Apocryphal Writings and Teachings of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Hugh W. Nibley
Reprinted by permission from Temple and Cosmos, vol. 12 of The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 264—335.
Hugh Nibley reviews some of the issues related to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library, noting that, like the Book of Mormon, they were buried with the expectation of being received by a later generation. He points to a number of their teachings, including “cosmism,” which in the literal interpretation of scripture runs counter to the allegorical tendencies of later Christianity. He lectures on the importance of matter and space and how they relate to the larger picture of “worlds without number.” He explains that although creations follow patterns, they are characterized not by monotonous sameness but by refreshing individuality. Nibley also discusses the ordinances that were revealed to the early Christians to guide them back to the presence of the Father.
I shall probably bore you tonight, but the subject shouldn’t, because it’s a very good one. I am not going to be bored at all. I love to talk about this stuff! I will get all excited, so don’t pay any attention to me! Since World War II tremendous discoveries have been made. Certain ancient libraries have been discovered: the Dead Sea Scrolls; Chenoboskion (Nag Hammadi), the earliest Christian library discovered the same year, under much the same circumstances, but a thousand miles away from the Dead Sea Scrolls; and then the Papyri Bodmer, which includes the Letters of Paul, far older than anything we have ever known about before. Then there are the Manichaean and Mandaean discoveries, and earlier than them, the Chester Beatty Papyri; and also the Odes of Solomon. We can go back to the Oxyrhynchus and the Bryennios Papyrus (the Didache), and finally to the big libraries of the nineteenth century. These sensational finds have completely changed our picture of the early Christian and Jewish world.
Simply to describe these finds and where they are found, under what circumstances, how old they are, how we know they are that old, etc., would be very interesting and quite relevant, but we can’t do it, because that would take up a great deal of time.1 We can mention, however, that the documents are found in batches—not a scrap here and a scrap there, but whole libraries, complete. But why do we find them now?
These are not like other libraries that have been found, because these were buried for the purpose of being found in the later dispensation, the later generation. The people who sealed them up sealed them up to come forth in a later time, “when men would be more worthy to receive them,” as they put it. That is remarkable—they have been preserved in their purity. As the Book of Mormon tells us, the only way to preserve a record in its purity is to bury it. Because just as surely as you copy a document, you will make mistakes; and just as surely as the next person comes along and copies your mistakes, he will try to correct them; and just as surely as he tries to correct them, he will make new mistakes. The next person will come along and try to correct him, and before you know it, the document is a mass of corruption, whether deliberate or not. But no document can ever escape these basic distortions and corruptions, except if buried to come forth in its purity at a later time. And so now we find a library buried and sealed in jars. The Dead Sea Scrolls were first written on nice, newly prepared leather, then rolled up and wrapped carefully, and covered with linen; then the linen was covered with pitch, just as if one was laying a mummy away. Then they were put in specially made cylindrical jars, sealed with lead and pitch on top with caps that fit on tightly. Then they were arranged neatly in a cave and covered with nice, dry sand so there would be no corruption; everything was hermetically sealed. Then the cave was cemented up so you couldn’t see a thing; you’re not coming back next week to get them. That’s not merely a guess, because the documents themselves tell us why they were buried in this way and what the owners had in mind.
Whenever you find a new batch of records, the value or significance can only be gradually appreciated, because the picture they give is so shocking, so different from an ideas we had before about the early church. They call not only for a reevaluation of our ideas, but for rereading all the stuff we have already. But who is going to do that? It is embarrassing to have to reevaluate the whole of our literature, the entire field. That’s hardly the work for narrow specialists, and yet narrow specialists are the only people who ever read any of these documents at all. So it’s not an exaggeration—it’s quite probable, in fact, almost certain—to say that many great treasures are lying about us and around us, undiscovered and ignored.
I do not suppress the wild rumors that go around about these documents. Anytime you talk about such things, you get wild rumors, completely irresponsible and greatly exaggerated; but on these particular matters, for example, the Gnostic and Coptic Texts, I don’t think rumors should be suppressed; no matter how wild your story is, it can’t be more fantastic than the truth. It is better to be ignorant and interested than ignorant and not interested, and there’s no third alternative here. We’re ignorant in any case, so you might as well be ignorant and interested in these things.
Gardiner always said that the first rule for an Egyptologist is always to have an idea, always to make a suggestion. If it’s a wrong idea, it is better than no idea. A wrong translation is better than no translation.2 You will at least have something to shoot at, something to work on. A wrong theory is better than no theory, and there is no such thing as a right theory. Theories are always changing, and in science, as well. This is what men like Thomas Kuhn3 and Karl Popper4 tell us today. A theory is something to work on. So is a wrong rumor, a wrong idea. At least a rumor gets around when something has been found and that’s important; there emerges a big picture, which changes everything. You can’t exaggerate that.
A description of the contents of one or two of these new documents, or pictures of it, would miss the cumulative impact. When just one document, like the one in the first cave at Qumran, was found by the shepherd boy Mohammed Dhib, lots of people, like Professor Solomon Zeitlin, who edited for so many years the Jewish Quarterly Review, said that it was a fraud; these things were a plant, not real documents, all faked.5 (Mohammed’s uncle was sort of a majordomo in the house of President Barnes at the American University of Beirut. He spoke Aramaic—one of a few people left who spoke the language of Jesus. It was this nephew who discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, the shepherd boy who threw the rock into the cave. He was very much interested in the Book of Mormon, and especially in the Pearl of Great Price; he could see the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the way these things hang together.) Zeitlin started a lively discussion. Then another cave opened, and another, and another, and another—two hundred and thirty new caves discovered, many with documents in them! It had to be some forgery job to produce that! When the documents were first discovered, Father de Vaux went out, and then soldiers; the King sent Jordanian soldiers to see that there was no hanky-panky.
The Arabs around were mostly illiterate; they couldn’t have forged the stuff. Still they were bringing documents in from the caves, so the archaeologists went out to see if they couldn’t discover some of their own, and they did discover some of the most important caves: Nos. 4 through 13—all discovered by scholars and men who couldn’t be fooled. The Arabs didn’t tell them where they were or anything else. The archaeologists found them themselves; they shaved the wall of the cliff right off, and there underneath were the documents, perfectly preserved. What’s on them is the important thing.
We’d miss the cumulative impact of the hundreds and hundreds of caves if we just talked about a document here, a document there. Each would be very important, it would change your ideas. The hundred give a full picture; and not only is there a library at Qumran, but thousands of miles away another was being kept by Christians—the same sort of thing. The best we can do is to indicate some of the teachings and some of the information common to all, or nearly all, of the major documents, whether from Syria (east of the Tigris), or at the south end of Mesopotamia, in Qumran in Palestine, or in southern Egypt, sixty miles north of Thebes at Nag Hammadi; or whether the documents be Mandaean or Manichaean (the early Syriac). The Nag Hammadi is a great Christian library, in about thirteen codices—nice, beautifully bound books in jars in their original leather bindings that hadn’t been touched, from the fourth century, in perfect condition, just as if they had been written yesterday, buried by a little Christian church before the apostasy hit it, before Gnosticism hit it. They represent the earliest level, the earliest teachings of the church, a totally different picture from what anybody had imagined it would be like. And the extent of these things is remarkable.
So the next thing will be to indicate some of the teachings and some of the information that all these have in common, because these sources are new and unspoiled, and we have been willing to accept from them what we have never been willing to accept from previously discovered documents. Lots of other documents have been hanging around for a long time and have been trying to tell us the same things, but we wouldn’t listen to them because they were just a “late corruption,” “Gnostic nonsense,” “Medieval forgeries,” and the like. You can’t say that anymore, because there are so many recent discoveries, and they are so much older than any other documents known before—both Jewish and Christian—that you have to treat these with respect. Men are being forced to receive these new teachings, which before they had been able to combat successfully. And it is these new documentary findings which are behind the ecumenical reforms today—changes in the ordinances of both the Catholics and the Protestants today. Christians are discovering that if this is the way it was in the early church (there was no mass, or anything like that), they have to change things to conform to the new doctrines. There is lots of information.
A good example of the teachings propounded in the early Jewish and Christian documents, now being forced on us, is “cosmism.” The word was used by Carl Schmidt (the great document man of that time) at the turn of the century. A very important Christian document discovered in 1897 is called the Epistle of the Apostles6—an old, very long, and vitally important document of the early church. It opened our eyes to a lot of this. Schmidt edited it, and although he didn’t coin the term, he was the one who pointed out that this is what makes the difference between the early church and the later church. The early church accepts “cosmism”: Somehow the physical cosmos is involved in the plan of salvation. We say “naturally,” and Fred Hoyle says, “You can’t make three meaningful sentences about anything without some reference to the physical world.” But that’s not what was thought in Alexandria. In the third and fourth centuries, it was very fashionable at the university of Alexandria to allegorize and spiritualize everything. Everything had to be spiritual, and the Doctors converted the Jews (e.g., Philo) and the Christians. All eight early Christian Doctors of the church were students at the university of Alexandria, and they followed the party line. Talk of physical, tangible things was crass, vulgar, nonintellectual. When the Doctors of the third and fourth centuries adopted the attitudes and teachings of the university of Alexandria, they turned their backs on what they called the “old wives’ tales” of the early church.
It was Jerome who coined the term “Primitive Church,” to him a term of contempt. The early Christians were primitive. They didn’t have the education the Doctors had, and so the Doctors got rid of all the offensive ideas; and it wasn’t too hard, because they had all the learning of the day on their side. They denounced and renounced most passionately what was called “cosmism” as being the crassest literalism and materialism, the complete antithesis of everything that was intellectual and spiritual.
But they were stuck with three doctrines they didn’t like at all, and this unsettled them, because they couldn’t find a way to get around them. The first was creation. After all, the physical world is a terrible mistake. According to Neo-Platonism, God is essence and spirit and is pure, and all matter is bad. As Iamblichus says, “Any contact with matter corrupts even God Himself.”7 But who created this physical world? According to them, God did, and such a creation by God stumped them. They couldn’t understand how God could actually create a physical world, for he was pure spirit, pure essence; and all physical things are a vile corruption. Why would he make a physical universe?
But even worse was the incarnation, the second point. Origen said, “I don’t think the apostles could understand that; I don’t think even the angels could understand that. How could God be born into a little child and have a body?” Origen works on this dilemma: He had to be fed when he cried and had to have his change of diapers.8 Such is unthinkable. There can’t be such a thing. Imagine how the schoolmen at the university of Alexandria would go for that.
After you’ve accounted for the physical things with some kind of argument, the third and worst of all things is for the Lord to resurrect us all with these physical bodies after we have finally sloughed off the mortal coil and gotten rid of the vile material connection. After returning to pure essence, to the nothingness from which we came, we are then stuck with a physical body forever! They didn’t like that at all.
Yet these were the teachings of the early church, which couldn’t get away from such “cosmism.” Justin Martyr, the first apologist of the church, in the middle of the second century (300 years before Jerome tore his hair out over these things), said, “We Christians do not believe in creation out of nothing”9—emphatically not, as a number of recent studies have pointed out.10 Both Catholics and Protestants point out that not until the time of the Doctors of the church (the first Latin Doctor was Ambrose, and the first Greek Doctor Athanasius, both in the fourth century) does the church became wholly committed to the teachings of the schools. There was no early Christian doctrine of creation out of nothing at all. Yet it became the official teaching of the church after the fourth century. For the early Christians, matter—creation and how it was done—was important. The Clementine Recognitions is a key text. You can always go back to the Recognitions to get your bearings. It is a very useful guide, whether you use the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi, or the Mandaean texts; they all tie up in the Clementines, where Peter says, “There is absolutely no evil in matter, as such.”11 Eusebius himself stated in the Preparation of the Gospel that matter is not the cause of evil. “I cannot explain it,” says Origen, “but it is important nonetheless to understand that this world is not pure incorporeal idea.”12 “God is the Father of all our eternal bodies,” says an important Coptic work discovered just three or four years ago, “bringing about the resurrection of the flesh through a member of the Godhead. Do not be afraid of the physical universe.”13 “The living spirit clothes itself in a body of elements,” says the Berlin Papyrus, “through which it is able to carry out its works in the world.”14 The spirit has to have a body of element if it is going to work at all. Creation means organizing of elements;15 Justin Martyr also says the same thing.16 Matter is a difficult and recalcitrant medium for the spirit to work with. But it’s supposed to be. For all that, God is aware of it and makes good use of it. His activity and concern are everywhere evident in number and in measure, as evidence that he is organizing things.
The Cosmos does form a pattern. Cosmos means “organization, order.” Cosmetic, cosmology, means “putting things in order.” With cosmetics, you put your face in order—your eyes up where they belong, your nose approximately in between them, etc. Roughly, you push things around and get some sort of order in your face. Typical is the Pistis Sophia, a very important Coptic work. “There is an appointed place for everything in the Cosmos,” it says. There is a numbering of souls for each world: and a dispensation is not completed until the teleos (“completed”) number has been fulfilled for that dispensation. Every soul stays in its appointed place until it has fulfilled the task for the topos, for that place.17 “God plans times and seasons for all things,” says the newly discovered and very important work, the Apocryphon of John.18 The Dead Sea Scrolls are full of set times: a time for iniquity, the time allotted for Satan to tempt mankind, and a time of suffering and a time for punishment—all exactly prescribed from the beginning. The Archons wanted to check Adam’s power by limiting his time (on earth), but they couldn’t, “because all times were fixed by God’s plan in the premortal existence.” “For the kairos is fixed, and the limit set for every individual according to the way prescribed for the ‘Sons of Light,'” according to the Scrolls.19
It is well understood that all of this setting of times is constructed according to our nature, not according to God’s nature. Time is for our testing—like holding a stop watch on a particular process to see how things have been going. All this time and place business is characteristic of this particular world. “For [God], there of course is not time,” says the Apocryphon of John;20 Alma says the same thing (Alma 40:8).
“If you ever set yourself to build,” advises the newly discovered Manichaean Songbook, “let the measuring come first for you. If you build without a measuring device in your hand, your building will be crooked. Measurement is the very essence of construction.”21 “The whole creation,” says Clement of Alexandria, “is to be understood as a synthesis: the imposing of inner order on outer material.” It’s a progressive organizing of materials from the center out. You first organize a center, and that structure becomes firm enough to organize more onto it. “And so this synthesis,” continues Clement of Alexandria, “is building from the center out, and organizing that way”22—from an inner order to an outer material. This is the background material; more and more of it is absorbed into the system—all is organization and synthesis.
