THEOSOPHY, Vol. 56, No. 8, June, 1968
(Pages 232-240; Size: 29K)
(Number 8 of a 36-part series)

THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(4)

GNOSIS AND CHRISTIANITY: PRE-CHRISTIAN SYSTEMS

IT is alleged that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, and yet it contains the account of his own death (Deut. 34:6); and in Genesis (14:14), the name Dan is given to a city, which Judges (18:29), tells us was only called by that name at that late day, it having previously been known as Laish. Well might Josiah have rent his clothes when he had heard the words of the Book of the Law; for there was no more of Moses in it than there is of Jesus in the Gospel according to John.

We have one fair alternative to offer our theologians, leaving them to choose for themselves, and promising to abide by their decision. Only they will have to admit, either that Moses was an impostor, or that his books are forgeries, written at different times and by different persons; or, again, that they are full of fraudulent interpolations. In either case the work loses all claims to be considered divine Revelation. Here is the problem, which we quote from the Bible -- the word of the God of Truth:

"And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name of JEHOVAH was I not known to them" (Exod. 6:3), spake God unto Moses.

A very startling bit of information that, when, before arriving at the book of Exodus, we are told in Genesis (22:14) that "Abraham called the name of that place" -- where the patriarch had been preparing to cut the throat of his only-begotten son -- "JEHOVAH-jireh!" (Jehovah sees.) Which is the inspired text? -- both cannot be -- which the forgery?

Now, if both Abraham and Moses had not belonged to the same holy group, we might, perhaps, help theologians by suggesting to them a convenient means of escape out of this dilemma. They ought to call the reverend Jesuit Fathers -- especially those who have been missionaries in India -- to their rescue. The latter would not be for a moment disconcerted. They would coolly tell us that beyond doubt Abraham had heard the name of Jehovah and borrowed it from Moses. Do they not maintain that it was they who invented the Sanscrit, edited Manu, and composed the greater portion of the Vedas?

Marcion maintained, with the other Gnostics, the fallaciousness of the idea of an incarnate God, and therefore denied the corporeal reality of the living body of Christ. His entity was a mere illusion; it was not made of human flesh and blood, neither was it born of a human mother, for his divine nature could not be polluted with any contact with sinful flesh. He accepted Paul as the only apostle preaching the pure gospel of truth, and accused the other disciples of "depraving the pure form of the gospel doctrines delivered to them by Jesus, mixing up matters of the Law and the words of the Saviour."

Finally we may add that modern biblical criticism, which unfortunately became really active and serious only toward the end of the last century, now generally admits that Marcion's text of the only gospel he knew anything about -- that of Luke, is far superior and by far more correct than that of our present Synoptics. We find in Supernatural Religion the following (for every Christian) startling sentence: "We are, therefore, indebted to Marcion for the correct version even of 'the Lord's Prayer'."

If, leaving for the present the prominent founders of Christian sects, we now turn to that of the Ophites, which assumed a definite form about the time of Marcion and the Basilideans, we may find in it the reason for the heresies of all others. Like all other Gnostics, they rejected the Mosaic Bible entirely. Nevertheless, their philosophy, apart from some deductions original with several of the most important founders of the various branches of Gnosticism was not new. Passing through the Chaldean kabalistic tradition, it gathered its materials in the Hermetic books, and pursuing its flight still farther back for its metaphysical speculations, we find it floundering among the tenets of Manu, and the earliest Hindu ante-sacerdotal genesis. Many of our eminent antiquarians trace the Gnostic philosophies right back to Buddhism, which does not impair in the least either their own or our arguments. We repeat again, Buddhism is but the primitive source of Brahmanism. It is not against the primitive Vedas that Gautama protests. It is against the sacerdotal and official state religion of his country; and the Brahmans, who in order to make room for and give authority to the castes, at a later period crammed the ancient manuscripts with interpolated slokas, intended to prove that the castes were predetermined by the Creator by the very fact that each class of men was issued from a more or less noble limb of Brahma. Gautama-Buddha's philosophy was that taught from the beginning of time in the impenetrable secrecy of the inner sanctuaries of the pagodas. We need not be surprised, therefore, to find again, in all the fundamental dogmas of the Gnostics, the metaphysical tenets of both Brahmanism and Buddhism. They held that the Old Testament was the revelation of an inferior being, a subordinate divinity, and did not contain a single sentence of their Sophia, the Divine Wisdom. As to the New Testament, it had lost its purity when the compilers became guilty of interpolations. The revelation of divine truth was sacrificed by them to promote selfish ends and maintain quarrels. The accusation does not seem so very improbable to one who is well aware of the constant strife between the champions of circumcision and the "Law," and the apostles who had given up Judaism.

