Laws in the Apocryphon of John

The One is a monarchy with nothing above it. It is He who exists as God and Father of everything, the invisible One who is above everything, who exists as incorruption, which is in the pure Light into which no eye can look. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is the invisible Spirit, of whom it is not right to think of Him as a god, or something similar, for He is more than a god, since there is nothing above Him, for no one lords it over Him. For He does not exist in something inferior to Him, since everything exists in Him. For it is He who establishes Himself. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is eternal, since He does not need anything, for He is total perfection. He did not lack anything, that He might be completed by it; rather He is always completely perfect in Light. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is illimitable, since there is no one prior to Him to set limits to Him. He is unsearchable, since there exists no one prior to Him to examine Him. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is immeasurable, since there was no one prior to Him to measure him. He is invisible, since no one saw Him. He is eternal, since He exists eternally. He is ineffable, since no one was able to comprehend Him to speak about Him. He is unnameable, since there is no one prior to Him to give Him a name. – Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is immeasurable Light, which is pure, holy (and) immaculate. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is ineffable, being perfect in incorruptibility. (He is) not in perfection, nor in blessedness, nor in divinity, but He is far superior. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is not corporeal nor is He incorporeal. He is neither large nor is He small. There is no way to say, 'What is His quantity?' or, 'What is His quality?', for no one can know Him. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is not someone among (other) beings, rather He is far superior. Not that He is (simply) superior, but His essence does not partake in the emanations nor in time, for he who partakes in an emanation was prepared beforehand. Time was not apportioned to Him, since He does not receive anything from another, for it would be received on loan (for he who precedes someone does not lack, that he may receive from him; rather, it is the latter that looks expectantly at Him in His Light). – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God is pure, immeasurable mind. He is life-giving life. He is a blessedness-giving blessed One. He is knowledge-giving knowledge. He is goodness-giving goodness. He is mercy and redemption-giving mercy. He is grace-giving grace, not because He possesses it, but because He gives the immeasurable, incomprehensible Light. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 10

We know not the ineffable things, and we do not understand what is immeasurable, except for him who came forth from Him, namely (from) the Father. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

God puts His desire in His water-Light which is in the spring of the pure Light-water which surrounds Him. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

The Light of Life, which is in man, awakens his thinking. – The Apocryphon of John, Codex III, 1

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The Apocryphon of John is recorded in the in the Berlin Codex, 2, and Nag Hammadi Codex II, 1, III, 1, and IV, 1. The Nag Hammadi Codices, a set of fifty-two religious and philosophical texts, are so named because a peasant found them near Nag Hammadi, Egypt. Unfortunately, his family burned an unknown number of them as fuel before discovering they were valuable. They languished in the Coptic Museum at Cairo for years until a scholar came searching. See the full history at: Nag Hammadi

The Apocryphon of John is also named the Secret Book of John and the Secret Revelation of John, depending upon how we translate the word "Apocryphon." Dr. Frederick Wisse used four surviving Coptic manuscripts to produce a single text in English: two shorter versions, found in the Berlin Codex, 2, and Nag Hammadi Codex III, 1, and two longer versions, found in Nag Hammadi Codices II, 1 and IV, 1. Dr. Wisse comments that it is certain that the main teachings of the tractate existed before 185 A.D. We have used the Wisse translation.


References

Wisse, Frederik, Trans. "The Apocryphon of John." The Nag Hammadi Library. Ed. James M. Robinson. San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1981, p. 98-116.

Peter Kirby has formulated an impressive collection of early Christian documents and links available at: Early Christian Writings

The Apocryphon of John text is available online at: Gnosis


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