The Discovery of Gospel Texts
Codices written in Coptic script and bound into book form were discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. This collection of texts included evidence that these were transcriptions of more ancient Greek and Aramaic manuscripts, and that these copies were produced in the early Fourth Century at nearby desert monasteries located north of Luxor during the late Roman colonial period circa AD 315, under the leadership of (Saint) Pachomius, a disciple of the aged hermit of the wilderness Palemon. The famous (Saint) Anthony (AD 251-356), "the father of the monastics", was also one of the monks of this monastery.
The mystical tenets and underlying background of myth which in Roman times, by the Second Century, had come to be called the "Gnostic Religion", (from the Greek "gnosis", knowledge, insight), belonged to a diverse tradition of mystical thinking which can be traced from sources in Mesopotamian cosmology, Chaldean magic and alchemy, the speculations of Hebrew Midrashim and Gematria numerology, Egyptian Tarot and Hermetic mysticism, as well as Hellenic mythology and the Pythagorean and Platonic philosophies.
In Syria and Egypt at the time of the Judean revolt in 73 C.E., the the Nazarean movement was already widespread and the stories of Christ were appropriated into the system because they seemed pertinent to many of the issues of historical prophecy.
The texts produced during the previous millennium provided the worship scriptures to a vast factionalization of non-Judaic and non-pagan religious practices: those adhering to the ascetic monastic tradition, or to the celibacy, both in and out of wedlock, advocated by Paul and the woman leader Thecla, and as well to those practicing the libertine orgiastics that descended from the mystery cults of Bacchus and Isis.
The collection of texts, also referred to as The Nag Hammadi Library or the Coptic Gnostic Library, contained fifty-two separate tractates, six of which are duplicates, in twelve codices, and the eight leaves of a thirteenth. Previously unknown works, such as writings attributed to Seth (the third son of Adam and Eve), as well as gospels of apocrypha, such as The Gospel of Truth, The Gospel of Thomas, and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene formerly considered lost, were discovered.
As the Roman Empire had undergone its division into East and West in 293 under the reign of Diocletian (284-305). With the removal of the capital to Byzantium under the rule of Constantine the Great (306-337), the Christian leadership left in Rome soon became a virtual government in situ. While Christianity had been made a "permitted religion" in 260 C.E., under Valerian. Beginning in the month of March in the nineteenth year of his reign, 303, Diocletian had issued four edicts renewing the persecution of Christians everywhere in the empire : The first decree called for the destruction of all churches, the surrender of scriptures, and the deprivation of patricians practicing Christianity of their civil rights. The second decree called for the imprisonment of all clergy ; the third decree for their torture and summary execution. The fourth edict invoked a merciless campaign of trials and wholesale slaughter upon all those refusing to sacrifice to the gods (i.e. to touch the rotting Mithraic pagan sacrifice of the bull placed in each town square). As witnessed by the historian Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, the reign of terror extended well into Egypt, with the mass executions of willing martyrs (Greek: "witness" of faith) at Alexandria in 303, including the Bishop of Thumis, and even resistant provincial Roman magistrates.
A year following the abdication of Dioceltian in 305, Constantine was declared Emperor by his army at York, by virtue of descendence from his father the Emperor Constantinus, but he was prevented from assuming power at Rome by the military strength there of Maxentius, (the son of Maximian, Diocletian's Augustus in the West of the divided Empire), Maxentinus again invoked another persecution of the Christians in 311, until Constantine and his legions marched in from the Eastern capital to personally remove him, in 312, defeating him at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge near Rome.
At this time Constantine openly declared himself as Christian, and instituted Christianity as the state religion. With the seat of imperial power shifted to the East, the formerly persecuted leadership was invested with favor and civil office, and was now regarded as the rear guard of an alliance of faith. Meanwhile in Syria and Egypt the practices of Christianity had developed in a blend of regional theologies and customs.
By the time of the Council of Nicaea, in northern Anatolia, in 325, and the codification of the "Nicene Creed" as the official tenet of dogma, the list of Synoptic Gospels had been selected from many diverse texts. In an effort to spread Christianity into northern Europe, anathematic and non-"synoptic" texts not adhering to clear statements on the principles of Trinity, Virgin Birth, and apostolic succession were suppressed by orthodox followers, especially during the next fifty years.