The Gnostic Ophites taught the doctrine of Emanations, so hateful to the defenders of the unity in the trinity, and vice versa. The Unknown Deity with them had no name; but his first female emanation was called Bythos or Depth.(1) It answered to the Shekinah of the kabalists, the "Veil" which conceals the "Wisdom" in the cranium of the highest of the three heads. As the Pythagorean Monad, this nameless Wisdom was the Source of Light, and Ennoia or Mind, is Light itself. The latter was also called the "Primitive Man," like the Adam Kadmon, or ancient Adam of the Kabala. Indeed, if man was created after his likeness and in the image of God, then this God was like his creature in shape and figure -- hence, he is the "Primitive man." The first Manu, the one evolved from Swayambhuva, "he who exists unrevealed in his own glory," is also, in one sense, the primitive man, with the Hindus.

Thus the "nameless and the unrevealed," Bythos, his female reflection, and Ennoia, the revealed Mind proceeding from both, or their Son are the counterparts of the Chaldean first triad as well as those of the Brahmanic Trimurti. We will compare: in all the three systems we see

THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE as the ONE, the primordial germ, the unrevealed and grand ALL, existing through himself. In the(5)

INDIAN PANTHEON.

Brahma-Zyaus.

THE CHALDEAN.

Ilu, Kabalistic En-Soph.

IN THE OPHITE.

The Nameless, or Secret Name.

Whenever the Eternal awakes from its slumber and desires to manifest itself, it divides itself into male and female. It then becomes in every system

THE DOUBLE-SEXED DEITY, The universal Father and Mother.

IN INDIA.

Brahma.
Nara (male), Nari (female).

IN CHALDEA.

Eikon or En-Soph.
Anu (male), Anata (female).

IN THE OPHITE SYSTEM.

Nameless Spirit.
Abrasax (male), Bythos (female).

From the union of the two emanates a third, or creative Principle -- the SON, or the manifested Logos, the product of the Divine Mind.

IN INDIA.

Viradj, the Son.

IN CHALDEA.

Bel, the Son.

OPHITE SYSTEM.

Ophis (another name for Ennoia), the Son.

Moreover, each of these systems has a triple male trinity, each proceeding separately through itself from one female Deity. So, for instance:

IN INDIA.

The Trinity -- Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, are blended into ONE, who is Brahmä (neuter gender), creating and being created through the Virgin Nari (the mother of perpetual fecundity).
IN CHALDEA.
The Trinity -- Anu, Bel, Hoa (or Sin, Samas, Bin), blend into ONE who is Anu (double-sexed) through the Virgin Mylitta.
IN THE OPHITE SYSTEM.
The trinity consisted of the Mystery named Sigè, Bythos, Ennoia. These become ONE who is Abrasax, from the Virgin Sophia (or Pneuma), who herself is an emanation of Bythos and the Mystery-god and emanates through them, Christos.
To place it still clearer, the Babylonian System recognizes first -- the ONE (Ad, or Ad-ad), who is never named, but only acknowledged in thought as the Hindu Swayambhuva. From this he becomes manifest as Anu or Ana -- the one above all -- Monas. Next comes the Demiurge called Bel or Elu, who is the active power of the Godhead. The third is the principle of Wisdom, Hea or Hoa, who also rules the sea and the underworld. Each of these has his divine consort, giving us Anata, Belta, and Davkina. These, however, are only like the Saktis, and not especially remarked by theologists. But the female principle is denoted by Mylitta, the Great Mother, called also Ishtar. So with the three male gods, we have the Triad or Trimurti, and with Mylitta added, the Arba or Four (Tetraktys of Pythagoras), which perfects and potentializes all. Hence, the above-given modes of expression. The following Chaldean diagram(6) may serve as an illustration for all others:

