Last Updated 7/4/19
“The charm of knowledge would be small, were it not so much shame has to be overcome on the way to it.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
Growing up I was raised as a Christian. I went to both Catholic and Christian schools as a young boy, but my parents never ingrained me with strict religious character. My father told my sister and I to never attend church service-to not believe the doctrines bestowed on the masses but rather to ask the right questions and seek our own truth. We did not celebrate Christmas or Easter. We were also raised to believe they, among others, were Pagan holiday’s and had nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
My Grandfather had left a bad religious taste in my fathers mouth. As a boy, his parents had joined a Christian cult known as “Grace Communion International”. There was an annual meeting in the rocky mountains where the leader of the group would fly in via Jet. My dad would explain in detail the loud boom it would make breaking through the mountain pass. The same man, Herbert Armstrong, would be escorted via Cadillac from airport to his church service.
Before my parents separation, my father saw to it that I was given all of his theosophical pamphlets from the Academy of Scriptural Knowledge (ASK). Most of the pamphlets were written by Dr. Ernest L. Martin. Some of his works included The Divine Mandate for Human Government, The Use and Abuse of the Holy Scriptures, The Tithing Dilemma, and The Hoax of Modern Christian Commissions. I enjoyed these pamphlets because they questioned common convention with rational evidence that could be supported and further corroborated. From here on I observed religious factions as merely institutions incapable of change, held to their own doctrine and unwilling to question or look beyond what they were given.
Eventually I would go on to pursue a degree in English. That path lead me through important eras of thinking, like the Romantic and Victorian ages of writing, all of which contained religious and mystical elements that struck me as fascinating simply because of the mystery and imagination—the idea of a more.
Although my final discipline of study was international business, the humanities courses I had taken fed my interests into the theosophical and philosophical. Leading me further into the study of religion was Dr. George Leonard of SFSU who opened up the ‘idea’ of God and how we perceive the most high. Having open discussions on Jesus, what he actually did and did not say, and Eastern philosophy including ‘The Way and It’s Power’ (Tao Te Chin). The Philosophy of Science with works including Emanuel Kant also riddled my mind with further questions of this reality and the nature of God, the source.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Mathew 10:16)
Since then, I’ve been endlessly searching for truth. I knew that the entirety of all that I sought would be self discovery, for there was no one I knew that possessed such knowledge. And so, this is my research on the origins of Christianity, the words of Christ, theosophical truths, and the creation of Humanity. From studying other religions, critically analyzing contextual translations, observing the courses of both man and history, we can truly understand what this existence is. Although we remain mindless now, rise we shall as Sons of the Morning.
Christianity: Origins and Rome
During the life span of Jesus, Romes republic was just beginning to enter its decline and exit the world stage. In the years before his birth, the classical world, including but not limited to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe (including British Isles), was aggregated by the Roman Empire under Julius Cesar. The Western Roman conquerors decided to Annex the province of Judea, which also included Samaria, Idumea, Galilee, and Phoenicia. It was then declared a client kingdom of Rome. Client kingdoms were set in place so that they would pay taxes, supply food for Romes population, create military alliances, and if they couldn’t—Vae Victus. Romans often sacked cities and took slaves if bounties could not be paid.
Prior to Caesars rule, Rome was a tiny city state along the Italian peninsula. From the 8th century B.C. to its rise, Rome has always been a nation of war. Wars with the Sabines, the first Latins wars, and wars with the Samnites and Celts were minor. Then came the first Punic wars. Much like the United States before to WWI and WWII, Rome had much to gain from a word on fire, especially if they were setting the flame.
After the conclusion of the Punic and Macedonian wars, the Romans had an influx of land, resources, loot, and most importantly—slaves. A mixture of all types of foreign people entering the Roman regions. The magnitude of slaves coming in created cheap labor, thus making the rich elite even more wealthier as they now had slaves to do most of their farming and labor. Politicians such as the Gracchus brothers (2nd Century B.C.) foresaw the instability; witnessing foreign slaves working in place of free Italian citizens. They championed the cause of the public by demanding reforms on land directly to the Senate, and were both consequently killed in cold blood.
The following decades of Romes continued rise to power saw a civil war, more political killings, a dictatorship, and conversely showed the rising generation of Romans how power and wealth can be attained.
