BOOK OF JOHN THE EVANGELIST
From "The Apocryphal New Testament"
M.R. James-Translation and Notes
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
Reprinted by Thilo from I. Benoist's Histoire des Albigeois, &c., Paris,
196, T. 1, 283-96. Dollinger in his Beitrage zur mittelalter-lichen Sektengeschichte,
vol. ii, printed another text from a fourteenth-century manuscript at Vienna.
I have not given the variants. Thilo's reprint is followed. The Vienna
MS. is rather imperfect at the end. Benoist derived his text from the Archives
of the Inquisition at Carcassonne. The manuscript of it had this annotation
'This is the secret book of the heretics of Concoreze, brought from
Bulgaria by their bishop Nazarius; full of errors.'
This Nazarius was examined by Rainer (Contra Waldenses, vi: printed
in Bibl. Patr. max. xxv. 271). He said that the Blessed Virgin was an angel
and that Christ did not take upon him a human nature but an angelic or
heavenly one: and that he had this erroneous teaching from a bishop and
elder son of the church of Bulgaria almost sixty years since.
The book is a Bogomile production, denying that the world was made by
God, and attributing creation to the devil. Catholic Christians are disciples
of John Baptist: baptism has no value, nor, probably the Eucharist: but
the statement about this has dropped out of the text. The law of sacrifices
(promulgated by Enoch) and the Mosaic law are works of the devil.
The account of the Last Judgement, I agree with Thilo, seems too orthodox
and conventional to square with the rest of the book: one suspects dilution
from another source. In its Latin dress the book can hardly be older than
the twelfth century. The original might be of the sixth or seventh.
I, John, your brother and partaker in tribulation, and that shall be
also a partaker in the kingdom of heaven, when I lay upon breast of our
Lord Jesus Christ and said unto him: Lord, who is he that shall betray
thee? [and] he answered and said: He that dippeth his hand with me in the
dish: then Satan entered unto him and he sought how he might betray me.
And I said: Lord, before Satan fell, in what glory abode he with thy
Father? And he said unto me: In such glory was he that he commanded the
powers of the heavens: but I sat with my Father, and he did order all the
followers of the Father, and went down from heaven unto the deep and ascended
up out of the deep unto the throne of the invisible Father. And he saw
the glory of him that moveth the heavens, and he thought to set his seat
above the clouds of heaven and desired to be like unto the Most High.
And when he had descended into the air, he said unto the angel of the
air: Open unto me the gates of the air. And he opened them unto him. And
he sought to go further downward and found the angel which held the waters,
and said unto him: Open unto me the gates of the waters. And he opened
to him. And he passed through and found all the face of the earth covered
with waters. And he passed through beneath the earth and found two fishes
lying upon the waters, and they were as oxen yoked for ploughing, holding
the whole earth by the commandment of the invisible Father, from the west
even unto the sunrising. And when he had gone down he found clouds hanging
which held the waters of the sea. And he went down yet further and found
hell, that is the gehenna of fire and thereafter he could go down no further
because of the flame of the burning fire. And Satan returned back and filled
up (passed over again) the paths and entered in unto the angel of the air
and to him that was over the waters, and said unto them: All these things
are mine: if ye will hearken unto me, I will set my seat in the clouds
and be like the Most High, and I will take the waters from this upper firmament
and gather together the other parts (places) of the sea, and thereafter
there shall be no water upon the face of all the earth, and I will reign
with you world without end.
And when he had said thus unto the angels, he went up unto the other
angels, even unto the fifth heaven, and thus spake he unto each of them:
How much owest thou unto thy lord? He said: An hundred measures (cors)
of wheat. And he said unto him: Take pen and ink and write sixty. And unto
others he said: And thou, how much owest thou unto thy lord? and he answered:
An hundred jars of oil. And he said: Sit down and write fifty. And as he
went up through all the heavens he said thus, even unto the fifth heaven,
seducing the angels of the invisible Father. And there came forth a voice
out of the throne of the Father, saying: What doest thou, O denier of the
Father, seducing the angels? doer of iniquity, that thou hast devised do
Then the Father commanded his angels, saying: Take away their garments.
And the angels took away their garments and their thrones and their crowns
from all the angels that hearkened unto him.
And I asked of the Lord: When Satan fell, in what place dwelt he? And
he answered me: My Father changed his appearance because of his pride,
and the light was taken from him, and his face became like unto heated
iron, and his face became wholly like that of a man: and he drew with his
tail the third part of the angels of God, and was cast out from the seat
of God and from the stewardship of the heavens. And Satan came down into
this firmament, and he could find (make) no rest for himself nor for them
that were with him. And he asked the Father saying: Have patience with
me and I will pay thee all. And the Father had mercy on him and gave him
rest and them that were with him, as much as they would even unto seven
And so sat he in the firmament and commanded the angel that was over
the air and him that was over the waters, and they raised the earth up
and it appeared dry: and he took the crown of the angel that was over the
waters, and of the half thereof he made the light of the moon and of the
half the light of the stars: and of the precious stones he made all the
hosts of the stars.
