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The Paraphrase of Shem

Translated by Frederik Wisse

[The] paraphrase which was about the unbegotten Spirit.

What Derdekea< s> revealed to me, Shem, 5 according to the will of the Majesty. My thought which was in my body snatched me away from my race. It took me up to the top of the world, 10 which is close to the light that shone upon the whole area there. I saw no earthly likeness, but there was light. And my thought separated 15 from the body of darkness as though in sleep.

I heard a voice saying to me, Shem, since you are from an unmixed power 20 and you are the first being upon the earth, hear and understand what I shall say to you first concerning the great powers who were in existence in the beginning, before 25 I appeared. There was Light and Darkness and there was Spirit between  them. Since your root fell into forgetfulness – he who was 30 the unbegotten Spirit – I reveal to you the truth about the powers. The Light was thought full of hearing and word. They were 35 united into one form. And the Darkness was 2 wind in waters. He possessed the mind  wrapped in a chaotic fire. And the Spirit between them 5 was a gentle, humble light. These are the three roots. They reigned each in them­selves, alone. And they covered each other, each one with 10 its power.

But the Light, since he possessed a great power, knew the abase­ment of the Darkness and his disorder, namely that the root was not straight. 15 But the crookedness of the Darkness was lack of per­ception, namely (the illusion that) there is no one above him. And as long as he was able to bear up under his evil, he was covered with the water. And he 20 stirred. And the Spirit was frightened by the sound. He lifted himself up to his station. And he saw a great, dark water. And he was nauseated. And 25 the thought of the Spirit stared down; he saw the infinite Light. But he was overlooked by the putrid root. And by the will of the great Light 30 the dark water separated. And the Darkness came up wrapped in vile ignorance, and (this was) in order that the mind might separate from him because he prided 35 himself in it.

And when he stirred, 3 the light of the Spirit appeared to him. When he saw it he was astonished. He did not know that another Power was above him. And when he 5 saw that his likeness was dark compared with the Spirit, he felt hurt. And in his pain he lifted up to the height of the members of Darkness his mind which 10 was the eye of the bitterness of evil. He caused his mind to take shape in a member of the regions of the Spirit, thinking that, by staring (down) at his evil, he would be able 15 to equal the Spirit. But he was not able. For he wanted to do an impossible thing, and it did not take place. But in order that the mind of Darkness, which 20 is the eye of the bitterness of evil, might not be destroyed, since he was made par­tially similar, he arose and shone with a fiery light upon all of Ha­des, so that 25 the equality to the faultless Light might become ap­parent. For the Spirit made use of every form of Darkness because he appeared in his majesty. 30

And the exalted, infinite Light appeared, for he was very joyful.

He wished to reveal himself to the Spirit. And the likeness 35 of the exalted Light appeared to the unbegotten Spirit. 4  appeared. [I] am the son of the incorruptible, infinite Light.  appeared in the likeness 5 of the Spirit, for  am the ray of the universal Light. And his ap­pearance to me (was) in order that the mind of Darkness might not remain in Hades. 10 For the Darkness made himself like his mind in a part of the members. When , (O) Shem, appeared   in it (i.e. the like­ness), in order that the Darkness might become dark to himself, 15 ac­cording to the will of the Majesty – in order that the Darkness might become free from every aspect of the power which he possessed – the mind drew the chaotic fire, with which 20 it was covered, from the midst of the Darkness and the water. And from the Darkness the water became a cloud. and from  the cloud the womb took shape. 25 The chaotic fire which was a deviation  went there.

And when the Darkness saw it (i.e. the womb) he became unchaste and when he had aroused 30 the water, he rubbed the womb. His mind dissolved down to the depths of Nature. It mingled with the power of the bitterness of Darkness. And 35 her (i.e. the womb's) eye ruptured at the wickedness in order that she might not again bring forth the mind. For it was 5 a seed of Nature from the dark root.

And when Nature had taken to herself the mind by means of the dark power, 5 every likeness took shape in her. And when the Darkness  had acquired the likeness of the mind, it resembled the Spirit. For Nature rose up to expel it; 10 she was powerless against it, since she did not have a form from the Darkness. For she brought it forth in the cloud. And the cloud shone. A mind appeared in 15 it like a frightful, harmful fire. It (i.e. the mind) collided against the unbegotten Spirit

since it possessed a likeness from him. In order that 20 Nature might become empty of the chaotic fire, then immediately Nature  was divided into four parts. They became clouds which varied 25 in their appearance. They were called Hymen, Afterbirth, Power, (and) Water. And the Hymen and the Afterbirth and the Power were 30 chaotic fires. And it (i.e. the mind) was drawn from the midst of the Darkness and the water – since the mind was in the midst of Nature

and the dark power – 35 in order that the harmful waters might not cling to it. 6 Because of this Nature was divided, according to my will, in order that the mind may return to its power which the 5 dark root, which was mixed with it (i.e. the mind), had taken from it. And he (i.e. the dark root) appeared in the womb. And at the division of Nature he separated from the dark power 10 which he possessed from the mind. It (i.e. the mind) went into the midst of the power – this was the middle region of Nature.

And the Spirit of light, when the mind 15 burdened him, was aston­ished. And the force of his Astonishment cast off the burden. And it (i.e. the burden)  returned to its heat. It put on the light of the Spirit. 20 And when Nature moved away from the power of the light of the Spirit, the burden returned. And the Astonishment (of the) light cast off the burden. It stuck 25 to the cloud of the Hymen. And all the clouds of Darkness cried out, they who had separated from Hades, because of the alien Power. He is the Spirit of light who has come 30 in them. And by the will of the Majesty the Spirit gazed up at the in­finite Light, in order that his light may be pitied and 35 the likeness brought up from Hades.