Triad
-------
Anu,
bel,
Hoa,
---------------------
Mylitta -- Arba-il,
or
Four-fold God,

become, with the Christians,

Trinity
-----------------
God the Father,
God the Son,
God the Holy Ghost,
----------------------------------------
Mary, or mother of these three Gods
since they are one,
or, the Christian Heavenly Tetraktys.

Though he is termed the "Primitive Man," Ennoia, who is like the Egyptian Pimander, the "Power of the Thought Divine," the first intelligible manifestation of the Divine Spirit in material form, he is like the "Only-Begotten" Son of the "Unknown Father," of all other nations. He is the emblem of the first appearance of the divine Presence in his own works of creation, tangible and visible, and therefore comprehensible. The mystery-God, or the ever-unrevealed Deity fecundates through His will Bythos, the unfathomable and infinite depth that exists in silence (Sigè) and darkness (for our intellect), and that represents the abstract idea of all nature, the ever-producing Cosmos. As neither the male nor female principle, blended into the idea of a double-sexed Deity in ancient conceptions, could be comprehended by an ordinary human intellect, the theology of every people had to create for its religion a Logos, or manifested word, in some shape or other. With the Ophites and other Gnostics who took their models direct from more ancient originals, the unrevealed Bythos and her male counterpart produce Ennoia, and the three in their turn produce Sophia,(2) thus completing the Tetraktys, which will emanate Christos, the very essence of the Father Spirit. As the unrevealed One, or concealed Logos in its latent state, he has existed from all eternity in the Arba-Il, the metaphysical abstraction; therefore, he is ONE with all others as a unity, the latter (including all) being indifferently termed, Sigè(silence), Bythos, etc. As the revealed one, he is Androgyne, Christos, and Sophia (Divine Wisdom), who descend into the man Jesus. Both Father and Son are shown by Irenæus to have loved the beauty (formam) of the primitive woman, who is Bythos -- Depth -- as well as Sophia, and as having produced conjointly Ophis and Sophia (doubled-sexed unity again), male and female wisdom, one being considered as the unrevealed Holy Spirit, or elder Sophia -- the Pneuma -- the intellectual "Mother of all things;" the other the revealed one, or Ophis, typifying divine wisdom fallen into matter, of God-man -- Jesus, whom the Gnostic Ophites represented by the serpent (Ophis).

Fecundated by the Divine Light of the Father and Son, the highest spirit and Ennoia, Sophia produces in her turn two other emanations -- one perfect Christos, the second imperfect Sophia-Achamoth, from hakhamoth (simple wisdom), who becomes the mediatrix between the intellectual and material worlds.

Christos was the mediator and guide between God (the Higher), and everything spiritual in man; Achamoth -- the younger Sophia -- held the same duty between the "Primitive man," Ennoia and matter. What was mysteriously meant by the general term, Christos, we have just explained.

Delivering a sermon on the "Month of Mary," we find the Rev. Dr. Preston, of New York City, expressing the Christian idea of the female principle of the trinity better and more clearly than we could, and substantially in the spirit of an ancient "heathen" philosopher. He says that the "plan of the redemption made it necessary that a mother should be found, and Mary stands pre-eminently alone as the only instance when a creature was necessary to the consummation of God's work." We will beg the right to contradict the reverend gentleman. As shown above, thousands of years before our era it was found necessary by all the "heathen" theogonies to find a female principle, a "mother" for the triune male principle. Hence, Christianity does not present the "only instance" of such a consummation of God's work -- albeit, as this work shows, there was more philosophy and less materialism, or rather anthropomorphism, in it. But hear the reverend Doctor express "heathen" thought in Christian ideas. "He" (God), he says, "prepared her (Mary's) virginal and celestial purity, for a mother defiled could not become the mother of the Most High. The holy virgin, even in her childhood, was more pleasing than all the Cherubim and Seraphim, and from infancy to the maturing maidenhood and womanhood she grew more and more pure. By her very sanctity she reigned over the heart of God. When the hour came, the whole court of heaven was hushed, and the trinity listened for the answer of Mary, for without her consent the world could not have been redeemed."

