The Dialogue of the Savior, Part 4: The Dissection

The Dialogue of the Savior is a rather fragmentary Nag Hammadi texts. It’s from Codex 3, Tractate 5, in which Jesus discusses gnostic issues with the disciples. Sometimes the disciples referred to, in a general, anonymous way, more often 3 disciples are specified & called by name: Judas (most likely, Judas Thomas, from the Gospel of Thomas), Mary, & Matthew. The Mary here is probably Mary Magdalene.

Among the figures with names like Matthew, Matthew/Matthaios is a well-known disciple of Jesus, Matthias is the replacement for Judas Iscariot. According to the Acts of the Apostles, & Matthaias is the recorder of sayings of Jesus in the Book of Thomas.

Mary in. The Dialogue of the Savior resembles the portrayals of Mary Magdalene in other gnostic texts & themes, & shows similarities to the Gospel of Thomas.

THe date & place the the texts composition of the Dialogue of the Savior are unknown. The portion of the Dialogue of the Savior presented here is from the 2nd half of the text, almost to the conclusion (which is very fragmentary & isn’t translated here.).

In this section, Judas, Matthew, & Mary experience an apocalypse vision with gnostic themes. The light of God comes down from the realm of fullness above to the world of deficiency below, & that world must be saved through the word & restored to the light above. The vision & explanation of the vision prove convincing to the disciples. Mary & the others discuss with Jesus, the master, the vision& other points of interest: the rulers/archons of the world, the garments worn by the soul, fullness & deficiency,  life & death. In the midst of the conversation, Mary utters several aphoristic sayings (“The wickedness of the day is sufficient.” “Workers deserve their food.” “Disciples resemble their teachers.”), the sayings that are attributed to Jesus as his wisdom are sayings found throughout other texts.

The text observes that Mary spoke this “as a woman who understood everything.” Near the conclusion of the text, the text says, “Pray in the place where there’s no woman,” & this provocative statement stimulates comments about the works of the female & the end of childbirth. In the Gospel of the Egyptians (in Clement of Alexandria), Salome asks, “How long will death prevail? & Jesus states, “I’ve come to do away with the works of the female.” Immediately Clement adds that by “female” Jesus means lust & by “works” birth & death, so that the destruction of the works for eh female actually entail liberation from the cycle of mortality, the cycle of birth, decay, & death, in order to enjoy the light & life of the divine.

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