And thereafter he made the angels his ministers according to the order
of the form of the Most High, and by the commandment of the invisible Father
he made thunder, rain, hail, and snow.
And he sent forth angels to be ministers over them. And he commanded
the earth to bring forth every beast for food (fatling), and every creeping
thing, and trees and herbs: and he commanded the sea to bring forth fishes,
and the fowls of the heaven.
And he devised furthermore and made man in his likeness, and commanded
the (or an) angel of the third heaven to enter into the body of clay. And
he took thereof and made another body in the form of a woman, and commanded
the (or an) angel of the second heaven to enter into the body of the woman.
But the angel lamented when they beheld a mortal shape upon them and that
they were unlike in shape. And he commanded them to do the deed of the
flesh in the bodies of clay, and they knew not how to commit sin.
Then did the contriver of evil devise in his mind to make paradise,
and he brought the man and woman into it. And he Commanded to bring a reed,
and the devil planted it in the midst of paradise, and so did the wicked
devil hide his device that they knew not his deceit. And he came in and
spake unto them, saying: Of every fruit which is in paradise eat ye, but
of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil eat not. Notwithstanding,
the devil entered into a wicked serpent and seduced the angel that was
in the form of the woman, and he wrought his lust with Eve in the Song
of the serpent. And therefore are they called sons of the devil and sons
of the serpent that do the lust of the devil their father, even unto the
end of this world. And again the devil poured out upon the angel that was
in Adam the poison of his lust, and it begetteth the sons of the serpent
and the sons of the devil even unto the end of this world.
And after that I, John, asked of the Lord, saying: How say men that
Adam and Eve were created by God and set in paradise to keep the commandments
of the Father, and were delivered unto death? And the Lord said to me:
Hearken, John, beloved of my Father; foolish men say thus in their deceitfulness
that my Father made bodies of clay: but by the Holy Ghost made he all the
powers of the heavens, and holy ones were found having bodies of clay because
of their transgression, and therefore were delivered unto death.
And again I, John, asked the Lord: How beginneth a man to be in the
Spirit (to have a spirit) in a body of flesh? And the Lord said unto me:
Certain of the angels which fell do enter unto the bodies of women, and
receive flesh from the lust of the flesh, and so is a spirit born of spirit,
and flesh of flesh, and so is the kingdom of Satan accomplished in this
world and among all nations.
he said to me: My Father hath suffered him to reign seven days, which are
And I asked the Lord and said: What shall be in that time? And he said
to me: From the time when the devil fell from the glory of the Father and
(lost) his own glory, he sat upon the clouds, and sent his ministers, even
angels flaming with fire, unto men from Adam even unto Henoch his servant.
And he raised up Henoch upon the firmament and showed him his godhead and
commanded pen and ink to be given him: and he sat down and wrote threescore
and seven books. And he commanded that he should take them to the earth
and deliver them unto his sons. And Henoch let his books down upon the
earth and delivered them unto his sons, and began to teach them to perform
the custom of sacrifice, and unrighteous mysteries, and so did he hide
the kingdom of heaven from men. And he said unto them: Behold that I am
your god and beside me is none other god. And therefore did my Father send
me into the world that I might make it known unto men, that they might
know the evil device of the devil.
And then when he perceived that I had come down out of heaven into the
world, he sent an angel and took of three sorts of wood and gave them unto
Moses that I might be crucified, and now are they reserved for me. But
then (now) did the devil proclaim unto him (Moses) his godhead, and unto
his people, and commanded a law to be given unto the children of Israel,
and brought them out through the midst of the sea which was dried up.
When my Father thought to send me into the world, he sent his angel
before me, by name Mary, to receive me. And I when I came down entered
in by the ear and came forth by the ear.
And Satan the prince of this world perceived that I was come to seek
and save them that were lost, and sent his angel, even Helias the prophet,
baptizing with water: who is called John the Baptist. And Helias asked
the prince of this world: How can I know him? Then his lord said: On whom
soever thou shalt see the spirit descending like a dove and resting upon
him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost unto forgiveness of sins:
thou wilt be able to destroy him and to save. And again I, John, asked
the Lord: Can a man be saved by the baptism of John without thy baptism?
And the Lord answered: Unless I have baptized him unto forgiveness of sins,
by the baptism of water can no man see the kingdom of heaven: for I am
the bread of life that came down from the seventh heaven and they that
eat my flesh and drink my blood, they shall be called the sons of God.
