On the Origin of the World
("The Untitled Text")
Hans-Gebhard Bethge and Bentley Layton
Seeing that everybody, gods of the world and mankind, says that nothing existed prior to
chaos, I, in distinction to them, shall demonstrate that they are all mistaken, because
they are not acquainted with the origin of chaos, nor with its root. Here is the
How well it suits all men, on the subject of chaos, to say that it is a kind of
darkness! But in fact it comes from a shadow, which has been called by the name
'darkness'. And the shadow comes from a product that has existed since the beginning. It
is, moreover, clear that it existed before chaos came into being, and that the latter is
posterior to the first product. Let us therefore concern ourselves with the facts of the
matter; and furthermore, with the first product, from which chaos was projected. And in
this way the truth will be clearly demonstrated.
After the natural structure of the immortal beings had completely developed out of the
infinite, a likeness then emanated from Pistis (Faith); it is called Sophia (Wisdom). It
exercised volition and became a product resembling the primeval light. And immediately her
will manifested itself as a likeness of heaven, having an unimaginable magnitude; it was
between the immortal beings and those things that came into being after them, like [...]:
she (Sophia) functioned as a veil dividing mankind from the things above.
Now the eternal realm (aeon) of truth has no shadow outside it, for the limitless light
is everywhere within it. But its exterior is shadow, which has been called by the name
'darkness'. From it, there appeared a force, presiding over the darkness. And the forces
that came into being subsequent to them called the shadow 'the limitless chaos'. From it,
every kind of divinity sprouted up [...] together with the entire place, so that also,
shadow is posterior to the first product. It was <in> the abyss that it (shadow)
appeared, deriving from the aforementioned Pistis.
Then shadow perceived there was something mightier than it, and felt envy; and when it
had become pregnant of its own accord, suddenly it engendered jealousy. Since that day,
the principle of jealousy amongst all the eternal realms and their worlds has been
apparent. Now as for that jealousy, it was found to be an abortion without any spirit in
it. Like a shadow, it came into existence in a vast watery substance. Then the bile that
had come into being out of the shadow was thrown into a part of chaos. Since that day, a
watery substance has been apparent. And what sank within it flowed away, being visible in
chaos: as with a woman giving birth to a child - all her superfluities flow out; just so,
matter came into being out of shadow, and was projected apart. And it did not depart from
chaos; rather, matter was in chaos, being in a part of it.
And when these things had come to pass, then Pistis came and appeared over the matter
of chaos, which had been expelled like an aborted fetus - since there was no spirit in it.
For all of it (chaos) was limitless darkness and bottomless water. Now when Pistis saw
what had resulted from her defect, she became disturbed. And the disturbance appeared, as
a fearful product; it rushed to her in the chaos. She turned to it and blew into its face
in the abyss, which is below all the heavens.
And when Pistis Sophia desired to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into
a likeness and to rule over matter and over all her forces, there appeared for the first
time a ruler, out of the waters, lion-like in appearance, androgynous, having great
authority within him, and ignorant of whence he had come into being. Now when Pistis
Sophia saw him moving about in the depth of the waters, she said to him, "Child, pass
through to here," whose equivalent is 'yalda baoth'.
Since that day, there appeared the principle of verbal expression, which reached the
gods and the angels and mankind. And what came into being as a result of verbal
expression, the gods and the angels and mankind finished. Now as for the ruler Yaltabaoth,
he is ignorant of the force of Pistis: he did not see her face, rather he saw in the water
the likeness that spoke with him. And because of that voice, he called himself
'Yaldabaoth'. But 'Ariael' is what the perfect call him, for he was like a lion. Now when
he had come to have authority over matter, Pistis Sophia withdrew up to her light.
When the ruler saw his magnitude - and it was only himself that he saw: he saw nothing
else, except for water and darkness - then he supposed that it was he alone who existed.
His [...] was completed by verbal expression: it appeared as a spirit moving to and fro
upon the waters. And when that spirit appeared, the ruler set apart the watery substance.
And what was dry was divided into another place. And from matter, he made for himself an
abode, and he called it 'heaven'. And from matter, the ruler made a footstool, and he
called it 'earth'.
Next, the ruler had a thought - consistent with his nature - and by means of verbal
expression he created an androgyne. He opened his mouth and cooed to him. When his eyes
had been opened, he looked at his father, and he said to him, "Eee!" Then his
father called him Eee-a-o ('Yao'). Next he created the second son. He cooed to him. And he
opened his eyes and said to his father, "Eh!" His father called him 'Eloai'.
