Moses

High Priests of the Heavenly Temple: Jesus, Melchizedek and Metatron of 3 Enoch

In the book, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second Son by Dr. Margaret Barker, she discusses in depth on how the angels Metatron of 3 Enoch, the god of Jews, Yahweh, the High Priest of El Elyion, Melchizedek, and Jesus Christ as presented in the Gospels and Hebrews, may actually describe one and the same being. Margaret Barker, in the same book, showed how the first Christians recognized Jesus as YHWH, the LORD, the Son of God Most High. And yet, YHWH is denied as the true god by other Christians, including the Sethian Gnostics and it is also vigorously denied that Jesus was also the god of the Old Testament by other Gnostics like Valentinus, and early Christians like Marcion. Why is there such a differentiation of opinion on this matter? The answer to this mystery will be answered in due course.

Be warned: This will be an admittedly lengthy article, and not for the faint of heart

Margaret Barker argues in this book that the more traditional understanding of rabbinic Judaism that emerged after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.C. is not as monolithic as understood today. In fact, Barker argues that the Gnostic understanding of the Old Testament is largely derived from a much earlier tradition of pre-Deuteronomic Israelite polytheism rather than a dualistic mutation of early Christianity into multiple “heresies”.

While her work is popular with the Mormon church, I have no reason to think she herself is a Mormon. In the Great Angel, Barker claims that the term “Son of God” in the Old Testament, meant that they were some sort of divine power, like an angel:

It is customary to list the occurrences of “son of God” in the Old Testament, and to conclude from that list that the term could be used to mean either a heavenly being of some sort, or the King of Israel, or the people of Israel in their special relationship with God. (p. 4).

But Barker remarks that these studies have ignored the distinction between two different words for God in the Old Testament:

All the texts in the Hebrew Bible distinguish clearly between the divine sons of Elohim/Elyon and those human beings who are called sons of Yahweh. (p.10)

For example, numerous theologies are preserved in the Bible that does not simply reflect one monotheist god. In Deuteronomy 4:35, it says that “the Lord is God: there is none else besides him.” However, Psalms 82 says that “God stands in the company of the gods” and judges among them; and that “God” shall inherit all nations (v. 8). Deuteronomy 32:8-9, as preserved in both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint (LXX), it tells us:

When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds according to the number of the angels of God. For the Lord’s portion is his people. Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. (LXX)

Here, there is an obvious distinction made between Yahweh and the Most High, where Yahweh is simply the “son” or “great angel” of the “Lord” being El Elyon. Clearly this passage says that the “Most High” grants the inheritance and that YHWH has received “Jacob” (read: Israel) as his “lot.” The later Masoretic text in which the traditional KJV and Catholic translations rely on says the following:

“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds according to the number of the sons of Israel. For YHWH’s portion is his people. Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” (MT)

apparition-to-the-shepherds

The words “sons of Israel” mask the reference to the “sons” or “angels of God” that appears in older manuscripts and covers the true theological implications of the passage. Clearly these translations contradict each other in that the “sons of Israel” meant human beings and the “sons” or “angels of God” meant divine beings or messengers. According to Stephen Peter at Bridal Chamber, in his article, “The Rule of the Shepherd Angels,” the Shepherds mentioned in Jeremiah (25:34-36), are in fact, angelic rulers rather than human gentile kings. This also extends to the Babylonian King, e.g. Lucifer, the rebel angel and fallen star, seen in Isaiah 14:12-15. These are the same beings as the rebel angelic, “Watchers” described in the Book of Enoch. Stephen Peter goes on to write:

The appointment of the seventy was itself the result of man’s disobedience. Man had turned away from Yahweh to worship idols of wood and stone. So in his anger Yahweh turned man over to the authority of the fallen angels or demons that had corrupted him. Yet at the same time he made a compact with man.  The rule of the demons was not to last forever. Yahweh would redeem mankind by sending the Messiah, the Christ to end the rule of the demons. At this time the demons themselves and all who had been corrupted by them would be cast into the abyss. Most of the early followers of the Jesus movement, including Paul, thought that they lived during the reign of the seventieth angel and that this final reckoning would happen in their lifetime.

The fallen stars and the Shepherds may have been originally the same group – in the book of dream visions both are judged at the same time and in the same manner and both meet with identical punishments. The scriptural authority for the story of the fallen angels is a few lines in Genesis –

the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:2-5).   

As a result of the failings of man Yahweh decides to send the flood. There is nothing here about the punishment of the ‘sons of God’. But there is a great deal in Jeremiah about the punishment of the Shepherds.  Did some of the proto-gnostics equate the sons of God in Genesis with the Shepherds in Jeremiah? There is a certainly a deep connection between the events of the flood and the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.  Both are disasters which are inflicted by Yahweh in response to the wickedness of men and both result in a new covenant between man and Yahweh.

But the most important piece of evidence linking the Shepherds to the fallen stars is the extraordinary taunt against the Babylonian king in Isaiah 14.  This seems to compare the king to Satan –

How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you weakener of nations! And you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high.’ Only into Sheol you are brought down, to the sides of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-15).

It is easy to see that the proto-gnostics would have made the connection that the King of Babylon was another name for the chief of the fallen stars.  We see in this passage that the fate of the king of Babylon is to be brought into the pit of Sheol. This agrees with the punishment of the stars and the Shepherds in Enoch.

The significance of the morning star is that it reigns in the sky in the pre-dawn hours. Although it is splendid and rules the sky in the hours of darkness the coming of dawn shows that it is feeble and easily extinguished by the light of the true sun.  In the same way the King of Babylon shall rule the earth only to be extinguished with the coming of the messiah.

In other words, these seventy Shepherd angels are also the “sons of the Most High,” in which they are judged. The Ancient Hellenistic Jews like Paul, Philo and many other Gnostic teachers like Simon, Marcion, Carpocrates, Basilides, Saturninus, etc., would have read the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) would have read that the nations were divided among the “angels of God” and that Jacob and Israel were the “Lord’s inheritance,” meaning the nation belonged to YHWH.

Both translations agree that the Kurios or the “Lord” has dominion over Jacob, but the “sons of God” were modified later to mean the “sons of Israel” instead. Luke 1:32 calls Jesus the “Son of the Most High” while Mark 5:7 narrates a demon calling Jesus “Son of the Most High God.” Elsewhere, we read Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love Yahweh your God…” Luke 10:27, tells Jesus’s disciples to, “You shall love the Lord [Kyrios] your God…” And Jesus is not ever called the “son of Yahweh” or the “son of the Lord” but called the Lord himself. These angels or Shepherd of God, are the same as the “archons” of Gnosticism.

It is clear that Babylon stands for the rulership and dominion of the angels, archons and demons over the world–especially Israel and Jerurselm–the apple of Yahweh’s eye. These Shepherds and their dominion over the world would one day be destroyed, which is prophesied in many Gnostic texts (On the Origin of the World, the Concept of Our Great Power, 1 Enoch) as well as the Book of Revelation. Jesus also calls himself the “good shepherd” of the sheep in Gospel of John, which indicates, he came to “replace” the seventy angelic rulers as the chief ruler and head high priest of the chosen elect as well as all of the heavens and all of creation itself–even holding the keys to Hades!

Margaret Barker further remarks:

This suggests that the Gospel writers, in using the terms ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God Most High’, saw Jesus as an angel figure, and gave him their version of the sacred name Yahweh. (p.5)

Paul himself believed that the Lawgiver god was merely a chief angel or a lesser god/lower manifestation of the Supreme being, as I stated in earlier articles. In fact, Paul makes a distinction between the law of his mind or heart that corresponds to the Most High and the law of the flesh connected to YHWH, as stated in Romans 2:15:

15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

And so Paul claimed that the Law of Moses had no role in the divine plan for salvation and that there was more than one divine power at play here. This claim of divinity came from Jesus himself, who had attained the ultimate mystical experience of the high priesthood, seen the divine throne and been transformed by that experience. The messianic titles “Son of Man” and “Son of God,” and the role of the mysterious Servant, resulted from that experience, as did the realization that the coming of the LORD to his people meant the great Day of Atonement when he took upon himself the sins and sicknesses of the Creation as stated in Matthew 8:17:

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

This is much like how Azazel bares the sins of Israel in Leviticus 16, as the “serim” scapegoat–imagery associated with the goat-demon, Baphomet. The Lord Jesus Christ takes on the sins of the elect or “the world”, and becomes a “scapegoat” like Azazel, as well. Thus it was that Peter could say in Acts 3:14-16:

You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate,though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Once Jesus is placed within the temple tradition, there is a whole new landscape for the study of Christian origins. The pre-existent, docetic and later adoptionist Christologies are contingent on temple symbolism that originates to the temples of Moses and the first temple of Solomon, which are themselves, replications of the Garden of Eden of Genesis. The Temple symbolism and theology of the Old Testament is also replicated in the New Testament, particularly in the Gospel of John, Paul’s epistles and Revelation of St. John, the Divine.

The “knowledge” characteristic of the non-canonical gospels would have originated in esoteric teaching such as was characteristic of priestly groups, and perhaps even underlying Isaiah 53.11.

11 After he has suffered,

    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,

    and he will bear their iniquities.

The central themes of sacrifice, redemption and atonement can be seen in their original setting, and Jesus’ disregard for the purity laws can be seen as the practical enactment of priestly atonement in his own sacrifice on the cross by bringing the excluded sinner unto redemption.

Before Jesus’ experience of becoming the Great Angel, the LORD, he taught as a wise man and a healer, like many others of his time, warning of the judgement to come. For many, this is what he remained. We see references to Jesus as the the Great Angel, the Son of Man, and even as a High Priest in texts such as 2 and 3 Enoch, Hebrews and the canonical Gospels. Once Jesus had achieved his transforming vision, he spoke as the “Son of Man,” or the “Divine Man” who had passed beyond the gates of Hades and rose back again, becoming an emissary from the other world as a heavenly revealer (the Gospel of John, Gospel of Thomas) and the future judge of the world that separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew, Revelation of St. John, the Books of Enoch, Luke, etc). The Gospel of John (14:9) tells us that whoever had seen Jesus had the transforming vision:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

In the Epistle of the Hebrews, the letter is addressed from a Hellenistic/Pauline wing to the Hebrew Christians, who place emphasis on Moses and the Law over and above Grace. The writer of Hebrews claims that the Law of Moses is the “word spoken by angels” and he makes a distinction between the Law and the plan for salvation which was revealed by the Lord with God bearing witness “with signs and wonders” (Hebrews. 2:2-4). Interestingly, the author draws a distinction between the priesthood established through Moses, and another priesthood, established through “Melchizedek”, who was known as the “priest of the Most High God” or “El Elyon.”

In Hebrews, we see Jesus depicted as the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and not after the order of Aaron, which was established by Moses–according to the Law. Jesus and Melchizedek follows after the Most High, while Aaron and Moses represent the Lawgiver, Yahweh. Melchizedek, the high priest of the Most high God, is actually a part of ancient Semitic history that predates the nation of Israel. In Genesis 14, Melchizedek is portrayed as a priest-king of Jerusalem, which was controlled by the Canaanites, and the city was originally called “Salem.”

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

    Creator of heaven and earth.

20 And praise be to God Most High,

    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Here, Melchizedek, the King of Salem, is presented as the chief archetype of the High Priest that distributes the Holy Eucharist to the Church. Melchizedek is in actuality, the priest of the Most High God, being El Elyion/Ouranos, and is really a part of the ancient Semitic history that predates Israel, where the Canaanite/Jebusite tribe lived in the city of Salem. According to Joshua 15:63, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin are said to have conquered Jerusalem but could not defeat the Jebusites as they merged with the Iraelites. Thanks to the Jebusites, Melchizedek is intimately part of the Hebrew and Christian traditions. In Psalms 110:1-4, it reads:

The Lord says to my lord:

“Sit at my right hand

    until I make your enemies

    a footstool for your feet.”

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,

    “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

Your troops will be willing

    on your day of battle.

Arrayed in holy splendor,

    your young men will come to you

    like dew from the morning’s womb.

The Lord has sworn

    and will not change his mind:

“You are a priest forever,

    in the order of Melchizedek.”

Here, King David writes that Jehovah places Jesus’s enemies under his feet, and that Jesus will be made a priest after the “order of Melchizedek.” The Jebusites are the source of the high priest, Melchizedek. This name derives from the Canaanite pantheon, being the god “Zedek.” Zedek is actually, the Phoenician name for the Roman god, Jupiter! According to Varchive, the name Zedek means “righteousness.”

The meaning of the name Melchizedek is “Zedek is [My] King.” Zedek, as said, is the name of the planet Jupiter, remaining so in the astronomy of the Jews in later ages. In the Talmud Zedek refers to Jupiter. Zedek also has the meaning of “righteousness” or “justice.” It is beyond the scope of this work to find which of the meanings—the name of the planet or a word in common usage—preceded and which followed. It is conceivable that this planet was worshipped in that remote time and that, in the days of the patriarch Abraham, the cult of Jupiter was prominent in the Salem of the high priest Melchizedek. Melchizedek, “priest of the most high,” was, it follows, a worshipper of Jupiter.

