Gnostic Doctrine

Saturday, 25 August 2018

What is the Demiurge?

Who is the Demiurge?

Now we come to look at the Demiurge. The word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinised form of the Greek δημιουργός or dēmiourgos. It was originally a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but gradually came to mean "producer", and eventually "creator". The Demiurge a term used once in the Bible 

First it should be noted that Valentinians do not use the term Yaldabaoth. It should also be noted that Basildians and Valentinians speak about the Demiurge with positive terms unlike the Sethians who speak very negatively about Yaldabaoth:

Basilides: "After this, from the universal Seed and conglomeration of seed-mixture there burst forth and came into existence the Great Ruler, the head of the sensible universe, a beauty and magnitude and potency that naught can destroy." This is the demiurge; but let no mortal think that he can comprehend so great a being, "for he is more ineffable than ineffables, more potent than potencies, wiser than the wise, superior to every excellence that one can name. (
Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, 
p. 253 by G.R.S. Mead )

According to Valentinian tradition, the Demiurge is formed as an "an image of the Father"(Excepts of Theodotus 47:1-3). A similar description occurs in the Tripartite Tractate: "He is the lord of all of them, that is, the countenance which the logos brought forth in his thought as a representation of the Father of the Totalities. Therefore, he is adorned with every name which is a representation of him, since he is characterized by every property and glorious quality. For he too is called 'father' and 'god' and 'demiurge' and 'king' and 'judge' and 'place' and 'dwelling' and 'law'" (Tripartite Tractate 100:21-30). Because he is seem as the image of the true God and Father, Valentinians have no problem using the terms "Father" and "God" to describe him (cf. also Against Heresies 1:5:1, Valentinian Exposition 38). While he is an image of the true God, he is not a perfect on account of his non-spiritual nature. In comparison with the true God he is rather "coarse" or "rough" (Excerpts of Theodotus 33:4).

Etymology of Demiurge and Archon 
Demiurge From Ancient Greek δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, “one who works for the people; a skilled workman, a handicraftsman”) (whence Latin dēmiūrgus, French démiurge), from δήμιος (dḗmios, “belonging to the people, public”) (from δῆμος (dêmos, “the people”), from Proto-Indo-European *deh₂mos (“people”), from *deh₂- (“to divide”) + Ancient Greek -ιος (-ios), from Proto-Indo-European *-yós (“suffix creating an adjective from a noun”)) + Ancient Greek -εργος (-ergos, “suffix indicating a worker”) (from ἔργον (érgon, “labour; task; work”), from Proto-Indo-European *wérǵom (“work”)). wiktionary

In Hebrews chapter 11:10 we get the only Biblical reference to the word Demiurge

Heb 11:10  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker <1217> is God.

Heb 11:10  For he was awaiting the city having foundations, whose architect and builder is, God. (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

Heb 11:10  for he was looking for the city having the foundations, whose artificer and constructor is God. ()

1Clem 20:11
All these things the great Creator and Master of the universe ordered to be in peace and concord, doing good unto all things, but far
beyond the rest unto us who have taken refuge in His compassionatem ercies through our Lord Jesus Christ

The language here applied to God as the "architect" or framer of the universe is often used in the classic writers.

1217 δημιουργός demiourgos day-me-oor-gos’ 

from 1218 and 2041; n m; TDNT-2:62,149;  {See TDNT 182 } 

AV-maker 1; 1 

1) a workman for the public 

2) the author of any work, an artisan, framer, builder 

dēmiourgós (from 1218 /dḗmos, "a unified group of people" and 2014 /epiphaínō, "work") – properly, someone working on behalf of a group of people (used only in Heb 11:10).

God is called ὁ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ δημιουργός in Plato, rep. 7, p. 530 a.; ὁ δημιουργός τῶν ὅλων in Josephus, Antiquities 1, 7, 1, and often in ecclesiastical writers from Clement of Rome, 1 Cor. 20, 11 [ET]; 26, 1 [ET]; 33, 2 [ET] on; (cf. Philo, de mut. nom. § 4; de opif. mund., Muller, edition, p. 133; Piper, Einl. in monument. Theol. § 26; Sophocles' Lexicon, under the word). In the Scriptures, besides, only in 2 Macc. 4:1 κακῶν δημιουργός). (Cf. Trench, § cv.)