Next, he created the third son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his
father, "Asss!" His father called him 'Astaphaios'. These are the three sons of
Seven appeared in chaos, androgynous. They have their masculine names and their
feminine names. The feminine name is Pronoia (Forethought) Sambathas, which is 'week'.
And his son is called Yao: his feminine name is Lordship.
Sabaoth: his feminine name is Deity.
Adonaios: his feminine name is Kingship.
Elaios: his feminine name is Jealousy.
Oraios: his feminine name is Wealth.
And Astaphaios: his feminine name is Sophia (Wisdom).
These are the seven forces of the seven heavens of chaos. And they were born androgynous,
consistent with the immortal pattern that existed before them, according to the wish of
Pistis: so that the likeness of what had existed since the beginning might reign to the
end. You will find the effect of these names and the force of the male entities in the Archangelic
(Book) of the Prophet Moses, and the names of the female entities in the first Book
Now the prime parent Yaldabaoth, since he possessed great authorities, created heavens
for each of his offspring through verbal expression - created them beautiful, as dwelling
places - and in each heaven he created great glories, seven times excellent. Thrones and
mansions and temples, and also chariots and virgin spirits up to an invisible one and
their glories, each one has these in his heaven; mighty armies of gods and lords and
angels and archangels - countless myriads - so that they might serve. The account of these
matters you will find in a precise manner in the first Account of Oraia.
And they were completed from this heaven to as far up as the sixth heaven, namely that
of Sophia. The heaven and his earth were destroyed by the troublemaker that was below them
all. And the six heavens shook violently; for the forces of chaos knew who it was that had
destroyed the heaven that was below them. And when Pistis knew about the breakage
resulting from the disturbance, she sent forth her breath and bound him and cast him down
into Tartaros. Since that day, the heaven, along with its earth, has consolidated itself
through Sophia the daughter of Yaldabaoth, she who is below them all.
Now when the heavens had consolidated themselves along with their forces and all their
administration, the prime parent became insolent. And he was honored by all the army of
angels. And all the gods and their angels gave blessing and honor to him. And for his
part, he was delighted and continually boasted, saying to them, "I have no need of
anyone." He said, "It is I who am God, and there is no other one that exists
apart from me." And when he said this, he sinned against all the immortal beings who
give answer. And they laid it to his charge.
Then when Pistis saw the impiety of the chief ruler, she was filled with anger. She was
invisible. She said, "You are mistaken, Samael," (that is, "blind
god"). "There is an immortal man of light who has been in existence before you,
and who will appear among your modelled forms; he will trample you to scorn, just as
potter's clay is pounded. And you will descend to your mother, the abyss, along with those
that belong to you. For at the consummation of your (pl.) works, the entire defect that
has become visible out of the truth will be abolished, and it will cease to be, and will
be like what has never been." Saying this, Pistis revealed her likeness of her
greatness in the waters. And so doing, she withdrew up to her light.
Now when Sabaoth, the son of Yaldabaoth, heard the voice of Pistis, he sang praises to
her, and he condemned the father [...] at the word of Pistis; and he praised her because
she had instructed them about the immortal man and his light. Then Pistis Sophia stretched
out her finger and poured upon him some light from her light, to be a condemnation of his
father. Then when Sabaoth was illumined, he received great authority against all the
forces of chaos. Since that day he has been called "Lord of the Forces".
He hated his father, the darkness, and his mother, the abyss, and loathed his sister,
the thought of the prime parent, which moved to and fro upon the waters. And because of
his light, all the authorities of chaos were jealous of him. And when they had become
disturbed, they made a great war in the seven heavens. Then when Pistis Sophia had seen
the war, she dispatched seven archangels to Sabaoth from her light. They snatched him up
to the seventh heaven. They stood before him as attendants. Furthermore, she sent him
three more archangels, and established the kingdom for him over everyone, so that he might
dwell above the twelve gods of chaos.
Now when Sabaoth had taken up the place of repose in return for his repentance, Pistis
also gave him her daughter Zoe (Life), together with great authority, so that she might
instruct him about all things that exist in the eighth heaven. And as he had authority, he
made himself first of all a mansion. It is huge, magnificent, seven times as great as all
those that exist in the seven heavens.