During this period of transition from Mithraic pagan rule to Christian influence, there were thus several critical moments when anxiety in Coptic quarters of a total suppression of unsanctioned literature would have logically compelled the reproduction of volumes for secret storage. That the cache of texts were finally hidden at Nag Hammadi in fear of militant orthodox Christians might be interpreted from the fact that the find also contained a copy of The Republic of Plato, previously considered an acceptable work of political theory.
The only extant works of Gnostic writing until 1945 were in the hands of the British Museum since the late 18th Century: Two copies of the Book of Pistis-Sophia, in Coptic, had been acquired in 1785. Also, two copies in Coptic of Book of Jeu [Book of J], a later treatise of derivative quality, had also been obtained near the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes in 1769. The significance of this purchase was not recognized until late 1800's.
Also known for centuries in Persia, the Mandean text The Acts of Thomas was said to contain Gnostic passages. A codex of three Gnostic documents -- The Gospel of Marcion (Syria), The Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus (Alexandria), and The Valentinian Speculation (2nd Century, Rome), -- was purchased in Cairo in 1896 for the British Museum, but only became available for general study in 1950.
In 1930, a library of Manichaean papyri was discovered in Egypt with about 3500 badly preserved pages dating back to the 4th Century. This collection contained one of Mani's own books, The Kephalaia ["Chapters"], formerly believed irretrievably lost. In the decades following the successful suppression of the Gnostics, the deeply dualistic philosophy of the Manichaean religion, widespread throughout Persia and Syria, became the cause of Christian Church fathers greatest alarm as they witnessed its spread into Central and Western Europe.
In the fall of 1945, a earthen jar was found by a 31 year old camel driver named Mohammed Ali El-Samman while digging for sebakh, a sedimentary topsoil enriched by the annual flooding of the Nile. The jar was unearthed at the base of a talus, a sloping pile of sand and rocks at the base of a cliff, at Gebel et Tarif. El-Samman was at the time involved at the time in a violent interfamily feud and was trying to avoid the authorities. He subsequently left the jar in his home, in the care of his mother, who opened it sometime later, and possibly used several of the leaves for kindling, despite the fear her son had expressed that the jar might contain a dangerous jinn....
1. DUALISM IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
The Mesopotamian Sumerian Creation epic : "The Enuma Elish."
This earliest Western text contains the so-called "panic of the gods.," depicting the battle of the primordial beast Tiamat and her husband Abu-Abyss, against their clamorous progeny led by Marduk and Ea.
The rich agricultural delta region at the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was first entered by peoples arriving from the northern mountains of the Causasus as early as the Ninth Millenium BCE., then joined by Semitic nomadic tribes native to the mountains and desert of the Saudi peninsula. Thirdly, an influx of seafaring peoples arriving from the Persian Gulf around 3000 BCE, the Sumerians, introduced writing and mathematics.
1. In the city of Eridu -- Water is considered the beginning of all things:
The inhabited world sprang up from the deep and is still encircled by Khubur, the ocean stream, beyond which the sun-god pastures his cattle.
In the city Babylon (later) -- Heaven is a solid vault, the foundation of which
rests on the vast ocean (Tiamat) which also supported the earth.
Tiamat and Apsu - (in the Sumerian text Enumah Elish) are the dragons of the primordial void: Tiamat - "watery mass" (salt water) & Apsu - "sweet waters" (fresh water) are mingled together in a divine androgynous matrix. (Tehom - Hebrew in Genesis : lit. "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.")
universe is divided into four major domains:
1. Sky = Anu - descendant of Apsu and Tiamat.
2. The Earth = Enlil - ("Lord of the Storm") of the mountains and eventually the Earth, venerated at Nippur.
3. The Waters = Ea - (closely associated with Apsu) - also god of magic and wisdom. In the Enuma Elish, Ea is the creator of man.
The Underworld = Nergal ("Ne-iri-gal" - "powers of the great
abode") also assumed functions of Erra, originally the God of Pestilence.
In Babylonian mythology, Nergal descended into the underworld and took control
of it by force from Erishkegal, Queen of the Lower Regions. The cult of
Nergal is centered at Kutha.
Marduk and The Panic of the Gods
Marduk was the eldest of the great-great grandchildren of Tiamat and Apsu. The dragons had grown weary of the ceaseless din of their progeny. The rumour began to circulate among the lesser gods that Tiamat was about to destroy them all for the sake of quietude, and they were terror stricken:
The gods wept as they hastened.
Silence reigned as they sat whispering.
