Origin of The World

From the Nag Hammadi (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Seeing that everybody, gods of the world and mankind, says that nothing existed prior to chaos, I, in distinction to them, shall demonstrate that they are all mistaken, because they are not acquainted with the origin of chaos, nor with its root. Here is the demonstration.

How well it suits all men, on the subject of chaos, to say that it is a kind of darkness! But in fact it comes from a shadow, which has been called by the name ‘darkness’. And the shadow comes from a product that has existed since the beginning. It is, moreover, clear that it existed before chaos came into being, and that the latter is posterior to the first product. Let us therefore concern ourselves with the facts of the matter; and furthermore, with the first product, from which chaos was projected. And in this way the truth will be clearly demonstrated.

After the natural structure of the immortal beings had completely developed out of the infinite, a likeness then emanated from Pistis (Faith); it is called Sophia (Wisdom). It exercised volition and became a product resembling the primeval light. And immediately her will manifested itself as a likeness of heaven, having an unimaginable magnitude; it was between the immortal beings and those things that came into being after them, like […]: she (Sophia) functioned as a veil dividing mankind from the things above.

Now the eternal realm (aeon) of truth has no shadow outside it, for the limitless light is everywhere within it. But its exterior is shadow, which has been called by the name ‘darkness’. From it, there appeared a force, presiding over the darkness. And the forces that came into being subsequent to them called the shadow ‘the limitless chaos’. From it, every kind of divinity sprouted up […] together with the entire place, so that also, shadow is posterior to the first product. It was <in> the abyss that it (shadow) appeared, deriving from the aforementioned Pistis.

Then shadow perceived there was something mightier than it, and felt envy; and when it had become pregnant of its own accord, suddenly it engendered jealousy. Since that day, the principle of jealousy amongst all the eternal realms and their worlds has been apparent. Now as for that jealousy, it was found to be an abortion without any spirit in it. Like a shadow, it came into existence in a vast watery substance. Then the bile that had come into being out of the shadow was thrown into a part of chaos. Since that day, a watery substance has been apparent. And what sank within it flowed away, being visible in chaos: as with a woman giving birth to a child – all her superfluities flow out; just so, matter came into being out of shadow, and was projected apart. And it did not depart from chaos; rather, matter was in chaos, being in a part of it.

And when these things had come to pass, then Pistis came and appeared over the matter of chaos, which had been expelled like an aborted fetus – since there was no spirit in it. For all of it (chaos) was limitless darkness and bottomless water. Now when Pistis saw what had resulted from her defect, she became disturbed. And the disturbance appeared, as a fearful product; it rushed to her in the chaos. She turned to it and blew into its face in the abyss, which is below all the heavens.

And when Pistis Sophia desired to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and to rule over matter and over all her forces, there appeared for the first time a ruler, out of the waters, lion-like in appearance, androgynous, having great authority within him, and ignorant of whence he had come into being. Now when Pistis Sophia saw him moving about in the depth of the waters, she said to him, “Child, pass through to here,” whose equivalent is ‘yalda baoth’.

Since that day, there appeared the principle of verbal expression, which reached the gods and the angels and mankind. And what came into being as a result of verbal expression, the gods and the angels and mankind finished. Now as for the ruler Yaltabaoth, he is ignorant of the force of Pistis: he did not see her face, rather he saw in the water the likeness that spoke with him. And because of that voice, he called himself ‘Yaldabaoth’. But ‘Ariael’ is what the perfect call him, for he was like a lion. Now when he had come to have authority over matter, Pistis Sophia withdrew up to her light.

When the ruler saw his magnitude – and it was only himself that he saw: he saw nothing else, except for water and darkness – then he supposed that it was he alone who existed. His […] was completed by verbal expression: it appeared as a spirit moving to and fro upon the waters. And when that spirit appeared, the ruler set apart the watery substance. And what was dry was divided into another place. And from matter, he made for himself an abode, and he called it ‘heaven’. And from matter, the ruler made a footstool, and he called it ‘earth’.

Next, the ruler had a thought – consistent with his nature – and by means of verbal expression he created an androgyne. He opened his mouth and cooed to him. When his eyes had been opened, he looked at his father, and he said to him, “Eee!” Then his father called him Eee-a-o (‘Yao’). Next he created the second son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his father, “Eh!” His father called him ‘Eloai’. Next, he created the third son. He cooed to him. And he opened his eyes and said to his father, “Asss!” His father called him ‘Astaphaios’. These are the three sons of their father.

Seven appeared in chaos, androgynous. They have their masculine names and their feminine names. The feminine name is Pronoia (Forethought) Sambathas, which is ‘week’.

And his son is called Yao: his feminine name is Lordship.

Sabaoth: his feminine name is Deity.

Adonaios: his feminine name is Kingship.

Elaios: his feminine name is Jealousy.

Oraios: his feminine name is Wealth.

And Astaphaios: his feminine name is Sophia (Wisdom).