And before his mansion he created a throne, which was huge and was upon a four-faced
chariot called "Cherubin". Now the Cherubin has eight shapes per each of the
four corners, lion forms and calf forms and human forms and eagle forms, so that all the
forms amount to sixty-four forms - and seven archangels that stand before it; he is the
eighth, and has authority. All the forms amount to seventy-two. Furthermore, from this
chariot the seventy-two gods took shape; they took shape so that they might rule over the
seventy-two languages of the peoples. And by that throne he created other, serpent-like
angels, called "Seraphin", which praise him at all times.
Thereafter he created a congregation of angels, thousands and myriads, numberless,
which resembled the congregation in the eighth heaven; and a firstborn called
Israel - which is, "the man that sees God"; and another being, called Jesus
Christ, who resembles the savior above in the eighth heaven, and who sits at his right
upon a revered throne. And at his left, there sits the virgin of the holy spirit, upon a
throne and glorifying him. And the seven virgins stand before her, [...] possessing thirty
harps, and psalteries and trumpets, glorifying him. And all the armies of the angels
glorify him, and they bless him. Now where he sits is upon a throne of light <within
a> great cloud that covers him. And there was no one with him in the cloud except
Sophia <the daughter of> Pistis, instructing him about all the things that exist in
the eighth heaven, so that the likenesses of those things might be created, in order that
his reign might endure until the consummation of the heavens of chaos and their forces.
Now Pistis Sophia set him apart from the darkness and summoned him to her right, and
the prime parent she put at her left. Since that day, right has been called justice, and
left called wickedness. Now because of this, they all received a realm in the congregation
of justice and wickedness, [...] stand [...] upon a creature [...] all.
Thus, when the prime parent of chaos saw his son Sabaoth and the glory that he was in,
and perceived that he was greatest of all the authorities of chaos, he envied him. And
having become wrathful, he engendered Death out of his death: and he (viz., Death) was
established over the sixth heaven, <for> Sabaoth had been snatched up from there.
And thus the number of the six authorities of chaos was achieved. Then Death, being
androgynous, mingled with his (own) nature and begot seven androgynous offspring. These
are the names of the male ones: Jealousy, Wrath, Tears, Sighing, Suffering, Lamentation,
Bitter Weeping. And these are the names of the female ones: Wrath, Pain, Lust, Sighing,
Curse, Bitterness, Quarrelsomeness. They had intercourse with one another, and each one
begot seven, so that they amount to forty-nine androgynous demons. Their names and their
effects you will find in the Book of Solomon.
And in the presence of these, Zoe, who was with Sabaoth, created seven good androgynous
forces. These are the names of the male ones: the Unenvious, the Blessed, the Joyful, the
True, the Unbegrudging, the Beloved, the Trustworthy. Also, as regards the female ones,
these are their names: Peace, Gladness, Rejoicing, Blessedness, Truth, Love, Faith
(Pistis). And from these are many good and innocent spirits. Their influences and their
effects you will find in the Configurations of the Fate of Heaven That Is Beneath the
And having seen the likeness of Pistis in the waters, the prime parent grieved very
much, especially when he heard her voice, like the first voice that had called to him out
of the waters. And when he knew that it was she who had given a name to him, he sighed. He
was ashamed on account of his transgression. And when he had come to know in truth that an
immortal man of light had been existing before him, he was greatly disturbed; for he had
previously said to all the gods and their angels, "It is I who am god. No other one
exists apart from me." For he had been afraid they might know that another had been
in existence before him, and might condemn him. But he, being devoid of understanding,
scoffed at the condemnation and acted recklessly. He said, "If anything has existed
before me, let it appear, so that we may see its light."
And immediately, behold! Light came out of the eighth heaven above and passed through
all of the heavens of the earth. When the prime parent saw that the light was beautiful as
it radiated, he was amazed. And he was greatly ashamed. As that light appeared, a human
likeness appeared within it, very wonderful. And no one saw it except for the prime parent
and Pronoia, who was with him. Yet its light appeared to all the forces of the heavens.
Because of this they were all troubled by it.
Then when Pronoia saw that emissary, she became enamored of him. But he hated her
because she was on the darkness. But she desired to embrace him, and she was not able to.
