THE REALITY OF THE RULERS

[or THE HYPOSTASIS OF THE ARCHONS]

Excerpts for Religion 221a

Translated by Anne McGuire

Haverford College

 

I. Epistolary Frame

On account of the reality of the authorities, in the spirit of the Father of Truth the great apostle told us concerning the "authorities of darkness" that "our struggle is not against flesh and [blood]; but against the authorities of the cosmos and the spiritual (forces) of evil." [I have] sent (you) this because you inquire about the reality [of the] authorities.. . . . .

II. The Ruler of this World, Ialdabaoth, creates Offspring as Rulers of this world.

III. The Creation of the First Human

As Incorruptibility (fem.) looked down into the regions of the waters, her image appeared in the waters; and the authorities of darkness became enamored of her. But they could not lay hold of that image, which had appeared to them in the waters, because of their weakness --for "those of soul cannot lay hold of those of spirit"--for they were from below, but it (the image) was from above.

Because of this, Incorruptibility looked down into the regions so that by the will of the Father, she might conjoin the entirety with the light. The rulers (archons) conspired and said, "Come, let us create a human being of some soil from the earth." They modeled their creature as one wholly of the earth. [notice here the conflation ofGen. 1:27 and 2:7].

. . .They had taken [some soil] from the earth and modeled their [human being], according to their body and [according to the image] of the god that had appeared [to them] in the waters.

They said, "[Come, let] us lay hold of the image with our modeled form, [so that] it may see its counterpart [ . . . ], and we may grasp it with our modeled form"--not understanding the power of God because of their powerlessness.

And he breathed into his face; and the human being came to be soul (and remained) upon the earth many days. But they could not make him arise because of their powerlessness. Like storm winds they persisted, that they might try to capture that image, which had appeared to them in the waters. And they did not know the identity of its power.

. . .Afterwards, the Spirit saw the human being of soul upon the earth. And the Spirit came forth from the adamantine earth; it descended and came to dwell within him, and that human being became a living soul. It called his name Adam since he was found moving upon the earth.

A voice came forth from Incorruptibility for the assistance [the helper] of Adam. And the rulers gathered together all the animals of the earth and all the birds of heaven. They brought them to Adam to see what Adam would call them, that he might give a name to each of the birds and all of the beasts.

They took Adam [and] put him in the garden, that he might cultivate [it] and keep watch over it. And the rulers commanded him, saying, "From [every] tree in the garden you (sg.) shall eat; but [from] the tree of knowing good and evil do not eat, nor [touch] it; for the day you (pl.) eat [from] it, with death you (pl.) will die."

. . . They do not know what [they have said] to him. Rather, by the will of the Father they said this in this way so that he might eat and so that Adam might <not> regard them as would one entirely of matter.

The rulers took counsel with one another and said, "Come, let us bring sleep upon Adam." And he slept. --But the sleep that they "brought upon him and he slept" is ignorance. They opened his side like a living woman. And they built up his side with some flesh in her place, and Adam came to be entirely of soul (mpsychikos -- in other words, Adam loses spirit when the woman is taken out of him).

And the Spiritual Woman (t-shime m-pneumatike) came to him and spoke with him, saying, "Arise, Adam." And when he saw her, he said, "It is you who have given me life; 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."

Then the authorities came up to their Adam. And when they saw his counterpart (f.) speaking with him, they became disturbed in a great disturbance; and they became enamored of her. They said to one another, "Come, let us sow our seed in her," and they pursued her. And she laughed at them for their senselessness and their blindness. And in their clutches, she became a tree, and she left her shadow resembling herself before them; and they defiled [it] foully.-- And they defiled the impression of her voice, so that they made themselves liable to condemnation by their modeled form and [their] image.

Then the Spiritual One came [in] the snake, the Instructor; and it instructed [them], saying, "What did he [say to] you (pl.)? Was it, ‘From every tree in the garden you (sg.) shall eat; but from [the tree] of knowing evil and good do not eat’?"

The fleshly woman said, "Not only did he say ‘Do not eat,’ but even ‘Do not touch it; for the day you (pl.) eat from it, with death you (pl.) are going to die.’"

And the snake, the Instructor, said, "With death you (pl.) shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said this to you (pl.). Rather your (pl.) eyes shall open and you (pl.) shall become like gods, knowing evil and good." And the Instructor was taken away from the snake, and she left it merely a thing of the earth.

And the fleshly woman took from the tree and ate; and she gave to her husband and herself; and the ones of soul ate. And their deficiency showed forth in their ignorance; and they recognized that they were naked of the Spiritual, and they took fig leaves and bound them upon their loins.

Then the great ruler came; and he said, "Adam! Where are you?"--for he did not know what had happened. And Adam said, "I heard your voice and was afraid because I was naked; and I hid."

The ruler said, "Why did you (sg.) hide, unless it is because you (sg.) ate from the tree from which alone I commanded you not to eat? And you ate!"

Adam said, "The woman that you gave me, [she gave] to me and I ate." And the arrogant ruler cursed the woman.

The woman said, "It was the snake that led me astray and I ate." [They turned] to the snake and cursed its shadow, [. . .] powerless, not knowing [that] it was their modeled form. From that day, the snake came to be under the curse of the authorities; until the Perfect Human Being (pteleios nrome) was to come, that curse fell upon the snake.

They turned to their Adam and took him and cast him out of the garden along with his wife; for they have no blessing, since they too are beneath the curse.

And they cast humankind into great distraction and into difficulty, so that their humankind might become occupied with the things of earthly life and might not become devoted to the Holy Spirit. [91.7-11]

 

 

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