The exceedingly wise one, the clever in skill,
Ea, who knowesth all things, conceiveth their plan.
Ea, god/godess of dawn, by an incantation, puts Apsu, the male dragon, to sleep in a cave, and then kills him. Tiamat, now ready to avenge her husband's death, creates a host of monsters to destroy her children the gods:
They cursed the daylight
and went forth at the side of Taimat.
With poisonous blood she filled their bodies.
Gruesome monsters she caused to be clothed with terror.
She caused them to bear dreadfulness, she made
them like gods.
Whosoever beholds them they ban with terror.
Their bodies rear up and none restrain their breasts.
When Ea hears of Tiamat's host of monsters,
"painfully he becomes faint, like one that lapses into
silence,he sits down". He appeals to his father, who goes
to ask the sky-god Anu to make an attempt to attack Tiamat,
Anu makes this attempt, but flees in terror before her, and
all the gods now appeal to Marduk: he is the only one who
can rescue them.
Marduk makes ready a bow and arrow and takes a toothed
sickle in his hand. He creates the Seven Winds, takes out
his quiver the "Cyclone", and drives his chariot of the storm.
A sheen of flames surround his head and he advances against
Tiamat, bearing "the plant of extinguishing poisons."
Marduk draws nigh and peers into her lower inward parts.
There he sees inside the waiting open jaws of Apsu Kingu her husband,
apparently revived in the womb.
His confidence falters, his mind becomes distracted and his
movements disordered. The gods are faint with despair, but Marduk
rallies to battle.
As Tiamat opens her mouth to devour him, Marduk's raging winds rip into her belly and weaken her. His arrow tears through her belly, severs her inwards, and rends asunder her heart.
Finally, he splits her into two parts, and with half of her, he makes his own way up to the heavens.
The Legends of Seth, 3rd son of Adam and Eve
The creation of Adam:
Adam is visited by succubus causing nocturnal emissions.
creation of Eve:
Eve is a daughter of Sophia (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:25):
When realizing she was desired by incubus, Eve hid from them by leaving her counterfeit image beside the sleeping Adam. But the progeny of her raped image became a race of demons.
When Adam first saw Eve, he recognized in her not a mere marital partner, but a spiritual power: 'And when he saw her, he said, "It is you who have given me life, you shall be called the Mother of the Living [Eve]; for it is she who is my Mother. It is she who is the Physician, and the woman, and She Who has Given Birth."'
The episode of the temptation of Eve is interpreted through the eyes of the Snake, who is sympathetic that God wishes to keep his created creatures in a state of ignorance of the underlying nature of reality. He offers a perception that subordinate forces have claimed supremacy in the universe, symbolized in the danger of the "fruit" of the tree of knowledge.
The Apocacalypse of
Adam (Nag Hammadi text):
Adam's vision of the Flood was conveyed to Seth in his dying testament on his death bed. Seth is given a set of prophecies of events to occur during Seth's life time and succeding generations, including the tribulations of Noah and his wife.
Seed of Seth":
Seth was the offspring of Adam and Eve born to replace the slain Abel. His descendants were entrusted with the oral history of his family.
The Apocryphon of John
Noah and his wife Norea - "virgin daughter of Eve" (in Archons) (cf. Talmud : Naamah - a descendant of Cain) Norea, banned from entering the ark, burned it four times.
Legends of the Canaanite
storm gods :
North Canaanite epics, older than the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, beginning with Genesis), vividly depict the exploits of the weather-god Baal, the Rider of the Clouds, who with two clubs bludgeoned the gods of the sea and river, Prince Yamm and Judge Nahar, confining them to their proper spheres.
The Book of the Angel Raziel -
In the Book of Genesis, the legends are referred according to worlds created by God, ours being the last and the only attempt which pleased Him, because he created it according to strict Justice. He then saw that Justice alone would undermine this creation, so he affected it with Mercy, and made them to rule jointly, and thus prevailed Divine Goodness.
And so in every Nisan, at the time of the Spring Equinox, the Seraphim would approach the world and intimidate the myraids of evil spirits at large, so that they fear to do harm to men. In Tammuz, at the time of the Summer Solstice, the tame animals are given protection from the wild ones, when the strength of the Behemot is at its height, he roars so loud that all the animals hear it and are affrighted and made timid for one whole year. In Tishri, at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the great bird Ziz flaps its huge wings and utters its cry, so that the birds of prey, the eagles and vultures, blench, and they fear to swoop down upon the others and annihiliate them in their greed. At the time of the Winter Solstice, in the month of Tebet, the great Leviathan spouts up water from the deep, and the fish become uneasy, and restrain their appetites, and the little ones escape their rapacity.
