Previous Chapter: The Pentad of the Aeons
Among the ancient Gnostic manuscripts rediscovered in modern times, the Secret Book of John is one of the most important. It a sacred reservoir of Gnostic myth and revelation. It breathes with the life of vision that vitalized early Christianity, a life suppressed and then largely forgotten in later ages. A modern reading grants fundamental insights into the lost foundations of Christian tradition.
In the fourth chapter, God’s messenger tells John about the birth of the Christ, the divine emanation that was incarnated as Jesus:
The Creator gazed into Barbelo as she stood in the pure light which surrounded the invisible Spirit and, and she conceived. The Creator begot a spark of the light of his blessedness, though not equal to the Creator’s greatness. This one was the only begotten child of the Mother and Father, the pure light, Christ.
The invisible virginal Spirit rejoiced over the light that it had brought into being, the one who had appeared from within its first emanation, Barbelo. It anointed him with its own goodness until he became perfect, not lacking anything in Christhood because it had anointed him. He stood in its presence while it poured goodness upon him. As soon as he had received goodness from the Spirit, he glorified it, along with perfect Barbelo, for he had been revealed because of her.
Christ asked to be given a fellow worker, the embodiment of Mind. The invisible Spirit’s gaze revealed Mind. He stood with Christ, glorifying the Creator and Barbelo. All of this came to be in silence.
Christ willed the creation of an emanation through the Word of the invisible Spirit, and Will became incarnate. He was revealed with Mind and Christ, glorifying the Creator. The Word followed Will. Because of the Word, Christ created the universe. Immortality stood with Will, and Mind with Foreknowledge. They glorified the invisible Spirit and Barbelo, for they had come into being because of her.
The holy Spirit perfected Christ, the son of the Creator and Barbelo, so he might stand before the great and invisible virginal Spirit. The divine Christ honored it with a mighty voice. He appeared through the Barbelo, but the invisible virginal Spirit made Christ the true god over the universe. It subjected all authority and truth that dwelt in it to him so that he might know the entirety of creation. He is the one called by a name that is more exalted than any other. That name will only be spoken to those who are worthy of it.
The Gnostic creation story continues with a bizarre Christology:
- The Creator and the holy Spirit are interchangeable, the same being
- Barbelo is referred to as the Mother-Father, and as both she and he
- Christ is an embodiment of the light that emanates from the Creator
- Christ is referred to as “Autogenes”, meaning self created, even though he was created by the Creator through Barbelo
Next Chapter: Angels of Light