The Ancient Gnostics were an amalgamated class of unparalleled spiritual visionaries, intuitive parapsychologists, renowned scholars, experiential mystics, astral travelers, esoteric philosophers, cosmological entrepreneurs, illuminated moralists, and sophisticated pioneers of psychoanalysis. They were heralded throughout antiquity for their original and refined conceptualizations on cosmology, human divinity, consciousness, historicity, the nature of God, psychology, and the nature of evil. They were the academic backbone of the ancient universities residing in many as respected scholars, philosophers, writers, and theorists. They are possibly credited with the collation of ideas resulting in the Hermetic principles. However, due to their respected status as educated pagan teachers, eventually due to the unholy might of Christian Zealotry that burst onto the spiritual scene during the 4th-5th century C.E. combined with the acquiescence and conversion of the Roman Empire the Gnostic Sages were subject to history's greatest spiritual genocide to ever ignite within the soul of man and were wiped from existence along with nearly the entirety of their holy works. Their written records and works were subjected to the first book burning in recorded history under the "Great" Christian Emperor Theodosius II and purged from the annals of history.
The Gnostics were extremely gifted seers and mystics with a profound vision for the unfoldment of humanity's spiritual evolution. They were the promulgators of particular cosmogonic variations within the ancient mystery tradition and one's unique even among Esoteric Orders. According to some scholars, the Gnostics were the mystics orchestrating the sacred Eleusinian Mystery rites and rituals during the early centuries of the first millennium after the Birth of Christ. The Gnostics were the master scholars, teachers, and philosophers of their time. However, they were not a singular entity or school of thought but an aggregation of multi-disciplinary schools which promulgated a myriad of spiritual concepts that were intrinsically esoteric in nature. There were a variety of schools that existed throughout different regions of the world including ancient Persia, Egypt, Roman Italy, North Africa, Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, and even parts of Asia. A number of these Gnostic sects rose to prominence during the 1st, 2nd, 3rd centuries AD such as the Valentinians, Sethians, and Manichaeans. Another less prominent but still pivotal sect was the Mandaens or also referred to as the Sabians. These varied sects of Gnostic Spiritual Thought had a exceedingly profound and original postulations on such topics as Cosmological Origination, Duality, Non-Duality, the nature of Consciousness, the Primordial Essence or Originator, the Abrahamic Deity Yahweh-Jehovah, spiritual parasites, the Material World, the Unseen Worlds, the nature of man, the Demiurge, and the nature of the Gods (Aeons) separate from the Prime Divinity. These Gnostic Schools were not in philosophical, cosmological, and existential agreement on these disparate topics, and in actuality they exhibited many divergent and inharmonious belief structures among their differentiated schools or sects, yet they were united in their pursuit of higher knowledge and experience.
Many of these Gnostic Schools, perhaps all, sought spiritual knowledge through what has been called the Path of Gnosis, or simply Gnosis. Gnosis was an experiential methodology for ascertaining an understanding of the higher or Unseen Realms as well as the material ones. It involved the acquisition of this knowledge through direct spiritual experience that was then cataloged and utilized for relational analysis of future spiritual experiences so that a qualitative data set could be procured. Some of these Gnostic sects utilized psychedelic brews of sacred plants to dissolve the ego and disengage waking consciousness to operate in the deeper states of the unconscious and super-consciousness mind with the goal of perceiving the Unseen Realms. Others engaged in extremely deep meditative practices to effectuate an ecstatic trance whereby they could interact with Natural Intelligences both on the Higher Planes of existence and the Natural World, even potentially lifting the Veil of Isis to perceive or converse with the Sophianic Sentience of Gaia herself. These profound, spiritually endowed schools of thought originated and postulated a multitude of unparalleled, exemplary, and revolutionary treatises on existential philosophy, spirituality, cosmology, and parapsychology. They were some of the first to posit the concepts of the Aeons, the doctrine of emanationism, the inimical nature of Jehovah, the parasitical Archons, the divine spark within humanity, and the sentient intelligence of the Earth. These ideas constituted a new evolutionary stream of spiritual understanding that was meant to enable the Anthropos species (Humanity) to properly align itself with the divine will of the Primordial quintessence as well as the terrestrial intelligence of Gaia-Sophia so we could actualize our divine potential.
Unfortunately, their mission of evolving humanity's conscious perception of its divine place on the Cosmic scheme was brutally interrupted by the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. Once the Emperor Constantine converted and assumed a Christian standard for Rome, the descent into zealotry and ideological rancor was quick to manifest within the radicalized mentality of the Christian adherents, and ultimately within 40-50 years this warped, fundamentally dogmatic, preternaturally intolerant, and insular mentality began to exhibit malevolence and then belligerence towards any spiritual community considered Pagan. The advent of Theodosius I, often referred to as Theodosius the Great, to the emperor-ship of both the Western and Eastern Roman Empire in 379 cemented firmly this anti-pagan ideological sentiment with his initiation and instigation of decrees to dismantle, rebuke, and outlaw pagan groups. He was the Emperor that decreed Nicene Christianity as the official state church of the Roman Empire. Once the real violence began to manifest, Theodosius neither prevented, reprimanded, nor punished the subsequent ruthless brutality perpetrated upon the pagan communities. When the Christian fanatics began their sacrilegious destruction anfd desecration of the Hellenistic temples of classical antiquity such as the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and the Serapeum in Alexandria, Theodosius summarily ignored these atrocities with the instigators remaining entirely unchastised and unscathed. Instead, he subsequently dissolved the Order of the Vestal Virgins in Rome and following this in 393 he banned the Pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece. He decreed that all magistrates that did not enforce his new laws against polytheism be subject to criminal prosecution, and proceeding from there he instituted the Theodosian Decrees which were a comprehensive attack on non-Christians. The Theodosian Decrees stipulated the removal of non-Nicene Christians from church office, enacted the closure of Roman temples, confiscated temple endowments, banned or punished the practices of taking auspices and magical rites & rituals, refused to restore the Altar of Victory in the Senate House, authorized the destruction of non-Christian holy objects and images, and in 393 issued a comprehensive law that prohibited any public non-Christian religious customs. Theodosius was especially intolerant and oppressive to the Gnostic Order of the Manicheans.
Ultimately, even though these Gnostic Schools existed as disparate, disassociated, and distinct spiritual entities, with the ignoble rise of the Christian ideological Paradigm under Theodosius, which regarded itself as the Paragon of Spirituality, the differences between them were ignored by the Christian fanatics and every sect able to be reached was summarily eradicated, their message extinguished, and their profound works burned or destroyed along with their promulgators. Proceeding from this historical shift in consciousness from a lofty intellectual, inherently scholastic, and spiritually tolerant one to an intolerant and dogmatically naive one, the resulting historical repercussions manifested the western cultural descent into the Dark Ages of chaos, illiteracy, spiritual bigotry, cultural degeneration, scholastic stagnation, and intellectual repression. This ended the magnificent ascent of humanity's spiritual knowledge, understanding of consciousness, worldly progress, and divinely inspired cosmological perception for the next 1500 years in the Western hemisphere.
The conceptualization of the supreme Divinity within the Gnostic cosmology is one which is characterized apophatically, terms of negation, being postulated as the Unknowable, the Unmanifested, the Unreachable, the impenetrable Light, the Unfathomable Essence, and the Unimaginable One. It is beyond the understanding or comprehension of finite beings. However, there is one way to postulate its conception which necessarily requires defining what it is not. It is an Infinitely Unmanifested Essence lying behind all the various phenomena within the Universe. It is the Universe itself. It is unaffected by Time, without properties or attributes, without dualistic Polarity, unaffected by Manifestation, without Causal factors, without differentiation into Form, without Action, and without personality. It is the total potentiality of all these things without being subject to any of their constraining concepts. Imagine a center whose center is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere.
According to Gnostic Cosmology, the Universe, or atleast our Galaxy, was generated through a concept called Emanationism. This process of manifestation through Emanations is not unique to the Gnostics, but is also the premise postulated within Kabbalistic Cosmology as well through the Tree of Life Glyph of spheres. The delineation of this form of creation involves a primordial flow of progressively more complex forces and forms that originate from the Primal Essence being intrinsically existent within this Primal Essence simultaneously. It is a Pantheistic concept whereby the First Principle is imminent within all of its emanated life-forms and aspects of Existence while retaining its indivisible nature paradoxically. It is the opposite of evolutionism where the First Cause becomes differentiated into the Universe becoming essentially altered. It is a primordial starting point proceeded by a descent into lesser archetypal forms, but retains its nature unchanged.
The Aeons are the divinely emanated aspects or expressions of the One Source's potentiality which is allocated to these Aeons for the purpose of creating new life-forms. These Aeons are in essence sentient dimensional plasmatic frequencies of the One Source's varied attributes or expressions. The Aeons were emanated into vibrationally energetic equalizing gendered pairs that intrinsically operate in a bi-lateral fashion to manifest life in the universe. They must exist and effectuate their genomic experiments through the gendered equilibrium of unifying opposites or polarities precisely because the Natural Laws predicated by the One Source immutably require it for subsequent manifestations to arise at all. They are the propagators of life, seeding the Cosmos with a vast array of differentiated forms and disseminating them through panspermia.
The Pleroma is considered by the Gnostics to be the Divine Zone where the Sentient Aeonic expressions of the First Principle reside and generate genomic experiments to proliferate the galaxy with life. It is considered by some scholars to refer to the Galactic center-point of Galaxies where there is the concentration of light and plasma.
It is a place that is separate from the rest of the manifested realms and not subject to the same Cosmic laws of electromagnetism, gravity, materialization, and densification. The Aeonic beings that reside there send life out through a Panspermic process of dissemination typically not bypassing the boundary between their realm and the rest of the manifested Universe. It remained within the realm of potentiality for the Aeons to be able to vacate this Pleromic Zone but it is an atypical event.
The only known occurrence of this was when the Aeon Sophia descended from the Pleroma in an attempt to aid the failing Anthropine species in its future manifestation. Her descent from the Pleroma was unique situation within the Gnostic Cosmology and resulted in an Aeon becoming transmogrified into the Planet Earth, with her inherent Sentience referred to as Gaia.
The Aeon Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, was the benevolent creator of our genomic template the Anthropos. The Aeon Sophia is the vibratory energetic expression of the Infinite Unmanifested Source's emanated concept of Wisdom. Sophia, according to certain schools of Gnostic Cosmological Thought, was the last emanation of the One Source and the youngest of the Aeons. She originally resided with the other Aeons inside the Pleroma, the galactic center, and she had a gendered consort called Thelete (Christos), and together they manifested organic genomic life-forms to propagate burgeoning worlds in the Universe.
Through bi-polar coordination they genomically engineered our primordial template which was termed the Anthropos. However, due to the failure of our initial manifestations to adequately handle our divine endowments of super-consciousness and creative imagination, Sophia became concerned and acted Unilaterally to aid our next manifestation. She left the Pleroma journeying to future inception point, but this produced anomalous, dire repercussions for the Cosmos. The unfortunate result of her descent resulted in the accidental creation of the creature Yaldabaoth who became the eternal adversary of our race.
The Cosmic Being Yaldabaoth is an anomaly within the structural constitution of the Universe, specifically our region in our Solar System. This Entity corresponds to the Abrahamic False God Yahweh in the Biblical Theology. He is postulated by the Gnostics as Lion-Faced with a serpentine body.
His manifestation occurred due the unintended impact of the Aeon Sophia upon the chaotic celestial matter residing within the lesser galactic realms of existence. He was produced through a bizarre act that could be seen as an Abortion, and once arisen this Entity declared itself to be the Universal Originator due to its ignorance. Its constitution contained Pleromic fragments from Sophia's impact, which ejected him into existence, and was a powerful but arrogant and ignorant Entity.
It instigated a process of grotesque energetic duplication that produced simulacrums of it own nature which became known as the Archons. Subsequently, Yaldabaoth/Yahweh with his mimetic replicates nefariously initiated a scheme to imprison the Anthropic genomic vibrational template into a material from to harness it for energy. However, Yaldabaoth infused his pleromic fragments into the form and then sought to reclaim them. Thus, he instituted the Abrahamic religions as a deviant spiritual paradigm to control us.
The Archons are inimical to the Human Species and our primary adversary. These Entities were manifested by Yahweh through a monstrous and bizarre act of energetic self-replication. Yahweh produced an indeterminable quantity of these freakish animated mutants. Like their Father, these Entities were like aborted fetuses in appearance as well as reptilian. They are in essence interdimensional parasites of an inorganic composition and described as non-physical by the Gnostics, hyperdimensional etheric automatons if you will.
They are not exactly alive but they have sentience of a sort. They also have been imbued with psychic abilities which they deviously employ upon Humanity. However, they are incapable of transgressing into the domain of Sophia, the terrestrial sphere, and attack humanity mentally and psycho-spiritually from outside the planet.
They effectuate these attacks by subtle emotional or psychological inception within our psyche working in groups that concentrate their powers upon individuals. Moreover, they instigate attacks through what John Lash terms simulation nemesis, VR mental simulations, which correlate to abduction scenarios. According to Mr. Lash these abductions, some of them, are powerful psychic simulations in the abductees mind and not a physical abduction. If they are phsycical I stipulate they are government operations.
In various Gnostic Cosmological renditions Humanity has been referred to as the Anthropos or Anthropine Species. Our race was emanated by a divine gendered synthesis of the two primordial Aeons Sophia and Thelete. Their union manifested our genomic template termed the Anthropos, and upon its completion it was sent out into the burgeoning Cosmos to propagate various worlds including our own. According to certain Gnostic accounts, our genomic template was imbued with special endowments from our Aeonic Progenitors. We were infused with a super-dose of Epinoia (Greek for thought, intelligence, creativity) and Nous (the Divine mind, Imagination) with both enabling our species to exhibit magnificent capacities for original creation.
Our Anthropine Species was imbued with a capacity for ascertaining divine knowledge of the Cosmos, the self, and the natural world we inhabit. Unlike the beliefs within the New Age Movement which stipulate that we can become Gods or like Gods, the Gnostics knew that while the Anthropos has the spark of divinity, it is not a god, but does have the divine capacity to garner higher knowledge on par with the Gods. We can access divine knowledge not become a Divinity. The difference is huge. However, we are also subject to a plethora of limitations within our material confines for acquiring this divine knowledge.
The various Gnostic sects postulated several divergent concepts in regards to the Origin's of Evil, though some sects exhibited spiritually aligned cross-overs on this pivotal question. Some Gnostics asserted that the Originator of Evil resided with the anomalous manifestation of Yaldabaoth and his legion of Archon replicates who became inimical to the harmony of the Universe as well as the Anthropos species.
In this postulation, Yaldabaoth with his Archons have deliberately, malevolently engineered a material construct where they imprisoned the Human race in a program of continual enslavement to regain their lost Pleromic Light essence when they inadvertently infused us with it before the story of Eden. This version also delineates that the mainstream Religious orthodoxies of Christianity Islam, and some Judaic ideologies were a deliberate inception within the human collective-consciousness structural paradigm for the nefarious purpose of diverting our spiritual inclination to false Relgions with their deleterious doctrines meant to fragment the species in opposing sects.
Other Gnostic sects perceived the Demiurgic Yaldabaoth as only a material creator not necessarily adversarial to our race. In this conceptualization the Origin of Evil manifested out of human ignorance in understanding our intrinsic divinity and the true Primordial Originator. Furthermore, it originates from our conscious association with the material world and our physical bodies instead of realizing our divine nature within.