And when the Spirit had looked,  flowed 7 out – , the son of the Majesty – like a wave of bright light and like a whirlwind of the immortal Spirit. And  blew from 5 the cloud of the Hymen upon the As­tonishment of the unbegotten Spirit. It (i.e. the cloud) separated and cast light upon the clouds. These separated in order that the Spirit might return. Because of this the mind 10 took shape. Its repose was shat­tered. For the Hymen of Nature was a cloud which cannot be grasped; it is a great fire. Similarly, the Afterbirth 15 of Nature is the cloud of silence; it is an august fire. And the Power which was mixed with the mind, it, too, was a cloud of Nature which 20 was joined with the Darkness that had aroused Nature to unchastity. And the dark water was a frightful cloud. And the root 25 of Nature, which was below, was crooked, since it is burdensome and harmful. The root was blind with respect to the light-bondage which was un­fathomable since 30 it had many appearances.

And  had pity on the light (of) the Spirit which the mind had re­ceived.  returned to my position in order to pray 35 to the exalted, in­finite Light 8 that the power of the Spirit might increase on the place and might be filled without dark defilement. And 5 reverently  said, "Thou art the root of the Light. Thy hidden form has appeared, O exalted, infinite one. May the whole power of 10 the Spirit spread and may it be filled with its light, O infinite Light. (Then) he will not be able to join with the unbegotten Spirit, and the power of the Aston­ishment will not be able to 15 mix with Nature. According to the will of the Majesty," my prayer was accepted.

And the voice of the Word was heard saying through the Majesty to the 20 unbegotten Spirit, "Behold, the power has been completed. He who was revealed by me appeared in the Spirit. Again I shall appear. I am Derdekeas, the son 25 of the incorruptible, infinite Light."

The light of the infinite Spirit came down to a feeble nature for a short time until 30 all the impurity of nature became void, and in or­der that the darkness of Nature might be blamed. I put on my gar­ment which is the garment of the light 35 of the Majesty – which I am.

I came in the appearance of the 9 Spirit to consider the whole light which was in the depths of the Darkness. According to the will  of the Majesty, in order that the Spirit 5 by means of the Word might be filled with his light independently of the power of the infinite Light, and at my wish, the Spirit  arose by his (own) power. 10 His greatness was granted to him that he might be filled with his whole light and depart from the whole burden of the Darkness. For what was behind was a dark fire which blew 15 (and) pressed on the Spirit. And the Spirit re­joiced because he was protected from the frightful water. But his light was not equal to the Majesty. But <what> he was granted 20 by the infinite Light, (he was granted it) in order that in all his members he might appear as a single image of light. And when the Spirit arose above the water, 25 his black likeness became apparent. And the Spirit honored the exalted Light: "Surely thou alone art the infinite one, because thou art above 30 every unbegotten thing, for thou hast protected me from the Darkness. And at thy wish I arose above the power of darkness.

And that nothing might be hidden from you, Shem, the thought, 35 which the Spirit from the greatness had contemplated, came into be­ing, 10 since the Darkness was not able [to] restrain his evil. But when it appeared, the three roots became known as they 5 were from the beginning. If the Darkness had been able to bear up under his evil, the mind would not have separated from him, and another power would not have appeared. 10

But from the time it appeared I was seen, the son of the Majesty, in order that the light of the Spirit might not become faint, and that Nature might not reign 15 over it, because it gazed at me. And by the will of the greatness  my equality was revealed, that what is of the Power might become apparent. You 20 are the great Power which came into being, and I am the perfect Light which is above the Spirit and the Darkness, the one who puts to shame the Darkness for the intercourse of the impure 25 practice. For through the division of Na­ture the Majesty wished to be covered with honor up to the height of the Thought of the Spirit. And the Spirit received 30 rest in his power.

 For the image of the Light is inseparable from the unbegotten Spirit. And the lawgivers did not name him after all the clouds 35 of Nature, nor is it possible to name them. For every likeness 11 into which Nature had divided is a power of the chaotic fire which is the hylic seed. The one who took to himself 5 the power of the Darkness impris­oned it in the midst of its members.

And by the will of the Majesty, in order that the mind and the whole light of the Spirit might be protected 10 from every burden and (from) the toil of Nature, a voice came forth from the Spirit to the cloud of the Hymen. And the light of the astonishment began to re­joice with the voice 15 which was granted to him. And the great Spirit of light was in the cloud of the Hymen. He honored the infinite Light and the universal likeness 20 who I am, the son of the Majesty. It is said: "Anasses Duses, thou art the infinite Light who was given by the will 25 of the Majesty to establish every light of the Spirit upon the place, and to separate the mind from the Darkness. For it was not right 30 for the light of the Spirit to remain in Hades. For at thy wish the Spirit arose to behold thy greatness."

For I said these things to you, 35 Shem, that you might know 12 that my likeness, the son of the Majesty, is from my infinite Thought, since I am for him a universal likeness 5 which does not lie, (and) I am above every truth and origin of the word. His appearance is in my beautiful garment of light which is the voice of the immeasurable Thought. 10 We are that single, sole light which came into being. He appeared in another root in order that the power of the Spirit might be raised from the 15 feeble Nature. For by the will of the great Light I came forth from the exalted Spirit down to the cloud of the Hymen without my universal garment.