Then we have Caesar, an overtly ambitious outlier in the whole Roman system. He was a ruffian, cultured, charming, a genius, and was looked down upon by his elders for being so different. “Beware of that boy with the loose clothes,” the prior Dictator Sulla said, “in him goes a thousand Marius.” Having almost been executed by the previous civil wars political killings, he climbed the political ranks into the Senate, then eventually created the First Triumvirate, an informal secret alliance between Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, and Pompey the Great, one of the most successful military commanders at that time. Crassus and Pompey were both vying for the top job in Rome, the consulship, which awarded the honor of marching off to war (and gaining access to all the glory, wealth, and power that follows). They were sworn political enemies until the very clever Caesar arranged an agreement between the three of them.
However when the Triumvirate began to fall apart, there came Romes 2nd civil war between the two parties of Pompey and Caesar. After Julius’ decisive victories against his political enemies, he declared himself dictator, and controlled much of the known world. After the assassination of Caesar, came his heir Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. He, along with Mark Antony, and other conspirators, waged a series of civil wars against the assassins of Caesar, who were also politicians and powerful elites of Rome. These events marked the end of the Republic.
Judaism was recognized as a legal religion under Julius Caesar somewhere between 45-40 B.C. King Herod I was recognized by the Roman Senate as the King of the Jews (Judea). According to Jack Miles, author of Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (2001), he and his temple are the “work of a Roman puppet, an Idumaean married into a collaborationist Jewish clan.” (p. 19)
The Jews were “an oppressed people living in an occupied land.” (p. 20) Miles goes on to say. During John’s Baptisms, there also came Roman officers and Tax collectors to seek atonement. “There were tax collectors too, who came for baptism, and they said to him, “Teacher (Rabbi), what must we do?” He said to them, “Exact no more than the appointed rate.” Some soldiers questioned him as well: “What about us? What should we do?” He told them, “No intimidation! No extortion! Be satisfied with your pay.” [Luke 3:12-14]
Christ was officially put to death by the Roman Empire via crucifixion. It is the account of Tacitus, from Rome, who details the first hand accounting of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, where we get the earliest non-Biblical reference of Christ Jesus, confirming that Jesus in fact existed. After his passing, his brother James ‘the Just’ was bestowed Jesus’ ecclesia. Followers of Christ were niche and few, often consisting of a mixture of humbled poorer Jews and Greeks. They were persecuted and hated for believing and following in what the Jews took to be a false messiah. A protomartyr of Christ was Stephanos (Greek for ‘Crown/Wreath’ and and extensively ‘Reward/Honor’) who upheld that Christ was upholding the Law of Moses, words of blasphemy to the Sanhedrin. During his speech, the crowd was unable to contain their anger much longer and drug Stephanos to the streets where he was stoned to death. One of the witnesses of the event held some jackets and garments of the wealthy citizens who were throwing stones—his name was Paul.
After the death of Christ, Jesus himself became manifest to one of those aimlessly persecuting Christians. Paul the Apostle, or Sauul the Jewish/Greek Roman citizen, was not considered of the first 12 apostles and yet has been well renowned for spreading the word of Christ to gentiles (non Jews/Romans) and Jews alike. He was successful in spreading a religion of forgiveness and atonement through the death of one man, the son of God, so that our sins may be wiped clean, and our souls be forever atoned—the sins of soldiers, a nation of war and corruption, occupying foreign soils, enslaving and taxing the conquered.
“Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the Jews I became a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law – though I myself am not under the law – to win over those under the law. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law. To the weak I became weak to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.” (1 Cor 9:19-23; see also 1 Cor 10:33, Rom 15:1)
Of course when Sauul speaks of the law he is mentioning how he operated within the parameters of the Roman legal system. Did Paul spread the word because of his faith, or to gain a place in history?
The followers of Christ at this time are not what you would imagine a modern Christian to be. They were Pagan, Hellenistic (culturally Greek), and of course Jewish—but above all they were Gnostics, as was Christ himself. They recognized the Law of Nature, sacred geometry, placed emphasis on the stars, planets, sun and moon, they had a pantheon of deities that made up physical creation along with realms beyond, and at the head of all creation, The Most High—a unified House consisting of a Father, Mother, and a Son, which made the whole of the single source of all creation, the Godhead.