The Valentinian School of Gnostic thought believed that at the beginning was a Pleroma, fullness, where resided the Primal Father Bythos that represented the origination of all things. The Bythos, after ages of silence, emanated the thirty Aeons who were heavenly archetypes constituting fifteen syzgies or gendered complimentary pairs. They recognized the Aeon Sophia among them and portrayed her as the youngest Aeon. Sophia, after observing the many Aeons and how they are emanated, she returns to the depths of the Father seeking to emulate his emanatory power. She enacts this without conjugal intercourse with her Aeon consort accidentally manifesting an abortion of a formless substance. She is then ejected out of the Pleroma and into the primal sub-stratum of matter. According to this Sect, Sophia's flaw, her inherent passion and curiosity, propelled her to impulsively fall out of the Pleroma which subsequently resulted in the manifestation of our world and our species, considered to both be flawed.
However, this fallen Sophia was in a way considered the daughter of Sophia, a Lesser Wisdom, while the other Sophia, higher Wisdom, remained within the pleromic realm. They identified the Old Testament God to be the Demiurge and the false, deficient creator of material reality. They postulated a redemptive work of Gnosis to realign man with his formerly divine nature, which was achieved by recognition of the true Father, the depth of all Being, as the true source of divine power in existence.
The Sethian School attributed its Gnosis to Seth, third son of Adam and Eve, and Norea wife of Noah. There cosmology is most readily apparent wtihin the Secret Book of John. Their Cosmogony and Genesis postulated a prelude to the original Judaic account. Their Cosmological delineation began with the concept of an "Unknown" God Or Divinity. This Unknowable Divinity emanated the Aeons which were a sequential formation of gendered pairs of Beings. The Initial Aeon was Barbelo who coacted in the proceeding emanations. The Aeons represent the various attributes of the Unknown Deity. Together they comprise the Pleromic World.
Then Sophia engages in an act of unilateral emanation which results in Yaldabaoth, the Demiurge. he steals some of his mother's power and uses it to create a material world in imitation of the Pleroma. To aid him he replicates producing the Archons, corollary of the fallen angels. He then creates Adam and inadvertently infuses his pleromic power into the being and then seeks to regain it. He manifests the Eden of Paradise, placing Adam within it. Eve is created then from Adams rib in an attempt and effort to isolate and regain the light power he lost in Adam's creation. Yaldabaoth subsequently tries to rape Eve who now contains Sophia's light, but according to some texts he fails with Sophia's light being transferred into the Tree of Knowledge instead. Thereafter, Adam & Eve are "tempted" by the serpent, and eat of the Tree of Knowledge once more reacquiring the light the Demiurge had stolen from his mother. Yaldabaoth in rage hurls them down into the lowest realm of material manifestation.
Hermeticism is a divergent branch of the Gnostic tradition. It is of a inherently more positive bent in regards to our reaility and ability to transcend it. However, it does postulate a cosmology story. God is considered the ALL and is apart from matter yet the Universe simultaneously resides within its being paradoxically. The ALL, through an act of will manifests primary matter which will constitute the Cosmos. Out of this primary matter, God separates it into the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Then god utilizes these four elements to manifest the seven heavens: mercury, venus, mars, jupiter, saturn, the sun, and the moon which move in circles and govern destiny. The "Word" the leaps forth from the materializing elements, which were unintelligent. Nous then makes the seven heavens spin, and from them spring creatures without speech. earth is then separated from the waters with animals other than man manifesting.
The ALL then manifests androgynous Man after his vibrational pattern. MAn observed the creation of Nous and received the authority over creation by the ALL. He rose above the sphere's path to better view creation and then showed the form of the ALL to nature. Nature fell in love with the All, and man, seeing his reflection in water, fell in love with Nature and wished to dwell in it. Man subsequently became One with nature and subject to its limitations. Through this event man became speechless, having lost "the Word", and became a bi-pol or double being, mortal in body yet immortal in spirit, and having authority over creation but subject to destiny now.
The cosmological delineations of the Basilideans have rather divergent accounts depending on which individual it is gleaned from be it Irenaeus or Hippolytus. Irenaeus postulated his version positing that the Baslilidean's doctrine was emanationist and dualistic. Comparatively, the version extrapolated by Hippolytus was pantheistic and evolutionist.
The cosmological account most likely disseminated by Basilides himself is as follows. The beginning of all things started with pure nothing. There was essential "non-existence" and "non-being" and Hippolytus utilizing every single phraseology to construe the idea and essence of existence as an absolute "nonentity". The unmanifested Deity willed a non-existent world to arise out of non-being things. The non-existent world was only "a single seed containing within itself all the seed-mass of the world," like an apple seed contains the branches and leaves of the tree. Within this seed-mass were contained three parts, or sonships, and were inherently consubstantial with the negativity of God. This was the one essence and one origin attributed to all future manifestations of growth. These future manifestations did not utilize pre-existing matter but rather these future manifestations came into being out of nothing through voice, Logos, of the Unmanifested Deity.
The first Sonship correlates to the part subtle of substance and constitutes the first part of the seed-mass burst forth and ascended to the Unmanifested Deity. The second sonship correlates to the part coarse of substance and constitutes the second part of the seed-mass bursting forth incapable of ascending up of its own accord, but it took to itself as a wing of the Holy Spirit with each one bearing up the other in mutual benefit. However, when it encountered the place of the first-seed mass and Unmanifested Deity, it could take the Holy Spirit no further due to its essence not being consubstantial with the Holy Spirit. There the Holy Spirit remained as a firmament dividing the world above from the world below.
The third Sonship relates to the Great Archon and part needing purification. The third part of the seed-mass burst forth into a Great Archon that ascended until he reached the firmament which he thought was the end of all things. There he "made to himself and begat out of the things below a son far better and wiser than himself". He became wiser and greater than all cosmic things except for the seed-mass below. In wonder at his son's he set him at his right hand. "This is what they call the Ogdoad, where the Great Archon is sitting". Then all heavenly etheric creation, as far down as the moon, was made by the Great Archon, inspired by his son. Another Archon arose out of the seed-mass inferior to the first Archon, but superior to all else below except the seed-mass, and made a son too wiser than himself who became the creator and governor of the aerial world. This region is called the Hebdomad. However, all these events occurred according to the plan of the not-being God.
The Manichean Gnostics had an elaborate alternative postulation for the nature of our Universe. They delineated that the Cosmos exists in inherent dualism with opposing powers of Good and Evil which are constant antagonism. The Good God is powerful but not Omnipotent and eternally Opposed by the Evil Devil. They taught that Man, the world, and the soul are the byproduct of the battle between God's proxy, Primal Man, and this Devil. Mankind is where the battle between good and evil are effectuated with his soul under the influence of both opposing powers.
Also there were three Creations not one. In the first creation the realms of Good and Evil were separated with the World of Light being ruled over by The Father of Greatness and his five shekinahs, light attributes, and the Dark realm ruled by the King of Darkness. This King eventually noticed the Light world avariciously attacking it. The Good of Light contacts the Mother of Life and she sends Original Man to battle the King with 5 shields of light which he loses to the dark forces during the battle with them being absorbed by the forces of darkness, and awakens to find himself ensnared in darkness.
This necessitates that the Great Father then initiates a second Creation. He calls to the Living Spirit who then seeks aid from the Father;s Five sons who send a call to Original Man who subsequently sends an answer. Then the The Mother of Life, the Living Spirit, and his five sons manifest a new Universe utilizing the Dark beings and the light they have absorbed. This creates ten heavens and eight Earths with an aggregation of these various dark material beings and swallowed light attributes. The sun, moon, and stars are manifested through the recovery of this stolen light.
Then the Great Father begins the third creation by first hanging out the Great Demons, Archons, among the heavens. The Light is then subsequently recovered from the physical bodies of the female and male evil beings & demons through arousing their sexual desires by portraying provocative images of light beings. The light is expelled falling to the Earth, yet the evil beings continue to absorb the light in huge quantities and copulate creating Adam and Eve. The Great Father then sends the Radiant Jesus to reawaken Adam to his inner light imprisoned with his material form. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve mate and produce more humans thus differentiating the trapped light further among humanity. Then they continue to reproduce among themselves with the imprisoned light becoming enormously individuated throughout all the multitudes of the humans created through these continued unions of the sexes. This obviously created a huge problem for the reconstitution of the light to occur and ascend back to the Great Father.
The Mandaens did not readily postulate an exact cosmology but had various descriptions of it. However, there are particular ways to comprehensively delineate its more pertinent aspects. They postulate a primal formless Entity that manifests its expression through the creation of spiritual, etheric, and material worlds and beings to propagate the Cosmos. The manifestation of these are then delegated to a creator or creators who originated it. The Universe is manifested by Archetypal Man who manufactures it through a similitude of his own nature.
There is intrinsic duality within this Universe through a Father and a Mother, Light and Darkness, a syzygy in cosmic and microcosmic form. An aspect of this requisite duality is the manifestation of counter-types and a world of ideas. Furthermore, the soul is characterized as being an exile and a captive. Her home and origin is postulated as being the Supreme Entity to which she will eventually return to and be reabsorbed. The planets and the stars presumably regulate fate and human beings. They are also act as manifested planes or places of detention after a material form has expired. There is also a savior spirit or savior spirits which engage in an act of assistance towards the soul to aid her in the trials of life and the subsequent journey upon death to the "worlds of light".
Other fundamental tenets of Mandaeism is a cult-language of symbols and metaphors which are personifications of ideas and properties. Moreover, the are intricate Mystery rites and rituals which are generated to assist and purify the soul, to ensure her rebirth into a a spiritual body and aid her ascent and extrication out of the material realm. The rites and rituals are enacted during seasonal periods and constitute adaptations of certain esoteric interpretations to be understood by initiates.
The postulated cosmology is not easily ascertained but can be stipulated in the following description. The Great Living God is called Hayyi Rabbi. He emanates three manifestations of himself. They were Yushamin, Abathur, and Ptahil. Each is an aspect of the Demiruge in a way. Ptahil doesn't really constitute the Demiurge but is the creator of the Material World. Abathur's demiurgic role manifest in his position of sitting in judgement of mortal souls. Yushamin is more obscure but essentially he sought to emanate a world of his own and was severely punished by the King of Light for His opposition. He and his name can be seen as perhaps being a derivative of Yahweh due to its being closely worded and linguistically relational in particular ways. The Mandaens did postulate that the world is a prison governed by planetary Archons, but did not believe this material world we reside upon to inherently be a cruel or inhospitable place for humanity's growth and subsequent development to transpire.
The Valentinian school of Gnostic Spiritual thought was one of the major Gnostic sects and was initiated and founded by Valentinus in the second century AD becoming widely influential and subsequently disseminated throughout the Roman Empire in the proceeding centuries as well as in the regions of Northwest Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor, and into Syria. Later in the movement's history it splintered into an Eastern and Western School of thought, and it remained active into the 4th century AD even after the Roman Empire became Christianized. Valentinus was approximately born in 100 AD and died around 180 AD in Alexandria. According to the Christian scholar Epiphanius of Salamis, Valentinus was born in Egypt and educated in Alexandria, and according to another Christian Theologian, Clement of Alexandria, Valentinus was taught by Theudas, who was reportedly a disciple of the apostle Paul. He was postulated as a man who had a reputation for being exceedingly eloquent exhibiting enormous charisma and a magnetism which attracted many people to his ideas. He is purported to have gone to Rome sometime between 136 Ad and 140 AD, during the reign of Pope Hyginus, and rose to his greatest level of prominence in his teachings between AD 150 to 155, during the time of Pope Pius. He was described as quite a skilled and successful teacher, and for a time in the mid-2nd century AD he was reportedly even a well-respected and prominent figure within the Catholic Community in Rome. He was even postulated to have sought after a bishop-ship, and it has been insinuated, unverifiable, that when he was passed over for this office, he decided to break with the Catholic Church subsequently founding his own school(s). Valentinus was an exceedingly prolific writer, yet unfortunately most of his works have been lost with the only surviving remains of them being mere quotations attributable and rendered by Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, and Marcellus of Ancyra who were adversarial to the Gnostic teachings. It has also been postulated that the Nag Hammadi Scripture The Gospel of Truth was likely written by Valentinus. Some notable Valentinian Gnostics are Heracleon, Ptolemy, Florinus, Axionicus, and Theodotus.
The well-known Church Father figure Irenaeus, though inimical to Gnostic Doctrines, provided a detailed theological and cosmological extrapolation of the Valentinian school's ideas on the Universe and it is inherently complex with many difficult aspects to comprehend but is nonetheless fascinating as well as enlightening. According to Irenaeus, the Valentinian school of cosmological thought believed that at the primal initiation of the Universe there existed what they referred to as the Pleroma, meaning the Fullness, and at center of this Pleroma resided the Primordial Father, called the Bythos, which was the beginning of all things in existence. After eons of total silence and contemplation, this Primordial Father emanated or projected thirty Aeons, Deities or Divinities, that were essentially celestial archetypes represented as fifteen syzygies, meaning sexually gendered complimentary pairs of polarities, male and female respectively. Within these manifested Aeonic divinities was one called Sophia, meaning Wisdom, and her purported weakness, her passion and curiosity, led her to plunge out of the Pleromic realm which subsequently resulted in the manifestation of the world and humanity, held to both be flawed after a manner. Furthermore, this plunge resulted in the creation of Demiurge which they related to the Old Testament God, Jehovah, stipulated as the creator of the material world. Humanity was postulated as the highest being within this material world and participated in both the spiritual and material nature of reality. Furthermore, the Valentinians postulated that the work of redemption consisted of extricating the spiritual aspect of humanity from its material nature. Accordingly, one must recognize or realize the Primordial Father as constituting the essence or depth of all Being and as the true source of Divine power in the Universe in order to attain or achieve what they called GNOSIS, meaning divine understanding or divine knowledge of reality. The Valentinians postulated that the acquisition of this Gnosis, this divine knowledge, by the individual human would subsequently manifest positive permeating consequences throughout the Universal Order of the Cosmos and would contribute to the rectification or restoration of this Order in reality, and it would not be faith but Gnosis that would equate to the key of our salvation. Clement of Alexandria wrote that the Valentinians regarded the Catholic Christians "as simple people to whom they attributed faith, while they think gnosis is in themselves. Through the excellent seed that is to be found in them, they are by nature redeemed, and their gnosis is as far removed from faith as the spiritual from the physical".
According to the Valentinians, the superstructure of the celestial system which corresponds to the celestial realm of the Aeons is then delineated in a highly complex and elaborate system of Aeonic divisions or a sort of divine hierarchy. These Aeonic Divinities are postulated as belonging to the purely ideal, noumenal, intelligible, or supersensible world reality, and are considered as immaterial or hypostatic ideas. In an aggregation of divine, celestial ideas along with the Source Originator they, in totality, formed the Pleroma. The transition from the immaterial to the material, from the noumenal to the sensible, is purportedly manifested through a flaw, or passion, in the Aeon Sophia. The division of the Aeons is as follows: The Ogdoad has the first four sets of Aeons; Bythos (depth or profundity) - Sige/Ennoia(silence or idea); Nous(Mind)-Aletheia(Truth); Logos(Word)- Zoe(Life); Anthropos(Man)- Ekklesia(Church). Next is the Decad of Aeons: Bythios( Deep)- Mixis( Comingling), Ageratos (Unageing or Undying)- Henosis (Union), Autophues (Self-existent)- Hedone (Pleasure or Bliss), Akinetos (Immovable)- Synkrasis (Blending or Synthesis), Monogenes (Self-Generated)- Makaria (Happiness). The Next set of Valentinian Aeons is the Dodecad: Parakletos (Comforter or Helper)- Pistis (Faith), Patrikos (Paternal)- Elpis (Hope), Metrikos (Maternal)- Agape (Love), Ainos (Praise or Everlasting)- Synesis (Intelligence, Understanding), Ekklesiastikos (Ecclesiastical)- Makariotes (Happiness or Bliss), Theletos (Willed or Longed For)- Sophia (Wisdom). According to Epiphanius, it is alleged that the Valentinians "set forth their thirty Aeons in a mythological fashion postulating that they conformed to the years of Jesus' life". Out of the eight aeons within the Ogdoad, there are four of them which are specific to the Valentinian system. The third set of celestial aeons the Logos and Zoe only occur within this sytem. Furthermore, this third pair of Aeons' place is not firmly established with its placement sometimes occurring before or after the fourth Pair of Aeons, the Anthropos & Ekklesia.
