The Second Treatise of the Great Seth

Translated by Willis Barnstone

This original translation of The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (Nag Hammadi Codex VII, 2) is presented in the Gnostic Society Library by permission and under license from Dr. Willis Barnstone, who retains all copyright. Dr. Barnstone's translations of the Nag Hammadi texts are published in The Gnostic Bible, © 2003, Willis Barnstone & Marvin Meyer.

Headings in bold type have been added to the text for clarity by the translator.




The perfect majesty is at rest in the ineffable light, in the truth of the mother of all these, and all of you that attain alone to me, the perfect, because of the word. For I exist with all the greatness of the spirit, which is a friend to us and our kindred alike. Since I brought forth a word to the glory of our father, through his goodness, as well as an imperishable thought, that is, the word within him, it is slavery that we should die with Christ, with imperishable and undefiled thought. This is an incomprehensible marvel, the writing of the ineffable water, which is the word from us: I am in you and you are in me, just as the father is in you in innocence.


Let us gather an assembly together. Let us visit that creation of his. Let us send someone forth in it, so that he may visit the thoughts  in the regions below. And I said these things to the whole multitude of the great assembly of the rejoicing majesty. The whole house of the father of truth rejoiced that I am the one who is from them. I reflected upon the thoughts that came out of the undefiled spirit about the descent upon the water, that is, the regions below. And they all had a single mind, since it is from one source. They ordered me, and because I was willing, I came forth to reveal the glory to my kindred and my fellow spirits.

For those who were in the world had been prepared by the will of our sister Sophia—she who is a whore —because of her innocence that has not been uttered. And she did not ask anything from the realm of all, nor from the greatness of the assembly, nor from the pleroma, when she previously came forth to prepare lodgings and places for the son of light and the fellow workers. She took materials from the elements below to build bodily dwellings from them. But having come into being in an empty glory, they ended in destruction in the dwellings in which they were. Since they were prepared by Sophia, they stand ready to receive the life-giving word of the ineffable One  and the greatness of the assembly of all those who persevere and those who are in me.

I visited a bodily dwelling. I cast out the one who was in it first, and I went in. And the whole multitude of the rulers became troubled. And all the matter of the rulers as well as all the powers born of the earth were shaken when they saw the likeness of the image, since it was mixed. And I was the one who was in the image, not resembling him who was in the body first. For he was an earthly man, but I, I am from above the heavens. I did not refuse them even to become Christ, but I did not reveal myself to them in the love that was coming forth from me. I revealed that I am a stranger to the regions below.


There was a great disturbance in the whole earthly area, with confusion and flight, as well as in the plan of the rulers. And some were persuaded, when they saw the wonders that were being accomplished by me. And all those fled, those of the race that descended from the one who fled from the throne to the Sophia of hope, since she had earlier given the sign concerning us and all the ones with me—those of the race of Adonaios.  Others also fled, as though sent from the world ruler and those with him, and brought every kind of punishment upon me. And there was a flight of their mind about what they would counsel concerning me, thinking that their own greatness is all, and speaking false witness, moreover, against the human and the whole greatness of the assembly.  It was not possible for them to know who is the father of truth, the human of greatness. They took the name because of contact with ignorance—which is a burning and a vessel created to destroy Adam, whom they had made, in order to cover up those who are theirs in the same way. But they, the rulers, of the place of Yaldabaoth, reveal the realm of the angels, which human beings were seeking because they did not know the human of truth. For Adam, whom they had formed, appeared to them. And a fearful disturbance came about throughout their entire dwelling, lest the angels surrounding them rebel. For on account of those who were offering praise I died, but not really, because their archangel was vacuous.


And then a voice of the world ruler came to the angels: “I am god and there is no other god but me.”  But I laughed joyfully when I examined his conceit.  But he went on to say, “Who is the human?” And the entire host of his angels who had seen Adam and his dwelling were laughing at his smallness. And thus did their thought come to be removed outside the majesty of the heavens, away from the human of truth, whose name they saw, since he is in a small dwelling place. They are foolish and senseless in their empty thought, namely, their laughter, and it was contagion for them.

The whole greatness of the fatherhood of the spirit was at rest in its places. And I was with him, since I have a thought of a single emanation from the eternal ones and the unknowable ones, undefiled and immeasurable. I placed the small thought in the world, having disturbed them and frightened the whole multitude of the angels and their ruler. And I was visiting them all with fire and flame because of my thought. And everything pertaining to them was brought about because of me. And there came about a disturbance and a fight around the seraphim and cherubim, since their glory will fade, and there was confusion around Adonaios on both sides and around their dwelling, up to the world ruler and the one who said, “Let us seize him.” Others again said, “The plan will certainly not materialize.” For Adonaios knows me because of hope. And I was in the mouths of lions. And as for the plan that they devised about me to release their error and their senselessness, I did not succumb to them as they had planned. And I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me, yet I did not die in reality but in appearance, in order that I not be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk. I removed the shame from me, and I did not become fainthearted in the face of what happened to me at their hands. I was about to succumb to fear, and I suffered merely according to their sight and thought so that no word might ever be found to speak about them. For my death, which they think happened, happened to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death.  Their thoughts did not see me, for they were deaf and blind. But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns.  But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the rulers and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.