Archon (historical, Ancient Greece) The title of a magistrate in a number of states of Ancient Greece, and in the city states (poleis) of the Achaean League.

Archon (Greek: ἄρχων, árchon, plural: ἄρχοντες, árchontes) is a Greek word that means "ruler", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem αρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch and hierarchy.

758 ἄρχων archon ar’-khone 

present participle of 757; n m; TDNT-1:488,81;  {See TDNT 102 } 

AV-ruler 22, prince 11, chief 2, magistrate 1, chief ruler 1; 37 

1) a ruler, commander, chief, leader 

The Greek word Archon comes from another Greek word archó ἄρχω (Strong's 757) 

757. ἄρχω archo ar’-kho; a primary verb; to be first (in political rank or power): —  reign (rule) over. 

NASB Translation

began (62), begin (7), beginning (8), begins (2), begun (1), proceed (1), rule (1), rulers (1), starting (2). 

756 ἄρχομαι archomai ar’-khom-ahee middle voice of 757


746 ἀρχή arche ar-khay’ 

from 756; n f; TDNT-1:479,81;  {See TDNT 102 } 

AV-beginning 40, principality 8, corner 2, first 2, misc 6; 58 

746. ἀρχή arche ar-khay’; from 756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concretely) chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank): —  beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule. 

BEGINNING: "Archee"; signifying "first in order", from root "arch, archon" = a ruler. 

In the Gospel of John the Demiurge is the first archon from the Greek word Archee translated beginning Archee 746 ἀρχή it is also translated principality or principalities in Eph 1:21 Eph 3:10 Eph 6:12 Col 1:16

, Christ the head of all Principalities {#Eph 1:21 Col 1:16 2:10 } 

Demiurge can be translated Architect from Arche (Gr. "beginning") – the source of all things,

From this we can see that the Greek words Archon and Demiurge are linked together.
The Gospel of John Chapter 1

The Gospel of John 1:1  ¶  Originally (746 ἀρχή), was, the Word, and, the Word, was, with God; and, the Word, was, God.

2  The same, was originally (746 ἀρχή), with God.
3  All things, through him, came into existence, and, without him, came into existence, not even one thing: that which hath come into existence, (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

The Gospel of John 1:1  ¶  In a beginning (746 ἀρχή) was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word. 
2  This was in a beginning (746 ἀρχή) with the God. 
3  All through it was done; and without it was done not even one, that has been done. (Emphatic Diaglott)

Ptolemy's Commentary on The Gospel of John Prologue:

Now since he is speaking of the first origination, he does well to begin the teaching at the beginning, i.e with the Son and the Word. He speaks as follows: "The Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It was in the beginning, with God." [Jn 1:1] First, he distinguishes three things: God; beginning; Word. Then he unites them: (Logos [Word], Theos [God], and Arche [
beginning] are one) this is to show forth both the emanation of the latter two, i.e. the Son and the Word, and their union with one another, and simultaneously with the Father. For the beginning was in the Father and from the Father; and the Word was in the beginning and from the beginning. Well did he say, "The Word was in the beginning", for it was in the Son. "And the Word was with God." So was the beginning. "And the word was God"; reasonably so, for what is engendered from God is God. This shows the order of emanation. "The entirety was made through it, and without it was not anything made." [Jn 1:3] For the Word became the cause of the forming and origination of all the aeons that came after it. 
 (Ptolemy's Commentary on The Gospel of John Prologue)

Heracleon: Fragments from his Commentary on the Gospel of John: 

John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made.”) The sentence: "All things were made through him" means the world and what is in it. It excludes what is better than the world. The Aeon (i.e. the Fullness), and the things in it, were not made by the Word; they came into existence before the Word. . . “Without him, nothing was made” of what is in the world and the creation. . . "All things were made through Him," means that it was the Word who caused the Craftsman (Demiurge) to make the world, that is it was not the Word “from whom” or “by whom,” but the one “through whom (all things were made).”. . . It was not the Word who made all things, as if he were energized by another, for "through whom" means that another made them and the Word provided the energy (
Heracleon: Fragments from his 
Commentary on the Gospel of John)

What does he mean by beginning? You see some can argue that he means beginning as in God forever and eternal past. But if that’s the case, there really is no beginning with God others might argue well beginning in the sense that when God conceived of creating the perfect sons and daughters of God the human beings. Whatever other beings he might have created in the universe that was the beginning and the son was there from the beginning.

