 and forming | by the Father’s will. He | alone was begotten by the Father’s good pleasure. | For he is an incomprehensible Word, | and he is Wisdom 15 and Life. He gives life to and | nourishes all living things and powers. | Just as the | soul gives life to all the members, | he rules all with 20 power and gives life to them. | For he is the beginning and | the end of everyone, watching over | all and encompassing them. | He is troubled on behalf of everyone, and he rejoices 25 and also mourns. On the one hand, he mourns | for those who have gotten as their lot the place | of punishment; on the other, he is troubled | about every one whom he arduously brings | to instruction. 30 But he rejoices over everyone who | is in purity.

Then beware, | lest somehow you fall into the hands of the | robbers. Do not allow sleep | to your eyes nor 35 drowsiness to your eyelids that | you may be saved like a gazelle | from nets and like a 114 bird from a trap.

Fight the | great fight as long as the fight lasts, | while all the powers are | staring after you – not only the holy ones, 5 but also all the powers | of the Adversary. Woe | to you if you are vanquished in the midst | of every one who is watching you! | If you fight the fight and 10 are victorious over the powers which fight against you, | you will bring great joy to every | holy one, and yet | great grief to your enemies. Your | judge helps (you) completely 15 since he wants you to be victorious.

Listen, my | son, and do not be slow | with your ears. Raise yourself up when you have left your old man behind | like an eagle. Fear 20 God in all your acts, | and glorify him through | good work. You know that every man who is | not pleasing to God is the son of perdition. 25 He will go down to the Abyss | of the Underworld.

O this patience | of God, which bears with | every one, which desires that | every one who has become 30 subject to sin be saved!

But no one prevents | him (God) from doing what he wants. | For who is stronger than him that | he may prevent him? To be sure, | it is he who touches the earth, 35 causing it to tremble and also causing | the mountains to smoke. (It is) he who has | gathered together such a great sea 115 as in a leather bag and | has weighed all the water on his scales. | Only the hand of the Lord | has created all these things. 5 For this hand of the Father is Christ, | and it forms all. | Through it, all has come into being | since it became the mother of all. | For he is always 10 Son of the Father. |

Consider these things about God Almighty | who always exists: | this One was not always | King for fear that 15 he might be without a | divine Son. For all dwell | in God, (that is), the things which have come into being | through the Word, who is | the Son as the image of the Father. 20

For God is nearby; he | is not far off. All divine limits | are those which belong to God’s household. | Therefore, if the divine agrees with | you partially in anything, 25 know that all of the Divine | agrees with you. But this | divine is not pleased with anything | evil. For it is this which | teaches all men what is good. 30 This is what God has | given to the human race | so that for this reason every man | might be chosen | before all the angels 35 and the archangels. |

For God does not need | to put any man to the test. 116 He knows all things | before they happen, and | he knows the hidden things of the heart. | They are all revealed and 5 found wanting in his presence. Let | no one ever say that God | is ignorant. For it is not right | to place the Creator of | every creature in ignorance. 10 For even things which are in darkness | are before him like (things in) the light. |

So, there is no other one hidden except | God alone. But he is revealed | to everyone, and yet 15 he is very hidden. He is revealed | because God knows | all. And if they do not wish | to affirm it, they will be corrected by | their heart. Now he is hidden because 20 no one perceives the things of God. | For it is incomprehensible and | unfathomable to know | the counsel of God. Furthermore, | it is difficult to comprehend him, and it is difficult 25 to find Christ. For he is the one who dwells | in every place, and also he is | in no place. For no one | who wants to will be able to know | God as he actually is, 30 nor Christ, nor | the Spirit, nor the chorus of | angels, nor even the archangels, 117 as well as the thrones of the spirits, | and the exalted lordships, | and the Great Mind. If you do not | know [yourself], you will not be able 5 to know all of these.

Open | the door for yourself that you may know | the One who is. Knock on | yourself that the Word | may open for you. For he 10 is the Ruler of Faith and | the Sharp Sword, having become all | for everyone because he wishes | to have mercy on everyone.

My son, | prepare yourself to escape from the 15 world-rulers of darkness and of | this kind of air which is full of powers. | But if you have | Christ, you will conquer this entire world. | That which you will open 20 for yourself, you will open. | That which you will knock upon for yourself, you will | knock upon, benefiting yourself. |

Help yourself, my son, | (by) not proceeding with things in which 25 there is no profit.

My son, | first purify yourself toward the outward life | in order that you may be able | to purify the inward.

And | be not as the merchants 30 of the Word of God.

Put | all words to the test first | before you utter them. |

Do not wish to acquire honors which | are insecure, nor 118 the boastfulness which brings | you to ruin.

Accept | the wisdom of Christ (who is) patient | and mild, and guard 5 this, O my son, knowing | that God’s way is always | profitable. |


Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior (Ichthus), Wonder |


| 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.

[ 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.

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. 379


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