The Apocryphon of John, Short Version, Translated by Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse


The Nag Hammadi Library

The Apocryphon of John
(The Secret Book of John  — The Secret Revelation of Jon)

Short Version
Berlin Codex (BG 8502, 2) & Nag Hammadi Codex  III, 1


Translated  by Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse
Edited and Formatted by Lance Owens

The Apocryphon of John is commonly referenced by two other names: The Secret Book of John and The Secret Revelation of John,  each depending upon how the word “Apocryphon” is translated. The two surviving Coptic manuscripts of  the shorter version of TheApocryphon of John — found in the Berlin Codex and Nag Hammadi Library Codex III — are very similar, but they are not identical. In this edition prepared for the Gnostic Society Library both manuscripts have been edited together. Where the reading of NHL Codex III,1 varies from the Berlin Codex BG 8502,2, the variant version of the passages from Codex III are shown with yellow text enclosed in brackets {}.

Sectional numbering has been added following the system proposed by Karen King — for details, see Karen King, The Secret Revelation of John.  In Dr. King’s system, sectional numbers are based on the texts from all four existing manuscripts.  In the two “Short Version” manuscripts combined here, Berlin Codex and NHC III, some sections found in the “Long Version” are absent.  For example, the introductory text in section 1 appears only in the long versions, and not in the short version. Thus the short version manuscripts begins with section 2.

This internet resource has been edited and formatted by Lance Owens and is based on the Waldstein and Wisse translations:  Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse, The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1;III,1; And IV,1 With BG 8502,2 (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies), Brill Academic Pub, 1995.  Also see:  Karen King, The Secret Revelation of John , Harvard University Press, 2006.

For purposes of academic citation, please always refer to the print editions of the texts.

2  Now it happened one day when John the brother of James, the sons of Zebedee, was going up to the temple, a Pharisee named Arimanios approached him. And he said to him, “Where is your teacher, the one whom you used to follow?”

He said to him, “He returned to the place from which he came.” The Pharisee said to me, “This Nazorene deceived you (pl.) with error. [He filled [your (pl.) ears with lies], and he shut [your hearts]. He turned you (pl.) [from] the traditions of your fathers.” When I heard these things, I turned from the temple to the mountain which was a place of desert. And I grieved greatly in my heart, saying, “How was the Savior appointed? Why was he sent into the world by his father who sent him? Who is his father? And of what sort is that aeon to which we will go? He told us that the aeon is modeled on that indestructible aeon, but he did not teach us about what sort the latter is.”

Just then, while I was thinking these things, the heavens opened, and the whole creation below the heaven was illuminated with light [below] heaven. And the [whole] world [quak]ed.

I was afraid an[d I watch]ed. And behold a child [appeared to] me. Then [he changed himself] into the form of an old man [who had flight existing within him. [Although I was watch]ing him, I did not [understand this wonder, whether it is a [likeness] having numerous forms [in the flight—for its forms [appea]red through each oth[er—or] if it is one [likeness th]at has three aspects.

[He sa]id [to me], “John, wh[y] are you doubting and [fearful]? For you are not a stranger [to this like]ness. Do not be faint[hearted]! I am the one who dwells with [you (pl.) al]ways. I am the [Father.] I am the Mother. [I] am [the S] on. I am the one who exists for ever, undefil[ed and un]mixed.

N[ow I have come] to instruct you [about what] exists and what [has come] into being and what mu[st] come into being, so that you will [understand] the things which are invisible a[nd those which] are visible, and to t[each you] about the perfe[ct Human].

Now then lift up your [face to] me and listen. [Receive the things that I] will tell you toda[y so that] you yourself will tell the[m to your fel]low spirits who are [from] the im[mov]able generation [of the] perfect Human.”

4  And [I asked] to know.

He said to me, “[The Unit]y is a monarchy [with nothing] ruling over it. [It is] the Gold and] Father of the All, the [h]oly, the invisible, [who ex]ists over the All, the one who [. . .] incorruption, [exist­ing as] pure light, into which it is not possible for any light of the eye to gaze.

It is the Spirit.

It is not appropriate to think about It as god or that It is something similar. For It surpasses divinity. It is a dominion having nothing to rule over It. For there is nothing existing before It nor does It have need of them.

It does not need life. For It is eternal. It does not need anything. For It cannot be made perfect as though It were deficient and only required perfecting. Rather It is always totally perfect.

It is light. It cannot be limited because there is nothing before It to limit It. It is inscrutable for there is no one before It to scrutinize It.

It is immeasurable because there is no other to measure It as though (anything) exists before It. It is invisible because there is no one to see It. (It is) an eternity existing forever. (It is) ineffable because no one has comprehended It in order to speak about It. (It is) the one whose name cannot be spoken because no one exists before It to name It.