When she was unable to assuage her love, she poured out her light upon the earth. Since
that day, that emissary has been called "Adam of Light," whose rendering is
"the luminous man of blood," and the earth spread over him, holy Adaman, whose
rendering is "the Holy Land of Adamantine." Since that day, all the authorities
have honored the blood of the virgin. And the earth was purified on account of the blood
of the virgin. But most of all, the water was purified through the likeness of Pistis
Sophia, who had appeared to the prime parent in the waters. Justly, then, it has been
said: "through the waters." The holy water, since it vivifies the all, purifies
Out of that first blood Eros appeared, being androgynous. His masculinity is Himireris,
being fire from the light. His femininity that is with him - a soul of blood - is from the
stuff of Pronoia. He is very lovely in his beauty, having a charm beyond all the creatures
of chaos. Then all the gods and their angels, when they beheld Eros, became enamored of
him. And appearing in all of them, he set them afire: just as from a single lamp many
lamps are lit, and one and the same light is there, but the lamp is not diminished. And in
this way, Eros became dispersed in all the created beings of chaos, and was not
diminished. Just as from the midpoint of light and darkness Eros appeared and at the
midpoint of the angels and mankind the sexual union of Eros was consummated, so out of the
earth the primal pleasure blossomed. The woman followed earth. And marriage followed
woman. Birth followed marriage. Dissolution followed birth.
After that Eros, the grapevine sprouted up out of that blood, which had been shed over
the earth. Because of this, those who drink of it conceive the desire of sexual union.
After the grapevine, a fig tree and a pomegranate tree sprouted up from the earth,
together with the rest of the trees, all species, having with them their seed from the
seed of the authorities and their angels.
Then Justice created Paradise, being beautiful and being outside the orbit of the moon
and the orbit of the sun in the Land of Wantonness, in the East in the midst of the
stones. And desire is in the midst of the beautiful, appetizing trees. And the tree of
eternal life is as it appeared by God's will, to the north of Paradise, so that it might
make eternal the souls of the pure, who shall come forth from the modelled forms of
poverty at the consummation of the age. Now the color of the tree of life is like the sun.
And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like those of the cypress. Its fruit is
like a bunch of grapes when it is white. Its height goes as far as heaven. And next to it
(is) the tree of knowledge (gnosis), having the strength of God. Its glory is like
the moon when fully radiant. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like fig
leaves. Its fruit is like a good appetizing date. And this tree is to the north of
Paradise, so that it might arouse the souls from the torpor of the demons, in order that
they might approach the tree of life and eat of its fruit, and so condemn the authorities
and their angels. The effect of this tree is described in the Sacred Book, to wit:
"It is you who are the tree of knowledge, which is in Paradise, from which the first
man ate and which opened his mind; and he loved his female counterpart and condemned the
other, alien likenesses and loathed them."
Now after it, the olive tree sprouted up, which was to purify the kings and the high
priests of righteousness, who were to appear in the last days, since the olive tree
appeared out of the light of the first Adam for the sake of the unguent that they were to
And the first soul (psyche) loved Eros, who was with her, and poured her blood
upon him and upon the earth. And out of that blood the rose first sprouted up, out of the
earth, out of the thorn bush, to be a source of joy for the light that was to appear in
the bush. Moreover, after this the beautiful, good-smelling flowers sprouted up from the
earth, different kinds, from every single virgin of the daughters of Pronoia. And they,
when they had become enamored of Eros, poured out their blood upon him and upon the earth.
After these, every plant sprouted up from the earth, different kinds, containing the seed
of the authorities and their angels. After these, the authorities created out of the
waters all species of beast, and the reptiles and birds - different kinds - containing the
seed of the authorities and their angels.
But before all these, when he had appeared on the first the first day, he remained upon
the earth, something like two days, and left the lower Pronoia in heaven, and ascended
towards his light. And immediately darkness covered all the universe. Now when she wished,
the Sophia who was in the lower heaven received authority from Pistis, and fashioned great
luminous bodies and all the stars. And she put them in the sky to shine upon the earth and
to render temporal signs and seasons and years and months and days and nights and moments
and so forth. And in this way the entire region upon the sky was adorned.
Now when Adam of Light conceived the wish to enter his light - i.e., the eighth heaven
- he was unable to do so because of the poverty that had mingled with his light. Then he
created for himself a vast eternal realm. And within that eternal realm he created six
eternal realms and their adornments, six in number, that were seven times better than the
heavens of chaos and their adornments. Now all these eternal realms and their adornments
exist within the infinity that is between the eighth heaven and the chaos below it, being
counted with the universe that belongs to poverty. If you want to know the arrangement of
these, you will find it written in the Seventh Universe of the Prophet Hieralias.
And before Adam of Light had withdrawn in the chaos, the authorities saw him and
laughed at the prime parent because he had lied when he said, "It is I who am God. No
one exists before me." When they came to him, they said, "Is this not the god
who ruined our work?" He answered and said, "Yes. If you do not want him to be
able to ruin our work, come let us create a man out of earth, according to the image of
our body and according to the likeness of this being, to serve us; so that when he sees
his likeness, he might become enamored of it. No longer will he ruin our work; rather,we
shall make those who are born out of the light our servants for all the duration of this
eternal realm." Now all of this came to pass according to the forethought of Pistis,
in order that man should appear after his likeness, and should condemn them because of
their modelled form. And their modelled form became an enclosure of the light.
