In 1945, a cache of apocrypha (non-canonical religious texts) written by Gnostic Christians was discovered near Nag Hammadi in southern Egypt. Among them was a Gnostic retelling of the first 6 chapters of the book of Genesis: The Hypostasis of the Archons. The book begins with a wildly different creation myth:
Inspired by the holy spirit, Paul, the great messenger, referring to the rulers of the darkness, told us that “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the authorities of the universe and the spirits of wickedness.”
The firstborn of the Archons is blind. Because of his power, his ignorance, and his arrogance, he declared “I am God; there is no other but me.”
When he said this, he sinned against everything. His words rose up to heaven. Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “You are wrong, Samael.”
Samael means god of the blind, and his thoughts became blind. Having expelled his own power in the blasphemy he had spoken, he pursued it down into chaos and the abyss that had spawned him at the instigation of the heavenly mother, Pistis Sophia. She then established each of his offspring in accordance with its power, following the pattern of the realms above, for the visible world was created by starting from the invisible world.
As Sophia looked down into the region of the waters, her image appeared upon the waters, and the rulers of the darkness lusted after her. But they could not take hold of the image that had appeared to them in the waters, because of their weakness, since beings that merely have souls cannot take hold of those that have spirit. For they were from below, while she was from above. Sophia looked down into the region so that, by God’s will, she might bring all into union with the light.
What an amazing story. The material world was created not by God, but by Sophia, the hypostasis of Wisdom. She also created the Archons, the dark powers, the most powerful of whom, Samael, declared himself to be God. The difference between the dark powers and God and his hypostases is that the Archons lack the holy spirit. Note that the first verse contains a quote from Paul’s letter to Ephesians, and implies that the author considers Paul to be the “great messenger” of God.