And the Word took 20 me to himself, from the Spirit, in the first cloud of the Hymen of Nature. And I put on this of which the Majes­ty and the unbegotten Spirit made me worthy. 25 And the threefold unity of my garment appeared in the cloud, by the will of the Majesty, in a single form. And my likeness was covered 30 with the light of my garment. And the cloud was disturbed, and it was not able to bear my likeness. It shed the first power, the one (which) it had taken from 35 the Spirit, that one which shone on him from the beginning, before (I) appeared in the word to the Spirit. The cloud 13 would not have been able to bear both of them. And the light which came forth from the cloud passed through the silence, until it came into the middle region. And, 5 by the will of the Majesty, the light mixed with him I (i.e.) the Spirit which exists in the silence, he who had been separated from the Spirit of light. It was separated from the light 10 by the cloud of the silence. The cloud was disturbed. It was he who gave rest to the flame of fire. He humbled the dark womb in order that she might not reveal 15 other seed from the darkness. He kept them back in the middle region of Nature in their position which was in the cloud. They were troubled since they did 20 not know where they were. For still they (did> not possess the universal understand­ing of the Spirit.

And when I prayed to the Majesty, toward the 25 infinite Light, that the chaotic power of the Spirit might go to and fro, and the dark womb might be idle, and that my likeness might appear 30 in the cloud of the Hymen, as if I were wrapped in the light of the Spirit which went before me, and by the will of the Majesty and through 35 the prayer I came in the cloud in order that through my garment –  which was from the power 14 of the Spirit – the pleroma of the word, might bring power to the members who possessed it in the Darkness. For because of them I appeared 5 in this insignificant place. For I am a helper of every one who has been given a name. For when I ap­peared in the cloud, the light 10 of the Spirit began to save itself from the frightful water, and (from) the clouds of fire which had been separated from dark Nature. And I gave them eternal honor 35 that they might not again engage in the impure practice.

And the light which was in the Hymen was disturbed by my power, and it passed through my middle region. It 20 was filled with the uni­versal Thought. And through the word of the light of the Spirit it re­turned to  its repose. It received form in its root and shone 25 without deficiency. And the light which had come forth with it from the silence went in the middle region  and returned to the place. And the cloud shone. 30 And from it came an unquenchable fire. And the part which separated from the astonishment put on forgetfulness. It was deceived by 35 the fire of darkness. And the shock of its astonishment cast off the burden of the 15 cloud. It was evil since it was unclean. And the fire mixed with the water in order that the waters might become harmful. 5

And Nature which had been disturbed immediately arose from the idle waters. For her ascent was shameful. And Nature took to herself the 10 power of fire. She became strong because of the light of the Spirit which was in Nature. Her likeness appeared in the water in the form of a frightful beast 35 with many faces, which is crooked below. A light went down to chaos filled with mist and dust, in order to harm Nature. 20 And the light of the Astonishment which is in the middle region came to it after he cast off the burden of the Darkness. He rejoiced when the Spirit arose. For he looked 25 from the clouds down at the dark waters upon the light which was in the depths of Nature.

Therefore I appeared that I might 30 get an opportunity to go down to the nether world, to the light of the Spirit which was burden­ed, that I might protect him from the evil of the burden. And through 35 his looking down at the dark region the light once more 16 came up in order that the womb might again come up from the water. She (i.e. the womb) came up by my will. Guilefully the eye opened. 5 And the light which had appeared in the middle region (and) which had separated from the Astonishment rested and shone upon her. And the womb saw 10 things she had not seen, and she rejoiced joyful­ly in the light, although this was not hers — the one which appeared in the middle region, in her wickedness, when he (i.e. the light) shone 15 upon her. And the womb saw things she had not seen, and she was brought down to the water, she was thinking that she had reached to the power of light. 20 And she did not know that her root was made idle by the likeness of the Light, and that it was to her (i.e. the root) that he had run.

The light was astonished, the one which was in 25 the middle region and which was beginning and end. Therefore his thought gazed di­rectly up at the exalted Light. And he called out and said, 20 "Lord, have mercy on me, for my light and my effort went astray. For if thy goodness does not establish me, I do not know where I am." And when the Majesty 35 had heard him, he had mercy on him. '

And I appeared in the cloud of the Hymen, in the silence, 17 with­out my holy garment. With my will I honored my garment which has three forms in the cloud of the Hymen. 5 And the light which was in the silence, the one from the rejoicing Power, contained me. I wore it. And its two parts appeared 10 in a single form. Its other parts did not appear on account of the fire. I became unable to speak in the cloud of the Hymen, for its fire was frightful, 15 lifting itself up with­out humility. And in order that my greatness and the word might appear, I placed likewise my other garment in the cloud of the silence. 20 I went into the middle region and put on the light that was in it, that was sunk in forgetfulness and that was separated from the Spirit of astonishment, for he had cast off the burden. 25 At my wish nothing mortal appeared to him, but they were all immortal things which the Spirit granted to him. And he said in 30 the thought of the Light, ai eis ai ou phar dou is ei ou: I have come in a great rest  in order that he may give rest to my light in 35 his root, and may bring it out of 18 harmful Nature.

