Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 2, by G.R.S. Mead, , at sacred-texts.com
The “Pœmandres” treatise not only belongs to the most important type of the Trismegistic literature, but is also the most important document within that type. It constitutes, so to speak, the Ground-Gospel of the Pœmandres Communities, in the form of a revelation or apocalypse received by the founder of the tradition,
that founder, however, being not a historical personage but the personification of a teaching-power or grade of spiritual illumination—in other words, of one who had reached the “Hermes,” or rather “Thrice-greatest,” state of consciousness or enlightenment.
This stage of enlightenment was characterized by a heightening of the spiritual intuition which made the mystic capable of receiving the first touch of cosmic consciousness, and of retaining it in his physical memory when he returned to the normal state.
The setting forth of the teaching is thus naturally in the form of apocalyptic, and of apocalyptic of an ordered and logical nature; for it purports to be a setting forth of the spiritual “Epopteia” of the Inner Mysteries, the Vision revealed by the Great Initiator or Master-Hierophant, Mind of all-masterhood.
This Vision, as we are told by many seers and prophets of the time, was incapable of being set forth by “tongue of flesh” in its own proper terms, seeing that it transcended the consciousness of normal humanity. Being in itself a living, potent, intelligible reality, apart from all forms either material or intellectual in any way known to man, it pervaded his very being and made his whole nature respond to a new key of truth, or rather, vibrate in a higher octave, so to say, where all things, while remaining the same, received a new interpretation and intensity.
The interpretation of this Vision, however, was conditioned by the “matter” of each seer; he it was who had to clothe the naked beauty of the Truth—as the Gnostic Marcus would have phrased it—with the fairest garment he himself possessed, the highest thoughts, the best science, the fairest traditions, the most grandiose imagination known to him. Thus it is that we have so many modes of expression among the
mystics of the time, so many varieties of spiritual experience—not because the experience itself was “other,” the experience was the “same” for all, but the speaking of it forth was conditioned by the religious and philosophical and scientific heredity of the seer.
This element, then, is the basic fact in all such apocalyptic. It is, however, seldom that we meet with a document that has come to us straight from the hand of a seer writing down his own immediate experience without admixture; for the delight of the Vision was not that it gave new facts or ideas of the same nature as those already in circulation, but that it threw light on existing traditions, and showed them forth as being parts of a whole. Once the man had come into touch with the Great Synthesis, there rushed into his mind innumerable passages of scripture, scraps of myths, fragments of cosmogenesis, logoi and logia, and symbols of all kinds that fitted naturally. These were not any special writers monopoly, there was no copyright in them, they were all utterances of the same Logos, the Great Instructor of humanity.
Thus the literature that was produced was anonymous or pseudepigraphic. There was first of all a nucleus of personal vision and direct illumination, then a grouping of similar matter from various sources into a whole for didactic purposes. Nor was there any idea among these mystics and scripture-writers that the form once issued should become for ever stereotyped as inerrant; there were many recensions and additions and interpolations. It was left to those without the sense of illumination to stereotype the forms and claim for them the inerrancy of verbal dictation by the Deity. Those who wrote the apocalypses from personal knowledge of vision could not make such claim for their scriptures, for they knew
how they were written, and what was the nature of hearing and sight.
We have accordingly to treat all such documents as natural human compositions, but while doing so, while on the one side analyzing them with microscopic attention as literary compositions, put together from other sources, over-written, redacted and interpolated, we have also, on the other, to bear in mind that this was not done by clever manipulators and literary charlatans, but by men who regarded such work as a holy and spiritual task, who endeavoured to arrange all under the inspiration of a sweet influence for good, who believed themselves under guidance in their selection of matter, and in recombining the best in other scriptures into a new whole that might prove still better for the purpose of further enlightenment suitable to their immediate environment.
The “Pœmandres” treatise is of this nature—that is to say, though we have not the original form before us, we have what was intended to be read as a single document. We shall accordingly endeavour in our comments not to allow the anomalies of its outer form to detract from our appreciation of its inner spirit, and yet, on the other hand, not to permit the beauty of much that is in it to blind us to the fact that the present form has evolved from simpler beginnings.
1. In deep meditation the disciple reaches the consummation of his efforts, and receives initiation from the Master of the masters, who is to confer upon him authority (ἐξουσίαν—see § 32) to teach, that is, to be a master or a Hermes.
2. That this Grand Master of the Inner Mysteries
was Man and Shepherd of men, the Very Self of men, has been amply shown in the Prolegomena, but the striking parallelism with the very wording of our text, the Great Man, the “Being more than vast,” who tells the little man, that though for the first time he now knows his Greater Self, that Self has ever been “everywhere with thee,” is best shown by the beautiful logos from the Gospel of Eve (presumably an Egyptian gospel), which we have already quoted elsewhere 1:
“I stood on a lofty mountain, 2 and saw a gigantic Man and another, a dwarf; and I heard, as it were, a voice of thunder, and drew nigh for to hear; and He spake unto me and said: I am thou, and thou art I; and wheresoever thou mayest be, I am there. 3 In all am I scattered, and whencesoever thou willest, thou gatherest Me; and gathering Me, thou gatherest Thyself.”
3. The conditions of the seeing of the Holy Sight had been fulfilled by the disciple; he had weaned himself from all lower desires. No longer, like the theurgist in the Hermes-invocations of the popular cult, does he pray for wealth and fame and cheerful countenance, and the rest; his one desire, his only will, is now to “learn the things that are, and comprehend their nature and know God.” He craves for Gnosis,—Gnosis of Cosmos and its mysteries, Gnosis
of Nature, the Great Mother, and, finally, Gnosis of God, the Father of the worlds. This is the one question he “holds in his mind,” his whole nature is concentrated into this one point of interrogation.
It is to be noticed that we are not told, as in the Gospel of Eve, that the seer stood, as it were, apart from himself, and saw his little self and Greater Self simultaneously. He is conscious of a Presence, of a Persona in the highest theological meaning of the word, who is not seen so much as felt, speaking to him Mind to mind; he hears this Presence rather than sees it.
4. The first part of his mental question is: How came this cosmos into being? The answer is the changing of the Boundless Presence into “Light, sweet joyous Light.” He loses all sight of “all things” in his mind, the mental image he had formed of cosmos, and is plunged into the infinitude of Limitless Light and Joy, which transports him out of himself in highest ecstasy.
But he has craved for Gnosis, not Joy and Light, but Wisdom, the understanding and reconciliation of the great Opposites, the Cross of all Manifestation.
