The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
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Translated by Douglas M. Parrott and R. McL.Wilson
[...] which [...] purpose [... after ...] us [...] apostles [...]. We sailed [...] of the body. Others were not anxious in their hearts. And in our hearts, we were united. We agreed to fulfill the ministry to which the Lord appointed us. And we made a covenant with each other.
We went down to the sea at an opportune moment, which came to us from the Lord. We found a ship moored at the shore ready to embark, and we spoke with the sailors of the ship about our coming aboard with them. They showed great kindliness toward us as was ordained by the Lord. And after we had embarked, we sailed a day and a night. After that, a wind came up behind the ship and brought us to a small city in the midst of the sea.
And I, Peter, inquired about the name of this city from residents who were standing on the dock. A man among them answered, saying, "The name of this city is Habitation, that is, Foundation [...] endurance." And the leader among them holding the palm branch at the edge of the dock. And after we had gone ashore with the baggage, I went into the city, to seek advice about lodging.
A man came out wearing a cloth bound around his waist, and a gold belt girded it. Also a napkin was tied over his chest, extending over his shoulders and covering his head and his hands.
I was staring at the man, because he was beautiful in his form and stature. There were four parts of his body that I saw: the soles of his feet and a part of his chest and the palms of his hands and his visage. These things I was able to see. A book cover like (those of) my books was in his left hand. A staff of styrax wood was in his right hand. His voice was resounding as he slowly spoke, crying out in the city, "Pearlsl Pearlsl"
I, indeed, thought he was a man of that city. I said to him, "My brother and my friend!" He answered me, then, saying, "Rightly did you say, 'My brother and my friend.' What is it you seek from me?" I said to him, "I ask you about lodging for me and the brothers also, because we are strangers here." He said to me, "For this reason have I myself just said, 'My brother and my friend,' because I also am a fellow stranger like you."
And having said these things, he cried out, "Pearls! Pearls!" The rich men of that city heard his voice. They came out of their hidden storerooms. And some were looking out from the storerooms of their houses. Others looked out from their upper windows. And they did not see (that they could gain) anything from him, because there was no pouch on his back nor bundle inside his cloth and napkin. And because of their disdain they did not even acknowledge him. He, for his part, did not reveal himself to them. They returned to their storerooms, saying, "This man is mocking us."
And the poor of that city heard his voice, and they came to the man who sells this pearl. They said, "Please take the trouble to show us the pearl so that we may, then, see it with our (own) eyes. For we are the poor. And we do not have this [...] price to pay for it. But show us that we might say to our friends that we saw a pearl with our (own) eyes." He answered, saying to them, "If it is possible, come to my city, so that I may not only show it before your (very) eyes, but give it to you for nothing."
And indeed they, the poor of that city, heard and said, "Since we are beggars, we surely know that a man does not give a pearl to a beggar, but (it is) bread and money that is usually received. Now then, the kindness which we want to receive from you (is) that you show us the pearl before our eyes. And we will say to our friends proudly that we saw a pearl with our (own) eyes" - because it is not found among the poor, especially such beggars (as these). He answered (and) said to them, "If it is possible, you yourselves come to my city, so that I may not only show you it, but give it to you for nothing." The poor and the beggars rejoiced because of the man who gives for nothing.
The men asked Peter about the hardships. Peter answered and told those things that he had heard about the hardships of the way. Because they are interpreters of the hardships in their ministry.
He said to the man who sells this pearl, "I want to know your name and the hardships of the way to your city because we are strangers and servants of God. It is necessary for us to spread the word of God in every city harmoniously." He answered and said, "If you seek my name, Lithargoel is my name, the interpretation of which is, the light, gazelle-like stone.
"And also (concerning) the road to the city, which you asked me about, I will tell you about it. No man is able to go on that road, except one who has forsaken everything that he has and has fasted daily from stage to stage. For many are the robbers and wild beasts on that road. The one who carries bread with him on the road, the black dogs kill because of the bread. The one who carries a costly garment of the world with him, the robbers kill because of the garment. The one who carries water with him, the wolves kill because of the water, since they were thirsty for it. The one who is anxious about meat and green vegetables, the lions eat because of the meat. If he evades the lions, the bulls devour him because of the green vegetables."
When he had said these things to me, I sighed within myself, saying, "Great hardships are on the road! If only Jesus would give us power to walk it!" He looked at me since my face was sad, and I sighed. He said to me, "Why do you sigh, if you, indeed, know this name "Jesus" and believe him? He is a great power for giving strength. For I too believe in the Father who sent him."
I replied, asking him, "What is the name of the place to which you go, your city?" He said to me, "This is the name of my city, 'Nine Gates.' Let us praise God as we are mindful that the tenth is the head." After this I went away from him in peace.
As I was about to go and call my friends, I saw waves and large high walls surrounding the bounds of the city. I marveled at the great things I saw. I saw an old man sitting and I asked him if the name of the city was really Habitation. He [...], "Habitation [...]." He said to me, "You speak truly, for we inhabit here because we endure."
I responded, saying, "Justly [...] have men named it [...], because (by) everyone who endures his trials, cities are inhabited, and a precious kingdom comes from them, because they endure in the midst of the apostasies and the difficulties of the storms. So that in this way, the city of everyone who endures the burden of his yoke of faith will be inhabited, and he will be included in the kingdom of heaven."
I hurried and went and called my friends so that we might go to the city that he, Lithargoel, appointed for us. In a bond of faith we forsook everything as he had said (to do). We evaded the robbers, because they did not find their garments with us. We evaded the wolves, because they did not find the water with us for which they thirsted. We evaded the lions, because they did not find the desire for meat with us. We evaded the bulls [...] they did not find green vegetables.
A great joy came upon us and a peaceful carefreeness like that of our Lord. We rested ourselves in front of the gate, and we talked with each other about that which is not a distraction of this world. Rather we continued in contemplation of the faith.
As we discussed the robbers on the road, whom we evaded, behold Lithargoel, having changed, came out to us. He had the appearance of a physician, since an unguent box was under his arm, and a young disciple was following him carrying a pouch full of medicine. We did not recognize him.
Peter responded and said to him, "We want you to do us a favor, because we are strangers, and take us to the house of Lithargoel before evening comes." He said, "In uprightness of heart I will show it to you. But I am amazed at how you knew this good man. For he does not reveal himself to every man, because he himself is the son of a great king. Rest yourselves a little so that I may go and heal this man and come (back)." He hurried and came (back) quickly.
He said to Peter, "Peter!" And Peter was frightened, for how did he know that his name was Peter? Peter responded to the Savior, "How do you know me, for you called my name?" Lithargoel answered, "I want to ask you who gave the name Peter to you?" He said to him, "It was Jesus Christ, the son of the living God. He gave this name to me." He answered and said, "It is I! Recognize me, Peter." He loosened the garment, which clothed him - the one into which he had changed himself because of us - revealing to us in truth that it was he.
We prostrated ourselves on the ground and worshipped him. We comprised eleven disciples. He stretched forth his hand and caused us to stand. We spoke with him humbly. Our heads were bowed down in unworthiness as we said, "What you wish we will do. But give us power to do what you wish at all times."
He gave them the unguent box and the pouch that was in the hand of the young disciple. He commanded them like this, saying, "Go into the city from which you came, which is called Habitation. Continue in endurance as you teach all those who have believed in my name, because I have endured in hardships of the faith. I will give you your reward. To the poor of that city give what they need in order to live until I give them what is better, which I told you that I will give you for nothing."
