Gnostic Doctrine

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Syzygy the Gender of the Aeons

What is the Syzygy in Gnostic theology?
Syzygy the Gender of the Aeons

In this study we will look at the word Syzgy which is an important part of Gnostic theology

The aeons tended to emanate from God in male-female pairs called “syzygies” (singular syzygy). One of the members of each pair had a grammatically feminine name and the other had a grammatically masculine name. 

Syzygos is numbered with Strong's Concordance 4805 it is used once in the Greek New Testament Philippians 4:3 (We will look at Philippians 4:3 below) it is not used in the Septuagint. However the word comes from another root word 4801 this word is used 4 times 2 in the Septuagint and 2 in the Greek New Testament 

LXX Ezekiel 1:11 And the wings of the four were expanded upwards, each having a pair expanded adjoining each other and a pair<4801> folded on their body.

LXX Ezekiel 1:11 And the four had their wings spread out above; each one had two joined to one another<4801>, and two covered their bodies.

LXX Ezekiel 1:23 And their wings which were expanded below the firmament, flapped one against another, while every one had a pair <4801> that covered their bodies. {sunezeugmenai, joined with }

Mt 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together <4801>, let not man put asunder.

Mr 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together <4801>, let not man put asunder.
Syzygy, n. [L. syzygia a joining together, conjunction, Gr. syzygi`a; sy`n with + zeygny`nai to join, zygo`n yoke: cf. F. syzygie. See Yoke, n.]

Inherited from Ancient Greek σύζυγος (súzugos, “mate, yoked together”), from συ(ν) (su(n), “together”) +‎ ζυγός (zugós, “yoke, pair”), from Proto-Indo-European *yewg- (“to join, tie together”).σύζυγος • (sýzygos) m or f (plural σύζυγοι)

Strong's Concordance: 4805. σύζυγος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Adjective 

σύζυγος suzugos sood’-zoo-gos; from 4801; co-yoked, i.e. (figuratively) as noun, a colleague; probably rather as a proper name; Syzygus, a Christian: — yokefellow. ]

Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

STRONGS NT 4805: σύζυγοςσύζυγος (L T Tr WH συνζυγος (cf. σύν, II. at the end)), συζυγον, (συζεύγνυμι), yoked together; used by Greek writers (from Aeschylusdown) of those united by the bond of marriage, relationship, office, labor, study, business, or the like; hence, a yoke-fellow, consort, comrade, colleague, partner.

Accordingly, in Philippians 4:3 most interpreters hold that by the words γνήσιε σύζυγε Paul addresses some particular associate in labor for the gospel. But as the word is found in the midst of (three) proper names, other expositors more correctly take it also as a proper name ((WHmarginal reading Συνζυγε); see Laurent, Ueber Synzygos in the Zeitschr. f. d. Luther. Theol. u. Kirche for 1865, p. 1ff (reprinted in his Neutest. Studien, p. 134f)); and Paul, alluding (as in Philemon 1:11) to the meaning of the word as an appellative, speaks of him as 'a genuine Synzygus', i. e. a colleague in fact as well as in name. Cf. Meyer and Wiesinger at the passage; (Hackett in B. D. American edition under the word ). 

As noted above the Greek word 4805. σύζυγος comes from another Greek word 4801 συζεύγνυμι 

Part of Speech: Verb: 

4801. συζεύγνυμι suzeugnumi sood-zyoog’-noo-mee; from 4862 and the base of 2201; to yoke together, i.e. (figuratively) conjoin (in marriage): — join together.

4801 syzeúgnymi (from 4862 /sýn, "identified with" and 2201 /zeúgos, "yoke") – properly, jointly-yoked; yoked (paired) together, when God joins two people together for one purpose (Mt 19:6; Mk 10:9).

4801 /syzeúgnymi ("closely-yoked") is only used for marriage in the NT – a union in which a husband and wife live better for the Lord together, than either would do alone.
The Biblical use of Syzygy
Mt 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together <4801>, let not man put asunder.

Mr 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together <4801>, let not man put asunder.

From Matthew 19:6 And Mark 10:9 we can see that 4801 would symbolize a wife or a marriage union

Php 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow <4805>, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Possibly Paul has a particular brother in mind here: he seems to enlist the aid of a third party, Syzygus (sig "yokefellow", whom he challenges to live up to his name and be a "loyal yokefellow" ("gnesie syzyge") by bringing these women together. (Another Pauline play on a personal name occurs in Phm 1:10,11.) It is possible, of course, that there was no brother by the name Syzygus, and that this is an appeal to an otherwise unnamed brother -- but in that case, how would the Philippians know to whom this exhortation is addressed? The other alternative is that this is a general appeal to any and all in Philippi, to help with this reconciliation between Euodias and Syntyche.

