Pistis Sophia

Pistis Sophia

"Pistis Sophia" is an important Gnostic text. The five remaining copies, which scholars date c. 250–300 AD, relate the Gnostic teachings of the transfigured Jesus to the assembled disciples (including his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Martha), when the risen Christ had accomplished eleven years speaking with his disciples. In it the complex structures and hierarchies of heaven familiar in Gnostic teachings are revealed.

The female divinity of gnosticism is Sophia, a being with many aspects and names. She is sometimes identified with the Holy Ghost itself but, according to her various capacities, is also the Universal Mother, the Mother of the Living or Resplendent Mother, the Power on High, She-of-the-left-hand (as opposed to Christ, understood as her husband and he of the Right Hand), as the Luxurious One, the Womb, the Virgin, the Wife of the Male, the Revealer of Perfect Mysteries, the Saint Columba of the Spirit, the Heavenly Mother, the Wandering One, or Elena (that is, Selene, the Moon). She was envisaged as the Psyche of the world and the female aspect of Logos.Facts|date=February 2007

The title "Pistis Sophia" is obscure, and is sometimes translated "Faith wisdom" or "Wisdom in faith" or "Faith in wisdom". A more accurate translation taking into account its gnostic context, is "the faith of Sophia", as Sophia to the gnostics was a divine syzygy of Christ, rather than simply a word meaning "wisdom". In an earlier, simpler version of a "Sophia," in the Berlin Codex and also found in a papyrus at Nag Hammadi, the transfigured Christ explains "Pistis" in a rather obscure manner: :Again, his disciples said: "Tell us clearly how they came down from the invisibilities, from the immortal to the world that dies?":The perfect Saviour said: "Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous light. Its male name is designated 'Saviour, begetter of all things'. Its female name is designated 'All-begettress Sophia'. Some call her 'Pistis"'.

The best-known of the five manuscripts of "Pistis Sophia" is bound with another Gnostic text titled on the binding "Piste Sophiea Cotice". This "Askew Codex" was purchased by the British Museum in 1795 from a Dr. Anthony Askew. Until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945, the Askew Codex was one of three codices that contained almost all of the gnostic writings that had survived the suppression of such literature both in East and West, the other two codices being the Bruce Codex and the Berlin Codex. Aside from these sources, everything written about Gnosticism before World War II is based on quotes, references and inferences in the Patristic writings of the enemies of Gnosticism, where Gnostic beliefs were selected to present their absurdities, bizarre and unethical behavior, and heresy from the orthodox Pauline Christian standpoint.

The text proclaims that Jesus remained on earth after the resurrection for 11 years, and was able in this time to teach his disciples up to the first (i.e. beginner) level of the mystery. It starts with an allegory paralleling the death and resurrection of Jesus, and describing the descent and ascent of the soul. After that it proceeds to describe important figures within the gnostic cosmology, and then finally lists 32 carnal desires to overcome before salvation is possible, overcoming all 32 constituting salvation.

"Pistis Sophia" includes quotes from five of the Odes of Solomon, found in chapters between 58 and 71. "Pistis Sophia" was the only known source for the actual wording of any of the Odes until the discovery of a nearly-complete Syriac text of the Odes in 1909. Because the first part of this text is missing, "Pistis Sophia" is still the only source for Ode 1.


* Francis Legge, "Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity, From 330 B.C. to 330 A.D. " (1914), reprinted in two volumes bound as one, University Books New York, 1964. LC Catalog 64-24125.
* Mead, G.R.S. (1921) "Pistis Sophia".
* Charlesworth, James H. (1973) "The Odes of Solomon".
* Hurtak, J.J. and D.E. (1999) "Pistis Sophia: Text and Commentary" complete text with commentary.

Editions of the Coptic text

* "Pistis Sophia", edited by Carl Schmidt, translation and notes by Violet Macdermot, Nag Hammadi Studies 9, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978.
* "Pistis Sophia", edited by Carl Schmidt, Coptica 2, Hauniae: Gyldendalske Boghandel-Nordisk Forlag, 1925.

External links

* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC06460126&id=dfQ_oMjldcEC&pg=RA3-PA1&lpg=RA3-PA1&dq=intitle:pistis&as_brr=1#PRA1-PP12,M1 Pistis Sophia] : Complete scanned book available for download in pdf format from Google Books This is the Schwarze/Petermann edition of the Coptic text with a Latin translation (1851).
* [ftp://ia311506.us.archive.org/2/items/pistissophia003016mbp Pistis Sophia] : Complete scanned book available for download in pdf or djvu formats from http://www.archive.org This is G.R.S. Mead's 1st edition (1896).
* [http://gnosis.org/library/psoph.htm Pistis Sophia] : Complete text. This is G.R.S. Mead's 1921 edition of Pistis Sophia. Included is a search function for the text (at the Gnostic Society Library).
* [http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/pistis.html Early Christian Writings] : "Pistis Sophia"
* Parts [ftp://ia331304.us.archive.org/1/items/forerunnersandri009053mbp 1] and [ftp://ia331329.us.archive.org/2/items/forerunnersandri008464mbp 2] of the complete scanned text of "Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity: Being Studies in Religious History from 330 BC to 330 AD" by Francis Legge, available for download in pdf or djvu formats, from the original Cambridge University Press edition, 1915.
*: Complete scanned book available for download in pdf or djvu formats from http://www.archive.org. This is part two of the original Cambridge University Press edition, 1915.

* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5783057043188740843&q=pistis+sophia Dr. J.J. Hurtak discusses The Pistis Sophia (video)] and is one of the few who has given " [http://www.pistissophia.org a book commentary] " with his wife of this complex text.

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