These are the seven forces of the seven heavens of chaos. And they were born androgynous, consistent with the immortal pattern that existed before them, according to the wish of Pistis: so that the likeness of what had existed since the beginning might reign to the end. You will find the effect of these names and the force of the male entities in the Archangelic (Book) of the Prophet Moses, and the names of the female entities in the first Book of Noraia.

Now the prime parent Yaldabaoth, since he possessed great authorities, created heavens for each of his offspring through verbal expression – created them beautiful, as dwelling places – and in each heaven he created great glories, seven times excellent. Thrones and mansions and temples, and also chariots and virgin spirits up to an invisible one and their glories, each one has these in his heaven; mighty armies of gods and lords and angels and archangels – countless myriads – so that they might serve. The account of these matters you will find in a precise manner in the first Account of Oraia.

And they were completed from this heaven to as far up as the sixth heaven, namely that of Sophia. The heaven and his earth were destroyed by the troublemaker that was below them all. And the six heavens shook violently; for the forces of chaos knew who it was that had destroyed the heaven that was below them. And when Pistis knew about the breakage resulting from the disturbance, she sent forth her breath and bound him and cast him down into Tartaros. Since that day, the heaven, along with its earth, has consolidated itself through Sophia the daughter of Yaldabaoth, she who is below them all.

Now when the heavens had consolidated themselves along with their forces and all their administration, the prime parent became insolent. And he was honored by all the army of angels. And all the gods and their angels gave blessing and honor to him. And for his part, he was delighted and continually boasted, saying to them, “I have no need of anyone.” He said, “It is I who am God, and there is no other one that exists apart from me.” And when he said this, he sinned against all the immortal beings who give answer. And they laid it to his charge.

Then when Pistis saw the impiety of the chief ruler, she was filled with anger. She was invisible. She said, “You are mistaken, Samael,” (that is, “blind god”). “There is an immortal man of light who has been in existence before you, and who will appear among your modelled forms; he will trample you to scorn, just as potter’s clay is pounded. And you will descend to your mother, the abyss, along with those that belong to you. For at the consummation of your (pl.) works, the entire defect that has become visible out of the truth will be abolished, and it will cease to be, and will be like what has never been.” Saying this, Pistis revealed her likeness of her greatness in the waters. And so doing, she withdrew up to her light.

Now when Sabaoth, the son of Yaldabaoth, heard the voice of Pistis, he sang praises to her, and he condemned the father […] at the word of Pistis; and he praised her because she had instructed them about the immortal man and his light. Then Pistis Sophia stretched out her finger and poured upon him some light from her light, to be a condemnation of his father. Then when Sabaoth was illumined, he received great authority against all the forces of chaos. Since that day he has been called “Lord of the Forces”.

He hated his father, the darkness, and his mother, the abyss, and loathed his sister, the thought of the prime parent, which moved to and fro upon the waters. And because of his light, all the authorities of chaos were jealous of him. And when they had become disturbed, they made a great war in the seven heavens. Then when Pistis Sophia had seen the war, she dispatched seven archangels to Sabaoth from her light. They snatched him up to the seventh heaven. They stood before him as attendants. Furthermore, she sent him three more archangels, and established the kingdom for him over everyone, so that he might dwell above the twelve gods of chaos.

Now when Sabaoth had taken up the place of repose in return for his repentance, Pistis also gave him her daughter Zoe (Life), together with great authority, so that she might instruct him about all things that exist in the eighth heaven. And as he had authority, he made himself first of all a mansion. It is huge, magnificent, seven times as great as all those that exist in the seven heavens.

And before his mansion he created a throne, which was huge and was upon a four-faced chariot called “Cherubin”. Now the Cherubin has eight shapes per each of the four corners, lion forms and calf forms and human forms and eagle forms, so that all the forms amount to sixty-four forms – and seven archangels that stand before it; he is the eighth, and has authority. All the forms amount to seventy-two. Furthermore, from this chariot the seventy-two gods took shape; they took shape so that they might rule over the seventy-two languages of the peoples. And by that throne he created other, serpent-like angels, called “Seraphin”, which praise him at all times.

Thereafter he created a congregation of angels, thousands and myriads, numberless, which resembled the congregation in the eighth heaven; and a firstborn called

Israel – which is, “the man that sees God”; and another being, called Jesus Christ, who resembles the savior above in the eighth heaven, and who sits at his right upon a revered throne. And at his left, there sits the virgin of the holy spirit, upon a throne and glorifying him. And the seven virgins stand before her, […] possessing thirty harps, and psalteries and trumpets, glorifying him. And all the armies of the angels glorify him, and they bless him. Now where he sits is upon a throne of light <within a> great cloud that covers him. And there was no one with him in the cloud except Sophia <the daughter of> Pistis, instructing him about all the things that exist in the eighth heaven, so that the likenesses of those things might be created, in order that his reign might endure until the consummation of the heavens of chaos and their forces.

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