Then the authorities received the knowledge (gnosis) necessary to create man.
Sophia Zoe - she who is with Sabaoth - had anticipated them. And she laughed at their
decision. For they are blind: against their own interests they ignorantly created him. And
they do not realize what they are about to do. The reason she anticipated them and made
her own man first, was in order that he might instruct their modelled form how to despise
them, and thus to escape from them.
Now the production of the instructor came about as follows. When Sophia let fall a
droplet of light, it flowed onto the water, and immediately a human being appeared, being
androgynous. That droplet she molded first as a female body. Afterwards, using the body
she molded it in the likeness of the mother, which had appeared. And he finished it in
twelve months. An androgynous human being was produced, whom the Greeks call
Hermaphrodites; and whose mother the Hebrews call Eve of Life (Zoe), namely, the female
instructor of life. Her offspring is the creature that is lord. Afterwards, the
authorities called it "Beast", so that it might lead astray their modelled
creatures. The interpretation of "the beast" is "the instructor". For
it was found to be the wisest of all beings.
Now, Eve is the first virgin, the one who without a husband bore her first offspring.
It is she who served as her own midwife. For this reason she is held to have said:
- It is I who am the part of my mother; and it is I who am the mother.
- It is I who am the wife; it is I who am the virgin.
- It is I who am pregnant; it is I who am the midwife.
- It is I who am the one that comforts pains of travail.
- It is my husband who bore me; and it is I who am his mother.
- And it is he who is my father and my lord.
- It is he who is my force; What he desires, he says with reason.
- I am in the process of becoming; yet I have borne a man as lord.
Now these through the will <...> The souls that were going to enter the modelled
forms of the authorities were manifested to Sabaoth and his Christ. And regarding these,
the holy voice said, "Multiply and improve! Be lord over all creatures." And it
is they who were taken captive, according to their destinies, by the prime parent. And
thus they were shut into the prisons of the modelled forms until the consummation of the
And at that time, the prime parent then rendered an opinion concerning man to those who
were with him. Then each of them cast his sperm into the midst of the navel of the earth.
Since that day, the seven rulers have fashioned man with his body resembling their body,
but his likeness resembling the man that had appeared to them. His modelling took place by
parts, one at a time. And their leader fashioned the brain and the nervous system.
Afterwards, he appeared as prior to him. He became a soul-endowed man. And he was called
Adam, that is, "father", according to the name of the one that existed before
And when they had finished Adam, he abandoned him as an inanimate vessel, since he had
taken form like an abortion, in that no spirit was in him. Regarding this thing, when the
chief ruler remembered the saying of Pistis, he was afraid lest the true man enter his
modelled form and become its lord. For this reason he left his modelled form forty days
without soul, and he withdrew and abandoned it. Now on the fortieth day, Sophia Zoe sent
her breath into Adam, who had no soul. He began to move upon the ground. And he could not
Then, when the seven rulers came, they saw him and were greatly disturbed. They went up
to him and seized him. And he (viz., the chief ruler) said to the breath within him,
"Who are you? And whence did you come hither?" It answered and said, "I
have come from the force of the man for the destruction of your work." When they
heard, they glorified him, since he gave them respite from the fear and the anxiety in
which they found themselves. Then they called that day "Rest", in as much as
they had rested from toil. And when they saw that Adam could stand up, they were glad, and
they took him and put him in Paradise. And they withdrew up to their heavens.
After the day of rest, Sophia sent her daughter Zoe, being called Eve, as an
instructor, in order that she might make Adam, who had no soul, arise, so that those whom
he should engender might become containers of light. When Eve saw her male counterpart
prostrate, she had pity upon him, and she said, "Adam! Become alive! Arise upon the
earth!" Immediately her word became accomplished fact. For Adam, having arisen,
suddenly opened his eyes. When he saw her, he said, "You shall be called 'Mother of
the Living'. For it is you who have given me life."