Therefore must he know the Mystery of Ignorance as well as that of Knowledge. Within the Infinitude of Light appears the Shadow of the Unknown, which translates itself to his consciousness as Darkness,—the Shadow of the Thrice-unknown Darkness, which, as Damascius tells us, 1 was the First Principle of the Egyptians, the Ineffable Mystery, of which they “said nothing,” and of which our author says nothing.
This Darkness comes forth from within outwards to the disciples consciousness, it spreads “downwards” in sinuous folds like a Great Snake, symbolizing, presumably, the unknown, and to him unknowable, mysteries of the differentiation of the root of matter of the cosmos that was to be; its motion was spiral, sinuous, unending vibrations, not yet confined into a sphere; not yet ordered, but chaotic, in unceasing turmoil, a terrible contrast to the sweet peace of the Light, gradually changing from Dark Space or Spirit into a Fluid or Flowing Matter, or Moist Nature; that is, presumably, what the Greek mystics would have called Rhea, the Primal Mother or Matter of the future universe.
It wails and groans—that is, its motion is as yet unharmonized. In the terminology of the Sophia-mythus, it is the inchoate birth from the Sophia Above, in the Fullness, brought forth by herself alone, without her syzygy or consort. On account of its imperfection she wails and groans to the Father of All and His Perfections, that her Perfection may be sent to fashion her child, who is herself in manifestation, into a world of order, and eventually into a Perfection in its turn. 1
The Primal Undifferentiated or Chaotic Sound, from the Darkness of its first state, gradually manifests itself under the brooding power of the Boundless Light, into less confused thunderings and murmurings, and finally reaches a stage symbolized by a “Cry,” a “Voice of Fire,” of Fire, not Light, expressing a need and want, longing for union with the Articulate Power or Cosmic Word.
The three most primal stages thus seem to be symbolized by Darkness, Moist Essence, Fire. These
were not our differentiated elements, but the Primal Pre-cosmic Elements.
The same idea, though in different forms, is met with in a system of the Gnosis preserved for us by the Old Latin translator of Irenæus, 1 and also by Theodoret, 2 who ascribes it to the Sēthians, whom he says are also called Ophianæ or Ophitæ. Now Sēth was Typhon or Darkness, Dark Light, and this Sēth may very well have been symbolized as the Great Serpent of Darkness, as it is in our text; hence the name “Those of the Serpent,” perhaps given them by their theological adversaries (orthodox Jews and Christians). In this system the Primal Elements are given as Water, Darkness, Abyss, and Chaos. The Light was the Child of the supreme Trinity—the First Man, the Second Man, and the Holy Spirit or First Woman. This Light the Jewish and Christian over-working of the original tradition called the Cosmic Christ.
Thus the Fire of Desire, or Cry of the Darkness, was to be satisfied or checked or quenched by the Lights fashioning its inchoate substance into the cosmos; and so in another Vision, preserved in a treatise of the same type, Hermes sees, by gazing “through the Master,” the cosmos in its finished beauty, when all things in it are full of Light and nowhere is there Fire. 3
5. Upon this Cry for Light, into the Heart of the Dark-Moist-Fiery-Nature is dropped a Holy Word, the Seed of the future Cosmos. This Word is Articulate (its Limbs are perfect), Seasonable and Ordering. The
[paragraph continues] Cosmic Animal Nature is impregnated with the Light of the Supernal Reason, which pervades its whole being.
This pervading immediately effects an ordering of the Chaotic Elements into Pure Fire, Pure Air, and Pure Water-Earth. Moreover, it is to be gathered from the sequel that Nature saw the Word and all his Beauty in her Fire and Air, but as yet only heard him in her Water-Earth.
6. The Shepherd thus explains that Light 1 is really Mind, and Mind is God,—God prior to Nature, but not prior to Darkness. The Unity of Light and Darkness is a still higher Mystery. Light and Mind is the highest concept the disciple can yet form of God. The Light-Word, or emanation of Supernal Reason, is Son of God, Son of Great Mind.
With the words “What then?” Reitzenstein (p. 37) perceives that the sequence of the narrative is broken by a second vision, and is only resumed with § 9. This he regards as an interpolation of another form of cosmogenesis, into the one which is being described.
It seems to me, however, that the breaking of the main narrative may be regarded as a necessary digression rather than as an interpolation of foreign material—necessary in order to bring on to the scene the hitherto invisible Greatnesses, “within” the Veil of Light, which constitute the Economy of the Plērōma. More had to be seen by the disciple before he was in a position to understand what he had so far seen. He must now unite with the Light, his previous seeing being that of its reflection, the logos within him. Not that this
logos and Light (or Mind) are separate. They are in reality one, the Son is one with the Father in the state that transcends the opposites. The Logos apparently comes forth, yet it remains ever with the Father, and this coming forth and yet remaining constitutes its Life—in other words, it is an emanation. Thus Hermes is bidden to understand the Light as Life, and so make friends with it.
7. Hitherto the Light had been one for him a sameness which his highest vision could not pierce, the Veil of Light that shut the Beauties, Perfections and Greatnesses of the Intelligible from the eyes of his mind. To pierce this veil a still more expanded power of sight had to be given him by the Master. The little word or light-spark within him is intensified by the Great Word of the Master, this Word being an Intelligible Utterance of the Mind, an intensification of being.
He now sees and understands the countless Powers within the Light, which constitute the Intelligible Archetypal Form or Idea of all worlds. Between the special sensible cosmos of his prior vision and this Immensity was a Mighty Power, or Great Boundary (Horos), 1 that encircled the elements of the sensible cosmos and held its Fire in check.
8. In amazement he asks whence come these apparently disorderly and untamed elements of the new world in process that have to be subdued and separated from the Concord of the Perfection of the Powers? And the answer is that Chaos, too, has its being from Gods Will. Discord and Concord, Chaos and Cosmos, are both of God. The Primal Elements are, as it were, the Passions of Gods Will desiring Himself. It is Himself as Mother or Spouse
desiring Himself as Father. In other of the Trismegistic tractates 1 this “Feminine Aspect” of Deity is called Wisdom and Nature and Generation and Isis. He is Wisdom as desiring Himself,—that Desire being the Primal Cause as Mother of the whole world-process, which is consummated by His Fullness uniting with His Desire or Wisdom, and so perfecting it.
This is the whole burden of the Gnostic Sophia-mythus, which I have given very good reasons for believing derived its main element from Egypt. 2 Curiously enough, Reitzenstein (pp. 39, 40) quotes the two chapters (liii. and liv.) from Plutarch on which I base my conclusions, but he does not notice that in this respect the Christianized Gnosis is distinctly dependent on Egypt.