Even from biblical evidence, ancient Israelite history and culture was polytheistic. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, are rabid devotees of YHWH, while guys like King Solomon are accused and blamed for worshiping and bringing in foreign gods to worship, as we see in 1 Kings 11:4-9. In Psalms 82, we see a clear references to a pantheon of gods, or the Elohim, being the sons of the Most High God, who judges them. Clearly, the Old Testament is making references to an older pagan tradition, being the Canaanites, the Egyptians, etc. For the Gnostic, Melchizedek represents a higher spiritual order, above YHWH, as he is after the priesthood order of Jesus Christ, who is the face or angelic representative of the Supreme God, El Elyion.

In the Pauline Hellenist, Epistle to the Hebrews (1:2), the writer makes some curious statements as he addresses the Hebrews, being the followers of the Law:

“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (1:3).

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. (1:5-7)

In other words, Jesus is actually the High Priest and Leader of the aeons and the various archangels, who “ministers a flame of fire” that worship Jesus Christ! The Greek word for “worlds” as the KJV writer used is actually “aeon” or “aion” which are references to Saturn, as well as the primeval aeons of the Pleromic world of light that existed prior to the creation of the physical universe, and it is the “Son” who is involved in the creation of these aeons, being the Logos, or Christ.

Hebrews 2:5, makes it clear, however, that Jesus is not simply one of the angels:

For unto the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, of which we speak.

In fact, it is Jesus who rescues those subject under the dominion of the Law of Moses, given by the angels as well as the power of the devil (diabolon):

“For truly he did not give aid to angels but he took on the seed of Abraham…that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14–16.

Paul says similar things in Galatians 5:4, in that the Law was ordained by angels and throughout 2 Corinthians 3, the Law of Moses is derided as the “ministry of death” and that Moses himself is a deceiver and a liar that hid the Glory of God from the children of Israel! Margaret Barker in the article, “Who was Melchizedek and Who Was God?” explains how the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo connects Melchizedek with that of the Logos, that prefigures Jesus. In the Clementine Homilies (3.II), Simon Magus and the Apostle Peter have a lengthy debate about Scripture and the multiplicity of the gods, as Peter says:

I wish you to know that those who, according to our arrangement, associate with Simon that they may learn his intentions, and submit them to us, so that we may be able to cope with his variety of wickedness, these men have sent to me, and informed me that Simon today is, as he arranged, prepared to come before all, and show from the Scriptures that He who made the heaven and the earth, and all things in them, is not the Supreme God, but that there is another, unknown and supreme, as being in an unspeakable manner God of gods; and that He sent two gods, one of whom is he who made the world, and the other he who gave the law. And these things he contrives to say, that he may dissipate the right faith of those who would worship the one and only God who made heaven and earth.

Elsewhere, in another chapter, (16.VI) Simon Magus explains the polytheistic nature of Scripture:

Peter then said:  “I am ready to do as the umpire of our discussion has said; and straight-way without any delay I shall set forth my opinion in regard to God.  I then assert that there is one God who made the heavens and the earth, and all things that are in them. And it is not right to say or to think that there is any other.” And Simon said: “But I maintain that the Scriptures believed in amongst the Jews say that there are many gods, and that God is not angry at this, because He has Himself spoken of many gods in His Scriptures.

For instance, in the very first words of the law, He evidently speaks of them as being like even unto Himself. For thus it is written, that, when the first man received a commandment from God to eat of every tree that was in the garden, but not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the serpent having persuaded them by means of the woman, through the promise that they would become gods, made them look up; and then, when they had thus looked up, God said, ‘Behold, Adam has become as one of us.’

When, then, the serpent said, ‘You shall be as gods,’ he plainly speaks in the belief that gods exist; all the more as God also added His testimony, saying, ‘Behold, Adam has become as one of us.’ The serpent, then, who said that there are many gods, did not speak falsely.

Again, the scripture, ‘You shall not revile the gods, nor curse the rulers of your people,’ points out many gods whom it does not wish even to be cursed. But it is also somewhere else written, ‘Did another god dare to enter and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, as did I the Lord God?’

When He says, ‘Did another God dare?’ He speaks on the supposition that other gods exist.

And elsewhere: ‘Let the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth perish;’ as if those who had made them were not to perish. And in another place, when it says, ‘Take heed to yourself lest you go and serve other gods whom your fathers knew not,’ it speaks as if other gods existed whom they were not to follow. And again: ‘The names of other gods shall not ascend upon your lips.’

Here it mentions many gods whose names it does not wish to be uttered. And again it is written, ‘Your God is the Lord, He is God of gods.’ And again: ‘Who is like unto You, O Lord, among the Gods?’

And again: ‘God is Lord of gods.’ And again: ‘God stood in the assembly of gods: He judges among the gods.’ Wherefore I wonder how, when there are so many passages in writing which testify that there are many gods, you have asserted that we ought neither to say nor to think that there are many. Finally, if you have anything to say against what has been spoken so distinctly, say it in the presence of all.

Peter then goes on to explain how he is grieved that Simon believes such things (3:III-IV):

When I heard this, how was I not disheartened! Wherefore I wished you also, my brethren, who associate with me, to know that I am beyond measure grieved in my soul, seeing the wicked one awake for the temptation of men, and men wholly indifferent about their own salvation. For to those from amongst the Gentiles who were about being persuaded respecting the earthly images that they are no gods, he has contrived to bring in opinions of many other gods, in order that, if they cease from the polytheo-mania, they may be deceived to speak otherwise, and even worse than they now do, against the sole government of God, so that they may not yet value the truths connected with that monarchy, and may never be able to obtain mercy. And for the sake of this attempt Simon comes to do battle with us, armed with the false chapters of the Scriptures. And what is more dreadful, he is not afraid to dogmatize thus against the true God from the prophets whom he does not in fact believe.

And with us, indeed, who have had handed down from our forefathers the worship of the God who made all things, and also the mystery of the books which are able to deceive, he will not prevail; but with those from amongst the Gentiles who have the polytheistic fancy bred in them, and who know not the falsehoods of the Scriptures, he will prevail much. And not only he; but if any other shall recount to those from among the Gentiles any vain, dreamlike, richly set out story against God, he will be believed, because from their childhood their minds are accustomed to take in things spoken against God. And few there shall be of them, as a few out of a multitude, who through ingenuousness shall not be willing so much as to hear an evil word against the God who made all things. And to these alone from amongst the Gentiles it shall be vouchsafed to be saved. Let not any one of you, therefore, altogether complain of Simon, or of any one else; for nothing happens unjustly, since even the falsehoods of Scripture are with good reason presented for a test.

After this Peter drops a bomb that should shock many Christians, Peter explains to Clement that:

Worthy, therefore, of rejection is every one who is willing so much as to hear anything against the monarchy of God; but if any one dares to hear anything against God, as trusting in the Scriptures, let him first of all consider with me that if any one, as he pleases, form a dogma agreeable to himself, and then carefully search the Scriptures, he will be able to produce many testimonies from them in favour of the dogma that he has formed. How, then, can confidence be placed in them against God, when what every man wishes is found in them?

Therefore Simon, who is going to discuss in public with us tomorrow, is bold against the monarchy of God, wishing to produce many statements from these Scriptures, to the effect that there are many gods, and a certain one who is not He who made this world, but who is superior to Him; and, at the same time, he is going to offer many scriptural proofs. But we also can easily show many passages from them that He who made the world alone is God, and that there is none other besides Him. But if any one shall wish to speak otherwise, he also shall be able to produce proofs from them at his pleasure. For the Scriptures say all manner of things, that no one of those who inquire ungratefully may find the truth, but simply what he wishes to find, the truth being reserved for the grateful now gratitude is to preserve our love to Him who is the cause of our being.

In other words, Peter is saying that the scriptures have “books which are able to deceive” and that the only people Simon Magus will be able to convince are polytheist Gentiles, “who know not the falsehoods of the Scriptures”!!! Peter also says that these falsehoods of scripture are presented for a test. So, why would Peter say such a thing? Does he not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God? Peter actually derides the Scriptures as simply an incoherent mish-mash of contradictory doctrines. And this is coming from the “mouth” of the supposed founder of the Roman Catholic Church!!!

Peter also says that the scriptures were written in such a manner that each person who reads the texts would find whatever they are predisposed to believing in, as in projecting their theological bias. That Peter’s warning is correct, is overwhelmingly proven by the modern church and even biblical criticism and scholarship, in that many intelligent minds and astute biblical students have studied the scriptures and continue to hold conflicting opinions that oppose what the next person sees very clearly represented in the Bible!

We have many cults and factions within Christianity that have contradictory doctrines, as we see with the Jehovah’s Witness who do not believe that Jesus is God and instead is the archangel Michael, while denying the Trinity. Meanwhile, the Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists believe that Jesus is God and have many scriptural proofs to back up their claims. The Mormons believe in the pre-existence of the soul and that the faithful Mormons will one day inherent their own worlds to rule over as gods with their extended families. The Seventh Day Adventists believe that the Sabbath should be strictly observed whereas Paul clearly says Sabbath-keeping is simply works and of the Law. The Roman Catholic Church and the sister Orthodox Church, also have contradictory views on scripture and ritual. So, how can we trust such a book that has so many contradictions interwoven throughout, as Peter says, “what every man wishes is found in them”?

The answer to this conundrum, perhaps may be found in Hebrews (6:1-3) itself:

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting,we will do so.

Even the Jewish Zohar says similar things about Scripture:

“The narratives of the Doctrine are its cloak. The simple look only at the garment — that is, upon the narrative of the Doctrine; more they know not. The instructed, however, see not merely the cloak, but what the cloak covers.” (The Zohar, iii., 152; Franck, 119.)

Could you imagine a Christian minister preaching this on his own from the pulpit, to his congregation? I don’t think so. The author is saying that these teachings are actually elementary principles for beginners or “babes in Christ.” But the end of the Christian walk is initiation, where one achieves the spiritual realization or gnosis, where the deeper, esoteric doctrines are taught and embraced. The initiates in the order of Melchizedek possesses a knowledge of God which transcends faith and belief, and as the wisdom to distinguish the Good god from the binding evils of the angelic powers that rule over the world. The high mysteries of the Gospel are realized by the Gnostics, who have uncovered the polytheistic roots of the Old Testament, the false god of this world exposed, the triumph over the power of the devil, and the Good father made known, through the face of the Son of Man.

So why exactly did Jesus choose the title, the “Son of Man” for himself? Jesus chose the title of “Son of Man” to launch his public ministry from the Book of Enoch, because (1) it recognized his pre-existence before the world was created as it is stated in the Prologue of John’s Gospel, and (2) it also foretold that Jesus will be the light of nations.

The title is is not from the Book of Daniel. In Daniel, the Son of Man’s role is that of the sovereign of all people. The only relevant reference is from Daniel 7:13. Not much insight or inspiration can be gleaned from this meager description.

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7: 13

It was from the Book of Enoch, which was widely used by the early Christians, and the second Similitude (written c. 2nd Century BC) was available during Jesus’ time. For instance, Jude mentions Enoch. It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying:

“See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” – Jude 1:14-15

The Book of Enoch was highly regarded until the 4th century AD. For example, Epistle of Barnabas regards it as Scripture. Early church fathers like Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian regarded it highly. Since the 4th century, the manuscripts and any mention thereof disappeared, probably to stamp out heresies. Ethiopic manuscripts of the Book of Enoch was discovered by Bruce in 1773.

There are three “similitudes” (parables) attributed to Enoch. First Similitude (38 – 44) deals with final judgment. The Second Similitude (45 – 57), the Son of Man is one who was given that name before Time itself. He would become a light to the Gentiles, and will be worshiped throughout the earth. Son of Man is also known as Messiah or Elect One.

In Chapter 48, the Son of Man’s name was invoked in heavenly court, in the presence of the Lord of Spirits and the Ancient of Days. This event occurred during the time before time, i.e., before the sun and the stars were formed and before the world was created.

In that place I beheld a fountain of righteousness, which never failed, encircled by many springs of wisdom. Of these all the thirsty drank, and were filled with wisdom, having their habitation with the righteous, the elect, and the holy.

In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the Lord of spirits, and his name in the presence of the Ancient of days. Before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were formed, his name was invoked in the presence of the Lord of spirits. A support shall he be for the righteous and the holy to lean upon, without falling; and he shall be the light of nations. He shall be the hope of those whose hearts are troubled. All, who dwell on earth, shall fall down and worship before him; shall bless and glorify him, and sing praises to the name of the Lord of spirits. Therefore the Elect and the Concealed One existed in his presence, before the world was created, and for ever.

This is consistent with John’s description of Jesus’ existence before the world was created.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,a and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. – John 1:1

The Lord of Spirits chose the Son of Man to come to the earth to reveal the concealed treasures (e.g., eternal life), and he will overthrow the kings and their dominions, as stated in Enoch 46. The main result of the advent of the Son of Man is that he will be the light of the nations.