Then the authorities were informed that their modelled form was alive and had arisen,
and they were greatly troubled. They sent seven archangels to see what had happened. They
came to Adam. When they saw Eve talking to him, they said to one another, "What sort
of thing is this luminous woman? For she resembles that likeness which appeared to us in
the light. Now come, let us lay hold of her and cast her seed into her, so that when she
becomes soiled she may not be able to ascend into her light. Rather, those whom she bears
will be under our charge. But let us not tell Adam, for he is not one of us. Rather let us
bring a deep sleep over him. And let us instruct him in his sleep to the effect that she
came from his rib, in order that his wife may obey, and he may be lord over her."
Then Eve, being a force, laughed at their decision. She put mist into their eyes and
secretly left her likeness with Adam. She entered the tree of knowledge and remained
there. And they pursued her, and she revealed to them that she had gone into the tree and
become a tree. Then, entering a great state of fear, the blind creatures fled.
Afterwards, when they had recovered from the daze, they came to Adam; and seeing the
likeness of this woman with him, they were greatly disturbed, thinking it was she that was
the true Eve. And they acted rashly; they came up to her and seized her and cast their
seed upon her. They did so wickedly, defiling not only in natural ways but also in foul
ways, defiling first the seal of her voice - that had spoken with them, saying, "What
is it that exists before you?" - intending to defile those who might say at the
consummation (of the age) that they had been born of the true man through verbal
expression. And they erred, not knowing that it was their own body that they had defiled:
it was the likeness that the authorities and their angels defiled in every way.
First she was pregnant with Abel, by the first ruler. And it was by the seven
authorities and their angels that she bore the other offspring. And all this came to pass
according to the forethought of the prime parent, so that the first mother might bear
within her every seed, being mixed and being fitted to the fate of the universe and its
configurations, and to Justice. A prearranged plan came into effect regarding Eve, so that
the modelled forms of the authorities might become enclosures of the light, whereupon it
would condemn them through their modelled forms.
Now the first Adam, (Adam) of Light, is spirit-endowed and appeared on the first day.
The second Adam is soul-endowed and appeared on the sixth day, which is called Aphrodite.
The third Adam is a creature of the earth, that is, the man of the law, and he appeared on
the eighth day [...] the tranquility of poverty, which is called "The Day of the
Sun" (Sunday). And the progeny of the earthly Adam became numerous and was completed,
and produced within itself every kind of scientific information of the soul-endowed Adam.
But all were in ignorance.
Next, let me say that once the rulers had seen him and the female creature who was with
him erring ignorantly like beasts, they were very glad. When they learned that the
immortal man was not going to neglect them, rather that they would even have to fear the
female creature that had turned into a tree, they were disturbed, and said, "Perhaps
this is the true man - this being who has brought a fog upon us and has taught us that she
who was soiled is like him - and so we shall be conquered!"
Then the seven of them together laid plans. They came up to Adam and Eve timidly: they
said to him, "The fruit of all the trees created for you in Paradise shall be eaten;
but as for the tree of knowledge, control yourselves and do not eat from it. If you eat,
you will die." Having imparted great fear to them, they withdrew up to their
Then came the wisest of all creatures, who was called Beast. And when he saw the
likeness of their mother Eve he said to her, "What did God say to you? Was it 'Do not
eat from the tree of knowledge'?" She said, "He said not only, 'Do not eat from
it', but, 'Do not touch it, lest you die.'" He said to her, "Do not be afraid.
In death you shall not die. For he knows that when you eat from it, your intellect will
become sober and you will come to be like gods, recognizing the difference that obtains
between evil men and good ones. Indeed, it was in jealousy that he said this to you, so
that you would not eat from it."
Now Eve had confidence in the words of the instructor. She gazed at the tree and saw
that it was beautiful and appetizing, and liked it; she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she gave some also to her husband, and he too ate it. Then their intellect became
open. For when they had eaten, the light of knowledge had shone upon them. When they
clothed themselves with shame, they knew that they were naked of knowledge. When they
became sober, they saw that they were naked and became enamored of one another. When they
saw that the ones who had modelled them had the form of beasts, they loathed them: they
were very aware.
Then when the rulers knew that they had broken their commandments, they entered
Paradise and came to Adam and Eve with earthquake and great threatening, to see the effect
of the aid. Then Adam and Eve trembled greatly and hid under the trees in Paradise. Then
the rulers did not know where they were and said, "Adam, where are you?" He
said, "I am here, for through fear of you I hid, being ashamed." And they said
to him ignorantly, "Who told you about the shame with which you clothed yourself? -
unless you have eaten from that tree!" He said, "The woman whom you gave me - it
is she that gave to me and I ate." Then they said to the latter, "What is this
that you have done?" She answered and said, "It is the instructor who urged me
on, and I ate."