In the Apocalypse of Abraham, a very important Jewish discovery, Abraham hails God: “God! Thou who dost bring order into the confusion of the universe, ever preparing and renewing worlds for the righteous.”23 The Codex Brucianus (a new document) says the same thing: Creation is organization, and God is ever bringing order into the universe and is progressively ever preparing and renewing worlds for the righteous.24
But it is not enough to arrange matter in order and system. Such matter remains, for all its pretty patterns, inert. If you organize it, you’ve just got a geometrical structure or something similar, but it’s still inert. It’s only background stuff. The Pistis Sophia says that, without light, matter is inert and helpless.25 It must be improved by the action of light; according to these texts, you’ve got to put into it some animating principle. Whenever that active principle is withdrawn, the matter at once falls back into its original lifeless, inert condition. It’s like removing an electric current from a tube of one of the inert gases—the tube shines as long as the charge goes through it; remove the charge, and it becomes just nothing again. “Matter must be improved by the action of light,” and whenever the active principle is withdrawn, it at once falls back into its original lifeless, inert condition (like the inert gas argon). This vitalizing principle is referred to everywhere as “the spark,” which you must have if anything is to happen. “Without this spark,” says a very important new work called the Second Coptic Gnostic Work, “there is no awareness,”26 no consciousness. The electric eye that opens the door for you when you go into the supermarket is not conscious of you, that is, it’s not thinking at all. It’s purely automatic. An awareness, a consciousness, must be added to the electric eye, or it has no mind at all. That is the difference: things just automatically reacting, or, having a mind.
There are cabalistic teachings about how God’s intelligence unites with matter to form light or life. This is called a unity—except that it goes by a concept of cabalism (medieval Jewish mysticism),27 for which reason we say that God is in everything because he animates everything. The Coptic Gospel of Truth, discovered in 1956 (one of the most sensational discoveries of our time, a tremendously important document, which caused enormous excitement when it was discovered; but then it started telling too much, so it got swept under the rug, though much has come to support it), says much the same thing: “Unity engulfs matter within itself like a flame.”28 This contrasts with the absolute separation of matter and spirit in an all-or-nothing arrangement like that of the Gnostics and Neo-platonists whom the church Fathers followed—matter as either inert and wicked, or divine pure spirit, with no choice in between; it was corrupting to try to bring the two together. Later Christian theology has never been able to reconcile the two.
The early Christian apologist Aristides explains everything in terms of a “divine mixture,” which produces the new type of life in the manner of the original creation.29 Melito of Sardis, one of the earliest Fathers of the church, referring to the physical universe, says, “By the power of God, all the world is moved and animated as the body is moved by the spirit.”30 “When this vitalizing principle touches matter,” according to the Psalm of Thomas (a very important Syriac text, recently discovered), “consciousness is expanded. The worlds of darkness gathered and beheld his brightness. They breathed his fragrance and orbited about him and bowed anew and worshipped him.”31 They came into organization and started to orbit about him as he had determined. This is the “thought of life,” working with the elements, which brings about creation, according to the Berlin Papyrus: “At the time of the creation, the great thought came to the elements, united with them, spirit joining with matter.”32 Though now joined with spirit, matter is not spirit. It is still itself and is constantly undergoing a processing. Matter at every stage is in some form of processing. The way these writings talk about these matters is extremely interesting; it certainly beats science fiction.
Speaking of science fiction, I went to the bookstore and looked at some titles on the shelf. Do these ancient books sound like a lot of science fiction? They do. These were some of the titles I found on the shelves—Bow Down to Null, Ten Years to Doomsday, The End of Eternity, The Second Foundation (the names of main top sellers today), Billennium, The Burning World, The Passport to Eternity, Worlds for the Taking, Budrys’ lnferno, Beyond the Galactic Rim, Possible Worlds, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (“three stigmata”—a Christian reference), Transfinite Man, Stranger in a Strange Land, Zolan’s World, Earth Abides, Those Who Walk, Recalled to Life, and so forth. So we ask this question: Since the ideas are nothing but conscious or unconscious plagiarism of biblical and apocryphal ideas (all these themes go back to the old plan of salvation—scriptural and apocryphal ideas), why do these works have so much greater appeal than the originals? Because the originals, as they are given in the Bible and the apocrypha, have been systematically denatured. That was the policy at the university of Alexandria: to spiritualize everything—to cut out anything that was material, real, tangible, or literal. The schoolmen didn’t like the literalness; that was for children. We want the purely spiritual, symbolic, allegorical, but nothing real, nothing tangible. So they robbed the scriptures of the one thing that made them interesting. All the original force was destroyed. Thus science fiction—”folk-scripture”—has taken the place of real scripture. We retain the idea of the possibility that such a thing is actually conceivable. But the Christian world says, “No, this is not actually conceivable in the literal sense. It is to be understood spiritually, it can never happen.” So Christianity becomes an anemic, bloodless, meaningless sort of thing, because there’s no real doctrine, nothing you can get your teeth into. The doctrines are all pretty, aesthetic, and moral, but still dime-a-dozen. Anybody can have that sort of thing, as the philosophers do. A world is interesting only when it’s a real possibility. Maybe there is “Budrys’ World.” Maybe there is something beyond “The Rim of Eternity.” That is the appeal of science fiction. But of course it has become a horror in our day, because as far as the writers can figure out, there is nothing beyond.
I will return to that a little later. The processing of matter got us into science fiction, because it beats science fiction—how matter is processed from other worlds to make it serviceable for the needs of spirits. Of course, the Pearl of Great Price says that as one world comes into existence another passes away (cf. Moses 1:38); “Worlds without number have I created” (Moses 1:33).
The Gospel of Thomas enjoyed a big sale, and so out came the Gospel of Philip, its twin, available in rather ambitious translation at the request of the Protestant ministers. But it was quickly suppressed. It became hard to obtain, because the clergy didn’t like what it said. When we had a hard time trying to buy a few copies, Harper’s explained that that’s what had gone wrong.
As the Gospel of Philip puts it, “There is no permanence in matter, which is always undergoing change as worlds come into existence and pass away. Only progeny is eternal.”33 This world is just a background for our goings-on; we will have to have new worlds or worlds refurbished, cleared out by a melting down and “decontamination.” The writers like that word. The creators decontaminate so they can use the matter again in other worlds. But we ourselves don’t get reused. We go on: “Only progeny is eternal”; only sons are eternal. Other worlds change as they must from time to time in order to adapt themselves to new types of beings, if you will. But progeny—sonship—goes on forever and ever. All physis—all physical universe, all nature, all plasma, all things that are made of material, all ktisis (construction, all structural work), all physical work—is interdependent, says the newly discovered Gospel of Mary, a very interesting work. (Although it has very little to do with Mary, it was given that title.) “These will return to their own root.” But the root is not destroyed.34 Matter is indestructible, whatever its root.
A passage in the Apocalypse of Abraham reads like a modern description of the seething, ever-changing elements within a star. Abraham was shown the stars. An angel comes and takes him on a journey, during which Abraham goes into a trance (fig. 49). His spirit leaves his body, for when he comes back, it enters his body again and he has to be raised onto his feet. His spirit leaves his body, and the angel takes him to watch a star in the process of transformation. What an effect it has on him! He says he sees an indescribably mighty light, and within the light a vast fire in which there is a host of tremendous forms, which are always changing and exchanging with each other, constantly changing their shape as they move and consume each other and alter themselves.35 First, the hydrogen goes into a helium cycle, then to the next cycle, the main phase within a star. According to Abraham, it’s quite a thing to see the stars always altering themselves. He frankly does not know what is going on. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says. But of course he’s not supposed to have, so he asks the angel, “Why have you brought me here? I’ve become weak, I can’t see a thing, and I think I’m out of my mind.”36 The angel tells him to stick close to him and not be afraid. But later they are both wrapped in something like flame, and the noise is as the voice of many rushing waters.37 This was long before the time of Christ and the day of Pentecost—and we hear much of it in the Kirtland Temple.)38 Then even the angel takes precautions. Abraham wants to fall on his face, but he cannot, “because there was no earth or ground anywhere to fall on.”39 Abraham is awfully glad to get back into his body again and feel solid earth under his feet. What a terrifying experience—to see this transmutation of elements within the fire within the body of a star, constantly changing from one element to the next. Very impressive!
The documents talk a good deal about decontaminating matter and then putting it into orbit, so to speak, where it will circle around a center until someone uses it again. Then the creators draw off various elements as they need them, according to specific gravity and all the certain, specific temperatures necessary for their fusion, and so forth. They had it all worked out, way back then.
The most useful property of matter seems to be its plasticity—its ease of adaptability. It submits readily to handling. Eusebius himself points this out.40 So matter cannot itself be the cause of evil, because you can control it. Lehi said that man is here “to act . . . and not to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26). Matter is to be acted upon. You can’t blame it for making you sin, as many of the Christian world in the Middle Ages thought—blaming our physical bodies, our nature, for sinning. Matter is inert. We make the matter act; it doesn’t make us act. Eusebius, as I said, points that out in the Preparation of the Gospel. Matter is always being reformed, reorganized, reused, according to the law of plenitude, which the scriptures teach. Nothing is wasted. There’s no space without something in it. Nothing is wasted; nothing is duplicated. Matter is to be reused, so to speak—melted down and then purified, and definitely decontaminated. In this decontaminating process, the action of the light on matter is always important. It has a purifying effect, whether for the first time or for reuse. Indeed, strictly speaking, there is no reuse, no old matter, since the action of the spark or light upon the matter always makes it renewed matter. “Let matter rejoice in the light,” says the Pistis Sophia, “for the light will leave no matter unpurified.”41
“The treasure or physical substance used by each spark must be taken from other treasures,” says the Kephalaia, “and before it can be used it must first be purified.”42 You can’t create matter out of nothing; it must always be taken from some other treasure. But before it can be used, if it has been used before, it must be purified; that is, “the various elements must be separated, cleansed, and reclassified for reuse.”43 The Gospel of Thomas describes it as sort of a junkyard process—the idea of reuse. The word used is “trough”:44 the matter is put into a trough, a sort of a circular trough in orbit. From this melting-down trough comes all the nondescript, used matter. Then you sort it out: “But we separate it out when we reclassify it.”45 When the flame engulfs the substance to form a new unity, then obscurity becomes light, death becomes life, and old jars are broken to make new jars (cf. Jeremiah 18:1—6), says the Gospel of Truth.46 You don’t make new jars out of nothing; you break the old jars, then use that matter over again. That expression is used a lot. Peter uses a like figure in the Clementine Recognitions, where he tells Clement that “the universe is like an egg shell which exists only for its inside—only to be broken and thrown away, that greater things may come.”47
The Odes of Solomon has a wonderful passage on the theme of dissolution and then renewal (the Odes of Solomon, just discovered, were the earliest hymns of the church): “God took dead bones and covered them with bodies. They were inert and he gave them energy for life. Things were brought to corruption by God that everything might be dissolved and then renewed, and so founded again on a rock.”48 The author is talking about the resurrection in terms of the remaking of the worlds too.49 God furnished the spark, the living principle.
Every new creation, according to the Kephalaia, leaves behind the matter of its old ages (its old aeons). “From the beginning, the elements were purified by the holy, living bearers of light. And from the first context, they were mixed with the background material and have remained so ever since.” (Those are the actual words used in the Berlin Papyrus50—”background material”—as if its authors had been reading Fred Hoyle back in the fourth century!) The same text explains that when the poison or contamination of old matter has been removed, that matter becomes sterile. It’s pure, but it’s sterile; you can’t do anything with it. It has to be reenergized. In fact, the Greek word used is “receives”—energia; i.e., it must receive new energy to get going again.
In the Apocalypse of Abraham, Abraham addresses God, “Oh thou who abolishest the confusion [or mix-up] of the universe”—the confusion that follows the disintegration of the world of both evil and righteous alike; “for thou renewest the world of the righteous.”51 After this disintegration, after the falling away, God is the one who abolishes the confusion and reorganizes it. When the worlds reach a certain point, they disintegrate. Then they are organized again: God “reneweth the world of the righteous.” From this last statement, it would appear that the spirits are involved in the process, this is the doctrine of man’s body being actually a microcosm, following the pattern of Adam.
One thing Origen couldn’t get out of his system was the idea of real space. There is a lot of study about space today, because the Bible is taken up with the idea. A Lutheran, recently writing on this subject, examined these passages in the Bible. He argues that expressions like “to visit the earth” and “he went and preached to the spirits in prison,” etc., cannot be taken in any but the most literal sense.52 When Christ visits, he goes somewhere; when he went and preached, he went to another place to do the preaching (cf. 1 Peter 3:19). A Catholic writing of just a few months ago says, “We are never allowed to forget in the early church what we have forgotten today; that heaven is not only a state but a place.”53 There really is such a place. Catholics have always thought—Thomas Aquinas and others like him—that heaven is just a state of mind. But the early Christians believed that heaven is a place.
According to the Pistis Sophia, every creation seeks a more roomy place in chaos.54 Every creation is always pushing, wanting more space. This is the idea of the expanding universe, a basic principle. The Second Coptic Gnostic Work says, “Every kingdom requires a space and will need more, but by the law of plenitude, or perfect economy, no space should be wasted and none should be crowded.”55 The Odes of Solomon explains, “There is abundant room in thy paradise, and nothing is useless therein; there is no waste, but neither is there any crowding.”56 Nothing is useless. Everything performs a function. That is the law of perfect economy, the law of plenitude. Nothing is wasted, nothing is duplicated; nothing is just there to be there.
In the Ginza, Father Uthra (cf. Jesus) is told, “Go down to that place where there is no occupied place, where there is no world, and create for us another world after the fashion of the Sons of Salvation.”57 Go down to that place where there are no occupied topoi, no worlds, etc. The same writing explains that when the mass and number of the world are filled, a squeeze begins, and it is time for expansion. “All spaces come” from the Father, says the Gospel of Truth, but first, they have neither form nor names.58 When they are organized and become the scenes of activity, then you have a feeling of space awareness. The concept of space comes into the picture. The idea of pure space, of absolute space, of empty space, totally void without even chaotic matter in it, is abhorrent to these writers. They cannot conceive of such a thing. Even if there is one atom to a thousand cubic miles, it is still not empty space.
