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Ancient Gnostic Text explains "The Nature of the Rulers"

A fascinating article about an ancient Coptic text known as the “Hypostasis of the Archons” which means "The Reality of the Rulers.”
It certainly speaks to the strange times we live in today...

excerpt:

This is how the “spirits of wickedness” maintain their presence in the world. “Hypostasis of the Archons” means “The Reality of the Rulers”. Who can doubt their reality? Witness our world now, a world controlled by violence and war, in which war has become an end in itself, a means of power to those that are in thrall to the archons, who have made themselves into the image of the archons, who have become the representatives of the authorities, the spirits of wickedness in this world. We can see the archons as specific thought-forms which are handed down to us, as the psychopathic creatures in all of us, those who take pleasure in the destruction of others, who cannot relate except through a relationship of power, whose purpose is to take gain from another’s loss.

This is the Roman world, the world that the early Christians were opposing. It is the world of slavery and control. The world of conquest and Empire. The world of sexual violence and sexual power. It is also our world.

The archons imprint their model on us, their dead world. That’s what we see through the eyes of the ego: a dead world. A world of objects, of things, bereft of life, hollow, empty, meaningless. A world ripe only for exploitation. A purely economic world. A world in which some humans have the power of life or death over others, a world where we can go to war for possession of a commodity. A world in which men and women, adults and children are slaughtered for the economic benefit of a few.

Read the rest here:

http://cjstone.hubpages.com/hub/The-Hypostasis-of-the-Archons

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Thank you for the post

and the links to the Gnostic Library. I know just a little about this early Christian belief and find the subject worthy of further exploration.

Thanks!

Asclepius's picture

you are welcome

The Gnostics all too often get a bad rap from the fearful orthodoxy, which is kind of ironic considering that the Gnostics were hunted down and sometimes ruthlessly killed. Moreover, their writings were also destroyed and we are expected to take the word of their executioners that ALL "Gnostic" groups were the SAME. Once you open your mind and begin reading what writings are left, the first realization is that there were several different gnostic secs, each with their own unique evolving cosmology. The most important common characteristic is that they were all against dogma of any kind and believed strongly in the power of the spirit of truth , or the "Chrestos"

https://web.archive.org/web/20120309142236/http://historyhun...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/96540105/A-New-Chronology-%C2%AB-H...

https://web.archive.org/web/20120320171925/http://historyhun...

‘Imagination is not a talent of some men, but the health of every man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Asclepius's picture

"The truth shall set you free..."

THE HISTORY OF THE EVOLUTION OF OPINION
by G.R.S. Mead (1906)

excerpt:
“The Church Fathers appealed to the authority of antiquity [the original gnostic teacher, Hermes] and to a tradition that had never been called into question, in order to show that they taught nothing fundamentally new—that, in brief, they taught on main points what Hermes had taught. They lived in days too proximate to that tradition to have ventured on bringing any charge of plagiarism and forgery against it without exposing themselves to a crushing rejoinder from men who were still the hearers of its “living voice” and possessors of its “written word.”

The scholars of the Renaissance naturally followed the unvarying tradition of antiquity, confirmed by the Fathers of the Church.

Gradually, however, it was perceived that, if the old tradition were accepted, the fundamental originality of general Christian doctrines—that is to say, the philosophical basis of the Faith, as apart from the historical dogmas peculiar to it—could no longer be maintained. It, therefore, became imperatively necessary to discredit the ancient tradition by every possible means. With what success this policy has been attended we have already seen; we have also reviewed this growth of opinion, and shown its baseless character and the straits to which its defenders have been put.

From the clouds of this obscurantism the sun of Thrice-greatest Hermes and the radiance of his Gnosis have once more shone forth in the skies of humanistic enquiry and unprejudiced research. He is no longer to be called bastard, and plagiarist, and thief of other people’s property, but must be regarded as a genuine teacher of men, handing on his own, and giving freely of his substance to all who will receive the gift.”

http://www.gnosis.org/library/grs-mead/TGH-v1/th105.html

‘Imagination is not a talent of some men, but the health of every man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Asclepius's picture

Gnosticism has lost its original meaning...