Peter answered and said to him, "Lord, you have taught us to forsake the world and everything in it. We have renounced them for your sake. What we are concerned about (now) is the food for a single day. Where will we be able to find the needs that you ask us to provide for the poor?"
The Lord answered and said, "O Peter, it was necessary that you understand the parable that I told you! Do you not understand that my name, which you teach, surpasses all riches, and the wisdom of God surpasses gold, and silver and precious stone(s)?"
He gave them the pouch of medicine and said, "Heal all the sick of the city who believe in my name." Peter was afraid to reply to him for the second time. He signaled to the one who was beside him, who was John: "You talk this time." John answered and said, "Lord, before you we are afraid to say many words. But it is you who asks us to practice this skill. We have not been taught to be physicians. How then will we know how to heal bodies as you have told us?"
He answered them, "Rightly have you spoken, John, for I know that the physicians of this world heal what belongs to the world. The physicians of souls, however, heal the heart. Heal the bodies first, therefore, so that through the real powers of healing for their bodies, without medicine of the world, they may believe in you, that you have power to heal the illnesses of the heart also.
"The rich men of the city, however, those who did not see fit even to acknowledge me, but who reveled in their wealth and pride - with such as these, therefore, do not dine in their houses nor be friends with them, lest their partiality influence you. For many in the churches have shown partiality to the rich, because they also are sinful, and they give occasion for others to sin. But judge them with uprightness, so that your ministry may be glorified, and that my name also, may be glorified in the churches." The disciples answered and said, "Yes, truly this is what is fitting to do."
They prostrated themselves on the ground and worshipped him. He caused them to stand and departed from them in peace. Amen.
Translated by George W. MacRae
I was sent forth from the power,
- and I have come to those who reflect upon me,
- and I have been found among those who seek after me.
- Look upon me, you who reflect upon me,
- and you hearers, hear me.
- You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves.
- And do not banish me from your sight.
- And do not make your voice hate me, nor your hearing.
- Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or any time. Be on your guard!
- Do not be ignorant of me.
- For I am the first and the last.
- I am the honored one and the scorned one.
- I am the whore and the holy one.
- I am the wife and the virgin.
- I am <the mother> and the daughter.
- I am the members of my mother.
- I am the barren one
- and many are her sons.
- I am she whose wedding is great,
- and I have not taken a husband.
- I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
- I am the solace of my labor pains.
- I am the bride and the bridegroom,
- and it is my husband who begot me.
- I am the mother of my father
- and the sister of my husband
- and he is my offspring.
- I am the slave of him who prepared me.
- I am the ruler of my offspring.
- But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday.
- And he is my offspring in (due) time,
- and my power is from him.
- I am the staff of his power in his youth,
- and he is the rod of my old age.
- And whatever he wills happens to me.
- I am the silence that is incomprehensible
- and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
- I am the voice whose sound is manifold
- and the word whose appearance is multiple.
- I am the utterance of my name.
- Why, you who hate me, do you love me,
- and hate those who love me?
- You who deny me, confess me,
- and you who confess me, deny me.
- You who tell the truth about me, lie about me,
- and you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me.
- You who know me, be ignorant of me,
- and those who have not known me, let them know me.
- For I am knowledge and ignorance.
- I am shame and boldness.
- I am shameless; I am ashamed.
- I am strength and I am fear.
- I am war and peace.
- Give heed to me.
- I am the one who is disgraced and the great one.
- Give heed to my poverty and my wealth.
- Do not be arrogant to me when I am cast out upon the earth,
- and you will find me in those that are to come.
- And do not look upon me on the dung-heap
- nor go and leave me cast out,
- and you will find me in the kingdoms.
- And do not look upon me when I am cast out among those who
- are disgraced and in the least places,
- nor laugh at me.
- And do not cast me out among those who are slain in violence.
- But I, I am compassionate and I am cruel.
- Be on your guard!
- Do not hate my obedience
- and do not love my self-control.
- In my weakness, do not forsake me,
- and do not be afraid of my power.
- For why do you despise my fear
- and curse my pride?
- But I am she who exists in all fears
- and strength in trembling.
- I am she who is weak,
- and I am well in a pleasant place.
- I am senseless and I am wise.
- Why have you hated me in your counsels?
- For I shall be silent among those who are silent,
- and I shall appear and speak,
- Why then have you hated me, you Greeks?
- Because I am a barbarian among the barbarians?
- For I am the wisdom of the Greeks
- and the knowledge of the barbarians.
- I am the judgement of the Greeks and of the barbarians.
- I am the one whose image is great in Egypt
- and the one who has no image among the barbarians.
- I am the one who has been hated everywhere
- and who has been loved everywhere.
- I am the one whom they call Life,
- and you have called Death.
- I am the one whom they call Law,
- and you have called Lawlessness.
- I am the one whom you have pursued,
- and I am the one whom you have seized.
- I am the one whom you have scattered,
- and you have gathered me together.
- I am the one before whom you have been ashamed,
- and you have been shameless to me.
- I am she who does not keep festival,
- and I am she whose festivals are many.
- I, I am godless,
- and I am the one whose God is great.
- I am the one whom you have reflected upon,
- and you have scorned me.
- I am unlearned,
- and they learn from me.
- I am the one that you have despised,
- and you reflect upon me.
- I am the one whom you have hidden from,
- and you appear to me.
- But whenever you hide yourselves,
- I myself will appear.
- For whenever you appear,
- I myself will hide from you.
- Those who have [...] to it [...] senselessly [...].
- Take me [... understanding] from grief.
- and take me to yourselves from understanding and grief.
- And take me to yourselves from places that are ugly and in ruin,
- and rob from those which are good even though in ugliness.
- Out of shame, take me to yourselves shamelessly;
- and out of shamelessness and shame,
- upbraid my members in yourselves.
- And come forward to me, you who know me
- and you who know my members,
- and establish the great ones among the small first creatures.
- Come forward to childhood,
- and do not despise it because it is small and it is little.
- And do not turn away greatnesses in some parts from the smallnesses,
- for the smallnesses are known from the greatnesses.
- Why do you curse me and honor me?
- You have wounded and you have had mercy.
- Do not separate me from the first ones whom you have known.
- And do not cast anyone out nor turn anyone away
- [...] turn you away and [... know] him not.
- What is mine [...].
- I know the first ones and those after them know me.
- But I am the mind of [...] and the rest of [...].
- I am the knowledge of my inquiry,
- and the finding of those who seek after me,
- and the command of those who ask of me,
- and the power of the powers in my knowledge
- of the angels, who have been sent at my word,
- and of gods in their seasons by my counsel,
- and of spirits of every man who exists with me,
- and of women who dwell within me.
- I am the one who is honored, and who is praised,
- and who is despised scornfully.
- I am peace,
- and war has come because of me.
- And I am an alien and a citizen.
- I am the substance and the one who has no substance.
- Those who are without association with me are ignorant of me,
- and those who are in my substance are the ones who know me.
- Those who are close to me have been ignorant of me,
- and those who are far away from me are the ones who have known me.
- On the day when I am close to you, you are far away from me,
- and on the day when I am far away from you, I am close to you.
- [I am ...] within.
- [I am ...] of the natures.
- I am [...] of the creation of the spirits.
- [...] request of the souls.
- I am control and the uncontrollable.
