Gnostic Doctrine

Thursday, 3 January 2019

The Apocryphon of John

The Apocryphon of John



The Apocryphon of John (120-180AD)


The Apocryphon of John describes an appearance of Jesus to the Apostle John (after Jesus’ ascension) in which Jesus provides John with secret knowledge, much like other accounts in the tradition of Sethian texts. It is described in a work from AD 180 called Against All Heresies.

Most people would tell you that if you want to understand Gnosticism you should study the Apocryphon of John however I would have to disagree with this I would advise you to study the Gospel of Thomas and Philip 

Why Isn't It Considered Reliable?

In Judaism and Christianity, God's creation is good from the start. The Apocryphon of John's creation story denies this theological starting point. No Christian accepting the creation as it is from Genesis would see the Apocryphon of John story as true or credible.

From a very early date, this book was identified as a Sethian Gnostic fabrication and late document that has no Apostolic eyewitness connection to the Apostle John. In Against Heresies we read the text was one of “an indescribable number of secret and illegitimate writings, which they themselves have forged, to bewilder the minds of foolish people, who are ignorant of the true scriptures.”

How Does it confirm or give support to the Life of Jesus?

The Apocryphon of John presumes the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It also affirms that John was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee, and that John was an important disciple of Jesus (who is described as a Nazarene). Jesus is also given the title “Savior” (although the meaning of this term is different in Sethianism).

Where (and Why) Does It Differ from the Reliable Accounts?

The Apocryphon of John is concerned primarily with an account of the creation of the world. The text was discovered in the Nag Hammadi library as the first document in a series of Sethian Gnostic texts and it includes the most detailed Sethian creation mythology. The role and position of Jesus in the Godhead is very different from biblical canonical descriptions as a result of the preconceived ideas of Sethians who wrote this text. Sethian believers appear to have accepted the historicity of Jesus but attempted to place Him within their preconceived Sethian beliefs.

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