A Glossary of Technical Terms in

The Hypostasis of the Archons

(Nag Hammadi Codex II.97.22-23)

Anne McGuire

Haverford College

Central to the mythic world of the Hypostasis of the Archons is the threefold distinction of spirit, soul, flesh: pneuma, psyche, and sarx, and the related adjectives: pneumatikos, psychikos, and sarkikos. Each of these relates to a different realm or reality, and, at the same time, to a distinct part of the human being.

In the Hypostasis of the Archons, these terms appear frequently, often in the form of adjectives and of substantive nouns formed from the adjectives, which are gendered as masculine singular, feminine singular, or plural.

Grammatical Gender in Greek and Coptic. In Greek, nouns and adjectives are classified into three genders: masculine; feminine; and neuter. In Coptic, there are only two genders: masculine and feminine. The gender of a noun, substantive, or adjective in Coptic is indicated by its definite article and/or by its ending (usually borrowed from the Greek). These often provide the reader with an important clue to the gendered identity of the characters. The gender of a noun is usually indicated by the definite article or by the ending of an adjective borrowed from Greek. In Coptic, the definite articles are gendered as follows: Masculine = p-; Feminine = t-; plural = n.

m-pneumatikos - of spirit; the spiritual one (masc.)

ti-pneumatike - the spiritual one [Layton: the female spiritual principle] (fem.)

p-psychikos - of soul (with masc. article and ending -os)

t-sarkike - of flesh, carnal (with fem. article and ending -e)

p-rome - human being (equivalent to Greek anthropos) (m., generic sense) t-shime - woman (fem.) p-hoyt - man, male human being (masc.; equivalent to Greek aner)

p-teleios n-rome - the perfect human being (m., generic sense) (equivalent to the Gospel of Mary's notion of putting on the "perfect human being," but in this text linked especially to the Savior figure who comes at the End).

t-shime - woman, female human being (f.; equivalent to Greek gyne)

oy-hoyt-chime - androgynous//male-female, or man-woman

t-shime m-pneumatike - the spiritual woman (fem.)

t-shime esonh - the living woman (f.)

t-shime m-sarkike - the fleshly/carnal woman (f.)

sperma - seed, generation (n in Greek; masc. in Coptic)

t-parthenos - virgin, young woman (f.)

p-pneuma m-parthenikon - the Virginal Spirit (with masc. article)


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