THE GNOSTIC BIBLE EDITED BY Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer S H A M B H A LA Boston & London 2003 Shambhala Publications, Inc. Horticultural Hall 300 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115 www.shambhala.com ©2003 by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 9 8 7 6 5 4 32 Printed in the United States of America © This edition is printed on acid-free paper that meets the American National Standards Institute Z39.48 Standard. Distributed in the United States by Random House, Inc., and in Canada by Random House of Canada Ltd Interior design and composition: Greta D. Sibley & Associates Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The gnostic Bible/edited by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer.—1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN: 1-57062-242-6 (alk. paper) 1. Gnostic literature. I. Barnstone, Willis, 1927- II. Meyer, Marvin W. BT1390.G4937 2003 299'.932 DC21 2003007148 CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS IX GNOSTICISM, GNOSTICS, AND THE GNOSTIC BIBLE • Marvin Meyer l LETTING IN THE LIGHT: TRANSLATING HOLY TEXTS • Willis Barnstone 21 PART ONE Early Wisdom Gospels 29 INTRODUCTION • Marvin Meyer 31 1. The Gospel of Thomas 43 2. The Gospel of John 70 PART TWO Literature of Gnostic Wisdom 105 INTRODUCTION • Marvin Meyer 107 3. The Book of Baruch • Justin 119 SETHIAN LITERATURE 4. The Secret Book of John 135 5. The Reality of the Rulers 166 6. The Revelation of Adam 178 7. Three Forms of First Thought 189 CONTENTS 8. The Three Steles of Seth 201 9. The Vision of the Foreigner 212 10. The Sermon of Zostrianos 215 11. The Baptismal Ceremony of the Gospel of the Egyptians 218 12. Thunder 224 13. The Letter of Peter to Philip 233 VALENTINIAN LITERATURE 14. The Gospel of Truth 239 15. The Gospel of Philip 257 16. The Letter to Flora • Ptolemy 299 17. Commentary on the Gospel of John • Herakleon 307 18. The Treatise on Resurrection 326 19. The Prayer of the Messenger Paul 332 20. Valentinian Liturgical Readings 335 21. The Secret Book of James 340 22. The Round Dance of the Cross 351 THOMAS AND OTHER SYRIAN LITERATURE 23. The Songs of Solomon 357 24. The Song of the Pearl 386 25. The Book of Thomas 395 ADDITIONAL LITERATURE OF GNOSTIC WISDOM 26. The Exegesis on the Soul 405 27. On the Origin of the World 414 CONTENTS VII 28. The Paraphrase of Shem 438 29. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth 465 30. The Gospel of Mary 477 31. The Naassene Sermon 482 PART THREE Hermetic Literature 495 INTRODUCTION • Willis Barnstone 497 32. Poimandres 502 33. The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth 512 34. The Prayer of Thanksgiving 521 PART FOUR Mandaean Literature 525 INTRODUCTION • NathanielDeutsch 527 35. The Ginza 536 36. Hibil's Lament from the Book of John 555 37. Songs from the Mandaean Liturgy 561 PART FIVE Manichaean Literature 567 INTRODUCTION • PaulMirecki 569 38. On the Origin of His Body 581 39. The Story of the Death of Mani 593 40. Kephalaia 598 41. The Coptic Manichaean Songbook 616 VIII CONTENTS 42. Parthian Songs 639 43. The Great Song to Mani 647 ' PART SIX Islamic Mystical Literature 655 INTRODUCTION • Marvin Meyer 657 44. The Mother of Books 665 PART SEVEN Cathar Literature 727 INTRODUCTION • Willis Barnstone 729 45. The Gospel of the Secret Supper 740 46. The Book of the Two Principles 751 47. A Nun's Sermon 762 EPILOGUE: HISTORICAL MEDITATION ON THE INNER LIGHT OF GNOSIS • Willis Barnstone 765 GLOSSARY 801 BIBLIOGRAPHY FURTHER READING 821 SOURCES CITED 835 INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 849 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We would like to acknowledge several people and organizations that have helped in the production of this volume. For a number of years Chapman University has given generous encouragement to the scholarly research of Marvin Meyer on gnostic texts by providing sabbatical leaves and financial as sistance, and the work on this volume has been undertaken with the support of the Griset Chair in Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University. Nathaniel Deutsch and Paul Mirecki have contributed insightful introduc tions to Mandaean and Manichaean literature in this volume, and Heather Terjung has produced an English translation of the German version of the Mother of Books. Linden Youngquist has provided essential computer expert ise for formatting the texts and preparing the bibliography. The editorial staff of Shambhala Publications has taken on this large publishing project with creativity and resourcefulness. Joel Segel has brought his editorial vision to the creation of the book and has been a model of patience, persistence, and pro fessionalism. Kendra Crossen Burroughs and Dave O'Neal have seen the man uscript successfully through press. Lastly, we recognize our colleagues, friends, and family members who have long endured our preoccupations and have offered us, in many ways, insights into wisdom and gnosis. Willis Barnstone Marvin Meyer IX GNOSTICISM, GNOSTICS, AND THE GNOSTIC BIBLE MARVIN MEYER Know what is in front of your face and what is hidden from you will be disclosed. —Gospel of Thomas 5 I he gnostics were religious mystics who proclaimed gnosis, knowl- • edge, as the way of salvation. To know oneself truly allowed gnos- JL. tic men and women to know god1 directly, without any need for the mediation of rabbis, priests, bishops, imams, or other religious officials. 1. Throughout the present volume we have tried to avoid unnecessary capitalization of the word god and the names of personified spiritual powers and aeons. We are aware that the word god may be used as a name for the divine, but it frequently functions as a general term for the divine, so that even when "god" appears to be a name, it retains its primary nature as a term signifying the concept of divinity. For the same reason, other names of divine expressions, such as divine forethought, afterthought, and wisdom, are likewise left uncapitalized. Conversely, for the sake of clarity, when the Greek word "Sophia" is used for wisdom, that is capitalized, as are other names that are transliterated directly from other languages. We also want to avoid the common practice of singling out a particular deity, for example, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity, for the exclusive honor of the capitalized name "God," while other deities are relegated to the status of mere "gods" and "goddesses." We do not wish to limit the divine by restricting deity through name or selectivity. Traditionally the name and face of the divine are essentially unknowable, and so it is in this volume.