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 second chapter is an exegesis of the creation of Adam and Eve:
“Come,” said Samael, “let us create a human from the soil of the earth.”
The Archons made their creature wholly of the earth. Their own bodies were both female and male [i.e. hermaphroditic] and their faces the faces of beasts. They took soil from the earth and modeled man after their own bodies and after the image of Sophia that had appeared to them in the waters.
“Let us entrap her using the form that we have molded,” said Samael, “For she will be lured here when she sees her male partner, and we will be able to take hold of her.”
The Archons did not understand the partner of god, because of their powerlessness. Samael breathed into the man’s face, and the man came to have a soul, but remained on the ground many days. They could not make him rise because of their powerlessness. Like storm winds they persisted in blowing, for they dearly wanted to capture the goddess whose image which had appeared to them in the waters, and they did not know the identity of her power.
All these events came to pass by the will of God. The holy spirit saw the man of soul on the ground. It came forth from the adamantine land. It descended and came to dwell in him, and the man became a living soul. The spirit gave him the name Adam, since he was found moving upon the ground.
The Archons gathered together all the animals of the earth and all the birds of heaven and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, allowing him to give a name to each of the birds and all the beasts. The the took Adam and put him in a garden, so that he would cultivate it and keep watch over it.
“You may eat from every tree in the garden,” said Samael, “except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Do not eat its fruit, nor even touch it. For the day you eat from it you will surely die.”
By God’s will, Samael said this in such a way that Adam might in fact eat, for Adam did not regard the archons as a man of an exclusively material nature would.
“Come,” said Samael, “let us cause a deep sleep to fall on Adam.”
Adam slept. The deep sleep that they caused to fall on him was the sleep of ignorance. They opened his side, and removed the part of him which was a living woman. They built up his side with flesh in place of her, and Adam no longer had spirit, but only a soul. Then, the woman of spirit they had removed came to him and spoke with him.
“Rise, Adam,” she said.
“You have given me life,” said Adam when he saw her, “You will be called ‘mother of the living.’ For you are my mother. You are the physician, and the woman, and you have given birth.”
There is so much that is bizarre and interesting in this chapter:
- The archons are hermaphrodites, and have the heads of animals. Could this indicate an Egyption influence? This book was, after all, found in Egypt, and was written in Coptic, an Egyption language.
- Adam was created to lure Sophia to earth, because Samael wanted to entrap her.
- The archons were able to create animals, and to give Adam a soul (living body and mind), but only God was able to give him spirit (non material essence, or consciousness)
- The spirit is said to descend from “the adamantine realm”. Elsewhere, heaven is referred to as “the incorruptible”.
- Because archons created Adam in their own image, he was also dual in nature. When they removed his female part, presumably to make him more attractive to Sophia, they removed the consciousness given to him by the holy spirit.
- When Eve came to Adam, she was able to return his spirit to him, and he named her woman, his healer, and his mother. Woman’s body was born of man, but man’s spirit of woman.
Image By Phillip Medhurst