Then the rulers came up to the instructor. Their eyes became misty because of him, and
they could not do anything to him. They cursed him, since they were powerless. Afterwards,
they came up to the woman and cursed her and her offspring. After the woman, they cursed
Adam, and the land because of him, and the crops; and all things they had created, they
cursed. They have no blessing. Good cannot result from evil.
From that day, the authorities knew that truly there was something mightier than they:
they recognized only that their commandments had not been kept. Great jealousy was brought
into the world solely because of the immortal man. Now when the rulers saw that their Adam
had entered into an alien state of knowledge, they desired to test him, and they gathered
together all the domestic animals and the wild beasts of the earth and the birds of heaven
and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. When he saw them, he gave names
to their creatures.
They became troubled because Adam had recovered from all the trials. They assembled and
laid plans, and they said, "Behold Adam! He has come to be like one of us, so that he
knows the difference between the light and the darkness. Now perhaps he will be deceived,
as in the case of the Tree of Knowledge, and also will come to the Tree of Life and eat
from it, and become immortal, and become lord, and despise us and disdain us and all our
glory! Then he will denounce us along with our universe. Come, let us expel him from
Paradise, down to the land from which he was taken, so that henceforth he might not be
able to recognize anything better than we can." And so they expelled Adam from
Paradise, along with his wife. And this deed that they had done was not enough for them.
Rather, they were afraid. They went in to the Tree of Life and surrounded it with great
fearful things, fiery living creatures called "Cheroubin", and they put a
flaming sword in their midst, fearfully twirling at all times, so that no earthly being
might ever enter that place.
Thereupon, since the rulers were envious of Adam they wanted to diminish their (viz.,
Adam's and Eve's) lifespans. They could not (, however,) because of fate, which had been
fixed since the beginning. For to each had been allotted a lifespan of 1,000 years,
according to the course of the luminous bodies. But although the rulers could not do this,
each of the evildoers took away ten years. And all this lifespan (which remained) amounted
to 930 years: and these are in pain and weakness and evil distraction. And so life has
turned out to be, from that day until the consummation of the age.
Thus when Sophia Zoe saw that the rulers of the darkness had laid a curse upon her
counterparts, she was indignant. And coming out of the first heaven with full power, she
chased those rulers out of their heavens, and cast them down into the sinful world, so
that there they should dwell, in the form of evil spirits (demons) upon the earth.
[...], so that in their world it might pass the thousand years in Paradise - a
soul-endowed living creature called "phoenix". It kills itself and brings itself
to life as a witness to the judgment against them, for they did wrong to Adam and his
generation, unto the consummation of the age. There are [...] three men, and also his
posterities, unto the consummation of the world: the spirit-endowed of eternity, and the
soul-endowed, and the earthly. Likewise, the three phoenixes <in> Paradise - the
first is immortal; the second lives 1,000 years; as for the third, it is written in the Sacred
Book that it is consumed. So, too, there are three baptisms - the first is the
spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water. Just as the phoenix appears as a
witness concerning the angels, so the case of the water hydri in Egypt, which has been a
witness to those going down into the baptism of a true man. The two bulls in Egypt possess
a mystery, the sun and the moon, being a witness to Sabaoth: namely, that over them Sophia
received the universe; from the day that she made the sun and the moon, she put a seal
upon her heaven, unto eternity.
And the worm that has been born out of the phoenix is a human being as well. It is
written (Ps 91:13 LXX) concerning it, "the just man will blossom like a
phoenix". And the phoenix first appears in a living state, and dies, and rises again,
being a sign of what has become apparent at the consummation of the age. It was only in
Egypt that these great signs appeared - nowhere else - as an indication that it is like
Let us return to the aforementioned rulers, so that we may offer some explanation of
them. Now, when the seven rulers were cast down from their heavens onto the earth, they
made for themselves angels, numerous, demonic, to serve them. And the latter instructed
mankind in many kinds of error and magic and potions and worship of idols and spilling of
blood and altars and temples and sacrifices and libations to all the spirits of the earth,
having their coworker fate, who came into existence by the concord between the gods of
injustice and justice.
And thus when the world had come into being, it distractedly erred at all times. For
all men upon earth worshiped the spirits (demons) from the creation to the consummation -
both the angels of righteousness and the men of unrighteousness. Thus did the world come
to exist in distraction, in ignorance, and in a stupor. They all erred, until the
appearance of the true man.
