The Nag Hammadi Library

and extracts from

The Gospel of Philip

The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary Gnostic scriptures -- texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define "orthodoxy".

It includes scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth.The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, completed in the 1970's, has provided impetus to a major re-evaluation of early Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism.

Within the following extracts from one such scripture, I have made a few comments and to distinguish them from the text (should there be any doubt, I have coloured them Blue). Where pieces of the original manuscripts were either indecypherable or destroyed, those portions have been marked with square brackets so[ ].

On origins and types.

1. A Hebrew makes another Hebrew, and such a person is called "proselyte". But a proselyte does not make another proselyte.

2. A horse sires a horse, a man begets man, a god brings forth a god. Compare the bridegroom and the bride. They have come from the [...]. No Jew [...] has existed. And [...] from the Jews. [...] Christians [...] these [...] are referred to as "The chosen people of [...]," and "The true man" and "Son of Man" and "the seed of the Son of Man". This true race is renowned in the world [...] that the sons of the bridal chamber dwell.

3. The human being has intercourse with the human being. The horse has intercourse with the horse, the ass with the ass. Members of a race usually have associated with those of like race. So spirit mingles with spirit, and thought consorts with thought, and light shares with light. If you are born a human being, it is the human being who will love you. If you become a spirit, it is the spirit which will be joined to you. If you become thought, it is thought which will mingle with you. If you become light, it is the light which will share with you. If you become one of those who belong above, it is those who belong above who will rest upon you. If you become horse or ass or bull or dog or sheep, or another of the animals which are outside or below, then neither human being nor spirit nor thought nor light will be able to love you. Neither those who belong above nor those who belong within will be able to rest in you, and you have no part in them.

4. Now you who live together with the Son of God, love not the world, but love the Lord, in order that those you will bring forth may not resemble the world, but may resemble the Lord.

The saying that like beggats like has taken on new meaning for me since reading the above.

Scripture tells us that: (Joh 15:19)

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, for that reason the world hates you.

On Living and Dying

5. A Gentile does not die, for he has never lived in order that he may die. He who has believed in the truth has found life, and this one is in danger of dying, for he is alive. Since Christ came, the world has been created, the cities adorned, the dead carried out. When we were Hebrews, we were orphans and had only our mother, but when we became Christians, we had both father and mother.

6. The slave seeks only to be free, but he does not hope to acquire the estate of his master. But the son is not only a son but lays claim to the inheritance of the father. Those who are heirs to the dead are themselves dead, and they inherit the dead. Those who are heirs to what is living are alive, and they are heirs to both what is living and the dead. The dead are heirs to nothing. For how can he who is dead inherit? If he who is dead inherits what is living he will not die, but he who is dead will live even more.

7. The cup of prayer contains wine and water, since it is appointed as the type of the blood for which thanks is given. And it is full of the Holy Spirit, and it belongs to the wholly perfect man. When we drink this, we shall receive for ourselves the perfect man. The living water is a body. It is necessary that we put on the living man. Therefore, when he is about to go down into the water, he unclothes himself, in order that he may put on the living man.

8. Christ came to ransom some, to save others, to redeem others. He ransomed those who were strangers and made them his own. And he set his own apart, those whom he gave as a pledge according to his plan. It was not only when he appeared that he voluntarily laid down his life, but he voluntarily laid down his life from the very day the world came into being. Then he came first in order to take it, since it had been given as a pledge. It fell into the hands of robbers and was taken captive, but he saved it. He redeemed the good people in the world as well as the evil

9. These are powers which [...] man, not wishing him to be saved, in order that they may [...]. For if man is saved, there will not be any sacrifices [...] and animals will not be offered to the powers. Indeed, the animals were the ones to whom they sacrificed. They were indeed offering them up alive, but when they offered them up, they died. As for man, they offered him up to God dead, and he lived.

10. Before Christ, some came from a place they were no longer able to enter, and they went where they were no longer able to come out. Then Christ came. Those who went in, he brought out, and those who went out, he brought in. When Eve was still with Adam, death did not exist. (Eve was with (in) Adam before the rib was removed). When she was separated from him, death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more.

(Mk 15:34)

"My God, my God, why, O Lord, have you forsaken me?" .