The problem with the word "gnostic", like the word "pagan" is that these words have lost their original meaning by the revisionists of History.

Originally, Gnosticism referred to the teaching that the realization of "Gnosis" (esoteric or intuitive knowledge) is the way to salvation of the soul from the material world. This idea was clearly evident in the Corpus Hermetica, fragments of which have been dated as early as 300BC.

What few people realize today is that this common viewpoint was broadly accepted and clearly evident by the vast collection of writings, 100's of thousands of books of knowledge spanning 1000's of years collected in various libraries throughout Egypt, such as the one in Alexandria. In contrast, we know the concept of original sin originated in the 2nd century AD as first alluded to by Irenaeus.

The Nag Hammadi library discovered in the 1940's is a mere tiny fraction of the vast knowledge that was destroyed. Much if it was written in Coptic, which is a sort of short hand and makes its interpretation difficult. Thus, the library as a whole probably should not be viewed as a single cohesive belief system, but rather various points of view that challenged the prevailing power structure at the time it was hidden in the cave.

Giving Eve equal status was another thing that I liked about the article that I posted on the Hypostasis of the Archons:

"Adam is referred to as the soul-endowed man while Eve is referred to as the spirit-endowed woman. Thus, we are given an image of complementarity between the sexes, of completion, which is entirely lacking in conventional Christian texts. The high regard that the writer of the book has for women is made clear in the passage where Adam is awakened from his sleep. “It is you who have given me life;” he says, on seeing her, “you will be called 'mother of the living.' – For it is she who is my mother. It is she who is the physician, and the woman, and she who has given birth.”

more about the original meaning of Gnosticism can be found here:
http://www.metahistory.org/gnostique/telestics/ApproachingGn...

‘Imagination is not a talent of some men, but the health of every man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's not Christian, it's gnostic mythology.

It's not Christian, it's gnostic mythology.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypostasis_of_the_Archons

Asclepius's picture

We may never know if this was written by early Christians or not

because many were hunted down and murdered and their writings destroyed. What was not destroyed was revised to conform to the dictates of "the Rulers", and then became orthodoxy.

‘Imagination is not a talent of some men, but the health of every man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nonsense

Nonsense. Christianity can be seen in writings of the apostles chosen by Jesus, and in the writings of their students and friends in the ante-nicean church fathers written before the council of Nicea, all of which are at odds with Gnosticism. Not only are the new testament and early church documents at odds with gnosticism, but old testament documents from thousands of years before the gnostics are at odds with them as well. Most people who promote the gnostics don't even know what they taught. Do you promote the part of the gnostic gospel of Thomas where it says that women can't become saved unless they become males?

FOUR gospels in the New Testament were written by Apostles...

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and modern scholars trace all four to a single document. Certainly, they all tell virtually the same story. However, the Gospel of Thomas is, according to his words, the words of Jesus, not Thomas and virtually no one accepts the Gospel of Judas, though it has been scientifically authenticated to being from the period. As far as the "ant-nicean" church, Gnostics made up a large portion of early converts and some of the leadership of the early church. Also, regarding women,ladies and Gentlemen: The Gospel of Thomas - "(114) Simon Peter said to him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life."
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven." There is a similar story in Buddhism; the symbolism is that women who pursue true knowledge are every bit as worth a disciple as any man.

err..

Re: "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and modern scholars trace all four to a single document."

There is a hypothesis that there is a single source, but the idea that the source is a document has no evidence. There isn't a single shred of manuscript evidence or references to a single document. It is likely that a single source was the events themselves.

It's notable that the theology of the 'gnostic gospel of Thomas' is not found in the theology of the churches established by Thomas on the Malabar coast of India, which were pretty well isolated from western church influence for a long time. It seems clear that it's a forgery, and not an actual account of Jesus's teachings from Thomas.

