GNOOSIS IS THE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HOW TO BE BAPTIZED INTO THE KRATER OF NOUS (E)


(BEING CONTINUED FROM  19/10/16)

JOHN THE ASCETIC (§ 21).

Yahyā proclaims in the nights, Yōhānā on the Night’s evenings.

YAHYĀ proclaims in the nights and speaks: “Stand not I here alone? I go to and fro. Where is a prophet equal to me? Who makes proclamation equal to my proclamations, and who doth discourse with my wondrous voice?”

When Yahyā thus spake, the two women weep. Miryai1 and Enishbai weep, and for both tears flow. They say: “We will go hence, and do thou stay here; see that thou dost not bring us to stumble.—I (M.) will go hence, and do thou stay here; see that thou dost not bring me to stumble.—I (E.) will go hence, and do thou stay here; see that thou dost not fill me with sorrow.”

Then Yahyā opened his mouth and spake to Enishbai in Jerusalem: “Is there any who could take my place in the height? Is there any who could take my place in the height, so that thou mayest pay for me ransom? If thou canst pay for me ransom, then bring thy jewels and ransom me. If thou canst pay for me ransom, then bring thy pearls and ransom me. If thou canst pay for me ransom, then bring thy gold and ransom me.”2

Thereon Enishbai opened her mouth and spake to Yahyā in Jerusalem: “Who is thy equal in Judæa, who is thy equal in Jerusalem, that I should look on him and forget thee?”—”Who is my equal, who is my equal, that thou shouldst look on him and forget me? Before my voice and the voice of my proclamations the Torah disappeared in Jerusalem. Before the voice of my discourse the readers read no more in Jerusalem. The wantons cease from their lewdness, and the women go not forth to the . . . . Hither [to me] come the brides in their wreaths, and their tears flow down to the earth. The child in the womb of his mother heard my voice and did weep. The merchants trade not in Judæa, p. 45 and the fishers fish not in Jerusalem.1 The women of Israel dress not in dresses of colour,2 the brides wear no gold and the ladies no jewels. Women and men look no more at their face in a mirror. Before my voice and the voice of my proclamations the water rose up to the pillars.3 Because of my voice and the voice of my proclamations the fish brought to me their greetings. Before my voice and the voice of my proclamations the birds made obeisance and said: “Well for thee, and again well for thee, Yahyā, and well for the Man whom thou dost worship. Thou hast set thyself free and won thy release, O Yahyā, and left the world empty. The women have not led thee away with their lewdness, and their words have not made thee distracted. Through sweet savours and scents thou hast not forgotten thy Lord from thy mind. Thou has not made thyself drunken with wine and hast done no deeds of impiety. No backsliding has seized on thee in Jerusalem. Thou hast set thyself free and won thy release and set up thy throne for thee in Life’s House.”

And Life is victorious.

OF JUDGMENT-DAY (§ 25).

Yahyā proclaims in the nights, Yōhānā on the Night’s evenings.

YAHYĀ proclaims and speaks: “Ye nobles, who lie there, ye ladies, who will not awaken,—ye who lie there, what will you do on the Day of the Judgment? When the soul strips off the body, on Judgment-Day what will you do? O thou distracted, jumbled-up world in ruin! Thy men die, and thy false scriptures are closed. Where is Adam, the First Man, who was here head of the p. 46æon? Where is Hawwā (Eve), his wife, out of whom the world was awakened to life? Where is Shit-il (Seth), son of Adam, out of whom worlds and æons arose? Where is Rām and Rūd, who belonged to the Age of the Sword? Where are Shurbai and Shar-hab-ēl, who belonged to the Age of the Fire? Where is Shum bar Nū (Shem, son of Noah), who belonged to the Age of the Flood? All have departed and have not returned and taken their seats as Guardians in this world.1 [The Last Day] is like a feast-day, for which the worlds and the æons are waiting. The Planets are [like] fatted oxen, who stand there for the Day of the Slaughter. The children of this world are [like] fat rams, who stand in the markets for sale.2 But as for my friends, who pay homage to Life, their sins and trangressions will be forgiven them.”