During Nero’s reign, he initially tolerated the Christians, only to aimlessly persecute them when the great fire burned most of Rome. Nero had many Christians, and/or Pagans, rounded up, tortured, and killed because the blame of the fire befell the followers of Christ.
From Tacitus’ Annals (15.44): The passage describes the great fire that burned Rome for 6 days under the reign of Nero in July of 64 A.D.
’Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.’
The Romans at this time viewed Christianity as a grotesque religion, as rumors spread of the consumption of the blood and body of their God (The Lords Supper).
Much later after Christ, Constantine waged a civil war against a political adversary. He adopted the letters ‘Chi Roh’ on the shields of his soldiers, and defeated his opponent. Then from May to August in 325 A.D. the first Council of Nicaea aggregated all writings of Christ into four canonical Gospels. Issues discussed included the relationship of Christ to the Father, who was exalted over the other within the trinity, and which gospels were to be considered synoptic and which were apocryphal. The overall objective was to reach a consensus and establish promulgation of law which resulted in the first Christian doctrine called the Nicene Creed.
And so the institution of the Roman Church was established. In the following centuries other Christian ideologies were persecuted, knowledge that did not fit the consensus was eradicated, doctrines were burned, and wars were waged in the holy name.
“Perhaps people think that I have come to impose peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to impose conflicts upon the Earth: fire, sword, war.” —Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas
Historical Jesus Vs. Factual Yeshua
Interestingly enough, one of the most renowned names across our Earth—Jesus, is in fact not his true name. “Jesus bore, ironically, the name of the greatest warrior of his people. That we call him Jesus is an accident of Latin translation. Iesous in the original Greek of the Gospels translates Hebrew yehoshua’ or yeshua’, alternate forms of the name Joshua, a name compounded of Hebrew words meaning ‘The Lord is salvation.” (Miles, p. 11)
Of the 4 Gospels found in the New Testament, they detail the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. However, we are discovering redundancies in the life of Christ. In 1993, a team of theologians— revered, respectable, international academia’s banded together and meticulously conceived what Jesus had actually said, and what was added for effect or further after the fact. They retranslated the four gospels along with the Gospel of Thomas and created a “Scholars Version”. The collective group was referred to as the Jesus Seminar.
“The Five Gospels has many authors. They have been trained in the best universities in North America and Europe. Together and singly, they first of all inventoried all the surviving ancient texts for words attributed to Jesus. They then examined those words in the several ancient languages in which they have been preserved. They produced a translation of all the gospels, known as the Scholars Version.”-Preface to The Five Gospels.
The Bible has many authors. In truth, all original gospels circulated anonymously. The canonical names we know now were given by the early church. In most cases they are guesses or “pious wishes” according to the Jesus Seminar. Jesus’ first disciples likely did not remember the particular occasion of which a saying was first uttered. Therefore they invented narratives and imported Jesus as an authority figure. The Documentary Hypothesis theory shows there are many authors of the Bible, some having the same source, such as “Q”, others borrowing and building off others.
The “Q”, or Quelle, source theory was suggested by a German theologian who believed there is a common unknown source that the four gospels borrow from.
Here’s what the Jesus Seminar concluded: They found that 82% of the words attributed to Jesus’ were not actual words spoken by him. Not only that, but they detail that the Gospel of Mathew reproduces about 90% of the Gospel of Mark and Luke reproduces about 50% of Mark. The Apostle Paul also created overtly divine figure of Jesus by “smothering Jesus” and “Superimposing this heavenly figure on him.” [Five Gospels]
The Two Portraits of Jesus (According to the Jesus Seminar*)
In a sense, there are less than four gospels, according to what documents have been provided to us by the institution that is the Church.
Let us remember that the word Church itself derives from Ecclesia, its original translation meant ‘Community’—the earliest “Christian’s” discussed and made decisions as a collective.
“Truly, any man be a fool who is surprised at anything in life.”-Marcus Aurelius
The first followers of Christ
The birth and death of Christ and his teachings created a religious revolution. Many religions and movements had been seen sprouting up from the 1st century onward, and most if not all, involved Jesus himself in some aspect.
The earliest followers of Christianity, identified themselves with this symbol, the ‘Chi’Rho’. This logo, or ‘word’, was the earliest identifier associated with the followers of Jesus.