And so Philo 3 also tells us that the Mother of All is Gnosis (ἐπιστήμη), the very same name that Plutarch gives to Isis.
The Mother, when thought of as without the Plērōma, is impregnated by the Word, which Basilides would have called the All-seed Potency of the Plērōma, endowed with all Powers, and sent forth as the seed of the sensible cosmos that is to be. The Mother in her higher Nature contemplates the Eternal Cosmos or Order of the Plērōma, and in her lower Nature copies its Beauties by means of the permutations and combinations of her elements and the generations and transformations of her lives or souls.
This form of cosmogenesis Reitzenstein (p. 46) regards as of a pantheistic nature, while the general narrative he holds to set forth a world-representation of a dualistic tendency. It is true, as he himself
admits, that this blend of contradictory conceptions meets us frequently in Gnostic systems of a more or less contemporary date; nevertheless he lays great stress upon this difference, and so insists upon an interpolation.
In this he is confirmed (p. 39) by the fact that whereas § 9 speaks of God the Mind being male-female, we are in the second vision face to face with “eine weibliche Allgottheit” who stands next to the Highest God.
I must, however, confess that these contradictions do not make so great an impression upon my mind as they seem to have done on the critical faculty of Professor Reitzenstein. There is no system known to me, even of the most exclusive monotheism, into which dualism does not creep somehow or other at some stage; it cannot be avoided, for it is in the nature of things.
The dualism of our text is, however, by no means so very marked, for though it is not distinctly stated in § 4, it leaves it clearly to be inferred that the Darkness comes from the Light itself, for previously there was nothing but Light; “all things” had become Light to the eye of the seer. It is the mystery of the sad-eyed Serpent of Darkness wrapping itself round the lower limbs of the Light.
It was, in my opinion, precisely for the sake of removing the thought of dualism that the seer is shown a still more intimate vision within the Light Veil, where all ideas of monotheism, dualism, tritheism, polytheism, and pantheism lose their formal distinctions in a Formless State, or, at any rate, in a State of Being where all are interblended with all. In describing it, the “tongue of flesh” has to use the familiar language of form, but every word employed has a new significance;
for even the “tongue of angels” cannot describe it, or any of the “tongues” of heaven; He alone who speaks forth the Words of the One Tongue can express it.
Whence this sublime conception of the Plērōma came, I do not know; it seems to me impossible to find a geographical origin for such things, as, indeed, it seems vain to seek a geographical origin for dualism and the rest. For the writer or writers of our tractate these ideas came from the nature of things, from the immediate experience of sight.
The form of expression, of course, may be susceptible of a geographical treatment, but as yet I am not satisfied that any clear heredity has been made out for this supposed interpolation. The Feminine Divinity, next the Highest God, is not set over against that God, but is His own Will. He is in the Plērōma Vision as much and as little male and female as in the general narrative. He transcends all opposites and contains all opposites in Himself.
What is clear, however, is that in the combination of both visions we have before us a simple and early form of the Gnosis which we meet with later in Christian over-workings, and especially in the very elaborate expositions of the Basilidian and Valentinian schools, the systems of which can, in their main elements, be paralleled and compared point by point with our treatise; but this would be too lengthy a proceeding in our present study, for it would require a volume to itself in any way adequately to treat of it. 1
9. We now return to the main narrative. Within the World-Egg, which was encircled by the Mighty Power (the Gnostic Horos), there had already been developed three Cosmic Elements (not our mixed elements)—Fire, Air, and Water-Earth. This had been effected by the descent of the Cosmic Logos into the Primal Elements of Disorder. As the Logos descended, Fire and Air ascended, and the Logos remained in Water-Earth. This was the result of the First Outpouring from the Potency of the Plērōma, the First Word uttered by Mind.
The Second Outpouring of Mind was of Mind no longer regarded as Light only, but as Light and Life, Male-Female. This emanation appeared as Enforming Mind—that is, the Fashioner or Former, Artificer or Demiurge of lives or souls; it was the ensouling of the Ordered Elements of Nature with lives, whereby these Elements were drawn together into forms.
The Great Mind, as Light and Life, reflected itself in the “pure formation” of Nature—that is to say, in Fire and Spirit (Air), Fire for Light and Spirit for Life, to further enform things.
The Mighty Power or Self-limitation of Mind, the Boundary that no mortal can pass, marks off the formative area of the whole cosmos. This area, however, was by no means only the mixed sensible world (cosmos) which we perceive with our present physical senses. On the contrary, there are within it various orders (cosmoi) of the main cosmos. For the Ordering Mind, as the Enformer or Soul-fashioner, differentiates itself into seven Ruling Forms or Spheres which “enclose” the mixed sensible cosmos; these spheres, therefore, must be of a psychic nature—that is to say,
of a pure or subtle substance; they are Forms of subtle matter endowed with reason. They constitute the Cosmic Engine of the fashioning of souls, or psychic natures, and of their perpetual transforming. Their energies and activities are those of Fate, or the ordered sequence of cause and effect, symbolized by spheres perpetually entering into themselves.
10. In all the main phases there is to be observed the idea of a downward tendency followed by an upward. The Darkness descends; it then transmutes itself and aspires above in a Cry or Yearning for Light. The Word descends; immediately the Fire and Air ascend. The Formative Mind descends; immediately the Word ascends from the mixed Water-Earth—and at-ones itself with its co-essential emanation from the Father—to a space about the Seven, and thus leaves the still down-tending elements in the Element Water-Earth deprived of its immediate presence, after giving physical matter the initial impulse to order. This physical matter our author calls “pure matter,” meaning thereby matter deprived of the immediate presence of Reason.
11. Hereupon from the impulse she has received Nature begins her physical enformation, develops her physical elements and bodies of irrational lives. Water-Earth divides into water and earth, and also air, for this air is clearly something different from the Spirit-Air that ascended; the lower air is one of the downward elements.
12. When this had been accomplished, there followed a Third Outpouring—the descent of Man, the consummation of the whole Enformation of things, a still
more transcendent manifestation of Mind, the One Form that contains all forms, His Very Image coequal with Himself. He finally comes Himself to consummate and save the cosmos in the Form of Man—that is, to gather it to Himself and take it back into the Plērōma.
Nevertheless the Word and the Formative Mind and Man are not three different Persons; they are all co-essential with each other and one with the Father. For the Word is co-essential with the Demiurgic Mind (§ 10), and the latter is Brother of Man (§ 13), and Man is co-equal with God (§ 12).
13. And so Man, the Beloved, descends; and in his descent he is clothed with all the powers of his Brothers creative energy, the creative energy of Life conjoined with rational Light.