Within the Valentinian cosmological system, the Aeon Sophia is absolutely at the heart and center of their narrative as well as being the celestial personification of the Divine Feminine Principle. She is considered the youngest and last of the Aeons emanated by the Primordial Source. It was also inherent within the Aeonic psychological framework that they did not understand their origins and this mentality permeated through them becoming concentrated within Sophia's mental state. This psychological state caused Sophia to readily attempt to ascertain her origins which lead her back into the depths of the Primordial Source. Once there she seeks emulate the Source by emanating unilaterally without her requisite polar consort or conjugal intercourse, but this manifestation goes awry producing an abortion of sorts, a formless substance. For this unilateral act, Sophia is cast out of the Pleroma into the primal sub-structure of physical materiality. In this Valentinian system's cosmological episode, Sophia's fall occurs in a double guise. Accordingly, the greater or higher Sophianic Aeon is postulated to remain within the higher realms after manifesting this disturbance, with her repentance and expiation. However, her premature creation, her off-spring, which is called Sophia Achamoth, is subsequently removed from the Pleromic Realm becoming the proceeding narrative's heroine throughout the rest of this cosmic story. Sophia Achamoth, the "lower wisdom" and daughter of the "Higher Wisdom", eventually becomes the maternal progenitor of the entity known as the Demiurge, who is readily correspondent with the Old Testament Deity, Jehovah or Yahweh. In Gnosticism he is also referred to as Yaldabaoth in certain Nag Hammadi Scriptures. Furthermore, the Gnostics are considered to be the children of Sophia and are manifested or infused with her celestial seed, her divine spark, which descended into the lower realm becoming subject to the Heimarmene (destiny) as well as the power of hostile spirits and other powers. Their created symbols and formulae must be initiated in an sequential order to find their path of ascent upwards back to the highest heaven. Moreover, the Gnostic conceptualization that they knew themselves to be within a hostile and evil world also related this idea to the conception of Sophia herself. Humanity residing as a spiritually "fallen" species, fallen into materiality, corresponds to a similar concept that Sophia is "fallen" Aeon, who has become encased in the material realm and seeks to extricate herself from it, attempting to receive liberation at the hands of a celestial Redeemer, just as the Gnostics seek to achieve the same thing. The Goddess who has fallen into the material may be identified the Ruach, Hebrew for Spirit, the Spirit of God, who broods over Chaos, or even possibly with the Kabbalistic Sephirah Chokmah, who is postulated as the world-creating agent.
The Valentinian concept of the Demiurge is predicated upon a derivation of the material world resulting from the passions of Sophia. In one conception of the Demiurge, he is the son of Spohia, whom she formed after the model of the Christ who has returned back into the Plermoic world, who becomes the Demiurge and along with his created angels now appears as the real-world creator. According to an older conception of this Demiurge, he was an evil and malevolent entity birthed out of Sophia, who has already been deprived of any particle of the Pleromic Light. He is portrayed as adversarial to humanity and instigating a nefarious program of material & psychological enslavement of upon them. Also within the Valentinian systems, the Demiurge is conceived as the off-spring of a union of Sophia Achamoth with chaotic matter, and is postulated as appearing as fruit of Sophia's repentance and conversion. However, since Sophia Achamoth was only the daughter of the Higher Aeon Sophia, the last of the thirty celestial Aeons, the Demiurge is inherently far removed by numerous emanations from the Supreme Primordial Source, and thus is not the Supreme Originator by any degree. The Demiurge in producing this material world out of Chaos was unconsciously influenced for good by the Christ, and to the surprise of its maker, it became nearly perfect. Accordingly, the Demiurge even regretted its slight imperfections, and since he believed himself to be the Supreme Divinity, he sought to remedy these imperfections by sending a Messiah to correct it. This Messiah was actually united with Christ the Savior, who redeemed humanity.
In the Valentinian system, the Christ stands next to Sophia as the masculine redeeming divinity. In the most accurate rendition of the Valentinian system, the Christ is the Son of the fallen Sophia and is conceived as an immaculate individual. Accordingly, Sophia emanates an exquisite passion for the Primordial Father, in a sense, in act of seeming love Sophia seeks to place herself near to the unknowable Bythos seeking to understand his Greatness. Sophia emanates forth, through her passionate longing, an Aeon who is greater and more pure than herself, which upon its inception ascends into the Pleromic realms. Once there, the Christ takes pity on the aborted substance birthed from Sophia allocating essence and form to it. Sophia then attempts to again ascend up to the Primordial Father but it's in vain. In this Christ figure we see illustrated a further hidden parallel to the Original conception of the Primal Man, who has fallen into the realm of matter yet ascends again into the higher worlds. In the Ptolemaean System there is a similar idea with some minute differences. In this rendition, Christ and Sophia are depicted as brother and sister, with the Christ representing the higher element and Sophia the lower element. Once the World is manifested due to Sophia's passion, then two Aeons, Nous (mind) and Aletheia (truth), by the Primordial Father's command, manifest two new Aeons termed Christ and the Holy Ghost. These two Aeons Christ and the Holy Ghost subsequently restore order within the Pleroma, and in a combined coordination all the Aeons aggregate their highest and best characteristics to emanate another Aeon (Jesus, Soter, the Logos), and the First Fruits of which they offer to the Primordial Father. Subsequently, this celestial redeemer-Aeon enters into a consort-ship or marriage with the Fallen Aeon Sophia with them becoming the "bride and bridegroom". Accordingly, it is postulated that from their divine union there is produced 70 celestial Angels, this is described in Hippolytus' Philosophumena.
Within the Valentinian system of Gnosticism, the creation of the world interrelates to the conceptualization of humanity and its path or place within this celestial framework of cosmology. The Valentinian doctrines extrapolate upon this relational concept of man, and they describe humanity's manifestation as one which was initiated by celestial angels allocated world-creation attributes to perform such a task. When these Angels, some refer to them as archons in other versions, pieced together the material form which was to eventually become mankind, there was a surreptitious and significant event that was instigated without their prior knowledge causing them enormous anxiety. This occurrence was the infusing of this material body with the seed of SPIRIT by the agency of a higher Pleromic Essence or Aeon than these Angels/Archons. Once imbued with the Pleromic element of Spirit, this original human manifestation rose up and exhibited a exceedingly advanced degree of speech, intelligence, and an innate capacity for understanding which was of a greater nature than attributed to their Angelic or Archontic material creators, and once these angels realized the being they had engineered was their superior they became terrified and then worried they would be supplanted or destroyed by their creation. According to a Sethian text in the Nag Hammadi, these beings, out of this fear, cast humanity into the lowest realm of material reality and attempted to put to sleep their higher talents. On another note, according to a treatise postulated as having been authored by Valentinus himself, humanity exists in a three-fold nature which is spiritual, psychical, and material simultaneously. Also delineated within this treatise is the concept of mankind arising into three types of humans who exhibit differing levels of intelligence and understanding, these are the pneumatic, the psychic, and the hylic. The Pneumatic man is the highest type of human being represented as existing in a holistically spiritual state who can readily ascend out of the grosser aspects of the material realms and journey back to the highest Pleromic realm, and he instigates this ascension by extricating himself or herself out of the grasp of the Demiurge with the aid of the Savior and Sophia Achamoth who then help him journey back to the Pleroma where the human becomes divested of his body and soul becoming purely spirit. The Psychic human, along with the Demiurge as his master, exhibits greater degrees of abilities than base man but still only finds himself entering into a middling state of post-life existence which is neither Plermoic (Heaven) or gross matter (Hell). The last class of human is called the Hylic with this human type exhibiting no such advanced psychic or spiritual properties and existing in a psychological state completely enamored or associated with gross materiality, he believes this material form is all that he or she is. This type of Hylic human purportedly will remain encased and entranced by gross matter returning to it upon death and being consumed by fire. However, it was not a ubiquitous stipulation that these two lesser endowed classes of humans, the psychic and hylic, were to be condemned to oblivion eternally, but they could be reincarnated after death into a new life-cycle that would potentially constitute their re-manifestation into the higher spiritual archetype of human-being, the Pneumatic type, thus enabling them to exist as the spiritual archetype with a chance for celestial extrication and rebirth out of the Demiurgic paradigm.
Soteriology (doctrine of salvation): The conceptualization of attaining Gnostic salvation or, to put it in a less Christian associative modality, Gnostic redemptive reintegration is one which is highly unique to this spiritual school of cosmological thought. In the Valentinian system of redemptive Gnosis this spiritual actuation does not singularly exist as an individuated operation, but is inherently a cosmic endeavor undertaken to reintegrate, restore, and reestablish harmonic order within the Universe's celestial framework which became chaotically disrupted and subject to entropy from the inception of matter and the gross material realms that subsequently imprisoned a spark of the Divine Light Essence into the "evil" Hyle (matter). Thus, the initiation of Gnosis is an activity of restoring the initial primordial equilibrium that existed before the instigation of this occurrence and represents the rectification of the flaw generated within the Sphere of the Aeons, the Pleromic Realm. The actuation of the Gnostic process by which the Divine Sparks are disentangled and liberated from the Hyle (gross matter) is the effectuation of spiritual salvation, and additionally once all the Divine Essences are extracted or freed from the material realm, this Hylic world will be destroyed and expunged from the celestial blue-print restoring the necessary equilibrium. Additional extrapolation of the Divine myth depicts an interesting supposition in relation to nature of our essence and the essence of certain spiritual entities said to be birthed from the union of the Savior and Sophia. Accordingly, just as the Savior is portrayed as the bride groom to the bride Sophia Achamoth, the celestial angels have been depicted as the Sons of these two entities and postulating that their nature is the masculine counterpart betrothed to the ensouled Gnostics, who are according to the Valentinians feminine souls in essence. This supposition further expresses the notion that every Gnostic had her fallen counterpart that basks in the presence of the Primordial Father with the objective of a spiritually pious existence to be essentially a reintegrated experiential internal union with this cosmic ideational personage. In essence, the Gnostic is perpetually meditating upon the secret of the celestial reunion with its metaphysical consort, the Syzygia. “The final consummation of all things will take place when all that is spiritual has been formed and perfected by gnosis."
Valentinain Sacraments: The Sacraments relating to the Valentinian School of Gnosticism are intrinsically associated and linked to the Mother, Sophia, with all reverent invocations initiated with her as the designated centerpiece of the sacramental action. Furthermore, when a Gnostic mystic seeks to offer supplication to or engage in meditative reverential consideration of the Mother, they employ a myriad of celestial figures within their mental visualization state when performing this sacramental act. Thus, sometimes he is mentally concentrating on the fallen Sophia Achamoth, sometimes the greater Aeonic Sophia still residing in the Pleromic Realm, and sometimes it is the Aeon Aletheia who is the consort of the transcendent Primordial Father; yet invariably and perpetually it is always the Mother upon which the Gnostic's focus and attention is fixed during sacramental meditation. Accordingly, the sacramental methods utilized by the Gnostic seers has this focus on the Mother readily displayed during their mystery rights and initiations. The purported chief sacrament of the Valentinian Gnostic System is the Bridal Chamber (Nymphon) ritual. The symbolism expressed within this ritual pertains to the idea that as Sophia was united with the Savior, her bridegroom, so the reverent Gnostic would initiate an experience which constitutes a union with their angelic counterpart or metaphysical consort within the Pleromic Realm ( represented as "the Higher Self" or "Guardian Angel"). There is a readily available written description recorded by the Valentinians delineating this activity, “A few of them prepare a bridal chamber and in it go through a form of consecration, employing certain fixed formulae, which are repeated over the person to be initiated, and stating that a spiritual marriage is to be performed after the pattern of the higher Syzygia.” Furthermore, there exists, due to absolutely fortuitous circumstances since most works were burned or destroyed, a liturgical formula which was preserved that was apparently utilized during the enactment of this sacrament, and though the preservation of the elucidating record of this sacramental ritual was imperfect existing in a garbled residual of the original account it is nonetheless illuminating and is as follows: "I will confer my favor upon thee, for the father of all sees thine angel ever before his face ... we must now become as one; receive now this grace from me and through me; deck thyself as a bride who awaits her bridegroom, that thou mayest become as I am, and I as thou art. Let the seed of light descend into thy bridal chamber; receive the bridegroom and give place to him, and open thine arms to embrace him. Behold, grace has descended upon thee". Additionally, a couple of readily discernible key aspects or features of the Bridal Chamber Sacramental Ritual also included the utilization of mirrors in the ritual setting as symbolic decorations and they also insinuated the concept that whosoever had been initiated into this Gnostic Mystery Rite would exhibit the capacity to beget children in the future world to come.
Another institutional Valentinian Gnostic Sacrament is the ritual Baptism, which in many aspects is easily relatable and correlative to the generally practiced Catholic Christian Church's Baptismal ritual utilizing the similar forms and essential facets. There is a specific linguistic term used to describe this Baptismal Ritual and has been titled Apolytrosis, translated as Liberation. The Gnostics undertaking this sacramental initiation ritual are postulated as being Baptized in the mysterious or occulted name supposed to have been utilized in the Baptism of Jesus, and it is further delineated that the Angelic counterparts to the Gnostic initiate have also been baptized in this occulted name in order to instigate the redemptive reintegration process for themselves as well as the souls within their being. In the Baptismal rite's formula, the sacred and occult name of the Redeemer is repeatedly expressed in their vocal invocations. In one such formulaic rite apparently occurs the words, "I would enjoy thy name, Saviour of Truth.”, and the concluding invocation of this Gnostic ritual Baptism is: “Peace over all upon whom the Name rests.” The intrinsic significance of the mysteriously occult name ceremonially invoked upon the Gnostic adherent or initiate during the Baptismal ritual is stipulated as providing protection for the soul in it's ascent through the heavens, accompany or conduct it safely through all adversarial and inimical powers to the lower celestial heavens, and allocate or secure it access to Horus, who instills fear forcing the lower soul back to the Hyle by his Magic Word. Subsequently, the human life when initiated through the Baptism rite, in correspondence with the invocation of the protectionist occult name upon the baptized person, successfully accomplishes his needed spiritual liberation and extrication from the lesser daemonic powers. It is also stipulated that before the ritual Baptism, the Heimarmene is supreme, but proceeding forward post Baptism he becomes freed of her. In addition to these delineations of the Baptism ritual, is the description corresponding to the rendering and activity of utilizing anointing oils in connection with the Baptism ritual, and it is further understood that the Death Sacrament is effectuated through an anointing of the initiate using a mixture of oil and water. The death sacrament is performed for the express reason of assuring that the soul finds its path to the highest celestial heaven “so that the soul may be intangible and invisible to the higher authorities and powers”. Moreover, within this correlation is further found several formulas which are allocated to the Gnostic initiate in order that their souls may invoke them on their path of ascent. One of these formula expresses this ritualistic idea in the following passage: "I am a son from the Father – the Father who had a pre-existence, and a son in Him who is pre-existent. I have come to behold all things, both those which belong to myself and others, although, strictly speaking, they do not belong to others, but to Achamoth, who is female in nature, and made these things for herself. For I derive being from Him who is pre-existent, and I come again to my own place whence I went forth..". In addition to the prior ritual's sacred procedures, another ritual is mentioned, in which there is a postulated differentiation during the invocations attributed to the greater and lesser Sophia. Furthermore, the recorded descriptions state that a supplication of a similar type is to be found in Irenaeus, and it is distinctly stated that after the invoking supplication is uttered the Mother tosses the Homeric Helmet (the Tarnhelm) upon the reverent soul, and thus effectuates within him invisibility to the authorities and powers which encircle and assault him.