- The “Chi” band is the X which represents the solar ecliptic path & the celestial equator. These two bands form the World Soul or Spiritus Mundi (the world collective conscious). Chi in astronomy is also the 22nd star in the “Chi Opiuchi”. Qi, also known as Chi or Ki, is the circulating life force found in Chinese philosophy and medicine, the word means air, and to breath. The Greek P in the symbol is there to represent ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ translated Kristos, meaning anointed or blessed.
- More importantly, how did such primitive Greek/Eastern ancestors of ours represent hidden meanings within a symbol.
The Greek ‘P’ in the symbol represents ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ translated Kristos (conversely Christos), meaning anointed or blessed. The X represents the”Chi” band, alluding to the solar ecliptic path & the celestial equator. According to Plato [Timaeus] two crossing lines form the World Soul or Spiritus Mundi (the world collective conscious) like a band. Similarly, Chi in astronomy is the 22nd star in the “Chi Opiuchi”. Qi, also known as Chi or Ki, is the circulating life force found in Chinese philosophy and medicine, the word means air, and to breath.
Most of these varying forms of Christianity were later considered heretical and blasphemous by the later established Roman Church. These religious sects believed Christ to be a savior, a healer, and the Son of God.
“Therefore, we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence…a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.”-Plato
The Nag Hammadi Scriptures were discovered in the 1970’s by a local villager who stumbled upon sealed jars in a hidden area of the Nag Hammadi desert of upper Egypt. His desire for treasure outweighed his fear of Djinn and so smashed one open, revealing a collection of papyrus bound books. Theologians were finally able to compare and contrast new scriptures dating back to the years of Christ. Within these codices are 41 undiscovered writings on early Christian, Neoplatonic, Hermetic, Sethian, and Valentinian thought. Most of the texts can be dated back to the 2nd or 3rd centuries C.E. (101—299 years after Christ). The people who had buried the books are unknown, but there are indications that they may have been buried around 260-350 CE, coinciding with an edict from the Pachomian Monastic order (an Egyptian Coptic Roman/Christian sect) in 367 to eliminate all apocryphal writings from the libraries. These philosophical religious teachings were gathered by a community of Gnostics who sought to preserve this knowledge that was deemed to be excluded from Christian teachings. This edict comes 42 years after the first Counsel of Nicaea. Irenaeus of Lyon, writing from 160 C.E., denounced passages from the Secret Book of John and specifically mentions the Gospel of Judas. Another early Christian writer from Rome Hippolytus quotes opening lines from the Gospel of Thomas. Other mentions include the Gospel of Truth. These alternative Gospels were seen as illegitimate by the Bishop Irenaeus who said “the heretics say they have more gospels than there really are; but really, they really have no gospel which is not full of blasphemy.” (Against Heresies 3.11.9.) Because of his writings denouncing these other Christian sects, we can affirm that there were many other Gospels in circulation in the ancient world, one such mention from the Bishop includes a rural Gaulic Christian sect also practicing these alternative Gospels. Irenaeus went on to insist that there could only be Four Gospels because there are four corners of the universe, four principal winds, “there cannot be more than four gospels, nor fewer.” (Against Heresies). He further went on to ascribe Gnostics with dualists that believed the physical universe was created by an evil power, which in turn gave them a negative view of the world and the creator of the material world. Much of the Gnostics were seen as heretical nihilists by the growing establishment the Church of Rome.
It is suspected that these texts were translated from Greek to Coptic by early Christian monks in Egypt who treasured them as sacred texts. Acting against the Archbishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, they collected, translated, and hid the books to protect themselves against certain heresy and preserve the ancient knowledge of which is undoubtedly a combination of PreDynastic Egyptian (Hermetic), Ancient Greek (Neoplatonic), and of the earliest known Christian/Gnostic teachings. The Jesus Seminar writes that the Nag Hammadi library is “related to a Christian gnostic sect that once thrived in Egypt.”
Considered holy by some and blasphemous by others, there are substantial differences between each scripture. A general understanding by most is that all of the Nag Hammadi are considered ‘Gnostic’ texts. But to call them all “gnostic”(knower) would be incorrect because they themselves never referred to themselves as such.
The Gnostic ideology consists of a few shared and borrowed ideas.
1st. The material world was created out of ignorance and is ruled over by a malicious lower level deity
2nd. Humankind comes from a higher spiritual existence but we are currently imprisoned in bodies where we must suffer in the flesh. The material world is a false reality in which we must awake from.