- I am the union and the dissolution.
- I am the abiding and I am the dissolution.
- I am the one below,
- and they come up to me.
- I am the judgment and the acquittal.
- I, I am sinless,
- and the root of sin derives from me.
- I am lust in (outward) appearance,
- and interior self-control exists within me.
- I am the hearing which is attainable to everyone
- and the speech which cannot be grasped.
- I am a mute who does not speak,
- and great is my multitude of words.
- Hear me in gentleness, and learn of me in roughness.
- I am she who cries out,
- and I am cast forth upon the face of the earth.
- I prepare the bread and my mind within.
- I am the knowledge of my name.
- I am the one who cries out,
- and I listen.
- I appear and [...] walk in [...] seal of my [...].
- I am [...] the defense [...].
- I am the one who is called Truth
- and iniquity [...].
- You honor me [...] and you whisper against me.
- You who are vanquished, judge them (who vanquish you)
- before they give judgment against you,
- because the judge and partiality exist in you.
- If you are condemned by this one, who will acquit you?
- Or, if you are acquitted by him, who will be able to detain you?
- For what is inside of you is what is outside of you,
- and the one who fashions you on the outside
- is the one who shaped the inside of you.
- And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you;
- it is visible and it is your garment.
- Hear me, you hearers
- and learn of my words, you who know me.
- I am the hearing that is attainable to everything;
- I am the speech that cannot be grasped.
- I am the name of the sound
- and the sound of the name.
- I am the sign of the letter
- and the designation of the division.
- And I [...].
- (3 lines missing)
- [...] light [...].
- [...] hearers [...] to you
- [...] the great power.
- And [...] will not move the name.
- [...] to the one who created me.
- And I will speak his name.
- Look then at his words
- and all the writings which have been completed.
- Give heed then, you hearers
- and you also, the angels and those who have been sent,
- and you spirits who have arisen from the dead.
- For I am the one who alone exists,
- and I have no one who will judge me.
- For many are the pleasant forms which exist in numerous sins,
- and incontinencies,
- and disgraceful passions,
- and fleeting pleasures,
- which (men) embrace until they become sober
- and go up to their resting place.
- And they will find me there,
- and they will live,
- and they will not die again.
Translated by George W. MacRae
[...] in heaven [...] within him [...] anyone appears [...] the hidden heavens [...] appear, and before the invisible, ineffable worlds appeared. From these the invisible soul of righteousness came, being a fellow member, and a fellow body, and a fellow spirit. Whether she is in the descent or is in the Pleroma, she is not separated from them, but they see her and she looks at them in the invisible world.
Secretly her bridegroom fetched it. He presented it to her mouth to make her eat it like food, and he applied the word to her eyes as a medicine to make her see with her mind and perceive her kinsmen and learn about her root, in order that she might cling to her branch from which she had first come forth, in order that she might receive what is hers and renounce matter.
[...] he [dwelt...] having [...] sons. The sons [...] truly, those who have come from his seed, call the sons of the woman "our brothers". In this very way, when the spiritual soul was cast into the body, it became a brother to lust and hatred and envy, and a material soul. So therefore the body came from lust, and lust came from material substance. For this reason the soul became a brother to them.
And yet they are outsiders, without power to inherit from the male, but they will inherit from their mother only. Whenever, therefore, the soul wishes to inherit along with the outsiders - for the possessions of the outsiders are proud passions, the pleasures of life, hateful envies, vainglorious things, nonsensical things, accusations [...] for her [...] prostitution, he excludes her and puts her into the brothel. For [...] debauchery for her. She left modesty behind. For death and life are set before everyone. Whichever of these two they wish, then, they will choose for themselves.
That one then will fall into drinking much wine in debauchery. For wine is the debaucher. Therefore she does not remember her brothers and her father, for pleasure and sweet profits deceive her.
Having left knowledge behind, she fell into bestiality. For a senseless person exists in bestiality, not knowing what is proper to say and what it is proper not to say. But, on the other hand, the gentle son inherits from his father with pleasure, while his father rejoices over him because he receives honor on account of him from everyone, as he looks again for the way to double the things that he has received. For the outsiders [...].
[...] to mix with the [...]. For if a thought of lust enters into a virgin man, he has already become contaminated. And their gluttony cannot mix with moderation. For if the chaff is mixed with the wheat, it is not the chaff that is contaminated, but the wheat. For since they are mixed with each other, no one will buy her wheat, because it is contaminated. But they will coax him, "Give us this chaff!", seeing the wheat mixed with it, until they get it and throw it with all other chaff, and that chaff mixes with all other materials. But a pure seed is kept in storehouses that are secure. All these things,then, we have spoken.
And before anything came into being, it was the Father alone who existed, before the worlds that are in the heavens appeared, or the world that is on the earth, or principality, or authority, or the powers. [...] appear [...] and [...] And nothing came into being without his wish.
He, then, the Father, wishing to reveal his wealth and his glory, brought about this great contest in this world, wishing to make the contestants appear, and make all those who contend leave behind the things that had come into being, and despise them with a lofty, incomprehensible knowledge, and flee to the one who exists.
And (as for) those who contend with us, being adversaries who contend against us, we are to be victorious over their ignorance through our knowledge, since we have already known the Inscrutable One from whom we have come forth. We have nothing in this world, lest the authority of the world that has come into being should detain us in the worlds that are in the heavens, those in which universal death exists, surrounded by the individual [...] worldly. We have also become ashamed of the worlds, though we take no interest in them when they malign us. And we ignore them when they curse us. When they cast shame in our face, we look at them and do not speak.
For they work at their business, but we go about in hunger (and) in thirst, looking toward our dwelling-place, the place which our conduct and our conscience look toward, not clinging to the things which have come into being, but withdrawing from them. Our hearts are set on the things that exist, though we are ill (and) feeble (and) in pain. But there is a great strength hidden within us.
Our soul indeed is ill because she dwells in a house of poverty, while matter strikes blows at her eyes, wishing to make her blind. For this reason she pursues the word and applies it to her eyes as a medicine <opening> them, casting away [...] thought of a [...] blindness in [...] afterwards, when that one is again in ignorance, he is completely darkened and is material. Thus the soul [...] a word every hour, to apply it to her eyes as a medicine in order that she may see, and her light may conceal the hostile forces that fight with her, and she may make them blind with her light, and enclose them in her presence, and make them fall down in sleeplessness, and she may act boldly with her strength and with her scepter.
While her enemies look at her in shame, she runs upward into her treasure-house - the one in which her mind is - and (into) her storehouse which is secure, since nothing among the things that have come into being has seized her, nor has she received a stranger into her house. For many are her homeborn ones who fight against her by day and by night, having no rest by day or by night, for their lust oppresses them.
For this reason, then, we do not sleep, nor do we forget the nets that are spread out in hiding, lying in wait for us to catch us. For if we are caught in a single net, it will suck us down into its mouth, while the water flows over us, striking our face. And we will be taken down into the dragnet, and we will not be able to come up from it, because the waters are high over us, flowing from above downward, submerging our heart down in the filthy mud. And we will not be able to escape from them. For man-eaters will seize us and swallow us, rejoicing like a fisherman casting a hook into the water. For he casts many kinds of food into the water because each one of the fish has his own food. He smells it and pursues its odor. But when he eats it, the hook hidden within the food seizes him and brings him up by force out of the deep waters. No man is able, then, to catch that fish down in the deep waters, except for the trap that the fisherman sets. By the ruse of food he brought the fish up on the hook.