There I beheld the Ancient of days, whose head was like white wool, and with him another, whose countenance resembled that of man. His countenance was full of grace, like that of one of the holy angels. Then I inquired of one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me every secret thing, concerning this Son of man; who he was; whence he was and why he accompanied the Ancient of days.

He answered and said to me, This is the Son of man, to whom righteousness belongs; with whom righteousness has dwelt; and who will reveal all the treasures of that which is concealed: for the Lord of spirits has chosen him; and his portion has surpassed all before the Lord of spirits in everlasting uprightness.

This Son of man, whom you behold, shall raise up kings and the mighty from their dwelling places, and the powerful from their thrones; shall loosen the bridles of the powerful, and break in pieces the teeth of sinners.

He shall hurl kings from their thrones and their dominions; because they will not exalt and praise him, nor humble themselves before him, by whom their kingdoms were granted to them. The countenance likewise of the mighty shall He cast down, filling them with confusion. Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms shall be their bed; nor from that their bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits.

The title “Son of Man” is combined with glory as 1 Enoch 69,29 says: “For that Son of Man has appeared and has seated himself upon the throne of his glory.” Jesus talks about “the Son of Man coming in his glory,” in Matthew 24,30. “To him was given dominion and glory…” Daniel 7:13. The Son of Man is this human appearance of God, the likeness and visible image of the invisible God and therefore identified with the “first-formed man” created “in the image of God” (Genesis. 1:27).

According to the late, great Gnostic scholar, Gilles Quispel, the notion of a heavenly “man” as the icon of God’s glory is heavily emphasized in literature mentioned earlier like Enoch, Daniel, Jude, Ezekiel, as well as Paul’s “Heavenly Man” or “Second Man” contra the earthly Adam humiliating himself in original sin in Eden, discussed in 1 Corinthians, the Corpus Hermeticum’s heavenly Anthropos breaking through the spheres of the archon administrators, the “Primal Man” of the Persian Manichaeans and the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbalah. The Apocryphon of John of the baptizing Johannite Gnostics, states similar things:

“And a voice came forth from the exalted aeon-heaven: ‘The Man exists and the son of Man.’ And the chief archon, Yaltabaoth, heard (it) and thought that the voice had come from his mother. And he did not know from where it came. And he taught them, the holy and perfect Mother-Father, the complete foreknowledge, the image of the invisible one who is the Father of the all (and) through whom everything came into being, the first Man. For he revealed his likeness in a human form.

“And the whole aeon of the chief archon trembled, and the foundations of the abyss shook. And of the waters which are above matter, the underside was illuminated by the appearance of his image which had been revealed. And when all the authorities and the chief archon looked, they saw the whole region of the underside which was illuminated. And through the light they saw the form of the image in the water.

revelation-1

So it would follow that the “Son” of “Man” is the same as Jesus, who is the exalted “Son” of God, who is also called “Man” or the Divine Father. The “glorious Son of Man” is closely connected to the visions quoted earlier. In Revelation 1,12 the Son of Man is seen with the characteristic features of the Ancient of Days, Daniel 7,9: “hair like wool”, “white as snow.” His appearance is like the blazing light of the sun and he is seen together with the mystical symbol of the sevenfold light per Revelation 1,16, known from the visions of Zechariah where the divine light is seen as a seven times sevenfold flame. We also see that the Son of Man in 1 Enoch 62:7 is only revealed to the chosen few. How? In visions I presume! Otherwise he is hidden until the day of judgement, with the “powerful kings” of the earth who abused the Lord’s chosen are punished and sent into the pit of Sheol, the same hellish pit that the Shepherd angels are condemned in chains in eternal ruin:

For formerly the Son of Man was hidden, and the Most High preserved him before his power, and has revealed him to the chosen. And the congregation of the holy and the chosen will be sown, and all the chosen will stand before him on that day. And the congregation of the holy and the chosen will be sown, and all the chosen will stand before him on that day. And all the powerful kings and the exalted and they who rule the earth will fall before him upon their faces, and will worship and will hope in this Son of Man, and will petition him and ask him for mercy. And that Lord of the spirits will only press them, that they hasten to leave his presence and their countenances will be filled with shame, and darkness will be heaped upon their countenances. And the angels of punishment will receive them to take vengeance on them, because they have abused his children and his chosen. And they will be a spectacle for the just and for his chosen; they will rejoice over them, because the wrath of the Lord of the spirits rests upon them, and the sword of the Lord of the spirits is drunk with them.

projections__metatron_by_bonvallet-d5x8xc9

Seal Cube of Metatron. Taken from here. Please note the black cube of Yahweh is also a symbol of Saturn.

Enoch is also sort of a proto-Messianic figure and even has many similarities with Hermes and Thoth as well, noted in our book. In 2. and 3. Enoch the culmination of Enoch’s fate is his transformation to a high-ranking angelic being, in 3.Enoch, to Metatron, the “lesser YHVH”, God’s viceroy, sitting on a throne next to God. In 2 Enoch, he is made to stand by God’s left hand and receiving secrets hidden even to the angels. In 1.Enoch 71, Metatron is put on God’s throne of glory to reign in eternity on God’s behalf.

Enoch is also sort of a proto-Messianic figure. In 2. and 3. Enoch the culmination of Enoch’s fate is his transformation to a high-ranking angelic being, in 3.Enoch, to Metatron, the “lesser YHVH,” God’s viceroy, sitting on a throne next to God. In 2 Enoch, he is made to stand by God’s left hand and receiving secrets hidden even to the angels.

The Valentinian Prayer of the Apostle Paul tells us:

Grant what no angel eye has seen and no archon ear (has) heard, and what has not entered into the human heart which came to be angelic and (modelled) after the image of the psychic God when it was formed in the beginning, since I have faith and hope. And place upon me your beloved, elect, and blessed greatness, the First-born, the First-begotten, and the wonderful mystery of your house; for yours is the power and the glory and the praise and the greatness for ever and ever. Amen.

In 1.Enoch 71, Metatron is put on God’s throne of glory to reign in eternity on God’s behalf. In the article, Third Enoch and the Mystery of “Metatron by William F. Dankenbring, he writes that Metatron is in actuality, simply another guise of none other than, the Son of Man! 

The name “Metatron” itself has prompted much speculation as to its meaning.  The Latin metator was used of “anyone who prepares the way.”  The Greek word metaturannos means “one next to the ruler.”  The Greek meta thronon means “next to the divine throne,” “the second throne.”

Says P. Alexander, “The powerful ‘angel of the Lord’ in the Old Testament (who is sometimes hard to distinguish from God himself) may be the prototype of 3 Enoch’s Metatron” (p.246). In a Dead Sea scroll (11Qmelch) the personage known as  Melchizedek “appears as being exalted over all the angels,” and it is stated that He will “preside over a heavenly assize and exact punishment, with the help of the other angels” (p.249). The Qumran community apparently regarded Melchizedek as the high priest of the heavenly Temple – the same role in which Metatron is pictured in 3 Enoch.

Thus Metatron is the same personage as Melchizedek – and the apostle Paul identifies Melchizedek as none other than the One who became Jesus Christ!  Paul writes that Melchizedek, to whom Abraham paid a tithe of all (Gen.14:18-20), was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but MADE LIKE the Son of God, REMAINS a priest continually” (Heb.7:1-3).

Notice!  This person had no parents, humanly speaking.  He was KING of Salem, or Jerusalem, meaning, “king of peace” (verse 2).  His name, itself, means “King of righteousness.”  He pre-existed the Universe, having no “beginning of days.”  He is an ETERNAL being, having “no end of life.”  Thus His beginning had to be BEFORE CREATION, as “days” are defined as a product of the earth turning on its axis causing night and day. 

So, it is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of Man and Son of God, who is also the supra-angelic Metatron that is also, interestingly, has seventy names that corresponds to the seventy angelic sons of God, chosen by the Most High to rule over the nations. William F. Dankenbring further writes:

Now let’s notice what 3 Enoch reveals about this mysterious figure known as “Metatron” in Jewish apocalyptic, mystical literature of the early centuries of the present era!  Let us examine how this being’s pre-existence compares with the stated pre-existence of the Christ, the Nazarene – Jesus, the “Son of God” and the “Son of man.”

In 3 Enoch, Rabbi R. Ishmael begins with a vision wherein he ascended to behold God’s chariot in heaven.  He prayed for God to protect him, as he felt very insecure in this awesome place.  He relates, “At once the Holy One, blessed be he, summoned to my aid his servant Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence” (3 Enoch 1:4).  In 3 Enoch, the overwhelming majority of chapters begin with a reference to “Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence.”

In chapter 3, the Rabbi asks Metatron, “What is your name?”  He replies, “I have seventy names, corresponding to the seventy nations of the world, and all of them are based on the name of the King of the kings of kings; however, my King calls me ‘Youth.’” (3:1-2) Compare this with Proverbs 8, where Solomon speaks of Wisdom as being “brought forth” in the beginning.  Solomon quotes Wisdom as saying, “When He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him:  and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov.8:22-25, 29-30).

Metatron was called “Youth,” by God the Father, the Ancient of days.  This implies that as compared to the Father, the super-archangel Metatron has a beginning, a time when He was “youthful.” Yet He became the Prince over all God’s Creation, and Co-ruler of the Universe!

What we are seeing here is a complex multiplicity of gods, aeons, and angels that is most prominent in the Old Testament scriptures, many of which are considered “apocrypha” today but back in the time of the ancients and after the time of Jesus, was considered canonical and openly accepted until the reign of Roman Orthodoxy came into fold around the fourth century, CE, and later with the Protestant reformation of Catholicism with the (Masonic) King James Version of the Catholic Latin Vulgate.

As it follows, Metatron of 3 Enoch, Melchizedek, the High Priest of El Elyion and Jesus Christ as a “High Priest” in Hebrews, are all the same being. Metatron is depicted as the lesser “YHWH”. Perhaps Jesus was the replacement “Great Angel” for Yahweh, just like how Seth (being of “another seed”) is the replacement for Cain and Abel in Genesis and Sabaoth (Jupiter) is the replacement for Yaldabaoth (Saturn) in texts like the Hypostasis of the Archons. And El Elyion is the “Lord” in the Old Testament, while Yahweh is simply one of many “sons of the Most High” or the Elohim angels. Yahweh is probably just a Hebrew reiteration of Dyaus Pitar/Jove and the Caananite Ba’al and El.

According to Irenaeus in Against Heresies (1,30:10-11), the Ophites saw multiple powers embedded in the Old Testament as well, and the prophecies associated with Jesus are attributed to Sophia, who is also called “the Lord,” the “Mother” and the “Heavenly Jerusalem” while Ialdabaoth (YHWH/Satan) turned Abraham’s seed from Egypt into Jews!

Ialdabaoth himself chose a certain man named Abraham from among these, and made a covenant with him, to the effect that, if his seed continued to serve him, he would give to them the earth for an inheritance. Afterwards, by means of Moses, he brought forth Abraham’s descendants from Egypt, and gave them the law, and made them the Jews. Among that people he chose seven days, which they also call the holy Hebdomad. Each of these receives his own herald for the purpose of glorifying and proclaiming God; so that, when the rest hear these praises, they too may serve those who are announced as gods by the prophets.

Moreover, they distribute the prophets in the following manner: Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun, and Amos, and Habakkuk, belonged to Ialdabaoth; Samuel, and Nathan, and Jonah, and Micah, to Iao; Elijah, Joel, and Zechariah to Sabaoth; Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, to Adonai; Tobias and Haggai to Eloi; Michaiah and Nahum to Oreus; Esdras and Zephaniah to Astanphæus. Each one of these, then, glorifies his own father and God, and they maintain that Sophia, herself has also spoken many things through them regarding the first Anthropos (man), and concerning that Christ who is above, thus admonishing and reminding men of the incorruptible light, the first Anthropos, and of the descent of Christ.

And as we already saw, Simon Magus in the Clementines argues with Peter that polytheism/henotheism is the real undercurrent of the Old Testament, which underscores a pagan origin or perhaps even an anticipation of the revelation of the coming of the Son of Man into enemy territory of the ruler rebel angels to extract and save his elect, chosen before the foundation of the world. The more one investigates into the scriptures, even the “false ones” per Peter in the Clementines, monotheism isn’t exactly the ruling theology of the Old Testament writers had in mind.

The Great Declaration: A Commentary (Part 4)

My ultimate contention is that Simon Magus is Chrestus and Simon identifies himself with the Logos and the Samaritan Messiah. While some believe this is a misspelling of Christos (it is not so) Chrestus and his followers and Peter and his followers were at odds as illustrated in part’s 2 and 3. Literature like the Clementines, although summarily dismissed by many scholars a pseudo works (pretended to be the actual words of Pope Clement) and place it all the way to the fourth century, when it is actually much closer to the second century. Many apocryphal texts use this method of pretending to be the words of another, such as Jesus, which is more of a style of exposition and not meant to deceive. The Gnostic Gospels use this very method to convey their spiritual messages and coded myths.

