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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 thirteenth chapter, God’s messenger tells of three plots against humanity:
The creator is merciful, a holy spirit, sympathizing with us. Through the insight of Barbello, it raises up the children of the perfect race, elevating their thought, revealing their eternal light. When Yaldabaoth learned that Adam and Eve had been elevated above him and that their mental ability surpassed his own, he tried to put a stop to their thought. But he did not know the extent of their mental superiority, and he could not stop them.
Yaldabaoth made a plan with his demons, his powers. Each of them fornicated with Sophia and they produced fate, the final form of imprisonment. Fate changes unpredictably. It has different sorts just as the demons are of different sorts. Fate is hard. Fate is stronger than the angels, the archons, the demons, and the generations of people who are caught up in it.
Out of fate emerged sinfulness, violence, blasphemy, forgetfulness, ignorance, weighty commandments, heavy sins, and terrible fear. In this way all of creation became blind, ignorant of the God above everything. Because they are imprisoned in forgetfulness, people are unaware of their sins. They are bound into periods of time and seasons by fate, who is lord of it all.
Yaldabaoth eventually came to regret everything he had created. He decided to send a great flood over creation, upon mankind. But the great light of Barbello warned Noah. He preached to all of the children, the sons of men, but if they were strangers to him they didn’t listen.
Those who were saved did not, as Moses said, “hide in an ark.” Rather, Noah and many other people from the immovable race went into hiding within a cloud of light. Noah knew his own authority and that of the being of light who illuminated them, even though Yaldabaoth poured darkness over all the world.
After this failure, Yaldabaoth and his powers plotted a new strategy. They brought into being gold and silver, money and coins, iron and the other metals, and all things of this sort. The people who were attracted to these were led greatly astray and grew old experiencing no pleasure, and died finding no truth, never knowing the true God.
They created a material spirit modeled on the Spirit who descended to impregnate souls. The demons changed their appearances to look like women’s husbands. They filled the women with the spirit of darkness and wickedness that they had created. They produced children out of darkness who closed their hearts and hardened themselves in the material spirit until the present day. In this way, they enslaved all of creation from the foundation of the world until now.
Once again, how different from Genesis. First, the Archons create fate to entangle mankind. Next, the legend of Noah is turned on its head. When Yaldabaoth, being a fickle and evil being, decides to destroy the earth, it makes a whole lot more sense than the original story. In this version, Noah saves many more people, and they are protected by the light of God, rather than the ark.
Finally, Yaldabaoth and his demons find a way to defeat the divine spark in humanity. First, they create material things, and people are led astray by greed. Then, they create a material spirit and spread it among the populace, and thus enslave humanity. What an apt metaphor for the forces of greed and materialism that exist in the world today.
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