In this very way we exist in this world, like fish. The adversary spies on us, lying in wait for us like a fisherman, wishing to seize us, rejoicing that he might swallow us. For he places many foods before our eyes (things) which belong to this world. He wishes to make us desire one of them and to taste only a little, so that he may seize us with his hidden poison and bring us out of freedom and take us into slavery. For whenever he catches us with a single food, it is indeed necessary for us to desire the rest. Finally, then, such things become the food of death.
Now these are the foods with which the devil lies in wait for us. First he injects a pain into your heart until you have heartache on account of a small thing of this life, and he seizes (you) with his poisons. And afterward (he injects) the desire of a tunic, so that you will pride yourself in it, and love of money, pride, vanity, envy that rivals another envy, beauty of body, fraudulence. The greatest of all these are ignorance and ease.
Now all such things the adversary prepares beautifully and spreads out before the body, wishing to make the mind of the soul incline her toward one of them and overwhelm her, like a hook, drawing her by force in ignorance, deceiving her until she conceives evil, and bears fruit of matter, and conducts herself in uncleanness, pursuing many desires, covetousnesses, while fleshly pleasure draws her in ignorance.
But the soul - she who has tasted these things - realized that sweet passions are transitory. She had learned about evil; she went away from them and she entered into a new conduct. Afterwards she despises this life, because it is transitory. And she looks for those foods that will take her into life, and leaves behind her those deceitful foods. And she learns about her light, as she goes about stripping off this world, while her true garment clothes her within, (and) her bridal clothing is placed upon her in beauty of mind, not in pride of flesh. And she learns about her depth and runs into her fold, while her shepherd stands at the door. In return for all the shame and scorn, then, that she received in this world, she receives ten thousand times the grace and glory.
She gave the body to those who had given it to her, and they were ashamed, while the dealers in bodies sat down and wept because they were not able to do any business with that body, nor did they find any (other) merchandise except it. They endured great labors until they had shaped the body of this soul, wishing to strike down the invisible soul. They were therefore ashamed of their work; they suffered the loss of the one for whom they had endured labors. They did not realize that she has an invisible spiritual body, thinking, "We are her shepherd who feeds her." But they did not realize that she knows another way, which is hidden from them. This her true shepherd taught her in knowledge.
But these - the ones who are ignorant - do not seek after God. Nor do they inquire about their dwelling-place, which exists in rest, but they go about in bestiality. They are more wicked than the pagans, because first of all they do not inquire about God, for their hardness of heart draws them down to make them their cruelty. Furthermore, if they find someone else who asks about his salvation, their hardness of heart sets to work upon that man. And if he does not stop asking, they kill him by their cruelty, thinking that they have done a good thing for themselves.
Indeed they are sons of the devil! For even pagans give charity, and they know that God who is in the heavens exists, the Father of the universe, exalted over their idols, which they worship. But they have not heard the word, that they should inquire about his ways. Thus the senseless man hears the call, but he is ignorant of the place to which he has been called. And he did not ask during the preaching, "Where is the temple into which I should go and worship my hope?"
On account of his senselessness, then, he is worse than a pagan, for the pagans know the way to go to their stone temple, which will perish, and they worship their idol, while their hearts are set on it because it is their hope. But to this senseless man the word has been preached, teaching him, "Seek and inquire about the ways you should go, since there is nothing else that is as good as this thing." The result is that the substance of hardness of heart strikes a blow upon his mind, along with the force of ignorance and the demon of error. They do not allow his mind to rise up, because he was wearying himself in seeking that he might learn about his hope.
But the rational soul who (also) wearied herself in seeking - she learned about God. She labored with inquiring, enduring distress in the body, wearing out her feet after the evangelists, learning about the Inscrutable One. She found her rising. She came to rest in him who is at rest. She reclined in the bride-chamber. She ate of the banquet for which she had hungered. She partook of the immortal food. She found what she had sought after. She received rest from her labors, while the light that shines forth upon her does not sink. To it belongs the glory and the power and the revelation for ever and ever. Amen.
The Concept of Our Great Power
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Translated by Frederik Wisse
The Perception of Understanding
The Concept of the Great Power
He who will know our great Power will become invisible, and fire will not be able to consume him. But it will purge and destroy all of your possessions. For everyone in whom my form will appear will be saved, from (the age of) seven days up to one hundred and twenty years. (Those) whom I constrained to gather all that is fallen - and the writings of our great Power, in order that he may inscribe your name in our great light - and their thoughts and their works may be ended, that they may be purged, and be scattered and be destroyed, and be gathered in the place which no one in it sees. But you will see me, and you will prepare your dwelling places in our great Power.
Know how what has departed came to be, in order that you may know how to discern what lives to become: of what appearance that aeon is, or what kind it is, or how it will come to be. Why do you not ask what kind you will become, (or) rather how you came to be?
Discern what size the water is, that it is immeasurable (and) incomprehensible, both its beginning and its end. It supports the earth; it blows in the air where the gods and the angels are. But in him who is exalted above all these there is the fear and the light, and in him are my writings revealed. I have given them as a service to the creation of the physical things, for it is not possible for anyone to stand without that One, nor is it possible for the aeon to live without him. It is he who possesses what is in him by discerning (it) in purity.
Then behold the Spirit and know where he is. He gave himself to men that they may receive life from him every day, since he has his life within him; he gives to them all.
Then the darkness together with Hades took the fire. And he (the darkness) will release from himself what is mine. His eyes were not able to endure my light. After the spirits and the waters moved, the remainder came into being: the whole aeon of the creation, and their <powers>. The fire came forth from them and the Power came in the midst of the powers. And the powers desired to see my image. And the soul became its replica.
This is the work that came into being. See what it is like, that before it comes into being it does not see, because the aeon of the flesh came to be in the great bodies. And there were apportioned to them long days in the creation. For when they had polluted themselves and had entered into the flesh, the father of the flesh, the water, avenged himself. For when he had found that Noah was pious (and) worthy - and it is the father of the flesh who holds the angels in subjection. And he (Noah) preached piety for one hundred and twenty years. And no one listened to him. And he made a wooden ark, and whom he had found entered it. And the flood took place.
And thus Noah was saved with his sons. For if indeed the ark had not been meant for man to enter, then the water of the flood would not have come. In this way he intended (and) planned to save the gods and the angels, and the powers, the greatness of all of these, and the <nourishment> and the way of life. And he moves them from the aeon (and) nourishes them in the permanent places. And the judgment of the flesh was unleashed. Only the work of the Power stood up.
Next the psychic aeon. It is a small one, which is mixed with bodies, by begetting in the souls (and) defiling (them). For the first defilement of the creation found strength. And it begot every work: many works of wrath, anger, envy, malice, hatred, slander, contempt and war, lying and evil counsels, sorrows and pleasures, basenesses and defilements, falsehoods and diseases, evil judgments that they decree according to their desires.
Yet you are sleeping, dreaming dreams. Wake up and return, taste and eat the true food! Hand out the word and the water of life! Cease from the evil lusts and desires and (the teachings of) the Anomoeans, evil heresies that have no basis.
And the mother of the fire was impotent. She brought the fire upon the soul and the earth, and she burned all <the> dwellings that are in it. And its shepherd perished. Moreover, when she does not find anything else to burn, she will destroy herself. And it will become incorporeal, without body, and it will burn matter, until it has cleansed everything, - and all wickedness. For when it does not find anything else to burn, it will turn against itself until it has destroyed itself.