Having learned the lesson of the conformations and of the limitations of the Spheres, he desires to break right through the Great Boundary itself; but to do this he must descend still further into matter. Before he can burst through upwards he must break through downwards.
14. Accordingly he breaks through the Spheres downwards, seeking his consort Nature below, and shows her his Divine Form radiant with all the energies bestowed on him by all the Powers above.
And she in her great love wound herself round the image of this Form mirrored upon her water, and the shadow of it thrown upon her earth; just as the Darkness wound itself, like a Great Serpent, round the lower parts of the Light, so does Nature coil herself round the shadow and reflection of Man. Man is above, yet is he below; man is free, yet is he bound—bound willingly in love for her who is himself.
Reitzenstein (pp. 47-49) is greatly puzzled with all
this, and seeks to distinguish several contradictory elements, presumably supposing that these elements are woven together into a literary patchwork from distinct traditions. I cannot myself follow him here with any clearness. Of course the writer or writers of our treatise did not discover new ideas or invent new terms; they used what was in their minds and the minds of their circle. It was, however, the weaving of it into a whole, not as a literary exercise, but as a setting forth in the most understandable terms with which they were acquainted of the “things seen,” that was their main interest. Those who had the “sight” would understand and appreciate their labours, those who had not would never understand, no matter what terms or what language were used.
When, then, Reitzenstein (p. 47) says that in § 11, in the bringing forth by Nature of irrational lives, there is a confusion of contradictory conceptions, he fails to see that Nature is ever the World-Soul, the spouse of Mind; though Darkness she is spouse of Light. Unaided she brings forth things irrational, a phase of that birth of Nature by herself that is incomplete.
So also in § 13, Reitzenstein detects contradictory elements, which he ascribes to two different regions of ideas. He does not, however, perceive that though in one sentence the “formations” are said to be those of the Father, and in the next those of the Brother, this is no real confusion, because the Formative Mind is the Father, enforming Himself in Himself; this self-energizing, when regarded by itself, may be spoken of as other than the Father, but is not really so.
Nor can I see that there is any real contradiction in the breaking through of the Spheres as though they were the product of an opposing Power to that of the Son. The Fate was certainly so regarded by men who
were under its sway; but our treatise is endeavouring precisely to give an insight into the state of things beyond the Fate. The burden of its teaching is that all these oppositions are really illusory; man can transcend these limitations and come into the freedom of the Sons of God. Even the most terrible and fundamental oppositions are not really so, but all are Self-limitations of Gods Will; and man is Son of God co-equal with Him.
16. Our treatise then describes the first appearance of man on earth, which it regards as a great mystery never before revealed, “the mystery kept hid until this day.” This I take to mean that it had hitherto never been written about, but had been kept as a great secret.
This secret was the doctrine that the first men, of which there were seven types, were hermaphrodites, and not only so, but lived in the air; their frames were of fire and spirit, and not of the earth-water elements. The Celestial Man, or type of humanity, was gradually differentiating himself from his proper nature of Light and Life, and taking on bodies of fire and air, was changing into mind (Light-fire) and soul (Life-spirit).
This presumably lasted for long periods of time, the lower animal forms gradually evolving to greater complexity as Nature strove to copy the “Form” of Man, and Man devolving gradually until there was a union, and the human subtle form could find vehicles among the highest animal shapes.
The first incarnate men appear to have been at first also hermaphrodite; and it must have been a time when everything was in a far greater state of flux than things are now.
18. This period of pre-sexual or bi-sexual development having come to an end, the separation of the sexes took place. The commandment is given by the Word: “Increase ye in increasing and multiply in multitude” (αὐξάνεσθε ἐν αὐξήσει καὶ πληθύνεσθε ἐν πλήθει).
It is true that this is reminiscent of the oft-repeated formula in the Greek Targum of Genesis,—αὐξάνεσθε καὶ πληθύνεσθε, 1—but it is only slightly reminiscent, the main injunction being strengthened, and the rest of the logos being quite different from anything found in Genesis. As nothing else in the whole treatise can be referred to direct Hebrew influence, we must conclude that the formula was, so to speak, in the air, and has so crept into our treatise. 2
It has, however, given rise to a diatribe copied on to the margin of one MS.—B. (Par. 1220)—by a later hand, and incorporated into the text of M. (Vat. 951). It is in B. ascribed to Psellus, 3 who goes out of his way to stigmatize Hermes as a sorcerer and a plagiarist throughout of Moses; in brief, the Devil is a thief of the Truth to lead men astray. In this we learn more about the limitation of the so-called “Prince of Philosophers” 4 than of aught else.
19. This increasing and multiplying, the perpetual coupling of bodies, and the birth of new ones, is effected by the Fate, or Harmony of the Formative Spheres, the Engine of Birth, set under Forethought or Providence (πρόνοια). This Pronoia can be none else than Nature herself as the Wisdom or Knowledge of God—in other words, His Will.
The motive power of all is Love. If this Love manifests itself as Desire for things of Matter, the Lover stays in Darkness wandering; if it becomes the Will to know Light, the Lover becomes the Knower of himself, and so eventually at-one with Good.
20. But why should love of body merit Death—that is to say, make man mortal? The disciple attempts an explanation from what he has seen. Although his answer is approved, the meaning is by no means clear.
The physical body, or body in the sense-world, is composed of the Moist Nature, which in a subsequent phase remains as Water-Earth, and in a still subsequent phase divides itself into the elements of physical earth, water, and air. The dissolution of the combination of these elements is effected by Death—that is, Darkness, the Drainer of the Water, the Typhonean Power. Water must thus here symbolize the Osirian Power of fructification and holding together. The Moist Nature then seems to be differentiated from the Darkness by the energizing of Light in its most primitive brooding. But seeing that the Light is also Life, the Darkness, which is posited as the ultimate opposite, is Death.
21. The Way of Deathlessness is then considered. The disciple repeats his lesson, and the Master commends
him; the Way Up is the Path of Self-knowledge.
Still the disciple cannot believe that this is for him; he cannot understand that Mind is in him, or rather is himself, in so much as Mind as Teacher seems to be without him. The play is on Mind and mind; the one gives the certitude of Immortality, the other is still bound by the illusion of Death. The disciple has not this certitude; Mind, then, is not his.
22. The Master then further explains the mystery. Gnosis must be preceded by moral purification; there must be a turning-away before the Re-turn can be accomplished. The whole nature must be changed. Yet every effort that the little man seems to make of his own striving is really the energizing of the Great Man.
23. Those, however, who yield themselves to lower desires, drive the Mind away, and their appetites are only the more strengthened by the mind.
