Gnostic Heresies for the Holidays

For those unfamiliar with the apocrypha of the old and new testaments the narratives of the Nag Hammadi library, sometimes called the “Gnostic Bible” will come as some surprise. Written around the same time as other new testament works, we read in them an alternative version of genesis, in which the god of the old testament is a corrupt masculine principle, a blind, vengeful and unbalance creator Yaldaboath. The gnostic cosmology is a decidedly gendered one, in which male and female principles, father and mother cooperate in the production of the spiritual spheres of existence, and it is Eve, not Adam, that is in some ways favoured by the creative powers.

Noah was favoured by the blind Yaldaboath, who decided to destroy all mankind not because of their sin, but because of their prosperity without him. Eve’s daughter, Norea, burns down Noah’s Arc twice when he refuses to let her on.

While perhaps not divinely inspired, and targeted as being the very definition of heresy by the early church fathers, there is something much more psychologically satisfying in these narratives. They bear further investigation by anyone interested in the workings of the word, its politics, religions, history and individual wills trying to define themselves in a seemingly arbitrary and crushing atmosphere of society and convention.

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