While the Clementines do in fact treat Simon Magus in an unfavorable light to the point where he is vilified, but the Clementines do show him as a major opponent to Peter (Dositheos). Although Simon appears to use tricks and magic, Peter also appears not to be without these himself. What is most disturbing to Church authorities is that Clementines say that Simon Magus took over the organization of John the Baptist after his death and not Jesus. This would clearly give him the stature to be on an equal footing as Peter in their debates. However, in Acts 8, Simon is depicted as being converted to Peter’s faith as well, much like how Paul is type-casted as a devout Pharisaic convert to Judeo-Christianity in true propaganda form, in the same text.

Simon (like many Gnostics after him) are very slippery in his debate against the Orthodox Peter. Or subtle, depending on your loyalty. The rest of the debate is quite interesting, and very complex, very rhetorically brilliant on both sides (another reason I think the Clementines are genuine). It also prefigures the great Gnostic-Christian divide of those early centuries quite well; this encounter may have symbolically actuated the great divide between the two camps.

There is also evidence of a possible Philonic (Philo of Alexandria) confluence with Simonian thought because both parties focus on the first five books of the Old Testament in esoteric ways. It was Philo who represents the apex of Jewish-Hellenistic syncretism. His work attempts to combine Platonism and Old Testament theology into one philosophical system as testified by his multitude of writings.

It is probable to suspect Simon Magus played a much more important role in the evolution of early Christianity than most biblical scholars are willing to acknowledge. The vast body of patristic writings, (especially the much reviled Clementine literature) about him suggest that the figure of Simon loomed far larger in the early church fathers than in the minds of today. What I’ve been suggesting in the last three entries is not new as other scholars in their own way such as Robert M. Price, Robert Eisenman, Simone Petrement, Hermann Detering, G.R.S. Mead, etc have also expressed similar sentiments. Without being said, what I am also suggesting also ruffles the feathers of many people out there with Orthodox/Catholic sympathies but alas I am not here to placate the rabble or any ecclesiastical authority. Again, we will also tackle commentary on the Great Declaration.

The Taheb

The Samaritans (the “Guardians” or “Watchers” of the Law), are a Hebrew tribe, who only observe the Samaritan Pentateuch, which is basically the first five books of the Torah. Samaritians claimed that their worship was true to the faith while the Jews or the Judeans had an altered faith because of the Babylonian Captivity influence. The Samaritians claim descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manesseh, and still inhabit their lands to this day, between Judea and Galilee. Moses’ successor and conqueror of the Promised Land, Joshua, was from Ephraim and the tribe also happened to he given the honor of being the custodians of the Ark of the Covenant in its sanctuary at Shiloh. There are historians who claim that Ephraim, Manesseh and Benjamin were the only three tribes that came out of Egypt, while the others were Canaanites who were converts to Moses’ religion. This connection between Ephraim and Egypt and its Heliopolis religion makes sense considering Moses’ strong connection with Egypt, Aton worship and even the figures of Thoth/Hermes.

Many scholars and archaeologists have shown that the Israelites’ original religion was far from monotheistic and even patriarchal that it was to become, and that is owed its existence to the native paganism of Canaan and Egypt. In Part 3, we saw that the Gnostics believed that each nation of Israel and her prophets was ruled over by the seven angels or the Archons. Moses is listed as belonging to Ialdabaoth. Curiously enough, Ephraim is not listed…

After Israel developed itself into a nation, a power struggle also developed quickly after, between Ephraim and Judah. As the story goes, King David usurped Ephraim’s status by taking the Ark of the Covenant to Jersualem, being the new religious center in Judah’s territory. After the reign of King Solomon, the Israelite kingdom split in two, with Ephraim heading the ten tribes in the north and Judah in the south. Thus, a new sanctuary and temple which rivaled Jerusalem, was built in Ephraim’s land on Mount Gerizim.

Soon after this, the more powerful Assyrian empire invaded Northern Israel and underwent a very traumatic invasion and mass enslavement through the Babylonian Captivity, two centuries later. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after their seventy-year exile, they set about codifying and reforming their religion, incorporating concepts from that of Babylon. Both camps believed that their own religion was the “pure” version while they viewed each other’s versions as heretical. Victors’ history decided that the Jews were superior over the Samaritians, but the Samaritans could have been right…

This rivalry reached a climax when Judea conquered Samaria and destroyed their temple. This was the icing on the cake for the Samaritan resentment and even hatred of the Jews. It was only the advent of Roman rule that Samaria was freed from Jewish subjugation. The Jewish and Samaritan rivalry even affected their eschatology or end-time speculations: each tribe saw their own as coming out on top. The Judeans would have likely hated the idea of bringing in the Samaritans back into the fold; while the Samaritians held their own views on Judah being overthrown by their own Messiah, being the Taheb. The woman at the well in John 4 could very well have recognized Jesus (Simon) as the Taheb.

Good Samaritan

In the Samaritian tradition, there is a messianic figure or title known as the “Taheb” or the “restorer” or prophet like Moses, who would come and restore the true worship on Mount Gerizim. Instead of the Davidic Messiah that the Jews were expecting, the Samaritans looked forward to the coming of this chosen one, “the restorer” which is centered on Deuteronomy 18:18, a herald of the last day–a day of final judgment, of vengeance and reward, when the temple of Gerizim would be restored, Jerusalem destroyed (!) the sacrifices reinstated and the heathen converted. Deuteronomy 18:18 says:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.

It is notable that the Samaritan Taheb goes out of its way to differentiate itself from the Davidic Warrior-King Messiah. Jesus of John is often portrayed as being entirely hostile to Judaism and the Pharisees as noted in Part 2. John and Jesus refer to the Jews as a “brood of vipers”, sort of a case of inverting the traditional hermenuetic of the serpent causing the fall of Adam and Eve and applying it to the Jews.

It is reasonable to conclude that much of the Old and New Testament feuds and tensions between Jesus, Paul, Stephen, Simon, John the Baptist with the lapdog Judean Pharisees and their Roman elite rulers of the day reflect this mutual hatred. The Samaritans only recognized an archaic form of YHWH, one that was still close to El, the Father, and to the angelic or even contained in his Elohim form (the Gods). Holding that the sanctuary at Sichem on Mount Gerizim was the only true Temple, Samaritanism only recognized the Torah or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) as sacred texts- as mentioned earlier. They also recognized the Book of Joshua, being the sixth book of the Pentateuch, but not for good reasons. The Babylonian Talmud was also readily rejected.

The Book of Joshua as well as Numbers 31:13-18  recounts the Hebrew conquest of Canaan as a war of extermination and death, including that of women and children. The Church Father Origen was well aware that such texts like Joshua provided critics like Marcion evidence that the God of the Old Testament was morally obtuse if not outright evil. Origen had a different solution to this dilemma by allegorizing the tribal warfare, cruelty and extreme violence that is brimming in the Old Testament as the soul struggling against sin and temptation and the enemies of the Church. This is all laid out in his Homilies on Joshua. Thus, any sort of objectionable and disturbing behavior exhibited by Yahweh was successfully explained away. The Land of Canaan was allegorized as the soul to be brought under the rule of “Jesus” or Joshua. In Numbers 25:4, it is clear that Yahweh is an incredibly blood-thirty warrior-god:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.

The arch-heretic Marcion would have likely rejected Origen’s usage of allegory. In fact, Marcion felt that the Old Testament was so fundamentally flawed and of no consequence for the Christian Church. Moreover, for the Marcionite church, it was better to cast away the Old Testament aside than to tarnish the image of the Father of Jesus Christ by the mixing in traces of the war-like God, who even commanded that every first-born of Egypt to be killed by the Destroying Angel (Exodus 11:5) indicating that he was no better than the supposed myth that Herod was involved in the “massacre of the innocents” as per Matthew 2: 16-18.

In 144 A.D., appeared a ship-builder from Sinope named Marcion. He founded a church system that rivaled in numbers and influence that of the orthodox Christian church. By 150 A.D., Justin Martyr wrote that Marcionites had expanded “to the uttermost bounds of the earth” (Justin, Apology 1.26.). It required three hundred years for the orthodox church to eventually rout out the heresy of Marcion.

Marcion was not battling the Roman Catholic church. It did not yet exist. Instead, there was a large orthodox church led from Jerusalem. The Roman bishop was just one bishop among many throughout the Mediterranean. Even if Peter (who is really based on Dositheos) was in Rome at one point, there was no effort to exercise superiority from Rome until many centuries later.

What happened is that Marcion declared in 144 A.D. that Paul alone was the true apostle for the era of grace; the twelve apostles, in particular their gospel of Matthew, were tainted by legalism; the Jesus of the twelve belonged to the God of the Old Testament; and the Jesus of Paul represented the son of a loving Father who now accepted us by faith alone. As Adolf Harnack, the Marcionite sympathizing scholar (d. 1930) expressed it:

According to Marcion, Christ saved us from the world and its god in order to make us children of a new and alien God.

Marcion’s primary threat to the church is that, unlike the Gnostics, his teachings were rooted in part of the same set of scriptures used by the orthodox, although an earlier variant, and his was an organized religious movement, not an esoteric cult. It had the potential to become the so-called orthodoxy. And in many regions, such as Syria, it WAS considered the orthodox form of Christianity. Of course, history readily shown this brand of Christianity was only destined to fall by the way side and eventually buried by the Roman Catholic Church. See Antithesis for more on Marcion’s train of thought on the division between the Old and New Testament. Marcion could very well be seen as the forerunner of the Protestant reformation movement later on in the 15th century, starting with Martin Luther…

Marcion’s gospel is a lot older than one would assume, and Mark isn’t quite as early as most contemporary New Testament critics think it is. The earliest records of Jesus were most likely collections of his sayings, like the Gospel of Thomas, and by the latter half of the first century, these were eventually put into narrative form. This is when we see gospel authors trying to link Jesus to messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, such as using Psalm 22 as the basis for the crucifixion events, among other things. But there are a number of sayings attributed to Jesus that indicate he never intended to be the Jewish messiah, and even denied being so, but his Jewish followers, who were intent on making him such, wrote mythological narratives like Matthew and Mark that present him that way.

“And he said unto them, How say they that the Christ is David’s son? And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. David therefore calleth him Lord, and how is he then his son?” Luke 20:42

“His disciples said to him, ‘Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you.’ He said to them, ‘You have disregarded the living one who is in your presence, and have spoken of the dead.'” Gospel of Thomas, Logion 52.

These two passages clearly call into question the Jewishness of Jesus, indicating that he may have been originally a Samaritan. The Gospel of John also reflects that it may have been written by a Samaritan community, considering its very pro-Samaritan sentiments. This would contradict other very pro-Law statements of Jesus in Matthew 5:17. However, Jesus Christ (which is ultimately a title and not an actual name at all) was all things to all people, and in his statement “I am” implies a totality of Messiah, Christ and Taheb. This is directly stated in the Gospel of Thomas, Logion 13:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like.”

Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a righteous angel.”

Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.”

Thomas said to him, “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.”

Jesus said, “I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”

And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?”

Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”

Again, we see this idea repeated in 1 Corinthians 9:20, when Paul states:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

This is very much comparable to how Simon describes himself in the Great Declaration:

“I was manifested to the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father, and among the gentiles as the Holy Spirit, and I permitted them to call me by whatever name they pleased.”

These ideas all touch on the idea of doceticism but I will save this for the finale of this commentary.

The Two Powers Revisited


In the Clementine literature, Simon Magus in his seminal debate with Peter argued that Yahweh was one of the sons of God, being their chief, but was distinct from God the Most High or the Unknowable God. Peter’s position, however, is not so clear. Peter basically claims that the God of the Jews is called the “God of gods”, implying there is no power higher than YHWH. However, Peter later adds that the God of gods is actually Christ. So, Peter, in actuality contradicts himself or conflates YHWH with Christ. Simon in the Recognition’s II.39, argues by using Jewish scripture that there were many gods (polytheism), like Jesus did in the Gospel of John.

Then Simon said: “I shall make use of assertions from the law of the Jews only. For it is manifest to all who take interest in religion, that this law is of universal authority, yet that every one receives the understanding of this law according to his own judgment. For it has so been written by Him who created the world, that the faith of things is made to depend upon it. Whence, whether any one wishes to bring forward truth, or any one to bring forward falsehood, no assertion will be received without this law. Inasmuch, therefore, as my knowledge is most fully in accordance with the law, I rightly declared that there are many gods, of whom one is more eminent than the rest, and incomprehensible, even He who is God of gods.

But that there are many gods, the law itself informs me. For, in the first place, it says this in the passage where one in the figure of a serpent speaks to Eve, the first woman, `On the day ye eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall be as gods, ‘ that is, as those who made man; and after they have tasted of the tree, God Himself testifies, saying to the rest of the gods, `Behold, Adam is become as one of us; ‘ thus, therefore, it is manifest that there were many gods engaged in the making of man…

As mentioned in Part 3, the heresy of the “two powers of Heaven” (a crime against the unique God in the eyes of Jewish orthodoxy) probably started in heretical Jewish circles such as the Sethians (or really Dosithaeans), although condemned by the Books of Enoch, was inadvertently slipped into its ideas of the confrontation between the good angels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel) and the fallen angels, being the Watchers, in the same text.

