Previous Chapter: The Creation of Adam
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 ninth chapter, God’s messenger tells John how Yaldabaoth awakened Adam:
Sophia wanted to retrieve the power which she had given to Yaldabaoth. She entreated Barbelo, who possesses great mercy. Following the holy design, Barbelo sent Christ and the four angels of light down among the angels of the Yaldabaoth in disguise, with the goal of extracting the power of the Sophia from him.
“Breathe into his face with your spirit and his body will arise,” Christ said to Yaldabaoth.
Yaldabaoth blew his spirit, which was the power he had taken from his mother Sophia, into Adam’s face. He did not understand what he was doing because he dwelt in ignorance. The power of Sophia left Yaldabaoth and went into the body that they had made according in the likeness Adamas. Adam’s body moved and gained power, and it was luminous.
And in that moment, the rest of the Archons became jealous of Adam, because they had created his body and given their power to the him. Yet his understanding was stronger than those who had made him, even greater that of Yaldabaoth. When they understood that Adam was luminous, was smarter than they were, and was free of evil, they picked him up and threw him down into the lowest level of the material realm.
The blessed one, Barbelo, the beneficent and merciful, took pity upon the part of Sophia’s power that had been extracted from the Chief Ruler, lest yet again the Archon’s might have power over Adam’s mind and body. Through the beneficent Spirit and his great mercy, she sent a helper to Adam, a luminous creative spirit called Zoe. Zoe aided the whole of creation by toiling with Adam, correcting him and guiding him toward his full potential, and teaching him about the descent of the seed of God and the path of ascent that it had come down. The creativity of the light was hidden in Adam in order that the Archons might not know, but she lived on within him to correct the deficiency of the Sophia’s creation.
Adam’s humanity manifested because of the shadow of the light that existed within him. His mind was superior to those of all who had created him. Looking down upon him, they saw that his thinking was superior, and the whole host, the Archons and the angels, took counsel. They took mixed fire, earth, and water together with the four fiery winds and made a great disturbance.
They enclosed him in the shadow of death in order to form him from earth, water, fire, and spirit into a material being, a being of ignorance, darkness, desire, and their counterfeit spirit. This was the tomb in which they molded the body with which they clothed Adam, chaining him in forgetfulness. And so he came to be a mortal man. He was the first man to be partitioned from the spiritual. The creativity of the light inside him was the one who would awaken his thinking.
A few notes:
- Some translations say there are five angels of light, but others, four, with Autogenes (Christ) being the fifth
- I’ve rendered the term epinoia as “creative spirit”
- I’ve rendered life as “Zoe”, which is the name the Gnostics gave to Eve