Does it not seem as if we were reading Irenæus explaining the Gnostic "Heresy, which taught that the Father and Son loved the beauty (formam) of the celestial Virgin?" or the Egyptian system, of Isis being both wife, sister, and mother of Osiris—Horus? With the Gnostic philosophy there were but two, but the Christians have improved and perfected the system by making it completely "heathen," for it is the Chaldean Anu—Bel—Hoa, merging into Mylitta. "Then while this month (of Mary)," adds Dr. Preston, "begins in the paschal season -- the month when nature decks herself with fruits and flowers, the harbingers of a bright harvest -- let us, too, begin for a golden harvest. In this month the dead comes up out of the earth, figuring the resurrection; so, when we are kneeling before the altar of the holy and immaculate Mary, let us remember that there should come forth from us the bud of promise, the flower of hope, and the imperishable fruit of sanctity."

This is precisely the substratum of the Pagan thought, which, among other meanings, emblematized by the rites of the resurrection of Osiris, Adonis, Bacchus, and other slaughtered sun-gods, the resurrection of all nature in spring, the germination of seeds that had been dead and sleeping during winter, and so were allegorically said to be kept in the underworld (Hades). They are typified by the three days passed in hell before his resurrection by Hercules, by Christ, and others.

This derivation, or rather heresy, as it is called in Christianity, is simply the Brahmanic doctrine in all its archaic purity. Vishnu, the second personage of the Hindu trinity, is also the Logos, for he is made subsequently to incarnate himself in Christna. And Lakmy (or Lakshmy) who, as in the case of Osiris, and Isis, of En-Soph and Sephira, and of Bythos and Ennoia, is both his wife, sister, and daughter, through this endless correlation of male and female creative powers in the abstruse metaphysics of the ancient philosophies -- is Sophia-Achamoth. Christna is the mediator promised by Brahma to mankind, and represents the same idea as the Gnostic Christos. And Lakmy, Vishnu's spiritual half, is the emblem of physical nature, the universal mother of all the material and revealed forms; the mediatrix and protector of nature, like Sophia-Achamoth, who is made by the Gnostics the mediatrix between the Great Cause and Matter, as Christos is the mediator between him and spiritual humanity.

This Brahmano-Gnostic tenet is more logical, and more consistent with the allegory of Genesis and the fall of man. When God curses the first couple, He is made to curse also the earth and everything that is on it. The New Testament gives us a Redeemer for the first sin of mankind, which was punished for having sinned; but there is not a word said about a Saviour who would take off the unmerited curse from the earth and the animals, which had never sinned at all. Thus the Gnostic allegory shows a greater sense of both justice and logic than the Christian.

In the Ophite system, Sophia, the Androgyne Wisdom, is also the female spirit, or the Hindu female Nari (Narayana), moving on the face of the waters -- chaos, or future matter. She vivifies it from afar, but not touching the abyss of darkness. She is unable to do so, for Wisdom is purely intellectual, and cannot act directly on matter. Therefore, Sophia is obliged to address herself to her Supreme Parent; but although life proceeds primarily from the Unseen Cause, and his Ennoia, neither of them can, any more than herself, have anything to do with the lower chaos in which matter assumes its definite shape. Thus, Sophia is obliged to employ on the task her imperfect emanation, Sophia-Achamoth, the latter being of a mixed nature, half spiritual and half material.