It is the immeasurable light, the pure one who is holy and unpolluted, the ineffable one who is incorruptibly perfect. It is neither perfection nor blessedness nor divinity, but It is a thing far superior to these. It is not boundless nor is It limited, but It is a thing far superior to these.

For It is neither corporeal nor incorporeal. It is neither large nor small. It is not a quantity. It is not a creature. Neither is it possible for anyone to know It. It is not something pertaining to the All which exists, rather It is a thing which is better than these—not as being superior (to others as though It is comparable to them) but as that which belongs to Itself.

It does not participate in an aeon (as a constitutive part of it). Time does not exist with regard to It. For whoever participates in an aeon would have to have had it prepared for It by others. And time was not delimited for It since It does not receive from another who sets limits. And It does not need (anything).

Nothing from the All exists before It.

All It asks for is Itself alone within the perfect light. It will contemplate the unmixed light, the immeasurable vastness.

(It is) the eternity who gives eternalness, the light who gives light, the life who gives life, the blessed one who gives blessedness, the understanding which gives understanding, the ever good one who gives good, the one who does good-not such that It possesses but such that It gives—the mercy which gives mercy, the grace which gives grace.

5  What shall I say to you about the immeasurable light?

What is incomprehensible (can only be expressed as) the likeness of the light. In this manner, I will speak to you as far as I will be able to know It—for who could know It infinitely?

His aeon is indestructible, being in a state of tranquility, at rest in silence. (It is) the one that exists before the All, for It is the head of all the aeons {(It is) the head of all the aeons because its goodness provides for all the aeons} —if another thing does exist with It.

For none of those among us understood the things which belong to the immeasurable one except the one who appeared in It. It is he who told these things to us.

(It is) the one who knows Itself alone in the light-water that surrounds It, which is the spring of living water, the light which is full of purity. The spring of the Spirit flowed from the living water of the light and it abundantly supplied all the aeons and the worlds. {and the spring of the Spirit from which the [living] water flows. It abundantly supplied all the aeons and their worlds.} In every way It perceived Its own image, seeing It in the pure light-water which surrounds It.

And Its thinking become a thing. She appeared. She stood in Its presence in the brilliance of the light; she is the power which is before the All. It is she who appeared, she who is the perfect Pronoia of the All, the light, the likeness of the light, the image of the Invisible, she who is the perfect power, Barbelo, the perfect aeon of the glory.

She glorifies It because she appeared through It and she perceived It. {the glory who glorifies It because she appeared through] It.And she glorified [It].} She is the primal Thought (Protennoia), Its image.

She became a primal Human, which is the virginal Spirit, the triple male, the one belonging to the triple power, the triple na[med], the triple begotten one, the androgynous aeon which does not grow old, who came from Its Pronoia. {[the triple male, the triple] hymned, the [triple named, the tri]ple po[wer, the] androgynous aeon which does not grow o]ld, [which ca]me forth fr[om Its Pronoia].}

And Barbelo requested It to give to him Foreknowledge. It assented. When It had assented, Foreknowledge appeared. He stood with Thought, who is Pronoia.

She glorified the Invisible one and the perfect power, Barbelo, for they came into being through her.

Again, this power requested (It) to give her Incorruption. And It assented. When It had assented, Incorruption appeared and she stood with Thought and Foreknowledge, glorifying the Invisible one and Barbelo since she had come into being because of her.{They glorified the invisible Spirit and Barbelon for they had come into being because of her.}

She requested (It) to give her Eternal Life. It assented. When It had assented, Eternal Life appeared. And they stood {And he stood}, glorifying It and Barbelo for they had come into being because of her from the revelation of the invisible Spirit.

This is the pentad of the Aeons of the Father, who is the primal Human, the image of the Invisible one, namely: Barbelo, Thought, Foreknowledge, Incorruptibility, and Eternal Life. This is the androgynous pentad which is the decad of the Aeons, the Father from the unbegotten Father. {This is the androgynous pentad which is the decad of the Aeons of the Father.}

7  Barbelo gazed intently into It, the pure light. She turned herself toward It. She gave birth to a spark of blessed light, but it was not equal to her in greatness. {She gave birth to a spark of light resembling the blessed light } This is the Only-begotten who appeared from the Father, the divine Autogenes, the first-born son of the All of the Spirit of pure light.

