Previous Chapter: The Creation of Zoe
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 eleventh chapter, God’s messenger tells John how Yaldabaoth raped Eve, fathering Cain and Abel, before Adam fathered Seth:
When Yaldabaoth discovered that Adam and Zoe had withdrawn from him, he cursed the earth. He gave Zoe over so that the Adam might be her master, because he did not know the secret of the divine strategy. Adam and Zoe were too terrified to renounce Yaldabaoth. He showed his ignorance to his angels by casting both of them out of paradise, cloaking them in heavy darkness.
But then Yaldabaoth saw Zoe as she was preparing herself for her man. He realized that the light-filled insight of heaven was within her. Yaldabaoth became completely unthinking. When the Barbelo all saw what was going to happen, she sent her angels to remove the divine spark from Zoe, leaving the mortal woman Eve. Yaldabaoth raped Eve, and in time, she bore two sons.
Elohim was the name of the first. Yahweh was the name of the second. Elohim had a bear’s face. Yahweh had a cat’s. Yahweh was righteous, Elohim was not. Yahweh could command fire and wind. Elohim could command water and earth. Yaldabaoth deceptively named the two Cain and Abel.
From then until now sexual intercourse has persisted thanks to Yaldabaoth, who put desire for reproduction into Eve. Through intercourse, he caused new human bodies to be produced, and blew his artificial spirit into each of them. Yaldabaoth instilled in the two authority over natural elements, so they could rule over the dead world he had created.
Adam had intercourse with Eve, and he sired a son like the Son of Man. He called his son Seth, modeling him on the heavenly race in the higher realms. In the same way Sophia had sent down her spirit, the image of herself, to be a model of the full higher realm, in order to prepare a place for the descent of the realms. But Yaldabaoth forced the humans to drink from waters of forgetfulness so that they would not know their true place of origin. The children of Seth remained in this condition for a while.
When the Spirit descends from the holy realms, it will raise up the children and Mheal them from all defects, and thus restore complete holiness to the fullness of God.
More bizarre deviations from Genesis throughout this chapter:
- Yaldabaoth casts Adam and Zoe out of Eden not for eating from the tree of knowledge, but rather, because they ignore him
- When he realized that Zoe was an angelic being, he became an animal
- Before he could rape her, Barbello (called Providence in this chapter), removed the angelic part of Zoe, leaving the human woman Eve
- Yaldabaoth, not Adam, was the father of Cain and Abel, whose true names, Elohim and Yahweh, are the names given to God in the Torah
- They are given control of the elements and rule over the “tomb” (which I have rendered “dead world”)
- Adam’s son Seth is said to be like the “Son of Man”, the cosmic judge from the book of Daniel who Matthew equated with Jesus
- All of their memories of heaven are removed by Yaldabaoth
- The chapter ends with a prophecy, that the holy spirit will one day descend and restore mankind to the holiness of God
Next Chapter: Six Questions About the Soul