Previous Chapter: Christ is Born
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 fifth chapter, God’s messenger tells John about the creation of the angels of light and the perfect man.
The Spirit’s gaze went forth from the light, which was incarnate in Christ, from its place of indestructibility, and it caused four angels of light to emanate from the divine Christ, and to be incarnated and stand before him. Their four powers were Grace, Perception, Understanding, and Prudence.
Grace was incarnated as Armozel, the first angel, who was given rule over the first heavenly realm. Three other beings were created with this angel: Grace, Truth, and Form. The second angel of light, Oriael, was given rule over the second heavenly realm. Three other beings were created with him: Pronoia, Perception, Memory. The third angel of light, Daveithai, was given rule over the third heavenly realm. Three other beings were created with him: Understanding, Love, and Likeness. The fourth angel of light, Eleleth, was given rule over the fourth heavenly realm. Three other beings were created with him: Perfection, Peace, Wisdom.
The four angels of light stood before the divine Christ, as did the twelve emanated Aeons, all by the will of the invisible Spirit and as its gift. The twelve Aeons were given to the Son of the Creator. All was firmly founded through the will of the holy Spirit.
Then, with Foreknowledge and perfect Mind, through the revelation of its Will, the invisible Spirit created the perfect human, the first revelation and the truth, Adamas. It set him up to rule over the first heavenly realm with Christ, beside the first angel of light, Armozel. The Spirit’s powers dwelled with him. The Invisible one gave Adamas unconquerable intellectual power. He spoke, glorifying and praising the invisible Spirit.
“Because of you, the universe came into being, and it is to you that all will return,” said Adamas. “I praise and glorify you, and Christ, and the three Aeons, the Father, the Mother, and the Child, the perfect power.”
The Spirit appointed Adamas’s child Seth ruler over the second heavenly realm, alongside the second angel of light Oroiel. The third heavenly realm, It gave to the descendents of Seth to rule alongside the third Light, Daveithai, and the holy souls of men. The fourth heavenly realm was given the souls of those who were ignorant of the full truth and, on learning it, did not repent immediately, but persisted to deny it for a while before repenting. They would dwell with the fourth Light Eleleth.
There is more interesting stuff here:
- In this chapter, the name Autogenes sometimes refers to the Creator, not Christ.
- The divine human, Adamas, is also referred to as Pigera-Adamas.
- The first four angels are given the title “Light”. I’ve rendered this “angel of light”.
- I’ve rendered “Pleroma” (literally “fullness”) as “full truth”.
- God created four angels, each with three associated aeonic emanations.
- Pronoia, literally “having the sense that there is a conspiracy that exists to help one”, should probably be thought of as the nurturing impulse of God.
- Eleleth is the angel who appears to Norea in The Hypostasis of the Archons.
- He created a heavenly realm for each, but each must be shared with a man or men.
- The Sethians, a gnostic sect, are given equal status to the righteous.
- Those who hear the (gnostic) message and at first don’t believe go to a lesser heaven.
Next Chapter: The Creation of the Material World