A Metaphysical glyph portraying the Divine Trinity within the Pleroma & the Demiurgic Realm Below
History: The Basildeans were a Gnostic sect established by the spiritually minded individual Basilides of Alexandria during the 2nd century CE. Basilides intimated the significant claim that he had been introduced to and taught his doctrines by the well-known disciple of St. Peter Glaucus. It is unable to be ascertained whether this disciple of St. Peter actually taught Basildes but is not entirely improbable to have occurred. The Basilidean customs of which they performed, unfortunately is known very minute amounts of information. What is is known about some of their customs is that Basilides stipulated a prohibitory period on his adherents, similar to Pythagoras' instructions, constituting a silence of five years, also that they retained the anniversary of the day associated with the Baptism of Jesus as a feast day allocating the day to study and contemplation, and lastly that their spiritual master or leader instructed his disciples to not scruple imbibing or consuming edibles offered in supplication to idols. The Basildean Gnostic Sect instituted three classifications of initiations or grades of development delineated as the material, intellectual, and the spiritual, and they further contained two allegorical representative statues of the genders, one male and the other female. This Gnostic sect's doctrinal ideas and writings exhibited readily discernible similarities to the doctrines of the Ophites and the later Jewish Kabbalists. The Basildean Gnostic sect is postulated as having endured until the 4th century CE as Epiphanius knew of Basilideans existing and residing in the Nile delta up to this time. However, it is intimated that this particular Gnostic Sect was exclusively limited to and readily isolated to the Egyptian geographical region. Thus, there is no exorbitant degree of evidence that this Gnostic sect extended its doctrines beyond the borders of Egypt but did survive there for an extended period of time. Epiphanius also mentions the Prosopite, Athribite, Saite, and "Alexandriopolite" nomes and cantons, including Alexandria itself, as the geographic locations where it still thrived during his era, and further that he inferred as having been visited by Basilides at some point during his life. Every one of these places lie on the western side of the Delta, in between the Sea and Memphis. It has also been illustrated according to Sulpicius Severus that this sect's ideas at the least became introduced and disseminated into Spain through a Mark from Memphis. St. Jerome insinuated that this Mark permeated or "infected" the Priscillianists group residing there. This St. Jerome frequently references Basilides in correlation with the hybridized Priscillianism existing in Spain along with the occulted and mystical names utilized by its votaries with apparent elation and jouissance (intellectual pleasure). Moreover, it is also intimated by Sulpicious Severus, that this off-shoot of similar Gnostic inclinations was brought to Spain by a man named Marcus, a purported native to Memphis. This postulated fact is indicative of how it came to transpire that the name of Basilides, one far removed from this region of Spain, along with a discernible degree of fragmentary doctrines of Basilides' disciples or rites found their way to far away Spain. It also simultaneously illustrates the likely insemination of this hybridized form of Basilideanism and its origination therefrom.
The historically verifiable and readily attributed delineations of the inherent complexities manifest within the Basilidean Cosmology story has unfortunately been differentiated through opposing accounts attributed to our two chief informants on this matter. These differing narrative accounts were authored by Irenaeus in his Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) and by Hippolytus in his Philosophumena (Refutation of All Heresies). These two depictions of the Basilidean Cosmology are so extraordinarily disparate and contradictory as to seem totally antithetical and irreconcilable to one another. According to Hippolytus, Basildes was denoted as a pantheistic evolutionist, and in complete contradistinction Irenaeus typifies Basilides as a a dualist and emanationist. However, some historians such as Phillip Shaff have expressed the notion that Irenaeus extrapolated upon a form of Basilidianism, which was not the original version, but a subsequent corruption of the initial system. In Juxtaposition, Clement of Alexandria assuredly, and Hippolytus, in the more copious rendition of his Philosophumena, likely pulled their information of the Gnostic system directly from Basilides' own work, the Exegetica, and thus illustrate the form of doctrine taught by Basilides himself. The underlying and principle premise indicative to the Basilidean system corresponds to the origin of evil and how one may overcome it. A unique cosmological feature permeating the various Gnostic movements is the conceptualization of and idea corresponding to the Logos Spermatikos becoming scattered throughout the sensible or material Universe with it being the mission and spiritual duty of the Gnostics to, by any and all methods possible, to recollect or re-aggregate these diffused seedlings of the Divine Logos and reintegrate them back into their proper primordial state or place, mentioned in the Gospel of Eve. Needless to say, the church father's were adversarial to this concept and thought it was a deranged belief; however, this idea of Logos fractal dissemination is highly resonate with many other ancient wisdom traditions which postulate that every thing that is in existence is but the Divine Eternal Essence that has been infused into all things and is all things, thus the macrocosmic corresponds to the microcosmic with all existing things being the densification of the vibratory frequency of light which preceded it on a higher level of existence and evolving from those higher manifestations into lower more gross ones. If you trace this evolution from the lesser to the higher manifestations, you will arrive back up at its primal source the Logos which has been proliferated and imbued into all manifested things.
The Creation: The cosmological narrative of the Basilidean Gnostic system is one which asserts that the primordial beginning of all manifestations to have been one of absolute negativity, nothing, and non-being. This is quite similar to the Kabbalistic concept of the beginning of manifestation with it initiating in AIN within the Tree of Life Glyph. According to Hippolytus, Basilides utilizes nearly every conceivable terminology to highlight and express the concept of absolute negation and nonentity in the beginning of existence and in reference to the Primordial Essence of Deity. Accordingly, there inherently being Nothing in existence and simply being a Nothing existence or Non-existence, the Deity of Non-Being willed into existence a Non-Being world out of the unmanifested non-being things. This primal Non-Being Universe or World construct was only a singular seed comprising within its constitution a singularity of all the seed-mass of the Universe. Held within this singularity seed-mass existed three degrees or states termed SonShips which were con-substantial with the Unmanifested Essence or Non-Being Deity. This singularity was the intrinsic primal origination point of all evolving and proceeding cosmic outgrowths in the future. These proceeding outgrowths did not manifest out of pre-existing matter, but spawned into manifestation out of nothing through the vibrations emanating from the voice of the Unmanifested Deity. The Tripartite Sonships were depicted as corresponding to descending degree of substance types which are subtle of substance, part coarse of substance, and purification of substance respectively.
Sonshsip: The First Sonship was simultaneously projected or bursting forth from the inception of the First Seed, and it shot forth into manifestation only to rapidly ascend up "like a wing or thought' until its ascent reached the Unmanifested Deity "for toward Him for His exceeding beauty and grace every kind of nature years, each in its own way". In the Second Sonship, the second seed-mass to burst forth but could not ascend or mount up by itself, yet it took to itself as a wing of the Holy Spirit, with each bearing up the other in a sort of mutually beneficial reciprocity. However, when it ascended to within the proximity of the blessed and unutterable place of the initial subtle seed-mass and the Unmanifested Deity or Not-Being God, it could take the Holy Spirit no further, for it was not con-substantial in being with the Holy Spirit. Thus, there Holy Spirit remained constituting a firmament that divided things above the world from the world below itself. There it retained and emitted downwards the fragrance of the sonship like a vessel that has once held ointment. The Third Sonship continued within the heap of the seed-mass, and yet out of this heap burst forth into existence the Great Archon, "the head of the world, a beauty and greatness and power that cannot be uttered". This Great Archon also ascended up towards the initial and previous sonships placements until he reached and encountered the firmament which the Great Archon supposed to be the upward end of all things. There and then he became wiser and in every way better than all the other cosmical existing things except for the sonships and seed-mass left below him, which he knew to not be better than himself. Then he "made to himself and begat out of the things below a son far better and wiser than himself" for the Not-Being Deity had willed this from the first. Smitten with wonder at his son's beauty, he placed him at his right hand. "This is what they call the Ogdoad, where the Great Archon is sitting." So then the Great Archon turned to create the world into its various parts and states of existence. Proceeding from there, then the entirety of the heavenly or etheric creations (apparently included in the Ogdoad), as far down as the moon, was manifested by the Great Archon having received inspiration from his wiser Son. Again there arose another Archon out the singularity of the seed-mass, who was inferior to the first Archon, yet was superior to all existing things below except for the Sonship; and this new Archon likewise manifested for himself a son greater and wiser than himself, who subsequently became the creator and governor of the aerial world. This realm or region is called the Hebdomad. On the other hand, in the heap and seed-mass, constituting our own terrestrial realm, all of these manifested occurrences transpired in accordance with the plan and will of the Unmanifested Deity or Not-Being God, "those things that come to pass come to pass according to nature, as having been previously uttered by Him Who hath planned the fitting time and form and manner of utterance of the things that were to be uttered: and these things have no one to rule over them, or exercise care for them, or create them: for sufficient for them is that plan which the not-being One planned when He was making" (the seed-mass).
The Gospel: The Basilidean school of Gnostic thought inherently acknowledged and postulated an exceedingly divergent Gospel exposition to that of the Gospels considered to be Orthodox and accepted by Christianity generally. The supposed great early Christian theologian Hippolytus wrote a compendious Christian polemical work titled the Refutatio Omnium Haeresium which means the Refutation of All Heresies. In this anti-gnostic historical work by Hippolytus, he summed up the Basilidean's Gospel by stating, "According to them the Gospel is the knowledge of things above the world, which knowledge the Great Archon understood not: when then it was shewn to him that there exists the Holy Spirit, and the [three parts of the seed-mass] and a God Who is the author of all these things, even the not-being One, he rejoiced at what was told him, and was exceeding glad: this is according to them the Gospel." This Gospel and Hippolytus' description of it can be extrapolated as the Basilideans postulated that from the time of Adam until the time of Moses, the Great Archon intrinsically believed himself to be the Primordial Creative Originator or True God alone without any understanding to the contrary. He thought that he had no superior Divinity which was intrinsically above him or his place within the Universe. Accordingly, it was believed that the concept of Divinities existing above his Cosmic stature would enlighten and illuminate the Great Archon, thus through the utilization of the Holy Spirit by the Unmanifested Deity this idea was conveyed to the Great Archon.
This Cosmic event first transpired by the introducing of this new conceptualization into the mind of the Son of the Great Archon, and the Son, being at his right hand, in turn relayed and instructed his Father the Great Archon in the knowledge and understanding of this new cosmic perception of higher, superior Divinities than themselves. The Great Archon learned the primordial information that He was not the initial Cosmic Divine Originator or Creator God of Reality or the Universe, but that there existed Divine Intelligences superior to Him and above him in the celestial hierarchy, which lead the Great Archon to subsequently acknowledge and confess his sin for having so elevated and magnified Himself. The processional instruction of this new celestial knowledge within the Gospel needed to then descend down to the next level of existence where the Archon presiding over the Hebdomad held authority. As in the prior elucidation scenario, the Son of this Archon of the Hebdomad was informed about this cosmic knowledge by the Son of the Great Archon. The Son of the Archon of the Hebdomad then became enlightened and subsequently delivered this new celestial paradigm, the Gospel, to his Father Archon ruling this realm of existence who became fearful and repentant confessing the sinful errors that He had committed out of ignorance. The only remaining endeavor was to disseminate this new cosmic knowledge to the World so it too could become enlightened. Accordingly, the Light of this knowledge descended to the world by the influence and power of the Archon ruling the Hepdomad and was inoculated within Jesus during both the Annunciation and the Baptism so that he "was enlightened, being kindled in union with the light that shone on Him". Thus, by adhering to and following Jesus along with his enlightened teachings, the World becomes purified and more subtle in its essential nature, so that it can ascend by its own efforts. Once all aspects or parts of the Sonship attained an ascent above the Limitary Spirit, "then the creation shall find mercy, for till now it groans and is tormented and awaits the revelation of the sons of God, that all the men of the sonship may ascend from hence". Once this has finally transpired and come to pass, the Primordial Deity will instigate upon the entirety of the World the Great Ignorance, that all manifestations and things will exhibit joy and elation for simple existing as what it naturally is, and that ultimately nothing in existence will desire or endeavor to be anything contrary to its primal nature as it was originally intended. Thus, Hippolytus states, "And in this wise shall be the Restoration, all things according to nature having been founded in the seed of the universe in the beginning, and being restored at their due seasons." Lastly, in reference to the life of Jesus, the Basilidean's believed in the accounts of it attributed and described within the traditional Christian Gospels, with the singular exception corresponding to a different account of the Nativity.
Their Ethics: The accounts of Clement of Alexandria, the Basilideans taught that inner faith was a naturally bestowed gift of knowledge upon the individual human's soul prior to its unification with the material body which some inherently possessed while others were barren of it. Furthermore, this divine natural gift is considered a latent force that only manifests its energy through means of the incoming Saviour. Sin was not the natural result of abusing our free will but was a resulting consequence of an inner or inborn primal evil principle. Accordingly, the totality of our suffering is a necessary punishment for sin; even when children suffer this is a consequence of their innate inborn evil principle. Therefore, the degree of suffering the Christians had to endure initially corresponds to the degree by which they were being cosmically punished for their inherent sins. Moreover, the totality of human nature was vitiated by the sinful and when Basilides was pressured he would even state that even Jesus was sinful in his nature, for only God was singularly righteous by nature. Clement further states and accuses Basilides of engaging in the deification of the Devil and describes the two dogmas of Basilides as that of the transmigration of the soul and the Devil.
Irenaeus' Account of Creation: The proceeding delineation can be attributed to an integration of the accounts by Irenaeus and Epiphianus but is mainly through the rendition by the church father Ireneaus. However, it has been postulated that these accounts are potentially based on later versions not necessarily attributable to Basilides himself and Gnostic accounts that are purported to have been corrupted in some aspect. The Irenaeus conceptualization of the Basilidean Cosmological genesis begins with the Unbegotten Primordial Father Deity. Out of his divine primal essence was manifested the N'us which subsequently produced the Logos and proceeding from the manifestation of the Logos there was manifested the Phronesis. The descending hierarchy manifesting out of the Phronesis was first the creation of Sophia herself and Dynamis, and out of the combination of Sophia and Dynamis was manifested all the principalities, powers, and angels in a divine sequence of emanation. These initial angelic entities manifested or created the very first Heaven, and subsequently they then produced a second set of angelic entities who also manifested a Heaven. This celestial process of angelic creations that then manifest a new Heaven proceeded in a divine process of cosmic creation until there had been sequentially produced 365 generations of angelic entities and 365 heavens. Every heaven that had been manifested by these angels had an Archon placed over it as its ruler and each Archon was given a name which was then utilized by Gnostic magi in their vocation of the magical arts. The angelic hosts of the lowest materially visible heaven or lesser dimensional region of existence were the angelic entities credited with the manifestation and creation of the World and Humanity. These lesser angelic entities of the near material dimension are also acknowledged as the celestial authors of the divine prophecies, and further stated by Irenaeus was the notion of the Law being disseminated by their Archon ruler, the inimical God of the Jewish people Yahweh-Jehovah, sometimes referred to as Yaldabaoth. This Archon Yahweh who is associated religiously with the Old Testament Deity, a seemingly insane divinity, intrinsically exhibited exceedingly elevated degrees of willfulness and petulance in contrast to the rest of the angelic entities, and in Yahweh's emphatic desire and endeavors to procure an empire for his people, he incited and provoked the other angels into rebellion along with their respective peoples.
