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The Tripartite Tractate "was probably written in the early to mid third century." It is a Gnostic work found in the Nag Hammadi library. It is the fifth tractate of the first codex, known as the Jung Codex. It deals primarily with the relationship between the Aeons and the Son. It is divided into three parts, which deal with the determinism of the Father and the free-will of the hypostatized aeons, the creation of humanity, evil, and the fall of Anthropos, and the variety of theologies, the tripartition of humanity, the actions of the Saviour and ascent of the saved into Unity, respectively.
The work is introduced by Harold W. Attridge and Elaine H. Pagels in the James M. Robinson version of the Nag Hammadi Library. They state that the Tractate is, "an elaborate, but untitled, Valentinian theological treatise which gives an account of devolution from and reintegration into the primordial godhead. The text is divided by scribal decoration into three segments which contain the major acts of the cosmic drama; hence its modern title." As for the date of the codex, it can really only be "determined within broad limits." It represents a previously unknown revision of Valentinian theology in the above-mentioned scholars' opinions. They even posit that the text may be "a response to the criticism of orthodox theologians such as Irenaeus of Lyons or Hippolytus."
They also notice that the text "displays some affinities with Origen's doctrines". No author is named in the treatise. Some have even speculated that pupils of Valentinus may have written it. Heracleon or an adherent of the western branch of the Valentinian school may be the one responsible for hashing it together. It is thought to have been originally written in Greek and was later translated into Coptic.
"The first part describes emanation of all supernatural entities from their primal source. It begins with the Father, described primarily as through a via negativa as an utterly transcendent entity. What can be affirmed is that he is unique and monadic. The insistence on the unitary character of the Father distinguishes the text from most other Valentinians who posit a primal masculine feminine dyad, although some members of the school, such as those mentioned by Hippolytus, also hold to a monadic first principle." The godhead is thus less complex. The Son and the Church (Ekkeslia) then emanate from the Father. Rather than an ogdoad, a trinity is affirmed. While Eusebius of Caesarea mentions that Valentinus taught a trinity in his work 'on the three natures', this was likely a trinity of natures in one godhead rather than three persons.
In the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term demiurge. Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not necessarily the same as the Creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity.
Gnosticism is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century AD among Jewish and early Christian sects. These various groups emphasised personal spiritual knowledge (gnosis) above the orthodox teachings, traditions, and authority of traditional religious institutions. Viewing material existence as flawed or evil, Gnostic cosmogony generally presents a distinction between a supreme, hidden God and a malevolent lesser divinity who is responsible for creating the material universe. Gnostics considered the principal element of salvation to be direct knowledge of the supreme divinity in the form of mystical or esoteric insight. Many Gnostic texts deal not in concepts of sin and repentance, but with illusion and enlightenment.
The concept of an Ogdoad appears in Gnostic systems of the early Christian era, and was further developed by the theologian Valentinus.
The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945.
Valentinus was the best known and, for a time, most successful early Christian Gnostic theologian. He founded his school in Rome. According to Tertullian, Valentinus was a candidate for bishop but started his own group when another was chosen.
The Apocalypse of Adam, discovered at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt in 1945, is a Sethian work of Apocalyptic literature dating to the first-to-second centuries AD. This tractate is one of five contained within Codex V of the Nag Hammadi library.
The Monad in Gnosticism is an adaptation of concepts of the Monad in Greek philosophy to Christian gnostic belief systems.
Barbēlō refers to the first emanation of God in several forms of Gnostic cosmogony. Barbēlō is often depicted as a supreme female principle, the single passive antecedent of creation in its manifoldness. This figure is also variously referred to as 'Mother-Father', 'First Human Being', 'The Triple Androgynous Name', or 'Eternal Aeon'. So prominent was her place amongst some Gnostics that some schools were designated as Barbeliotae, Barbēlō worshippers or Barbēlō gnostics.
The Letter of Peter to Philip is a Gnostic Christian epistle found in the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt. It was dated to be written around late 2nd century to early 3rd century CE and focuses on a post-crucifixion appearance and teachings of Jesus Christ to the apostles on the Mount of Olives, or Mount Olivet.
The Sethians were one of the main currents of Gnosticism during the 2nd and 3rd century CE, along with Valentinianism and Basilideanism. According to John D. Turner, it originated in the 2nd-century CE as a fusion of two distinct Hellenistic Judaic philosophies and was influenced by Christianity and Middle Platonism. However, the exact origin of Sethianism is not properly understood.
Allogenes is a repertoire, or genre, of mystical Gnostic texts dating from the first half of the Third Century, CE. They concern Allogenes, "the Stranger", a half-human, half-divine capable of communicating with realms beyond the sense-perceptible world, into the unknowable.
The Gospel of Truth is one of the Gnostic texts from the New Testament apocrypha found in the Nag Hammadi codices ("NHC"). It exists in two Coptic translations, a Subakhmimic rendition surviving almost in full in the first Nag Hammadi codex and a Sahidic in fragments in the twelfth codex.
Valentinianism was one of the major Gnostic Christian movements. Founded by Valentinus in the 2nd century AD, its influence spread widely, not just within Rome but also from Northwest Africa to Egypt through to Asia Minor and Syria in the East. Later in the movement's history it broke into an Eastern and a Western school. Disciples of Valentinus continued to be active into the 4th century AD, after the Roman Emperor Theodosius I issued the Edict of Thessalonica, which declared Nicene Christianity as the State church of the Roman Empire.
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul is a New Testament apocryphal work, the first manuscript from the Jung Codex of the Nag Hammadi Library. Written on the inner flyleaf of the codex, the prayer seems to have been added after the longer tractates had been copied. Although the text, like the rest of the codices, is written in Coptic, the title is written in Greek, which was the original language of the text. The manuscript is missing approximately two lines at the beginning.
Gnosticism used a number of religious texts that are preserved, in part or whole, in ancient manuscripts, or lost but mentioned critically in Patristic writings.
The Treatise on the Resurrection is an ancient Gnostic or quasi-Gnostic Christian text which was found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. It is also sometimes referred to as "The Letter to Rheginos" because it is a letter responding to questions about the resurrection posed by Rheginos, who may have been a non-Gnostic Christian.
In many Gnostic systems, various emanations of God are known by such names as One, Monad, Aion teleos, Bythos, Proarkhe, Arkhe, and Aeons. In different systems these emanations are differently named, classified, and described, but emanation theory is common to all forms of Gnosticism. In Basilidian Gnosis they are called sonships ; according to Marcus, they are numbers and sounds; in Valentinianism they form male/female pairs called syzygies.
Sophia is a major theme, along with Knowledge, among many of the early Christian knowledge-theologies grouped by the heresiologist Irenaeus as gnostikoi (γνωστικοί), ‘knowing’ or ‘men that claimed to have deeper wisdom’. Gnosticism is a 17th-century term expanding the definition of Irenaeus' groups to include other syncretic and mystery religions.
Melchizedek is the first tractate from Codex IX of the Nag Hammadi Library. The text is fragmentary and highly damaged.
A Valentinian Exposition is the second tractate from Codex XI of the Nag Hammadi Library. Only less than half of the text has been preserved.