That the goodness of God may rule upon the Earth as in heaven, the Angels of Destruction are assigned a place at the far end of heaven, from which they may never stir, while the Angels of Mercy encircle the Throne of God, at His behest.
The Hittites & the later Anatolian kingdoms in the Histories of Herodotus.
The Bronze Age and the development of metallurgy.
mysterious origin of the Aeons :
The thirty archons, the Duodecad, Decad, and Ogdoad (12, 10, & 8) of Neo- Babylon, bearing the familiar names of Metatron, Abraxas, Adamas, Christos, and Sophia.
The Hypostasis of the Archons
The Apocalypse of Adam
Classes of Angels
The first created order of beings: in the Kabbalah, the innermost circle of angels surrounding the so called "glory" (spectral radiance) of Godhead, considered to be mute messengers.
A principal name in gnostic theogony, The Supreme Unknown, the unknowable; in earlier Persian mythology, Abraxas is the source of 365 emanations; the name is often found engraved on gems used as amulets. In the Kabbalah, he is named as Prince of the Aeons, (The Sword of Moses, The Book of the Angel Raziel). The magical word "abracadabra" was reputedly derived from his name. The later gnostic writer Basilides claims that Abraxas was the archon-ruler of 365 Heavens and acted as mediator between the animate creatures of the earth and the Godhead.
The first (as also the last) of the 10 archangels, called king of angels, prince of the divine face or presence, chancellor of heaven, angel of the covenant, chief of the administering angels, and the lesser YHWH (Tetragrammaton). He is charged with the sustenance of mankind. In Talmud and Targum, he is the link between the human and divine. In his earthly incarnation he is identified as Enoch, although also claimed to be the angel Michael. In Kabbalah, he is the angel who led the children of Israel through the wilderness. Upon arriving in heaven as Enoch, he was equipped with 36 pairs of wings and innumerable eyes. His name has been interpreted as "the one who occupies the throne next to the divine throne." When invoked, he appears as "a pillar of fire, his face more dazzling than the sun.." In the later Zohar, Metatron is spoken of as the "rod of Moses", from one end of which comes life, the other end comes death. Also thought to be the supreme angel of death, to whom God gives daily orders of which souls to take. Also thought to be the angel who stayed the hand of Abraham, on the point of sacrificing Isaac. Also, thought to be the teacher of prematurely dead children in Paradise.
The 13th and last of the initially created Aeons. The personification of Wisdom.
Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, was considered the source of a Semitic gnosis, spread from Mesopotamia into Canaan and Assyria, in which Sophia is the name of the 13th, last, and only feminine entity of the initially created Aeons, the first created order of beings, considered to be the mute messengers of Jehovah. Of these, Abraxas is the first, the Supreme Unknowable, the source of 365 Emanations. Even in the later Kaballah, the Aeons are the innermost circle of angels, surrounding the spectral radiance of God; Hokhma, Wisdom, is one of the ten points of light composing the sefiroth ladder of illumination.
Sophia is the Aeon of Wisdom, who is anguished with her subordinated and isolated position in the heavens. Wishing to create a perfect universe but being unable to find a partner in the Pleroma, the upper "fullness," she unlawfully seeks one from the lower regions, the Kenoma, the chaotic abyss or void beneath. She tries to procreate with her own personified Anguish from within the Void, but produces only abortive matter -- the abominable birth of Yldaboath -- the dark Demiurgos of the physical world...[The Tree of Gnosis, Ioan P. Couliano, pp. 70-88; Harper San Francisco, 1992]
The 13th Aeon or archon, Sof ia is found by the Savior Archon Christos, seated below the others, weeping : Having once caught a glimpse of the Supreme Light, normally obstructed from her view by the positions of the first twelve archons, Sophia is seized by the desire to fly up to it. But Adamas, ruler-Archon of her proper place, becomes enraged at her act of rebellion against himself and causes a false light -- ignis fatuus -- to shine upon the waters of the subjacent Chaos; she is lured down into the Abyss and beset by spirits eager to deprive her of her native light. By the Savior Archon Christos aid, she ascends through the positions of all twelve Aeons and sings a confession at each stage of her deliverance out of chaos. [Gnostics & Their Remains, C.W. King; G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1887]
In the parallel
narrative, Jesus is speaking. Each confession is proposed by Jesus to one
apostle at a time for explanation. Mary Magdalene mainly answers
the propositions, as though possessing foreknowledge, and only Peter rebukes her
for not allowing the men to speak as Pistis-Sophia regains her lost position.