The ultimate form of damnation is “to be like the demons of the air.” Satan is the prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2—3), because he has no place for his foot—no sure footing, no base of operations anywhere. As the Pistis Sophia says, “To be deprived of the ordinances is like being suspended in air, having no place for his foot.”59
“All spaces were broken and confused” at the time of the transition from old worlds to new,60 the Gospel of Truth tells us. At the time of breaking up in this transition, the scene becomes rather terrifying. In quite a number of these writings, the apostles ask the Lord if they can see such things, and he replies, “Don’t ask. It’s not a healthy thing. It would upset you; it would disturb your thinking and everything else if you saw too much of these things.”61 You’re not equipped to go out and stare at such things. They would drive you mad (it would be like taking some LSD or other mind-altering drugs)—you’d see in other dimensions, which is not a healthy thing if you’re not ready for it. Live in the world in which you belong. In passing from old worlds to new, all space is broken and confused, for they have no fixity or stability during that time. That’s a time to avoid.
In 1 Enoch, the ultimate horror is “a place without firmament above or foundation below,” a place kept as a “prison for the stars . . . that transgressed.”62 Note the great emphasis on the foundation—the rock, the cornerstone, the place to start from. You must have some firm footing in space in order to begin your building. The concept of the temple in the hundreds of legends, stories, and ideas connects it with the idea of the rock. You must have something unshaken to start; otherwise there is no confidence in anything. All creation must have as its first step a base or foothold in the void to start with. Without that, there can be no structure, no organization, as is well known. It was always believed that in the beginning, the temple provided that foothold. It was the beginning place of the world, the rock where other things are founded. All of the texts are very fond of the word topos. All the texts, no matter what language they were written in, use the word topos—the beginning place or the rock—as a specific place, not just space, but a special space marked off and set apart for a special activity, a dedicated piece of space. The topos is a useful space (cf. John 11:48), just as a kairos is a useful period of time for carrying out some specific task.
Thus we are also told that the Lord, having accomplished his mission on earth, returned to the topos from which he came. John tells us that (John 14:2—3). It also occurs in the Gospel of Peter.63 God started out by creating a topos where his children could settle, there to recognize and to serve him as their Father, according to one of the manuscripts. In the Ginza, God tells Adam, “Adam, this is the place where you are going to live; your wife Eve will come and join you here, and here your progeny will thrive.”64
The idea of distances is very real. A very early Christian writing says, “From the place (topos) which the righteous soul will inherit, our sun, because of its great distance, will look like a tiny grain of flour, a mere speck.”65 It is a real place, but a very great distance away. These terms are common in the documents.
We have been talking in terms of multiplicities of worlds almost as a matter of course. Here are a few typical quotations on that theme. The Askew Manuscript says that after the plan of creation was accepted, it was communicated to all the other worlds, and they approved and rejoiced. For the worlds exist, says the Second Coptic Gnostic Work, so that intelligent spirits might come and inhabit them.66 “In the limited confines of the flesh, which condition all our thinking,” says the Lord in the First Apocalypse of James (a very important work, recently discovered), “we mortals can’t possibly count or reckon the heavens.”67 “The Lord revealed all to me,” James says, “He who has moved among worlds. Not only are they countless, but they have been going on forever and ever.”68 Father Adam’s holy angels inhabit many worlds, says the Sophia Christi69 (another important work I haven’t yet mentioned). “Thou, light of our world,” they say to the Lord, “come and be king in our land, our Holy City.”70 “No words can describe Thy power over all Thy worlds,” says the Ginza. “The Father taught me about the worlds of the Lord and the Glory that abides in them. The Adam of light treads upon the earth’s trembling foundation, which is laid in the midst of the worlds.”71 “To the Christians,” said the impeccable Justin Martyr, “is promised endless worlds, endless cosmoses.”72 Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi (a Jewish writer writing after the New Testament times) says: “Man is nothing in the midst of the worlds. This world is but a speck among the worlds, of which man is nothing.”73 “It was the degenerate Minaeans that first taught that this is the only world,” says the Talmud—which says this is the teaching of the devil, to believe that there are not any other worlds.74 A Dutch scholar, van der Meer, has recently written a monograph in which he points out that the Roman Catholic and the Protestant view of man is not the biblical one. And recently, a Catholic study in the New Scholastic points out that “the heavy, sluggish earth must be the center of everything” the only world, so there can be no other but this one. That is from Aristotle, not from the Bible, and was not taught by the early Christians. They believed in many, many worlds, of course. That was part of their teachings. Over against this our older Christian sources often remind us that in the great scheme of things, everything is plural—worlds, universes, plans, gods, places (topoi), saviors, etc.
All the worlds are organized on a common pattern, we are told, which isn’t surprising. For example, we are told in the important First Apocalypse of James, in the Second Coptic Gnostic Work, and in the Apocryphon of John, that in all the worlds you will find God alone rules, but with a presidency of three and through a council of twelve.75 This is the rule of all the worlds. The repetitions are infinite in number and scope. “In any world,” say 1 Jeu and 2 Jeu (incidentally, 2 Jeu appears to be one of the most important early Christian manuscripts ever discovered, older than anything we have in the New Testament), “as a Jeu becomes a Father in a new world, the Fathers then appoint new Jeus [Jehovahs] for new worlds, who in turn will become Fathers,” etc., ad infinitum.76” Each Jeu has created for its hosts ten thousand times ten thousand.” In the Sefer Yetzira (some think this is the oldest Jewish work in existence), “the earth and planets are but atoms in an infinity of like systems.” This is a very old, orthodox Jewish work, a great and mysterious work.77
Origen, the first and by far the greatest of all Christian theologians, had a lot of intellectual problems because he was born and brought up at the university of Alexandria, where he saw that what was taught wasn’t what the early Christians preached; he became a church theologian to try to reconcile these teachings. He does not give his personal opinion, but the teachings of the early church—and our Church—when he states that “there will be another world after this one.”78 We thus share a common nature with other worlds. Or, as Methodius puts it, “Christ came down from his vast rules and kingdoms in other worlds to save one percent of those on this evil earth, and to enroll the human race in the Heavenly Register.”79
What does this do to the oneness of God? It doesn’t do anything at all to it. In nothing is the idea of the real oneness of God more convincingly apparent than in the contemplation of the real cosmos. “There are many mansions,” says the Second Coptic Gnostic Work, “regions, spaces, heavens, degrees, and worlds, and they all have but one law. If you keep that law you too can become a creator of worlds.”80 “It is the perfect Father who produced the all, in Whom the all is, and in Whom the all will rule,” says the Gospel of Truth.81 “Out of the One come countless multitudes which yet remain in the One,” says the Sophia Christi.82 But the one God always remains in control. For only on condition of being exactly like him can souls take the next step. God will trust you to represent him, to act for him, only if he knows that you will do exactly what he would do in all circumstances. Then he can leave you alone. He trusts you. You’re like him—a perfect identity, as far as your function is concerned. You can just carry on his work. It’s like arriving at the same answer to a problem. He will trust you only if he is sure you will come out with the same answer as he did. “All other worlds look to the same God, also to the common Son,” says the Untitled Gnostic Text.83 The crucifixion is effective in other worlds, as it is in this one. “All the cosmoses follow the pattern of a single world (called the topos),” says the Sophia Christi.84 “Ever since the beginning this has been so. This pattern keeps the entire physis (physical universe) in a state of joy and rejoicing,”85 being dominated by one mind, by one great plan.
“The worlds exchange wisdom with each other because they are equally dependent upon the Most High,” say the Odes of Solomon. “They are the heralds of his thoughts. By his word, they communicate with each other. They knew him who made them because they were in converse” (they all have the same Maker, so they’re all playing the same tune), “for the mouth of the Most High spake to them. The worlds are made by his word and the thoughts of his heart, so they are all as one.”86 “There is no rivalry or competition among them,” says the Ginza, “but they are glorious in their firmaments, and there is agreement among them, fitting together like the lashes to the eye. All rejoice in each other, each being more glorious and bright than the other” (meaning that there is a hierarchy among them, forever and ever; they just get greater and greater).87 Indeed, according to the Kephalaia (another important writing I haven’t yet mentioned), all the gates of the firmament were opened to assist when this world was made. Everyone wanted to contribute. “When beings from different worlds meet, they exchange garments and treasures as a sign of mutual esteem and identification,” says the Ginza.88 “For the creation of endless worlds follows a single pattern—that laid down by God the creator. The planets say, ‘Come Lord of the gods, Lord of the entire cosmos.’ [They rejoice and say], ‘Come be our head, be the head of our whole world.'”89 The Lord lets his countenance shine in one world and then in another (as it tells us in D&C 88:51—61), and they wanted him to stay as long as possible, of course. “Christ sounded with a trump in the worlds far and near alike. He roused them all alike,” says the Manichaean Psalm-Book. “For he is the Savior of the worlds. The worlds will come before him in order and in shining oath.”90 “God is the Father of all the worlds,” says Clement. “He knows them. They keep their courses in covenant to him.”91 “He calls them by name and they answer him from eternity to eternity,” says the Ethiopic Enoch.92 “As the Father of greatness is in the glorious worlds, so his Son rules among those cosmoses as the first Chief Lord of all the powers.”93 Thus one recent study observed that the multiplicity of successive worlds tends towards unity. The cosmos is not simply a oneness and nothing else, but rather a multiplicity comprised in a oneness.
So there is a vast monotony. But is it just a repetition, more of the same thing, when you get into another world? “Only little minds are impressed by size and number,” said Sir Isaac Newton. What’s the point to endless repetitions of the same? That’s what makes science fiction so depressing. Characters arrive in another world in the usual boy-meets-girl sequence. They have an exotic background. Things are a little different, but, after all, it’s just the same old stuff. So the science fiction becomes very depressing. Most of its writers have become very negative, even terrifying, in that picture of hopelessness. You’re not going anywhere; it’s all just more of the same when you get out into another world—people rending and tearing each other, strange monsters, etc.
One of the nicest things about the early Christian cosmology is that it is not a repetition of sameness. The types are there, but always expressed in individuals who never express the type in exactly the same way. What could be more monotonous than the design of the six-pointed snowflake? No two snowflakes are the same, yet they must all conform. In these writings, those who have seen other worlds in visions (and it is a very common thing) say that you simply cannot imagine what they are like. They are not like this world at all. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul says he “knew a man . . . caught up to the third heaven.” And in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man.” We cannot begin to imagine what it is like. So don’t try to get a picture of heaven. Whatever it may be like, what we find beyond is not just more of the same. “Other worlds cannot be described in terms of this one,” says the Pistis Sophia.94 “Not only is there nothing common between other worlds and this world, they are as different from each other as any of them is from us.” “In the limited confines of the flesh [James again] which condition our thinking, we can’t possibly grasp the nature of other existences, or even begin to count the number of worlds.”95 We are necessarily prone to think in terms of our world, the Gospel of Philip explains; but when we are talking about the other worlds, this is completely misleading. We haven’t the remotest idea of what it is like there. We use the words we do because we know no others.96 When we say “light,” the Sophia Christi says, we think of our kind of light. But that’s wrong. There are all sorts of ranges in the spectrum of which we know nothing. Marriage, for example, would be entirely different there from what marriage is here, though we must designate earthly and heavenly marriage by the same name. Even though the spirits may be eternal and thus equal in age, says this writing, they differ in intelligence, appearance, and in other things. These differences are primary. They are as unbegotten as the spirits themselves.97 They are just different, and that’s that. “Where my Father is,” the Lord tells the apostles in the Epistle of the Apostles (an authentic early work—everyone as far as I know has accepted this as one of the very earliest records we have from the church and the writings of the apostles), “it is entirely different from this world. There you will see light which is nobler than your kind of light.”98 “In the millions of worlds that God has made for his sons,” says the Ginza, “every world is different from the other and wonderful in its own radiance.”99 Hence, one of the joys of existence is that the worlds constantly exchange with each other what they have, each possessing something different and peculiar to itself. “There is nothing superfluous anywhere” (which means that nothing is a mere duplication of something else), says the Odes of Solomon.100
In the Berlin Papyrus, we are told how every world breaks down into five spirits or bodies, just as there are five tastes and senses, etc.; and they are not alike anywhere. They are in different combinations. An interesting passage explains that “there are literally all kinds of strange beasts on other worlds [a teaching of Joseph Smith, incidentally]101 that we can’t even imagine,”102 because they adapt themselves to other conditions and other worlds. When we go back to other geological ages, we find very odd and strange creatures. They pass away; they change themselves to different environments. They adapt themselves, and so these are odd-looking creatures. “In some worlds, reproduction is carried out differently from here.”103 “There are all sorts of creatures,” the Zohar says (it and the Sefer Yetzira are the two oldest Jewish works), “for there are all sorts of environments—except one for man. He is the same everywhere. If you go to any other world he will be the same, and yet he’s the most individual of all.” He doesn’t have to change, adapt himself, like these other creatures; instead, he protects himself against these environments and changes them to suit himself. He is the same everywhere, and yet he is the most different.
The vast variety exists wherever you go. Tyrannosaurs and dinosaurs and other odd creatures adapt themselves, but man doesn’t have to. He’s the immortal, the only one that goes on and on. “Everything else changes, but only progeny is eternal,” the Gospel of Philip says.104 “Among ten thousand times ten thousand worlds,” says the Ginza, “you will find no two alike.” Before this world, there had already been a thousand thousand mysteries and a myriad myriad of planets, each with its own mysteries or ordinances.105 Athanasius says, “‘The multiplicity of worlds forms a perfect unity as the strings of the lyre do. Each plays a different note [that’s why their difference is justified], and together they make marvelous harmony.”106 They don’t all play the same note—there’s no duplication. Each has a contribution to make to the magnificent, organic whole. This is a common idea among the ancients. Plotinus taught that each star existed for the sake of the whole to which it contributed its individuality. Each had its particular part to play, and, thus, by being unique within itself, could make a contribution of maximum value,107 which it couldn’t make if it were just like every other star. Don’t be like anybody else. Be different. Then you can make a contribution. Otherwise, you just echo something; you’re just a reflection.
This is the principle of subordination, a very important point. Among lights, none are identical; there is a hierarchy (there is a greater and a greater and a greater). There is a hierarchy among the many worlds, says the Pistis Sophia.108 Many of these documents are concerned with the elaborate theoretical breakdown of this hierarchy, a favorite theme of the Gnostics: dividing it up into how it broke down, what power was above what, which angel was superior to which—like our friends the Seventh-Day Adventists, who argue as to who has five stars in his crown and who will have six. The hierarchy among the many worlds is part of a tradition, a good illustration of the individual variations on a general theme.