Then, by the will of the Majesty, I took off my garment of light. I put on another garment 5 of fire which has no form, which is from the mind of the power,  which was separated, and which was  prepared for me, according to my will, in the middle region. For the middle region 30 covered it with a dark power in order that I might come and put it on. I went down to chaos to save the whole light from it. For without 15 the power of darkness I could not oppose  Nature. But I rested myself upon her staring eye 20 which was a light from the Spirit. For it had been prepared for me as a garment and a rest by the Spirit. Through me he opened his eyes down to 25 Hades. He granted Nature his voice for a time. '

And my garment of fire, according to the will of the Majesty, went down to what is strong, and to the 30 unclean part of Nature which (the) power of darkness was covering. And my garment rubbed Na­ture in her covering. And her unclean 35 femininity was strong. And the wrathful womb came up 19 and made the mind dry, resembling a fish which has a drop of fire and a power of fire. And when Nature 5 had cast off the mind, she was troubled and she wept. When she was hurt, and in her tears, she cast off the power of the Spirit 30 (and) remained as I. I put on the light of the Spirit and I rested with my garment on account of  the sight of the fish.

And in order that  the deeds of Nature might be condemned, 15 since she is blind, manifold animals came out of her, in accordance with the number of the fleeting winds. All of them came into being in Hades searching for the light 20 of the mind which took shape. They were not able to stand up against it.  I rejoiced over their ignorance. I They found me, the son of the Majesty, in 25 front of the womb which has many forms. I put on the beast, and laid before her a great request

that heaven and earth 30 might come into being, in order that the whole light might rise up. For in no other way could the power of the Spirit be saved from bondage except that I appear 35 to her in animal form. Therefore she was gracious to me 20 as if I were her son.

And on account of my request, Nature arose since she possesses of the power of the Spirit and the Darkness 5 and the fire. For she had taken off her forms. When she had cast it off, she blew upon the water. The heaven was created. And from the foam of the heaven 10 the earth came into being. And at my wish it brought forth all kinds of food in accordance with the number of the beasts. And it brought forth dew from the winds on account of you (pl.) and those 15 who will be begotten the second time upon the earth. For the earth pos­sessed a power of chaotic fire. Therefore it brought forth 20 every seed.

And when the heaven and the earth were created, my garment of fire arose in the midst of the cloud of Nature (and) shone upon the whole world 25 until Nature became dry. The Darkness which was its (i.e. the earth's) garment was cast into the  harmful waters. The mid­dle region was cleansed from the Darkness. 30 But the womb grieved be­cause of what had happened. She perceived in her parts what was  water like a mirror. When she perceived (it), she wondered 25 how it had come into being. Therefore she remained a widow. It also was 21 astonished (that) it was not in her. For still the forms possessed a power of fire and light. It (i.e. the power) remained 5 in order that it might be in Nature until all the powers are taken away from her. For just as the light of the Spirit was completed in three clouds, it is nec­essary 10 that also the power which is in Hades will be completed at the appointed time. For, because of the grace of the Majesty, I came forth to her from the water for the second time. 15 For my face pleased  her. Her face also was glad.

And I said to her, "May seed  and power come forth from you 20 upon the earth." And she obeyed the will of the Spirit that she might be brought to naught. And when her forms returned, they rubbed  their tongue(s) with each other; they copulated; 25 they begot winds and demons and the power which is from the fire and the Darkness and the Spirit. But the form which remained alone cast the 30 beast from herself. She did not have intercourse, but she was the one who rubbed herself alone. And she brought forth a wind which  possessed a power 35 from the fire and the Darkness and the Spirit.

And in order that the 22 demons also might become free from the power which they possessed through the impure intercourse, a womb was with the winds 5 resembling water. And an unclean penis was with the demons in accordance with the example of the Darkness, and in the way he rubbed with the womb from the beginning. And after 10 the forms of Nature had been together, they separated from each other. They cast off the power, being astonished about the deceit which had happened to them. They grieved 15 with an eternal grief. They covered themselves with their power.

And when I had put them to shame, I arose with my garment in the power and — which is above the beast which is a light, 20 in order that I might make Nature desolate. The mind which had appeared in the Nature of Darkness, (and) which was the eye of the heart of Darkness, at my wish reigned over 25 the winds and the demons. And I gave him a likeness of fire, light, and attentiveness, and a share of guileless word. Therefore he was given of the greatness 30 in order to be strong in his power, independent of the power, independent of the light of the Spirit, and intercourse of Darkness, in order that, at the end of time, when 23 Nature will be destroyed, he may rest  in the honored place. For he will be found faithful, since he has loathed 5 the un­chastity of Nature with the Darkness. The strong power of the mind came into being from the mind and the unbegotten Spirit.

But the winds, which are demons 10 from water and fire and dark­ness and light, had intercourse unto perdition. And through this intercourse the winds received in their womb 15 foam from the penis of the demons. They conceived a power in their womb. From the breathing the wombs of the winds girded each other 20 until the times of the birth came. They went down to the water. And the power was delivered, through the breathing which moves the birth, in the midst of the practice. And 25 every form of the birth received shape in it. When the times of the birth were near, all the winds were gathered from the water which is near the 30 earth. They gave birth to all kinds of unchastity. And the place where the wind alone went was permeated with the unchastity. Barren wives came from it 35 and sterile hus­bands. 24 For just as they are born, so they bear.