There are four identifiable schools of thought in the Nag Hammadi and they include Thomas Christianity, Sethian Gnosticism, Valentian Gnosticism, and Hermeticism.
Thomas Christianity originally came into creation in early Christian Syria. The central figure is of course none other than Thomas, or Judas Thomas. He is also known as Didymous (twin in Greek) Judas Thomas being that he was considered Jesus’ twin brother. According to Mathew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, Jesus is said to have had several siblings, one of which was named Judas. Although James the ‘Just’ was Jesus’ revered brother who carried on after his death, in this sect of Christianity Thomas receives the better praise. Thomas became a patron saint of the Syrian Christian community and an Apostle to the Parthians. Legend has it that Thomas journeyed off to India to preach where he was martyred.
However in some cases, like the Gospel of John, Thomas is known for his lack of faith and insight in Christ. But in saying 13 of the Gospel of Thomas [GoT] he has the most insight into who Jesus actually is, unlike the assumed Simon Peter (rock) or Mathew. The GoT was likely composed in the vicinity of Edessa or Syria, although fragments have also been found in Egypt. The GoT is a sayings from Jesus, it does not detail his life. Thomas has 47 lines from Mark, 40 to “Q”, 17 to Mathew, 4 to Luke, and 5 to John, and 114 sayings total. It is suggested that Thomas’ mystical lessons on self knowledge came to the attention of the famed preacher of Alexandria, Valentius, who is also the founder of the Valentinian school of gnostic thought and the probable author of the Gospel of Truth.
Here are some sayings from the Gospel of Thomas:
“Do not lie, and do not do what you hate,”
“If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves,”
“Perhaps people think that I have come to impose peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to impose conflicts upon the Earth: fire, sword, war.”
“If the owner of a house knows that a thief is coming, he will be on guard before the thief arrives and will not let the thief break into the house of his estate and steal his possessions. As for you, then, be on guard against the world. Arm yourselves with great strength, or the robbers might find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come.”
“The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered, nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. As for you, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
“Whoever does not hate father and mother as I do cannot be a disciple of me, and whoever does not love father and mother as i do cannot be a disciple of me. For my mother gave me falsehood, but my true mother gave me life.” [Comparably Mathew 10:37, Luke 14:26, Mark 8:43]
“Blessed are you when you are hated and persecuted, and no place will be found, where you have been persecuted.”
“Blessed is the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk.”
“Let one who has become wealthy reign, and let one who has power renounce it.”
“If you have money, do not lend it at interest. Rather, give it to someone from whom you will not get it back.”
“The Father’s kingdom is like a person who wanted to put someone powerful to death. While at home he drew his sword and thrust it into the wall to find out whether his hand would go in. Then he killed the powerful one.”
“Whoever knows the father and the mother will be called the child of a whore.”
“The Kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it. And when he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know about it. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, discovered the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.”
Although referred to as “Sethian Gnosticism”, the truth is the followers never called themselves Sethians nor Gnostics. They did refer to themselves as a separate part of humanity known as the great generation, strangers, another kind, the immovable, the incorruptible race, the seed of Seth, the living and immovable race, the children of Seth, the holy seed of Seth, and those who are worthy. Most of the writings seemed to play on the seed of Seth as “another seed” entirely. Adams third born Seth was given the status of ‘restorer’ as he resembled Adam in likeness and was to redeem the authentic image of Adam prior to the Fall.
‘And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another seed…(Genesis 4:25) When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty yeras, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image…(Genesis 5:3)’
Sethian treatise from the Nag Hammadi include the Secret Book of John, Nature of the Rulers, Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (AKA the Egyptian Gospel), Revelation of Adam, Three Steles of Seth, Zostrianos, Melchizedek, Thought of Norea, Marsanes, Allogenes the Stranger, the Gospel of Judas and Three Forms of First Thought.
Seth plays a role of Savior in this case, representing the Child (Autogenes/the self generated/Jesus), the Mother (Barbelo), and the Father (the Invisible Spirit). The trinity then goes on to create the Four Luminaries (realms) Harmozel, Oroiael, Daveithai, and Eleleth. In the last realm, a feminine deity Sophia conceives a thought of her own, a son without consent from the higher realms, resulting in the creation of the Demiurge, the chief archon Yaldaboath/Saklas/Samael who he and his demons are the rulers of the material universe and try to destroy the seed of Seth by flood and fire but are thwarted by the intervention of the Mother.