Re: "As far as the "ant-nicean" church, Gnostics made up a large portion of early converts and some of the leadership of the early church."

Your statement seems self refuting, as Gnostics were never part of the church and could hardly be considered converts to a theology they rejected, especially in light of scripture that calls them antichrists.

err?

"That Gnosticism was, at least briefly, in the mainstream of Christianity is witnessed by the fact that one of its most influential teachers, Valentinus, may have been in consideration during the mid-second century for election as the Bishop of Rome.3 Born in Alexandria around 100 C.E., Valentinus distinguished himself at an early age as an extraordinary teacher and leader in the highly educated and diverse Alexandrian Christian community. In mid-life he migrated from Alexandria to the Church's evolving capital, Rome, where he played an active role in the public affairs of the Church. A prime characteristic of Gnostics was their claim to be keepers of sacred traditions, gospels, rituals, and successions – esoteric matters for which many Christians were either not properly prepared or simply not inclined. Valentinus, true to this Gnostic predilection, apparently professed to have received a special apostolic sanction through Theudas, a disciple and initiate of the Apostle Paul, and to be a custodian of doctrines and rituals neglected by what would become Christian orthodoxy.4 Though an influential member of the Roman church in the mid-second century, by the end of his life Valentinus had been forced from the public eye and branded a heretic by the developing orthodoxy Church."

http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhlintro.html
The Lost Sayings Gospel Q

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q.html

As far as the "Gospel of Thomas" is concerned, it is no surprise it is not part of "the churches established by Thomas," as Thomas is no more likely to have founded them than Peter the Roman Catholic Church. "(3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty." http://gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html If Jesus said this, why would a disciple found a church, when clearly one is not necessary. If Thomas made it up, would he deliberately appear, for all the world to see, as a hypocrite who rejected Jesus' teaching?

Yes, as the Roman Catholics argue, the earliest written parchments of the "Gospel of Thomas" are 2nd and 3rd Century AD. That is also true of the entire New Testament.

As a group, mainstream or fundamentalist Christians have been predicting the "Second Coming" at least since 70 AD. Such a poor track record should at least humble you enough to accept the possibility that there is more to the story of the Christ than taught in Sunday School

err.. as in the verb.

Re: "That Gnosticism was, at least briefly, in the mainstream of Christianity is witnessed by the fact that one of its most influential teachers, Valentinus, may have been in consideration during the mid-second century for election as the Bishop of Rome.3 Born in Alexandria around 100 C.E.,"

This seems like modern gnostic spin. The primary source document mentioning the subject is found in the writings of Tertullian, and if you look at what Tertullian actually said, it seems more like Valentinus was not a potential candidate for bishop in anyone's eyes but his own:

From: The Writings of Tertullian
Part Second - Anti-Marcion (Cont.)
III. Against the Valentinians.
chapter 4:

"Valentinus had expected to become a bishop, because he was an able man both in genius and eloquence. Being indignant, however, that another obtained the dignity by reason of a claim which confessorship had given him, he broke with the church of the true faith. Just like those (restless) spirits which, when roused by ambition, are usually inflamed with the desire of revenge, he applied himself with all his might to exterminate the truth; and finding the clue of a certain old opinion, he marked out a path for himself with the subtlety of a serpent."

Phillip Schaff's history of the christian church volume 2 section 125 on Valentinus:

"Tertullian reports, perhaps from his own conjecture, that he(Valentinus) broke with the orthodox church from disappointed ambition, not being made a bishop"

This is far from the modern gnostic spin that would have us believe that Valentinus was someone of some sort of standing within the christian church. Looking at the primary source shows that their argument boils down to trying to call him a notable Christian because he merely thought he could be one. Just because someone thinks they can jump to the moon doesn't mean that they were ever in a position to.

Re: "The Lost Sayings Gospel Q"

Q is just short for the German word 'Quelle' which translates as "source". There is no "Q" document. It's just an idea that there might have been one, but that Idea has no real manuscript evidence, it's pure conjecture.