And Life is victorious.

THE LETTER OF TRUTH (§ 26).

[The introductory formula and beginning of this piece are missing from the MSS.]

*      *      *      *      *      *

[Yōhānā is apparently speaking.]

I TAKE no delight in the æons, I take no delight in all of the worlds, I take no delight in the æons   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   by the Letter of Truth3 which has come hither.

They4 took the Letter and put it in the hand of the Jews. p. 47 These open it, read in it and see that it does not contain what they would, that it does not contain what their soul wills. They took the letter and put it in the hand of Yōhānā. “Take, Rab Yōhānā,” say they to him, “Truth’s Letter, which has come here to thee from thy Father.”1 Yōhānā opened it and read it and saw in it a wondrous writing. He opened it and read in it and became full of life.2 “This is,” says he, “what I would, and this does my soul will.”

Yōhānā has left his body3; his brothers make proclamations, his brothers proclaim unto him on the Mount, on Mount Karmel.4 They5 took the Letter and brought it to the Mount, to Mount Karmel. They read out of the Letter to them6 and explain to them the writing,—to Yaqif and Beni-Amin and Shumēl.7 They assemble on Mount Karmel.

*      *      *      *      *      *

[What follows is presumably the beginning of the Letter.]

Gnosis of Life8 who is far from the height [writes]:

“I have come unto thee, O Soul, whom Life has sent into this world. In robes of the Eight9 went I into the world. I went in the vesture of Life and came into the world. The vesture I brought of the Seven, I went as far as the Eight. The vesture of the Seven I took and took hold of the Eight with my hand. [I have p. 48 taken them] and I take them, and I will take them and not let them go. I have taken them and hold them fast, and the wicked spirits shall change into good.

“Wherefor do ye weep, generations, wherefor weep ye, O peoples? Where for fadeth your splendour? For you have I brought my Image, I betook myself into the world.”

And Life is victorious.

JOHN’S INVULNERABILITY (§ 27).

Yahyā proclaims in the nights, Yōhānā on the Night’s evenings.

YAHYĀ proclaims in the nights and speaks: “Is there anyone greater than I? They measure my works; my wage is assayed and my crown, and my praise brings me on high in peace.”   *   *   *

Yaqif leaves the house of the people, Beni-Amin leaves the temple, Elizar, the great house, leaves the dome of the priests. The priests spake unto Yahyā in Jerusalem: “Yahyā, go forth from our city! Before thy voice quaked the house of the people, at the sound of thy proclamations the temple did quake, at the sound of thy discourse quaked the priests’ dome.” Thereon Yahyā answered the priests in Jerusalem: “Bring fire and burn me; bring sword and hew me in pieces.” But the priests in Jerusalem answered to Yahyā: “Fire does not burn thee, O Yahyā, for Life’s Name has been uttered o’er thee. A sword does not hew thee in pieces, O Yahyā, for Life’s Son1 rests here upon thee.”

And Life is victorious.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

by G. R. S. Mead

Footnotes

p. 44

1 Miryai is the personification of the first Mand. community among the Jews. She is presumably not to be confounded in any way with Miriam, the mother of Išū Mšīhā (Jesus Messiah), who is called Miryam (not Miryai) in § 30 {p. 48}; but this requires further investigation.

2 ‘Jewels,’ ‘pearls’ and ‘gold’ are presumably the figures of spiritual riches.

p. 45

1 The ‘merchants’ and ‘fishers’ in all probability mean the Seven, as in the ‘Fisher of Souls’ piece.

2 The MM. wear white robes.

3 Sc. of the temple; cp. the miraculous spiritual outpouring of the Last Days expected by John, based on O.T. prophecies, as set forth in the previous introductory study; also one of the Odes of Solomon, quoted in the Pistis Sophia (ch. 65, pag. 131, Mead p. 110): “A stream came forth and became a great wide flood. It tore away all to itself and turned itself against the temple,” etc. The whole Ode is most instructive in this connection, and the Odes in general move in a very similar atmosphere to the John-lore. (See for Trans. from Syriac, Rendel Harris and Mingana, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon, Manchester, 1920). The ‘fish’ and ‘birds’ of the next sentences are the faithful.

p. 46

1 Tibil; L. frequently retains this as a proper name—e.g. ‘in the Tibil’—and alternates it with the common noun ‘world.’ Whether there is a distinction in the original I do not know, it seems to be simply the Heb. tebel ( = world, earth). Where L. has Tibil, I shall render it by ‘this world.’