The Christ: Once the Unmanifested Primordial Father witnessed the magnitude and discordant degree of rampant chaos which prevailed in the world of humanity and realms of the angels as well as how the Jewish people being eradicated & assaulted, he decided to send forth his First born manifestation N'us, who is the Christ, to subsequently rescue and deliver those individuals who adhered to and believed in Him from the adversarial power exhibited by the producers of the World. Accordingly, the Basilideans stated, " He is our salvation, even He Who came and revealed to us alone this truth." Consequently, once the N'us Christ descended to appear upon the terrestrial plane, He set about enacting and performing wondrous, mighty works; however, his celestial appearance must be envisioned as only an outward manifestation of his divine vibratory form, without Him becoming materialized into a material body in the flesh. Furthermore, according to Irenaeus' rendition, it was Simon of Cyrene who underwent the sacred Crucifixion, for Jesus supposedly exchanged material form with Simon on his way to the event, and he subsequently stood unseen and opposite within Simon's form mocking and deriding the individuals who performed the obscene deed. Yet, then He Himself ascended back into the Heavenly Realm, traversing past all the various powers, until he became restored and reintegrated back into the place in the proximity of His Father.
Abrasax or Abraxas: Additionally, the two fullest delineation's, those of Irenaeus and Epiphanius, included through an appendix a further specification of the antecedent Mythology; it constituted a brief notation on the identical subject being correspondingly interposed parenthetically by Hippolytus. The ultimate power and innate source of primordial being existing in a higher state than the entirety of the principalities. angelic entities, and the celestial powers is Abrasax or Abraxas (linguistic differences only). This Greek title or name Abraxas, when numerologically added together in the letter's numeric forms, constitutes the number 365 which corresponds to the total manifestations of the Heavenly realms in magnitude, but further correlates to the use of the 365 annual days and the 365 parts of the Human body. It is also postulated that the Basilideans called the supreme power of the cosmos they termed "the Cause' and "the First Archetype', and contradistinctively they principally intimated that the final and lowest dimensional manifestation of the Cosmos was our material terrestrial realm which was constructed by the last Archon. It has been attributed to be evident from these extrapolated particularities that Abraxas was the title or name of the initial or First of the 365 Archons, and He was presumed to have stood beneath both Sophia and Dynamis and their progenitors within the celestial hierarchy of the Universe; however, His exact stature and positioning within the hierarchy is not specifically stated.
Precepts of Basilidean Gnosticism: Some of the historical recorders of the Basilidean Gnostic information have rather acutely intimated that they held the Basilideans to believe themselves beyond Christian or Jew as well as engaging in heretical activities from the perspective of these historians. Consequently, when Philaster attempts to insinuate to his historically reading audience during his initial sentence about the Gnostic Basilides that "he violated the laws of Christian truth by making an outward show and discourse concerning the Law and the Prophets and the Apostles, but believing otherwise," this reference demonstrates in a revealing manner a reticent antinomian sentiment purported to exist within Basilidean Gnosticism beliefs. Thus, according to Philaster as well as others, it is a pertinent understanding to portray the Basilideans as considering themselves to no longer be adherent of Judaism or Jews but also to have become a spiritual sect greater or more than Christians as well. The Basilideans also repudiated the concept of martyrdom which was inherently complimented by the promiscuous and eclectic use of items offered to idols. Consequently, it is insinuated that from this principle of insouciance and apathetic detachment the Basilideans took this mentality to such a degree as to approbate licentious immorality. Unfortunately, the delineation and the consideration of this accusation by the historical record keepers and authorities from which we have received our knowledge of this Gnostic sect and these accounts, is inherently unverifiable and must be subject to notions of religiously biased inclinations towards the spiritual sect they wrote about and were acutely inimical to by their predilections.
It has been readily determined that the later adherents of Basilides exhibited activities readily correspondent to acts of magical invocation and other similar occult practices. Accordingly, the myriad of titles and divine names relating to Archontic rulers of the various heavens were purported to have been passed down to initiates and followers as a highly significant, momentous, and solemn secret of sacred knowledge, and this postulated belief corresponded to the Basilidean notion that who soever had the sacred knowledge of these ruling Archontic appellations would possess the capacity, upon death, traverse past or through the totality of the lower heavens to reach the place of the Supreme Primordial Deity. Moreover, it has been illustrated, in conformity with this belief, that the Basildeans conceived of Christ also having been in possession of a divine, sacred name (Caulacau), which enabled Christ to utilize this power to first descend through all the lesser heavens to the terrestrial realm and the re-ascend back to the Primordial Father Deity. Consequently, the conceptualization of Basliidean Redemption could be formulated as the mystical revelation of these sacred, divine names. It is entirely unable to be ascertained whether or not the Gnostic Originator of this spiritual sect, Basilides, had already allocated and imbued this magical proclivity into this version of Gnosticism. It has further intimated by Irenaeus that the Basildeans utilized images or imagery in their magical rites, and this additionally corresponds to the notion and popular belief that the multitudinous, ancient gemstones upon which illustrations of mythological combinations were depicted alongside the inscription of the mystical name Abraxas, ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ, could be readily attributed to the Basilidean sect of Gnosticism. Nonetheless, it has been adequately illustrated that there is very negligible and minimal amounts of evidence for ascribing any known gemstones to Basilideanism pr any other school of Gnosticism, and it has thus been postulated that in all likelihood the Basilideans and Pagan inscribers or engravers of gemstones similarly appropriated the name Abraxas from Semitic Mythology.
The most idiosyncratic precept inherent to the Basilidean Gnostic School of Thought was the absolute discouragement of Martyrdom. They confessed that the Crucified was a being still in bondage to the angels who had generated the material body, and it was especially condemned as a vain honor attributed not to Christ, who had accordingly neither been crucified nor had suffered, but to Simon of Cyrene the one actually crucified according to the Basilideans. Thus, they had an inherent disgust and contempt for the concept of martyrdom. They believed that such actions of self-agonizing were entirely impious and unholy due to the nature of the Christ forgoing the act. The Basilidean dissuasion of martyrdom was one of the great occult secrets that the Gnostic sect diligently cultivated which proceeded naturally from the supposition of possessing occulted, mystical knowledge. Furthermore, the Basilideans additional secrets and mysteries were heavily guarded and withheld but for the few initiates deemed worthy with only 1 in 1000 and 2 in 10000 acquiring this occult knowledge.
The final precept of Basilidean Gnosticism is brief yet significant. It has been determined that according to both Hippolytus and Irenaeus, the Basilidean Gnostic school of spiritual thought emphatically denied that the petulant and nigh schizophrenic God worshiped by the Jewish people, Yahweh-Jehovah, is the Supreme Primordial Father Deity. Furthermore, specifically according to Hippolytus the Basilideans designated the God of the Jewish people to be the Archon of the Hebdomad, which means he was inherently inferior to and lesser than the Great Archon, the Holy Spirit, the seed-mass (Tripartite Sonship), and the Unmanifested Deity or Not-Being God. Contradistinctively, according to Irenaeus, the Basilideans postulated that the god of the Jewish people Yahweh was inferior to and lesser than the 365 pairs of Archons in the celestial dimensions above his own, as well as existing in an inferior stature to the entirety of the principalities and powers, inferior to Sophia and Dynamis, Phronesis, Logos, Nûs, and lastly the Unmanifested, Unbegotten Primordial Father Deity.
The Gnostic Spiritual and Cosmological School of Thought known as Mandaeism or Mandaenism is inherently a deeply monotheistic Gnostic sect with an exceedingly strong dualistic affinity with their Cosmogony and creation narrative. Their spiritual adherents are referred to as the Mandaeans and they are known to revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, Shem, Aram, and most especially John the Baptist. Significantly, the Mandaen Gnostic sect has been included among the linguistic group the Semites and are known to speak a specific type of dialect that is Eastern Aramaic in origin and known as Mandaic. It has been postulated that the unique name of this Gnostic sect the Mandaean is derived from the Aramaic term Manda which translates as "knowledge", as does the Gnostic term Gnosis. In the region of the world known today as the Middle East, but outside of their community, they have become typically and generally referred to as the Subba (singular Subbi) or as the Sabians/ Sabaeans. Linguistically, the term Subba is derived from the Aramaic which relates to Baptism, the Neo-Mandaic is Sabi. In the Islamic religious scriptures of their Holy Quran, the Muslims refer to the Sabians as The People of The Book, in conjunction with the Jewish Religion's and the Christian Religion's spiritual adherents. Additionally, the Mandaeans or Sabians have also been termed the "Christians of Saint John". It has been postulated and generally accepted scholastically that the Mandaeans originated during some point in time within the initial three centuries AD, with the sect either coalescing in southwestern Mesopotamia or in the Syro-Palestinian region of the Middle East; contradistinctively, there are some historical and religious scholars that have postulated the viewpoint that Mandaeism is far older than supposed with it pre-dating and existing in before Christian times.
The Mandaean Gnostic Religion has primarily been practiced in the region of the Lower Kuran, Euphrates and Tigris along with the rivers that encircle the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, part of southern Iraq and the Khuzestan Province within Iran. The current official numbers have estimated that the Mandaean population currently existing is roughly approximated as being between 60,000 and 70,000. The proportion that resides within their native lands has collapsed due to the American War in Iraq, with the majority of the religious adherents becoming relocated to nearby Iran, Syria, and Jordan. Until the Iraq War orchestrated by the American Superpower, nearly the entirety of the Mandaeans lived peacefully within Iraq. Large numbers of Mandaean Iraqis have subsequently been forced to flee their home country due to the adverse chaos and turmoil generated by the 2003 Invasion of Iraq and proceeding occupation by U.S. military forces in conjunction with the rise of sectarian violence exhibited by Islamic extremists. Consequently, by 2007 the Mandaean population residing within their native land of Iraq has depreciated to be approximately about 5,000 people. In 2011, Al Arabiya has postulated that the hidden and unaccounted for numbers of Iranian Mandaeans within Iran to be above 50,000. In contrast, according to a 2009 article in the Holland Sentinel, the Mandaean religious population inside Iran has greatly dwindled, numbering between 5,000 and at most 10,000. Lastly, it has been projected from tallies that large numbers of Mandaeans have created diaspora communities that exist outside the Middle East, and now a good portion are residing in Australia with about 10,000 being concentrated near Sydney and constituting approximately 15% of the Global Mandaean population.
The Mandaeans have reportedly maintained enormous secrecy and remained almost entirely private concerning their interactions with outside cultures. Accordingly, most of the accounts we have attained regarding their culture and spiritual beliefs have invariably come to us from outside sources. Specifically these sources have been authored by Julius Heinrich Petermann who is an Orientalist, Nicolas Souffi a Syrian Christian who was the French vice-consul in Mosul in 1887, and from Lady E.S. Drower who was a British cultural anthropologist. The term Vandaic or Mandaeic Mandaeism originates from classical Mandaic Mandaiia which reportedly is displayed in Neo-Mandaic as Mandeyana. Based upon certain cognates within other Aramaic dialects, Semitic linguists such as Mark Lidzbarski and Rudolf Macuch have translated this Mandaic term Manda, which is what the term Mandaiia is derived from, to mean knowledge. This etymology is readily suggestive that the Mandaeans spiritual culture could be acknowledged as the sole ancient sect that has survived from late Antiquity that have continuously identified their culture and themselves specifically as Gnostics, this is significant. However, there remain other historical scholars that purport to derive the term Mandaiia from Mandā d-Heyyi , which is an alternative of the Mandaic term Manda ḏ'Hayyi translated as "Knowledge of Life" and is a seeming reference to the chief Deity Hayyi Rabbi "Great Life" or "Great Living God", or is perhaps derived from the term Beth Manda, which refers to the religious or cultist hut within which large numbers of Mandaean rituals and rites are enacted such as the Baptism, the central religious sacramental rite of the Mandaean Spiritual Life.
History: Within the body of a Mandaean scripture or text titled the Haran Gawaita, it is delineated that the recorded history of the Mandaean Gnostic culture began when a people termed the Nasoreans (considered the Mandaean priestly caste in contrast to the laity) decided to vacate the region of Judea or Palestine and subsequently migrated to Mesopotamia in the first century AD. The reasoning for this departure has been postulated to be their pernicious persecution inside Jerusalem proper. These Nasorean migrants are purported to have initially journeyed to the city of Haran, likely corresponding to the modern city of Harran in Turkey today, or Hauran followed by their migration to the Median Hills within Iran, and then they ultimately migrated to finally settle within the southern provinces of Mesopotamia, modern Iraq. It has been reported that during the initiation of the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia, the chief leader of the Mandaeans Anush son of Danqa journeyed to present himself before the Islamic authorities to show them a copy of the Ginza Rabba, the Mandaean Holy Book, along with professing their preeminent Mandaean prophet to be John the Baptist, who is readily propounded within the Islamic Holy Book the Quran as the individual Yahya Bin Zakariya. Accordingly, this delineation supports the identification of the Mandaeans with the Sabians that are reportedly intimated within the Quran as being counted among the religious peoples denoted as the Ahl al-Kitāb, the people of the Book. Consequently, this allocated the to the Mandaeans a privileged distinction or status as a legalized religious minority within the Islamic Empire.
Henceforth, the Mandaean religious community became associated with the historical people referred to as the Sabians and also with the Jewish Christian community called the Elcesaites, and this was done on account of the location of all three being mentioned within Mesopotamia in the early centuries AD as well as their readily attributable similarities in their cultural and religious belief structures. Moreover, the principle significance of ritual Baptism in the ceremonial rites and rituals of all three of these religious peoples is particularly prominent suggesting their subsequent correlation. In similitude to the Mandaeans, the Sabian Religious culture were also postulated to have readily associated themselves as a Gnostic sect originating from the legendary Noah. Accordingly, the Mandaean religious community have continuously, repeatedly been associated or connected with the Sabian Gnostic sect up to the current day, however the precise classification & nature of the correlative interrelation between these three enigmatic communities has remained entirely ambiguous and equivocal. Notably, in the year of 1290, an educated Dominican Catholic from Tuscany, Ricoldo da Montecroce or Ricoldo Pennini, was reportedly in Mesopotamia where came across the Mandaeans and described them as follows, "A very strange and singular people, in terms of their rituals, lives in the desert near Baghdad; they are called Sabaeans. Many of them came to me and begged me insistently to go and visit them. They are a very simple people and they claim to possess a secret law of God, which they preserve in beautiful books. Their writing is a sort of middle way between Syriac and Arabic. They detest Abraham because of circumcision, and they venerate John the Baptist above all. They live only near a few rivers in the desert. They wash day and night so as not to be condemned by God…". It has also been confirmed that the members of the Discalced Carmelite mission within Basra during the 16th century referred to the Mandaeans as the "Christians of Saint John". Furthermore, during the time when the Portuguese naval armada engaged in a militarily conflict with the Ottoman Turkish army in Bahrain, it was subsequently reported that a group of Portuguese Jesuits encountered a group of "Saint John Christians" in the proximity of the Strait of Hormuz in 1559. Lastly, it has been chronicled that the Mandaeans exhibited an apparent willingness to heed and obey the Catholic Church, and further that the Mandaeans even assimilated and implemented the seven Catholic sacramental rites and their concomitant ceremonies in their daily lives and religious activities.
Mandaean Religious Belief Structure: The spiritual belief structure known as Mandaeism, being the religion of the Mandaean or Sabian people, is almost entirely and fundamentally built upon an attributable prevalent and traditionally established heritage that permeates their community than upon any specific set of religious creeds or doctrinal belief structures. The readily accepted corpus of Mandaean literature, though of significant scope, covering topics which include eschatology, the knowledge of God and of the afterlife, is written in a desultory and inconsistent methodology. Furthermore, it is known and studied solely by the priestly class and a very few laymen. Their principle precepts and tenets of Mandaean Gnosis, according to E. S. Drower, consists of and is characterized by nine components and idiosyncrasies that generally occur in other Gnostic spiritual sects. The Mandaean Gnostic school of thought postulated that their existed one Supreme amorphous Entity or Deity, who's divine exhibition & proclamation corresponding within time and space is that of the manifestation of spiritual, etheric, and material worlds and beings. The celestial engineering of these three-fold types of worlds is allocated or delegated by it to a creator or creators who originate it. Moreover, the Universe is manifested by the Archetypal Man, who subsequently produces it in a similitude of his own form. The Mandaeans postulate and assert that the Cosmos exists inherently as a Dualistic manifestation with a Cosmic Father and Mother, and it consists of attributes of Polarity such as Light & Darkness, Right and Left, and a Syzygy of macrocosmic and microcosmic formations. Another intrinsic feature of the Mandaean Dualistic Universe is the concept of countertypes and a world of Di-Polar ideas. The Mandaeans also delineate the notion that the soul exists in exile as a prisoner with her home and origin being the Supreme Primordial Entity to which she will inevitably return. The Mandaeans further postulate that the stars and planetary bodies readily regulate & manipulate humanity and fate itself along with existing as places of detention following death. Moreover, the Mandaeans asserted that there exist a savior spirit or savior spirits which are purported to assist the soul on her voyage through life and proceeding its expiration with its subsequent journey to "the worlds of light".
