Pistis Sophia, Part 3: The Dissection

This Pistis Sophia consists of a long, sprawling, fairly tedious series of gnostic reflections & revelations about Pistis Sophia, “Faith Wisdom,” a female manifestation of the divine who some times is said to have fallen from the realm of the divine, to have repented of her mistake, & to be destined for salvation & deliverance. The text Pistis Sophia fills Askew Codex (Codex Askewianus), a manuscript from the 2nd half of the 4th century. The text itself may, at least in part, be a 100 years older, & it was possibly composed/written in Egypt.

The figure of Pistis Sophia is mentioned in other gnostic works besides the present text, for example, in the Reality of the Rulers, On the Origin of the World, Eugnostos, & (less directly) the Sophia of Jesus Christ, all texts from the Nag Hammadi library. In the text On the Origin of the World, Pistis Sophia is featured as a divine power of light form whose deficiency comes chaos & the reactor of this world, & whose reflection in the water becomes the pattern for the creation of the human being in the image of God.

In Eugnostos & the Sophia of Jesus Christ, the Child of humanity, or the savior, becomes once with Sophia, his consort, whom some call Pistis, & the child of humanity emits a bright, androgynous light. Here in Pistis Sophia, the fall of Sophia, her repentance, further aspects of her story are reiterated, & they’re understood to be echoed in texts like the Psalms in the Old Testament of the Christian bible & the Jewish bible.

A number of followers of Jesus raise questions & make observations in Pistis Sophia, but a special place is reserved for Mary Magdalene & Peter the Virgin, & of these 2, Mary Magdalene is most prominent. It’s said of Mary & Peter that they are the greatest of the followers, yet Mary, described as beautiful of speech, is acclaimed by Jesus as being more devoted to heaven’s kingdom than all her brothers (a.k.a. The disciples). Mary Magdalene is credited in Pistis Sophia with raising no fewer than 39 of the 46 questions addressed to Jesus.

In the selections from Pistis Sophia translated can here, Mary Magdalene teaches about the nature of life in the world & the salvation of the human race by citing & interpreting passages in Isaiah as well as 2 sayings of Jesus: “Whoever has ears to hear should hear” & “The first will be last & the last will be first.” These sayings are known throughout early Christian literature, for example, in the New Testament gospels & the Gosple of Thomas. As elsewhere, in Pistis Sophia (146), & in the Gospel of Thomas & the Gosple of Mary, here, in Pistis Sophia 36, Peter complains about Mary & her loquaciousness (tending to talk a great deal, talkative), but Jesus praises her. Mary Magdalene, Jesus states, is most committed to heaven’s kingdom, most blessed of women on earth (and yes, it’s Mary Magdalene is most blessed, not his mother.) & a pure spiritual woman.


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