Creation and Salvation according to
Mani (C.E. 216-275):
Mandeanism -- a belief in the parity of Darkness and Light in the Universe, practiced throughout medieval Europe until banned and persecuted as heresy, also practiced
in present day Iraq & southwest Iran.
2. Hieroglyphics & Hermetics
of the Nile Valley:
Amun Ra, Horus, Hathor, Osiris, Isis, Seth, Anubis, Ptah, and Thoth.
Symbol and Magic in Egyptian art.
The inventor of the hieroglyphic alphabet, and his tributary Hermes Trismegistus, writer of the Poimandres (the Hermetica.,) the earliest extant alchemical and gnostic treatise. Represented the divine intelligence, which at the creation uttered the words that were carried into effect by...
Ptah ("The Opener" : connection with truth upon the earth) and Khnemu ("The Moulder"; connection with the primeval water, inundation, and "Lord of the Cataract.") Thoth was self-produced, and was the great god of earth, air, sky, and sea; and he united in himself the attributes of many gods. He was the scribe of the gods, and regarded as the inventor of all the arts and sciences. Thoth was the god of right and truth. As the chronologer of heaven and earth, he became the god of the moon; as the reckoner of time, he obtained his name Tehuti, "the measurer"; he had the power to grant life for millions of years to the deceased.
The Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus "Thrice Great Hermes" (in Alexandria identified w/Thoth): The Primal Man sinking into nature is the dramatic climax of the revelation, matched by the ascent of soul.
The scientific traditions of Geometry, Astronomy, Medicine, Chemistry, and Architecture in the temple schools.
Ancient Greek Gnosis
The Hyperboreans, Ophion, the Titans, Apollo, and the Pantheon of Zeus.
The Keraomos & Creation (Greek: the chaotic commixture of Light and matter.)
Eurynome - In the Pelasgian Cosmology
The Goddess of All Things, rose naked from Chaos, but found nothing substantial to support her feet. Eurynome therefore divided the sea from the sky, dancing lonely upon its waves towards the south, and set the wind in motion behind her. She turned about and caught the North Wind, Boreas, between her two hands and rubbed them together until a great coiling serpent appeared, Ophion. She danced about wilder and wilder to warm herself, until Ophion, grown lustful coiled about her divine limbs and was moved to couple with her. Eurynome then assumed the form of a dove, brooding upon the waves, and in due process of time, laid the Universal Egg of the Cosmos. At her bidding, Ophion coiled seven times around the egg until it hatched and split in two. Out tumbled all things that exist, her children: sun, moon, planets, stars, the earth with its mountains, rivers, trees, herbs, and living creatures.
Eurynome and Ophion made their home upon Mount Olympus, where her vexed her by claiming to be the author of the Universe. She thus bruised his head, kicked out his teeth, and banished Ophion to the dark caves below the earth.
The Greek sciences and technology:
Harmony, ship building, engineering, medicine, and atomic theory.
The Theory of Harmony & Harmonics in Pythagoras.
The heliocentric and geocentric systems of Greek astronomy.
4. GNOSIS in the HOLY LAND
Torah, Midrash, Mitzvot, Pseudigraphia, and the roots of Kabbalah in the Book of Enoch.
Testimony of Truth - Midrash
A commentary on "Creator's" deficiency in the matter of the forbidden fruit: "Adam, where are you?" indicated he didn't know where he was despite His omniscience. This passage is also interpreted by other sources as being actually a reproach or lament.
Halakhah - The laws of ritual handed down into the great tomes studied for the literal observance of the 613 Laws of Hebrew ritual, of calendar, and the dietary kashrut, and of virtue and mitzvoh (good deeds).
Haggadah - The non-legal miscellany of ancient tales and knowledge handed down from oral tradition into literature. The symbolic/ poetic interpolation and of Halakhah.
Kabbalah - the "Hidden Wisdom" underlying Mosaic Law.
The Tetragrammaton is the secret Name of Power, composed of the four characters in the Hebrew alphabet (translated in Roman script as YHVH. The true pronunciation is reserved unto the highest priest of the ark, due to its tremendous awesome power.