Because of you (pl.), the image of the Spirit appeared in the earth and the water. 5 For you are like the Light. For you possess a share of the winds and the demons, and a thought from the Light of the power of the Astonishment. 10 For everything which he brought forth from the womb upon the earth  was not a good thing for her, but her groan and her pain, because of the image which appeared in 15 you from the Spirit. For you are exalted in your heart. And it is blessed­ness, Shem, if 20 a part is given to someone and if he departs from the soul to (go) to the thought of the Light. For the soul is a burden of the Darkness, and those who know where the root of the soul came from will be able to grope after Nature also. 25 For the soul is a work of unchastity and an (object of) scorn to the thought of Light. For I am the one who revealed concerning all that is unbegotten. 30

And in order that the sin of Nature might be filled, I made the womb, which was disturbed, pleasant – the blind wisdom – that I might be able to bring (it) to naught. And at my 25 wish, he plotted with the water of Darkness and also the Darkness, that they might wound every form of your (pl.) heart. For by 5 the will of the light of the Spirit they surrounded you; they bound you in Faith. And in or­der that his plan might become idle, he sent a demon 10 that the plan of her wickedness might be proclaimed. And he caused a flood, and he destroyed your (pl.) race, in order to take the light and to take from 15 Faith. But I proclaimed quickly by the mouth of the demon that a tower  come to be up to the particle of the light, which was left in the demons and 20 their race – which was water – that the demon might be protected from the turbulent chaos. And the womb planned these things according to my will in order that she might 25 pour forth completely. A tower came to be through the demons. The Darkness was disturbed by his loss. He loosened the muscles of the womb. And the demon 30 who was going to enter the tower was protected in order that the races might continue and might acquire coherence through him. For he possesses power from every form. 35

Return henceforth, 26 O Shem, and rejoice [greatly] over your race and Faith, for without body and necessity it is protected from 5 every body of Darkness, bearing witness to the holy things of the greatness which was revealed to them in their thought by my will. And they shall rest in the unbegotten Spirit 10 without grief. But you, Shem, be­cause of this, you remained in (the) body outside the cloud of light that you might remain with Faith. And Faith 15 will come to you. Her thought will be taken and given to you with a consciousness of light. And I  told you these things for the benefit of your race from the cloud of light. 20 And likewise what I shall say to you concerning everything, I shall reveal to you completely that you may reveal them to those who will be upon the earth the 25 second time.

O Shem, the disturbance which occurred at my wish happened in order that Nature might become empty. For the wrath of the Dark­ness subsided. 30 O Shem, the Darkness' mouth was shut. No longer does the light which shone for the world appear in it, according to my will. And when Nature had said that 35 its wish was fulfilled, then every form was engulfed by the waters 27 in prideful ignorance. She (i.e. Nature) turned her dark vagina and cast from her the power of fire 5 which was in her from the beginning through the practice of the Darkness. It (masc.) lifted itself up and shone upon the whole world instead of the righteous one. And all her forms 10 sent forth a power  like a flame of fire up to heaven as a help to the corrupted light, which had lifted itself up. For they were members of the 15 chaotic fire. And she did not know that she had harmed herself. When she cast forth the power,  the power which she possessed, she cast it forth from the genitals. It was the demon, 20 a deceiver, who stirred up the womb in every form – .  And in her ignorance, as if she were doing a great thing, she grant­ed the demons 25 and the winds a star each. For without wind and star nothing happens upon the earth. For every power is filled by them after they were 30 released from the Darkness and the fire and the power and the light. For in the place where their darkness and their fire were mixed with each other beasts were brought forth. And it was in the place 35 of the Darkness, and the fire, and the power 28 of the mind, and the light, that human beings came into existence. Being from the Spirit, the thought of the Light, my eye, exists not in every man. 5 For before the flood came from the winds and the demons, rain came to men. But then, in order that the power which is in the tower might be brought forth, 10 and might rest upon the earth  Nature, which had been disturbed,  wanted to harm the seed which will be upon the earth after the flood. 15 Demons were sent to them, and a deviation of the winds, and a burden of the angels, and a fear of the prophet, a condemnation of speech, that I may 20 teach you, O Shem, from what blindness your race is protected. When I have re­vealed to you all that has been spoken,  then the righteous one will 25 shine upon the world with my garment. And the night and the day will  be separated. For I shall hasten down to the world to take the light  of that place, the one which 30 Faith possesses. And I shall appear to those who will acquire the thought of the light of the Spirit. For be­cause of them my majesty appeared.

When 35 he will have appeared, O Shem, upon the earth, [in] the place which will be 29 called Sodom, (then) safeguard the insight which I shall give you. For those whose heart was pure will con­gregate to you, 5 because of the word which you will reveal. For when you appear  in the world, dark Nature will shake against you, 10 together with the winds and a demon,  that they may destroy the in­sight. But you, proclaim quickly to the Sodomites your universal teaching, 15 for they are your members. For the demon of human form will part from that place by my will, since he is ignorant. He will guard this utterance. But the 20 Sodomites, according to the will of the Majesty, will bear witness to the universal testimony. They  will rest with a pure conscience in the place 25 of their repose, which is the unbegotten Spirit. And as these things will happen, Sodom will be burned unjustly  by a base nature. 30 For the evil will not cease in order that your majesty may reveal that place.