In the Mandaean religious structure there exists a cult-language or occult language of symbols and metaphors in which qualities and ideas are personified. Furthermore, their exist a collection of Mandaean Mystery rituals and sacraments which are utilized to assist and purify the soul, to assure and secure her reconstitution into a spiritual body, and her spiritual ascent and extrication from the world of materiality. These Mandaean ritual sacraments are typically acculturations and adaptations of pre-existing traditional, conventional, and seasonal rites to which an occult, esoteric exposition & interpretation is ascribed. In the incident and illustration corresponding to the Nasoreans, this interpretive exposition is predicated upon their Creation Narrative, specifically upon Adam, the Divine Man, as a consecrated, crowned, and anointed Priest-King. Additionally, the Mandaean Mysteries exhibit and encourage Great Secrecy upon their neophyte initiates with the full explication and revelation of knowledge concerning the Supreme amorphous Deity, the concept of Cosmic Duality & Syzygy relating to cosmic/microcosmic forms, and the mystery rites performed for spiritual purification are solely reserved for those individuals with a capacity for comprehending as well as preserving the Mandaean Gnosis.
Mandaean Cosmology: The Mandaean cosmological narrative, as previously mentioned above, is not inherently organized or readily systematic in its delineations and renditions. There unfortunately exists no singularly recorded certifiable and authoritative delineation of the Mandaean creation story of the Universe, but instead there exists a sequential aggregation of accounts. There are certain historical and theological scholars, such as Edmund Lupieri, who reportedly maintain and assert that by comparative analysis of these disparate & dissenting expositions exhibit the potentiality to elucidate the manifold religious influences upon which the Mandaeans have derived their belief structures as well as the ways the Mandaean religion has subsequently evolved throughout time. Contradistinctively, the religious scriptures and texts attributed to the Western Gnostic movements formerly discovered within Egypt and Syria, the prior and antecedent Mandaean religious scriptures are indicative of a more stringent emphasis upon a Dualistic Theology, which is quite typical of other Iranian Religious movements such as Zoroastrianism, Zurvanism, Manichaeism, and the teachings of Mazdak. Accordingly, in these Mandaean Gnostic scriptures, rather than the postulation of a great Pleroma as in other Gnostic cosmologies, there is the assertion of a distinct partitioning between Light and Darkness. The Mandaean Deity is referred to as Hayyi Rabbi, the Great Living God, and other names ascribed to the principle Mandaean Divinity are Mare d'Rabuta, the Lord of Greatness, and Melka d'Nhura, the King of Light. The Cosmological scenario unfolds in sequential emanations. The Supreme Amorphous Divinity projected three great Demiurgic emanations into the celestial superstructure: Yushamin, Abathur, and Ptahil which manifested in sequential order. The First Emanation Yushamin along with his subsequent role in the cosmological narrative is rather obscure involving the predilection and desire of Yushamin to manifest his own personalized world realm for which he was severely punished as a result of His arrogant rebellion by the Primordial Amorphous Living Deity, and it is notable that his name possibly derives from Iao haš-šammayim, translated in Hebrew as "Yahweh of the Heavens". The Second Emanation Abathur exhibited his celestial demiurgic role by presiding over the judgments dispensed upon the souls of mortals in the afterlife processes. The lowest of the trinity of Emanations was Ptahil, the third emanation, should not be signified as the sole Demiurgic principle but did exhibit the traditional role of the Demiurge by instigating the manifestation of the material world. Lastly, though the Mandaean Gnostic sect readily concur with the rest of the Gnostic movements that the terrestrial realm is a prison ruled by the planetary Archons, they dissented with them regarding the perception of the material world as cruel or inhospitable instead viewing it as a realm designated for spiritual evolution and saw it as one of great beauty.
Chief Prophets and Scriptures: There are prominent, key prophets or figures acknowledged and accepted by the Mandaean Gnostic Sect with these unique individuals causing Mandaeans to diverge in this aspect when correlated with the rest of the Gnostic movements. The Mandaeans revere as their principle teacher and prophet the individual know to them as Yahia-Yohanna, to others this is John the Baptist, and he is allocated a unique and special status by Mandaeans which greatly differentiates them from how Christians and Muslims acknowledge this prophetic, sagacious teacher. The Mandaeans do not postulate that John the Baptist was in any way their founder but simply respect Him as their highest spiritual teacher. The Mandaeans also are purported to trace their spiritual belief system all the way back to Adam and the Genesis of Mankind. Moreover, the Mandaean Gnostics do not acknowledge or even believe in the typical Judaeo-Christian prophets, founders, and teachers such as Abraham, Moses, and even Jesus himself. However, the Mandaean Gnostics do recognize several other key Abrahamic Prophetic and Religious individuals including the legendary Adam, his son Seth, his grandson Anush(Enos), Nuh(Noah), and Noah's descendants Sam(Shem) and Ram(Aram) in the Bible, and they specifically posit that these last three biblical individuals are considered by the Mandaeans to be their direct ancestral relatives. Furthermore, the Mandaeans do not recognize the conception of the Holy Spirit that is acknowledged within the Bible and the Talmud holy books, but it is known by this Gnostic sect as Ruha, Ruha d-Qudsha, or Ruha Mastanita being allocated an exceedingly different spiritual status by them. In contradistinction from the positive and benign Jewish, Christian, and Islamic conceptualization of this Holy Entity, the Mandaean's perspective of Her is one which is negative and corresponds to it being the inherent personification of the lesser, emotional, and feminine aspects of the human psyche. Thus, overall the Mandaean Gnostic school of thought is highly divergent in several key components and fundamental characteristics that are typically promulgated and generally accepted by other Gnostic sects as well as Abrahamic Religions making them unique in this aspect.
The Mandaean Gnostics are known to have an exceedingly substantial and voluminous corpus of spiritual scriptures with the most significant and prominent one being the Ginza Rba or Ginza which is a compendious aggregate work of their accepted history, theology, and prayers. The Ginza Rba is readily bifurcated into two distinct halves which are titled the Genza Smala, or the Left Ginza, and the Genza Yemina, or the Right Ginza, respectively. The individual Jorunn J. Buckely, a comparative Historian of Religions at Bowdoin College, through a consultation of the colophons within the Left Ginza has readily discerned and uncovered an unbroken, successive string of copyists that date from the late 2nd or early third century AD. A colophon is typically a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book or written work such as the location of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication, but a colophon can also be emblematic or pictorial in nature. The colophons referenced within the work of Professor Buckely and his study of the Left Ginza are apparently an indicative testament to the existence of the Mandaean Gnostics or their historical predecessors being around during the late Parthian Empire period at the very latest. The most ancient texts are lead amulets that date roughly from the 3rd century AD, and are followed by the second oldest which are magic bowls dating from about 600 AD. Unfortunately, the most significant religious scriptures and texts are accepted to be no more ancient than the sixteenth century and most of them originating from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Though the Ginza is known to have successively transformed and progressed while under the dominion of the Sassanian Empire and the Islamic Caliphates, very few scriptural or textual traditions are capable of laying a claim to such a considerable and sweeping continuity. Another of the Mandaean's most significant scriptural texts is known as the Haran Gawaita which readily delineates upon the History of their Gnostic Religion. Within the recorded History of this textual work, it is reported that a group of Nasoraeans, Mandaean Priests, migrated out of Judea before the imminent demolition and ruination of Jerusalem during the 1st century AD, subsequently coming to inhabit and settle within the Parthian Empire at this time.
There are several other prominent and significant books of this Gnostic Religion one of which is known as the Qolusta, and this is a canonical prayer-book of the Mandaeans that was translated by E. S. Drower. Another major textual work of Mandaean religious scripture, one which is available to both the laity and esoteric initiates, is the Mandaean Book of John, Das Johannesbuch der Mandaer, and apparently includes a unique dialogue that transpired between John and Jesus. In conjunction with the Mandaean texts of the Ginza, Qolusta, and the Drasa, there is also the Divan, which comprises and includes a specific elucidation referencing the zones or places that the soul ascends through on its post-life journey, and the Asfar Malwashe, the Book of Zodiacal Constellations. Lastly, there exist several pre-Islamic artifacts that incorporate certain Mandaean writings and inscriptions, examples being the Aramaic Incantation Bowls. Furthermore, the language utilized for composing the Mandaean Religious Literature is readily known as Mandaic and constitutes a linguistic type that is a member of the Aramaic family of dialects. It is also known to be formulated out of a cursive variant of the Parthian chancellery script which is indicative of their habitation within the Parthian Empire. However, most of the Mandaean laity cannot converse in this language, though it is readily asserted and acknowledged that a portion of the Mandaean community residing within Iraq and Iran have continued to converse in Neo-Mandaic, the contemporary version of this language.
Mandaean Worship: The two religious ceremonies considered to be the principle and most significant aspects fundamental to Mandaean worship are the spiritual Baptism (masbuta) and the ritual mass enacted for the dead known as 'the ascent of soul ceremony'(masiqta). In contradistinction to many other Baptismal Religions, the Mandaean ceremonial rite of baptism is conducted cyclically every Sunday, which is the Mandaean Holy Day. This Mandaeic Baptism routinely involves the total and complete immersion in flowing water with all the rivers acknowledged as acceptable for the baptismal ceremonial ritual being termed Yardena, titled after the River Jordan. Once the individual becoming baptized has arisen from the flowing waters, the Mandaean worshiper is subsequently consecrated and anointed with holy oil followed by their participation in a communion of water and bread. The Mandaean religious ritual referred to as the 'ascent of the soul ceremony' is postulated to be enacted in various forms, but it is generally conducted by engaging in a ritual meal in memory of the dead. This ceremonial ritual is thought to aid the departed souls upon their subsequent journey traversing through the purgatory realms into the World of Light. The place of worship for adherents of Mandaeism is referred to as a mandi or Mashkhanna, and it is reported to be specifically established and constructed in proximity to a river so that they can easily conduct masubta (baptism) due to the fact that water is a necessary and fundamental feature of the Mandaean faith. It has further been reported that contemporary mandis occasionally have a bath within the building instead of being constructed adjacent to a flowing river. Every single mandi is reportedly emblazoned and decorated with a darfash, which constitutes a a cross of olive wood halfway covered with a piece of pure white silk cloth as well as seven branches of myrtle; however, it must be noted that this Mandaean cross bears absolutely no relation to the Christian cross or crucifix, with its four arms correlating to and symbolizing the four corners of the Universe, the pure white silk cloth representative of the Light of God, and the seven branches of myrtle corresponding to the seven days of divine creation. It has also been reported that the Mandaeans believe in marriage and procreation in conjunction with acknowledging the pivotal importance of exhibiting an ethical and moral lifestyle in this terrestrial realm. The Mandaeans are also considered to be inherent pacifists and egalitarians, with the earliest Mandaean scribe able to be substantiated being one that is a woman, Shlama Beth Qidra, who is verified to have copied the Left Ginza corresponding to a time period in the second century AD. The Mandaeans are also known to place a high priority on family life, to not engage in practices of asceticism, to detest the Abrahamic rite of circumcision, and to refrain from consuming red meat and imbibing strong alcoholic beverages.
Mandaean Organizational Structure: The Mandaean organization and religious configuration is one which constitutes a strict segregation between the Mandaean priestly class and the common laity. In the written work by E.S. Drower known as The Secret Adam it is stated: "Those amongst the community who possess secret knowledge are called Naṣuraiia—Naṣoreans, or Nazorenes. At the same time the ignorant or semi-ignorant laity are called 'Mandaeans', Mandaiia—'gnostics.' When a man becomes a priest, he leaves 'Mandaeanism' and enters tarmiduta, 'priesthood.' Even then he has not attained to true enlightenment, for this, called 'Naṣiruta', is reserved for a very few. Those possessed of its secrets may call themselves Naṣoreans, and 'Naṣorean' today indicates not only one who observes strictly all rules of ritual purity, but one who understands the secret doctrine". It has been reported that the Mandaeans have three initiatory grades within their priesthood which are the tarmidia "disciples" (Neo-Mandaic is tarmidana), the ganzibria "treasurers" (Neo-Mandaic is ganzebrana), and the risamma "the leader of the people". The final grade of Risamma is considered by the Mandaeans to be the preeminent office of the priesthood and has apparently remained vacant for a good number of years. In the current era, the highest Mandaean office occupied by an individual presently is the one called the ganzebra, and it is a title that initially appeared in a religious scriptural text among the Aramaic ritual texts coming out of Persepolis from the third century BC which potentially corresponds to the kamnaskires, derived from Elamite kapnuskir "treasurer", being a title for the rulers of Elymais (modern Khuzestan) dating from the Hellenistic era. It has been a Mandaean tradition that any ganzebra who has baptized seven or more ganzebrana has the potential to become qualified for the highest office of Risamma, but the contemporary Mandaean population has not rallied as a unified religious body in support of a singular candidate. As of today, the current Mandaean priestly class is capable of tracing their direct ancestral origins to the initial half of the 19th century. Unfortunately, in the year of 1831 a devastating outbreak of cholera resulted in the ruination of the region and nearly eradicated the entirety of the Mandaean religious authorities with a minute few surviving this horrendous event. Subsequently, the two most qualified surviving acolytes, Yahia Bihram and Ram Zihrun, are credited with reconstituting the priesthood due to their previous religious training and utilizing surviving scriptural texts still available to them after the devastating event. In 2009, there were reported by the Associated Press to exist at least two dozen Mandaean priests in the world; however, according to the Mandaean Society in America, the priestly numbers have been steadily increasing in recent years.
Introduction: The Spiritual movement referred to as Manichaeism was a Gnostic Religious School of Thought that became exceedingly pervasive being promulgated successfully all across the world and initially established by the Iranian Prophetic visionary Mani, an individual who resided within the Sasanian Empire. The Manichaean Gnostic Religion is known to have postulated and disseminated an exceedingly elaborate Dualistic Cosmology and Metaphysically Binary System of spiritual thought which was predicated upon the intrinsic struggle between a positive or good principle existing within a Spiritual Light World and a negative or evil principle that existed within a materialistic World of Darkness. The Manichaeans also postulated that during the passage of Mankind's History over the ages, there exists a continuous process whereby the spiritual light trapped in the dark world of gross matter is successively extricated from that realm of materiality and subsequently reintegrated back into the spiritual World of Light. The Manichaean Religious belief structure is an amalgamation of local Mesopotamian religious beliefs systems and certain fundamental Gnostic beliefs. Thus, this form of Gnosticism is really an aggregation of several spiritual conceptualizations that are integrated and syncretized into a unified spiritual system different than those it drew from.