One of the many points of difference between the Gnostics and their rivals was the different way they would put in order and arrange the cosmic hierarchy. All of them, however, share the idea of three main degrees of glory. The Pistis Sophia says, “You can visit the order below you, but not the levels or orders above you.”109 This is the rule in all worlds: you can go to the lower ones, but not to the ones above you. The degrees are described in many of these writings. In his early Epistle to the Trallians, Ignatius (the second earliest Christian writer we have who is accepted by everyone as authentic) says, “I could write you about the mysteries of the heavens, but I am afraid to, for it would do you harm. . . . But I am able to understand the orders of the heavens., the degrees of the angels, the variations among them, the differences of dominions, of thrones, of powers—of the Holy Ghost, and of the kingdom of the Lord, and the highest of all—the rule of God over everything else.”110 “There’s an infinite hierarchy in the worlds,” says the Sefer Yetzira.111 “Christ rules in the second place, his rule exactly duplicating the Father’s, but over a more limited number of cosmoses.” Methodius explains, “If other stars are greater than our world, then it is necessary that they contain life greater than ours, and greater peace, and greater justice, and greater virtue than ours.”112 Of course we think of Abraham: If there is one, there shall be a greater one, and “I am more intelligent than they all” (Abraham 3:16—19). The hierarchy goes on and on until there’s no place to end it, except when it reaches the Father himself.
These writers were aware of the fact that these doctrines carried over, but they couldn’t understand them anymore, so the church Fathers got rid of them in the fourth century.
The church Fathers called them “the teachings of the elders” and considered them great mysteries, because they didn’t know what to do with them. Methodius says that the spirits are equal in age, but different in power, intelligence, and appearance. They have been so throughout all time. Why should one be greater than another? This is one of the things the fathers liked to talk about. Origen was greatly intrigued and exercised by the diversity, and especially by the inequality among God’s creatures. “Such an inequality,” he says, “could not have been arbitrary, or else the Creator would be unjust. He couldn’t create a thing small with another great over it—would that be just?” So he concludes that the levels on which we all find ourselves in this world must somehow have been merited in a former life.113 However, the later schoolmen, following Aquinas, said that “there is indeed a hierarchy and a diversity simply because God wants it to be that way, and for no other reason.”114 They gave the idea up.
Aquinas had his ideas of the multiplicity of worlds, and the great differences among them, and the hierarchy of worlds. What next? The idea that they are all moving forward. It is not a static system; every world is progressing. “Until Christ opened the way,” says the Gospel of Philip, “it was impossible to go from one level to another [death and resurrection]. He is the great opener of the way because he gave us the plan by which we can progress. He is the way.115 That’s why we call him “The way, the road, or the gate.” The false progress of this world he compared to the ass turning a wheel, going around and around, turning the wheel and getting nowhere at all.116 But being the “way,” the Lord himself also advances. The Gospel of Truth says, “Thus the Word of the Father advances in the cosmos, being the fruit of his heart and the expression of his will.” Through the ordinances, one makes progress in knowledge, and the ordinances go on and on.117 “There are mysteries so much greater than these,” says the Pistis Sophia, “that they make these look like a grain of flour, just as the sun looks like a grain of flour from distant worlds.”118 That’s in an old Jewish source too. “Everyone here on this earth descends, as it were, to the dregs [earth or dirt] and shares a common substance with all living things.” We are the same matter as the oyster, the cockroach, etc. They will be resurrected too, for they have a spiritual side—another very common teaching. “We share a common substance with all living things, and from here on out we begin to work our way up, step by step, to a knowledge of all things, ever seeking for instruction and carrying out the required ordinances that will lead us to more,” says the Epistle of the Apostles. This is the idea of progress.
“Thus we move,” says 1 Jeu, “from truth to truth.” The farther advanced one is, the faster one moves.119 The gap broadens as you move in a progression. The more advanced you are, the faster you go, and the more advanced you get in relation to each other—a principle Latter-day Saints also teach. “To them that have shall be given.” With exaltation comes an increase and acceleration of exaltation. Thus “we are passed on from hand to hand, from degree to degree!” Our example is Adam, who, having been established in Christ and God, next established his son Seth in the second order, which was to follow him on up, says the Pistis Sophia.120
“He who has fulfilled all the ordinances and has done good work cannot be held back,” says the Ginza. “We are taught the principles of salvation, so that we cannot be held back in this world. Those who receive certain teachings and carry out their instructions in this world cannot be held back in this world or the next.” “Those who shut the doors against me will be held back in the abode of darkness. Those that open the doors to me will advance in the place of light.” The great blessings pronounced on Adam, according to the same source, say, “Thou shalt have progress onward.” Let us talk a little about ordinances. Very nearly all of the early Christian documents (and there are over 200 of them) have to do with what the Lord taught the apostles after the resurrection. What was said in the forty days? The New Testament does not tell us.121 What did he tell the apostles? According to these documents, he gave them the ordinances of the temple—but only to the apostles, to be held in secret. They would last only two generations, he explains, then they would be taken away. So they were not to pass beyond the general authorities, but were given to them as a special blessing to make that dispensation complete. They would be restored later on (in our dispensation). The ordinances are described in great detail. You could almost go through the temple using just these documents, for so much is there. Now it is public property; anyone can use it. However, the authority remains in one church.
That’s why we’re finding the libraries today—they were all buried on purpose. They were not to be read by just anyone; the records weren’t to be sent abroad; the world wasn’t to receive them. They were regarded as very secret. Because this was a very important part of the plan, it was easy for them to get lost. And after they were lost, people could pretend they had them. Hence the false Gnosticism, and all sorts of other phonies and quacks. There were at least eighty-eight different sects in the church, each claiming it had the secret teachings the Lord gave the apostles after the resurrection.
That’s what gnosis is: the knowledge of what the Lord taught the apostles after the resurrection.122 When he came back, he found the apostles not believing; they all took to their heels and ran away. When Mary and Joanna told them that they had actually seen their living Lord, they said, “You’re crazy” (“nonsense” is the actual word used in Luke 24:11); “You’re very foolish and unbalanced; you’re out of your mind.” Then they saw the Lord, but Thomas wasn’t there. “I won’t believe it,” Thomas said, though all the apostles testified they had seen the Lord. Thomas (and he was a good apostle—the firmest of the lot) persisted, “No, I can’t believe it until I’ve seen for myself” (cf. John 20:25). They didn’t understand or invent the resurrection story, as the theory goes. It wasn’t their idea at all. They actually fought the precept. When somebody told them the Lord was resurrected, they didn’t say, “Hooray! It was just as we thought. We knew it would happen!” It was the last thing in the world they would have invented.
This is when the Lord gave them the special teachings. It says, “Then they were able to go out and preach the gospel.” Before then they weren’t ready to. But we don’t have anything that the Lord taught them. At the end of Luke, we learn that he came to them behind locked doors, and when he did, he rebuked them for their unbelief and their hardness of heart. He gave them the opening words of the plea, “O fools, and slow of heart” (Luke 24:25, 27, 44—45). That is about all we have in the New Testament of what he taught them during the forty days. Now what about these forty days? Isn’t this the most important teaching of them all? We have one-half hour of reading time of what the Lord taught the apostles during the three years that he was with them, and that was not enough to convert them. They just did not understand what the resurrection was all about during that time. Yet that’s all we have. Can we understand so much better than the apostles? We say, oh yes, in light of the resurrection. But, oh no! The Lord had to stay with them; he had to teach them time after time.
We have sixteen accounts of his returns and teachings. We also have the marvelous account in 3 Nephi of the Lord coming and teaching the apostles after the resurrection. But what did he teach them? That is the point. He must have given them something extremely important to change their whole view of everything, because then they were ready to go into the world and preach the gospel.
The forty-day documents have four things in common. First of all, they were secret—for the apostles only, not for general knowledge. They were not handed down; that is why they could be faked later on. Of course, people knew the sort of thing the Lord taught, and consequently the sort of thing to fake—so everybody pretended to have the knowledge, but nobody did.
Second, they paint a very gloomy picture. In all of these accounts, the apostles ask the Lord, “What’s going to happen to us now? What’s going to happen to the church? Why are we going to all this trouble in this dispensation if it’s all going to be taken away?” The Lord tells them, This is for two generations now, then it’s going to be taken away; a lesser church will be left in its place; it will be kept on the fire, so to speak; the true church will return later when I return with my Father. This of course was a doctrine the Christians didn’t like. It was very bad news for the later church to have the Lord telling the apostles that all these things were going to be taken away. Yet he had said the same thing in several places in the New Testament.123 The documents make this very clear; thus these teachings were unpopular.
Third, the Lord taught them strange doctrines, and the Christian world didn’t like that sort of thing at all. The churches liked spiritual things, the things that came out of the university of Alexandria.
Fourth (the main thing), the Lord gave the apostles the ordinances. We can’t speak about these ordinances specifically, only in general.
There is the doctrine of the “Sent One”—somebody who is sent. Recently, a great deal of attention is being paid to this doctrine of the “Sent One.” Geo Widengren, a Swede, has written a book on the subject of “The One Who Is Sent”124—the one who is sent from one world to another with a message and instructions. In fact, the word apostle means “sent one.” Instead of personally intervening by direct methods into the affairs of men, God sends his agents to act for him. The purpose of the Sent Ones, all agree, is to help the struggling lower creatures out, by instructing them in what they have to do to survive here and hereafter, and where necessary to show them how to go about following instructions. Their great work is, thus, to uplift and to give help to those beneath them. The greatest of the Sent Ones is, of course, the Savior himself. “The Lord brings earth up to Heaven,” as 1 Jeu says.125
During the forty days the Lord said in the Epistle of the Apostles (its proper title is What the Lord Told the Apostles in Secret Conversations after the Resurrection), “I have been sent with all authority from my Father to lead all those in darkness into the light.”126 He promises the apostles, “I will send Gabriel to visit you in your prison and to represent me.”127 This follows the principle of the spark: one Sent One represents another. The apostles are sent out in the same way: “I have the word of the Father, and the Father is in me . . . and I send you out as guides to others.”128 These exact same things happen in John 14:16 and in 3 Nephi 11:12: you represent me as I represent the Father..
The Sent Ones emerge most frequently and most dramatically in the apocryphal literature in the story of Adam. “After the physical Adam was created,” says the new apocryphal Book of John, “a messenger was sent to the head of all creations, Adam, and at his call Adam awoke and said, ‘How the precious, beautiful life has been planted in this place. But it is hard on me down here.’ Then the Sent One reminded Adam and said, ‘But your beautiful throne awaits you, Adam. Why then do you, the image of God, sit here complaining? All this is being done for your good. I have been sent to teach you, Adam, and to free you from this world. Listen and return to the light.'” Then the messenger gives him instructions.129 The Ginza (which means “a treasure, mystery, what is hidden and precious”) tells us, “when Adam stood praying for light and knowledge, a helper came to him, gave him a garment, and told him, ‘Those men who gave you the garment will assist you throughout your life until you are ready to leave earth.'”130 The commonest account, also found in the Ginza, is that “When Adam was created, he was found in a deep sleep, from which he was awakened by a helper, who forthwith began to instruct him. And at his death also, the Sent Ones came to take Adam back to the great first Paternal House and to the places in which he formerly dwelt.”131
It describes how he went back: “First—he was taken to a place of detention, a shomai (a treasure place]—where he meets the one who holds the nails of glory and the signs in the hands, and the key of the kushta of both arms.”132 That is the code for the signs that Adam had to receive—his instructions. The one who holds the nails of glory, and the signs in the hands, and the key to the initiation rites is the master of the Treasure House (fig. 50). “Hither a messenger from the house of light was sent to fetch Adam farther when he was ready.”133 The reason it is so often the Adam of Light, the premortal Adam, who is sent to help suffering humanity (he’s our great helper), is that he, as our first Father, was himself thus helped in the beginning. He couldn’t have helped himself out of things had not a Savior been provided.
“When Adam awoke,” we are told in the Ginza, “he faced the light and called for help. The Lord Himself approached him, in glory, and took him by the palm of the right hand and calmed him and instructed him. Then he comforted Eve. In this way, I have brought joy and aid to his descendants.”134 “The Sent Ones came to bring hope to Adam, who was in the image of God.”135
This “Adam incident” is repeated in the case of Abraham, who took a trip to heaven, to the stars, and when his spirit came back to his body, he awoke as if from sleep or a daze. After he had first spoken with the Lord, he fell to earth, for his spirit had left his body, which “became as a stone.” “Then the angel who had been sent to me took me by the right hand and said, ‘Abraham, awake and arise! I have been sent to you to strengthen you and bless you in the name of the Creator.'” Then the angel instructed him.136
In the vast majority of accounts, it is three Sent Ones who instruct Adam. There is no conflict, since the Sent Ones are many. They come whenever they are needed. Indeed, according to sources, Adam himself was one of the three great Sent Ones who created the world in the beginning. The Berlin Papyrus says, “The first man was the third of the Sent Ones—the Father, the Son, and Adam”—when they came down to create the world. According to the Apocryphon of Adam, Adam was awakened from a deep sleep by three men from on high, who said to him, “Adam arise and hear the teachings of the Savior.”137 “It was through a team of three,” according to the Sophia Christi, “that God created everything, employing them as his agents.”138 As the Abbatôn puts it, “The Father instructed the Son, who in turn instructed that first angel to go down and form a new world.” But they didn’t merely delegate the work, they worked together. “The three,” says our source, “stretched forth their hands, took clay, and made man. And many expeditions were sent to the earth before things were ready to receive Adam.”139 “Whenever that life-giving spark is sent to initiate a first step of creation in the material world, it is always followed by three Sent Ones who come down to give proper instructions. So in any world, those that receive the spark (the word sent from God) will also find three helpers sent to instruct them.”140
At the creation, says the Ginza, God gave orders that the angels should come to keep Adam company. At the beginning, it was the Lord himself and two companions who instructed Adam and Eve in everything.141 “When Adam was placed on earth, three messengers were sent to oversee him, with myself at their head,” says the Lord to the apostles during the forty days.142 “1 taught Adam and Eve the hymns, and the order of prayer, and the ordinances which would help one to return to the presence of the Father.”143 “I’m sending three, God says to them, giving them instructions. He said to the pure Sent One, his Son, ‘Go call Adam and Eve and all their posterity and teach them concerning everything about the Kingdom of Light and the Worlds of Light. Be friendly with Adam and keep him company, you and the two angels which will be with you. Warn them against Satan; also, teach them chastity.'”144
Because the three were always there to supervise, the evil spirits protested. They didn’t like the interruption. A very interesting passage from the Ginza says, “The evil spirits, who claim this world for their own, resent the Sent Ones’ instructions. These three men are in the world,” they say, “but they are not really men. They are light and glory, and they have come down to little ‘Enosh’ [physical man—Adam] who is helpless and alone in the world. They are intruding on our world. The children of men have taken over the earth. They are really strangers who speak the language of the three men. They have accepted the teachings of the three men and rejected us in our own world. They refuse to acknowledge our kingdom and our glory.” The devils don’t like the three men interrupting their program and spoiling things. “Thus, the evil ones plotted to overthrow Adam, who was hoping for Mandadihaya (Teacher of Life), the messenger from the Father, to come”145 and give him aid and support. We read also of another team of three men: When Adam called upon God, the Great Spirit sent them from the land of brightness, those who would belong to the twelve. So at one time three of the apostles were sent down. These were the three, the pillars of the Church as described later in the New Testament in Galatians 2:9—Peter, James, and John (cf. Matthew 17:1). Whenever that expression is used—”The three who belonged to the twelve”—it means Peter, James, and John, who were hidden then within the veil of light (Goodenough shows who they were). The three Sent Ones in another account are Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. But if you go to the same account in the earlier Greek version, they are the Father, Michael and the angels, when Jesus says, “I will come, and my Father, and Michael.” So it’s Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael (and all the angels); this is the highest committee (cf. fig. 47, p. 239).