The invisible Spirit rejoiced over the light which had come into being, the one who was the first to appear from the primal power, which is Its Pronoia, Barbelo. And It anointed him with Its goodness/ Christhood so that he became perfect. There was no lack of good/ Christ within him because he was anointed in the invisible Spirit’s goodness/Christhood which It poured out for him. And he received the anointing through the virgi[nal Spirit. He stood in [Its pre]sence, glorying the invisible Spirit and the perfect Pronoi[a], from whom he had appeared. {He stood in Its presence, glorying the invisible Spirit and the one because of whom he had appeared.}

And he asked to be given one single thing, Mind. {And he asked to be given a fellow worker, Mind.} The invisible Spirit assented. Mind appeared. He stood with Christ, glorifying him and Barbelo, for all these had come into being in silence and thought.

The invisible Spirit willed to perform a work. {The invisible Spirit willed to perform a work through the Word.} Its will became a work. He appeared. He stood with Mind and Light, glorifying It. The Word followed the Will. For through the Word, Christ created everything. The divine Autogenes, Eternal Life and Will, Mind and Foreknowledge stood, glorifying the invisible Spirit and Barbelo since they had come into being through her.

Through the Spirit, he perfected the divine eternal Autogenes, the son of Barbelo, so that he stood before the eternal virginal invisible Spirit. {The great invisible Spirit perfected the divine Autogenes, the son of Barbelon} It was the divine Autogenes Christ that It honored with great honor, namely he who had come into being from Its primal Ennoia. That one is the one whom the invisible Spirit appointed as god over the All, the true god. It gave to him all authority and It caused the truth which is in It to be subject to him in order that he might know the All.

(He is) that one whose name they will speak among those who are worthy of it.

8  For from the light, which is the Christ, and Immortality, through the divine [Spirit], {For from the light, which is the Christ, and immortality, through the gift of the invisible Spirit} the four great Lights appeared from the divine Autogenes so that they might stand before him.

The three (are): Will [and] Thought and Life. And the four are: Grace, Understanding, Perception, and Prudence. Grace (belongs to) the primal Light Harmozel {Armozel}, who is the angel of light in the primal Aeon; with him are three Aeons: Grace, Truth, Form. The second Light Oroiael is the one he placed over the second Aeon; with him are three Aeons: Pronoia, Perception, Memory The third Light Daveithe is the one he placed over the third Aeon; with him are three Aeons: Understanding, Lov[e, Likeness]. The fourth Light Eleleth is the one he placed over the fourth Aeon; with him are three Aeons: Perfection, Peace, Wisdom. These are the four Lights which stand before the divine Autogenetor, the twelve Aeons which are placed beside the Child, the great Autogenetor Christ, through the approval of the divine invisible Spirit. {These are the four Lights which stand before the divine Autogenes, the twelve Aeons which stand before the Child through the gift and approval of the great Autogenetor Christ, through the gift and the approval of the invisible Spirit.} The twelve Aeons belong to the Son of Autogenetos.

9  All things were firmly founded through the will of the holy Spirit, through Autogenes. And from the first Understanding and the perfect Mind, through God, through the approval of the great invisible Spirit and the approval of Autogenes, It named the true perfect Human, the primal revelation, Adam. {From the first Understanding and the perfect Mind through the gift and the approval of the great invisible Spirit in the presence of Autogenes, the perfect, true, holy Human, the first who appeared—he was calledAdamas.}

It set him over the primal Aeon beside the great divine Autogenetor Christ, being the primal Aeon of Harmozel and Its powers with him.

And the invisible Spirit gave him an unconquerable intellectual power. {And the Invisible one gave him an unconquerable intellectual power.} He said, ‘I glorify and I praise the invisible Spirit for it is because of you that all things came into being and all things (are) in you. And I praise you and Autogenes and the three Aeons: the Father and the Mother and the Child, the perfect power.’ {“I praise you and Autogenes and the aeon the triad: the Father and the Mother and the Child, the perfect power.”}

And It placed his Child Seth over the second Light Oroiael. {And his son Seth was placed in the second aeon with the second light Oroiael.}

And in the third Aeon was placed the seed of Seth, the souls of the saints who dwell forever in the third Light Daveithe. {And in the third Aeon was placed the seed of Seth, the souls of the saints who dwell in the aeon with the third Light Daveithe.}

And in the fourth Aeon were placed the souls who did understand their perfection yet they did not repent immediately but they persisted a while. In the end, however, they repented. They will remain in the fourth Light Eleleth, the one who yoked them to himself, glorifying the invisible Spirit. {having been gathered to that place, glorifying the invisible Spirit}.

10  Our fellow sister, Sophia, being an Aeon, thought a thought from within herself and in the thought of the Spirit and the Foreknowledge.