Let this suffice so far as the matter goes. Now we shall proceed to consideration of
our world, so that we may accurately finish the description of its structure and
management. Then it will become obvious how belief in the unseen realm, which has been
apparent from creation down to the consummation of the age, was discovered.
I come, therefore, to the main points regarding the immortal man: I shall speak of all
the beings that belong to him, explaining how they happen to be here.
When a multitude of human beings had come into existence, through the parentage of the
Adam who had been fashioned, and out of matter, and when the world had already become
full, the rulers were master over it - that is, they kept it restrained by ignorance. For
what reason? For the following: since the immortal father knows that a deficiency of truth
came into being amongst the eternal realms and their universe, when he wished to bring to
naught the rulers of perdition through the creatures they had modelled, he sent your
likenesses down into the world of perdition, namely, the blessed little innocent spirits.
They are not alien to knowledge. For all knowledge is vested in one angel who appeared
before them; he is not without power in the company of the father. And <he> gave
them knowledge. Whenever they appear in the world of perdition, immediately and first of
all they reveal the pattern of imperishability as a condemnation of the rulers and their
forces. Thus when the blessed beings appeared in forms modelled by authorities, they were
envied. And out of envy the authorities mixed their seed with them, in hopes of polluting
them. They could not. Then when the blessed beings appeared in luminous form, they
appeared in various ways. And each one of them, starting out in his land, revealed his
(kind of) knowledge to the visible church constituted of the modelled forms of perdition.
It (viz., the church) was found to contain all kinds of seed, because of the seed of the
authorities that had mixed with it.
Then the Savior created [...] of them all - and the spirits of these are manifestly
superior, being blessed and varying in election - and also (he created) many other beings,
which have no king and are superior to everyone that was before them. Consequently, four
races exist. There are three that belong to the kings of the eighth heaven. But the fourth
race is kingless and perfect, being the highest of all. For these shall enter the holy
place of their father. And they will gain rest in repose and eternal, unspeakable glory
and unending joy. Moreover, they are kings within the mortal domain, in that they are
immortal. They will condemn the gods of chaos and their forces.
Now the Word that is superior to all beings was sent for this purpose alone: that he
might proclaim the unknown. He said, "There is nothing hidden that is not apparent,
and what has not been recognized will be recognized." And these were sent to make
known what is hidden, and the seven authorities of chaos and their impiety. And thus they
were condemned to death.
So when all the perfect appeared in the forms modelled by the rulers, and when they
revealed the incomparable truth, they put to shame all the wisdom of the gods. And their
fate was found to be a condemnation. And their force dried up. Their lordship was
dissolved. Their forethought became emptiness, along with their glory.
Before the consummation of the age, the whole place will shake with great thundering.
Then the rulers will be sad, [...] their death. The angels will mourn for their mankind,
and the demons will weep over their seasons, and their mankind will wail and scream at
their death. Then the age will begin, and they will be disturbed. Their kings will be
intoxicated with the fiery sword, and they will wage war against one another, so that the
earth is intoxicated with bloodshed. And the seas will be disturbed by those wars. Then
the sun will become dark, and the moon will cause its light to cease. The stars of the sky
will cancel their circuits. And a great clap of thunder will come out of a great force
that is above all the forces of chaos, where the firmament of the woman is situated.
Having created the first product, she will put away the wise fire of intelligence and
clothe herself with witless wrath. Then she will pursue the gods of chaos, whom she
created along with the prime parent. She will cast them down into the abyss. They will be
obliterated because of their wickedness. For they will come to be like volcanoes and
consume one another until they perish at the hand of the prime parent. When he has
destroyed them, he will turn against himself and destroy himself until he ceases to exist.
And their heavens will fall one upon the next and their forces will be consumed by
fire. Their eternal realms, too, will be overturned. And his heaven will fall and break in
two. His [...] will fall down upon the [...] support them; they will fall into the abyss,
and the abyss will be overturned.
The light will [...] the darkness and obliterate it: it will be like something that has
never been. And the product to which the darkness had been posterior will dissolve. And
the deficiency will be plucked out by the root (and thrown) down into the darkness. And
the light will withdraw up to its root. And the glory of the unbegotten will appear. And
it will fill all the eternal realm.
When the prophecy and the account of those that are king becomes known and is fulfilled
by those who are called perfect, those who - in contrast - have not become perfect in the
unbegotten father will receive their glory in their realms and in the kingdoms of the
immortals: but they will never enter the kingless realm. For everyone must go to the place
from which he has come. Indeed, by his acts and his knowledge, each person will make his
(own) nature known.
Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library,
revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.