Then 30 the demon will depart with Faith. And then he will appear in the four regions of the world. And when 5 Faith appears in the last likeness, then will her appearance become manifest. For the first­born is the demon who appeared in the union 10 of Nature with many faces, in order that Faith might appear in him. For when he appears in the world, evil passions will arise, 15 and earthquakes, and wars, and famines, and blasphemies. For because of him the whole world will be disturbed. For he will seek the power 20 of Faith and Light; he will not find it. For at that time the demon will also appear upon the river to baptize with an 25 imperfect baptism, and to trouble the world with a bondage of water. But it is necessary for me to appear in the members of the thought of Faith to 30 reveal the great things of my power. I shall separate it from the demon who is Soldas. And the light which he possesses from the Spirit I shall mix 35 with my in­vincible garment, as well as him whom I shall reveal 31 in the darkness for your sake and for the sake of your race which will be protected from the evil Darkness.

Know, O Shem, that without 5 Elorchaios and Amoias and Stro­phaias and Chelkeak and Chelkea and Aileou, no one will be able to pass by this wicked region. For this is my memorial 10 that in it I have been victorious over the wicked region. And I have taken the light of the Spirit from the frightful water. For when the 15 appointed days of the demon draw near he who will baptize erringly – , then I shall appear in the baptism of the demon to reveal 20 with the mouth of Faith a testimony to those who belong to her. I testify of thee, Spark the unquenchable, Osei, the elect of 25 the Light, the eye of heaven, and Faith, the first and the last, and Sophia, and Saphaia, and Saphaina, and the righteous Spark, and the 3° impure light. And you (sg.), east, and west, and north, and south, upper air and lower air, and all the powers and authorities, 32 you (pl.) are in Nature.

And you (sg.), Moluchtha and Soch are from every work and every impure effort of 5 Nature. Then I shall come from the demon down to the water. And whirlpools of water and flames of fire will rise up against me. Then I 10 shall come up from the water, having put on the light of Faith and the unquenchable fire, in order that through my help the power of the Spirit may cross, 15 she who has been cast in the world by the winds and the demons and the stars. And in them I every unchastity will be filled.

Finally, O Shem, consider 20 yourself pleasing in the thought of the Light. Do not let your thought have dealings with the fire and the body of Darkness which was an unclean 25 work. These things which I teach you are right.

This is the paraphrase: – For you did not remember that it is from the firmament that 30 your race has been protected. – Elorchaios is the name of the great Light, the place from which I have come, the Word which has no equal. And the likeness is my honored garment. 35 And Derderkeas is the name of his Word in 33 the voice of the Light. And Strophaia is the blessed glance which is the Spirit. and it is Chelkeach, who is my garment, 5 who has come from the Astonishment, who was in the cloud of the Hymen which appeared, as a trimor­phic cloud. And Chelkea is my garment 10 which has two forms, he who was in the cloud of Silence. And Chelke is my garment which  was given him from every region; it was given him in a single form 15 from the greatness, he who was in the cloud of the middle region. and the star of the Light which was mentioned is my invincible gar­ment which 20 I wore in Hades; this (i.e. the star of the Light) is the mercy which surpasses the thought and the testimony of those who bear witness. And the testimony which has been mentioned: 25 the First and the Last, Faith,  the Mind of the wind of darkness. And Sophaia and Saphaina are in the cloud of those who have been separ­ated from the chaotic fire. 30 And the righteous Spark is the cloud of light which has shone in your (pl.) midst. For in it (i.e. the cloud of light) my garment will go down to chaos.

But the 34 impure light, which appeared in the Darkness (and) which belongs to dark Nature, is a power. And the upper air and the lower air, and the 5 powers and the authorities, the demons and the stars, these possessed a particle of fire and a light from the Spirit.

And Moluchthas is a wind, 30 for without it nothing is brought forth upon the earth. He has a likeness of a serpent and a unicorn. His protrusion(s) are manifold wings. 15 And the remainder is the womb which has been disturbed. You are blessed, Shem, for your race has been protected from the dark wind which is many-faced. And they will 20 bear the universal testimony and (bear witness) to the impure  prac­tice of (Nature>. And they will become sublime through the reminder of the Light.

O Shem, 25 no one who wears the body will be able to complete these things. But through I remembrance he will be able to grasp  them, in order that, when his thought separates from the body, 30 then these things may be revealed to him. They have been revealed to your race. O Shem, it is difficult for someone wearing a body to complete [these things, as] I said to you. 35 And it is a small number that will' complete them, those who possess the particle of the mind and the thought of the light of the 5 Spirit. They will keep their mind from the impure practice. For many in the race of Nature will seek the security of the Power. They will not find it, nor 10 will they be able to do the will of Faith. For they are seed of the universal Darkness. And those who  find them are in much suffering. The winds 15 and the demons will hate them. And the bondage of the body is  severe. For where the winds, and the stars, and the demons cast forth from the power 20 of the Spirit, (there) repentance and testimony will appear upon them, and mercy will lead them to the unbegotten Spirit. 25 And those who are repentant will find rest  in the consummation and Faith, in the place of the Hymen. This is the Faith which will 30 fill the place which has been  left empty. But those who do not share in the Spirit of light and in Faith will dissolve in the [Darkness], the place 36 where repentance did not come. '

It is I who opened the eternal gates which were shut from the begin­ning. To those who long for the best of 5 life, and those who are wor­thy of the repose, he revealed them. I granted perception to those who perceive. I disclose to them 10 all the thoughts and the teaching  of the righteous ones. And I did not become their enemy at all. But when I had endured the wrath of the world, I was victorious. There was not 15 one of them who knew me. The gates of fire and endless smoke opened against me. All the winds rose up against me. The thunderings and the 20 lightning-flashes for a time will rise up against me. And they will bring  their wrath upon me. And on account of me according to the flesh, they  will rule over them according to kind. 25

And many who wear erring flesh will go down  to the harmful wat­ers through the winds and the demons. And they are bound by the water. 30 And he will heal with a futile remedy. He will lead astray, and he will bind the world. And those that do the will of Nature, their part will [...] 37 two times in the day of the water and the forms of Nature. And it will not be granted them, when Faith disturbs them 5 in order to take to herself the righteous one.