And I asked the Lord and said: What meaneth it, to eat my flesh and
drink my blood? (An answer and question seem to have fallen out.) And the
Lord said unto me: Before the falling of the devil with all his host from
the glory of the Father [in prayer], they did glorify the Father in their
prayers thus, saying: Our Father, which art in heaven; and so did all their
songs come up before the throne of the Father. But when they had fallen,
after that they are not able to glorify God with that prayer.
And I asked the Lord: How do all men receive the baptism of John, but
thine not at all? And the Lord answered: Because their deeds are evil and
they come not unto the light.
The disciples of John marry and are given in marriage; but my disciples
neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in
heaven. But I said: If, then, it be sin to have to do with a woman, it
is not good to marry. And the Lord said unto me: Not every one can receive
this saying (&c., Matt. xix.11, 12).
I asked the Lord concerning the day of judgement: What shall be the
sign of thy coming? And he answered and said unto me: When the numbers
of the righteous shall be accomplished that is, the number of the righteous
that are crowned, that have fallen, then shall Satan be loosed out of his
prison, having great wrath, and shall make war with the righteous, and
they shall cry unto the Lord with a loud voice. And immediately the Lord
shall command an angel to blow with the trumpet, and the voice of the archangel
shall be heard in the trumpet from heaven even unto hell.
And then shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light,
and the stars shall fall, and the four winds shall be loosed from their
foundations, and shall cause the earth and the sea and the mountains to
quake together. And the heaven shall immediately shake and the sun shall
be darkened, and it shall shine even to the fourth hour. Then shall appear
the sign of the Son of man, and all the holy angels with him, and he shall
set his seat upon the clouds, and sit on the throne of his majesty with
the twelve apostles on the twelve seats of their glory. And the books shall
be opened and he shall judge the whole world and the faith which he proclaimed.
And then shall the Son of man send his angels, and they shall gather his
elect from the four winds from the heights of the heavens unto the boundaries
of them, and shall bring them to seek.
Then shall the Son of God send the evil spirits, to bring all nations
before him, and shall say unto them: Come, ye that did say: We have eaten
and drunk and received the gain of this world. And after that they shall
again be brought, and shall all stand before the judgement seat, even all
nations, in fear. And the books of life shall be opened and all nations
shall show forth their ungodliness. And he shall glorify the righteous
for their patience: and glory and honour and incorruption shall be the
reward of their good works: but as for them that kept the commandments
of the angels and obeyed unrighteously, indignation and trouble and anguish
shall take hold on then.
And the Son of God shall bring forth the elect out of the midst of the
sinners and say unto them: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Then shall he say unto
the sinners: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was
prepared for the devil and his angels. And the rest, beholding the last
cutting off, shall cast the sinners into hell by the commandment of the
invisible Father. Then shall the spirits of them that believe not go forth
out of the prisons, and then shall my voice be heard, and there shall be
one fold and one shepherd: and the darkness and obscurity shall come forth
out of the lower parts of the earth -that is to say, the darkness of the
gehenna of fire- and shall burn all things from below even to the air of
the firmament. And the Lord shall be in the firmament and even to the lower
parts of the earth. (read And the distance from the firmament unto the
lower parts of the earth shall be) as if a man of thirty years old should
take up a stone and cast it down, hardly in three years would it reach
the bottom: so great is the depth of the pit and of the fire wherein the
sinners shall dwell. And then shall Satan and all his host be bound and
cast into the lake of fire. And the Son of God shall walk with his elect
above the firmament and shall shut up the devil, binding him with strong
chains that cannot be loosed. At that time the sinners, weeping and mourning,
shall say: O earth, swallow us up and cover us in death. And then shall
the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. And he shall
bring them before the throne of the invisible Father, saying: Behold, I
and my children whom God hath given me. O righteous one, the world hath
not known thee, but I have known thee in truth, because thou hast sent
me. And then shall the Father answer his Son and say: My beloved Son, sit
thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet,
which have denied me and said: We are gods, and beside us there is none
other god: which have slain thy prophets and persecuted thy righteous ones,
and thou hast persecuted them even unto the outer darkness: there shall
be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And then shall the Son of God sit on the right hand of his Father, and
the Father shall command his angels, and they shall minister unto them
(i.e. the righteous) and set them among the choirs of the angels, to clothe
them with incorruptible garments, and shall give them crowns that fade
not and seats that cannot be moved. And God shall be in the midst of them;
and they shall not hunger nor thirst any more, neither shall the sun light
on them nor any heat. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.
And he shall reign with his holy Father, and of his kingdom there shall
be no end for ever and ever.