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Valentinus's Myth according to Irenaeus

The following text is excerpted from Bentley Layton in The Gnostic Scriptures (Doubleday 1987), pp. 225-227. The text comes from Irenaeus' Adv. Haer. 1.11.1 and is quoted by Epiphanius in his Against Heresies 31.32.2-9. Please refer to Layton for background, bibliography, and notes.

Relation to gnostic myth (a)

Valentinus adapted the fundamental principles of the so-called gnostic school of thought to his own kind of system. Here is what he laid down.

The ineffable and silence (b)

There was a duality, of which one member is called the ineffable and the other is called silence.

Production of the other aeons (c)

Then from this duality a second duality was emitted, of which one member he calls the parent and the other he calls truth.

The quartet yielded:

the Word;
the human being;
the church.

This is the first octet.

And—he says—from the Word and life ten powers were emitted, as I already said. And from the human being and the church twelve powers were emitted.

Revolt of the mother (d)

One of these revolted and became lacking; this one was responsible for the rest of the affair.

Two boundaries (e)

He assumes the existence of two boundaries: one is between the deep and the rest of the fullness, bounding the engendered aeons away from the unengendered parent; the other bounds their mother apart from the fullness.

Production of the anointed (Christ) and "shadow" (f)

And furthermore, the anointed (Christ) was not emitted from the aeons within the fullness. Rather, he and a shadow were engendered by the mother, according to her memory of the superior realm, while she was outside (of the fullness). Since he was male he cut off the shadow, (removing it) from himself; and he hastened up into the fullness.

Loss of spirit by the mother. The craftsman. (g)

The mother was left behind with the shadow; and having been emptied of the spiritual substance, she emitted another child. This was the craftsman, whom he also calls the almighty of those that are subject to it.

The left-hand ruler (h)

Just like the gnostics—falsely so called!—of whom we shall speak further on, he holds that along with this (crafstman) was emitted also a ruler on the left.

The emanation of Jesus (i)

And furthermore, sometimes he says that Jesus emanated from that being who had drawn away from this mother of theirs and had merged with the entirety, i.e. the wished-for. At other times he says that he emanated from that being which had hastened up into the fullness, i.e. the anointed (Christ); at still other times, he says that he emanated from the human being and the church.

The holy spirit (j)

And the holy spirit, he says, was emitted by truth, for the scrutiny and yielding of the aeons, invisibly entering into them. Through it the aeons yielded the plants of truth.

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Kirby, Peter. "Historical Jesus Theories." Early Christian Writings. <>.