Then, in this aeon, which is the psychic one, the man will come into being who knows the great Power. He will receive (me) and he will know me. He will drink from the milk of the mother, in fact. He will speak in parables; he will proclaim the aeon that is to come, just as he spoke in the first aeon of the flesh, as Noah. Now concerning his words, which he uttered, he spoke in all of them, in seventy-two tongues. And he opened the gates of the heavens with his words. And he put to shame the ruler of Hades; he raised the dead, and he destroyed his dominion.
Then a great disturbance took place. The archons raised up their wrath against him. They wanted to hand him over to the ruler of Hades. Then they recognized one of his followers. A fire took hold of his soul. He (Judas?) handed him over, since no one knew him (Jesus?). They acted and seized him. They brought judgment upon themselves. And they delivered him up to the ruler of Hades. And they handed him over to Sasabek for nine bronze coins. He prepared himself to go down and put them to shame. Then the ruler of Hades took him. And he found that the nature of his flesh could not be seized, in order to show it to the archons. But he was saying: "Who is this? What is it? His word has abolished the law of the aeon. He is from the Logos of the power of life." And he was victorious over the command of the archons, and they were not able by their work to rule over him.
The archons searched after that which had come to pass. They did not know that this is the sign of their dissolution, and (that) it is the change of the aeon. The sun set during the day; that day became dark. The evil spirits were troubled. And after these things he will appear ascending. And the sign of the aeon that is to come will appear. And the aeons will dissolve.
And those who would know these things that were discussed with them, will become blessed. And they will reveal them, and they will become blessed, since they will come to know the truth. For you have found rest in the heavens.
Then many will follow him, and they will labor in their birthplaces. They will go about; they will write down his words according to (their) desire.
Behold, these aeons have passed. What size is the water of the aeon that has dissolved? What dimensions do aeons have? How will men prepare themselves, and how will they be established, and how will they become indestructible aeons?
But at first, after his preaching - it is he who proclaims the second aeon, and the first. And the first aeon perished in the course of time. He made the first aeon, going about in it until it perished, while preaching one hundred and twenty years in number. This is the perfect number that is highly exalted. He made the border of the West desolate, and he destroyed the East. Then your seed and those who wish to follow our great Logos and his proclamation - [...]
Then the wrath of the archons burned. They were ashamed of their dissolution. And they fumed and were angry at the life. The cities were <overturned>; the mountains dissolve. The archon came, with the archons of the western regions, to the East, i.e., that place where the Logos appeared at first. Then the earth trembled, and the cities were troubled. Moreover, the birds ate and were filled with their dead. The earth mourned together with the inhabited world; they became desolate.
Then when the times were completed, then wickedness arose mightily even until the final end of the Logos. Then the archon of the western regions arose, and from the East he will perform a work, and he will instruct men in his wickedness. And he wants to nullify all teaching, the words of true wisdom, while loving the lying wisdom. For he attacked the old, wishing to introduce wickedness and to put on dignity. He was incapable, because the defilement of his garments is great. Then he became angry. He appeared and desired to go up and to pass up to that place.
Then the appointed time came and drew near. And he changed the commands. Then the time came until the child had grown up. When he had come to his maturity, then the archons sent the imitator to that man in order that they might know our great Power. And they were expecting from him that he would perform for them a sign. And he bore great signs. And he reigned over the whole earth and all those who are under heaven. He placed his throne upon the end of the earth, for "I shall make you god of the world". He will perform signs and wonders. Then they will turn from me, and they will go astray.
Then those men who will follow after him will introduce circumcision. And he will pronounce judgment upon those who are from the uncircumcision, who are the (true) people. For in fact he sent many preachers beforehand, who preached on his behalf.
When he has completed the established time of the kingdom of the earth, then the cleansing of the souls will come, since wickedness is stronger than you. All the powers of the sea will tremble and dry up, And the firmament will not pour down dew. The springs will cease. The rivers will not flow down to their springs. And the waters of the springs of the earth will cease. Then the depths will be laid bare and they will open. The stars will grow in size, and the sun will cease.
And I shall withdraw with everyone who will know me. And they will enter into the immeasurable light, (where) there is no one of the flesh nor the wantonness of the first to seize them. They will be unhampered (and) holy, since nothing drags them down. I myself protect them, since they have holy garments, which the fire cannot touch, nor darkness nor wind nor a moment, so as to cause one to shut the eyes.
Then he will come to destroy all of them. And they will be chastised until they become pure. Moreover their period, which was given to them to have power, which was apportioned to them, (is) fourteen hundred and sixty years. When the fire has consumed them all, and when it does not find anything else to burn, then it will perish by its own hand. Then the [...] will be completed [...] the second power [...] the mercy will come [...] through wisdom [...]. Then the firmaments will fall down into the depth. Then the sons of matter will perish; they will not be, henceforth.
Then the souls will appear, who are holy through the light of the Power, who is exalted, above all powers, the immeasurable, the universal one, I and all those who will know me. And they will be in the aeon of beauty of the aeon of judgment, since they are ready in wisdom, having given glory to him who is in the incomprehensible unity; and they see him because of his will, which is in them. And they all have become as reflections in his light. They all have shone, and they have found rest in his rest.
And he will release the souls that are being punished, and they will come to be in purity. And they will see the saints and cry out to them, "Have mercy on us, O Power who art above all powers!" For [...] and in the tree of iniquity that exists [...] to him their eyes. And they do not seek him because they do not seek us, nor do they believe us, but they acted according to the creation of the archons and its other rulers. But we have acted according to our birth of the flesh, in the creation of the archons, which gives law. We also have come to be in the unchangeable aeon.
Translated by James Brashler
Translated by James Brashler, Peter A. Dirkse, and Douglas M. Parrott
"Since we have come to this point in a discussion, let us again take up the first things that were said to us. And we will find that he says, 'Good is he who has been done injustice completely. He is glorified justly.' Is not this how he was reproached?"
"This is certainly the fitting way!"
And I said, "Now then, we have spoken because he said that he who does injustice and he who does justice each has a force."
"He said, 'An image that has no likeness is the rationality of soul,' so that he who said these things will understand. He [...] or not? We [...] is for me. But all [...] who told them [...] ruler, these now have become natural creatures - even Chimaera and Cerberus and all the rest that were mentioned. They all came down and they cast off forms and images. And they all became a single image. It was said, 'Work now!' Certainly it is a single image that became the image of a complex beast with many heads. Some days indeed it is like the image of a wild beast. Then it is able to cast off the first image. And all these hard and difficult forms emanate from it with effort, since these are formed now with arrogance. And also all the rest that are like them are formed now through the word. For now it is a single image. For the image of the lion is the one thing and the image of the man is another. [...] single [...] is the [...] of [...] join. And this [...] much more complex than the first. And the second is small."
"It has been formed."
"Now then, join them to each other and make them a single one - for they are three - so that they grow together, and all are in a single image outside of the image of the man just like him who is unable to see the things inside him. But what is outside only is what he sees. And it is apparent what creature his image is in and that he was formed in a human image.