Sethian Gnosticism has roots in the Jewish function of Sophia, the Divine Wisdom, whom the Jews personified as the instrument by which God creates, nourishes, and enlightens the world (Proverbs 1-8; Sirach 24; Wisdom of Solomon 7). Barbelo (Pronoia/Protennoia/First Thought) acts as the ultimate savior who appears at pinnacle moments for primordial mankind. She appears first as spiritual Eve/Epinoia who awakens Adam from his ‘sleep’ and provides him with self knowledge of his divine nature. Adams third son Seth is the preserver of this genome that is within mankind to ensure humans have knowledge of our divine spiritual selves despite the archons attempts to suppress our divine being. Salvation arrives when we are awakened and have knowledge of our fallen divine selves here in this lower physical plane of existence.
The Sethian treatises are divided into two forms of attaining salvation or enlightenment. One group of sayings (Secret Book of John, Revelation of Adam, Holy Book, Three Forms of First Thought, Gospel of Judas) believe salvation occurs through successive descents of saviors into the physical in which humankind may be rectified through Christ, Seth, or the Mother. The other form of salvation occurs through meditative/contemplative mental accent into higher levels of being, and even those beyond being itself. Gnostics were to enter these trances either alone or in audience of other adepts.
The Valentinian School of Gnostic Thought
Founded by Valentinus around 140 A.D, the Valentinian’s were considered the most successful Christian Gnostic sects. Even Irenaeus of Lyon regarded them as the most dangerous of all Gnostic heretics. Followers would go on to exist even until the 4th century in parts of the Eastern Roman Empire where by that time were victims of persecutions. Prominent Valentinian leaders include Heracleon, Ptolemy, Marcus “the Magician”, Axionicus, and Theodotus.
“Valentinian theology can be described as the earliest attempt to formulate a comprehensively theoretical interpretation of Christianity” says Einar Thomassen in the epilogue of the Marvin Meyer edition of the Nag Hammadi Scriptures.
Prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi, a German Scholar named Carl Reinhardt had purchased Coptic texts from a dealer in central Egypt in 1896. The Berlin Gnostic Codex consists of the Act of Peter, the Gospel of Mary, the Secret Book of John, and the Wisdom of Jesus Christ. Other scriptures were known to exist simply because of their mentioning in passing. Such missing scriptures include:
Varying other forms of Gnosticism include, but not limited to, Syrian-Egyptic Gnosticism (Hermeticism, Valentianism, Thomasine, Sethians, and Basilidians), Persian Gnosticism (Manaeanism, Sabians, Astati), Christian Gnosticism (Cerdonians, Lucianists, Simonians, Menandrians), Cainites, Angelici, Alogians, Secundians, and Seleucians.
Neo-Platonism and Gnosticism
The idea of the archon originally comes from Platonic thought and was later coined ‘Demiurge’ by Gnostics. The term comes to mean “creator” or “fashioner” and was first spoken of in Platos Timaeus as a benevolent entity. However, because the universe was created out of Chaos, it remains imperfect. Ultimately, it is an emanation, or casting out, from the ineffable Monad of creation. Many stones and metals depicting Abraxas, one of the names given to the demiurge, were in circulation in the ancient world. Some contained engravings in Greek, Egyptian and Jewish symbols, Persian, Grecian, Gnostic, and Egyptian deities.
The Allegory of the Cave: Plato begins a discussion with people who were born in a cave chained to the wall. They cannot look around at each other nor themselves. There is a fire behind them along with a stone wall, between the two are people casting shadows of puppets and objects. Each shadow and sound they give a name to. This is the reality for these individuals who do not know they are prisoners and that their reality extends much further than they can comprehend.
If say one prisoner were freed, he would see the fire and it would hurt his eyes, his vision and reality would change. This prisoner would then return to his shadow world, for this shadows would be clearer than the reality being shown to him. Plato then goes on to suggest that if someone were to forcibly drag a prisoner up from the steep ascent of the cave out to the real world, the prisoner would be angry, blind, and in pain. His eyes would finally adjust to the outside world, the blurry shadows becoming, people, trees, bodies of water. He then would lay sight on things in the water, the stars, the moon, and finally he would eventually be able to look at the sun directly.