Throughout Christian literature, going to heaven is consistently described as a return to an old home, which raises the notion of premortal existence. In the First Apocalypse of James, the Lord says to the apostles, “They will ask you where you are going. Your answer: The place from which I came. I return to that place.”146 “The elect are those individuals,” says the Gospel of Thomas, “who shall find the Kingdom, because they came from it in the first place.”147 The Gospel of Truth dwells at length on the theme of the return:
Whoever has this knowledge is a being from on high. When he is called, he hears, answers, and turns toward him who calls and reascends to him. He knows when he is called; he knows whence he has come, and where he is going. He has turned many from error and proceeded unto places which belong to them, but from which they have strayed. Joy to the man who has rediscovered himself, awakened, and has helped others to wake up.148
Just so, according to the Manichaean Psalm-Book (a marvelous book), Adam is received by a happy family when he dies and goes back to the other side. We are told that on the other side they have been awaiting him in high expectation. They have been awaiting the return of the first man and news from him. They eagerly await the news of his victory, the success of his mission. And they want to hear it from his own mouth when he returns.149 On his part, Adam, being away from home, asked the news-bearer who comes down to visit him after his death (he’s called “the news-bearer of the skies”), “How is my Father, the Father of Light? How is my Mother, the Mother of the Living, whom I left, and her brethren also? Rejoice with me, ye Holy Ones, for I have returned to my original state again, my archaic, my original rule, and place.”150 And again, in leaving the earth, he says, “My hour is come; they summon me. I will go from your midst and return to my true home.”151 Accordingly, the Sent One comes to take the soul of Adam back to the great first house of the Father, to the place where he formerly lived.152 And so his children are admonished, “Arise, oh soul, return to your original home, to the place from which you were planted. Put on your garment of glory, sit down upon your throne, and dwell in the dwellings among thy brethren.”153 Again, the Ginza says, “Now, arise and return to the place of your true family.”154 “I came from the house of my father,” says the Psalm of Thomas, “from a far land. I shall mount up until I return to the land of the pure.”155 In a moving scene at the end of The Pearl (an early Christian hymn), the hero finally returns to his home, his mission accomplished. He is met at the “gate of greeting and honor” (as it’s called) by his entire family. He bows and worships his Father, and the Christ and the Father, the Eldest Son who is with him, “who has sent him the garments and given him the orders of what he should do to get back. All the princes of the house were gathered at the gate. All embraced me with tears of joy.” And as the organ played, they all walked back into the house together.156
Commenting on this, Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great Doctors of the fourth century, observes: Christians are all confused about the premortal existence (he refers to the state of things in his church in Palestine). Some say we lived in families there, and in tribes, just as we do here, and that we lost our wings when we came down here, and that we’ll get them back again upon returning.157 The Christians mixed up tenable and untenable, and all sorts of other teachings. The church was in great confusion on this doctrine in the fourth century. Regardless of what the true explanation might have been, it is clear by such remarks from the early Fathers that the early church did preach the premortal existence, the idea of coming from heaven and returning. Pope Paul VI is preaching that, referring to life as a short pilgrimage away from home, etc. These ideas are coming back. Talk of returning to heaven as a return home does away with creation from nothing (creatio ex nihilo). If we just came into existence here—if this is the only place we’ve ever lived—why are we homesic Why aren’t we properly adjusted here? Why does everybody suffer a nostalgia and want to return to their heavenly home? Thus the Pope talks about being strangers here; this is a wayfaring church; we are lost here, wandering, looking for a return to our heavenly home, etc.158 He himself has been reading these early writings. The decline of the idea of creation ex nihilo of course necessitates our existence in some sort of a spiritual state before our coming here.
Back to the theme of the Sent Ones, which is behind these ideas: the Sent Ones came down and taught Adam certain ordinances by which he was supposed to return to the presence of the Father. I have hundreds of pages on this point—the great council in heaven, the plan of salvation with everything being planned and worked out, the discussion in heaven of the new plan. That discussion did not go over easily. Not only were there the interruptions of Satan, there were a lot of objections because it was a little too hard, too risky a thing; it introduced too much suffering, etc.
Adam was active in the council of the creation, and was one of the three who participated in directing the whole operation. When the plan was made known, Adam fell down at the feet of the Father and worshipped him, saying, “My Lord and my God, thou hast caused the thing to be done which was not before.” God then appointed a crown of glory and a throne for Adam, and a diadem of kingdoms and the entire hosts of Heaven to honor Adam, crying, “Hail, Thou form and image of God!”
This is from the Kephalaia, and from the Berlin Papyrus, and from the Gospel of Bartholomew. “As he left Heaven to come down and undergo his earthly trials, Adam received affectionate farewell embraces from all his faithful children. He put on his physical body and went forth to oppose the primal enemy. Before the creation of this world, the third Sent One (as Adam is called) came into the free space and began to organize this world.” Before he ever came down to be tested, he was one of the three who organized the world. “This third Sent One was Christ’s great co-worker in the Plan of Salvation, but in all things he has precedence.”159 “This was Adam,” says the Lord in the Gospel of Bartholomew, “for the sake of whose posterity I descended from Heaven.”160
Adam, finding himself alone in the dreary world, knew that he could not save himself. So he called mightily upon God for a helper. It is because Adam received power to call upon the holy and perfect name that he was able to establish the plan of life in the new world, says the Second Coptic Gnostic Work.161
This source gives the secret words of prayer (they differ from text to text): I-oy-el I-oy-el Io-i-a, which is interpreted as “God is with us forever and ever, and through the power of revelation.”162 This prayer of Adam when he calls upon the Lord has different interpretations in different works, but it’s always recorded in a special code, and it’s mentioned many times. One of the first things the Lord told Adam and Eve was that they should always call upon God, in whatever they did, in the name of the Son. In the same way, Abraham, in the Apocalypse of Abraham, when he makes the first offering, called upon God, saying, “El, El, El! El Ya-O-El!,” meaning, “God receive my prayer! Let my offering be acceptable!”163 The angel came and taught him the proper order of prayer, which was made according to the command “that I should sacrifice and seek thee.” “Show me, teach me, give light and knowledge to thy servant according as thou hast promised.” So Abraham called upon God as Adam did, and as a result an angel visited him and gave him knowledge. Then we’re told what he received.164
When Adam, being greatly downcast, appeals for aid against Satan (who is more than a match for him), God tells the angel Muriel, “Go down to the man Adam and instruct him in my doctrine.” The Apocryphon of John says, “A messenger went down and awakened Adam and showed him how to keep himself pure against the day of another visitation.”165 In some versions, Adam is awakened from his sleep by three men whom he does not recognize. As he is talking to them, the Lord himself appears and asks Adam, “Why are you so sorrowful?” He is sorrowful because he is doomed, he says. The Lord promises him that “if he hearkens to the angels, they will teach him and his posterity the Gospel.”
It was by establishing ordinances, says the Gospel of Philip, that Christ completed what Adam began. Adam and others prayed to God and asked him to give them the rules to attain the promises. So he gave them ordinances, decrees, commandments, and instructions, establishing places of preparation and transition, etc.166 Adam received the teachings, the ordinances, and the seals of all the Powers above and below, the Kephalaia says. The Berlin Papyrus says that at their new birth, Adam and Eve received the seals and the tokens. As Adam stood praying and supplicating, God sent someone who came and gave him a greeting of peace (shalom), embraced him, and preached the gospel to him.167 The helper came and awakened the Lord of Mysteries, who is Adam. For Adam went through all the ordinances, including baptism, washings, and anointings, says the Mandaean Prayerbook. According to the Ginza, the Lord and two companions taught Adam and Eve all the ordinances and blessed them. “The Great Light planted us here and gave us helpers who taught us the prayer of Adam in the world.” Three angels were sent to teach Adam and Eve the law of chastity, to instruct them to be true and faithful when misfortune came upon them, and to dedicate all of their property to the needy and the poor—the rule which is binding upon all the elect. They were to call upon God without ceasing, in the name of the Son, and not to trust in the things of this world.168
One text says that these ordinances which Adam received in his dispensation have always been the same. They were taught to Adam and his posterity by three angels. His descendants were required to call upon God even as he had, and thereafter to do everything as he had done. Their treasure must be their good works, not gold and silver. They must teach the law of chastity to their children. The true baptism is the baptism of Adam, which was preached by John the Baptist. The three who were sent to Adam were called “the three who belong to the twelve, who were hidden within the veil of light.” And in the Apocalypse of Abraham, Abraham is awakened by the Sent Ones, and their instructions to him and the ordinances exactly parallel those of Adam. Abraham says, “I arose and looked upon him that had taken me by the right hand, and he set me on my feet. . . . The hair of his head was like snow.”169 It was the Savior himself.
Adam, you recall, had lost memory of his former existence. “I have caused a sleep to come over Adam,” says the Abbatôn (a significant early writing of the apostles), “and a forgetting.”170 Adam’s sleep was the putting of a veil between him and his former knowledge. It enveloped him like a garment, and, while his memory was shut off by it, his epinoia (intelligence) retained its force. He remained smart, but he forgot everything. In fact, during the episode of the creation, Eve was made (not from a literal rib, according to this source) while Adam was in sort of a drugged stupor, his mind separated by a veil from what was really going on.171 He is aroused, then, and taught ordinances. He is the double for Michael, for Adam is Michael. Adam is Michael throughout these writings; it’s a common theme.
For some reason, the ordinances are vital. They are not mere forms or symbols, they are analogues. Standing with the apostles in the prayer circle, the Lord tells them, “I will teach you all the ordinances necessary that you may be purged by degrees and progress in the next life.”172 In many of these forty-day stories (and there are several), after the Lord is about to leave the apostles, he says, “I have taught you all these things. Now we will stand in a circle, and you will repeat after me this prayer, and we will go through all the ordinances again.173 This is repeated in 2 Jeu, which, as I say, Carl Schmidt regarded as the most important of all the early Christian writings. But standing with the apostles in the prayer circle, the Lord tells them, “I will teach you all of the ordinances necessary/ that you might be purged by degrees and progress in the next life. These things,” he further explains, “make it possible for you to achieve other places (topoi), but they must be performed in this life. Unless one performs them here, he cannot become a ‘Son of Light.'”174 All the texts, whether Syriac, Hebrew, Coptic, or Greek, always like the title “Sons of Light,” meaning those who have received the ordinances of the temple. That’s what the code name “Sons of Light” means, and it’s used a great deal. The Lord explains in 2 Jeu what that name means: “By very definition, the ‘Sons of Light’ are those that are perfect in the ordinances.”175 It is interesting that this same definition applies to the mysterious title Nazorean, which means the same thing. “Until Christ came,” the Pistis Sophia explains, “no soul had gone through the ordinances in their completeness. It was he who opened the gates and the way of life.”176 Those who received these ordinances are in the dispensations of the “‘Sons of Light” in whatever age they lived, and they receive whatever they desire. They are those upon the right hand of the Father, for it is by their faithfulness in these things that they show they are worthy to return and inherit the kingdom. Without the ordinances, therefore, there is no foothold or foundation to anything in this life. If you want to go to the Father, says 1 Jeu, you must pass through the veil.177
These five things you have asked me about (the Lord tells the apostles after his resurrection, in the Kephalaia) appear very small and unimportant to the world, but they are really a very great and holy thing. I will teach you the mysteries now. These tokens (semeia) go back to the ordinances of the first man, Adam himself. He brought them with him when he came out of the garden of Eden, and having completed his struggle upon the earth, he mounted up by these very same signs and was received again into the Aeons of Light. The person who receives these becomes a Son. He both gives and receives the signs and the tokens of the God of truth, while demonstrating the same to the Church—all in hopes that some day these things may become a reality. So the apostles realized that these things are but forms and types, yet you can’t do without them. You cannot do without analogues. For us they may only be symbols, but they must be done here, the Lord says. They may be but symbols here, but they are indispensable steps to the attainment of real power. “In fact,” says the Pistis Sophia, “without the mysteries one loses one’s power. Without the ordinances, one has no way of controlling matter, for such control begins with the control of one’s self. The ordinances provide the very means and the discipline by which light operates on material things. You don’t understand this now,” it continues, “but your level, or taxis, in the next world will depend on the ordinances you receive in this world. Whoever receives the highest here will understand the whys and the wherefores of the great plan.” “You can’t understand it now, but you will. Your faith is being tested here. It is through the ordinances that one makes this progress in knowledge, so that those who receive all available ordinances and teachings here shall pass by all the intermediate topoi and shall not have to give the answers and signs, nor stand certain tests hereafter.”178
John the Baptist, who performed the ordinances with which he was entrusted, foretold in a special language that Christ would bring the ordinances of the higher priesthood after him, because John the Baptist had only the ordinances of the Aaronic, or lesser priesthood, the Pistis Sophia tells us.179 And in the Epistle of the Apostles: Indeed, it was the Lord who, during the forty days, finally revealed all the ordinances in full. To repeat, “Everyone goes to the place indicated by the ordinances he has received. Even a sinless person,” the Lord tells them, “cannot save others without these ordinances.”180 Let us not think this trivial because these things should be given to all who ask for them. If they are not worthy, the risk is theirs. For everyone should be given the highest ordinance he is capable of receiving at any time. No one is to be refused, for the risk is theirs, the ordinances are so important to have.