The two powers doctrine even influenced Philo of Alexandria, where he separates Theos, the Good God from the Kyrios, or Adonai, being the same being as the Tetragrammaton YHWH. However, Philo does not devalue YHWH as an inferior creator or angelic power as Simon and his followers did and probably would have considered them as blasphemous heretics. The term “Kyrios” is ascribed to Paul’s Christ multiple times throughout his letters, although not as much in the gospels, especially the Gospel of John. Even more significantly, according to Hippolytus, Simon was called “Lord” by his followers, at least by his later ones (Refutation of All Heresies, 6,15).

Philo also identifies the Logos as “a second God” and even “God,” and his association of the Logos with the “two powers” as two potentcies in one God (See: Questions and Answers on Exodus. 2.68.) It is also surely significant that Philo nowhere seeks to defend these beliefs against a charge of heresy. The fact that Philo gives no indication that he was departing from an already-existing Jewish “orthodoxy,” or that his teaching on the Logos was met with objections, suggests that his views were not objectionable to his contemporaries. Perhaps this can be a form of argument of silence?

Both Philo and the Gnostics testify to the belief of a second God, the creator, the Logos, the Man. The Gnostics, however, identified the second God with the God of the Jews in a way that Philo does not. Philo, along with the Samaritians, would have naturally rejected the Gnostics as well as Marcion’s separation of the God of the Jews, being the Lawgiver and creator of the world from the Good God of Jesus Christ as many of his much later Orthodox enemies in the ever-growing minority Catholic Church.

Speaking of the Catholic Church, Eusebius, the infamous propaganda minister of the burgeoning Orthodoxy had this to say about the Two Powers, in Preparation for the Gospel, Book XI, Chapter XIV:

First then Moses expressly speaks of two divine Lords in the passage where he says, ‘Then the LORD rained from the LORD fire and brimstone upon the city of the ungodly: where he applied to both the like combination of Hebrew letters in the usual way; and this combination is the mention of God expressed in the four letters, which is with them unutterable.

In accordance with him David also, another Prophet as well as king of the Hebrews, says, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand,’ indicating the Most High God by the first LORD, and the second to Him by the second title. For to what other is it right to suppose that the right hand of the Unbegotten God is conceded, than to Him alone of whom we are speaking?

This is He whom the same prophet in other places more clearly distinguishes as the Word of the Father, supposing Him whose deity we are considering to be the Creator of the universe, in the passage where he says, ‘By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made firm.’

The Fingerprints of Dositheos

The famous Theosophist G.R.S Mead speaks of the Taheb of the Samaritan’s in the following excerpt from John the Baptizer and Christian Origins:

“Now in Samaritan tradition, and it will be remembered that the Samaritans rejected all the Jewish scriptures save the Five Fifths of the Law, their future Redeemer was to be called Joshua. This Deliverer they called the Ta’eb, the Returner, and they believed he would be a reborn or returned Joshuah. The Ta’eb is the Samaritan ‘Messiah.’ In this connection a recently translated Samaritan Midrash (B.M. Samaritan MS. Or. 33931) is especially instructive.

It understands the title Ta’eb as signifying ‘he who repents’ or even ‘he who makes to repent,’ not so much the Returner as the Turner-back of others. It is brought into close connection also with Noḫam, meaning Repenting, and is thus by word-play associated with Noah. Our Samaritan Midrash accordingly brings Noah on to the scene of expected redemption, and becomes a spiritualized version of the Deluge-story,abounding in mystical word-plays. One or two specimens (p. 22) of them may now be given, as the ideas behind them are reminiscent of the John-circle of ideas.

Whereas in the old story Yahveh orders Noah: “Make thee an ark (tebah),” the Midrash makes God say unto the Ta’eb: “Make thee a conversion”—or repentance (Aram. shuba, tubah). And so it continues in many details glossing the original parts of the ark by means of word-play, introducing notions of propitiation, expiation and atonement. A single passage from the original will make this clear, and in reading it we should remember that Samaria was a hot-bed of mystic and gnostic movements of all sorts.

In many ways G.R.S. Mead is correct about Samaria being the well-spring in which Gnostic thought may very well stem from, which explains the murky Jewish origins of Sethianism and its possible ties with Dositheos (The Three Steles of Seth). It should also be noted that the Catholic heresiologists’ talking point that Simon was the originator of Gnosticism, however does not reflect Samaritan theology, since they do not speak of any distinctive Gnostic ideas such as a Demiurge, an Unknowable God above the creator, an immaterial Savior, or fallen Wisdom.

This kind of theology is reflective only later, especially in Simon Magus’s debates with Simon Peter in the Clementines. The most that can be said on that subject is that Simon may have included some elements of a particular Samaritian tradition in the development of his system. Of course, Dositheos understood himself and applied the title of the Standing One and if Dositheos understood himself as a neo-Moses, there was a sufficient amount of mythological language in the Samaritan Moses tradition upon which Simon could have drawn in the development of his distinctive system from Dositheos.

Dositheos means “gift of God” and this name may have been given to Christ by the Samaritan Christians. The “gift of God” is also specifically mentioned in John 4:10 and Acts 8:20, and both of these passages are linked with Samaria. Such phraseology is also found in many Samaritan writings. Nathaniel in John 1:21, also means “gift of God”. Paul also goes into the idea of “fruits of the Spirit” in Galatians, which is similar to the idea of the “gift of God”. Dositheos, according to the Clementine tradition was the founder of a Samaritan sect. According to Josepheus, he is dated in the second century B.C.E., the 1st century C.E by Origen and the Clementine Recognition’s, and the fourth century C.E., under the Arabic-Muslim transliterated name of “Dusis” in the Samaritan Chronicles 3,6,7. Origen said Dositheos also claimed to be the “Son of God”. His disciples said that he was not dead but also alive as well.

According to Hegesippus as quoted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History iv. 22, his sect believed that he was Christ as foretold by Moses. This is a very important fact, in light of how Moses is betrayed in the Great Declaration, in a highly favorable status. This, however, seems to fly in the face of the Apostle Paul’s views on Moses, the Lawgiver and the Law. One example can be seen in 2 Corinthians 3:12-14:

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, who put a veil over his face, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolish: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament…

Even the fact that Simon was considered to be synonymous with the semi-human god of Rome, Semoni Sanco Deo, the god of contracts, is worth noting because such a god sounded very similar to that of the Lawgiver, the God of the Old Testament. Contracts and oaths were also said to be important to the Greek God Zeus. The connection between Simon and Zeus (as well as Helena with Athena/Minerva) has already been well-established in this series as testified by Irenaeus, Justin Martyr and Hippolytus. It is also worth noting that Zeus was also seen as a Savior figure, much like Jesus while YHWH was often associated with the Titan-Cronus or Saturn, as I have well established in other posts on this blog. Let’s move further onward..

Urizen

The Standing Ones

According to Hippolytus who begins his Book of Heresies with the Dositheans, makes Dositheos as the root of the Samaritian heresy. Tertullian does the same thing in Adversus omnes hareses, 1- thus indicating that the long list of heretics may have their root in the heretical cult of Dositheos. Like Simon, Dositheos rejected the Old Testament prophets accepted by the Jewish canon, called for the reform of Mosaic law, and even advocated the abolition of religious duties. The Church Father Origen also mentions Dositheos in Contra Celsus, 1, 57.

And after the times of Jesus, Dositheus the Samaritan also wished to persuade the Samaritans that he was the Christ predicted by Moses; and he appears to have gained over some to his views. But it is not absurd, in quoting the extremely wise observation of that Gamaliel named in the book of Acts, to show how those persons above mentioned were strangers to the promise, being neither sons of God nor powers of God, whereas Christ Jesus was truly the Son of God.

So here, Origen assigns him to the 1st Century, after the time of Christ, and claims that he made himself out to be the Messiah promised by Moses. Of the Dositheans, Origen reports that only thirty remained in his day. This Dosithean and Simonian rejection of the Prophets, more or less also reflects Paul’s distinction between his Christ Jesus and Mosiac Law in 2 Corinthians 3:6-8:

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his appearance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministry of the spirit be more glorious?”

Paul’s comments on Moses’ radiant continence reflect Exodus 34:27-35, where Moses spends 40 days in the company of YHWH. This also reflects the supposed erroneous translation in St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate on Moses being depicted as a horned god in Exodus 34: 29-30:

“And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near.”

But, we will save this controversy for others to discuss. Interestingly in John 5:45, Jesus calls Moses, quite literally Satan!

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.”

Paul in Romans 7 also maintains that the Law of Moses, as well as the God of Sinai, were condemned to death when Jesus died and dissolved on the cross! Humanity is delivered from the crushing weight that is the curse of the Law and into the “living spirit” of Christ.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Obviously, there is a big contradiction in that Paul and the Johannite Jesus both reject Moses and the Law (to a certain extent) while the Samaritan Dositheos (Peter) and to a lesser extent, Simon, embrace and identify with him! Interesting conundrum indeed. In the Clementine Homilies, 2.24, Simon and Dositheos have a confrontation after Simon discovers that Dositheos did not correctly teach community doctrines to the Samaritans. During Simon’s absence during John the Baptist’s untimely death, Dositheos assumed leadership of the Baptist community and when Simon returned, he initially did not oppose him. It is only when Simon discovers his errors, is when Simon confronts Dositheos:

And on one occasion, Dositheus, perceiving that this artful accusation of Simon was dissipating the opinion of him with respect to many, so that they did not think that he was the Standing One, came in a rage to the usual place of meeting, and finding Simon, struck him with a staff. But it seemed to pass through the body of Simon as if he had been smoke. Thereupon Dositheus, being confounded, said to him, ‘If you are the Standing One, I also will worship you.’ Then Simon said that he was; and Dositheus, knowing that he himself was not the Standing One, fell down and worshipped; and associating himself with the twenty-nine chiefs, he raised Simon to his own place of repute; and thus, not many days after, Dositheus himself, while he (Simon) stood, fell down and died.

The significance of this passage is important because the Standing One term is used to denote that the person who holds such a title has authority, power and above all divinity. There is also a reference to the staff, which is an allusion to Moses as an authority figure. There are numerous Samaritan texts which identify Moses as a  near-Divine figure- the embodiment of the Eternal Light or a Logos-like figure as Philo of Alexandria would hold. Moses, being the author of the Torah, “had reached the very summit of philosophy” and “had learnt from the oracles of God the most numerous and important of the principles of nature” (Op. 8).

The Moses theology was clearly a major part of Dositheanism and would have passed into Simon’s Gnostic system if the tradition of the teacher/student relationship is accurate as mentioned in the Clementine literature and not contrived. This is evidenced in the following passages of the Great Declaration. This is not the only source of Simon’s theology, but one need not look further than Samaritan locale for the remaining sources. As mentioned earlier, the region had been extensively Hellenized during the pre-Roman period. Simon appears to have drawn not only on the intellectual traditions of the Israelitic Gerizim-based Samaritan community but also on Hellenistic mythologies and religions.

We can see that Simon clearly lived in Samaria and was a Samaritan by race according to the Clementine Homilies (Homily II, Chapter XXII), where Aquila is pictured as stating:

“This Simon is the son of Antonius and Rachel, a Samaritan by race, of the village of Gitthae, which is six schoeni distant from the city (of Samaria). He having disciplined himself greatly in Alexandria, and being very powerful in magic, and being ambitious, wishes to be accounted a certain supreme power, greater even than the God who created the world. And sometimes intimating that he is Christ, he styles himself the Standing One.”

A closely related passage is found in the Recognition’s of Clement (Book II, Chapt. VII):

“This Simon’s father was Antonius, and his mother Rachel. By nation he is a Samaritan, from a village of the Gettones; by profession a magician, yet exceedingly well trained in the Greek literature; desirous of glory, and boasting above all the human race, so that he wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the Standing One.”

The two accounts agree that his parents’ names were Antonius and Rachel and that he was a Samaritan. They disagree over whether he came from a village called Gitthae or from a village populated by the Gettones. My judgment is that the more primitive tradition is that he came from a village called Gitthae. They agree he was a magician. According to one, he spent a part of his life in Alexandria, Egypt. According to the other, he knew Greek literature. Together, they suggest he was educated at Alexandria–which education would have included the reading of important Greek literature like Homer, Plato, Heraclitus, etc.

They agree that, he taught, the universe was created by an inferior god–with the phraseology in one of them of “God the Creator” suggesting that “God” is a title of this inferior god, much like Marcion did much later after Simon and Paul. They agree that Simon believed himself to be a power, greater than the god who created the universe and to be, as this greater power, the Christ and the Standing One. They disagree over whether Simon believed himself to be the “supreme” power or an “exalted” power. My judgment is that the correct version is that he believed himself to be an “exalted” power. This is because, elsewhere in the Clementine literature, he is pictured as claiming that there is a supreme and unknowable power above even the Standing One.