She freely willed the likeness to appear from within herself although the Spirit had not agreed with her nor had It consented nor had her partner approved, the male virginal Spirit. {She freely willed the likeness to appear from within herself. Her thought was not idle and her product came forth imperfect, for it was not patterned in her form for she had made it without her partner, (and) it was not patterned in the likeness of the Mother.} But she did not find her concord. As she was about to acquiesce without the approval of the Spirit or the understanding of her own concord, she swelled out {she was complete}.

Because of the audacity within her, her thought was not able to be idle and her product came forth, being imperfect, ugly in his appearance, because she had made it without her partner {and her product came forth, being imperfect, not being formed in herform, for she had made him without her partner}. And he did not resemble the likeness of the Mother, for he had another form. As she deliberated, she saw that he had become modeled after a different likeness, “having the face of a serpent and the face of a lion. His eyes were shining with fire. She cast him away from her outside of those places so that none of the immortals might see him, because she had given birth to him in ignorance.

She united a luminous cloud with him. She placed a throne in the midst of the cloud so that no one might see him except the holy Spirit who is called Life, the mother of everyone {except the holy Spirit who is called the Mother of all the living}. And she named him Yaldabaoth. He is the Chief Ruler, the one who attained a great power from the Mother.

11  He removed himself from her. He abandoned the place in which he had been born. {He moved from place to place away from the place in which he had been born.} He seized another place. He created for himself an aeon, which blazes with a shining fire, in which he now dwells. {He created for himself an aeon of fiery, luminous flame, in which he now dwells.}

And he copulated with Madness, who is in him {He copulated with Ignorance, who is in him}. He begat authorities who are under him, the twelve angels, each one of them to his own aeon following the model of the immortal Aeons. And he created for each one of them seven angels each and for the angels three powers-these are all under him, 360 angelic beings with his third power, following the likeness of the primal model which is prior to him.

Now when the authorities appeared from the chief begetter, the chief ruler of the darkness, these were their names from the ignorance of he who had begotten them: The first is Yaoth. The second is Hermas, who is the eye of the fire. {The authorities who appeared from the chief begetter, the Chief Ruler of the darkness and ignorance, together with the authorities were in ignorance of the one who had begotten them. These are their names: the first is Haoth. The second is Harmas, who is the eye of the fire.} The third is Galila. The fourth is Yobel. The fifth is Adonaios. The sixth is Sabaoth. The seventh is Kainan and Kae, who is named Cain, who is the sun. The eighth is Abiressine. The ninth is Yobel. The tenth is Harmoupiael. {The seventh is Kainan Kasin, who is calledthe sun. The eighth is Abiressia. The ninth is Yobel. The tenth is Armoupiael.} The eleventh is Adonin. The twelfth is Belias. They all have double names: one set of names from desire and wrath, but yet other names which are given to them by the glory of heaven. The (latter) are the ones which reveal their nature in truth.

Saklas called them by the names which are from illusion and their power. {Saklas called them by the names which are from illusion and their powers.} On the one hand, through (the names given by the glory of heaven), they are reproved and weakened, like the seasons, while on the other hand, through those (of Saklas) they grow strengthened and increase. And he commanded that seven kings should rule over the heavens and five over the chaos of Hades. {And he commanded that seven should rule over the heavens and five over the chaos of Hades.}

12  The names of the glories who are over the seven heavens are these: The first is Iaoth, the lion-faced {The first is Aoth, the lion-faced}. The second is Eloaios, the donkey-faced. The third is Astaphaios, the hyena-faced. The fourth is Iao, the snake-faced with seven heads {The fourth is Yaw, the serpent-faced and lion-faced}. The fifth is Adonaios, the serpent-faced. The sixth is Adoni the monkey-faced {The sixth is Adonin, the monkey-faced. The seventh is Sabbadaios, whose face is a shining fire}. The seventh is Sabbataios, whose face is a flame of fire that shines. This is the hebdomad of the week. These are those who rule the world. Yaldabaoth-Saklas (is) the one whose forms are without number such that he can appear with any face at will.

13  He allotted them (portions) out of his own fire, but he did not give them any of his power from the pure light of the power which he had drawn from the Mother. Because of the glory which is in him from the power of the light of the Mother, he became Christ to them. Because of that, he made them call him God, {Because of the glory which is in him from the power of the light of the Mother, he was lord over them. Because of this, he called him­self God over them} thus being disobedient to the reality from which he had come into being.