“The all important thing is that the ordinances must be received in this world,” says the Pistis Sophia, for we may never get another chance.181 “It is here that one must look upon the Living One; for if he does not, he will seek him in vain after death,” says the Gospel of Thomas.182 He reveals the gate to those who are willing to enter. Each of us will receive his reward. For us, God has provided a Savior and helper. You, James, will be the enlightener and redeemer of those who are mine. You will become a Savior to them, he tells James, and they will be thine also. Whoever receives these ordinances, signs, and tokens will be added upon and have true increase forever and ever, says the Kephalaia. By means of these good signs and tokens, such shall enter into the light and shall become perfect men, and give honor and praise to the God of truth.
The ordinances are indeed but “types and images,” says the Gospel of Philip.183 One must not think that they are completion or fulfillment. For example, you cannot send up a rocket into space without types and images. Rockets are just as physical as anything, yet they are just drawings on a board, abstractions, marks on a graph, etc. The ordinances are indeed but “types and images,” says the Gospel of Philip, “but if you do not receive them here, you will lose them. They are the steps of salvation. The Lord required each of the apostles to go through them all. Above all, if you do not receive them in this life, you will never receive them at all. Here is where all of the work [and it says, specifically, the baptism] must be done. In short, you must be perfect in this life, for if you have not mastered the places in this world, you will not be able to master them in the next world, but must settle for the middle kingdom” (as he calls it).184
The instruction is given to Adam and Eve in the beginning: Go down into the world, Adam, and grow up in the body, in that garment which has been assigned to you. Go down and grow up in the ordinances, that the ordinances may be magnified by you, that your progeny may thereby be firmly established. The Man that taught the elect righteous and the Nazoreans, who were to exist upon the earth in the premortal existence, said, “When you beget generations, and when you teach them their knowledge, explain to them, show them, and tell them about the rites which you have performed.” The wholesome things were transplanted from the world above.
The early church placed tremendous emphasis on doing certain rites and ordinances which the later Christian world lost entirely. The greatest weakness in the Christian world today (and both Catholic and Protestant churches confess it) is a matter of rites and ordinances, because the Catholics realize that the mass isn’t ancient at all. When monks at the Solesmes Monastery started working on the problems again at the end of the nineteenth century, they hit upon eighth- and ninth-century manuscripts which they thought were the old Roman mass, but they discovered that the old Roman mass isn’t Roman at all—it’s the old Gallican mass, invented in the court of Charlemagne. They had been following late versions from pagan sources. The mass introduced into the church in the ninth century had virtually nothing to do with the early Christian church at all. Those early ordinances had been lost, taken away, as it was predicted they should be.185
Several of the manuscripts end by telling us about the prayer circle. In most of these sources, the Lord gives to the apostles, as they stand in a prayer circle, a complete summary of all the rites, with an explanation of their meaning. In the Pistis Sophia, for example, at the end of the teaching and the performing of the ordinances, the Lord ordered the apostles and their wives to form a circle. (The apostles’ wives are in on all this.) He stands at an altar on one side, and then all recapitulate the ordinances after him. He opens with prayer, raises his hands, and gives it in code-“YAO, AOI, OIA“—which is explained in other writings as meaning, “Hear me Father, hear me Father.”186 In 1 Jeu, the Lord calls upon the Father in different words, also cryptic (these words are always in a special language), “IE, IE, IE.”187 We are told that in every world there is a twelve that officiates under the direction of a three (a presidency). They always form the circle, without a lower or higher, says 1 Jeu, for there is no head of the table in the circle188—no idea of rank or precedence, or beginning or ending, as a circle indicates. And all are instructed, and they are instructed in all things. It was in such a circle, we are told in this interesting writing, that God in the premortal existence said, standing and looking around the circle, “These I will make my rulers at the creation of the world”—and Abraham was one of them. Of course that’s just like our book of Abraham.189
Before forming the circle, the Lord has them sing a hymn, and, when it is finished, the apostles and their wives all form a circle standing around the Lord, who tells them that he will lead them through the ordinances of eternal progression. Clothed in their holy garments, they form a circle, foot to foot, arm resting upon arm, and Jesus says that he will take the part of Adam and lead them all. They are to say “‘Amen” to each of the phrases of the prayer; then he gives the prayer.190
In another recently found text, the Qasr el-Wazz Text, Jesus gives this same prayer. I got hold of this text within a week after it was discovered in Egypt just last year (1966), as the waters of the Nile were just flooding, about a mile and a half north of the Aswan Dam on the Egyptian-Sudanese border, almost in the Sudan. It would have been lost within a few hours in the back-up waters of the Aswan Dam if it hadn’t been found in time. The photographs of it came from Chicago. The discoverer, G. A. Hughes, was probably the only person working in that particular area. I asked him if there were anything on the forty days. “Yes,” he said, “‘take these.” So I immediately had duplicates made. This is one of the forty-day texts in which the Lord leads the apostles out in the prayer. It says, “We made a circle around him and he said, ‘I am in your midst in the manner of little children.’ And when they finished the hymn, they all said, ‘Amen.'” This tradition is recalled a number of times in the earliest Christian literature.191 For example—as mentioned in many of the early writings—the Lord is said to have held it with the apostles in the upper chamber of the Last Supper. The Acts of John says,
Before he was taken by lawless men, he gathered us all together and said, “Before I am delivered up unto them, let us sing a hymn to the Father.” Then he commanded us to make, as it were, a ring, holding each other’s hand, with Himself standing in the middle. He said, “Respond ‘Amen’ to me.” Then he began to sing a hymn, “Glory to Thee Father,” and we would say “Amen” to that. And the other phrases to which the apostles pronounced “Amen”: “We praise Thee our Father; we give thanks to Thee. I would be saved and I would save. I would be loosed and I would loosen.” “Amen” they said to that. “I would be born and I would bear others.” [Another text says, “I would be washed and I would wash others”].192 “I have no temples, I would have temples.” Then the Lord commands, “Thou seest thyself in Me, who is speaking; and when thou hast seen what I do, keep silent about the mysteries. You must see Me as I suffer, what I suffer, who I am, and then ye shall know that I go hence.” Then he gave them certain signs, and he took their hands and said, “Know my suffering and thou shalt have the power not to suffer. I will be crucified so that you won’t have to be. You will merely be in token,” he says. “That which thou knowest I Myself will teach thee.”193
The prayer circle is mentioned not only in the Acts of Peter, but also by Irenaeus, Augustine, and Commodian, in 1 Jeu and 2 Jeu, the Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Second Coptic Gnostic Work, the Pistis Sophia, in the Council of Ephesus, and in other places. Augustine, in reporting the episode of the prayer circle, says the whole thing was always kept most secret by the early Christians.194 Epiphanius, the Bishop of Sardinia, at the Second Council of Nicea in A.D. 787, reported on it and included it in the list of blessings; then the churches decided to do away with it because they could not understand it anymore. So they got rid of this very important ordinance.195
The earliest (Melkite) Syriac text we have (discovered in 1899, but not brought out until recently), called the Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, mentions that the bishop in the church, one day each year, would form a prayer circle with the deacons, and this is the way they would do it: he would first address those in the circle and say, “If anyone has any ill feeling towards anyone in the circle, let him be reconciled, or if any feels himself unworthy, let him withdraw. For God is witness of these ordinances, and his Son and the Holy angels.”196
In a new text, though, in which the apostles celebrate this ordinance after the Lord had left them, Mary tells them a story. She says she wants to take the place of Jesus at the altar. There is some discussion whether she should be allowed to do it; they had rather an argument. “Well, I will lead you out anyway, because I will tell you something,” she says. She begins by calling upon God, raising her hands three times and speaking in an unknown language, a code. “El O . . . ,” etc. Having finished the prayer, Mary then asks President Peter (he is called “president”) to support her right hand while Andrew supports her on the other side, and then she tells them how it was at the birth of Christ. She was in the temple,
and the veil was rent before the birth of Christ, and she saw an angel [mal’ak] in the temple at the veil. He took her by the right hand, and after she had been washed and anointed and wiped off and clothed in a garment by one who hailed me as a “blessed vessel,” took me by the right hand and took me through the veil. And there was bread on the altar in the temple, and he took some and he ate of it and then gave me some, and we drank wine together, and I saw the bread and wine had not diminished.197
According to this, she was married in the temple. At this point, the Lord himself appeared and forbade Mary to tell them any more: “You’ve told them all that you can tell them now.” It was all actually very secret. Some of the apostles rebuked Mary for having told them too much anyway.
The Apocalypse of Abraham tells us that “Abraham, on Mt. Horeb, had his people stand around in a ring to learn the ordinances and to sacrifice unto the Lord.”198 In 2 Jeu, the Lord says to the apostles, “I will teach you all of the ordinances necessary that you may be purged by degrees and progress in the next life.”199 He warns them first that “these ordinances are very secret.”200 He leads them through all the topoi, and explains that “all these things must be done in this life, since to be a ‘Son of Light’ one must be perfect in the ordinances.” The prayer is the same prayer that Adam pronounced. “The Great Light planted us here and taught us about the prayers which Adam prayed in this world.” “Teach the saints these things, give them the grips of the right hand; lead them to the Light. Teach the prayers, the hymns, the order of prayer so that they can behold the Father hereafter.”201 And the Lord reports that when Adam called upon him for help in his distress, “I approached him in glory, I took him by the palm of the right hand, I calmed him, and instructed him. In this manner I visited all his sons. Abel rejoiced in my glory, and Seth called aloud upon the name of his helper, just as Adam had, and after I visited Adam, he comforted Eve.” “Abraham went with the Lord, and fasted for forty days, and God took him to Mt. Horeb; and there was an altar, but no offering. The animals being miraculously provided, Abraham was commanded to make offerings [the old Law of Sacrifice was being taught him] and share the meat in a sacramental meal with his followers, after the manner of the Only Begotten who was to come. They were taught to stand in a ring and were instructed in the proper manner of sacrifice,” says the Apocalypse of Abraham.202
You see what these manuscripts deal with, the sort of things they talk about, the sort of doors these are now opening. It is surprising. Just since I first began to write these notes down, I’ve collected ten times as much, hundreds of pages. It is very difficult to present it all. But as you can see, we have the same rites and ordinances that the Lord taught the apostles. Catholics have been told that their masses were in the order of the old gospel (compare Justin Martyr), but these newly discovered papyri do not support those claims. The Pope today recognizes that what Catholics do today is nothing like what the apostles did. The other churches will have to consider introducing these things gradually, if they want to be like early Christianity. There are groups who want to restore twelve apostles and claim various charismatic gifts—speaking in tongues, and also certain ordinances. The Catholics have changed such ordinances as Extreme Unction; it is now Anointing of the Sick. They realize now that this was the practice of the early church; that’s the track they should have been on all the time. Of course, it’s a strange time to lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen for over a thousand years! These things suddenly occur to them now, and primarily because of these documents. Of course the churches don’t give these documents as much credit as they might, but they do admit to what is behind the reforms. They are discovering now what the old order is—what Christians used to do—and it’s quite different.
This applies to the Jews too. Just the day before yesterday, I was visited by a Jew from Ohio State University, who is extremely interested in the gospel. What he asked me had to do with the temple. The Jews, of course, have gotten the old temple place back, and some are thinking about building a temple. “But what did they used to do in the temple?” I asked him. “Do you think all they used to do was slaughter beasts in the outer court of the temple and call that their holy ordinances?” He answered, “No, but that’s all we know about. We do know they did a lot of other things that had to do with the creation and salvation.” “All right, you’ll have to wait until you get the ordinances, and you’ll have to have the authority along with them.” A rabbi isn’t a priest.
Questions and Answers
Question: Where did the Masons get the ceremonies they have today? Did they come from these documents?
Answer: Their ceremonies didn’t come from these documents. Nobody had the texts until recently. They do give us an interesting check. The Masonic rites have a lot in common with ours. Of course in part they do have the same source, if you trace them way back. But what a different picture you see. The Masons don’t give any religious meaning to them. They think of them as symbolic, as abstract. They don’t see any particular realities behind them. The rites have nothing to do with salvation, but consist only of broken fragments. This is obvious if you’ve seen the Masonic rites and ordinances; they don’t hang together. They have been picked up from various times and places, and you can trace them back. Actually, they go back to very early times. These are the ordinances of the Knights Templar and the Hospitalers—two early secret orders imported into Europe at the time of the Crusades. But these were actually based on Solomon’s temple and on work for the dead. Read St. Bernard (he wrote both the prologue and the constitution for the Hospitalers, which we have still), who shows that they go back to the time of the Maccabees. At the time of the Maccabees, many of the Jews went off and worshiped false gods; and when they lost the battle, many of the dead were found with pagan amulets around their necks, showing that they had apostatized from the God of Israel. Still they had died as heroes for the cause, and they wondered what they might do to get them saved.
They decided to do their work in the temple by proxy. A vast fund of money was provided to have sacrifices and sin offerings made in the temple in their behalf so that these could be saved in the resurrection.203 This is the tradition carried on by the Knights Templars and Hospitalers—actual work for the dead. But all this was covered up and lost later on.
Lots of people have fragments of these things. The Egyptians had many of them. You can reconstruct from the funerary literature most of the temple ordinances. But you will also find the question, What does this mean? (E.g., in the Book of the Dead 17 and 125.) Some say it means this. Others say it means that. Others say we don’t know what it means. It is just a tradition.
So the remnants of these rites and ordinances are found throughout the whole world. But nowhere out there do you find an organic whole in which they fit together and make sense and belong to the plan of salvation. We’re the only people that have anything like that.
Question: You mentioned the resurrection of the animal world—will they be associated with the world of man?
Answer: Aquinas used to talk about that. This idea (and it’s a rather good idea) is discussed in a famous book on the subject by Lovejoy, called The Great Chain of Being.204 He had the theory that variety is a good thing in itself. It’s more interesting to have a world made of angels and devils than a world made just of angels alone. It’s better actually to have bad people along with the good people, because the more variety the better. Variety is a good thing in itself, because in just repetition, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all; there is nothing more. But when you have infinite variety, all these creatures get into the picture. The more the merrier. You can’t get too many. I rather like the idea.
Question: How authentic are the titles of these documents you have been quoting from? Are these just titles given them today, or are they their ancient titles? Were these documents actually written by the original apostles whose names they bear?