"And I spoke to him who said that there is profit in the doing of injustice for the man. He who does injustice truly does not profit nor does he benefit. But what is profitable for him is this: that he cast down every image of the evil beast and trample them along with the images of the lion. But the man is in weakness in this regard. And all the things that he does are weak. As a result he is drawn to the place where he spends time with them. [...]. And he [...] to him in[...]. But he brings about [...] enmity [...]. And with strife they devour each other among themselves. Yes, all these things he said to everyone who praises the doing of injustice."
"Then is it not profitable for him who speaks justly?"
"And if he does these things and speaks in them, within the man they take hold firmly. Therefore especially he strives to take care of them and he nourishes them just like the farmer nourishes his produce daily. And the wild beasts keep it from growing.
"My father, yesterday you promised me that you would bring my mind into the eighth and afterwards you would bring me into the ninth. You said that this is the order of the tradition."
"My son, indeed this is the order. But the promise was according to human nature. For I told you when I initiated the promise, I said, 'If you hold in mind each one of the steps.' After I had received the spirit through the power, I set forth the action for you. Indeed, the understanding dwells in you; in me (it is) as though the power were pregnant. For when I conceived from the fountain that flowed to me, I gave birth."
"My father, you have spoken every word well to me. But I am amazed at this statement that you have just made. For you said, 'The power that is in me'."
He said, "I gave birth to it (the power), as children are born."
"Then, my father, I have many brothers, if I am to be numbered among the offspring."
"Right, my son! This good thing is numbered by ... (3 lines missing) ... and [...] at all times. Therefore, my son, it is necessary for you to recognize your brothers and to honor them rightly and properly, because they come from the same father. For each generation I have called. I have named it, because they were offspring like these sons."
"Then, my father, do they have (a) day?"
"My son, they are spiritual ones. For they exist as forces that grow other souls. Therefore I say that they are immortal."
"Your word is true; it has no refutation from now on. My father, begin the discourse on the eighth and the ninth, and include me also with my brothers."
"Let us pray, my son, to the father of the universe, with your brothers who are my sons, that he may give the spirit of eloquence."
"How do they pray, my father, when joined with the generations? I want to obey, my father."
(2 lines missing) ... But it is not [...]. Nor is it a [...]. But he is satisfied with her [...] him [...]. And it is right for you to remember the progress that came to you as wisdom in the books, my son. Compare yourself to the early years of life. As children (do), you have posed senseless, unintelligent questions."
"My father, the progress that has come to me now, and the foreknowledge, according to the books, that has come to me, exceeding the deficiency - these things are foremost in me."
"My son, when you understand the truth of your statement, you will find your brothers, who are my sons, praying with you."
"My father, I understand nothing else except the beauty that came to me in the books."
"This is what you call the beauty of the soul, the edification that came to you in stages. May the understanding come to you, and you will teach."
"I have understood, my father, each one of the books. And especially the ... (2 lines missing) ... which is in [...]."
"My son, [...] in praises from those who extolled them."
"My father, from you I will receive the power of the discourse that you will give. As it was told to both (of us), let us pray, my father."
"My son, what is fitting is to pray to God with all our mind and all our heart and our soul, and to ask him that the gift of the eighth extend to us, and that each one receive from him what is his. Your part, then, is to understand; my own is to be able to deliver the discourse from the fountain that flows to me."
"Let us pray, my father: I call upon you, who rules over the kingdom of power, whose word comes as (a) birth of light. And his words are immortal. They are eternal and unchanging. He is the one whose will begets life for the forms in every place. His nature gives form to substance. By him, the souls of the eighth and the angels are moved ... (2 lines missing) ... those that exist. His providence extends to everyone [...] begets everyone. He is the one who [...] the aeon among spirits. He created everything. He who is self-contained cares for everything. He is perfect, the invisible God to whom one speaks in silence - his image is moved when it is directed, and it governs - the one mighty power, who is exalted above majesty, who is better than the honored (ones), Zoxathazo a oo ee ooo eee oooo ee oooooo ooooo oooooo uuuuuu oooooooooooo ooo Zozazoth.
"Lord, grant us a wisdom from your power that reaches us, so that we may describe to ourselves the vision of the eighth and the ninth. We have already advanced to the seventh, since we are pious and walk in your law. And your will we fulfill always. For we have walked in your way, and we have renounced [...], so that your vision may come. Lord, grant us the truth in the image. Allow us through the spirit to see the form of the image that has no deficiency, and receive the reflection of the pleroma from us through our praise.
"And acknowledge the spirit that is in us. For from you the universe received soul. For from you, the unbegotten one, the begotten one came into being. The birth of the self-begotten one is through you, the birth of all begotten things that exist. Receive from us these spiritual sacrifices, which we send to you with all our heart and our soul and all our strength. Save that which is in us and grant us the immortal wisdom."
"Let us embrace each other affectionately, my son. Rejoice over this! For already from them the power, which is light, is coming to us. For I see! I see indescribable depths. How shall I tell you, my son? [...] from the [...] the places. How shall I describe the universe? I am Mind, and I see another Mind, the one that moves the soul! I see the one that moves me from pure forgetfulness. You give me power! I see myself! I want to speak! Fear restrains me. I have found the beginning of the power that is above all powers, the one that has no beginning. I see a fountain bubbling with life. I have said, my son, that I am Mind. I have seen! Language is not able to reveal this. For the entire eighth, my son, and the souls that are in it, and the angels, sing a hymn in silence. And I, Mind, understand."
"What is the way to sing a hymn through it (silence)?"
"Have you become such that you cannot be spoken to?"
"I am silent, my father. I want to sing a hymn to you while I am silent."
"Then sing it, for I am Mind."
"I understand Mind, Hermes, who cannot be interpreted, because he keeps within himself. And I rejoice, my father, because I see you smiling. And the universe rejoices. Therefore, there is no creature that will lack your life. For you are the lord of the citizens in every place. Your providence protects. I call you 'father', 'aeon of the aeons', 'great divine spirit'. And by a spirit he gives rain upon everyone. What do you say to me, my father, Hermes?"
"Concerning these things, I do not say anything, my son. For it is right before God that we keep silent about what is hidden."
"Trismegistus, let not my soul be deprived of the great divine vision. For everything is possible for you as master of the universe."
"Return to <praising>, my son, and sing while you are silent. Ask what you want in silence."
What he had finished praising, he shouted, "Father Trismegistus! What shall I say? We have received this light. And I myself see this same vision in you. And I see the eighth, and the souls that are in it, and the angels singing a hymn to the ninth and its powers. And I see him who has the power of them all, creating those <that are> in the spirit."
"It is advantageous from now on, that we keep silence in a reverent posture. Do not speak about the vision from now on. It is proper to sing a hymn to the father until the day to quit (the) body."
"What you sing, my father, I too want to sing."
"I am singing a hymn within myself. While you rest yourself, be active in praise. For you have found what you seek."
"But is it proper, my father, that I praise because I am filled in my heart?"
"What is proper is your praise that you will sing to God, so that it might be written in this imperishable book."
"I will offer up the praise in my heart, as I pray to the end of the universe and the beginning of the beginning, to the object of man's quest, the immortal discovery, the begetter of light and truth, the sower of reason, the love of immortal life. No hidden word will be able to speak about you, Lord. Therefore, my mind wants to sing a hymn to you daily. I am the instrument of your spirit; Mind is your plectrum. And your counsel plucks me. I see myself! I have received power from you. For your love has reached us."
"Right, my son."
