Written around the year 180, the Secret Book of John is the largest and most important of the Gnostic texts and four separate versions survived, indicating it was an important early Christian document, even though it was rejected by the Council of Nicaea. This brief excerpt is taken from the beginning of the manuscript and reveals how the female element held a dominant role in early Christianity, and was written out-of-history when the Roman oligarchy seized control of the religion.
One day John, brother of James and son of Zebedee, went to the Temple, and a Pharisee named Arimanius challenged him, “Where’s your Rabbi?” And John said to him, “Gone back to the place whence he came.”
The Pharisee said, “You realize that truther deceived you, filled your ears with lies, and closed your heart to the traditions of your ancestors?”
When I, John, heard such things, I wanted to be alone and was greatly saddened. “Who is the Father who designated the Savior? What did he mean when he said, ‘My kingdom is not of this earth.’ He left many mysteries and spoke in riddles.”
Straightway, while I was contemplating these controversies, behold, the clouds parted and the earth shook. I was afraid and behold a child appeared. But when I looked again, the child had morphed into an old man. And when I looked again, the old man morphed into a woman.
She said, “John, why doubt, why be afraid? You know these images well. I’m with you always. I’m the Father, Mother, Son. I’m the One. I’ve come to teach you what is, what was, and what will be, so you may understand the invisible world and its immovable race towards the perfection of humanity.
The One rules all. Nothing rules the One. The One is invisible, over everything and uncontaminated, a pure light no eye can bear to gaze upon. The One is the Great Spirit. It is not right to think of the One as God or like God. It is more than God. Nothing is above the One. Nothing rules it. Everything exists within it, yet it does not exist within anything. It is not dependent on anything. It is eternal. It needs nothing. It is utterly perfect Light.
The One knows no boundaries. Nothing exists outside it. The One cannot be investigated because nothing exists apart from it. The One cannot be measured. Nothing external exists to measure it with.
The One cannot be seen for no one can see it. The One is eternal for it exists forever. The One is inconceivable, for no one can imagine it. The One is indescribable, no one can describe it. The One is infinite light, purity, holiness, and without blemish.
The One is incomprehensible and free from corruption. Not “perfect” nor “blessed” nor “divine,” but superior to those words. Neither physical nor unphysical. Neither immense nor infinitesimal. It is impossible to specify in quantity or quality for the One is beyond knowledge.
The One is not a being like others. It is vastly superior but not “superior.” The One is outside the realms of space and time. For whatever is within the realm of space was created in space and whatever is within the realm of time has time allotted to it, but the One receives nothing from anything. It apprehends itself in its own perfect light. The One is majestic. The One is measureless, chief of all realms, creating all realms. The One is Light, producing light. Life, producing life. Blessedness, producing blessedness. Knowledge, producing knowledge. Good, producing goodness. Mercy, producing mercy. Generous, producing generosity. The One’s realm is eternal, peaceful, silent, resting, before everything. The One proceeds all realms, and sustains them through goodness.
The Origin of Reality
We know nothing of the unknowable, and nothing of the immeasurable.
The One is bathed in light from the spring of life that sustains all realms, self-aware, and enamored of his image in the springs of the pure light-water that envelops him.
Self-awareness came into being, appearing in the radiance of light. She stood before him. This, then, is the power of thought, prior to everything. Arising out of the mind of the One came female energy. Her light reflected His light. She is from His image in His light, perfect in power, the invisible perfect Virgin Spirit. She is the initial power, the glory of Female energy, glorious among the realms, glory of revelation. She gave glory to the Virgin Spirit. She praised Him. For she arose from Him. This was the first thought of the One, creating female energy.
She is the universal womb, before everything. She is both Mother-Father, First Man and Holy Spirit. Thrice Male, Thrice Powerful, Thrice Named. Androgynous eternal realm. First to arise among the invisible realms.
She asked the virgin Spirit for the power of prophesy. The Spirit agreed. Foreknowledge came forth and stood by Providence. The Invisible Virgin Spirit’s foreknowledge gave glory to the Spirit and to female energy, the Spirit’s perfect power. Her creation was the first thought.