Answer: Some of these titles are written on the documents themselves, titles they bore anciently to identify them. The Lord said there had to be three record keepers to write down everything he did. Remember, when he came to the Nephites he made a big thing about keeping records. He went through the records himself and made sure that all the prophecies were mentioned. Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied something that was fulfilled. You didn’t put it down here, he says to Nephi. Nephi’s face turned red and he said, Well, we’ll see that it gets put down! (cf. 3 Nephi 23:6—13). It was very embarrassing, believe me, when the Lord himself was there! But he wants those records complete. These newly discovered records say the same thing: the Lord appointed three apostles to keep a careful record of everything, but these records were not to go forth until the proper time. They were buried, and now they come out.
Are these really the documents? We have one by Thomas, one by Philip, one by Andrew, and especially many writings of John. Just how authentic are they? Are they just a copy of a copy, or do they really go back to one of the apostles? Well, they are the earliest Christian documents we have; they contain the sort of thing the apostles talked about—we know that. You see, it is an advantage to have so many of them—you can check one against another. You’re not limited to just one library in Egypt, or to one library up in the Delta, or to one library over in Syria, or to one library up in Iran, or to one in Palestine, or to one in Constantinople. You can check them against each other.
I mentioned the story told in the Abbatôn. The Bishop of Alexandria (a very important man) in the year 381 had to go to a conference at Jerusalem. He had heard that the apostles left some old documents there, and he wanted very much to get into those documents, so he undertook a very diligent search.
He went to where they kept an old iron chest in which they preserved the records under lock and key and persuaded the keeper to show him a particularly valuable book, a “Discourse of Abbatôn,” a record of teachings of the Lord after the Resurrection that was supposed to have been left behind by Thomas.
How genuine is it? Remember, no one would fake these documents. What these things talk about are not only unpopular today, they were extremely unpopular with the Fathers of the church from the third, fourth, and fifth centuries on. They hated this stuff. They would have been the last people in the world to forge it or make it up. Nobody wanted it. Nobody was interested in it. These teachings upset them greatly. They gave a negative message—that the church was going to be taken away, and the usurpers wouldn’t have the real records. And it told them doctrines they didn’t like and described ordinances they didn’t know anything about. So it was very easy to shove these aside.
There grew quite an accumulation of this stuff, building up through the years, and nobody paying much attention to it, until by 1947, as Torrey said, there was a conspiracy to ignore it completely; nobody was studying any of it anymore. The year 1947 was the great year—the year the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi texts, and the great Manichaean texts all were discovered. The circumstances of the discoveries are dramatic; they get into the newspapers, so people find themselves stuck with the story. They would be ever so happy if they could sweep it under the rug and just forget it. But it is really building up, and now it’s reached the point where it’s actually obliging the Christian world to change their ideas about ordinances, about practices, justifying them in making changes they never would have dreamed of making ten years ago, because they can see that it was so different in those days.
Question: Do you feel that the Lord’s hand was involved in the discovery of these documents?
Answer: Yes, he said he would bring these things out in his own way and in his own time, and it’s really quite miraculous the way these things have happened, when you see the opposition to them. The Lord said he would send his words hissing forth from the dust (cf. 2 Nephi 29:2; Moroni 10:28), and none would be able to stop them; and there were conspiracies to stop them. It was touch and go how near the Dead Sea Scrolls came to being destroyed time and time again—the efforts, you might say, that Satan has made to destroy them, the near misses. When the first of the scrolls was first discovered way back in 1897 by Solomon Schechter, he suppressed it for fourteen years. A good orthodox Jew, he didn’t like what it taught. He actually refused to publish it. He had the right to first publication, but he just suppressed it. That was the famous Zadokite fragment, the Damascus Covenant, lying around until the other part was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Question: Won’t these documents prove that the gospel is true?
Answer: No, you’ll never prove the gospel. You’ll never prove the Book of Mormon or the Bible or anything else. Remember, people have been working on the Bible now for hundreds of years, and do people believe it? When is a thing proven in science or anywhere else? When you have had enough experience, enough observation, enough thinking, enough testing, enough personal impressions to convince you that it’s so. That not convince another scientist at all. Equally eminent men may have the same evidence in front of them, and when is it proven to one? When he believes it’s so. When is the gospel proven to you or anyone else? At the point at which you personally are convinced. That isn’t necessarily the point at which somebody else is convinced. You can’t force your testimony onto somebody else—it’s nontransferable. You can’t get a testimony from anybody else. That is the marvelous thing about it. Remember the first rule the Lord gave the Nephites, when he came to them? “There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been” (3 Nephi 11:28). There shall be no more disputations among you about any points of doctrine or anything else. There shall be no more of this among you. I will not stand for it, he says. It is not of my gospel where there is any contention or any disputation at all. It is of the devil and not of me (cf. 3 Nephi 11:29—30). How can you discuss things if you don’t dispute? He goes on to tell them: You know by your own individual testimony. The Holy Ghost speaks to you, and you know, and that’s it. Now there’s nothing to fight about, is there? If he doesn’t speak to you, I might feel that’s too bad for you, but I can’t bang you over the head and say, “You’re so stupid, you can’t see it!” That isn’t where I got my conviction at all. My conviction is the result of a building up of personal impressions, of storing up experiences and ideas through the years on a particular point, to a point where I am convinced. You haven’t had that experience at all. You don’t have that background; you have a different one. If I had yours, I wouldn’t believe it, or I’d believe something else. That’s why we have to have the Holy Ghost and have to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. Otherwise, we’re not going to agree on anything.
Question: Does the message of these scrolls provide evidence to support the Book of Mormon?
Answer: Yes, they talk about all sorts of things which are remarkably like the Book of Mormon. What’s the situation in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Things go bad in Jerusalem. The Jews at Jerusalem have gone sour. They’ve corrupted the rites of the temple, and so some righteous people go out into the desert and form the community of Qumran. They feel that the only way they can live the gospel in its purity is to leave Jerusalem, go out and live in the desert, and set up their own colony. So they take their seeds with them, and go out and live there. They practice their baptisms, they have their sacraments, and they look forward to the coming of the Messiah and hope for the restoration of the true temple. This is the pattern.
But if you don’t have your own testimony, you’re in a bad way. As I said, nothing is proven otherwise. Some ministers in Scotland wrote a letter to President McKay awhile back, which he forwarded down to me. It said, “Can you make us believe the Book of Mormon? Can you provide proof that will twist our arms and make us believe the Book of Mormon?” Since when did the Lord ever twist anybody’s arm or force them in anything? What credit would you get for believing something if you were forced to believe it? What kind of evidence is there in the world that can force any scientist to believe in anything he doesn’t want to? You don’t have to believe in the laws of Newton anymore. For 300 years, they were absolute gospel, which no scientist would dare question. But today, they are just one of a number of competing systems. They are not the only possible explanation of how gravity works. Einstein made Newton’s system just one among several competing systems. You can believe it if you want to, but whether you believe it or not depends entirely on you—on the impressions you have had, on your experiences and feelings. You have your own personal testimony of a thing like that and of anything else. If you know it, you know it for yourself. If you ask the Lord, he’ll give you knowledge of these things. That’s what the gospel is here for. Otherwise, we could go on discussing things forever and ever and never come to a knowledge of the truth. Science is just an open-ended discussion that’s always going on. As long as science is progressing, it’s changing.205 The picture is always changing—we haven’t the final word. We must have guidance from the Lord. We must receive testimonies, or we won’t know where we’re going at all.
So I pray that the Lord will give us all testimonies. I wish to bear my own, that I know the gospel is true. Not through what I have discussed here; that has nothing to do with whether I know the gospel is true. It would be in spite of this, as far as I’m concerned.
I know the gospel is true. I rejoice in it. It’s marvelous to know the gospel is true. Brothers and sisters, get a testimony, and keep with it. The Lord will give you this knowledge, and he will cause you to rejoice, and he will tell you what you have to do in this world. Many things are to be done. Who knows what we have to do? There’s no duplication. He doesn’t want any one of us to do exactly what anybody else is doing. The harvest is large and ripe, the workers are few, and time is short. We must have the Spirit to guide us. We must listen to the promptings of the Spirit. Everyone must stand on his own feet and know for himself that the gospel is true, and through no other way.
This previously unpublished talk was given at a Long Beach, California seminary graduation, in 1967. It has circulated under the title “Teachings from the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
1. For a map and description of the major finds, see Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), 53—55; reprinted in CWHN 7:47—49.
2. Alan H. Gardiner, “The Eloquent Peasant,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 9 (1923): 5—6.
3. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970).
4. Karl R. Popper, “Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities,” Federation Proceedings of the American Societies for Experimental Biology 22 (1963): 961—72.
5. Solomon Zeitlin, “The Propaganda of the Hebrew Scrolls and the Falsification of History,” Jewish Quarterly Review 46 (January 1956): 209—58.
6. Le Testament en Galilée, in PO 9:177—232; Carl Schmidt, “Epistola apostolorum,” Gespräche Jesu mit seinen Jüngern nach der Auferstehung, in Texte und Untersuchungen 43 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1919), 25—155. Le Testament en Galilée in Ethiopic in ibid., appendix 1—26; Edgar Hennecke and William Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 2 vols. (London: Lutterworth, 1963), 1:189—226; and in Montague R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924), 485—503.
7. Iamblichus, On the Mysteries I, 11—16, 19—21, in Edouard des Places, ed., Iamblique, Les Mystères d’Égypte (Paris: Belles lettres, 1966), 59—62, 67—68, 71—74, 76—77.
8. Origen, Peri Archon (De Principiis) II, 6, 1—2, in PG 11:209—11.
9. Justin Martyr, First Apology X, 67, and Second Apology 5, in PG 6:339—42, 429—30, 541—54.
10. For a thorough treatment of the subject, see H. F. Weiss, Untersuchungen zur Kosmologie des hellenistischen und palästinischen Judentums (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1966), 59—74; Cf. W. Richter, “Urgeschichte und Hoftheologie,” Biblische Zeitschrift 10 (1966): 97; H. A. Brongers, De Scheppingstradities bij de Profeten (Amsterdam: Paris, 1945), 3—18.
11. Clementine Recognitions IV, 23, in PG 1:1324.
12. See Origen, De Principiis II, 1, 4, in PG 11:184—86.
13. Apocryphon of John 1:20—15:15; 19:10—20:1; 20:30—21:20, in NHLE, 106,109—10.
14. Walter C. Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften des koptischen Papyrus Berolinesis 8502,” in Texte und Untersuchungen 60 (1955): 52—61, 194—295.
15. Pistis Sophia II, 96, in Carl Schmidt, ed., Pistis Sophia, tr. Violet MacDermot (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 228.
16. Justin, Cohortatio ad Graecos (Hortatory Address to the Greeks) 20, in PG 6:276—77.
17. Pistis Sophia II, 86, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 196—97.
18. Apocryphon of John 28:30—32, in NHLE, 114; cf. 3:31—32, in NHLE, 100.
19. Cf. War Scroll 1:4; 13:17; 1QS 4:18, 20, 25; 9:23; 10:2, 19 (Deuteronomy 32:35); Ages of Creation 80:2—4, in John M. Allegro, Qumrân Cave 4, vol. 5 of Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, 7 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 5:77—78.
20. Apocryphon of John 3:31—32, in NHLE, 100.
21. C. R. C. Allberry, ed. and tr., A Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1938), 2:189
22. Cf. Clementine Recognitions VIII, 9—16 in PG 1: 1373—79.
23. Apocalypse of Abraham 17:11—13, in OTP 1—697, see also Gospel of Bartholomew 13:2—5, in Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 1:493.
24. Untitled Text, 7—9 and 17, in Carl Schmidt, ed., The Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex, tr. Violet MacDermot (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 238—41, 258—59.
25. Pistis Sophia I, 55, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 107.
26. Untitled Text 2, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 227. Apocryphon of John 6:11—13, in NHLE, 102; 30:23—32, in ibid., 115.
27. Daniel Matt, tr., Zohar, The Book of Enlightenment, selections (New York: Paulist, 1983). Isaac Myer, tr., Qabbalah: The Philosophical Writings of Solomon Ben Yehudah Ibn Gabriol or Avicebron (Philadelphia: Myer, 1888). George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, trs. and eds., The Kabbalah Decoded: A New Translation of the “Ancient of Days” Texts of the Zohar (London: Duckworth, 1978). Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon, tr., The Zohar, 5 vols. (London: Soncino, 1984).
28. Gospel of Truth 25:15—17, in NHLE, 41.
29. Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, Oxyrhynchus Papyrus XV (London: Oxford University Press, 1922), n. 1778, for Greek fragments of Apology, H. J. M. Milne, “A New Fragment of the Apology of Aristides,” Journal of Theological Studies 25 (1924): 73—77.
30. Melito of Sardis, Fragmenta (Fragments), in PG 5:1229.
31. Cf. Acts of Thomas 108 (Hymn of the Soul 93—99), in ANT, 414—15. Psalm of Thomas, in William Wright, Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, 2 vols. (Amsterdam: Philo, 1968), 2:245—51.
32. Apocryphon of John 7:4—16; 9:25—27; 10:4, in NHLE, 102—4; cf. Papyrus Berolinensis 8502:3; and Sophia Christi 111:13—112:4, in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 262—64″; in NHLE, 222— 23.
33. Gospel of Philip 75:7—11, in NHLE, 145.
34. Gospel of Mary 7:5—6, in NHLE, 471.
35. Apocalypse of Abraham 16:1; 17:1, in OTP 1:696—97.
36. Apocalypse of Abraham 16:1—4, in ibid., 1:696.
37. Apocalypse of Abraham 16:3—4; 17:1, in ibid.
38. HC 2:428.
39. Apocalypse of Abraham 17:2—3, in OTP 1:696.
40. Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel V, 9—10, in PC 21:337—46.
41. Pistis Sophia I, 32, 32—33, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 51, lines 17—23.
42. Kephalaia 43—44, 53, in Carl Schmidt, ed, and tr., Kephalaia (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1940), 113—14, 130.
44. Gospel of Thomas, logion 74, in NHLE, 126.
45. Kephalaia 43—44, 53, in Schmidt, Kephalaia, 113—14, 130.
46. Gospel of Truth 25:15—35, in NHLE, 41.
47. Clementine Recognitions III, 27—29, in PG 1:1295—96.
48. Odes of Solomon 22:9—12, in OTP 2:755.
49. Odes of Solomon 22:9—10, in ibid.
50. Kephalaia 53, in Schmidt, Kephalaia, 130.
51. Apocalypse of Abraham 17:17 (author’s translation), in OTP 1:697.
52. Martin H. Scharlemann, “‘He Descended into Hell’: An Interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18—20,” Concorda Theological Monthly 27 (1956):89—90.