O Shem, it is necessary that the thought be called by the Word in order that the bondage of the power of the Spirit may be saved frog the frightful 10 water. And it is blessedness if it is granted someone to contemplate the exalted one, and to know the exalted time and the bondage. For the water is an 15 insignificant body. And men are not released, since they are bound in the water, just as from the beginn­ing the light of the Spirit was bound.

O Shem, they are deceived 20 by manifold demons, thinking that through baptism with the uncleanness of water, that which is dark, feeble, idle, 25 (and) disturbing, he will take away the sins. And they do not know that from the water to the water there is bondage, and error and unchastity, 30 envy, murder, adultery, false witness, heresies, robberies, lusts, babblings, wrath, bitterness, 35 great [...].

38 Therefore there are many deaths which burden their thoughts. For I foretell it to those who have a heart. 5 They will refrain from the impure baptism. And those who take heart from the light of the Spirit will not have dealings with the impure practice. 10 And their heart will not expire, nor will they curse. And the water – <nor> will they be given honor. Where the curse is, there is the deficiency. 15 And the blindness is where the honor is. For if they mix with the evil ones, they become empty in the dark water.  For where the water has been 20 mentioned, there is Nature, and the oath, and the lie, and the loss. For only in the unbegotten Spirit, where the exalted Light rested, 25 has the water not been mentioned, nor can it be mentioned.

For this is my appearance: for when I have 30 completed the times which are assigned to me upon the earth, then I will cast from me [my garment of fire (?)]. And 39 my unequalled garment will come forth upon me, and also all my garments which I put on in all the clouds 5 which were from the Astonishment of the Spirit. For the air will tear my garment. For it (i.e. my garment) will shine, and it will divide all the clouds up to 10 the root of the Light. The repose is the mind and my garment. And my remaining garments, those on the left and those on the right, will shine 15 on the back in order that the image of the Light may appear. For my garments which I put on in the three clouds, in the last day they 20 will rest in their root, i.e. in the unbegotten Spirit, since they are without fault, through the divi­sion of (the) clouds.

Therefore I have appeared, 25 being faultless, on account of the clouds, because they are unequal, in order that the wickedness of Nature might be ended. For she wished at that time 30 to snare me. She was about to fix (to the cross) Soldas who is the dark flame, who attended on the [...] of error, 40 that he might snare me. She took care of her faith, being vainglorious.

And at that time 5 the light was about to separate from the Dark­ness, and a voice was heard in the world, saying, "Blessed is the eye which has seen thee, and the mind which has 10 supported thy majesty at my desire." It will be said by the exalted one, "Blessed is Rebouel among every race of men, for it is you (fern.) alone 15 who have seen." And she will listen. And they will behead the woman who has the perception, whom you will reveal upon the earth. And according to 20 my will she will bear witness, and she will cease from every vain effort of Nature and chaos. For the woman whom they will behead at that 25 time is the coherence of the power of the demon who will baptize the seed of darkness in severity, that it (i.e. the seed) may mix with unchastity. 30 He begot a woman. She was called Rebouel.

See, O Shem, how all the things I have said to you have been ful­filled. [And .... And the things which] you 41 lack, according to my will they will appear to you at that place upon the earth that you may reveal them 5 as they are. Do not let your thought have dealings with the body. For I have said these things to you, through the voice of the fire, for I entered through 10 the midst of the clouds. And I spoke according to the language of each one. This is my language which I spoke to you. And it will be taken from you. And you will speak with the voice of the world is upon the earth. And it will appear to you with that appearance and voice, and all that I have said to you. Henceforth proceed with Faith 20 to shine in the depths of the world.

And I, Shem, awoke as if from a long sleep. I marveled when I re­ceived the power of the Light and his whole thought. 25 And I pro­ceeded with Faith to shine with me. And the righteous one followed us with my invincible garment. And all that he had told me 30 would happen upon the earth happened. Nature was handed over to Faith, that she (i.e. Faith) might overturn her and that she (i.e. Nature) might stand in the Darkness. She brought forth a 42 turning motion while wandering night and day without receiving rest with the souls.

These things completed her 5 deeds.

Then I rejoiced in the thought of the Light. I came forth from the Darkness and I walked in Faith where the forms of 10 Nature are, up to the top of the earth, to the things which are prepared.

Thy Faith is upon the earth the whole day. For all night and day she surrounds 15 Nature to take to herself the righteous one. For Na­ture is  burdened, and she is troubled. For none will be able to open the forms of the Womb except the mind 20 alone who was entrusted with their likeness. For frightful is their likeness of the two forms  of Nature, the one which is blind.