Horned Moses

The epithet “Standing One” appears in several religious traditions in the Near East from Late Antiquity until the rise of Islam. The Standing One would denote one who “stands firm” in “existence” or “continuance” as a god-like quality.  Philo of Alexandria identifies those who are lovers of God as those who manage to penetrate the divine world, to approach God as “Standing Ones” like Moses and Abraham who are the archetypal “Standing Ones” since they communed with God face to face or intimately. Those who do so also share in God’s nature as immutable and changeless. The “Standing One” isn’t just limited to Simon, Dositheos or even Moses, but its an endearing term applied to God in Samaritan texts. The Tetragrammaton YHWH, if correctly translated, means “That which was, that which is, that which shall be.” This is much like the saying as found in the Great Declaration, “He stood, stand, is to stand”, as a reference of the divine spark or consciousness of being ever-present and eternal.

Jarl E. Fossum writes in The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Inter-mediation and the Origin of Gnosticism:

When Moses ascended to heaven in order to receive the Law, he was invested with the Divine Name, which signifies the nature of the divine, and made into a divine or angelic being … In Memar Marqa, it is said that Moses “dwelt among the Standing Ones” (IV, 6). This position of Moses no doubt images him as the chief among the angels, God’s messengers. The hymn goes on to describe Moses as “the Elohim who is from mankind” (55,5). The divine names “Standing One” and “Elohim” were shared by the angels; and, since Moses is given the self-name names he obviously is elevated to the position of an angelic being, even the principal angel of God.

This description of Moses also sounds terribly close to how Enoch is transfigured into the Angel of the Lord, Metatron in Enochian literature. Of course, it goes without saying that this also matches in line with how Jesus achieves the resurrection in the Gospels. However, In Deuteronomy 34:5-6 the exact text reads:

“And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him[a] in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

This alone does not suggest a bodily resurrection, and the Jews would probably have had little reason other than not finding his grave to suspect so. But then in Jude 9:

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

This revelation probably shed great light for the Jewish faithful on why no one found his body, which also foreshadows the empty tomb of Jesus in John 20. It is clear that the Samaritans held to a very strong tradition of Moses’ assumption and being snatched away at death which directly contradicts Deuteronomy. Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the next part of the Great Declaration:

Such is the law laid down by Moses, and it was on the pattern of that he wrote each of his books, as the titles tell. The first of them is Genesis, and this title in and of itself bespeaks the whole matter. For this Genesis denotes vision, one of the divisions of the river. For it is through sight that one perceives the creation. The second book has the title Exodus, for everyone who is born must travel through the Red Sea and across the wilderness, the red denoting blood, and taste the bitter water at Marah. This bitterness is that of the water beyond the Red Sea, referring to the painful, bitter path of learning we walk through life. But when it is transformed by Moses, really by the word, what was bitter becomes sweet. This is attested even by secular source, as witness the poet: “Its root was black, but the flower was like unto milk. Moly, the immortals name it. How hard for mortal to dig up, but the for the gods all is child’s play.” What the gentiles say here is enough to give knowledge of the whole thing as long as one has ears to hear. Whoever tasted of this fruit had the power to restore those so cursed. Regaining their proper shape, they were like a defaced coin melted down again and struck again according to the type. By the use of this fruit, as white as milk, one discovered the true man, beloved of the wizardress.

In the same way, the third book, Leviticus, concerns smelling or breathing since the entire context of the book is taken up with sacrifices and offerings. And inseparable from sacrificing is the ascending odor of the incense accompanying the sacrifice, and it is the olfactory sense that determines the propriety of the scent. Numbers, the fourth book, refers to taste, which is activated by speaking. The book receives its name from the listing of everything in numerical order.  But Deuteronomy, he says, is written in reference to the (sense of) touch possessed by the child that is being formed. For as touch, by seizing the things that are seen by the other senses, sums them up and ratifies them, testing what is rough, or warm, or clammy, (or cold); so the fifth book of the law constitutes a summary of the four books preceding this.

The Simonian author clearly has great respect for the first five books of the Torah, as this confirms G.R.S. Mead’s account of the Samaritians. There is also the application of the five physical senses with, again, the first five books of the Torah. Genesis is likened to vision, Exodus to taste, Leviticus to scent, Numbers to taste, while Deuteronomy refers to touch. As we’ve already seen, Eden was also taught as an allegory for the womb. This application of the Torah to the physiology to the human body isn’t exactly a unique invention.

According to the Church Father Hippolytus, the source of which we get the Great Declaration, another Gnostic sect, called the Naaseenes, also strongly emphasized the usage of allegory and symbolism, much like Simon. Accordingly, in Refutations of All Heresies V, IV, Hippolytus reports that in the Naaseene system, the Garden of Eden is actually the brain, and Paradise is the human head. The four rivers flowing out form Eden- Pishon applies to the eyes or vision, Gihon to hearing, Tigris to breathing and the Euphrates to the mouth. Hippolytus also claimed that the serpent who gave knowledge to Eve corresponded with the brain:

The form, however, of the brain is like the head of a serpent, respecting which a lengthened discussion is maintained by the professors of knowledge, falsely so named, as we shall prove.

This is comparable to Irenaeus’ report in Against Heresies (1.30) that the Valentinians believed that the serpent was “within us” in the form of the intestine!

Such are the opinions which prevail among these persons, by whom, like the Lernæan hydra, a many-headed beast has been generated from the school of Valentinus. For some of them assert that Sophia herself became the serpent; on which account she was hostile to the creator of Adam, and implanted knowledge inmen, for which reason the serpent was called wiser than all others. Moreover, by the position of our intestines, through which the food is conveyed, and by the fact that they possess such a figure, our internal configuration in the form of a serpent reveals our hidden generatrix.

Moreover, Hippolytus reported that the Valentinians believed that the spirit was immobile inside the cranium, and spread to the spinal cord through the pineal body. By the same path, semen reached the genital organs. Plato’s Timeaus also describes the shape and function of the brain, the medulla and sperm, as intended by the creator, who placed the divine man in the encephalon and the mortal soul in the medulla.

Plato taught that the rational soul or souls were split up in the brain, the spinal marrow and in the heart and liver (Timaeus, 44 D; 69 C-77B). The Red Sea in this passage also reflects on how the Naaseenes viewed it. Hippolytus reports that the Red Sea represented the work of generation or sexual desire between man and woman, while Egypt represented the human body as a whole:

This, he says, is ocean, “generation of gods and generation of men” ever whirled round by the eddies of water, at one time upwards, at another time downwards. But he says there ensues a generation of men when the ocean flows downwards; but when upwards to the wall and fortress and the cliff of Luecas, a generation of gods takes place. This, he asserts, is that which has been written: “I said, Ye are gods, and all children of the highest;” “If ye hasten to fly out of Egypt, and repair beyond the Red Sea into the wilderness,” that is, from earthly intercourse to the Jerusalem above, which is the mother of the living; “If, moreover, again you return into Egypt,” that is, into earthly intercourse, “ye shall die as men.” For mortal, he says, is every generation below, but immortal that which is begotten above, for it is born of water only, and of spirit, being spiritual, not carnal. But what (is born) below is carnal, that is, he says, what is written. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” This, according to them, is the spiritual generation. This, he says, is the great Jordan which, flowing on (here) below, and preventing the children of Israel from departing out of Egypt–I mean from terrestrial intercourse, for Egypt is with them the body,–Jesus drove back, and made it flow upwards.

The Red Sea is not only representative of the lust of the flesh and procreation but for also the daily life on Planet Earth in bodily flesh, in all its toils and hardships, “by the sweat of your brow” as ordered through a curse by the creator god against Adam (Genesis 3:19). We’ve already covered the meaning of the River Jordan in Part 3, which is very similar, holding that John the Baptist was actually symbolic of the Craftsman, the womb and procreation. Of course, neither Simon or the Naasenes were the only ones to apply philosophy and allegory to the Old Testament. Philo of Alexandria dedicated several volumes of writings to this exegetic function alone, although Philo arrived to fundamentally different conclusions…

Philo of Alexandria made great pains to show the metaphysical and philosophical underpinnings of the Torah. His application of Platonic and Pythagorean concepts to Samaritan and Jewish scriptures would know doubt titillate other writers of that era, including Justin Martyr, who believed that Moses and the Israelites anticipated Egyptian mystery religion, as well as Plato and the Greek philosophers! It is debatable that Philo came before the New Testament and Gnostic literature as this seems more like an Orthodox fabrication.

In future entries, we will examine Simon’s role as a docetic savior, as well as his connections with other characters in the New Testament, including his sworn enemy, Peter.

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden (Part 3)

Serpent of Wisdom

In Part 2, I discussed how the Serpent was used as a symbol for not only initiation into the mysteries and immortality but also a symbol for sexuality, generation, death and rebirth due to the creature’s ability to shed its skin of the old to reveal a shiny new skin underneath. The mythologized Serpent, of course, does appear in almost every culture around the world over. Genesis 3 relays how the Serpent offers knowledge in the form of a fruit grown from the Tree of Knowledge (the “Good ” and “Evil” part may have have been added later as a gloss.) Like the Serpent, the Tree of Knowledge is sometimes considered to be a phallic symbol. This Fruit along with the Tree also were used to signify the result or effect of some cause, having both a positive and a negative effect and origin.

The Two Trees.

The Tree of Knowledge and digesting the forbidden fruit in Genesis according to Jewish tradition represented the primeval mixture or intermingling of good and evil, light and darkness in an almost Manichean fashion. Eating the fruit forbidden set off a chain reaction where humanity developed a “yeitzer hara” or “evil inclination.” Unlike the earlier Hebrews, who blamed themselves for their woes, the Jewish Rabbis believed God had implanted in the ‘heart’, the Hebrew place of the unconscious of each individual, at his birth or conception. The yezer was not hereditary. It was intrinsically good and the source of creative energy, but had a strong potential for evil through appetite or greed. Only strict observance of the Law could keep the strong, irrational passions it engendered under control. To the commentators in the five centuries before Christ, Adam’s death was due to his own “sinful actions”, and not to the Augustine-authored “original sin nature” or “ancestral sin” inherent in the DNA in the race of man because of the disobedience of the primal parents. The Zohar claims that Adam and Eve lost their immortality by ingesting the fruit which is ironically enough compared to the occult:

Hear what saith scripture when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree by which death entered into their souls or lower nature, ‘And when they heard the voice of the Lord of the Alhim walking in the garden’ (Gen. iii-8), or, as it ought to be rendered, had walked (mithhalech). Note further that whilst Adam had not fallen, he was a recipient of divine wisdom (hochma) and heavenly light and derived his continuous existence from the Tree of Life to which he had free access, but as soon as he allowed himself to be seduced and deluded with the desire of occult knowledge, he lost everything, heavenly light and life through the disjunction of his higher and lower self, and, the loss of that harmony that should always exist between them, in short, he then first knew what evil was and what it entailed, and, therefore, it is written, ‘Thou art not a God that approveth wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee’ (Is. v-5); or, in other words, he who implicitly and blindly follows the dictates of his lower nature or self shall not come near the Tree of Life.

According to the Babylonian Talmud, Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for just twelve hours before being unceremoniously thrown out. This is half a day in Paradise. That snake sure was a fast worker! Yahweh gave Adam and Eve the tour round Eden, told them what they could or couldn’t do and had no sooner turned his back than they were disobeying him and he had to expel them and sentence them, and the whole human race to come, to hell-fire for all eternity. Is that not the biggest (pardon this author’s french) fuck up of all time? It takes a spectacular degree of incompetence to screw things up that badly, so quickly. And yet the source who engineered this monumental disaster is supposed to be the Creator of the Universe, all-knowing and all-powerful, incapable of error! It is any wonder why the Gnostics called the creator god of Genesis as a dark and brutal god who was also given names such as: Samael (Blind One) and Saklas (idiot-retard)?

The Catholic Church Father Irenaeus mentions in Adv. Hear. 1, 29, 3, that the Barbelognostics revered the classic Qabalistic symbol of the “Tree, which itself they call Knowledge (gnosis).” This Tree is generated by two more primordial entities or “Aeons” called “Man” and “Knowledge.” It is hard to know just what his source for this passage may have been, for the kabbalistic symbol of the Tree does not figure in any of the surviving versions of the Apocryphon of John. There is, however, a passage in the Church Father Origen’s description in Contra Celsum of the diagrams of the cosmos envisaged by the Ophites:

And everywhere there, the Tree of Life, and the resurrection of flesh from the Tree …

This passage suggests that the form of the Tree had been imposed on the whole diagram. The Church Father Origen also gives a number of  “ten circles”, the traditional number of the emanations or “sefiroth” associated with the cosmic spheres in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life – though roughly only seven of them can have planetary names. This image of the spiritual powers circling in the heavenly spheres, which the Jewish scholar, Gershom Scholem has suggested entered Jewish esoteric teaching from Hellenistic-Egyptian traditions in the centuries before Christianity (or at least Christian gnosticism) arose bears also upon the enigma of the seven-headed form of Iao in the fourth sphere (as discussed in the Apocryphon of John), that of the Sun.