The text of this paragraph is very corrupt, so that the exact sense of the original is not recoverable; and this makes it all the more difficult to understand what is meant by the Avenging Daimon, the Counterpart of the Mind. This difficulty is increased by § 24, where we are told that the “way of life” (τὸ ἦθος) is at death surrendered to the Daimon.
If, however, the reader will refer to the section on “The Vision of Er” (in the Miscellanea of the “Prolegomena”), which in my original MS. followed as a Digression on this passage, he will be put in contact with the Platonic view of the Daimon and “way of life”; in our treatise, however, the teaching is of a more intimate character, and must be taken in conjunction with C. H., x. (xi.) 16 and 21, where we shall comment on it at further length.
24. The subject of instruction is now the Way Above (ἄνοδος), or ascent of the soul out of the body at death.
The physical body is left to the work of change and dissolution. The life of integration and conservation ceases, and the life of disintegration begins.
The form (εἶδος) thus vanishes, apparently from the mans consciousness; that is to say, presumably, he is no longer clothed in the form of his physical body, but is apparently in some other vehicle; the particular fixed form, or “way of life,” or “habit,” he wore on earth being handed over to the Daimon deprived of all energy, so that apparently it becomes an empty shell.
The next sentence is a great puzzle, and I can only guess at the meaning. The senses which had previously been united by the mind become separate—that is, instead of a whole they become parts (μέρη), they return to the natural animal state of sensation, and the animal part of man, or his vehicle of passion and desire, begins in its turn to disintegrate, the mind or reason (logos) being gradually separated from it, or, rather, its true nature showing forth in the man as he gradually strips off the irrational tendencies of the energies.
25. Those irrational tendencies have their sources in the Harmony of the Fate-Sphere of seven subordinate spheres or zones; and in these zones he leaves his inharmonious propensities, deprived of their energy. For the Harmony is only evil apparently; it is really the Engine of Justice and Necessity to readjust the foolish choice of the soul—that is, to purify its irrational desires, or those propensities in it that are not under the sway of right reason and philosophy. For a better understanding of the characteristics ascribed to
the “seven spheres,” we must “run off” into another Digression, which the reader will find relegated to ch. xii. of the “Prolegomena,” under the title “Concerning the Seven Zones and their Characteristics.” This, then, having been taken as a direct commentary on § 25, we continue with the text of our treatise.
26. The soul of the initiated strips itself naked of the “garment of shame,” the selfish energizings, and stands “clothed in its own power.” This refers probably to the stripping off of the “carapace of selfhood,” the garments woven by its vices, and the putting on of the “wedding garment” of its virtues.
This state of existence is called the Eighth, 1 a state of comparative “sameness” as transcending the zones of “difference.” It is the Ogdoad of the Gnostics, the Jerusalem Above, the plane of the Ego in its own form, the natural state of “those-that-are.”
In another sense it may perhaps mean that the man, after passing through the phases of the lower mind, now enters within into the region of the pure mind, the Higher Ego, and there is at-oned with all the experiences of his past lives that are worthy of immortality, his virtuous energizings,—the “those-that-are,” that perhaps constitute the “crown of mighty lives” sung of by the Pythian Oracle when celebrating the death of Plotinus. 2
In this state the man, who has freed himself from the necessity of reincarnation, hears the Song of the Powers above the Ogdoad—that is to say, in Gnostic terms, the
[paragraph continues] Hymn of the Æons of the Plērōma. Such a man would have reached the consummation of his earthly pilgrimage, and be ready to pass on into the Christ-state, or, at any rate, the state of super-man. He would be the Victor who had won the right of investiture with the Robe of Glory, and the dignity of the crowning with the Kingship of the Heavens. This Final Initiation is most beautifully set forth in the opening pages of the Pistis Sophia, and especially in the Song of the Powers (pp. 17 ff.) beginning with the words: “Come unto us, for we are thy fellow-members. We are all one with thee.”
The consummation of the mystery is that the alter-egos of the Individual Ego, or the sum total of purified personalities which in that state constitute its membership, or taxis, of their own selves surrender themselves to a fullness of union or a transcendency of separation, in which they become the powers or energies of a New Man, the true Son of Man; they pass into a state where they each blend with all, and yet lose nothing of themselves, but rather find in this new union the consummation of all their powers. In this state of Sonship of the Divine they are no longer limited by bodies, nor even by partial souls or individual minds; but, becoming Powers, they are not only in God, but one with the Divine Will—nay, in final consummation, God Himself.
27. Of such a nature was the Shepherd; He, too, was the Christ of God, the Son of the Father, who could take all forms to carry out the Divine Will. When the form,—even though that form might for the disciple take on the appearance of the cosmos itself, as he conceived it,—had served its purpose, the Shepherd once more “mingled with the Powers.”
The Shepherd was a Christ for those who prefer the name of Christian Tradition, a Buddha for those who are more familiar with Eastern terms. And that this is so may be clearly seen by considering the so-called “three bodies” (trikāyam) of a or the Buddha, for Buddhahood is a state beyond individuality in the separated sense in which we understand the term.
In the Chinese Version of Ashvaghoshas now lost Sanskrit treatise, Mahāyāna-shraddhotpāda-shāstra, 1 we read:
“It is characteristic of all the Buddhas that they consider all sentient beings as their own self, and do not cling to their individual forms. How is this? Because they know truthfully that all sentient beings as well as their own self come from one and the same Suchness, and no distinction can be established among them.”
“All Tathāgatas are the Dharinakāya 2 itself, are the highest truth (paramārthasatya) itself, and have nothing to do with conditionality (samvṛittisatya) and compulsory actions; whereas the seeing, hearing, etc., of the sentient being diversify the Activity 3 of Tathāgatas.
“Now this Activity has a twofold aspect.
“The first depends on the phenomena-particularizing consciousness by means of which the Activity is conceived by the minds of all who fall short of the state of a Bodhisattva in their various degrees. This aspect is called the Body of Transformation (Nirmānakāya).
“But as the beings of this class do not know that the
[paragraph continues] Body of Transformation is merely the shadow [or reflection] of their own evolving consciousness, they imagine it comes from some external sources, and so they give it a corporeal limitation. But the Body of Transformation [or what amounts to the same thing, the Dharmakāya] has nothing to do with Limitation or measurement.”
That is to say, a Buddha can only communicate with such minds by means of a form, that form being really that of their own most highly evolved consciousness. There are, however, others who have the consciousness of the “formless” state, but have not yet reached the Nirvāṇic Consciousness. These in this system are called Bodhisattvas.