"Grace! After these things, I give thanks by singing a hymn to you. For I have received life from you, when you made me wise. I praise you. I call your name that is hidden within me: a o ee o eee ooo iii oooo ooooo ooooo uuuuuu oo ooooooooo ooooooooo oo. You are the one who exists with the spirit. I sing a hymn to you reverently."
"My son, write this book for the temple at Diospolis in hieroglyphic characters, entitling it 'The Eighth Reveals the Ninth.'"
"I will do it, my <father>, as you command now."
"My <son>, write the language of the book on steles of turquoise. My son, it is proper to write this book on steles of turquoise, in hieroglyphic characters. For Mind himself has become overseer of these. Therefore, I command that this teaching be carved on stone, and that you place it in my sanctuary. Eight guardians guard it with [...] of the Sun. The males on the right are frog-faced, and the females on the left are cat-faced. And put a square milk-stone at the base of the turquoise tablets, and write the name on the azure stone tablet in hieroglyphic characters. My son, you will do this when I am in Virgo, and the sun is in the first half of the day, and fifteen degrees have passed by me."
"My father, everything that you say I will do eagerly."
"And write an oath in the book, lest those who read the book bring the language into abuse, and not (use it) to oppose the acts of fate. Rather, they should submit to the law of God, without having transgressed at all, but in purity asking God for wisdom and knowledge. And he who will not be begotten at the start by God comes to be by the general and guiding discourses. He will not be able to read the things written in this book, although his conscience is pure within him, since he does not do anything shameful, nor does he consent to it. Rather, by stages he advances and enters into the way of immortality. And thus he enters into the understanding of the eighth that reveals the ninth."
"So shall I do it, my father."
"This is the oath: I make him who will read this holy book swear by heaven and earth, and fire and water, and seven rulers of substance, and the creating spirit in them, and the <unbegotten> God, and the self-begotten one, and him who has been begotten, that he will guard the things that Hermes has said. And those who keep the oath, God will be reconciled with them and everyone whom we have named. But wrath will come to each one of those who violate the oath. This is the perfect one who is, my son."
Translated by James Brashler, Peter A. Dirkse and Douglas M. Parrott
This the prayer that they spoke:
"We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name 'God' and praised with the name 'Father', for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
"The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life."
When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it.
I have copied this one discourse of his. Indeed, very many have come to me. I have not copied them because I thought that they had come to you (pl.). Also, I hesitate to copy these for you because, perhaps they have (already) come to you, and the matter may burden you. Since the discourses of that one, which have come to me, are numerous ...
Translated by James Brashler, Peter A. Dirkse, and Douglas M. Parrott
"And if you (Asclepius) wish to see the reality of this mystery, then you should see the wonderful representation of the intercourse that takes place between the male and the female. For when the semen reaches the climax, it leaps forth. In that moment, the female receives the strength of the male; the male, for his part, receives the strength of the female, while the semen does this.
"Therefore, the mystery of intercourse is performed in secret, in order that the two sexes might not disgrace themselves in front of many who do not experience that reality. For each of them (the sexes) contributes its (own part in) begetting. For if it happens in the presence of those who do not understand the reality, (it is) laughable and unbelievable. And, moreover, they are holy mysteries, of both words and deeds, because not only are they not heard, but also they are not seen.
"Therefore, such people (the unbelievers) are blasphemers. They are atheistic and impious. But the others are not many; rather, the pious who are counted are few. Therefore, wickedness remains among (the) many, since learning concerning the things which are ordained does not exist among them. For the knowledge of the things which are ordained is truly the healing of the passions of the matter. Therefore, learning is something derived from knowledge.
"But if there is ignorance, and learning does not exist in the soul of man, (then) the incurable passions persist in it (the soul). And additional evil comes with them (the passions), in the form of an incurable sore. And the sore constantly gnaws at the soul, and through it the soul produces worms from the evil, and stinks. But God is not the cause of these things, since he sent to men knowledge and learning.
"Trismegistus, did he send them to men alone?"
"Yes, Asclepius, he sent them to them alone. And it is fitting that we tell you why to men alone he granted knowledge and learning, the allotment of his good.
"And now listen! God and the Father, even the Lord, created man subsequent to the gods, and he took him from the region of matter. Since matter is involved in the creation of man, of [...], the passions are in it. Therefore, they continually flow over his body, for this living creature would not have existed in any other way except that he had taken this food, since he is mortal. It is also inevitable that inopportune desires, which are harmful, dwell in him. For the gods, since they came into being out of a pure matter, do not need learning and knowledge. For the immortality of the gods is learning and knowledge, since they came into being out of pure matter. It (immortality) assumed for them the position of knowledge and learning. By necessity, he (God) set a boundary for man; he placed him in learning and knowledge.
"Concerning these things (learning and knowledge) which we have mentioned from the beginning, he (God) perfected them in order that by means of these things he might restrain passions and evils, according to his will. He brought his (man's) mortal existence into immortality; he (man) became good (and) immortal, just as I have said. For he (God) created (a) two-fold nature for him: the immortal and the mortal.
"And it happened this way because of the will of God that men be better than the gods, since, indeed, the gods are immortal, but men alone are both immortal and mortal. Therefore, man has become akin to the gods, and they know the affairs of each other with certainty. The gods know the things of men, and men know the things of the gods. And I am speaking about men, Asclepius, who have attained learning and knowledge. But (about) those who are more vain than these, it is not fitting that we say anything base, since we are divine and are introducing holy matters.
"Since we have entered the matter of the communion between the gods and men, know, Asclepius, that in which man can be strong! For just as the Father, the Lord of the universe, creates gods, in this very way man too, this mortal, earthly, living creature, the one who is not like God, also himself creates gods. Not only does he strengthen, but he is also strengthened. Not only is he god, but he also creates gods. Are you astonished, Asclepius? Are you yourself another disbeliever like the many?"
"Trismegistus, I agree with the words (spoken) to me. And I believe you as you speak. But I have also been astonished at the discourse about this. And I have decided that man is blessed, since he has enjoyed this great power."
"And that which is greater than all these things, Asclepius, is worthy of admiration. Now it is clear to us concerning the race of the gods, and we confess it along with everyone else, that it (the race of the gods) has come into being out of a pure matter. And their bodies are heads only. But that which men create is the likeness of the gods. They (the gods) are from the farthest part of the matter, and it (the object created by men) is from the outer (part) of the being of men. Not only are they (what men created) heads, but (they are) also all the other members of the body, and according to their likeness. Just as God has willed that the inner man be created according to his image, in the very same way, man on earth creates gods according to his likeness."
"Trismegistus, you are not talking about idols, are you?"
"Asclepius, you yourself are talking about idols. You see that again, you yourself, Asclepius, are also a disbeliever of the discourse. You say about those who have soul and breadth, that they are idols - these who bring about these great events. You are saying about these who give prophecies that they are idols - these who give men sickness and healing that [...] them.
"Or are you ignorant, Asclepius, that Egypt is (the) image of heaven? Moreover, it is the dwelling place of heaven and all the forces that are in heaven. If it is proper for us to speak the truth, our land is (the) temple of the world. And it is proper for you not to be ignorant that a time will come in it (our land, when) Egyptians will seem to have served the divinity in vain, and all their activity in their religion will be despised. For all divinity will leave Egypt, and will flee upward to heaven. And Egypt will be widowed; it will be abandoned by the gods. For foreigners will come into Egypt, and they will rule it. Egypt! Moreover, Egyptians will be prohibited from worshipping God. Furthermore, they will come into the ultimate punishment, especially whoever among them is found worshipping (and) honoring God.