The term "yokefellow" συζυγος — some have understood as a proper name, (Syzygus;) so the word can be used as a noun

The Syzygos could also be symbolized by Twosomes in the scriptures: 

The first pair in the bible is Adam and Eve than Cain and Abel (Sin and righteousness) Abraham and Sarah, David and Jonathon, Samson and Delilah, Solomon and the queen of Sheba, 
Jacob and Esau, Mary and Martha, Moses and Aaron. Sodom and Gommorah, Urim and Thummim

Now looking at Ezekiel chapter 1 we can see that the full Pleroma and the emanations of the Theos are again set in pairs four living creatures 2 pairs each the four living creatures would correspond to the primal four emanations of the Valentinian Exposition from The Nag Hammadi Library which the the Monad restricted himself to.

Besides their upper couple of wings and their lower couple of wings Each cherub had two joining to each other, and two were covering their bodies.”—Ezekiel 1:10, 11 
For more information see my study on the cherubim 
The Symbolism of The Cherubim

Just few of the Persons, things and places which are Twosomes in the scriptures 
Personal Angels
One meaning to Syzygos is that we all have a personal angel who is our Double, our Twin, our Divine Self.

Acts 12:14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

It is evident that the Apostles believed that they each had an Angel. When Peter was released from prison, he came to Mary’s house, and knocked on the gate. A young damsel “when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, it is his Angel” (Acts 12:14-15). Thus, not believing that Peter had been released, in seeking for an explanation, they said “it is his Angel”. Mat. 18:10; 2:13, 19; Psa. 34:7; Heb. 1:14 (Diag.).

our Personal Angels are our Divine reflection this can be seen also in the Gospel of Thomas Saying 108 Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I, too, will become that person, and to that person the obscure things will be shown forth."
Male Female Symbolism 
In some Gnostic gospels the term female is used to symbolize sin. Sin is a female principle

“this wisdom is not one from above coming down, but is earthly born of the soul demoniacal” James 3:15 Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible. 

James: 1 : 13-15 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 

Psalms: 7:14 Look! There is one that is pregnant with what is hurtful, And he has conceived trouble and is bound to give birth to falsehood. 

The psalmist metaphorically pictures the typical sinner as a pregnant woman, who is ready to give birth to wicked, destructive schemes and actions.

Therefore, it is within our souls (bodies, or our whole being) we have a female principle within us that give birth to desire, sin, and death 

If you mix yourself, you will acquire the three parts as you fall from virtue into inferiority. Live according to the Mind. Do not think about things pertaining to the flesh. Acquire strength, for the mind is strong. If you fall from this other, you have become male-female. And if you cast out of yourself the substance of the mind, which is thought, you have cut off the male part, and turned yourself to the female part alone. (The Teachings of Silvanus)

The perishable has gone up to the imperishable and the female element has attained to this male element." (The (First) Apocalypse of James)

male is a symbol of salvation

rev 14:4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they are virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They have been redeemed from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

Thomas saying (114) Simon Peter said to them, "Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "See, I am going to attract her to make her male so that she too might become a living spirit that resembles you males. For every female (element) that makes itself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."

The Gender of the Aeons in the Pleroma 

With this background information it will help us to understand the Valentinian concept of the genders of the aeons 

In this world, where strength and weakness are to be found, there is union of male and female, but in the eternal realm there is a different kind of union. Although we refer to these things with the same words, there are also other words that are superior to every word that is pronounced. These are above strength. For there is strength and there are those superior to strength, and they are not different but the same. This is incomprehensible to hearts of flesh. (Gospel of Philip)

There is clearly a contrast between 'this world' and 'the eternal realm,'

In Valentinian cosmology the Aeons form male/female pairs called syzygies (Greek συζυγίαι, from σύζυγοι syzygoi, lit. "yokings together").

Aeon: God's consciousness and substance goes through emanations that expand into pairs of male and female aspects of God's consciousness or mind as well as external entities from his substance or essence.

syzygy: (Greek syzygos, “joined together”) In Valentinian cosmology, a pair of male and female aeons, such as Logos and Zoe, or Anthropos and Ecclesia, each of whom represents some divine or archetypal quality. A syzygy may emanate further aeons.

God can be understood to consist of four primary pairs or syzygies:

Depth and Silence (unknowable God),
Mind and Truth (comprehensible God),
Word and Life (active God),
Humanity and Church (immanent God).