“The second aspect [of the Dharmakāya] depends on the activity-consciousness (karmavijñāna), by means of which the Activity is conceived by the minds of the Bodhisattvas while passing from their first aspiration (chittotpāda) stage up to the height of Bodhisattva-hood. This is called the Body of Bliss (Sambhogakāya)” (pp. 100, 101).
We have used the term “formless state” in the penultimate paragraph to signify the states of consciousness in “worlds” called Arūpa; but these are only “formless” for consciousness which has not reached the Bodhisattva level—presumably the Buddhic plane of Neo-theosophical nomenclature.
For “this Body has infinite forms. The form has infinite attributes. The Attribute has infinite excellencies. And the accompanying reward of Bodhisattvas—that is, the region where they are predestined to be born—also has infinite merits and ornamentations. Manifesting itself everywhere, the Body of Bliss is infinite, boundless, limitless, unintermittent, directly coming forth from the Mind” (p. 101).
The older Chinese Version says: “It is boundless,
cannot be exhausted, is free from the signs of limitation. Manifesting itself wherever it should manifest itself, it always exists by itself and is never destroyed” (p. 101, n. 2).
In other words, one who has reached the Nirvāṇic Consciousness—that is to say, a Master—can teach or be active on “planes” that are as yet unmanifest to us ordinary folk; these “planes,” however, even when the disciple is conscious of them, are conditioned by the self-limitation of his own imperfection. The Vehicles of this Activity are called Dharmakāya, Sambhogakāya and Nirmānakāya; and the limitation of their Activity is determined on the side of the disciple by the degree of his ability to function consciously in those states which are known in Neo-theosophical nomenclature respectively as those of Âtman, Buddhi and Higher Manas, or, in more general terms, those of the divine, spiritual and human aspects of the self.
In the first degree of conscious discipleship, then, the Master communicates with His disciples and teaches them by means of the Nirmānakāya; that is to say, He quickens the highest form of consciousness or conception of masterhood they have so far attained to—taking the form of their greatest love, perhaps, as they have known Him in the flesh, or as He has been told of as existing in the flesh, but not His own-form, which would transcend their consciousness.
The next stage is when the disciple learns to transcend his own “egoity,” in the ordinary sense of the word; this does not mean to say that his true individuality is destroyed, but instead of being tied down to one ego-vehicle, he has gained the power of manifesting himself wherever and however he will, at any moment of time; in brief, the power of self-generation on the plane of egoity, in that he has reached a higher
state which is free from the limitations of a single line of egoity.
He now begins to realise in the very nature of his being that the “Self is in all and all in the Self.” Such a disciple, or Bodhisattva, is taught by the Master in this state of being, and the Kāya which he supplies for the energizing of his beloved Father is perfectly unintelligible to us, and can only be described as an expanded consciousness of utmost sympathy and compassion, which not only strives to blend with the Life of all beings, but also with the One Being in the world for him, the Beloved. Such a sensing of the Masters Presence is called the Sambhogakāya of the Master, His Body of Bliss.
There is a still higher Perfection, the Dharmakāya, or Own-Nature of Masterhood. But how should the dim mind of one who is Without imagine the condition of One who is not only Within, but who combines both the Without and the Within in the Transcendent Unity of the Perfect Fullness?
27. With the exposition of the Consummation of the Teaching and the return to earth of the consciousness of the Seer, our treatise breaks off into a graphic instruction of how the Gnosis is to be utilized. The Wisdom is no mans property; he who receives it holds it in trust for the benefit of the world-folk.
I am, however, inclined to believe that §§ 27 to 29 are a later interpolation, and that the treatise originally ran straight on after the conclusion of the Shepherds Instruction with the words: “But I recorded in my heart the Shepherds benefaction” (§ 30).
Until the end of § 26 we have moved in the
atmosphere of an inner intimate personal instruction, set forth in a form evidently intended only for the few; indeed, as we find in other treatises emphatic injunctions to keep the teaching secret, we cannot but conclude that the oldest and most authoritative document of the school was guarded with the same secrecy. The general impression created by the instruction is not only that it itself is the consummation and reward of a strict and stern probation, and not a sermon to be preached on the house-tops, but also that those who followed that way were not propagandists, but rather members of a select philosophic community.
With § 27, however, all is changed; we are introduced to the picture of a man burning with enthusiasm to communicate, if not the direct teaching itself, at any rate the knowledge of its existence and saving power to all without distinction. In a few graphic sentences the history of the fortunes of this propagandist endeavour is sketched. An appeal is made of the most uncompromising nature; it is a clarion call to repentance, and we seem to be moving in an atmosphere that is Hebrew rather than Greek, prophetical rather than philosophical.
It would seem almost that this propagandist phase had been forced upon the community rather than that it was natural to it; something seems to have occurred which obliged it to enter the arena of general life and proclaim its existence publicly. What this compulsion was we have no means of determining with any exactitude, for the historical indications are very obscure. If we were to conjecture that it was the vigorous preaching of nascent Christianity which wrought this change, we should, I think, be taking part for whole, for prior to Christianity there was the most energetic propaganda made by the Jews, the
intensity of which may be estimated by the phrase “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte,” and the nature of which may be most clearly seen in the propaganda of the Sibylline writers, with whose diction the appeals to the “earth-born folk” in our text may be aptly compared, while the prayer at sunset may be paralleled with the prayers of the Essenes and Therapeuts.
On the other hand, the tradition of the Gnosis and Saving Faith preached by our Pœmandrists is distinctly not Hebrew; it is a philosophizing of other materials—materials which, as we have seen, were also partly used by Jewish and Christian mystics, and adapted to their own special traditions.
We thus see that at the time when Christianity came to birth there were many rival traditions contending for general recognition, all of them offering instruction in the Gnosis and hopes of Salvation, and I myself believe that all of them were partial manifestations of the impartial Quickening of the Spiritual Life which was at that time more abundantly poured forth than ever before or after in the Western world.
With § 30, if my conjecture of an interpolation is correct, the original treatise is continued, and we are told the nature of the awakening of the spiritual consciousness which has come to the new-born disciple.
Henceforth all things are new for him, they all have new meanings. He has become a man, instead of a “procession of fate”; he has reached the “Plain of Truth.” In Christian terms the Christ has been born in his heart consciously.
31. The treatise is concluded with a most noble hymn, in which the further growth and effort of the
man in spirit is set forth. Henceforth his effort will be to become like unto the Father Himself, to pass from Sonship into the Perfection of perfection, Identity or At-one-ment with the Father.