As with the label "Gnosticism", the name "Kabbalah" was also a later appellation given to the Judaic texts which were concerned with mystical experience and its relation to the observance of the covenants with Hashem (Yaweh) : circumcision, kashrut, meditation on the Torah, and Shabbes (the Sabbath).
- a divine emanation through which God manifested His existence in the creation
of the universe. In the Kabbalah, there are 10 holy ones issuing from His right
1. Kether (Crown)
2. Hokmah (wisdom)
3. Binah (understanding)
4. Chesed (mercy)
5. Geburah (strength)
6. Tiphereth (beauty)
7. Netzach (victory)
8. Hod (splendor)
9. Jesod (foundation)
10. Malkruth (kingdom)
10 unholy ones issue from His left side:
1. Thaumiel- The two contending Forces [Ashmedai]
2. Ghogiel -- The Hinders [Kafkefoni]
3. Satariel -- The Concealers [Tanniver (the blind dragon)]
4. Agshekeloh -- The Breakers in Pieces
5. Golohab -- The Burners
6. Tagiriron -- The Disputers
7. Gharab Tzerek -- The Ravens of Death
8. Samael -- The Liar or Poison of God
9. Gamaliel -- The Obscene Ones
10. Lilith (Sammael's mate) -- Queen of the Night and of Demons
Gemmatria - numerology system of the Hebrew
alphabet, (from the vision of the tablets at Mount Sinai - based on the value
in repeating series of 1 through 9 of the
characters of the Hebrew alphabet, black fire painted on white fire.)
The Bahir Illumination (12th Century)
First published around 1176 by the Providence School of Kabbalists, circulated to a limited readership in manuscript form. The first printing at Amsterdam, 1651. The text can be roughly divided into five parts:
The first verses of creation.
2. The Alphabet.
3. The Seven Voices and Sefirot.
4. The Ten Sefirot.
5. Mysteries of the Soul.
Jewish and Zoroastrian messianism, and the prestage of Christianity.
A Chronology of the Israelites --
c. 2000 BCE. - Abraham arrives into Palestine
He is said to have lived to the age of 175 years. His grandson Israel (Jacob) with his numerous progeny subsequently took up residence in Egypt at the approximately the time of the usurpation there by the Hyksos, who were also a Semitic people.
c. 1425 - The events of the rebellion of the Israelites enslaved to the building of the pyramids, the Pasover, and the flight out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses.
Pentateuch written by
Genesis I; II
Fifteenth to Eleventh Centuries B.C.E. - Conquest and settlement of Palestine, including the defeat of the Phillestine invaders in control of the coastal plain until the 11th century.
Kings I - IV
1013 - 973 - Reign of David, following death in battle of Saul military leader of the tribe of Benjamin. David eventually captured Jerusalem and extended rule over whole all of the Hebrew tribes of Palestine.
973 - 933 - Reign of Solomon, son of David, developed Jerusalem as the capital, and built the grandiose First Temple, where sacrificial worship was to be concentrated.
933 - Ten northern tribes broken away and formed by Jeroboam into the Kingdom of Israel, with its capital at Samaria. Conquered by Assyria in 721 B.C.E. and most of its
933 - 597 BCE. - Kingdom of Judah, capital at Jerusalem.
579 - Assyria, still a menace, and Judah both overwhelmed by the armies of the new
Babylonian Empire. In 586, all inhabitants but the lowest classes removed into servitude into the central Babylonian provinces, the "Babylonian Captivity."
539 - Babylonian Empire overthrown by the Persian, Cyrus the Great, who encouraged their return into Palestine. Second Temple built over previous site on reduced scale.
481 - Xerxes (c.519-465) King of Persia, son of Darius I, who rules Judah as an autonomous province, attempts to impose control over Greece after Darius' defeat at Marathon, 492, but is defeated at Salamis, 480. Xerxes is historically identified as King Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther, his queen, whose Judeism is unknown until Xerxes prime minister Haman plots to kill all the remaining Jews in Persia. His plan is frustrated by Esther and her cousin Mordecai.
454 - The building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
331 BCE -- Alexander the Great conquers Anatolia (Turkey), Syria, Palestine and Egypt, and moves his armies towards the Empire of Persia. With subsequent colonization, Hellenic systems of mathematics, science, and philosophy are introduced into Eastern thinking and social organization. Greek democratic political ideology is greeted with social popularity, and so-called "Hellenized Judaism" develops.