2 Cp. the Messianic Marriage Feast parable (Mt. 22:4): “My oxen and my fatlings are killed . . .: come to the mariage-feast.”

3 Kushṭā is the general term for the religious ideal of the MM.; it is elastic in meaning and cannot be translated by a single rigid concept. The original sense seems to have been ‘Truth,’ ‘Righteousness’ and perhaps ‘Order’ (cp. the Avestan Asha and the Vedic Ṛita). It thus means the true religion, loyalty, trust and faith (see J.B. xvii.f.). Kushtā is fem. It is to be noted that in Avestan literature Ashi (fem.) is the heavenly impersonation of rectitude, fortune, chastity, riches (cp. ūthrā’s), and Chisti (fem.) of religious wisdom (? = gnōsis)—see M. N. Dhalla, Zoroastrian Civilization. New York, 1922, pp. 45, 51f., 68, 77, 84. With the frequent recurrence of the letter-symbol in M. scripture, cp. the Syriac ‘Hymn of the Soul,’ or ‘of the Pearl,’ which belengs to the same main stream of the Gnosis (see my Hymn of the Robe of Glory, ‘Echoes from the Gnosis’ series, vol. x., London, 1908).

4 Presumably the heavenly messengers.

p. 47

1 Sc. Life or perhaps rather the Man.

2 This seems cryptically to refer to some Gnostic scripture prior to John.

3 Sc. in trance.

4 Ṣúfis would at once conclude that this refers to the Dīvān, the nightly Meeting of the Perfect in spirit presided over by the Quṭb (Pillar or Axis), the Head of the age. Mt. Karmel is identified with the story of Elijah and has always continued to be a sacred mount. Doubtless communities of ‘Sons of the Prophets’ and the rest had coutinuously there their retreats. Can it be that Ṭāb Yōmīn went to Mt. Karmel to find Lilyukh (Eli-yahu)? Karmel = the Garden or Garden-land. It had been a sacred spot long before the days of Elijah, who hid there from his pursuors in its numerous grottos. The Arabs still call it Jebal Mar Elyas (Mount Lord Elijah). Yamblichus in his Life of the sage says that Pythagoras visited it.

5 Sc. the heavenly messengers.

6 Sc. the brethren who had equally ‘left the body.’

7 Plainly Samuel.

8 Mandā d’Haiyē, the M. Saviour; he is ‘far from the height’ because he is the Exile, the Stranger, in this world.

9 The higher Ogdoad; I conjucture, therefore, that this is a more ancient piece. The John-gnosis had depressed the Eight and the Seven and Twelve to the infernals, yet retained memory of a Great Eight and the rest.

p. 48

1 Clearly Gnosis of Life, the Son of God and Father of John.

p. 49

1 This makes it clear that the strict observance of a sabbath (Sunday) by the MM. was not taken over from the Christians, as Brandt supposes.

2 Cp. the Joshua ben Perachiah Jesus story in the Talmūd (B. Sanhedrin 107b, Sota 47a): Joshua replied [to Jeshu]: “Thou godless one, dost thou occupy thyself with such things?—directed that 400 horns should be brought and put him under strict excommunication.” (Mead, D.J.L. 100 B.C.? pp. 137 and 146f.).

3 The Man ‘with the Scales’—the Avestan Rashnu {?}—who weighs the good and bad deeds of the departed (J.B. xxix. f.).

4 Generally meaning an unmarried man.

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