And he joined with the authorities. When he spoke, the seven powers came into being, and he named them. {And he joined the powers with the authorities. When he spoke, they came to be.} Beginning with the highest, he placed authorities (as follows): The first, then, is Pronoia with the first (authority) Yaoth. The second is Divinity with the second one Eloaios. The third is Goodness/Christhood with the third one Astaphoios. The fourth is Fire with the fourth one Yao. The fifth is Kingship with the fifth one Sabaoth. The sixth is Understanding with the sixth one Ad[oni. The] seven[th] is Sophia [wi]th the seventh one Sabbataios. These are the ones who have a firmament corresponding to each heaven and aeon according to the likeness of the Aeon which exists from the beginning, in the model of the indestructible ones.

14  He saw the creation below him and the multitude of angels which are below him who came into being from him. And he said to them, `I am a jealous God; without me there is nothing.’ —already indicating to the angels who are below him that another God does exist. For if there were no other (god) over him, of whom would he be jealous? Then the Mother began to move to and fro as she understood her deficiency. It was her own perfection that had caused her to be blamed, because her partner had not been in concord with her.”

But I said, “Christ, what does it mean `to move to and fro?’

He smiled and said, “You think it happened like Moses said ‘upon the water.’ But in fact, she saw the evil and rebellion which would happen through her offspring. She repented, and as she was coming and going in the ignorant darkness, she began to be ashamed and she did not dare to return but she continued coming and going. Now her coming and going is ‘to move to and fro.’

Now when the Arrogant one got a power from the Mother, he was ignorant of many beings who were superior to his Mother, for he said about his Mother that she alone existed. He saw the great multitude of angels that he had created. He was mighty over them. And when the Mother understood that the untimely birth of the darkness was not perfect because her partner had not been in concord with her, she repented. She wept great tears.

And It heard the entreaty of her repentance and the brothers prayed for her. The holy invisible Spirit assented. When the invisible Spirit had assented, It poured upon her a Spirit from the perfection. When her partner came down to her to put right her deficiencies {her partner came down to put right their deficiencies}, it was through Pronoia that he willed to put right her deficiencies. She was not, however, conveyed to her own Aeon, but, because of the great ignorance which had appeared in her, she dwelled in the Ninth until she puts right her deficiency.

15  A voice came to her, ‘The Human exists and the Child of the Human.’ The chief ruler Yaldabaoth heard, but he did not think that the voice had come [from the exalted height above].

The holy, perfect Father, the first Human of human form, taught them about himself. The Blessed one revealed his likeness to them.

And the whole dominion of the seven authorities bent down.

They saw the pattern of the image in the water. They said to each other, ‘Let us create a human in the image of God and with the likeness.’ They created out of each other and all their powers.

They molded a form out of themselves and each one of (their) powers created from its power a soul. They created by imitating the image which they had seen, the image of the one who exists from the beginning, the perfect Human.

They said, ‘Let us give him the name Adam so that that name and its power might illumine us.’ And the powers began (creating their respective souls) from (the image) below: The first is Divinity; it is a soul of bone. The second is Christhood/Goodness {The second is [Lor]dship]}; it is a soul of sinew. The third is Fire; it is a soul of flesh {[The third is bo]th Christhood/Goodness and Fire, it is a so[ul] of [fle]sh [and the whole foundation of the b]od[y]}. The fourth is Pronoia; it is a soul of marrow which is the whole foundation of the body. The fifth is Kingdom; it is a soul [of blood]. The sixth is Understanding it is a soul of skin. {The sixth is [Understanding]; it is a soul of tooth with the whole body.} The seventh is Wisdom; it is a soul of hair.

And they set the whole body in order. {And they set the whole human in order.} And their angels stood before them. They created a substantial soul out of the things which had first been prepared by the authorities, the harmony of the joined parts.

17  {And he blew into it from his spirit, which is the power from the, Mother, out of the Chief Ruler into the body.} And they created the whole body, which was joined together by the multitude of angels.

18  And it remained inactive a long time because neither the seven authorities nor the 360 angels who had forged [the links of the chain] were able to awaken it.

And (the Mother) wanted to retrieve the power which she had given to the ruler from (her) audacity. She went in innocence and entreated the Father of the All, whose mercy is great, and the luminous God. Following a holy design, he sent Autogenes and his four lights in the shape of angels of the Chief Ruler. They advised him with the goal of extracting the power of the Mother from within him.

They said to him, ‘Blow into his face from the spirit which is in you and the object will arise: And he blew into it from his spirit, which is the power from the Mother, into the body.

And [at that moment] he moved.

Immediately [the rest of the] authorities became jealous because he had come into being through them all and they had given the powers that existed within them to the human and he possessed the souls of the seven authorities and their powers. His wisdom was greater than them all and greater even than the Chief Ruler. And they knew that he was naked of evil because he was wiser than they and he had entered into the light. They lifted him and brought him down into the lowest region of all matter.