This newly awakened prisoner would now believe this world to be superior to the cave world. He would take pity on his once fellow prisoners and would try to the free them. The journey back into the dark cave would again blind the freed prisoner, whereas those chained to the wall would see that he had been harmed exiting the cave, and so they would kill or harm anyone who would try to the free them and bring them up to the outside world.
There are many metaphors for the dialogue. Reference to the physical reality, our limited sense perception, ignorance, truth, darkness, light. Few humans escape the cave, as it is a difficult task to free oneself from bondage. The true philosopher, in this case, would be able to escape the cave into the outside world. Most of humanity, existing at the bottom of the cave, is entertained by artists and celebrities who wield the puppets near the fire.
Plato believed that there was an ineffable source of creation, all knowing, powerful, and from which everything else emanates. He believed in a returning to this source, pre-existences, and immortality of the soul. Plato also believed that our souls possessed ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ irrational and rational minds, consciousness/subconscious.
The Neoplatonist’s and Gnostics both believed that this one source created a perfect image of itself to create, organize, and rule over the material world. This ‘Demiurge’, later dubbed by the Gnostic scriptures, is pure intellect and is cast out by the source to manifest the ideal world. Much like how Satan, or Adversary in Hebrew, was cast out of heaven.
Some, if not most, of the Gnostic writings contain a negative image of both the demiurge and of their own existence in the flesh. They perceived Earthly existence as a form of imprisonment, that life was a descent into a lower world before ascending back to a higher, or even descending further.
In the Secret Book of John (SBJ) we find a completely separate creation story. In the scripture Jesus reveals to John the creation of Adam and Eve, the fall of Sophia from grace, and a world created in ignorance and imperfection by her child born from chaos.
In the original story of the garden of Eden, God creates Adam, the animals, and then eventually Eve. After being enticed by the snake, played by the devil, Eve convinces Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God comes down from Heaven, confronts his creation for betraying him, then consequently punishes and banishes them.
Although the Secret Gospel of John was discovered in 1896, it had not been published until 1955. This specific text is a Sethian dialogue of teachings revealed to John after the resurrection of Christ. It begins with pre-Genesis realities and events, the flawed creation of the physical world, and the jealous domination of inferior powers. Interestingly enough, within the text are references to independent cultural and religious figures such as Zoroastrianism, Greek mythology (Plato’s Timaeus), Egyptian deities (such as Atum), and many other cosmic attributions assigned to rulers and archons. There are at least 3 various other versions of these Coptic texts. “The Secret Book contains what purport to be secret teachings revealed by Christ in a post resurrection appearance to the apostle John the son of Zebedee.”(Meyer, Turner)
Much like other Gnostic texts, the origin of the world begins with creation of the Demiurge out of Chaos by his mother Sophia. He along with 7 other archons fashion the material world, then eventually first man, or Adam.
Alchemy & Egypt
In the early 15th century, there existed a German philosopher, doctor, and scholar. One year, he had made a pilgrimage to the holy lands. Father Brother Christian Rosenkreuz was of weak physique, and thus could not travel to Jerusalem, but rather stayed among the Turks and Arabs in Damascus, from what I have gathered to be the ‘Kingdom of the Wise’ (also spoken by Yeats in A Vision). “there the Wise received him (as he himself witnessseth) not as a stranger, but as one whom they had long expected” [The Rosicrucian Manifesto). After gaining much knowledge in Mathematics, Physics, Philosophy, and the Laws of Nature, his spirit had been stirred. Leaving these Sufi Masters and Zoroastrians behind, he then travelled to Egypt where he remained not long but “took better notice there of the Plants and Creatures.” In the Manifesto, there is mention of an older tradition in which the Arabians and Africans would share art, magic, and cultural knowledge.
In ancient times, renowned Greek thinkers would make pilgrimage to Egypt and the East. Herodotus, Thales, Parmenides, Empedocles, and Orpheus.It is widely known that both Pythagoras and Plato had both studied in Egypt. It is speculated that they had studied alongside the Egyptian priests, whom had ancient books only they had access to. These books were attributed to Thoth, the Egyptian moon god of wisdom, justice, and writing. Even Jesus was said to have fled to Egypt with his family when he was but a child (Mathew 2:13-23).