Re:"As far as the "Gospel of Thomas" is concerned, it is no surprise it is not part of "the churches established by Thomas," as Thomas is no more likely to have founded them than Peter the Roman Catholic Church."

That's like comparing apples and oranges, but it's so convoluted that I don't even want to get into it.

Re:" If Jesus said this, why would a disciple found a church, when clearly one is not necessary. If Thomas made it up, would he deliberately appear, for all the world to see, as a hypocrite who rejected Jesus' teaching?"

So you agree that there is a conflict between the Thomas Christians of India and the Gospel of Thomas, but instead of rejecting the Gospel of Thomas, you reject the Thomas Christians? That's fine if you want to do that, but would you argue that no churches were established by the apostles? How do you account for Polycarp being appointed bishop of the church of Smyrna by the apostle John? How do you account for the Churches mentioned in the New testament if you don't believe churches were part of the apostolic belief system? What about the book of Titus where Paul tells Titus to appoint church leaders? And What about the other numerous references to church stuff in the Bible, like the solemn assemblies, the Church offices with requirements for elders and deacons, the lists, the collections at meetings, and anathema's kicking people out of churches, etc.

Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Also, doesn't it seem to be a bit conflicting to say that Gnostics don't believe in churches and to also suggest that Valentinus was a notable Christian who wanted to become a leader of that kind of church?

Re: "Yes, as the Roman Catholics argue, the earliest written parchments of the "Gospel of Thomas" are 2nd and 3rd Century AD. That is also true of the entire New Testament."

There is more to textual criticism than dates, and even if one were to grant an early date to the Gospel of Thomas, there are so many other reasons to reject it as authentic. But there are new testament manuscripts(i.e. p52) clearly earlier than the Gospel of Thomas. Also consider this argument which puts some new testament gospels in the 1st century: http://www.str.org/quickthoughts/a-short-argument-for-the-ea...

Re:"As a group, mainstream or fundamentalist Christians have been predicting the "Second Coming" at least since 70 AD. Such a poor track record should at least humble you enough to accept the possibility that there is more to the story of the Christ than taught in Sunday School"

That seems like category error. What does getting the date wrong in eschatological prophecy have to do with the acceptance of theology completely antithetical to the teachings of the Bible?

Asclepius's picture

I stand corrected...Thank you

After doing some reading, I will concede that calling the writings "Early Christian" as the article implied (by the association with John the Baptist) was a stretch and I will change the title to Pre-Christian. The problem with using the word "gnostic", like the word "pagan" is that these words have lost their original meaning by the revisionists of History.

A common characteristic of most pre-Christian groups was the teaching that the realization of "Gnosis" (esoteric or intuitive knowledge) is the way to salvation of the soul from the material world. What few people realize today is that this viewpoint was broadly accepted and clearly evident by the vast collection of writings, 100's of thousands of books of knowledge spanning 1000's of years collected in various libraries in Egypt, such as the one in Alexandria. In contrast, we know the concept of original sin was first alluded to in the 2nd century by Irenaeus.

The Nag Hammadi library is a mere tiny fraction of the vast knowledge that was destroyed. Much if it was written in Coptic, which is a sort of short hand and makes interpretation difficult. Thus, the library as a whole probably should not be viewed as a single cohesive belief system, but rather various points of view that challenged the prevailing power structure at the time it was hidden in the cave.

BTW, the answer to your last question RE the Gospel of Thomas is NO. In fact, I don't think women should have been punished to begin with.

Giving Eve equal status was another thing that I liked about the article that I posted:

"Adam is referred to as the soul-endowed man while Eve is referred to as the spirit-endowed woman. Thus, we are given an image of complementarity between the sexes, of completion, which is entirely lacking in conventional Christian texts. The high regard that the writer of the book has for women is made clear in the passage where Adam is awakened from his sleep. “It is you who have given me life;” he says, on seeing her, “you will be called 'mother of the living.' – For it is she who is my mother. It is she who is the physician, and the woman, and she who has given birth.”