The only difference between the Ophite cosmogony and that of the St. John Nazarenes is a change of names. We find equally an identical system in the Kabala, the Book of Mystery (Liber Mysterii). All the three systems, especially that of the kabalists and the Nazarenes, which were the models for the Ophite Cosmogony, belong to the pure Oriental Gnosticism. The Codex Nazaræus opens with: "The Supreme King of Light, Mano, the great first one," etc., the latter being the emanation of Ferho -- the unknown, formless LIFE. He is the chief of the Æons, from whom proceed (or shoot forth) five refulgent rays of Divine light. Mano is Rex Lucis, the Bythos-Ennoia of the Ophites. He is the Manifested Light around the highest of the three kabalistic heads, the concealed wisdom; from him emanate the three lives. Æbel Zivo is the revealed Logos, Christos the "Apostle Gabriel," and the first Legate or messenger of light. If Bythos and Ennoia are the Nazarene Mano, then the dual-natured, the semi-spiritual, semi-material Achamoth must be Fetahil when viewed from her spiritual aspect; and if regarded in her grosser nature, she is the Nazarene "Spiritus."

Fetahil,(3) who is the reflection of his father, Lord Abatur, the third life -- as the elder Sophia is also the third emanation -- is the "newest-man." Perceiving his fruitless attempts to create a perfect material world, the "Spiritus" calls to one of her progeny, the Karabtanos -- Ilda-Baoth -- who is without sense or judgment ("blind matter"), to unite himself with her to create something definite out of this confused (turbulentos) matter, which task she is enabled to achieve only after having produced from this union with Karabtanos the seven stellars. Like the six sons or genii of the Gnostic Ilda-Baoth, they then frame the material world. The same story is repeated over again in Sophia-Achamoth. Delegated by her purely spiritual parent, the elder Sophia, to create the world of visible forms, she descended into chaos, and, overpowered by the emanation of matter, lost her way. Still ambitious to create a world of matter of her own, she busied herself hovering to and fro about the dark abyss, and imparted life and motion to the inert elements, until she became so hopelessly entangled in matter that, like Fetahil, she is represented sitting immersed in mud, and unable to extricate herself from it; until, by the contact of matter, she produces the Creator of the material world. He is the Demiurgus, called by the Ophites Ilda-Baoth, and, as we will directly show, the parent of the Jewish God in the opinion of some sects, and held by others to be the "Lord God" Himself. It is at this point of the kabalistic-gnostic cosmogony that begins the Mosaic Bible. Having accepted the Jewish Old Testament as their standard, no wonder that the Christians were forced by the exceptional position in which they were placed through their own ignorance, to make the best of it.


Next article:
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
GNOSIS AND CHRISTIANITY: The First Christians
(Part 9 of a 36-part series)

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SIX (6) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(4) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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(1) We give the systems according to an old diagram preserved among some Kopts and the Druses of Mount Lebanon. Irenæus had perhaps some good reasons to disfigure their doctrines.
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(2) Sophia is the highest prototype of woman -- the first spiritual Eve. In the Bible the system is reversed and the intervening emanation being omitted, Eve is degraded to simple humanity.
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(3) Fetahil, sent to frame the world, finds himself immersed in the abyss of mud, and soliloquizes in dismay until the Spiritus (Sophia-Achamoth) unites herself completely with matter, and so creates the material world.
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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added the next two footnotes (5) and (6); they were not in the article.

(5) The following four groupings were actually each listed in three comparison-columns in the article; but because I had trouble doing this I simply stacked them. I am sure that this does not in any way change the essence of what each of the four groupings say and mean.
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(6) Because of my same inability to re-create the following two diagrams, which were not columns like the other four groupings, but were laid out from left to right more like art work, I simply stacked them. The two dotted lines that I have used in each group were actually two very large artistic and vertical enclosing-symbols, one facing one way and the other facing the other way in each of the diagrams: They looked something like this symbol or character that I have in quotes, facing both ways: ("{" ) and ("}") -- In both diagrams the first one ("{") was to the right of the words "Triad" and "Trinity", and each featured the next three words which were stacked as I have them stacked. The words "Triad" and Trinity" were each turned vertical, in this way: just look at the words "Triad" and "Trinity" here and simply lift up the last letter of each of them until the whole word is vertical -- then came the large vertical enclosing-symbol ("{") to the stack of three words -- then the next large vertical enclosing-symbol to the last stack of explanations, but it faced in the other direction such as this: ("}").
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