Sir Isaac Newton had created a translation of the Tabula Smaragdina, a cryptic alchemical sayings piece attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, a hellenized combination of the Greek God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth. This translation was found among his other alchemical works.
In fact the Arabian name for Egypt was Khemet, meaning “The Black Land.” Alchemy was originally known as “Al-Khemet” or “from the Black Land.” Historically speaking, alchemy also stems from Gnosticism, which of course has its roots in Christianity, Neoplatonism, and Hermeticism.
When Carl Jung began to practice alchemy, he found there was in fact a connection between Gnosis and the medieval practice of alchemy. “As fas as I could see, the tradition that might have connected Gnosis with the present seemed to have been severed, and for a long time it proved impossible to find any bridge that from Gnosticism-or neo-Platonism- to the contemporary world. But when I began to understand alchemy I realized that it represented the historical link with Gnosticism.” (Jung, Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections)
When Carl Jung had received a copy of The Secret of the Golden Flower, a Taoist book with alchemical symbolism, he began to express more interest in alchemy. “Finally I realized that the alchemists were talking in symbols…I had very soon seen that analytical psychology coincided in a most curious way with alchemy.” (Jung, Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections) Jung then discovered that alchemy was a form of a religious philosophy. Frankfurt was a center for alchemical philosophy around the 16th and 17th centuries. One of the later founders of Rosicrucianism was Michael Maier, famous alchemist and author of the Atalanta Fugiens.
Jung’s family was Masonic, belonging to the Swiss lodge. The family arms, of a cross and grapes, was Masonic and Rosicrucian. The Free Masons of course also deriving their knowledge from alchemy and Egypt. Free Mason translate from the Egyptian Phree Messen, or “Children of Light.” This of course is taken to be the literal “Child of Lucifer” by the modern critiques, for Lucifer translates from Latin to ‘light bringer’ or ‘light bearing’ and even ‘son of the morning’. But I believe it is more closely associated with the Platonic philosophy that there is no evil in the world, just as there is no true darkness, just a lack of light, or goodness.
While the late psychologist dove deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, Jung found even deeper connections with Christ, alchemy, and ultimately the human psyche. He goes on to mention how Jesus represented a collective mentality, an archetypal human being. In one hand the deep Messianic cultural root, of a messiah, a martyr combined with the Egyptian Horus myth. “It was essentially conceded with the son of man, gods own son, who stood opposed to the deified Augustus, the ruler of this world. This idea fastened upon the originally Jewish problem of the Messiah and made it a world problem.” (Jung, Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections)
When Jesus spoke in parables, it often frustrated and confused his closest followers. Jesus would typically say “let he who has ears listen,” meaning whomsoever has the wisdom to understand the metaphors I use, listen up. There are certainly Gnostic elements found within the Bible including the bridegroom and androgynous ideologies (Thomas 36:3-4). “The notion that humans will return to the primordial state of sexual non-differentiation when they put off the body (their clothes) is congenial to the developing gnostic trend.” (The Jesus Seminar).
The references to the bridegroom has multiple deep connections. One being the alchemical idea of unifying both the soul and spirit, the duality incarnate within us all. With the union of the feminine and masculine energies, one attains ‘wholeness’. The other is idea death, as Jung had seen it. “..from another point of view, however, death appears as a joyful event. In the light of eternity, it is a wedding, a mysterious coniunctionis. The should attains, as it were, its missing half, it achieves wholeness. On Greek sarcophagi the joyous element was represented by dancing girls, on Etruscan tombs by banquets. When the pious Cabbalist Rabbi Simon ben Jochai came to die, his friends said that he was celebrating his wedding. To this day it is the custom in many regions to hold a picnic on the graves on All Soul’s Day.” (Jung, Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections)
Jung, C. G. (1961) Memories, Dreams, Reflections
De Jong, H. M. E. (2002) Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens: Sources of an Alchemical Book of Emblems
Miles, J. (2001) Christ: A Crisis In The Life Of God
The King James Bible
The Oxford Study Bible
Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?
Meyer, Marvin. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition. Harper Collins. 2007.
The Secret Book of John; The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition. Harper Collins. 2007.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Tao Te Chin
The Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Ani)
A Vision by William Butler Yeats
Blavatsky, Helena. Isis Unveiled (Volumes 1 & 2). (1877)