It was on the cross that he said these words, for he had departed from that place. [...] who has been begotten through him who [...] from God. The [...] from the dead. [...] to be, but now [...] perfect. [...] flesh, but this [...] is true flesh. [...] is not true, but [...] only possess an image of the true. The Lord said, "Blessed is he who is before he came into being. For he who is, has been and shall be."

On The Garden, Adam and Eve.

11. Adam came into being from two virgins, from the Spirit and from the virgin earth. Christ therefore, was born from a virgin to rectify the Fall which occurred in the beginning.

12. There are two trees growing in Paradise. The one bears animals, the other bears men. Adam ate from the tree which bore animals. He became an animal and he brought forth animals. For this reason the children of Adam worship animals. The tree [...] fruit is [...] increased. [...] ate the [...] fruit of the [...] bears men, [...] man. [...] God created man. [...] men create God. That is the way it is in the world - men make gods and worship their creation. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men!

13. Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.

14. Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing. So also when speaking about baptism they say, "Baptism is a great thing," because if people receive it they will live.

15. The Lord said, "Blessed is he who is before he came into being. For he who is, has been and shall be."

On Christ

16. Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman? (This refers to the gender placed on the word for Holy Spirit, which in Hebrew is feminine. It was changed in the Greek translation to neuter). Mary is the virgin whom no power defiled. She is a great anathema to the Hebrews, who are the apostles and the apostolic men. This virgin whom no power defiled [...] the powers defile themselves. And the Lord would not have said "My Father who is in Heaven" (Mt 16:17), unless he had had another father, but he would have said simply "My father".

17. Christ came to ransom some, to save others, to redeem others. He ransomed those who were strangers and made them his own. And he set his own apart, those whom he gave as a pledge according to his plan. It was not only when he appeared that he voluntarily laid down his life, but he voluntarily laid down his life from the very day the world came into being. Then he came first in order to take it, since it had been given as a pledge. It fell into the hands of robbers and was taken captive, but he saved it. He redeemed the good people in the world as well as the evil.

18. Before Christ came, there was no bread in the world, just as Paradise, the place were Adam was, had many trees to nourish the animals but no wheat to sustain man. Man used to feed like the animals, but when Christ came, the perfect man, he brought bread from heaven in order that man might be nourished with the food of man. The rulers thought that it was by their own power and will that they were doing what they did, but the Holy Spirit in secret was accomplishing everything through them as it wished. Truth, which existed since the beginning, is sown everywhere. And many see it being sown, but few are they who see it being reaped.

19. "Jesus" is a hidden name, "Christ" is a revealed name. For this reason "Jesus" is not particular to any language; rather he is always called by the name "Jesus". While as for "Christ", in Syriac it is "Messiah", in Greek it is "Christ". Certainly all the others have it according to their own language. "The Nazarene" is he who reveals what is hidden. Christ has everything in himself, whether man, or angel, or mystery, and the Father. Those who say that the Lord died first and (then) rose up are in error, for he rose up first and (then) died. If one does not first attain the resurrection, he will not die. As God lives, he would [...].

20. It is not possible for anyone to see anything of the things that actually exist unless he becomes like them. This is not the way with man in the world: he sees the sun without being a sun; and he sees the heaven and the earth and all other things, but he is not these things. This is quite in keeping with the truth. But you saw something of that place, and you became those things. You saw the Spirit, you became spirit. You saw Christ, you became Christ. You saw the Father, you shall become Father. So in this place you see everything and do not see yourself, but in that place you do see yourself - and what you see you shall become.

21. The apostles who were before us had these names for him: "Jesus, the Nazorean, Messiah", that is, "Jesus, the Nazorean, the Christ". The last name is "Christ", the first is "Jesus", that in the middle is "the Nazarene". "Messiah" has two meanings, both "the Christ" and "the measured". "Jesus" in Hebrew is "the redemption". "Nazara" is "the Truth". "The Nazarene" then, is "the Truth". "Christ" [...] has been measured. "The Nazarene" and "Jesus" are they who have been measured.

22. If one goes down into the water and comes up without having received anything, and says "I am a Christian," he has borrowed the name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is demanded. This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a mystery.

To Be Continued