The Manichaean Gnostic movement was expeditiously promulgated and permeated into the world in a tremendously efficacious manner being disseminated far and wide throughout the linguistically Aramaic regions. It was a religious movement which flourished and highly prospered between the third and seventh centuries AD, and with the height of Manichaean spiritualism becoming one of the most highly successful and proliferated religions in the world during those times. This significant point is accentuated by the fact that Manichaean churches and scriptural texts were found to exist as far West as the Roman Empire and as far East as China making it one of the most notable and prolific Gnostic religious movements to have existed in terms of wide proliferation as well as number of adherents. Additionally, the Manichaean Gnostic movement was at one time, albeit briefly, the undisputed rival of Christianity before the subsequent propagation of Islam entered the competition for replacements of Classical Paganism, after its religious destruction and disintegration by Christian fanatics. It has been reported that the Manichaean Gnostic sect was able to subsist and survive its many religious adversaries far longer in the Eastern world than it did in the Western world, and yet it was ultimately and finally extinguished after the 14th century in South China with it fading away contemporaneously to the decline and fall of the Church of The East within Ming China. Though the majority of original Manichaean scriptures and textual writings have unfortunately been lost or destroyed, there still exist a plethora of fragmentary codices and translations that have survived the passage of time and attempts at destruction.
History, Influences, and the Life of Mani: The preeminent Manichaean prophet and founder was the Iranian Mani who is postulated to have been born during the year 216 in the vicinity of Seleucia-Ctesiphon or within its actual borders which were inside the Parthian Empire at that time. It has also been attested by delineations derived from the Cologne Mani-Codex, that the parents of Mani were constituents of a Judeo-Christian Gnostic sect called the Elcesaites. The Manichaean Prophet Mani is postulated to have authored and formulated seven scriptural works with six of them have been written in the Syriac language, a late variant of the Aramaic dialect. The Seventh composition, titled the Shabuhragan, was produced by Mani in the linguistic dialect of Middle Persian and he subsequently proffered it to the Sasanian Emperor Shapur I. Nonetheless, there is no readily available evidence to postulate that the Emperor SHapur I was or became a Manichaean convert at any time, but Shapur I is apparently reported to have exhibited a high propensity for tolerating the promulgation and dissemination of Manichaeism within his Empire's boundaries as well as abstaining from undertaking oppressive measure against their religious inclinations. It has been delineated by a certain tradition that it was Mani himself who originated the idiosyncratic variant of the Syriac textual script referred to as the Manichaean Alphabet, which was subsequently utilized in every single one of the Manichaean works produced within the Sasanian Empire, regardless of if they were in Syriac or Middle Persian, and was also utilized to produce most of the written textual works within the Uyghur Khaganate. It must also be duly noted and delineated that the principle language of Babylon, which is also the gubernatorial and societal language used by the Sassanid Empire, during that era was known as Eastern Middle Aramaic, which was subdivided into three predominant and distinct dialects which were Jewish Babylonian Aramaic (the language of the Babylonian Talmud), Mandaean (the language of Mandaeism), and Syriac, which was the principle language of Mani himself as well as that utilized by Syriac Christians. While the rise of Manichaeism was being prolifically disseminated, the other major existing religious movements of the time including Zoroastrianism retained their influential popularity and Christianity gained some prominence through garnering governmental and societal influence. Even though it attained sporadic and fewer votaries, the Manichaean Gnostic Religion exhibited the proclivity for acquiring the succor of many prominent, influential, and top-level political officials. Accordingly, by garnering the cooperation and support of the Sasanian Empire, the Manichaean Prophet Mani was able to initiate missionary expeditions throughout the adjacent regions. However, unfortunately for Mani upon failing to attain the support of the subsequent generation of Persian royalty, and after arousing and provoking the ire of the Zoroastrian priestly class, Mani was reported to have suffered an ignoble death while awaiting execution in prison by the Persian Emperor Bahram I. His death is postulated as having roughly occurred between 276-277.
The Manichaean Prophet Mani is postulated to have maintained the notion that the spiritual teachings of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus were inherently insufficient and unfinished, and intimated that his spiritual revelations were manifested for the totality of the world, referring to his Manichaean teachings as the "Religion of Light". The Manichaean writings are indicative of the notion that Mani acquired his initial revelations at the age of 12 and the again at the age of 24, and during this time period he became disaffected with the Elcesaite sect he was born into. Mani initiated his ministry at a young age being potentially influenced by contemporaneous Babylonian-Aramaic movements such as Mandaeism, Aramaic translations of Judaic Apocalyptic writings analogous and comparable to those discovered at Qumran ( such as the Book of Enoch), and the Syriac dualistic-Gnostic writer Bardaisan (who lived a generation before Mani). Once the Mani-Codex was discovered, it became subsequently elucidated that Mani was brought up within a Jewish-Christian baptismal sect, the Elcesaites, and was substantially influenced by their textual writings as well. Accordingly, there are particular biographies that were readily preserved by Ibn Al-Nadim and the Persian polymath al-Biruni, which postulate that Mani received a revelation during his youth from encountering a spirit, whom he subsequently referred to as his Twin, his Syzygos (spiritual spouse or partner), his binary Double, his Guardian Angel or Divine Higher Self. This spirit Double thereafter educated Mani about certain spiritual truths which he proceeded to synthesize into a religion, and this Divine Self or spirit Double further shepherded Mani into a spiritual self-realization. Mani also proclaimed himself to be the Paraclete of the Truth which had been promised by Jesus in the New Testament.
The Manichaean Gnostic Theology has an extraordinarily disparate and distinct delineation about the Individual known as Jesus and his spiritual role, with their postulated concept of Jesus exhibiting three distinct personifications or identities which were titled Jesus the Luminous, Jesus the Messiah, and Jesus Patibilis (the suffering Jesus). The personification of Jesus the Luminous' demonstrated that his principle role was to be the ultimate illuminator, revealer, and spiritual Shepard and who was the person that awakened Adam from his deep slumber subsequently revealing to him the celestial and spiritual genesis of his soul along with its detrimental imprisonment by his physical form and entanglement with materiality. The personification referred to as Jesus the Messiah is more akin to the generally acclaimed biblical figure, and he was a historical individual that is acknowledged as being the Judaic Prophet and Mani's predecessor. However, in contrast to the accepted Christian conceptualization of Jesus, the Manichaeans designated Jesus as being entirely Divine in nature, and further postulated that Jesus never underwent a physical birthing because they held such ideas as material conception to be horrendous as well as asserting that notions of immaculate conception to equally obscene. This ideation was predicated upon the question in which they asked, if he was the light of the world, where was this light, when he resided within the virgin's womb? This Manichaean concept of Jesus as the Messiah, according to them, did not truly emerge until his baptism because this is when the Primordial Father readily recognized his sonship. Accordingly, the torment, demise, and Resurrection of this particular Jesus occurred solely in semblance due to these lacking any inherent redemptive value but were instead an exemplification of the tribulations or misery and ultimate salvation of the human spirit as well as an augury of Mani's own martyrdom. Additionally, the perturbation and torment inflicted by the immured Light-particles within the totality of the discernible universe was tangible and intrinsically ubiquitous, and this was exemplified by the mystical placement of the cross whereby the traumas of the ardor of the spirit are imputed. According to the Manichaeans, upon this mystical Cross of Light was draped or suspended the Suffering Jesus (Jesus patibilis) who was the essence and deliverance of humanity. The Manichaeans further postulated that the mystica cruxificio was manifest in every tree, herb, fruit, vegetable, soil, and even stones.
The Manichaean Gnostic tradition is known to have readily engaged in integrative and syncretic activities when they utilized the scriptural doctrines and symbolic emblems of quiescent spiritual traditions. Furthermore, the Manichaeans also subsumed and assimilated the symbols and divinities of autochthonous traditions, yet more specifically they did so with the Hindu divinity Ganesha into its theology which is denoted in the article, "Manichaean Art and Calligraphy" by Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. It has also been reported that the Iranian Prophet Mani proclaimed himself to be the subsequent reincarnation of the master-teachers Buddha, Zoroaster, Krishna, and Jesus contingent upon the milieu in which Mani was administering his teachings. Accordingly, promulgating such sagacious and provident asservations cultivated a spirit of clemency and liberality within the Manichaeans and the other religious communities, with this specific component substantially availing them in procuring the approbation and acquiescence of prominent dignitaries to practice within a myriad of provinces contiguous to the Silk Road. There also many scholars intimating that the bulk of what is ascribed to Manichaeism originates from later 10th and 11th century Islamic historians such as Al-Biruni and specifically Ibn al-Nadim. in his Fihrist, which is stated "Islamic authors ascribed to Mani the claim to be the Seal of the Prophets".In actuality, for Mani the expression "seal of prophecy" is referencing his disciples, whom attest upon the verity of his message, like a seal does. Additionally, another accessible documented account of Mani's textual scriptures was the initial Aramaic compositions corresponding to the Book of Enoch literature along with an otherwise obscure and unknown portion of the Book of Enoch titled The Book of Giants. This elucidating yet exceedingly mysterious section of the Book of Enoch was greatly extrapolated upon and further developed by Mani, even becoming distinctly referenced and quoted by him, which lead to it becoming one among many of the initial six Syriac textual writings accepted by the Manichaean church. Moreover, in addition to becoming concisely referenced by non-Manichaean writers throughout the centuries, there existed no original sources of The Book of Giants were accessible until the 1900's.
Fragmented and splintered pieces of the Aramaic Original of the "Book of Giants", deciphered and disseminated by Josef Milik in 1976, and of the Manichaean account with the same title, translated and printed by Walter Henning in 1943, were both subsequently discovered within the Dead Sea Scrolls cache during the 20th century in the Judean Desert as well as discovered along with the Manichaean texts of the Uyghur Manichaean Kingdom in Turpan. When the cosmological renditions of both the Book of Giants and the Book of Enoch have readily been juxtaposed in parallel to the narrative of the Manichaean Myth, there have been many academics that have perceived and highlighted the apparent similitudes existing between the Manichaean Cosmology and the aforementioned texts, which has generated the hypothesis that the Manichaean myth is potentially based upon the literature found in mysterious Book of Enoch. This literary text delineates upon an entity or being readily observed by the prophets during their heavenly ascent, as a lord or king who sits upon a throne within the highest celestial realms. This regal entity rendered within the Manichaean version as the "Great King of Honor" is described as transforming into a divinity that protects and guards the entryway that allows one to traverse into the Light World, which is located in the seventh heaven out of the ten existing heavenly realms. In correlation to this delineation, within the Aramaic rendition of the Book of Enoch, the general writings within the Qumran, and within the initial Syriac portion of the Manichaean textual scriptures subsequently quoted by Theodore Konai, this heavenly entity or divinity is referred to as "malka raba de-ikara" which also translates to The Great King of Honor.
The Iranian Prophet Mani was further influenced by several other spiritual sects and personages worthy of being noted. The Iranian Prophet is known to have read the writings of the Assyrian Gnostic Bardaisan (154-222) who also wrote in Syriac and similarly postulated a dualistic exposition of the terrestrial plane in the terminology of light and darkness combining aspects of Christianity, which readily engenders the notion that Mani was perhaps heavily influenced by him along with the other ones previously mentioned. Moreover, Richard Fultz, having highlighted the fact that Mani's journeys within the Kushan Empire during the initial start of his preaching career, makes the supposition of Manichaeism being influenced by Buddhist spiritual teachings, "Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha". In correspondence to this idea of Buddhist influence within Manichaeism, it has further been noted that the Kushan Monk Lokaksema had initiated his rendering of the Pure Land Buddhist scriptures into the Chinese language almost exactly a century preceding Mani's arriving there, and interestingly the Chinese scriptures of Manichaeism are readily chalked full of specifically Buddhist terminology which are clearly garnered from the Pure Land Buddhist texts. However, it should be duly noted that the preeminent object of reverence within Pure Land Buddhism, which is Amitabha meaning the Buddha of Infinite Light, in no way is manifest or acknowledged within Chinese Manichaeism becoming seemingly substituted by some other divinity.
The Promulgation and Proliferation of Manichaeism: The promulgation and dissemination of Manichaeism was done with exceeding alacrity and efficacy throughout both the Western and Eastern world. Its proliferation reached the city of Rome through the Apostle Psattiq by 280 AD and was also thriving in the Faiyum by 290 AD. The establishment of Manichaean monasteries can be confirmed to have existed inside Rome by the time of Pope Miltiades in 312 AD. However, Manichaeism became overtly subjected to persecution within the Sasanian Empire beginning with the murder of apostle Sisin by the Emperor Bahram II along with the massacre of multitudes of Manichaeans. The Roman Emperor Diocletian passed decrees against the Manichaean Religion during the year of 296. One of the decrees is stated as follows, "We order that their organizers and leaders be subject to the final penalties and condemned to the fire with their abominable scriptures." Consequently, this royal decree instigated and caused exceedingly large numbers of people to become martyrs in Egypt as well as North Africa. St. Augustine is said to have been converted to Christianity from Manichaeism in 387 AD, and thus some academics have intimated the notion that Manichaean spiritual and cosmological thought potentially influenced the progression and development of certain ideas ascribed to Augustine including his concepts of good and evil, the conceptualization of a Hell, the division of sects into the elect, hearers, and sinners, the antipathy to biological intercourse and the material body, and lastly his dualistic theological concepts. Accordingly, the subsequent impactful influences attributed to Manichaeism within St. Augustine's Christian theological concepts could have potentially contributed to the dispute that occurred between Augustine and Pelagius, who was a British monk that postulated a Spiritual Theology which was one of non-duality and one that perceived the established order, with humanity specifically, as possessing a Divine core rather than one of Darkness; nonetheless, the plethora of ways in which the Manichaean religion might have possibly influenced Christianity is still hotly debated by academics. It is also within the realm of possibility that Manichaeism could have influenced subsequent religious movements including the Bogomils, Paulicians, and even the Cathars, but unfortunately these religious sects left few records causing the link between them to be nebulous at best. However, irregardless of its authenticity or veracity, the allegation of constituting Manchaeans was asserted upon these groups by contemporary, orthodox adversaries, who readily and regularly attempted to instigate upon their religious opponents heresies formerly assaulted by the church fathers in antiquity and do so in a setting current to their contextual time period. It is impossible to ascertain whether or not the ascribed dualistic cosmology and theology of the Bogomils, Cathars, and Paulicians , which postulated the terrestrial realm as being manifested by a Demonic Demiurge, was generated by a Manichaean affinity or influence, but it is able to be affirmed that Catharism conformed to and utilized the Manichaean features of Church organization.
The Manichaean Gnostic Religion was able to retain a periodic and recurrent existence within the Western Hemisphere in regions such as Mesopotamia, Africa, Spain, France, Northern Italy, and the Balkans for roughly one thousand years, and they even thrived within Persia for some time as well as in distant Eastern areas such as Northern India, Western China, and Tibet. Though it had for a long time been postulated that the arrival of Manichaeism to China had transpired at the end of the 7th century, with the recent uncovering of differing archaeological evidence it has now been demonstrated that Manichaeism was already present there by the second half of the sixth century AD. Moreover, it has been intimated that certain Sogdians within Central Asia followed Manichaean spiritual and religious thought. It is also known that Uyghur Khagan Boku Tekin was converted to Manichaeism in 763, which proceeded from a three-day discussion with Manichaean proselytizers and resulted from the Babylonian headquarters sending clerics of high ranking to Uyghur. Thus, Manichaeism endured as the official state religion for nearly a century and until the disintegration of the Uyghur Khaganate in the year 840 AD. The Manichaean religion was disseminated along the trade routes in the East as far as the Capital Chang'an of Tang China. Following the demise of Tang Dynasty, certain Manichaean groups were recorded to have participated in peasant uprisings with the religion becoming utilized by many dissident leaders for the mobilization of adherents and followers, and even in the Song and Yuan dynasties of China there remained residual Manichaean religious groups that continued to exhibit a legacy of subscribing to and aiding sects such as the Red Turbans. The Chinese people in the time of the Song Dynasty were recorded to have referred to the Manichaeans derisively as Chicai Simo, which translates to "those who abstain from meat and worship demons". A specific rendition in the Fozu Tongji, significant Buddhist literature compiled in China by Buddhist academics in the mid-13th century, asserted that the Manichaeans revered the 'White Buddha" with their religious pontiff donning a violet headpiece and the adherents wearing white outfits. The Manichaeans within China eventually engaged in open rebellion opposing the Song Dynasty and Government until they were readily squashed and suppressed by the Song. Consequently, once this rebellion transpired, all successive governments engaged in repressive activities against the Chinese Manichaeans and the persecution of their adherents, with religion ultimately becoming abolished and banned by the Ming Dynasty in 1370.