The message here is that God has everything in mind from the beginning. Whatever he produces from the beginning and as the Brethren of that beginning Christ is the eternal forever in the past or at the beginning at the time of which he conceived the concept of the son as being part of the story of humankind. This does not really matter because for us humans from our perspective it is the beginning of everything anyway and that’s really all we need to know and we’ll probably likely ever know anyway.

The Greek term translated "word" is Logos. It signifies the outward form of inward thought or reason, or the spoken word as illustrative of thought, wisdom and doctrine.

John is teaching that in the very beginning, God's purpose, wisdom or revelation had been in evidence. It was "with God" in that it emanated from him; it "was God" in that it represented Him to mankind and it became the motive power of all that God did, for all was made with it in mind, and it presented the hope of life to mankind (see John 1: 3-4).

Depending on the source, the terms “Nous” and “Logos” are used independently or interchangeably with the term “Demiurge.” Sometimes Nous is equated with Logos, sometimes Logos with Demiurge, sometimes Logos is used instead of Demiurge, and sometimes these are treated as independent concepts with some specified relation between them.

The term "demiurge" does not refer to the One True Deity, though the demiurge may very well be seen as a god, angel or elohim. The Demiurge is simply the craftsman of the universe, but is not the Supreme Intelligence of the universe the Uncreated and Eternal Spirit. In other word, whether the Demiurge is a god or not, it is not God or "THE One True Deity."

Michael is the only one said to be “the archangel,” meaning “chief angel,” or “principal angel.” The term occurs in the Bible only in the singular. This seems to imply that there is but one whom God has designated chief, or head, of the angelic host. 

The Archangel Michael is the highest of all the angels as stated before, the angels are emanations of the uncreated and eternal spirit or Deity, Michael relays the commandments and orders of the Deity to all the angels below him, being the highest of all. 
So in a way, he could be seen as Hebraic religious idea of a "Demiurge" who fashioned the world for God.

See the post Yahweh is the head angel in the Old Testament

The Archangel Michael could be seen as the "Demiurge" who fashioned the world for the Deity.

The Deity manifests himself through his angels, these angels are ever present, embodiment of the qualities of the Father, and thus manifesting the Father's will and presence in this world, without being the Father Deity themselves. These angels are always serving the Father and creating by his will and collectively are the Demiurge of the world through whom the Father administers his will.

The demiurge a symbol for this age or world or the things that man has made in this world. The demiurge is also a symbol for the roman empire and emperor head Archon (Ruler) of the material world of sense perception

Demiurge is never referred to has Yaldabaoth 

The Demiurge is a real god, not a "false god".

The Demiurge is an elohim or angel

The Demiurge is not Satan, he is not a demon, and he is not an evil spirit or the personification of evil .The Creator or archangel Michael implements the Father's will and administers justice.

After all, he rendered the prophecies and reality of the Saviour.


  1. The Demiurge Ialdaboth is described as creating innumerable Angels in the Gnostic Gospels, it is most likely that the Angels of Tradition are servants of the Demiurge, not the Demiurge itself.

    You can learn more about the Demiurge as described in Gnostic texts from the book linked below

    1. The Demiurge and Yaldabaoth are not the same person

  2. Leviathan and Behemoth are very similar but they are not the same. I think Yaldabaoth and the demiurge work the same way. I would say that Yaldabaoth is chaos and the personification of violence and that the demiurge is the ego and spiritual blindness. After all, ignorance (the demiurge) is the bastard child of wisdom (Sophia). Even ignorance can create. Darwin said it best, "Ignorance begets confidence more often than knowledge."