This idea of the Archons situated upon the astral “aerial toll houses” of Eastern Orthodoxy (and of course Gnosticism, especially in the First Apocalypse of James) does indeed seem to originate in ancient Egypt where the the Book of the Dead lists protective spells learned by initiates to guard against the dangerous “judges” during the post-mortem journey of the soul. Speculation in Christian and in Gnostic circles concerning the order of the celestial hierarchy hinged upon a few passages in the Pauline literature, which seem to imply, however, different sequences as Colassians 1:16 states:

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

The names of the authorities are as follows, featured and listed in the Ophite doctrine, refuted by Celsus in Contra Celsum:

Michael – lion, Souriel – bull, Raphael – serpent, Gabriel – eagle, Thauthabaoth – bear, Erathaoth – dog, Taphabaoth/Onoel – ass.

The sequence was composed using the figures of four biblical Cherubim, to whom three new personages were added. The animal forms are derived from the biblical story of the famous vision of Ezekiel as is the iconography of the four evangelists. Ezekiel had seen four monstrous beings in the shape of winged men with four faces: of a man, a lion, a bull and an eagle, on each of the four sides. Jerome connects this tetramorph with the Four Evangelists, being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

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In the Trimorphic Protennoia, the Archons claim that they also were derived from a tree:

For as for our tree from which we grew, a fruit of ignorance is what it has; and also its leaves, it is death that dwells in them, and darkness dwells under the shadow of its boughs. And it was in deceit and lust that we harvested it, this (tree) through which ignorant Chaos became for us a dwelling place.

As mentioned in Part 1, the Gospel of John 15, 1-2 equates Christ with the vines and fruit of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, which also sounds vaguely Dionysian. Dionysus was also called the surname Dendritês, the god of the tree, which has the same import as Dasyllius, the giver of foliage.

The Gospel of Truth also equates the cross to the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden:

He was nailed to a tree (and) he became fruit of the knowledge of the Father. It did not, however, cause destruction because it was eaten, but to those who ate it, it (cause) to become glad in the discovery, and he discovered them in himself, and they discovered him in themselves.

The Gospel of Philip also makes the connection between the Tree of Life, the resurrection via the chrism (anointing) and Jesus Christ, explicit:

Philip the apostle said, “Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the cross.” But the Tree of Life is in the middle of the Garden. However, it is from the olive tree that we got the chrism, and from the chrism, the resurrection.

Elsewhere in the Gospel of Philip, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is identified with the flesh and the Law (the lower natures as opposed to the pnuematic one). Using a riff from the Epistle to the Romans 7:7-11, the author says:

“It has the power to give knowledge of good and evil. It neither removed him from evil, nor did it set him in the good. Instead it created death for those who ate of it. For when it said, ‘Eat this. Do not eat that.’ it became the beginning of death.”

The pseudepigraphic Jewish-apocalypse Book of Enoch 31:4, describes this tree of knowledge in the midst of the “Garden of Righteousness”:

It was like a species of the Tamarind tree, bearing fruit which resembled grapes extremely fine; and its fragrance extended to a considerable distance. I exclaimed, How beautiful is this tree, and how delightful is its appearance!

Irenaeus’ pupil, Hippolytus would write in Against All Heresies (VI, 27) on how the Valentinians compared the Logos to the fruit of the Tree of Life:

This (one) is styled among them Joint Fruit of the Pleroma. These (matters), then, took place within the Pleroma in this way. And the Joint Fruit of the Pleroma was projected, (that is,) Jesus,— for this is his name—the great High Priest. Sophia, however, who was outside the Pleroma in search of Christ, who had given her form, and of the Holy Spirit, became involved in great terror that she would perish, if he should separate from her, who had given her form and consistency.

He also writes that the Father projected a warrior Aeon as a defense mechanism to protect the Aeonic realm of the Pleroma from the shapeless void created by the fallen Sophia, who is often shaped in a Cross:

Now this (Aeon) is styled Horos, because he separates from the Pleroma the Hysterema that is outside. And (he is called) Metocheus, because he shares also in the Hysterema. And (he is denominated) Staurus, because he is fixed inflexibly and inexorably, so that nothing of the Hysterema can come near the Aeons who are within the Pleroma.

This description also matches with Irenaeus’ account (Against Heresies 1.3.5) on how the Valentinian Christians viewed the hidden, metaphysical meaning and nature of the Cross:

“They show, further, that that Horos of theirs, whom they call by a variety  of names, has two faculties,-the one of supporting, and the other of separating;  and in so far as he supports and sustains, he is Stauros, while in so far as he  divides and separates, he is Horos. They then represent the Saviour as having  indicated this twofold faculty: first, the sustaining power, when He said,  “Whosoever doth not bear his cross (Stauros), and follow after me, cannot be my  disciple; ” and again, “Taking up the cross follow me; ” but the separating power when He said, “I came not to send peace, but a  word.” They also maintain that John indicated the same thing when he said, “The fan is  in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge the floor, and will gather the wheat  into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.” By this declaration He set forth the faculty of Horos. For that fan they explain  to be the cross (Stauros), which consumes, no doubt, all material objects, as fire does chaff, but it purifies all them that are saved, as a fan does wheat. Moreover, they affirm that the Apostle Paul himself made mention of this cross in the following words: “The doctrine of the cross is to them that  perish foolishness, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.” And again: “God forbid that I should glory in anything save in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.”

In the above paragraph, Horos or Stauros (the cross of John) is the limit (X) of Plato’s Timaeus. Simon Magus taught this same exact thing as we will see below. The cross symbolizes the separation of powers and realms. It represents the apokatastasis, the Stoic conflagration, the baptism by fire. Paul the Apostle speaks of this fire that purifies and tries men’s works in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. To be crucified to the world is to bear the symbol of the cross which is a flat-out denial of YHWH and the Elohim archons’ creation. It is to spit in the face of the Greek gods of fate like Socrates. It is hemlock to the flesh and to the spirit it is immortality.

It is the Cross of Christ, which in the Gnostic interpretation separates God from the manifest world, the uncreated, transcendent World of Forms from the Creator and the created realm, constituting a Separate and Hidden God. This limit in essence separates the “wheat from the tares”. At the same time, it also serves as a bridge between the saved sparks of light into the realm above. The extremely esoteric Sethian text, Allogenes, mentions a power or aeon by the name of “Kalyptos”, which can mean either “hidden” or “that which covers,” which may derive from the conception of the veil parting the higher from the lower realm. This power derives from the Aeon of Barbelo, which is also a state of being in which a spiritual power descends into matter. The position of Kalyptos comes very close to that of the Valentinian Horos, Stauros or Limit that separates the highest deity Bythos (Depth or Abyss) from the other Aeons that derive from him. This limit also functions though a second barrier between the “hysterema” of the material cosmos and the realm of the Aeons. Sophia also functions as a veil in On the Origin of the World.

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All of these concepts are also reflected in Origen’s Contra Celsum (6, 33) in which he states that that on the diameter of one of the circles a sword of fire was depicted, the same one that had driven Adam and Eve from the earthly Paradise. This flaming sword guarded the Tree of knowledge (gnosis) and of life (zoe). If the sword was above the black line of Tartarus, then the tree of knowledge and of life has to be the series of circles starting from Gnosis and Sophia and leading through the circle of Life to the Father. This could be similar to the Kabbalistic number of 777 being the sum the paths that the Lightening Path of Creation travels down through the Tree of Life. It is through this channel that the Luciferian motif of bringing the light of heaven to the World of Action becomes apparent.

In Contra Celsum, Origen reports Celsus’ comments on the Christians (the Ophite-Sethian Gnostics in reality), who called their baptismal rite “seal” (recalling the Five Seals of the Sethians); the person who placed the seal was called “father”; the one who received it was called “son” and “young man”, answering: “I am anointed with the white chrism of the tree of life”. Celsus further down describes the Christian belief of “tree of life” being both synonymous with Christ and the resurrection in 6:34:

And in all their writings (is mention made) of the ‘tree of life’ (τό της ζωης ξύλον), and a resurrection of the flesh by means of the ‘tree’ (από ξύλου), because, I imagine, their teacher was nailed to a cross (σταυρω ένηλώθη), and was a carpenter by craft (τέκτων τήν τεχνην)…

Celsus connects a so-called “tree of life,” and a resurrection by means of the “tree,” to Jesus’ execution: that he was nailed to an execution pole and his trade being carpenter, joiner. The relevant point Celsus is making here is that Jesus was suspended on some kind of pole, and secured to it with nails. Clearly, the parallels between the Ophite diagram and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, with the circles shown to have numerical values, are there.

The Trimorphic Protennoia and the hermetic Discourse on Eighth and Ninth in the Nag Hammadi library pre-suppose numerical values for the manifestations of God, as does the system of Valentinus as described by his enemy, Irenaeus, which envisioned the theoretical attainment of 10 divine Aeons. He also develops a system consisting of about thirty Aeons, which would suggest that he had taken the simpler Ophite system and expanded it until it was almost uncontrollable. Even more interesting is in the Sethian text, Melchizedek,  it portrays Adam and Eve defeating the guardians of the Tree of Life with their own weapon!

For when they ate of the tree of knowledge, they trampled the Cherubim and the Seraphim with the flaming sword.

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The Sephirothic Tree by Robert Fludd

The Qabalah or Kabbalah itself has many similarities with Gnosticism in their closely related teachings of the hidden God and hypostatization of God’s attributes. The Sephirot (or Enumerations, which also means “book” in Hebrew) are the ten emanations of God (or infinite light: Ein Sof Aur) into the universe. These emanations manifest not only in the physical part of the universe, but also in the metaphysical one. Kabbalah distinguish four different worlds or planes: Atziluth, or World of Emanations, where the Divine Archetypes live; Beri’ah or World of Creations, where Highest Ranking Angels are; Yetzirah or World of Formations is the astral world; and Asiyah or World of Actions, is the physical plane and “low astral” plane. Each of these worlds are progressively grosser and denser (one can see the strong Kabbalistic influence on Neo-Platonic thought here as well), but the ten Sephiroth manifest in all of them.

The Kabbalah is rooted in the Merkavah and Assyrian traditions, and the Kabbalah defines Sefirot is also based on the great visions described by Ezekiel. The Sephiroth constitutes the “Tree of Life”, and is aligned in three columns, each headed by a Supernal. The names of the Sephirot are: Kether (Crown), Chochman (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), Chesed (Mercy), Gevurah (Severity), Tiphareth (Redeemer), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Majesty), Yesod (Foundation), Malkhuth (Kingdom). Some clear Christian and Gnostic associations on the Tree of Life is down the middle path, with Keter relating to the Father, which emanates into Tipharet relating to the Holy Ghost, and Christ as the Solar Logos and Savior, which emanates to Yesod, relating to the Son. This being the path by which God emanates into Malkut, the physical world

The Manichean Psalm CCXX illustrates the theme of matter receiving the spiritual Light rather well by using Tree imagery:

They rose, that they belong to Matter, the children of Error, desiring to uproot thy unshakable tree and plant it in their land. Matter and her sons divided me up amongst them, they burnt me in their fire, they gave me a bitter likeness.” … “I am the sweet water that is beneath the sons of Matter.

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Alchemical image of the Divine Sophia as a Tree of Learning and source of the Elixir of Life.

In Jewish Wisdom literature, it was Khokhmah who personified the female Divine. She is understood as an emanation of God, yet she resonates with the Hebrew Goddess who is otherwise assailed in the Old Testament, by Jehovah especially Asherah, the Queen of Heaven. Proverbs 3:18 calls up an image of Khokhmah that originates in the oldest core of Jewish culture: “She is a Tree of Life to all who lay hold of her.” In the same book, Khokhmah sings, “The one who finds me, finds life.” A similar aretalogy can be found in the Sethian text, Thunder-Perfect Mind. The creation story of the 2nd, Century Gnostic, Valentinus of Alexandria, the greatest of Sophia’s devotees, describes the origin and essence of the matter composing this world as emotionally and psychically consubstantial with Sophia as indicated by Irenaeus in Against Heresies, 5, 4:

This mother they also call OgdoadSophiaTerra (Gaia), Jerusalem (cf. Gal. 4:26), Holy Spirit, and, with a masculine reference, Lord. Their mother dwells in that place which is above the heavens, that is, in the intermediate abode; the Demiurge in the heavenly place, that is, in the hebdomad; but the Cosmocrator in this our world. The corporeal elements of the world, again, sprang, as we before remarked, from bewilderment and perplexity, as from a more ignoble source. Thus the earth arose from her state of stupor; water from the agitation caused by her fear; air from the consolidation of her grief; while fire, producing death and corruption, was inherent in all these elements, even as they teach that ignorance also lay concealed in these three passions.