The Manichaeans residing within Persia made repeated attempts to reconcile and integrate their spiritual beliefs with Islam under the Muslim Caliphates. Unfortunately, there is only minuscule amounts of information known about Persian Manichaeism within the initial century of Islamic rule. However, it is known that during the period of the earliest caliphates, Manichaeism was able to entice a plethora of adherents to its religious belief structure with it attaining a significant following especially among the elites of Islamic society. Moreover, because of the manifest appeal inherent to its spiritual teachings, multitudes of Muslims ascribed to the Manichaean notions of Theology with portions of them even becoming cosmological dualists. There even exists an apologia that is attributed to Ibn al-Muqaffa whereby he defended the Manichaean cosmological phantasmagoria and subsequently assaulted Islamic fideism as well as other monotheistic religious movements. It has also been recorded and asserted that during the ninth century, the Caliph al-Ma'mun exhibited tolerance and clemency towards a community of Manichaeans within his empire. It was reported that during the early period of the Abassid Empire, the Manichaeans began to be subject to repression and persecution. Accordingly, during the period of the third Abassid Caliphate under al-Mahdi, the Manichaeans underwent persecution with al-Mahdi initiating a religious inquisition against dualists, and during this inquisition if one was designated as guilty of heretical religious practices and subsequently refused to renounce their religious beliefs, they were summarily executed. Their religious persecution was ultimately terminated by Harun al-Rashud. However, during the rule of Caliph al-Muqtadir there existed multitudes of Manichaeans which absconded from Mesopotamia subsequently traveling to Khorasan out of fear of oppression with the religious base becoming eventually transferred to Samarkand.
Manichaean Teachings, Beliefs, and Cosmology: The spiritual teachings of Mani correspond to the questions that surround the Origins of Evil and confront a postulatory feature of the issue of Evil by negating the preeminence of God and positing the concept of two antithetical and oppugnant divine powers or entities existing in the universe. Thus, the Manichaean theological and cosmological conceptualization of the Cosmos was one which is intrinsically based in opposing polarities and the dualistic manifestation of good vs. evil. One of the most significant and preeminent concepts ascribed to Manichaeism is that the puissant, though not supreme or omnipotent benign force (God), was inherently in conflict with the abiding malevolent or evil power of the Devil. Accordingly, the creation of Humanity, the terrestrial realm, and the soul was postulated as existing as a by-product of the struggle between the proxy of God, Primordial Man, and the evil Devil. Therefore, the material individual is as the battle ground for these antithetical forces with the soul defining the individual, yet existing under the influences of both light and dark forces. Furthermore, this dispute and conflict between light and dark unfolds throughout the material world as well as the individual's material form, and thus neither the terrestrial biosphere nor the physical body was depicted as being inherently negative or evil, but instead contains within it fragmentary aspects of both the light and dark forces of the Universe. Interestingly, readily occurring terrestrial atmospherics displays such as the natural phenomenon of rain were perceived as the material manifestation of this spiritual contention. Consequently, the Manichaean perception delineated the existence of evil by postulating a defective, distorted manifestation in the creation of which the benign Divinity had no part and instead was constituted as a product derived out of the struggle by the Devil against God.
The Manichaean Cosmology is illustrated by an elaborate delineation that corresponds to the inherent conflict existing between the spiritual realm of light and the material realm of darkness. Additionally, the entities that reside within the realm of darkness and realm of light have been ascribed names. There exist two sections of Manichaean scriptural literature which are likely the most accurate rendition which correlates to the original Manichaean writings in their original language that will presumably ever be accessible to us. These Manichaean texts are the Syriac-Aramaic quotation written by the Nestorian Christian Theodore bar Konai, in his Syriac 'Book of Scholia' from the 8th century, and the Middle Persian portions of Mani's Shabuhragan uncovered at Turpan, which is a exposition of Manichaean beliefs created by Mani for Shapur I. Accordingly, by utilizing these two texts and other sources, it is possible to ascertain and delineate a nearly complete exposition of the intricate Manichaean cosmological narrative vision. The Iranian Prophet Mani postulated that manifestation of the Cosmos occurred through a triad of sequential Creations.
In the First Creation, there Universe initially existed as to binary and segregated realms, with one realm being the World of Light which was governed by the Father of Greatness in conjunction with his five Shekhinas, divine aspects of spiritual light, and the other antithetical World of Darkness was governed by the King of Darkness. Eventually, the Kingdom of Darkness recognizes and perceives the existence of the Realm of Light and subsequently becomes consumed by avarice for it and assaults the Light World. Consequently, the Father of Greatness, in the first creation, summons the Mother of Life, who subsequently summons her son the Original Man, to engage in battle with the attacking forces of Darkness including the Arch Demon of Greed. The Original Man comes armed to the battle armed with five distinct and unique shields of light, corresponding to the five Shekhinas, which Original Man is deprived of by the forces of Darkness in the ensuing engagement. This is apparently a strategy postulated as a form of bait utilized to deceive the dark forces, whom consequently and avariciously consume as much light from them as is possible. Once the Original Man reawakens, he realizes that he has become ensnared and surrounded by the forces of darkness.
In the Second Creation, the Father of Greatness initiates the secondary formation by summoning the Living Spirit, who then calls to his five Sons and further generates a call to the Original Man. Subsequently, there is produced an Answer which returns from the Original Man and traverses to the Light World. Consequently, the Mother of Life, the Living Spirit, and his five Sons initiate a manifestation of the Universe out of the material forms of the malevolent entities existing in the Dark realm in conjunction with the shards of light they have consumed. Out of this celestial event there is produced ten heavens and eight Earths which are readily constituted out of the various fusions of the evil material entities of the Dark World and the consumed Light fragments. Then the Sun, Moon, and Stars are manifested and derived from the shards of light reclaimed and salvaged from the World of Darkness. Additionally, the waxing and waning of the Lunar Orb is posited as moon filling with celestial Light with it traveling to the Sun through the Milky Way and eventually retrograding back to the World of Light.
In the Third Creation, there are Great Demons, called Archons, which are hung out and draped over the Heavens with this action signifying the Father of Greatness' initiation of the third celestial formation. The shards of Spiritual Light are retrieved from the physical forms of the masculine and feminine demons by instigating upon them avaricious sexual arousal through displaying before them the gorgeous bodies of Light Beings such as the Third Messengers and Virgins of Light. However, once the Light shards are expelled out of their material forms and subsequently fall to the terrestrial realm, with some constituting an abortion like form and correlating to the source of the Fallen Angels in the Manichaean Mythos, the entities of Darkness continued to engage in the consumption of the shards, as much as possible, to retain as much of the Light as the can. Consequentially, this eventuality results in the dark entities consuming massive quantities of the Light fragments, copulating, and in consequence produce Adam and Eve. Then the Father of Greatness sends the Radiant Jesus to reawaken Adam, and he subsequently elucidate and enlightens Adam to the primordial source of the Spiritual Light that is imprisoned within his materially constructed form. However, Adam and Eve inevitably engage in intercourse producing many more humans, which invariably results in the further encasing of the Light shards within the bodies of humanity throughout the remainder of mankind's history. Accordingly, the manifestation of the Iranian Prophet Mani constitutes a subsequent attempt by the Light World to unveil to Humanity the Primal and Primordial source of the celestial, divine Light encased within their terrestrial and material forms.
Manichaean Church Organizational Structure & Prayers: The Manichaean Church Structure was inherently organized into two categories of constituents being differentiated into the Elect and the Hearers, followed by the rest of Humanity referred to as simply Sinners. The difference between the Elect and the Hearers was intimated as the Elect being the ones who had taken upon themselves vows of Manichaeism, while the Hearers did not undertake these vows yet still participated in the Manichaean Church practices. Moreover, this religious terminology for Church body divisions was already habitual and prosaic since the time of Early Christianity. The Organizational schematic had at its head a Leader which constituted Mani's ordained successor and designated as the Patriarch, the preeminent head of the Manichaean Church. The Patriarch was originally instituted in Ctesiphon and then during the Ninth Century within Samarkand. There existed two significant and noteworthy leaders which were Mar Sisin, or Sisinnois, who was the initial successor to Mani, and Abu Hilal al-Dayuri, an 8th century Patriarch Leader. The next subdivision of the Manichaen Church Hierarchy were the twelve Apostles with three of Mani's Apostles mentioned being Mar Patti (Pattikios, Mani's Father), Akouas, and Mar Ammo. The seventy-two Bishops were the next subdivision of the Church Hierarchy, and only one of Mani's original disciples was specifically mentioned as a Bishop and was Mar Adda. Lastly, there were 360 Presbyters, the common church body of the Elect, and these were followed by the Hearers, ones who had not taken Manichaean vows.
It has been intimated through Manichaean sources, that the Manichaean community performed daily prayers with four of them for the Hearers and seven of them for the Elects. However, it is evidenced that these sources readily diverge on the specific time of day the prayers were enacted. Accordingly, in the Fihrist by al-Nadim, it is posited that religious prayers were undertaken right after noon, mid-afternoon, immediately after sunset, and lastly at nightfall. Contradistinctively, Al-Biruni designates these daily prayers as being enacted at noon, nightfall, dawn, and sunrise. Additionally, it has been reported that the Elect undertook prayer mid-afternoon, thirty minutes after nightfall, and then at midnight. Al-Nadim's exposition corresponding to the practice of daily prayer activities is in all likelihood modified and adapted to correlate with the public prayer structure ascribed to the Islamic community, while the exegesis attributed to Al-Biruni potentially corresponds to an earlier and older tradition unaffected by Islamic spiritual practices. When the discourse attributed to Al-Nadim about the structure of Manichaean daily prayers had been the solely accessible and detailed source purported to exist on this religious matter, there readily manifested academic apprehension and solicitude, that these religious prayer practices had been only subsequently been embraced and appropriated by Islamic adherents during the Abassid Caliphate. Nonetheless, it is readily unambiguous and perspicuous that the Arabic text furnished by Al-Nadim inherently correlates to the delineated representations ascribed to certain Egyptian scriptural texts dating from the fourth century AD.
It has been illustrated that every single prayer was initiated with an ablution using water, and if water was unavailable, Manichaeans utilized substances similar and comparable to the Ablution practiced within Islam, which constituted performing several blessings to the apostles and spirits. These prayers of Ablutions comprised of and involved prostrating oneself upon the earth and was proceeded by rising again twelve times during every prayer. Additionally, during the daytime, the Manichaeans would turn towards the Sun's direction and during the nighttime turn towards the direction of the Moon, and if the Moon was not visible in the night sky, they would face towards the North. It is further evidenced from the writings of Faustus of Mileve, the Celestial Planetary Bodies were not objects of veneration or worship in and of themselves, but were posited as "ships' or vessels transporting the Light Shards of the terrestrial Realm to the Primordial, Supreme Divinity, inherently incapable of being perceived directly due to existing outside the space-time continuum, and were also posited as being the dwelling places for the spiritual emanations of the supreme divinity, such as Jesus the Splendour. Also delineated within the writings attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, was the religious activity of enacting ten prayers with the first one being attributed to the father of Greatness, and the subsequent prayers being attributed to lesser divinities, spirits and angelic entities, and lastly towards the Elect; these supplicatory prayers were performed in order for the Manichaean worshiper to be extricated from future rebirth and pain as well as to attain tranquility within the World of the Light. Lastly, this prayer practice is comparable to Uighur confession whereby four prayers are directed towards the Supreme Divinity (Azrua), the Gods of the Sun and Moon, the Five-fold Deity, and the Buddhas, respectively.
The Nag Hammadi Cache was discovered and unearthed in Upper Egypt in 1945 and is a collection of fifteen books, termed codices, which contained over fifty pivotal texts which had been thought to be lost or destroyed by the Christians during their vicious program of suppression and demolition of Pagan materials and their adherents which included the Gnostics. This was an absolutely pivotal and profound discovery which elucidated and illuminated a plethora of Gnostic concepts which had until this point greatly eluded proper extrapolation as well as understanding. Most of these texts are considered to be specifically Gnostic in nature but also contained within this Cache were several texts relating to Hermeticism. These numerous texts were compiled, translated, and cataloged until the 1970's and were then subsequently published and disseminated to the public at large. They offered an entirely different perspective on the Gnostics than previously had been postulated by the few renditions provided by church Fathers inimical to these Gnostic Schools.
The Nag Hammadi Scriptures or Codices were a profound discovery for mankind's understanding of the Gnostic Schools of spiritual and cosmological thought which had been so readily destroyed by the rampant orthodoxy of the Christian Emperors and their Christian constituents during the late 4th century AD and into the 5th century. Until their finding, scholars had only a minute handful of accounts to rely upon for ascertaining an understanding of these unique spiritual movements referred to as Gnosticism collectively. Many of those previous accounts had been rendered by the very Church Fathers who were inherently adversarial to the Gnostic Sects, and thus were only reliable in their purposive delineation to illustrate their adversaries in a negative light through partially describing their supposedly aberrant spiritual ideas in enough detail to accentuate their points. However, once the Nag Hammadi Texts were unearthed, scholars had direct access to their actual writings and concepts to begin formulating true, reliable assertions about what the Gnostics really believed and disseminated within their schools. Unfortunately, even though it was a large cache of documents hitherto unknown to humanity, they were totally fragmented and, in many ways, unfinished texts with large portions of them being damaged or missing parts in their narrative frameworks. Though they are incomplete and fragmentary accounts of these once great spiritual sages and their doctrines, they remain the largest and greatest Gnostic works available for anyone to garner a perception of their once illustrious and profound spiritual knowledge about humanity, consciousness, our origins, and their unique cosmological narratives.
There are over fifty texts within the Nag Hammadi Library and they can be readily divided into six different categories of Gnostic Literary Types: writings of creative and redemptive mythology or cosmology, observations and commentaries on diverse Gnostic themes, Liturgical and initiatory texts, writings primarily delineating upon the feminine deific and spiritual principle regarding the Divine Sophia, writings pertaining to the lives and experiential accounts of some of the apostles, and scriptures which contain sayings of Jesus as well as descriptions of incidents in His life. The writings relating to creative or redemptive mythology include the Nag Hammadi texts about alternative versions of creation and salvation: The Apocryphon of John, The Hypostasis of the Archons, The Apocalypse of Adam, On the Origins of the World, and the Paraphrase of Shem. The writings corresponding to the observations and commentaries on various Gnostic themes are about the nature of reality, the Nature of the Soul, and the relationship of the Soul to the World: The Gospel of Truth, The Treatise on the Resurrection, The Tripartite Tractate, Eugnostos the Blessed, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, The Teachings of Silvanus, and The Testimony of Truth. The writings relating to Liturgical and initiatory texts include: The Discourse of the Eighth and Ninth, The Prayer of Thanksgiving, A Valentinian Exposition, The Three Steles of Seth, and The Prayer of the Apostle Paul. The writings which correspond to extrapolations upon the Divine Feminine Principle and the Divine Sophia include: The Thunder, Perfect Mind; The Thought of Norea; The Sophia of Jesus Christ; and The Exegesis of The Soul. The writings relating to the lives and experiences of certain Apostles include: The Apocalypse of Peter, The Letter of Peter to Philip, The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, The First Apocalypse of James, The Second Apocalypse of James, and The Apocalypse of Paul. Lastly, the writings corresponding to sayings attributed to Jesus and some of His Life Incidents include: The Dialogue of The Savior, The Book of Thomas The Contender, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Phillip, and The Apocryphon of James.