Thus Depth, Mind, Word and Humanity were understood as corresponding to the "male" aspect of God while Silence, Truth, Life and Church were seen as the "feminine" aspect of God.From these primary aspects, eleven further syzygies were generated by a process of emanation for a total of fifteen pairs (i.e. thirty Aeons). This harmonious realm of paired aspects is referred to as the "Pleroma", which means "fullness" or "completion". 

Gendered aeons are essential to many Valentinian protologies, each syzygy differed from one group to another, but they represented the same thing: the balance of masculine and feminine principles, both being necessary for the attainment of perfection. The masculine side of a syzygy was its thought-concept, while the feminine side of the syzygy was the form it took.

the Church exists in the dispositions and properties in which the Father and the Son exist, as I have said from the start. Therefore, it subsists in the procreations of innumerable aeons. Also in an uncountable way they too beget, by the properties and the dispositions in which it (the Church) exists.

Rather, they only had existence in the manner of a seed, so that it has been discovered that they existed like a fetus. Like the word he begot them, subsisting spermatically, and the ones whom he was to beget had not yet come into being from him. The one who first thought of them, the Father, - not only so that they might exist for him, but also that they might exist for themselves as well, that they might then exist in his thought as mental substance and that they might exist for themselves too, - sowed a thought like a spermatic seed

 For this is their procreative power, like those from whom they have come, according to their mutual assistance, since they assist one another like the unbegotten ones.

All those who came forth from him <who> are the aeons of the aeons, being emanations and offspring of <his> procreative nature, they too, in their procreative nature, have <given> glory to the Father, as he was the cause of their establishment. 

Therefore, procreation is part of the very nature of the aeons

For Valentinians the Pleroma is explain from a study of the Prologue to the Gospel of John

John 1:1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word (logos or the first thought or reason of God), and the Word was with God (the Monad [meaning the One] the transcendent Deity), and the Word was God. (It was "with God" in that it emanated from him; )
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men (men refers to the Elect thus the Church).
5 ¶ And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.. 

Theos=Depth (male) and Silence (female) these make up the Monad of the transcendent Deity or the Uncreated Eternal Spirit next emanating from the Uncreated Eternal Spirit is Word (male) and Life (female) (Logos and Zoe) here Zoe being feminine would correspond to Sophia wisdom. 

Life has a much more close relationship to the Logos than the “all things,” that "Life in him" is, in fact, his companion. Even the formation of the “all things,” mentioned in v3 above seems to be now assign to Life, the female aspect and/or syzygy of the Logos, as it is she who gives birth to, manifests and forms the next pair of emanations, Man and Church.

next Mankind and Church (Anthropos and Ekklesia) the life was the light of men Light has its partner Truth and because the light is the light of men this refers to Mankind but only the the Elect and there for Anthropos partner would be Ekklesia the Church 

In other parts of the Bible the Church is called the fullness (pleroma) of Christ Ephesians 1:23 this is why in Valentinian text the like the Tripartite Tractate and the Valentinian Exposition the Church is one of the primal aeons or as in the Tripartite Tractate 

The Valentinian Exposition The Nag Hammadi Library puts it this way:

That Tetrad projected the Tetrad which is the one consisting of Word and Life and Man and Church. Now the Uncreated One projected Word and Life. Word is for the glory of the Ineffable One while Life is for the glory of Silence, and Man is for his own glory, while Church is for the glory of Truth.

These are a aspects or attributes of the Pleroma the spiritual heavens the Uncreated One has his own attributes

This, then, is the Tetrad begotten according to the likeness of the Uncreated (Tetrad).

Reason and wisdom or Logos and Sophia are not separate beings but male and female aspects or attributes of Theos or the One True Deity the Uncreated Eternal Spirit 

A Summary 

Syzygos is used in Gnostic text to demonstrate that God is androgynous being made up of male and female pairs attributes or aspects or union of a pair of aeons in the Pleroma 

God is one but his attributes are many 

The Father is singular while being many, for he is the first one and the one who is only himself. Yet he is not like a solitary individual. Otherwise, how could he be a father? For whenever there is a "father," the name "son" follows. But the single one, who alone is the Father, is like a root, with tree, branches and fruit. (The Tripartite Tractate)

In the Pleroma the each image of the One (an aeon) are androgynous which is to say, singular aspects that possess both male and female genders or names. For example the transcendent Deity has male and female aspects (or names) this makes the the transcendent Deity the androgynous Parent the Father and the Mother. 

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