Gnostic Doctrine

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Gnostic Teaching On The Serpent

Gnostic Teaching On The Serpent



Serpent: There are two Gnostic interpretations about the Genesis serpent 
sects, the Ophites and the Naasenes,
 these sects revered the serpent. However from the Nag Hammadi Scriptures we see the more Biblical interpretation  
Note 
The names Ophites and Naassenes, both derived from words for serpent or snake, are used to refer to Gnostic sects. 

The Naassenes 
sect whose name derives from nahash, Hebrew for "serpent."
The Ophites are Gnostics given a similar name, from ophis, Greek for "serpent." 
The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin 

Justin or Justinus was an early Gnostic Christian from the 2nd century AD He is counted among the earliest Gnostic schools, among Simon Magus, Menander, Saturninus and Dositheus


According to Justin, there were three primordial, eternal entities. Reigning supreme was the male Good One, owner of foreknowledge (identified with the Monad and the creator of the universe, as well as the Greek Priapus), under which there were the male Elohim (the Jewish god and Demiurge or creator of the world) and the female Edem (identified with Gaia and described as a "half virgin, half viper" being similar to Echidna).

As the drama unfolds and Edem brings out her angels, including the serpent Naas (from nahash, Hebrew for "serpent"), to fight against what is left of Elohim's spirit on earth, Baruch, a top angel of the Good, sends a series of liberators—Moses, Herakles, prophets, and finally Jesus—to ensure redemption and return

Baruch (Hebrew for "blessed") is the good tree of life and the chief paternal angel, and Naas (from nahash, Hebrew for "serpent") is the evil tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the chief maternal angel.

Note that Naas is both the tree of knowledge and (since his name derives from the Hebrew nahash, "snake") the serpent of seduction to eat from the tree.


Eden is many: garden, earth, Israel, a symbol of Eve, and them earth mother.

Naas Maternal angel of Edem, identified with the evil tree of the knowledge of good and

evil, in the Book of Baruch. The term derives from nahash, Hebrew for "serpent" (as with Naassenes).


The Apocryphon of John
And to I said to the savior, "Lord, was it not the serpent that taught Adam to eat?" The savior
smiled and said, "The serpent taught them to eat from wickedness of begetting, lust, (and)
destruction, that he (Adam) might be useful to him. And he (Adam) knew that he was disobedient to him (the chief archon) due to light of the Epinoia which is in him, which made him more correct in his thinking than the chief archon. And (the latter) wanted to bring about the power which he himself had given him. And he brought a forgetfulness over Adam."  (The Apocryphon of John, Translated by Frederik Wisse)

The Apocryphon of John dismisses any (even vaguely) favourable connotation to the serpent, 
it brings about the consequences of eating from the tree, as set out in Genesis 3:16. According to Moses, childbearing and sexual desire are in accordance with God’s orders, but here these things are forced upon people (represented by Adam) by Yaldabaoth (represented by the serpent).
Valentinians
The Gnostic understanding of the Serpent comes from the book of Genesis  

The first human being is a mixed formation, and a mixed creation, and a deposit of those of the left and those of the right, and a spiritual word whose attention is divided between each of the two substances from which he takes his being. Therefore, it is said that a paradise was planted for him, so that he might eat of the food of three kinds of tree, since it is a garden of the threefold order, and since it is that which gives enjoyment.

The noble elect substance which is in him was more exalted. It created and it did not wound them. Therefore they issued a command, making a threat and bringing upon him a great danger, which is death. Only the enjoyment of the things which are evil did he allow him to taste, and from the other tree with the double (fruit) he did not allow him to eat, much less from the tree of life, so that they would not acquire honor [...] them, and so that they would not be [...] by the evil power which is called "the serpent." And he is more cunning than all the evil powers. He led man astray through the determination of those things which belong to the thought and the desires. <He> made him transgress the command, so that he would die. And he was expelled from every enjoyment of that place.

In the text from the Tripartite Tractate we have two different groups the first human, the other group the evil powers, the serpent is one of the evil powers "by the evil power which is called "the serpent." And he is more cunning than all the evil powers."
In the Tripartite Tractate the serpent is the agent of the hylic powers, material passions, which through their seduction of man force him to suffer the conditions of their own, corporeal existence

The hyllc ruler represents the power which keeps the chaotic activities of the hylic powers in check: cf. 97:36-98:5, 99:9-11.15-16.

Note that this figure, the chief of the hylic powers, is not regarded as essentially a chaotic and evil power; on the contrary his function is positive, since he is a tool employed by the superior powers to give shape to the realm of matter

Here in the Tripartite Tractate the Serpent is given the standard biblical interpretation it actually led Adam and Eve to sin, introducing death’s control over humankind

It is written in the Law concerning this, when God gave a command to Adam, "From every tree you may eat, but from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise do not eat, for on the day that you eat from it, you will surely die." But the serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise, and he persuaded Eve, saying, "On the day when you eat from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, the eyes of your mind will be opened." And Eve obeyed, and she stretched forth her hand; she took from the tree and ate; she also gave to her husband with her. And immediately they knew that they were naked, and they took some fig-leaves (and) put them on as girdles. But God came at the time of evening, walking in the midst of Paradise. When Adam saw him, he hid himself. And he said, "Adam, where are you?" He answered (and) said, "I have come under the fig tree." And at that very moment, God knew that he had eaten from the tree of which he had commanded him, "Do not eat of it." And he said to him, "Who is it who has instructed you?" And Adam answered, "The woman whom you have given me." And the woman said, "It is the serpent who instructed me." And he (God) cursed the serpent, and called him "devil." And he said, "Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing evil and good." Then he said, "Let us cast him out of paradise, lest he take from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." (The Testimony of Truth)

And in one place, Moses writes, "He made the devil a serpent <for> those whom he has in his generation." Also, in the book which is called "Exodus," it is written thus: "He contended against the magicians, when the place was full of serpents according to their wickedness; and the rod which was in the hand of Moses became a serpent, (and) it swallowed the serpents of the magicians."

Again it is written (Nm 21:9), "He made a serpent of bronze (and) hung it upon a pole ...
... (1 line unrecoverable)

... which [...] for the one who will gaze upon this bronze serpent, none will destroy him, and the one who will believe in this bronze serpent will be saved." For this is Christ; those who believed in him have received life. Those who did not believe will die. (The Testimony of Truth)

The "serpent" of the garden of Eden is sense consciousness. It may also be called desire, and pleasure, or the activity of life in an external expression, apart from the Source of life. When the life is lifted to the realization that it is Spirit, it becomes healing, as illustrated by Moses' lifting up the serpent in the wilderness. Those who had been bitten by the fiery serpents (lustful expressions of life) were healed when they looked upon the serpent that was lifted up by Moses at the command of God. They looked up, or perceived the truth about divine life, and their minds and bodies were cleansed.

The serpent in the garden should be understood symbolically this can be seen from the works of Philo of Alexandria:
And these statements appear to me to be dictated by a philosophy which is symbolical rather than strictly accurateFor no trees of life or of knowledge have ever at any previous time appeared upon the earth, nor is it likely that any will appear hereafter. (Philo of Alexandria On the Creation of the world)

that the aforesaid serpent is the symbol of pleasure, because in the first place he is destitute of feet, and crawls on his belly with his face downwards. In the second place, because he uses lumps of clay for food. Thirdly, because he bears poison in his teeth, by which it is his nature to kill those who are bitten by him. (Philo of Alexandria On the Creation of the world)

serpent--Sense consciousness or the desire of carnal mind for pleasure. He seeks satisfaction through the appetite. By listening to the serpent of sense, man falls to his lowest estate.

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