And I subjected all their powers. For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And so when I was at their gates I assumed their likeness.  For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was neither afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled. And I was speaking with them, mingling with them through those who are mine, and trampling on those who are harsh to them with zeal, and quenching the flame. And I was doing all these things because of my desire to accomplish what I desired by the will of the father above.

And the son of the majesty, who was hidden in the region below, we brought to the height where I am with all these aeons, which no one has seen or known, where the wedding of the wedding robe is, the new one and not the old, which does not perish. For it is a new and perfect bridal chamber of the heavens, and I have revealed that there are three ways, which are an undefiled mystery in a spirit of this aeon, which does not perish, nor is it fragmentary, nor able to be spoken of; rather, it is undivided, universal, and permanent. For the soul, the one from the height, will not speak about the error that is here, nor transfer from these aeons, since it will be transferred when it becomes free and endowed with nobility in the world, standing before the father without weariness and fear, always mixed with the mind  of power and of form. They will see me from every side without hatred. For since they see me, they are being seen and are mixed with them. Since they did not put me to shame, they were not put to shame. Since they were not afraid before me, they will pass by every gate without fear and will be perfected in the third glory.

It was my cross that the world did not accept, my apparent exaltation, my third baptism in a revealed image.  When they had fled from the fire of the seven authorities, and the sun of the powers of the rulers set, darkness overtook them. And the world became poor. After they bound him with many restraints, they nailed him to the cross, and they fastened him with four nails of brass.  The veil of his temple he tore with his hands. There was a trembling that overcame the chaos of the earth, for the souls that were in the sleep below were released, and they arose. They walked about boldly, having shed jealousy of ignorance and unlearnedness beside the dead tombs; having put on the new human; having come to know that perfect blessed one of the eternal and incomprehensible father and the infinite light, which is I.  When I came to my own and united them with myself, there was no need for many words, for our thought was with their thought. Therefore they knew what I was saying, for we took counsel about the destruction of the rulers. And therefore I did the will of the father, who is I.

After we left from our home and came down to this world and came into being in the world in bodies, we were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant  but also by those who think that they are advancing the name of Christ, since they were unknowingly empty, not knowing who they are, like dumb animals.  They persecuted those who have been liberated by me,  since they hate them—those who, should they shut their mouth, would weep with a profitless groaning because they did not fully know me. Instead, they served two masters, even a multitude.  But you will become victorious in everything, in war and battles, jealous division and wrath. In the uprightness of our love we are innocent, pure, and good, since we have the mind of the father in an ineffable mystery.


For it was ludicrous. It is I who bear witness that it was ludicrous, since the rulers do not know that this is an ineffable union of undefiled truth, as exists among the children of light, of which they made an imitation, having proclaimed a doctrine of a dead man and lies so as to resemble the freedom and purity of the perfect assembly, and having joined themselves in their doctrine to fear and slavery, worldly cares, and abandoned worship, being small and ignorant, since they do not contain the nobility of the truth. For they hate the one in whom they are and love the one in whom they are not. For they did not know the knowledge of the greatness that it is from above and from a fountain of truth and not from slavery and jealousy, fear, and love of worldly matter. For that which is not theirs and that which is theirs they use fearlessly and freely. They do not desire because they have authority, and they have a law from themselves over whatever they will wish.

But those who have not are poor, that is, those who possess nothing, and yet they desire something. And they lead astray those who, through them, have become like those who possess the truth of their freedom, so as to bring us under a yoke and constraint of care and fear. This person is in slavery. And one who is brought by constraint of force and threat has been guarded by god. But the entire nobility of the fatherhood is not guarded, since he guards what is his own by himself, without word and constraint. He is united with his will, he who belongs only to the thought of the fatherhood, to make it perfect and ineffable through the living water, to be with you mutually in wisdom, not only in word of hearing but in deed and fulfilled word. For the perfect ones are worthy to be established in this way and to be united with me, in order that they may not share in any enmity, in a good friendship. I accomplish everything through the good one, for this is the union of the truth, that they should have no adversary. But everyone who brings division—and such a one will learn no wisdom at all, because he brings division and is not a friend—is hostile to them all. But one who lives in harmony and friendship of brotherly love, naturally and not artificially, completely and not partially, this person is truly the desire of the father. This is the universal one and perfect love.


For Adam was a laughingstock, since he was made a counterfeit type of man by the realm of seven, as if he had become stronger than my brothers and me. We are innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. And Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were a laughingstock, since they, the counterfeit fathers, were given a name by the realm of seven, as if he had become stronger than my brothers and me. We are innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. David was a laughingstock in that his son was named the human son, having been influenced by the realm of seven, as if he had become stronger than the fellow members of my race and me. But we are innocent with respect to him; we have not sinned. Solomon was a laughingstock, since he thought that he was Christ,  having become vain through the realm of seven, as if he had become stronger than my brothers and me. But we are innocent with respect to him. I have not sinned. The twelve prophets were laughingstocks, since they have come forth as imitations of the true prophets. They came into being as counterfeits through the realm of seven, as if he had become stronger than my brothers and me. But we are innocent with respect to it, since we have not sinned. Moses, a faithful servant,  was a laughingstock, having been named the friend,  since they perversely bore witness concerning him, who never knew me. Neither he nor those before him, from Adam to Moses and John the baptizer, none of them knew me or my brothers.