63 BCE - Roman Pompey's Syrian Campaign, conquest, and colonization. Sadducees, keepers of the Temple sacrificial activities rose to prominence following Roman colonization.
70 CE (Common Era) - destruction of Second Temple by Romans --> rise to prominence of more liberal Pharisees, advocates of household ritual, kashrut, leading to decentralized and scholarly rabbinic Judaism.
College of the Essenes
- dedicated to Diana (Greek) & Megabyzae (magian) "curious
arts". Following the final prohibition of Jews from Palestine (CE 132), a
collection of texts in scrolls of the Essene group was hidden in a cave overlooking
the shores of the Dead Sea in Galilee.
Mani (Persia, C.E. 216-275) Mandeanism -- a belief in the parity of Darkness and Light in the Universe, practiced throughout medieval Europe until banned and persecuted as heresy, also practiced in present day Iraq & southwest Iran.
Book of Zohar - "the Splendid Lights" (13th Century)
messianic testament of Jesus Christ and the 13 Apostles.
The Theurgy of Jesus, and his encounter with Simon Magus.
The Secret Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Thomas - collection of 114 sayings of Jesus
The Gospel of James (brother of Jesus)
Simon Magus - a later contemporary of Jesus. (described in Acts of the Apostles 8:9-11)
The Light Imprisoned in the Body of the Whore
Gospel According to Mary Magdalene.
Concerning the spiritual knowledge and theurgic powers of Jesus of Nazareth: The extant text can be easily divided into two parts. The first section describes the dialog between the risen Savior and his disciples, where he answers their questions concerning matter and sin. The Savior argues that sin is not a moral category but a cosmological one, due to the improper mixing of the material and the spiritual.
The second section begins with a description by Mary of a revelation given to her by the Savior not before disclosed to them: the answer to her question of how one sees a vision. The Savior explains that the soul sees through the mind which is between the soul and the spirit.
Great Questions of Mary (never found)
Epiphanius (4th Century) - recounted story contained of Jesus taking Mary onto a mountain where she witnesses Him produce a woman from his side and begin to have intercourse with her. cf.: Jesus (in Gospel of John [Synoptic]): "I have told you of earthly things and you do not believe; how can I tell you of heavenly things?" (3:12) and "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." (6:53).
The dualism of Mary the Virgin and Mary Magdalene.
Gospel of Marcion:
The angels that made the world.
Faith (as opposed to Knowledge) & the Ascetic morality.
5. The Roman "Pneumatics"
The "Pleroma," or "fullness in the world of the Aeons," in the profound cosmology of Valentinius, 2nd century Roman bishop from Alexandria, then taught in Rome, CE 135-160, possibly also the author of the "Pistis Sophia."
Gospel of Truth
Crisis in the Pleroma
Restoration of the Pleroma
The Sufferings of the Lower Sophia
The Origination of Matter
Derivation of the Single Elements
The existence of the Pneumatic Gnosis was preserved in the repressive attacks in the writings of Iranaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Augustine, while the texts
in question eventually disappeared following their being banned by the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, when orthodox Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire during the rule of Constantine.
- Five Books Against the Heresies, (born in Gaul) - disciple of Polycarp
(disciple of St. John), elected Bishop of Lyon AD 174.
Hippolytus - Refutation of all Heresies
Bishop of Ostia [Portus], not invective, put to death AD 222.
Tertullian - (AD 160 - c. 225) Wrote vigorous defences of orthodox Christianity against
Gnosticism, Marcionism and Sebellianism. Later came into sympathy of Montanist sect and abrogated the Catholic Church in its favor.
St. Augustine - Confessions describes the autobiography of temptations of a young man coming of age in the late 4th century. Civita Dei (City of God).
The Council of Nicea, reduced the formation of the "New Testament" to the "synoptic gospels" of Luke, Matthew, Mark, John, and Paul.
6. GNOSIS in the RENAISSANCE.
Dante and Giotto : the preservation of Classical philosophy, and the Christian geo/cthono-centric visual cosmology.
The Hermetic work of the medieval alchemists and Western Esoteric tradition.
The reemergence of Gnosis in Ficinos natural magic, Pico della Mirandolas Cabalism, and Giordano Brunos cosmology.
Hermetic mysteries and the Greek Pantheon revealed in Italian and Northern Renaissance painting.
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