But they who have 25 a free conscience remove themselves from the babbling of Nature. For they will bear witness to the universal tes­timony; 30 they will strip off the burden of Darkness; they will put on the Word of the Light; and they will not be kept back 43 in the insig­nificant place. And what they possess from the power of the mind they will give to Faith. They will 5 be accepted without' grief. And the chaotic  fire which they possess they will place in the middle region of

Nature. And they will be received 10 by my garments, those which are in the clouds. It is they who guide their members. They will rest in the Spirit without suffering. And because of this the 15 appointed term of Faith appeared upon the earth for a short time, until the Dark­ness is taken away from her, and her testimony is revealed 20 which was revealed by me. They who will prove to be from her root will strip off the Darkness and the chaotic fire. 25 They will put on the light of the mind and they will bear witness. For all that I have said must happen.

After I cease to be upon the earth and 30 withdraw up to my rest, a great, evil error will come upon the world, and many evils in ac­cordance with the number of the forms of 44 Nature. Evil times will come. And when the era of Nature is approaching destruction, dark­ness will 5 come upon the earth. The number will be small. And a demon will come up from the power who has a likeness of fire. He will divide the heaven, (and) he will rest 10 in the depth of the east. For the whole world will quake. And the deceived world will be thrown into confusion. Many places will be flooded because of 15 envy of the winds and the demons who have a name which is senseless: Phorbea, Chloerga. They are the ones who govern the world with their teach­ing. And they lead astray 20 many hearts because of their disorder and their unchastity. Many places will be sprinkled with blood. And five races by themselves 25 will eat their sons. But the regions of the south  will receive the Word of the Light. But they who are from the error of the world 30 and from the east – . A demon will come forth from (the) belly of the serpent. He was 45 in hiding in a desolate place. He will perform many wonders. Many will loathe him. A wind will come forth from his mouth with a female likeness. Her name will be called  Abalphe. He will reign over the world from the east to the west.

Then Nature will have 10 a final opportunity. And the stars will cease from the sky. The mouth of error will be opened in order that the evil Darkness may become idle and silent. And in the last day 15 the forms of Nature will be destroyed with the winds and all their demons; they' will become a dark lump, just as they were 20 from the beginning. And the sweet waters which were burdened by the demons will perish. For where the power of the Spirit has gone 25 there are my sweet waters. The other works of Nature will not be manifest. They will mix with the infinite waters of darkness. 30 And all her forms will cease from the middle region.

I,  Shem, have completed these things. And my mind began to separate from the body of darkness. My 46 time was completed. And  my mind put on the immortal memorial. And I said, "I agree with thy 5 memorial which thou hast revealed to me: Elorchaois, and thou, Amoiaiai, and thou, Sederkeas, and they guilelessness, Stro­phaias, and thou, Chelkeak, 10 and thou, Chelkea, and Chelke and Elaie, you (pl.) are the immortal memorial. I testify to thee, Spark, the unquenchable one, who is an eye 15 of heaven and a voice of light,  and Sophaia, and Saphaia, and Saphaina, and the righteous Spark, and Faith, the first and the last, and the upper air and lower 20 air, ( and thou, Chelkeak, and Chelke and Elaie, you (pl.) are the immor­al memorial. I testify to thee, Spark, the unquenchable one, who is an eye of heaven 25 and a voice of light, and Sophaia, and Saphaia, and Saphaina, and the righteous Spark, and Faith, the First and the Last, and the upper air and the lower air, ) and 30 all the powers and the authorities that are in the world. And you, impure light, and you (sg.) also, east, and west, and south, and 35 north, you (pl.) are the zones 47 of the inhabited world. And you (fern. sg.) also Moluch­tha and Essoch, you (pl.) are the root of evil and every work and 5 impure effort of Nature."

These are the things which I completed while bearing witness. I am Shem. On the day that I was to come forth from (the) body, when my thought 10 remained in (the) body, I awoke as if from a long sleep. And when I arose as it were from the burden of my body, I said, Just as Nature became old, 15 so is it also in the day of mankind. Blessed are they who knew, when they slept, in what power their thought rested. 20

And when the Pleiades separated, I saw clouds which I shall pass by. For the cloud of the Spirit is like a pure beryl. 25 And the cloud of the hymen is like a shining emerald. And the cloud of silence is like a flourishing amaranth. And 30 the cloud of the middle region is like a pure jacinth. And when the righteous one appeared in Nature, then – when Nature 35 was angry – she felt hurt, and she granted 48 to Morphaia to visit heaven. The righteous one visits dur­ing twelve periods that he may visit them during one 5 period, in order that his time may be completed quickly, and Nature may become idle.

Blessed are they who guard themselves against the 10 heritage of death, which is the burdensome water of darkness. For it will not be possible to conquer them in a few moments, since they hasten to come forth from the error of the 15 world. And if they are conquered, they will be kept back from them and be tormented in the darkness until the time of the consummation. When the consummation 20 has come and Nature has been destroyed, then their thoughts will  separ­ate from the Darkness. Nature has burdened them for a short time. And they 25 will be in the ineffable light of the unbegotten Spirit without a form. And thus is the mind as I have said from 30 the first.

Henceforth, O Shem,  go in grace and continue in faith upon the earth. For every power of light and fire will be completed by me 49 because of you. For without you they will not be revealed until you speak them openly. When you cease to be upon the earth, they will 5 be given to the worthy ones. And apart from this proclamation, let them speak about you upon the earth, since they will take the care­free and agreeable land.


This translation was made by Frederik Wisse, excerpted from The Nag Hammadi Library in English edited by James M. Robinson, and transcribed for online publication originally at the Gnostic Society Library (

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Wisse, Frederik . "The Paraphrase Of Shem." Early Christian Writings. <>.