But the blessed Father is a merciful benefactor. He had mercy on the [Mother’s] power that had been taken [from] the [Chief] Ruler lest they might have power over the body. He and his mercy sent the good Spirit as a helper to the primal one who had gone down, who was named Adam. (His helper is) the Epinoia of the light, the one whom he named Life.

It is she who labors for the whole creation by toiling with him, by setting him right in his own perfect temple {[by setting him] right [in his own] fullness}, and by teaching him about the descent of his deficiency and instructing him about his ascent.

And the Epinoia of the light was hidden within him so that the rulers might not know but our sister Sophia, who is like us, would set right her deficiencies through the Epinoia of the light.

19  And the human shone because of the shadow of the light which is in him. And his thinking was superior to those who had made him. {And his thinking was superior to those who had made him and, the [whole] host of rulers of authorities.} And they bent down. They saw that the human was superior to them. They took counsel with the whole angelic host of the rulers and the rest of their powers. Then they mixed fire and earth with water and flame. They seized them and the four winds, blowing with fire, joining them with each other, [making a] great disturbance; they brought him down into the shadow of death.

Yet again they made another form from earth, water, fire, and spirit which is from matter, darkness, desire, and the adversarial spirit. This is the chain. This is the tomb of the molded body with which they clothed the human, the fetter of the flesh. He is the primal one who came down and the primal partition. But it is the Thought of the primal light who dwells in him who awakens his thinking.{This is the chain. This is the tomb of the molded body with which the robbers clothed the human, the chain of oblivion. And in this way, the human become mortal. This is the primal desc[ent] and his Primal partition. But it is the Thought of the pre-existent light who dwells in him who awakens his thinking.}

20  The Chief Ruler took him and placed him in paradise, of which he said, ‘It is [a] delight for him’ but really so that he might deceive him. For their delight is bitter and their beauty is licentious. Their delight is a deception and their tree is iniquity. Their fruit is an incurable poison and their promise is death to him. {For [their flood was bitter and their [beauty] is licentious. Their food was a deception and their trees were [iniquity. Their fruit was an incurable poison] an[d their promise] is [death] to them. } Their tree which they planted is the tree of life.

For my part, I will teach you about the mystery of their life. It is their counterfeit spirit which dwells in them, whose purpose is to make him wander so that he does not know his perfection.

That tree is of this sort: Its root is bitter. Its branches are shadows of death. its leaves are hate and deception. Its fragrance is an ointment of evil. And its fruit is the desire for death. Its seed drinks from darkness {[an]d its seed sprouted [from] darkness.} The dwelling place of those who taste it is Hades. But the tree which they call ‘knowledge of good and evil’ is the Epinoia of the light. Concerning her they commanded, ‘Do not taste (of it),’ which means ‘do not listen to her.’ They issued this commandment against him so that he might not look up to his per­fection and realize that he was naked of his perfection.

But as for me, I set them right so that they would eat.”

I said to him, “Christ, was it not the serpent who instructed her?”

He laughed and said, “The serpent is the one who instructed her about the sowing of desire, pollution, and destruction because they are useful to it. Yet it knew that she would not obey it because she is wiser than it. {and [he said], “the serpent appeared to them [. .]sowing of desire, which is the pollution […] darkness so that he might be useful [to it]. [For] it knew [that] he was disobedient to it because he was [wiser] than it.}

21  And he wanted to bring out the power which had been given to him. And he cast a trance upon Adam.”

I said to him, “Christ, what is the trance?”

He said, “It is not like Moses said that he caused him to sleep but it was his sensibility that he covered with a shroud. He weighed him down with insensibility. {“Are you thinking that it is as Moses said, ‘He caused him to sleep’? No, but it was his sensibility that he covered with insensibility. } For indeed it is said by the prophet, ‘I will make the ears of their hearts heavy so that they might not understand and might not see.’

Then the Epinoia of the light hid herself in him.

And according to his will, he wanted to bring her from the rib. But the Epinoia of the light is ungraspable. The darkness pursued her, but it was not able to lay hold of her.

He wanted to bring the power from him (Adam) to make another kind of molded form in a woman’s shape.

And he stood her up before him – not ‘He took a rib’ as Moses said.

He created the woman beside him.

Immediately he became sober from the drunkenness of the darkness. The Epinoia of the Light uncovered the shroud from his understanding. Immediately when he recognized his essence {Immediately he recognized his fellow essence who is like him}, he said, `Now this is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh. Because of this man will leave his father and his mother and he will cling to his wife, and from two they will become a single flesh.’ For the Mother’s partner will be sent forth and she will be set right {For the Mother’s consort was sent forth to rectify her deficiencies}. Because of this, Adam named her the mother of all the living by the authority of the exalted height and the revelation.