53. Janusz Frankowski, “Requies, Bonum Promissum Populi Dei in VT et in Judaismo,” Verbum Domini 43 (1965): 149.
54. Pistis Sophia I, 47, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 84.
55. Cf. Ethel S. Drower, The Thousand and Twelve Questions (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1960), 164.
56. Odes of Solomon 11:23, in OTP 2:746; cf. John 14:2.
57. Mark Lidzbarski, Ginza: Der Schatz oder das grosse Buch der Mandäer (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1925), 98; for an English translation, see Werner Foerster, Gnosis: A Selection of Gnostic Texts, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1974), 2:171.
58. Gospel of Truth 20:19—22, 21:25, in NHLE, 39—40.
59. Pistis Sophia I, 56, 22—23, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 107.
60. Gospel of Truth 26:15—16, in NHLE, 42.
61. Gospel of Bartholomew III, 1—9, in Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 1.494—95; cf. D&C 76:46—47.
62. See 1 Enoch 18:12, 14—15, in OTP 1:23; cf. Jude 13.
63. Apocryphon of John 1:12—14, in NHLE, 99.
64. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 113—19; cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:194.
65. Untitled Text 19—20, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 261—63.
67. Cf. First Apocalypse of James 27:1—5, in NHLE, 243.
68. Cf. First Apocalypse of James 26:20—30, in ibid.
69. Sophia Christi 100:14—102:1, in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 240—44; cf. NHLE, 217—18.
70. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 258; Psalms of Thomas 8:1—15, in Allberry, Manichaean Psalm Book, 2:214.
71. Cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:149—50.
72. Cf. Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo (Dialogue with Trypho), in PG 6:752—53.
73. Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi, Behinat cOlam, or An Investigation of Causes Arising from the Organization of the World, in Which Man Is Particularly Interested (London: Alexander, 1806). See J. Chotzner, “Yedaya Bejaresi,” Jewish Quarterly Review 8 (1895/96): 414—25; S. Doniach, “Abraham Bédersi’s Purim Letter to David Kaslari,” Jewish Quarterly Review 23 (1932/33): 63—69, 349—56.
74. TB Barayta 54a, in Nicholas Sed, “Une cosmologie juive du haut moyen âge: La berayta di Ma’aseh Breshit,” Revue des étude juives 123 (1964): 259—305.
75. Cf. Untitled Text 1; 4; 6, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 226, lines 3—4; 231—32, 233—34, First Apocalypse of James 25:26—26:5, 22—23, 36:1—4, in NHLE, 243, 247; Apocryphon of John 2:1—14; 5:7—9; 8:22—28, in ibid., 99, 101, 103. Sophia Christi 107:4—8; 110:211, in ibid., 221—22 (cf. the three divine men of the parallel Eugnostos the Blessed). 1QS 8:1—3; Theodor H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures, 3rd ed. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976), 60.
76. 1 Jeu 5—6, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 48—50.
77. Adolph Franck, The Kabbalah (New York: Bell, 1940), 28, noted the absence from the Sefer Yetzira of the Greek, Latin, and Arabic expressions common in the later Talmudic and cabalistic material. Franck argued that it was both pre-Christian and Aristotelian.
78. Origen, De Principiis III, 5, 3, in PG 11:327.
79. Methodius, Convivium Decem Virginum (Banquet of the Ten Virgins) III, 6, in PG 18:68—69.
80. Untitled Text 19, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 261—62.
81. Gospel of Truth 18:33—35; 19:7—10, in NHLE, 38—39.
82. Cf. Sophia Christi 99:13—100:4; 110:10—111:5 [91:17—92:16; 110:10—15]; in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 222—24; 260—62; cf. NHLE, 213—222.
83. Untitled Text 2, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 229—30, Lidzbarski, Ginza, 258; Psalms of Thomas 8:13—15, in Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:214.
84. Sophia Christi 113:15—19 [116:3—10]; in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 272; cf. NHLE, 224.
85. Sophia Christi 113:20—22 [116:11—17], in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 272; cf. NHLE, 224.
86. Odes of Solomon 12:7—9, in OTP 2:747. Rutherford H. Platt, ed., The Forgotten Books of Eden (Newfoundland: Alpha House, 1927), 126—27.
87. Cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:151; Psalms of Thomas 8:13—15, in Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:214.
88. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 10—11; Drower, Thousand and Twelve Questions, 112.
89. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 258; Psalms of Thomas 8:9—15, in Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:214.
90. Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:23.
91. Clement, Epistola I ad Corinthios (First Epistle to the Corinthians) 19—20, in PG 1:247—54.
92. 1 Enoch 69:21, in OTP 1:48.
93. Cf. I Enoch 62; 69:26—29; 71:14—17, in ibid., 1:43, 49—50.
94. Pistis Sophia II, 88; 84, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 200—201; 186—89.
95. First Apocalypse of James 27:1—7, in NHLE, 243.
96. Cf. Gospel of Philip 53:23—54:15, in NHLE, 132—33.
97. Cf. Sophia Christi 103:1—8 [96:19—97:8]; in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 232—34; NHLE, 215.
98. Epistle of the Apostles 19; in Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 1:202.
99. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 152.
100. Odes of Solomon 11:23, in OTP 2:746.
101. TPJS, 291—92.
102. Cf. Sophia Christi 109:4—110:5; 113:1—10, in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 258—60, 270.
103. Gospel of Philip 76:6—10, in NHLE, 145.
104. Gospel of Philip 75:7—11, in ibid.; cf. 81:19—33, in NHLE, 148—49.
105. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 152.
106. Athanasius, Oratio Contra Gentes (Orations against the Heathens) 38, in PG 25:76—77.
107. Plotinus, Enneads III, 2, 14.
108. Cf. Pistis Sophia I, 1, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 2.
109. Pistis Sophia II, 91, in ibid., 205—7.
110. Ignatius, Epistola ad Trallianos (Epistle to the Trallians) 5, in PG 5:665—68. See also Hugh W. Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 1975), 283.
111. Sefer Yetzira 1:5, in Akiba ben Joseph, The Book of Formation: Sepher Yetzirah, tr. Knut Stenring (London: Rider, 1923), 21.
112. Methodius, Banquet of the Ten Virgins VIII, 15, in PG 18:165—168.
113. Origen, De Principiis II, 9, 6, in PG 11:230—31.
114. See question 47, art. 1, in Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, ed. Anton C. Pegis (New York: Random House, 1945), 459.
115. Gospel of Philip 68:17—22, in NHLE, 21.
116. Gospel of Philip 63:11—17, in ibid., 138.
117. Gospel of Truth 16:31—17:1, in Harold W. Attridge, ed., Nag Hammadi Codex I (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 83.
118. Pistis Sophia II, 84, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 186—89.
119. 1 Jeu 33—39, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 83—89.
120. Pistis Sophia II, 98, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 240.
121. See Hugh W. Nibley, “Evangelium Quadraginta Dierum,” Vigiliae Christianae 20 (1966): 1—24; reprinted as “Evangelium Quadraginta Dierum: The Forty-Day Mission of Christ—The Forgotten Heritage,” in CWHN 4:10—44.
122. Irenaeus, Contra Haereses (Against Heresies) IV, 33, 8, in PG 7:1077, on the “true gnosis” as “the doctrine of the Apostles.”
123. These are discussed in Hugh W. Nibley, “The Passing of the Primitive Church: Forty Variations on an Unpopular Theme,” Church History 20 (June 1961): 131—54; reprinted in CWHN 4:168—208.
124. See Geo Widengren, The Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book (King and Saviour III), Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift 7 (Uppsala: Almquist and Wiksells, 1950), 47.
125. 1 Jeu 3, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 41—42.
126. Epistles of the Apostles 39, in Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 1:199.
127. Epistles of the Apostles 39, in ibid.
128. Epistle of the Apostles 17, in ibid.
129. Mark Lidzbarski, Das Johannesbuch der Mandäer (Giessen: Töpplelmann, 1915), 57, no. 13. G. R. S. Mead, The Gnostic John the Baptizer: Selections from the Mandaean Book of John (London: Watkins, 1924), 91. See also A. L. B. Hardcastle, “Fragments of the Mandaean Mass for the Souls of the Dead,” Theosophical Review 29/174 (February 1902): 493; Foerster, Gnosis, 2:253—54. Robert Haardt, Gnosis: Character and Testimony (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 381.
130. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 488.
131. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:257—61; Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:197—202; Hardcastle, “Fragments of the Mandaean Mass for the Souls of the Dead,” 494, 496.
132. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 429.
133. Ibid.; cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:200—202.
134. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 101—2; cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:263.
135. Lidzbarski, Das Johannesbuch der Mandäer, 57; cf. Mead, Gnostic John the Baptizer, 91.
136. Apocalypse of Abraham 10:2—6, in OTP 1:693—94.
137. Apocalypse of Adam 65:26—66:8, in NHLE, 257.
138. Cf. Sophia Christi 100:20—102:20, in Till, “Die gnostischen Schriften,” 226—32.
139. Timothy Archbishiop of Alexandria, “Discourse on Abbatôn,” in E. A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (London: British Museum, 1914), 482.
140. Untitled Text 8, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 238—39.
141. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 15—27.
142. Cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:197; Mandaean Prayerbook No. 379, “And Hibil-Ziwa [Radiant-Abel] came and blessed three ‘uthras [Spirits-of-Life], And the three ‘uthras blessed Adam and all his descendants” (cf. No. 42). Ethel S. Drower, tr., The Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans (Leiden; Brill, 1959), 292; see also Nibley, Since Cumorah, 175—77, in CWHN 7:155—56.
143. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:197.
144. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 16.
145. Ibid., 263—64.
146. First Apocalypse of James 34:17—19, in NHLE, 246.
147. Gospel of Thomas 49, in ibid., 123.
148. Gospel of Truth 22:2—12, in ibid., 40.
149. Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:201—2.
150. Ibid., 2:197—99.
151. Ibid., 2:72.
152. Ibid., 2:197—202.
153. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 511—12. Cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:261—62.
154. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 454—56, 461, 463, 465, 499, 511, 513; cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:254—63.
155. Psalms of Thomas 17:3—10, in Allberry, Manichaean Psalm-Book, 2:224.
156. The Pearl 98—105; Acts of Thomas 108—13; cf. Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:503—4.
157. Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, in PG 46:108—12.
158. Regarding Paul VI, see The Pope Speaks 10 (1965): 365; Nibley Since Cumorah, 17, nn. 25—26; reprinted in CWHN 7:16, nn. 32—33.
159. This is discussed in Hugh W. Nibley, “The Expanding Gospel,” BYUS 7 (1965): 3—27; reprinted in this volume, pages 177—211.
160. Gospel of Bartholomew I, 22, in Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 1:290—91.
161. Cf. Untitled Text 13, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 252.
162. Untitled Text 4, in, Ibid., 213; cf. Gospel of the Egyptians 3:5 in NHLE, 199; Trimorphic Protennoia 39, in NHLE, 464.
163. Apocalypse of Abraham 17:13, 20, in OTP 1:693—97.
164. Apocalypse of Abraham 17:5—21, in ibid., 1:697; cf. Hugh W. Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” BYUS 19 (Fall 1978): 52, reprinted in CWHN 4:57.
165. Apocryphon of John 20:14—25, in NHLE, 110.
166. Gospel of Philip 55:5—25, in NHLE, 133.
167. Cf. Apocryphon of John 20:15—25, in NHLE, 110.
168. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 14—27.
169. Apocalypse of Abraham 11:1—2, in OTP 1:694.
170. “Discourse on Abbatôn,” in Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms, 225—249,474—96.
171. Cf. Apocryphon of John 20:14—21:16; 22:20—21; 22:34—23:14, in NHLE, 110—11.
172. 2 Jeu 44, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 105.
173. Cf. 2 Jeu 42, in ibid., 99; Pistis Sophia IV, 136, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 353—54.
174. 2 Jeu 51, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 126; cf. Pistis Sophia III, 125, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 314—15.
175. 2 Jeu 51, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 126.
176. Pistis Sophia III, 135, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 350.
177. Cf. 1 Jeu 39, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 89. This subject is discussed generally throughout the whole text of the books of Jeu.
178. Pistis Sophia II, 97, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 234—35.
179. Cf. Pistis Sophia III, 132, in ibid., 347—48.
180. Pistis Sophia II, 97; III, 133, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 234—35; 346—47.
181. Pistis Sophia III, 125, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 314.
182. Gospel of Thomas, logion 59, in NHLE, 124.
183. Gospel of Philip 85:14—16, in NHLE, 150.
184. Gospel of Philip 76:27—36, and cf. 72:29—37; 73:1—8, in ibid., 143—44, 146.
185. Romey P. Marshall and Michael J. Taylor, Liturgy and Christian Unity (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1965), 125.
186. Pistis Sophia IV, 36, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 353; cf. 2 Jeu 42, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 99.
187. Cf. 1 Jeu 41; 2 Jeu 45, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 93; 107.
188. Cf. 1 Jeu 8, in ibid., 54.
189. Cf. Apocalypse of Abraham 22:1—5, in OTP 1:700.
190. Cf. 2 Jeu 45, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 107; cf. Pistis Sophia IV, 136, in Schmidt, Pistis Sophia, 353.
191. See Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” 46—47; in CWHN 4:51.
192. Ibid., 4:42.
193. Acts of John 94—96, in Hennecke and Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:227—32.
194. Augustine, Epistola (Letter) 237, in PL 33:1034—38.
195. Johannes Dominicus Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissa Collectio, 53 vols. (Graz: Akademischer Verlag, 1960), 13:168—76.
196. Ignatius Ephraem II Rahmani, ed., Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (Monguntiae: Kirchheim, 1899), 36—37, cited in Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” 43—44, nn. 5—7, in CWHN 4:4748, nn. 5—7.
197. A. Wilmart and E. Tisserant, “Fragments grecs et latins de 1’évangile de Barthélemy,” Revue biblique 22 (1913): 321, cited in Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” 45, nn. 11—13; in CWHN 4:49—50, nn. 11—13.
198. Apocalypse of Abraham 12—17, in OTP 1:694—97.
198. Apocalypse of Abraham 12—17, in OTP 1:694—97.
199. Cf. 2 Jeu 45, in Schmidt, Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text, 105.
200. 2 Jeu 43, in ibid., 100—102.
201. Lidzbarski, Ginza, 113—19; cf. Foerster, Gnosis, 2:194—98.
202. Apocalypse of Abraham 12—17, in OTP 1:694—97.
203. 2 Maccabees 12:34—45.
204. Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea, William James Lectures at Harvard, 1933 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936).
205. Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), 280.