‘Imagination is not a talent of some men, but the health of every man.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

huh?

I don't see how it is more correct. One thing I'll grant is that calling it pre-christian at least doesn't entail that it is christian, but it is still a problem to call it pre-christian when there are christian documents which pre-date gnostic documents:

P52 for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Library_Papyrus_P52

And also when the apostles of Jesus, who were Christians, were already Christians prior to the existence of gnostic writings.
What is notable is that biblical texts, like the Gospel of John, which have been shown to have existed prior to gnostic texts, are texts which disagree completely with gnostic theology. Christian theology, which pre-dates gnostic theology teaches about salvation through faith in Jesus and his atonement for sins, not salvation through secret knowledge. And you still have to deal with the old testament conflicting with gnosticism. Gnosticism is much like any cult offshoot of Christianity in it's rejection of the Gospel of Christ communicated by his apostles as well as communicated by those appointed by his apostles to lead churches. In fact, the Gnostic idea that material is bad and that Jesus was not a physical being is renounced in scripture:

2nd John 1:7 "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

Do you consider yourself part of the new age movement? Do you agree with the gnostic idea that Jesus was not a physical being, that he did not come in the flesh?

The New Age Movement is wrongheaded in many instances....

the same can be said of the mainstream and fundamentalist churches.

Your statement that "Jesus was not a physical being" gibes with nothing I have read in Gnosticism. Jesus the man was considered a holy man and great teacher, "Jesus, the Christ," however, is considered by the Gnostics to be the resurrected Jesus, that appeared before Saul and that was initially recognized by the disciples when he first appeared.

...

"Central Gnostic beliefs that differ from orthodox Christian teachings include: ... ... and Jesus as a spirit that “seemed”[72] to be human, leading to a rejection of the incarnation (Docetism).[73]"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docetism

2nd John 1:7 "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

yet the disciples in his presence could perform EXACTLY the

same miracles as Jesus.

Matthew 14:22-33

New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Gnostics consider Jesus the man to be an avatar, just as you described Docetism. I certainly have no quarrel with that.

However, Gnostics have held virtually no power in the 2,000 years since Jesus. Mainstream and fundamentalist Christianity have flourished, yet, the worst forms of violence have occurred, the world has degenerated and is fast approaching the Apocalypse. Just WHO has failed miserably at following the "second greatest commandment? Just WHO is the "antichrist"?

Matthew 22:36-40

New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

GENESIS, CHAPTER 1

"26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

Now, WHERE, in these two verses, does God distinguish between one man or woman and another?

I respect your choice to seek the heaven you choose; but, if I must share your beliefs, then I want no part of it.

..

Re: "yet the disciples in his presence could perform EXACTLY the same miracles as Jesus."

I don't get your point.

Re:"Gnostics consider Jesus the man to be an avatar, just as you described Docetism. I certainly have no quarrel with that. However...the worst forms of violence have occurred... Just WHO has failed miserably at following the "second greatest commandment? Just WHO is the "antichrist"?"

You can't blame Christian theology for the actions of those who don't follow that theology. It's a false dichotomy to weigh false Christians against Gnostics as if those are the only choices. I don't think you need to look to the Gnostics to find peaceful followers of Christ in history, there were plenty of christian groups throughout history who were not under Rome, but rather were persecuted by it and yet held biblical theology. When I think of Christianity, I would never think of people like Bush or Obama who profess Christianity and promote pre-emptive war. I would sooner think of Ron Paul who is not a gnostic.

Re:" Now, WHERE, in these two verses, does God distinguish between one man or woman and another?"

I'm not sure what you're getting at here.
The book of Galatians teaches that men and women have equal value, unlike the Gospel of Thomas.

very interesting stuff--

Thanks--

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Thanks..

for the post.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Friedrich Nietzsche

War is the Force that gives us meaning.

Chris Hedges explores modern power and control through his description of the Greek gods of Thanatos and Eros: Death and Self-love.

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