Epinoia taught him about knowledge. From the tree in the form of an eagle, she taught him to eat of knowledge so that he might remember his perfection {[so that they might] remember their Fullness} for both were in a fallen state of ignorance.

22  Yaldabaoth knew that they had withdrawn from him. He cursed them. Moreover, he adds concerning the female that the male should rule over her for he does not understand the mystery which came to pass from the design of the Holy Height. But they were afraid to curse him, thereby revealing his ignorance. All his angels cast them out of paradise {And he threw them out of paradise}. He clothed him with a dark gloom.

Then Yaldabaoth saw the virgin who stood beside Adam. He was full of senseless folly, desiring to sow a seed in her. He defiled her.

He begat the first son, Yawe {Yawai } the bear face, and similarly the second, Eloeim the cat face. The one is righteous, while the other is unrighteous. Eloim is righteous; Yawe is unrighteous. He set the righteous one over fire and spirit, while (he set) the unrighteous one over water and earth. Among the generations of all humanity, these are called Cain and Abel.

Up to the present day, marital intercourse came about from the Chief Ruler. He planted a desire for seed in Adam so that from this essence (of desire) a likeness from their counterfeit spirit might be begotten. {And to the present day sex[ual intercourse continues, re­maining fro[m] the Chief Archon. And [He planted] in Adam a seed of desire so that through this essence their likeness could be begotten through the counterfeit spirit.} He set two rulers over the principalities so that they might rule over the tomb. He recognized his essence which is like him {He recognized his own lawlessness}.

Adam begot Seth just as it is in the generation which is above in the aeons. Likewise the Mother sent what belongs to her {Likewisethey sent to the Mother her own Spirit to awaken those who are like it}; the Spirit came down to it (the generation) to awaken the essence that is like it (the Spirit) following the model of the perfection, to awaken them from forgetfulness and the wickedness of the tomb.

And it (the Spirit) remained like this for a while: it labored on behalf of her seed {And [thus] they re[mained for] a while, while shelabored on behalf of the seed } so that when the Spirit from the holy aeon should come, it will set right the deficiency by (establishing) the uprightness of the aeon so that it might become a holy perfection; thus it would come to pass that there would be no deficiency in it.”

23  I said, “Christ, will the souls of everyone live in the pure light?” {Then [I] said, Lord, “Will the souls of every one be saved [for the pu]re light?”}

He said to me, “You have arrived at an insight of great things such as are difficult to disclose to any others except those who are from that immovable generation. Those upon whom the Spirit of the Life descends, having been yoked with the power, they will be saved and become perfect. And they will be worthy to enter these realms of the great Lights. For they will be worthy to be purified there from all evil and the enticements of wickedness. {And they will be worthy of these great Lights. For there they are purified from all wickedness and the chains of evil.}

For they do not give themselves to anything else except this incorruptible congregation and they attend to it without anger or envy or fear or desire or overindulgence. They are not restrained by any of these nor by anything else in them except only the flesh {and they attend to it without anger or envy or jealousy or desire or overindulgence. They are not restrained [by] any of these (except only the flesh] } to which they are subject while they are waiting fervently for (the time) when they will be brought forth and those who receive (them) will admit them into the honor of the imperishable eternal life and the calling, enduring all things, bearing all things so that they might complete the contest and inherit eternal life.”

I said, “Christ, what will the souls do, upon whom the power and the Spirit of Life descended but who did not do these things, in order that they might also be saved?” {And I said to him, Lord, “Where are the souls of those who do not do these things or where will those go into whom the Spirit of Life and the power entered? Will they be saved or not?}

He said to me, “Those upon whom that Spirit comes will live in any case and come out from evil. {He said to, “Those into whom the Spirit of Life enters will be saved in any case, these ones flee from evil.”} For the power enters into every human being—for without it, it is not possible for them to stand upright. After it (the soul) is born, then the Spirit of Life is brought to it. If the powerful Spirit of Life comes, it strengthens the power, which is the soul, and it is not led astray into wickedness. {After the human is born, the Spirit of Life brings the counter­feit spirits. If the Spirit of Life [comes], since it is strong, it [str]engthens [the soul], which is the power, and it is not led astray into wickedness.} But those into whom the counterfeit spirit enters are drawn by it and they are led astray.”

I said, “Christ, {I said, Lord,} when the souls [of those] leave the flesh, where will they go?”

He laughed and said to me, “To a place of the soul, which is the power that is greater than the counterfeit spirit. This (soul) is powerful. It flees from the works of wickedness and it is saved by the incorruptible oversight and brought up to the repose of the aeons.”