The sentence, “That I may give the Light to those in ignorance of the Race, my Brethren and Thy Sons,” seems to me to be either an interpolation, showing the same tendency as that of the propagandist section, or an indication that the whole hymn was added at the same time as the propagandist paragraphs, for the treatise proper seems to end naturally and consistently in the Hellenistic form of the tradition with the words, “I reached the Plain of Truth.” 1
Many have already remarked that the name “Poimandres” is formed irregularly in Greek, and this has led to an interesting speculation by Granger, who writes:
“While, however, the name Poimandres does not answer to any Greek original, it is a close transliteration of a Coptic phrase. In the dialect of Upper Egypt pemenetre means the witness. That the Coptic article [pe] should be treated as part of the name itself is not unusual; compare the name Pior. 2 Such a title corresponds very closely in style with the titles of other works of this same period—for example, the True Word of Celsus, or the Perfect Word, which is an alternative title of the Asclepius. The term Poemandres, therefore, on this supposition, contains an allusion to
the widely spread legend of Hermes as witness, 1 a legend which is verified for us from several sources. But the writer has adapted the details to his purpose. Hermes is not himself the witness, but the herald of the witness.” 2
Granger then propounds the very strange theory, contradicted by all the phenomena and opposed to every authority, that the Coptic Gnostic works of the Askew and Bruce Codices were originally composed in Coptic with the adoption of Greek technical terms, whereas they are manifestly translations from the Greek. He, however, continues:
“There seems no adequate reason why such works may not have been composed in Coptic. The Egyptian Gnostic writings of the third century exhibit the same qualities of style as the Coptic biographies and apocalypses of the fourth and following centuries. And so I am prepared to believe that the Poemandres may have been first composed in Coptic. Or shall we say that the work was current from the first in both languages?” 3
We should say that the last guess is most highly improbable, and only denotes the indecision of the writer. The original “Pœmandres” may very well have been composed not in Coptic but in Demotic; but the reasons given by Granger, as based on the phenomena of the Gnostic Coptic writings, are not to be seriously considered. Nevertheless, the name “Poimandres” may be a Greek transliteration of an Egyptian name, though we hardly think that “The Witness”
will suit the theme. In any case “Man-Shepherd” was certainly the idea conveyed to the Non-Egyptian by the name, however philologically unsound its form may be in Greek.
It has been no part of our task to attempt to trace the Hermes-idea along the line of pure Greek descent, for this would have led us too far from our immediate subject. There is, however, one element of that tradition which is of great interest, and to which we may draw the attention of the reader in passing. The beautiful idea of the Christ as the “Good Shepherd” is familiar to every Christian child. Why the Christ is the Shepherd of all men is shown us by this first of our marvellous treatises. In it we have the universal doctrine apart from any historical dogma, the eternal truth of an ever-recurring fact, and not the exaggeration of one instance of it.
The representation of Christ as the Good Shepherd was one of the earliest efforts of Christian art; but the prototype was far earlier than Christianity—in fact, it was exceedingly archaic. Statues of Hermes Kriophoros, or Hermes with a ram or lamb standing beside him, or in his arms, or on his shoulder, were one of the most favourite subjects for the chisel in Greece. We have specimens dating to the archaic period of Greek art. 1 Hermes in these archaic statues has a pointed cap, and not the winged head-dress and sandals of later art. This type in all probability goes back to Chaldæan symbolic art, to the bearers of the twelve “signs of the zodiac,” the “sacred animals.” These were, in one human correspondence, the twelve
septs or classes of priests. Here we see that the Greek tradition itself was not pure Āryan even in its so-called archaic period. Chaldæa had given of her wisdom to post-diluvian Greece, even as she had perchance been in relation with Greece before the “flood.” Here, then, we have another element in the Hermes-idea. In fact, nowhere do we find a pure line of tradition; in every religion there are blendings and have been blendings. There was unconscious syncretism (and conscious also) long before the days of Alexandria, for unconscious syncretism is as old as race-blendings. Even as all men are kin, so are popular cults related; and even as the religion of nobler souls is of one paternity, so are the theosophies of all religions from one source.
One of the greatest secrets of the innermost initiated circles was the grand fact that all the great religions had their roots in one mother soil. And it was the spreading of the consciousness of this stupendous truth which subsequently—after the initial period of scepticism of the Alexandrian schools—gave rise to the many conscious attempts to synthesise the various phases of religion, and make “symphonies” of apparently contradictory philosophical tenets. Modern research, which is essentially critical and analytical, and rarely synthetical, classifies all these attempts under the term “syncretism,” a word which it invariably uses in a depreciatory sense, as characterising the blending of absolutely incompatible elements in the most uncritical fashion. But when the pendulum swings once more towards the side of synthesis, as it must do in the coming years—for we are but repeating to-day in greater detail what happened in the early centuries—then scholarship will once more recognise the unity of religion under the diversity of creeds and return to the old doctrine of the mysteries.
In connection with the “Good Shepherd” glyph, it will be useful to quote from Grangers instructive exposition on the subject, 1 where he writes:
“Since the identification of Jesus with Hermes took place in circles which formed part of the Christian community, 2 we shall not be surprised to find that one of the leading types of Christian art, the Good Shepherd, was immediately adopted from a current representation of the Greek Hermes. 3 As we see from Hippolytus (Refut., v. 7), the Gnostics were especially interested in Hermes as Hermes Logius, a type which was increasingly frequent in later Greek art. And this epithet was connected by them with the conception of Jesus as the Logos. Now another type of Hermes, the Kriophoros, seemed to bring together Jesus as the Logos and Jesus as the Good Shepherd. These representations of Jesus begin in the second century; and so they correspond in order of time with the appearance of the Gospel according to the Egyptians, and of those Gnostic compositions which largely depend upon it. 4
“Another fact leads us to think that the figure of
the Good Shepherd had its roots in a previous tradition. It is probable that there were no statues before the age of Constantine, except the Good Shepherd. 1 We must therefore add Hermes to the list of pagan types which were taken over for its own purpose by the rising Christian art.
“Moreover, we are enabled to advance one step further the long-standing controversy as to the portraits of Jesus. Since the figure of the Good Shepherd is borrowed from Greek sculpture, it cannot be used as evidence for the earliest conceptions about the appearance of Jesus. And so the arguments of Farrar and others fall to the ground, in so far as they take the presence of this type to show that there was no genuine tradition of Christs appearance. 2
“We are now in a position to throw a little further light upon the famous inscription of Abercius. The inscription speaks of a Shepherd—Who feedeth on the plains His flock of sheep, and hath great eyes that gaze forth every way. For He did teach me [how to understand and] scriptures worthy to believe. 3
“The Shepherd, whose great eyes look in every direction, is no other than Hermes treated as a symbol of Christ. And so some of the arguments which may be directed against the Christian character of this inscription, and to which Harnack 4 attaches an exaggerated weight, are turned aside.”