Furthermore, she knows:

the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons, the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the nature of animals and the tempers of wild animals, the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots… (Wisdom 7:15-22)

The imagery of the tree is also included in Simon Magus’s cosmology, as reported by Hippolytus of Rome, is a powerful model that describing some rare concepts that Simononians in the early third century work described in the Philosophumena, as the “Great Declaration” or “Great Announcement”. Simon very much describes a tree of fire that consumes itself. This is a third century Simonian document, positing that the root of all existence is infinite, and abides in man, who serves as its dwelling-house. The Logos or the Word is projected down by the luciferian Lightening Flash through the Aeons and into the manifest world and man. From the original root, the hidden principle, spring three pairs of manifestations of: Mind and Thought, Voice and Name, Reasoning and Reflection.

The Father is, moreover, “He that hath stood” in relation to premundane existence; “He that standeth” in relation to present being; and “He that shall stand” in relation to the final consummation. Man is simply the realization of “boundless power,” the ultimate end of the cosmic process in which the godhead attains self-consciousness. This infinite power works in all of the aeons as a compound name: He who stands, has stood, and will stand; a term alluded to in the Clementine Homilies and Recognition’s which say, that Simon Magus considered himself as the “Standing One” along with the “that power of God which is called Great”.

The Simonian author employs very Stoic language in describing what is hidden and revealed in the divine Fire, the original Boundless Power that is the stuff that the original Ineffable God is made of—the equivalent of the Qabalistic Ein Sof or Kether—the Crown. In this above entry (linked above) by Hippolytus, he refers to Simon’s theology of the “fruit from the Tree” as being the quintessential product of the human incarnation.  The tripartite division of spirit, psyche and matter are simply manifest expressions of the original Stoic-like Divine Fire. This concealed fruit or “Hidden Power” which is another term that he used, requires a key in the conscious process of imagining or beholding a power to form mental images.

The Simonian author interestingly uses the term “imagining” as a reference of becoming divinized or be initiated into the mysteries. But this can only be manifested “if its imagining has been perfected and it takes the shape of itself.” Later, the text mentions a “storehouse” which is a room, located adjacent to a royal chamber within a palace where the gold, jewels and other wealth are stored.  Here, the Simonian author is referring to the treasure-house and the storehouse, both concepts that are found within the Pistis Sophia that refer to a location within the “House of Many Mansions” of John 14:2.

Simon Magus also appealed to Matthew 12:33, as Hippolytus writes in Refutations of All Heresies VI, 11:

If, however, a tree continues alone, not producing fruit fully formed, it is utterly destroyed. For somewhere near, he says, is the axe (which is laid) at the roots of the tree. Every tree, he says, which does not produce good fruit, is hewn down and cast into fire.

This, of course, was also Marcion’s (and much later in Mani’s theological two principle system) main scriptural justification for his radical dualism in Christ’s maxim that a good tree does not bear evil fruit, nor does an evil tree bear bad fruit. So if we also interpret that in terms of origins, then the evil god could not possibly have originated from the good god, because good things do not produce evil things, and vice versa. The Gospel of Thomas says something very similar:

(45) Jesus said, “Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things.”

The fact is Simon had a similar doctrine that condemned false religion and predicted a final dissolution of the cosmos, presumably dissolved in fire, so that Simon’s elect can be redeemed, viz. the Great Announcement; Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 6:14; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.23.3.

These words from Simon and John resonate with a key saying of Jesus in Matthew 7:17-20,

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

This was a key saying used by the Gnostics and Marcionites. Could it be that this metaphor originated from John the Baptist, from whom Simon also learned this same metaphor?

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, that you have Abraham for your father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Cf. John 8:39, 44; 1:17-18)

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In the text On the Origin of the World, it states that the tree of life and the tree of gnosis are situated “to the north of Paradise” and is identified as Epinoia. The Greek name Epinoia carries the meaning of “understanding” or “thought” or “purpose”. She is sent to dwell within Adam, her role being to give him consciousness of his divine origins and the way to return to the Pleroma. The author of On the Origin of the World makes a positive evaluation of the Garden of Eden:

And the tree of eternal life is as it appeared by God’s will, to the north of Paradise, so that it might make eternal the souls of the pure, who shall come forth from the modelled forms of poverty at the consummation of the age. Now the color of the tree of life is like the sun. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like those of the cypress. Its fruit is like a bunch of grapes when it is white. Its height goes as far as heaven. And next to it (is) the tree of knowledge (gnosis), having the strength of God. Its glory is like the moon when fully radiant. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like fig leaves. Its fruit is like a good appetizing date. And this tree is to the north of Paradise, so that it might arouse the souls from the torpor of the demons, in order that they might approach the tree of life and eat of its fruit, and so condemn the authorities and their angels.

This depiction is in stark contrast with how the the Apocryphon of John depicts Eden as more of a zoo-like prison of the authorities:

And the archons took him and placed him in paradise. And they said to him, ‘Eat, that is at leisure,’ for their luxury is bitter and their beauty is depraved. And their luxury is deception and their trees are godlessness and their fruit is deadly poison and their promise is death. And the tree of their life they had placed in the midst of paradise.

The Apocalypse of Moses is primarily an account about Adam’s death, its cause and cure. Seth is procured along with Adam’s many other children which leads Adam to recount briefly the story of the temptation, the fall, and the the first parents’ punishment in chapters 7-8. Adam’s narrative explains the reason for his present plight. Adam then subsequently sends his wife Eve and son Seth to paradise in search of the oil of mercy that will bring him relief. (9:3) On the way to the garden, Seth is attacked by a beast (in chapters 10-12) which seems to be evidence that God’s curse in Genesis 3:15 is in effect. Adam’s request to be saved is subsequently denied.

(The oil of Mercy) will not be yours now, but at the ends of the times. Then will arise all flesh from Adam to the great day …. , and then all the joy of paradise will be given to them. … (13:2-4)

Adam knows he is going to die and later on in Chapters 22-29, God appears in paradise on his chariot while accompanied by his angels. His throne is fixed, and he indicts and sentences his creatures from the consequences of the fall being spelled out in detail in chapters 24-26. Adam seeks the oil of mercy but God commands the angels to get on with the expulsion (27:4-28:1). Again Adam pleads, this time for access to the Tree of Life (28:2). God’s response to Adam’s plea is met with a reproof:

You shall not take from it now … if you keep yourself from all evil, as one about to die, when again the resurrection comes to pass, I shall raise you up. And then there shall be given to you from the tree of life. (28:3-4)

Another time, Adam pleads with God for herbs from Eden to offer incense and seeds to grow food. God is kind enough to grant this request before Adam and Eve are kicked out from the garden in Chapter 29. The text concludes on a solemn yet promising note which expands on Genesis 3:19:

I told you that you are dust, and to dust you will return. Again I promise you the resurrection. I shall raise you up to the last day, in the resurrection, with every man who is of your seed. (41:2-3)

In the concluding portion of the book, it describes Eve’s death and her burial by Seth, who is commanded to bury in this fashion everyone who dies until the day of the resurrection. These ideas are also reflected in the apocryphal the Book of the Cave of Treasures, where the dying Adam assembles his sons, including Seth for a request to embalm him with myrrh, cassia and balsam and to leave his body in the Cave of Treasures, situated at a side of a high mountain but below paradise.

Seth himself was also considered to be the archetypal father and savior of the Gnostics, resulting from the Jewish exegesis and combination of various biblical themes: (1) that of “the sons of God” in Gen 6:4 (LXX), (2) that of Seth as “another seed” appointed by God in place of the slain Abel in Gen 4:25, who (3) was fathered by Adam as a son in his own likeness and image according to Gen 5:3.

These themes, in combination with Gen 1:26, concerning the god “Man” created in the image and likeness of God, implied the divine nature of Seth, the “planter” of the heavenly seed (Gen 4:25). Seth would recover from “the great aeons” the glory that had left Adam and Eve at their Fall, caused by the Ialdabaoth. Seth would preserve his seed against the repeated attempts of Ialdabaoth to steal it by keeping it separate from the lustful seed of Cain which came from the Archons. At the end of time, Seth (or Sophia in On the Origin of the World) would destroy Ialdabaoth and his followers in a Revelations-styled apocalypse and reinstate his seed, the part of mankind untainted by lust, into its original glory. The strongest instant that we see Seth as a Gnostic Savior is in the Apocalypse of Adam, where Adam tells his son Seth:

And the glory in our hearts left us, me and your mother Eve, along with the first knowledge that breathed within us.

Later, Adam called his son “by the name of that man who is the seed of the great generation  as a planter of the righteous seed”, recalling 1 Corinthians 15: 35-49 by Paul the Apostle, who compared the resurrection to a seed. Paul states that when a plant sprouts forth from the seed, and the remnants of the seed whither away. The plant came from the seed, but the plant isn’t the seed, and the seed isn’t the plant. They’re two distinct things, and the plant doesn’t come to life until the seed dies. So what Paul is saying is that spirit is deposited as a seed in the body, and it remains a seed until the body dies and decomposes. Then the spirit sprouts forth from the body, and the body is transmuted into a spiritual body, which also recalls the Parable of the Sower in Matthew, Mark and Thomas. It isn’t reanimation of a corpse at all as Catholic Church Fathers such as Irenaeus and especially Tertullian, have maintained (Against Heresies, 5.12.1, De Resurrectione Carnis). Paul’s theology concerning the spiritual resurrection isn’t so far removed from the ideas expressed in the Great Announcement:

…the manifested side corresponds to the trunk, limbs, leaves, and encasing bark. All these members of the tree are set ablaze from the all-consuming flame of the fire and destroyed. But as for the fruit of the tree, if it’s for is perfect and it assumes the true shape, it is gathered into the storehouse, not thrown into the fire.

Here, the vegetation and tree motifs are evident. Returning to the Gnostics—is it from Seth’s descendants who would possess the Gnosis. The Apocryphon of John suggests that Sophia prepared a place for the souls in heaven, where Jesus, the incarnation of the aeon Christ would disclose the true knowledge of how to return to their true home in with the Spirit (in Pleroma), where they would ascend past the rulers (archons) and their astral spheres and be healed of all deficiency and become holy and faultless. To gain these higher realms, one must ascend above the Seven Heavens of Chaos into the Aeons as stated in the Gospel of the Egyptians:

Then there came forth from the great aeons four hundred ethereal angels, accompanied by the great Aerosiel and the great Selmechel, to guard the great, incorruptible race, its fruit, and the great men of the great Seth, from the time and the moment of Truth and Justice, until the consummation of the aeon and its archons, those whom the great judges have condemned to death.

The Apocryphon of John spells it out in a more concise manner:

And he placed seven kings – each corresponding to the firmaments of heaven – over the seven heavens, and five over the depth of the abyss, that they may reign. And he shared his fire with them, but he did not send forth from the power of the light which he had taken from his mother, for he is ignorant darkness.

Origen, despite being one of the Church Fathers (and theological enemies of the Gnostics), he actually had a doctrine very much influenced by Platonism (but stood firmly against groups like the Valentinians and Marcionites). Origen also did not accept the historicity of the Bible nor did he interpret it literally. One example of this can be taken from De Prinicipiis, 4.1.16, where he discusses the Genesis creation myth more as an allegory:

No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it.” And “those who are not altogether blind can collect countless instances of a similar kind recorded as having occurred, but which did not literally take place? Nay, the Gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives; for example, the devil leading Jesus up into a high mountain, in order to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world, and the glory of them.

Likewise, the Valentinians viewed scripture as allegorical on three different levels that corresponded to the three natures. The earlier Gnostics viewed the Old Testament as a symbolic record of the struggle between Yaldabaoth-Jehovah and Sophia as testified in Irenaeus’ account in Against Heresies, VII, 3:

They maintain, moreover, that those souls which possess the seed of Achamoth are superior to the rest, and are more dearly loved by the Demiurge than others, while he knows not the true cause thereof, but imagines that they are what they are through his favour towards them. Wherefore, also, they say he distributed them to prophets, priests, and kings; and they declare that many things were spoken (7) by this seed through the prophets, inasmuch as it was endowed with a transcendently lofty nature. Themother also, they say, spake much about things above, and that both through him and through the souls which were formed by him. Then, again, they divide the prophecies [into different classes], maintaining that one portion was uttered by the mother, a second by her seed, and a third by the Demiurge. In like manner, they hold that Jesus uttered some things under the influence of the Saviour, others under that of the mother, and others still under that of the Demiurge, as we shall show further on in our work.

As we can see, the Tree was an important universal symbol for not only the Gnostics, Simonians, Valentinians, etc, but to groups like the Jewish-Kabbalists, alchemists and many occult groups throughout the ages. The Tree is highly associative with the idea of the descent and crucifixion (and eventual ascent and resurrection) of spirit into and from matter as seen in Sophia-Achamoth’s fall from the celestial world and into the prima materia which parallels the Genesis account of the fall of Eve, the “mother of the living”. In Plato’s Timaeus, do we find the account of the Fall of Atlantis, (as strange as it might sound) which could be read as symbolic of the Divine tragedy and catastrophe so predominant in Gnostic cosmology and theology.

In Part 4, we will investigate a possible Gnostic exegesis of the Atlantis myth and other Greek tales, the Gnostic science of human physiology and the mind relating to Genesis, where and how exactly Orthodox theology developed from and ultimately became victorious as a common religious Christian doctrine, along with some concluding final thoughts on this series.