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 third chapter is an exegesis of Adam and Eve in the garden:
The Archons came upon Adam. When they saw Eve speaking with him, they were enamored by her and became very excited. They pursued her, wanting to rape her. She laughed at them for their foolishness and blindness. Escaping their clutches, she became a tree and left for them her shadowy reflection, which resembled her, and they defiled it foully. They defiled it orally, so that by the form they had modeled in their own image, they damned themselves.
Then the holy spirit, the instructor, came to Adam and Eve in the form of a snake and she taught them.
“What did he say to you?” asked the snake. “Was it, ‘Eat from every tree in the garden except for the tree of recognition of evil and good’?”
“Not only did he say ‘Don’t eat from it,’” replied Eve, “but also ‘Don’t touch it. For the day you eat from it, you will surely die.’”
“It is not the case that you will surely die,” the snake, the instructor, said, “for he said this to you out of jealousy. Rather, your eyes will open and you will be like the archons, recognizing evil and good.”
The instructing power of the holy spirit was taken away from the snake, and she left it behind, merely a thing of the earth once more. Eve took fruit from the tree and ate, and she gave some to her husband as well, and those beings, who possessed only a soul, ate. Their imperfection became apparent to them. They recognized that they were naked of the spiritual, so they took fig leaves and bound them around themselves and hid themselves.
“Adam, where are you?” said Samael, the chief archon, when he came, for he did not know what had happened.
“I heard your voice and was afraid because I was naked, and I hid,” said Adam.
“Why would you hide, unless it is because you have eaten from the tree from which alone I commanded you not to eat?” said Samael. “You have eaten!”
“The woman you created for me gave me fruit and I ate,” said Adam.
The arrogant ruler cursed Eve.
“The snake led me astray and I ate,” said Eve.
Samael turned to the snake and cursed its shadowy reflection, so that it was powerless, and did not realize that it was a form he himself had created. From that day, the snake came to be under the curse of the archons. Until the perfect human [Jesus] was to come, the curse fell on the snake.
Samael turned to his Adam, took him and expelled him from the garden along with his wife. They were given no blessing, since they too were under the curse. Moreover, the Archons threw human beings into a life of great distraction and toil, so that human beings might be occupied by worldly affairs and not have the opportunity to be devoted to the holy spirit.
Again, there is alot to take in here:
- Eve has the ability to turn into a tree and create a perfect copy of her body.
- The archons damn themselves.
- The holy spirit is explicitly called out as being female.
- The serpent is not Satan, but rather is under the control of the holy spirit.
- Adam, being only human, is quick to blame Eve, and Eve the serpent.
- The curse Samael lays upon the snake will be removed by Jesus. This implies that the curse he puts upon man will similarly be lifted.