Gnostic Doctrine

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Melchizedek Tractate Anti-Docetic Gnostic Text

The Melchizedek Tractate Anti-Docetic Gnostic Text




Jesus Christ, the Son of God ...They will say [...] concerning him, and concerning........ which will happen in his name. Furthermore, they will say of him that he is unbegotten, though he has been begotten, (that) he does not eat, even though he eats, (that) he does not drink, even though he drinks, (that) he is uncircumcised, though he has been circumcised, (that) he is unfleshly, though he has come in the flesh, (that) he did not come to suffering, <though> he came to suffering, (that) he did not rise from the dead, <though> he arose from the dead. (Melchizedek, The Nag Hammadi Library)

A fragmentary, noncanonical text found among the Nag Hammadi codices (IX, 1). Not to be confused with the Melchizedek Scroll (11QMelch) found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is notable for its anti-docetic emphasis on the real humanity of Jesus, which has led some scholars to postulate that it originated with a sect of “Melchizedekians” described by Epiphanius in Panarion 55

MELCHIZEDEK TRACTATE (NHC IX 1). This document was found in the Coptic Gnostic Library of Nag Hammadi, but its Gnosticism is less pronounced than other texts in the corpus. It explicitly rejects a docetic interpretation of Jesus (IX 1, 5.1-10) and focuses on apocalyptic, rather than realized eschatology (IX 1, 26).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God [...] from ...
... (2 lines unrecoverable)
... (lines 11-eop unrecoverable)
... which will happen in his name. Furthermore, they will say of him that he is unbegotten, though he has been begotten, (that) he does not eat, even though he eats, (that) he does not drink, even though he drinks, (that) he is uncircumcised, though he has been circumcised, (that) he is unfleshly, though he has come in the flesh, (that) he did not come to suffering, <though> he came to suffering, (that) he did not rise from the dead, <though> he arose from the dead.

The incipit occurs on the same small fragment as the title, and reads, "Jesus Christ, the Son [of God ... ]. " In the fragments that follow reference is made to the ministry and sufferings of Jesus, and in a remarkable passage from a relatively complete page (p. 5} an "anti-docetic" polemic is directed at those (other gnostics?) who deny the reality of the incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus

According to the Melchizedek Tractate the body, the flesh, and the suffering of Jesus Christ are indeed real.

1 John 4:3 "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

2 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.

What we must remember is that John had a particular false doctrine in mind - the Docetism. We therefore should not try to interpret this verse without understanding the history behind the letter.

We have to think about who in his day John was talking about. For many of those who believed in Docetism, Christ could never be human (flesh) because in their view the material world was evil and such a divine being could have no true fellowship with a material human body.

Docetism was a doctrine that the Christ appeared as a spirit - with an immaterial body.

This passage, therefore, was not written to support the Trinity (an unknown concept to John and the early Christians), but rather was written to prevent any Christian from following the false doctrine of Docetism


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