"And in that day, the country that was more pious than all countries will become impious. No longer will it be full of temples, but it will be full of tombs. Neither will it be full of gods, but (it will be full of) corpses. Egypt! Egypt will become like the fables. And your religious objects will be [...] the marvelous things, and [...], and if your words are stones and are wonderful. And the barbarian will be better than you, Egyptian, in his religion, whether (he is) a Scythian, or the Hindus, or some other of this sort.
"And what is this that I say about the Egyptian? For they (the Egyptians) will not abandon Egypt. For (in) the time (when) the gods have abandoned the land of Egypt, and have fled upward to heaven, then all Egyptians will die. And Egypt will be made a desert by the gods and the Egyptians. And as for you, River, there will be a day when you will flow with blood more than water. And dead bodies will be (stacked) higher than the dams. And he who is dead will not be mourned as much as he who is alive. Indeed, the latter will be known as an Egyptian on account of his language in the second period (of time). - Asclepius, why are you weeping? - He will seem like (a) foreigner in regard to his customs. Divine Egypt will suffer evils greater than these. Egypt - lover of God, and the dwelling place of the gods, school of religion - will become an example of impiousness.
"And in that day, the world will not be marveled at, [...] and immortality, nor will it be worshiped [...], since we say that it is not good [...]. It has become neither a single thing nor a vision. But it is in danger of becoming a burden to all men. Therefore, it will be despised - the beautiful world of God, the incomparable work, the energy that possesses goodness, the man-formed vision. Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be preferred to life. No one will gaze into heaven. And the pious man will be counted as insane, and the impious man will be honored as wise. The man who is afraid will be considered as strong. And the good man will be punished like a criminal.
"And concerning the soul, and the things of the soul, and the things of immortality, along with the rest of what I have said to you, Tat, Asclepius, and Ammon - not only will they be considered ridiculous, but they will also be thought of as vanity. But believe me (when I say) that people of this kind will be endangered by the ultimate danger to their soul. And a new law will be established ... (2 lines missing) ... they will ... (line missing) ... good. The wicked angels will remain among men, (and) be with them, (and) lead them into wicked things recklessly, as well as into atheism, wars, and plunderings, by teaching them things contrary to nature.
"In those days, the earth will not be stable, and men will not sail the sea, nor will they know the stars in heaven. Every sacred voice of the word of God will be silenced, and the air will be diseased. Such is the senility of the world: atheism, dishonor, and the disregard of noble words.
"And when these things had happened, Asclepius, then the Lord, the Father and god from the only first god, the creator, when he looked upon the things that happened, established his design, which is good, against the disorder. He took away error, and cut off evil. Sometimes, he submerged it in a great flood; at other times, he burned it in a searing fire; and at still other times, he crushed it in wars and plagues, until he brought ... (4 lines missing) ... of the work. And this is the birth of the world.
"The restoration of the nature of the pious ones who are good will take place in a period of time that never had a beginning. For the will of God has no beginning, even as his nature, which is his will (has no beginning). For the nature of God is will. And his will is the good."
"Trismegistus, is purpose, then, (the same as) will?"
"Yes, Asclepius, since will is (included) in counsel. For <he> (God) does not will what he has from deficiency. Since he is complete in every part, he wills what he (already) fully has. And he has every good. And what he wills, he wills. And he has the good that he wills. Therefore, he has everything. And God wills what he wills. And the good world is an image of the Good One."
"Trismegistus, is the world good?"
"Asclepius, it is good, as I shall teach you. For just as ... (2 lines missing) ... of soul and life [...] of the world [...] come forth in matter, those that are good, the change of the climate, and beauty, and the ripening of the fruits, and the things similar to all these. Because of this, God has control over the heights of heaven. He is in every place, and he looks out over every place. And (in) his place there is neither heaven nor star. And he is free from (the) body.
"Now the creator has control in the place that is between the earth and heaven. He is called 'Zeus', that is, 'Life'. Plutonius Zeus is lord over the earth and sea. And he does not possess the nourishment for all mortal living creatures, for (it is) Kore who bears the fruit. These forces always are powerful in the circle of the earth, but those of others are always from Him-who-is.
"And the lords of the earth will withdraw themselves. And they will establish themselves in a city that is in a corner of Egypt and that will be built toward the setting of the sun. Every man will go into it, whether they come on the sea or on the shore."
"Trismegistus, where will these be settled now?"
"Asclepius, in the great city that is on the Libyan mountain ... (2 lines missing) ... it frightens [...] as a great evil, in ignorance of the matter. For death occurs, which is the dissolution of the labors of the body, and the number (of the body), when it (death) completes the number of the body. For the number is the union of the body. Now the body dies when it is not able to support the man. And this is death: the dissolution of the body and the destruction of the sensation of the body. And it is not necessary to be afraid of this, nor because of this, but because of what is not known, and is disbelieved (is one afraid)."
"But what is not known, or is disbelieved?"
"Listen, Asclepius! There is a great demon. The great God has appointed him to be overseer or judge over the souls of men. And God has placed him in the middle of the air, between earth and heaven. Now when the soul comes forth from (the) body, it is necessary that it meet this daimon. Immediately, he (the daimon) will surround this one (masc.), and he will examine him in regard to the character that he has developed in his life. And if he finds that he piously performed all of his actions for which he came into the world, this (daimon) will allow him ... (1 line missing) ... turn him [...]. But if he sees [...] in this one [...] he brought his life into evil deeds, he grasps him, as he flees upward, and throws him down, so that he is suspended between heaven and earth, and is punished with a great punishment. And he will be deprived of his hope, and will be in great pain.
"And that soul has been put neither on the earth nor in heaven, but it has come into the open sea of the air of the world, the place where there is a great fire, and crystal water, and furrows of fire, and a great upheaval. The bodies are tormented (in) various (ways). Sometimes they are cast down into the fire, in order that it may destroy them. Now, I will not say that this is the death of the soul, for it has been delivered from evil, but it is a death sentence.
"Asclepius, it is necessary to believe these things and to fear them, in order that we might not encounter them. For unbelievers are impious, and commit sin. Afterwards, they will be compelled to believe, and they will not hear by word of mouth only, but will experience the reality itself. For they kept believing that they would not endure these things. Nor only ... (1 line missing). First, Asclepius, all those of the earth die, and those who are of the body cease [...] of evil [...] with these of this sort. For those who are here are not like those who are there. So with the daimons who [...] men, they despite [...] there. Thus, it is not the same. But truly, the gods who are here will punish more whoever has hidden it here every day."
"Trismegistus, what is the character of the iniquity that is there?"
"Now you think, Asclepius, that when one takes something in a temple, he is impious. For that kind of a person is a thief and a bandit. And this matter concerns gods and men. But do not compare those here with those of the other place. Now I want to speak this discourse to you confidentially; no part of it will be believed. For the souls that are filled with much evil will not come and go in the air, but they will be put in the places of the daimons, which are filled with pain, (and) which are always filled with blood and slaughter, and their food, which is weeping, mourning, and groaning."
"Trismegistus, who are these (daimons)?"
"Asclepius, they are the ones who are called 'stranglers', and those who roll souls down on the dirt, and those who scourge them, and those who cast into the water, and those who cast into the fire, and those who bring about the pains and calamities of men. For such as these are not from a divine soul, nor from a rational soul of man. Rather, they are from the terrible evil."
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