I said, “Christ, {I said, “Lord, } what about those who do not know the All—what are their souls or where will they go?”

He said to me, “In those, a counterfeit spirit proliferated by causing them to stumble. {He said to me, “It is these that the counterfeit spirit has burdened when they stumbled.} And in that way he burdens their soul and draws it into works of wickedness, and he leads it into forgetfulness. After it has become naked in this way, he hands it over to the authorities who came into being from the Ruler. And again they cast them into fetters. {And in this way after becoming [na]ked of the body, they are handed over to the authorities who came into being through the Ruler. Again [they cast] them into (bodily) parts.} And they consort with them until they are saved from forgetfulness and it receives some knowledge. And in this way, it becomes perfect and is saved.”

I said, “Christ, how does the soul become smaller and enter again into the nature of the mother or the human?”

He rejoiced when I asked this, and he said, “Blessed are you for paying close attention! Because of this they submit themselves to another who has the Spirit of Life in it. By following and obeying him, it is saved, and of course it does not enter another flesh.”

I said to him, “Christ, where are the souls of those who understood but turned away?” {I said, “Lord, those who did understand yet they turned back, where are their souls or where will they withdraw?”}

He said to me, “Those to whom repentance did not come will go to the place to which the angels of poverty will withdraw. And they will be guarded for the day when all those who blasphemed against the holy Spirit will be punished. They will be tortured in eternal punishment.” {And [they] will be guarded for the day when all those who blasphemed against the holy Spirit with an eter[nal blasphemy] will be pun­ished.}

24 I said, “Christ, where did the counterfeit spirit come from?”

He said to me, “(It all began) when the Mother whose mercy is great and the holy Spirit, the compassionate, who troubles herself with us—the seed that is, the Epinoia of the light awakened the thinking of human beings of the generation of the eternal, luminous, perfect Human. Then the Chief Ruler knew that they surpassed him in the excellence of their wisdom. He wanted to restrict their plan for he was ignorant. He did not understand [that] they were wiser than he. He made a plan with his powers. {He made a plan and begot Fate.}

They begot Fate and they bound the gods of heaven and angels and demons and human beings with measures and seasons and times in order to keep them all in its fetter—for it was lord over them all.

He had a wicked and perverted thought, and he had regrets about all the things which had come into being through him. He planned to bring a flood over the whole erection of humanity.

And the greatness of Pronoia, who is the Epinoia of light, instructed Noah. {And the greatness of Pronoia produced a Thought, which is Epinoia. She appeared to [Noah].} He preached to people, but they did not believe him. It is not like Moses said, that he hid himself in an ark, but she sheltered him somewhere not Noah more (than others) but also some people from the immovable generation.

They entered a place. They were sheltered by a luminous cloud. And he recognized his sovereignty along with those who were with him in the light which illumined them, {And they recognized the sovereignty above [an]d those who were with him when the lightillumined them} for darkness flowed out over everything upon the earth.

25  He made a plan with his angels. Their angels were sent to the daughters of men so that they might raise offspring from them, to be a respite for them. But at first they did not succeed. They all came together to make a plan to create the counterfeit spirit—for they remembered the Spirit which had descended.

And the angels altered their appearance into the likeness of their husbands and their ‘husbands’ sated them with the spirit, which molested them in the darkness out of wickedness.

“They brought them gold, silver, gifts, and metals of copper, iron, and every sort. They beguiled them into temptation {And they [be]guiled them into distractions} so that they would not remember their immovable Pronoia.

They took them and begot children out of darkness through their counterfeit spirit. It closed their hearts. They became hard by the hardening of the counterfeit spirit until now.

26  So again the blessed Mother Father, whose mercy is great, takes form in her seed.

27  First I went up to this perfect aeon. And it is to you ( John) that I speak these things so that you might write them down and give them in secret to your fellow spirits. For this mystery belongs to the immovable generation.

The Mother had come another time before me. These are also the things which she did in the world. She set her seed upright {She was [rectifying] her deficiency.} I will teach you about what will happen. For indeed I gave these things to you so that you might write them down and keep them secure.”

Then he said to me, “Cursed be anyone who will exchange these things for a gift, whether for food or drink or clothing or anything else like these.” {Then he said to me, “[Cur]sed be every one who will give these in exchange for a gift, whether silver or [gold or] in exchange for drink or for [things to] eat or clothing or anything else like these.}

He handed over this mystery to him. Immediately he disappeared from him.

And he ( John) went to his fellow disciples. He began telling them about the things which had been said to him by the Savior.

The Secret Revelation of John.


Based on the translations in:
Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse,
The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1;III,1; And IV,1 With BG 8502,2
Brill Academic Pub, 1995

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