For they had a doctrine of angels to observe dietary laws and bitter slavery, since they never knew truth, nor will they know it. For there is a great deception upon their soul making it impossible for them ever to find a mind of freedom in order to know him, until they come to know the human son. Now, concerning my father, I am he whom the world did not know, and because of this, the world rose up against my brothers and me. But we are innocent with respect to it; we have not sinned.

For the ruler was a laughingstock because he said, “I am god, and there is none greater than I. I alone am the father, the lord, and there is no other god but me. I am a jealous god, who brings the sins of the fathers upon the children for three and four generations.”  As if he had become stronger than my brothers and me! But we are innocent with respect to him, in that we have not sinned, since we mastered his teaching. Thus he is in an empty glory and does not agree with our father. And so through our fellowship we overcame his teaching, since he was vain in an empty glory. And he does not agree with our father, for he was a laughingstock with judgment and false prophecy.

O you who do not see, who do not see your blindness, that this is who was not known. They have never known him, nor have they known about him. They did not listen to a reliable report. Therefore they proceeded in a judgment of error, and they raised their defiled and murderous hands against him as if they were beating the air. And the senseless and blind ones are always senseless, always being slaves of law and earthly fear.


I am Christ, the human son, the one from you who is in you. I am despised for your sake, in order that you yourselves may forget what is subject to change. And do not become female,  lest you give birth to evil and its brothers: jealousy and division, anger and wrath, fear and a divided heart, and empty, nonexistent desire. But I am an ineffable mystery to you.

Then before the foundation of the world, when the whole multitude of the assembly came together upon the places of the realm of eight,  when they had taken counsel, they married spiritually, which is in union. And thus he was perfected in the ineffable places by a living word, and the undefiled wedding was consummated through the mediation of Jesus, who inhabits them all and possesses them, who abides in an undivided power of love. And turning, he appears to himself as the One of all these, a thought and a father, since he is one. And he stands over against them all, since he as a whole came forth alone. And he is life, since he came from the father of ineffable and perfect truth,  the father of those who are there, the union of peace and a friend of good things, and life eternal and undefiled joy, in a great harmony of life and faith, through eternal life of fatherhood and motherhood and sisterhood and rational wisdom. They had agreed with the mind, who stretches out and will stretch out in joyful union and is trustworthy and faithfully listens. And this is in fatherhood and motherhood and rational brotherhood and wisdom. And this is a wedding of truth, and a repose of incorruption, in a spirit of truth, in every mind, and a perfect light in an unnameable mystery. But this is not, nor will it happen among us, in any region or place in division and breach of peace, but it is in union and a banquet of love, all being perfected in the one who is.

It also happened in the places under heaven for their reconciliation. Those who knew me in salvation and undividedness, and those who existed for the glory of the father and the truth, having been separated, blended into the One through the living word. And I am in the spirit and the truth of the motherhood, since unity was there, just as I was among those who are united in the friendship of friends forever. They know neither hostility at all, nor evil, but are united by my knowledge in word and peace, which exists in perfection with everyone and in them all. And those who assumed the form of my type will assume the form of my word. Indeed, these will come forth in light forever, and in friendship with each other in the spirit, since they have known in every respect and indivisibly that the one who is, is one. And all of these are one. And thus they will learn about the One, as well as the assembly and those dwelling in it. For the father of all of these exists, being immeasurable and immutable: mind and word and division and envy and fire. And he is entirely one, being all with them all in a single doctrine, because all these are from a single spirit. O unseeing ones, why did you not know the mystery rightly?

But the rulers around Yaldabaoth were disobedient because of the thought who went down to him from her sister Sophia. They made for themselves a union with those who were with them in a mixture of a fiery cloud, which was their envy, and the rest, who were brought forth by their creatures, as if they had bruised the noble pleasure of the assembly. And therefore they revealed a mixture of ignorance in a counterfeit image of fire and earth and a murderer, since they are small and untaught, without knowledge, having dared these things, but not having understood that light has fellowship with light, and darkness with darkness, and the corruptible with the perishable, and the imperishable with the incorruptible.


Now, these things I have presented to you—I, Jesus Christ, the human son, who is exalted above the heavens—O perfect and incorruptible ones, because of the incorruptible and perfect and ineffable mystery. But they think that we decreed them before the foundation of the world in order that when we emerge from the places of the world, we may present there the symbols of incorruption from the spiritual union with knowledge. You do not know this because the fleshly cloud overshadows you. But I alone am the friend of Sophia.  I have been in the bosom of the father from the beginning,  in the place of the children of the truth and the greatness. Rest then with me, my fellow spirits and my brothers and sisters, forever.

Second Treatise of the Great Seth


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