With all of this may be compared what we have
already written in the Prolegomena on “The Popular Symbolic Representation of the Shepherd” in the chapter on “Hermas and Hermes.”
Compare also the Hymn to Attis in the Naassene tradition, where he is invoked “as Pan, as Bacchus, as Shepherd of bright stars.” This is the macrocosmic side of the microcosmic mystery.
We should also not forget the interesting grouping on a Christian lamp 1 and gem, 2 which goes back very probably to the third century. 3 It represents the Christ as the Good Shepherd, after the Hermes type, with a lamb on his shoulder. Above his head are the Seven “Planets,” the Lords of the Fate, and in addition the Sun and Moon on either side, as is frequently the case in Mithraic representations. Round his feet seven lambs 4 crowd, symbolical of the “seven peoples,” one under each “planet.” Moreover, on the right is Noahs dove and ark, and Jonah being swallowed by the whale, while on the left is Jonah again, vomited on to the land and peacefully resting beneath the shade of the miraculous gourd-tree.
This seems to me to be a symbol of the mysteries, a glyph of rebirth. The lambs are the purified lower nature of the man, the purest essence of which is exalted to the head of the Great Man. This purified “little man” is swallowed by the Cosmic Fish, the Great Mother, the Womb of the Almighty, and the man is born again to rest under his own tree in the Paradise of the Further Shore.
It is also of interest to note that the Hermetic colonies already planted in Mesopotamia, in the earliest
[paragraph continues] Islāmic times of which the Arabian writers tell us, called their head the “Shepherd.” 1
From all of which we conclude that the Good Shepherd was one of the leading ideas of Hellenistic theology.
24:1 From Epiphanius, Hæres., xxvi. 3; see note to the first Hermes-Prayer (i. 11).
24:2 Symbolical of a high state of consciousness, the Mount of Perfection.
24:3 Cf. the Oxyrhynchus logion 5: “Jesus saith: Wherever there are [two], they are not without God, and wherever there is one alone, I say, I am with him.”
25:1 See note to the fifth Hermes-Prayer (v. 2).
26:1 Cf. F. F. F., 340, 341.
27:1 Hær., I. xxx. (Stieren, i. 363 ff.).
27:2 Hær., Fabb., i. 14. See F. F. F., pp. 188 ff.
27:3 “The Mind to Hermes,” C. H., xi. (xii.) 6, 7.
28:1 That is, the condition “seeing.”
29:1 Not Hōrus.
30:1 For references, see R. 39, n. 1; also 44.
30:2 Cf. my note on Plut., De Is. et Os., liv. 6, in the Prolegg.
30:3 De Ebriet., § 30.
32:1 The reader, however, may be referred to the chapters on “The Basilidian Gnosis,” “The Valentinian Movement,” “Some Outlines of Æonology,” and “The Sophia-Mythus,” in F. F. F., pp. 253-357.
38:1 Cf. Gen. i. 22 and 28, viii. 17, ix. 7, and xxxv. 11 (in the singular).
38:2 See, however, Frag. XX., and R. 126, n. 1. Cf. the same formula in C. H., iii. (iv.) 3 (P. 32, 11), and R. 116, n. 2.
38:3 And is printed in Boissonades (V. C.) edition of Michael Psellus, De Operatione Dæmonum (Nürnberg, 1838), pp. 153, 154.
38:4 If, indeed, the Psellus of our scholion is the Younger Psellus (eleventh century); the De Op. Dæm., however, is ascribed by many to the Elder Psellus (ninth century). See, however, the section “The Original MS. of our Corpus” in ch. i. of the “Prolegomena.”
42:1 Cf. Com. on C. H., xiii. (xiv.) 14.
42:2 Cf. Porphyry, Plotini Vita, xxii., ed. Creuzer (Oxford, 1835); also Theosoph. Rev. (July 1898), p. 403.
44:1 Ashvaghoshas Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna. Translated for the first time from the Chinese Version by Teitaro Suzuki (Chicago, 1900). Mahāyāna means the “Great Vehicle” of Buddhism.
44:2 Lit. Body of the Law.
44:3 The italics are mine throughout.
50:1 It is to be noticed that the Hymn is a Song of Holiness. “Holy art thou” is nine times repeated—most probably intentionally. This was noticed long ago by Casaubon. See R. 58, n. 3.
50:2 Palladius, Hist. Laus., 89.
51:1 G. has just referred to the story of Hermes being witness for Horus when indicted on a charge of bastardy by Typhon, as related in Plutarch.
51:2 Granger (F.), “The Poemandres of Hermes Trismegistus,” J. Th. Stud., vol. v., no. 191, p. 400.
51:3 Ibid., p. 401.
52:1 See Resellers Lexikon, art. “Hermes.” “Hermes in der Kunst”—“Periode des Archaïsmus.”
54:1 Op. cit., pp. 408 ff.
54:2 G. seems here to be referring to the Naassene Document, but without any suspicion apparently of its composite character.
54:3 See Sittl, Klassische Kunstarchäologie, 777, 809, 819.
54:4 G. here again refers apparently to the Naassene Documents, which, however, did not depend on the Gospel according to the Egyptians, as we have shown; nor have we any sure ground for dating this widespread mystic gospel of Egypt as being of the second century rather than of the first. G. (p. 411) suggests that the scene of the Gospel of the Egyptians was on top of the Mount of Olives after the resurrection, which may very well be the case, and that the title of C. H., xiii. (xiv.), “The Secret Sermon on the Mountain,” has reference to this gospel, which is by no means probable, for our sermon keeps entirely within its own tradition in its setting.
55:1 Lowrie, Christian Art and Archæology, p. 290.
55:2 Taken in connection with the above quotation from Lowrie, we should say that it disposes of the whole contention. And for further corroboration of this view we would refer the reader to the Acts of John.
55:3 G. gives the Greek text only, omitting the first line, which runs: “The disciple of the Pure Shepherd.” Cf. R. 115.
55:4 Cf. Class. Rev., ix. 297.
56:1 Garucci, Storia della Arte christiana, vi. tav. 474; Perret, Catacombes de Rome, tab. 17, no. 5.
56:2 Perret, ibid., tab. 16, no. 80
56:3 R. 113.
56:4 The gem has only six.
57:1 Cf. Chwolsohn (D.), Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus, ii. 628. Cf. R. 166 ff.