The gospel of the Egyptians.

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Ben C. Smith
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The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:54 pm

Gospel of the Egyptians
Information

Sources: Patristic quotations from Clement of Alexandria (late century II).
The gospel of the Egyptians bears a resemblance at some points to the gospel of Thomas and to the so-called second epistle, or homily, of Clement. Collections generally list this gospel in six extracts, but I have reduced them to four, since three of the six appear to be variations on the same saying. It should be noted on that score that the extracts identified in the text and translation section below are sometimes subject to my own modest, conservative efforts at reconstruction (turning indirect dialogue into direct, combining quotations of what is apparently the same source text, and so forth). The full quotations in their original state (as rendered in standard texts) are given in the context and textual parallels section further down the page.
Index to other gospel texts.

Text and Translation

Patristic Quotations in Greek
Patristic Quotations in English
1 Τῇ Σαλώμῃ ὁ κύριος πυνθανομένῃ, «μέχρι πότε θάνατος ἰσχύσει; μέχρι τίνος οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἀποθανοῦνται;» «μέχρις ἂν» εἶπεν «ὑμεῖς αἱ γυναῖκες τίκτητε.»1 Upon her asking, "Until when shall death be strong? Until what point will men die?" the Lord said to Salome, "As long as you women give birth."
2 Αὐτὸς εἶπεν ὁ σωτήρ· «ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὰ ἔργα τῆς θηλείας.»2 The savior himself said, "I came to abolish the works of the female."
3 Φαμένης τῆς Σαλώμης «καλῶς οὖν ἐποίησα μὴ τεκοῦσα», ἀμείβεται λέγων ὁ κύριος· «πᾶσαν φάγε βοτάνην, τὴν δὲ πικρίαν ἔχουσαν μὴ φάγῃς.»3 When Salome says, "I did well, then, in not giving birth," the Lord responds, saying, "Eat every plant, but do not eat the one that has bitterness."
4 Πυνθανομένης τῆς Σαλώμης πότε γνωσθήσεται τὰ περὶ ὧν ἤρετο, ἔφη ὁ κύριος· «ὅταν τὸ τῆς αἰσχύνης ἔνδυμα πατήσητε, καὶ ὅταν γένηται τὰ δύο ἓν, καὶ τὸ ἄρρεν μετὰ τῆς θηλείας, οὔτε ἄρρεν οὔτε θῆλυ.»4 When Salome inquired as to when the things about which she had asked would be known, the Lord said, "When you have trampled the garment of shame, and when the two become one, and the male with the female, neither male nor female."

Notes and Quotes

Context and Textual Parallels

1. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.6 (45.3): ἔπειτα καὶ διαστρεπτέον αὐτοὺς τὰ ὑπ' αὐτῶν φερόμενα διαλύοντας ὧδέ πως· τῇ Σαλώμῃ ὁ κύριος πυνθανομένῃ, «μέχρι πότε θάνατος ἰσχύσει;» οὐχ ὡς κακοῦ τοῦ βίου ὄντος καὶ τῆς κτίσεως πονηρᾶς, «μέχρις ἂν» εἶπεν «ὑμεῖς αἱ γυναῖκες τίκτητε,» ἀλλ' ὡς τὴν ἀκολουθίαν τὴν φυσικὴν διδάσκων· γενέσει γὰρ πάντως ἕπεται καὶ φθορά. / Next we may destroy their case on the ground that they pervert the sense of the books they quote, as follows. Salome inquired: Until when will death be strong? The Lord said, not as if life were bad or the creation evil, but rather as teaching the natural sequence: as long as you women give birth. For in all ways birth is followed by corruption.
Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.9 (64.1): ὅθεν εἰκότως περὶ συντελείας μηνύσαντος τοῦ λόγου ἡ Σαλώμη φησί· «μέχρι τίνος οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἀποθανοῦνται;» ἄνθρωπον δὲ καλεῖ ἡ γραφὴ διχῶς, τόν τε φαινόμενον καὶ τὴν ψυχήν, πάλιν τε αὖ τὸν σῳζόμενον καὶ τὸν μή. καὶ θάνατος ψυχῆς ἡ ἁμαρτία λέγεται. διὸ καὶ παρατετηρημένως ἀποκρίνεται ὁ κύριος· »μέχρις ἂν τίκτωσιν αἱ γυναῖκες,» τουτέστι μέχρις ἂν αἱ ἐπιθυμίαι ἐνεργῶσι. / Whence reasonably, after the word had told about the consummation, Salome says: Until when will men die? But the scripture calls him man in two ways, the one that is apparent and the soul, and again that being saved and that not being saved. And sin is said to be the death of the soul. And in keeping with this the Lord answers: As long as women give birth, that is, as long as desires are at work.
Clement of Alexandria, Excerpts from Theodotus 67: Καὶ ὅταν ὁ Σωτὴρ πρὸς Σαλώμην λέγῃ «μέχρι τότε εἶναι θάνατον ἄχρις ἂν αἱ γυναῖκες τίκτωσιν», οὐ τὴν γένεσιν κακίζων ἔλεγεν, ἀναγκαίαν οὖσαν διὰ τὴν σωτηρίαν τῶν πιστευόντων. / And when the savior says to Salome: There shall be death as long as women give birth, he did not say this to make childbirth bad, it being one of the things necessary on account of the salvation of those who believe.
Dialogue of the Savior 58-59: Matthew said, "Tell me, Lord, how the dead die, and how the living live." The Lord said, "You have asked me about a saying [...] which eye has not seen, nor have I heard it, except from you. But I say to you that when what invigorates a man is removed, he will be called 'dead'. And when what is alive leaves what is dead, what is alive will be called upon." Judas said, "Why else, for the sake of truth, do they <die> and live?" The Lord said, "Whatever is born of truth does not die. Whatever is born of woman dies."
Dialogue of the Savior 90-95: Judas said, "You have told us this out of the mind of truth. When we pray, how should we pray?" The Lord said, "Pray in the place where there is no woman." Matthew said, "'Pray in the place where there is no woman,' he tells us, meaning 'Destroy the works of womanhood,' not because there is any other manner of birth, but because they will cease giving birth." Mary said, "They will never be obliterated." The Lord said, "Who knows that they will not dissolve and ... [2 lines missing]?" Judas said to Matthew, "The works of womanhood will dissolve [...] the governors will [...]. Thus will we become prepared for them."

2. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.9 (63.1): Οἱ δὲ ἀντιτασσόμενοι τῇ κτίσει τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τῆς εὐφήμου ἐγκρατείας κἀκεῖνα λέγουσι τὰ πρὸς Σαλώμην εἰρημένα, ὧν πρότερον ἐμνήσθημεν· φέρεται δέ, οἶμαι, ἐν τῷ κατ' Αἰγυπτίους εὐαγγελίῳ. φασὶ γάρ, ὅτι αὐτὸς εἶπεν ὁ σωτήρ· «ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὰ ἔργα τῆς θηλείας,» θηλείας μὲν τῆς ἐπιθυμίας, ἔργα δὲ γένεσιν καὶ φθοράν. / But those who order themselves against the creation of God on account of the euphemism of Encratism also say those things that were said to Salome, of which we first made mention. And they are extant, I suppose, in the gospel according to the Egyptians. For they say that the savior himself said: I came to abolish the works of the female. What are of the female are desires, but the works are birth and corruption.

3. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.9 (66.1-2): τί δὲ οὐχὶ καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς τῶν πρὸς Σαλώμην εἰρημένων ἐπιφέρουσιν οἱ πάντα μᾶλλον ἢ τῷ κατὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν εὐαγγελικῷ στοιχήσαντες κανόνι; φαμένης γὰρ αὐτῆς «καλῶς οὖν ἐποίησα μὴ τεκοῦσα», ὡς οὐ δεόντως τῆς γενέσεως παραλαμβανομένης, ἀμείβεται λέγων ὁ κύριος· «πᾶσαν φάγε βοτάνην, τὴν δὲ πικρίαν ἔχουσαν μὴ φάγῃς.» / But those who [prefer] all things rather than to conform to the evangelical rule according to the truth, why do they not quote the things that follow those said to Salome? For when she says: I did well, then, in not giving birth, as if not accepting childbirth as fitting, the Lord responds saying: Eat every plant, but do not eat the one that has bitterness.

4. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 3.13 (92.2-93.1): διὰ τοῦτό τοι ὁ Κασσιανός φησι· «πυνθανομένης τῆς Σαλώμης πότε γνωσθήσεται τὰ περὶ ὧν ἤρετο, ἔφη ὁ κύριος· ὅταν τὸ τῆς αἰσχύνης ἔνδυμα πατήσητε καὶ ὅταν γένηται τὰ δύο ἓν καὶ τὸ ἄρρεν μετὰ τῆς θηλείας οὔτε ἄρρεν οὔτε θῆλυ.» Πρῶτον μὲν οὖν ἐν τοῖς παραδεδομένοις ἡμῖν τέτταρσιν εὐαγγελίοις οὐκ ἔχομεν τὸ ῥητόν, ἀλλ' ἐν τῷ κατ' Αἰγυπτίους. / On account of this Cassianus says: When Salome inquired when the things about which she had asked would be known, the Lord said: When you have trampled the garment of shame, and when the two become one, and the male with the female, neither male nor female. First, then, we do not have this word in the four gospels delivered to us, but in that according to the Egyptians.
1 Corinthians 12.13: καὶ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι ἡμεῖς πάντες εἰς ἓν σῶμα ἐβαπτίσθημεν, εἴτε Ἰουδαῖοι εἴτε Ἕλληνες εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι, καὶ πάντες ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν. / For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Galatians 3.27-28: 27 ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε. 28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. / 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3.10-11: 10 καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν νέον τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατ᾽ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν, 11 ὅπου οὐκ ἔνι Ἕλλην καὶ Ἰουδαῖος, περιτομὴ καὶ ἀκροβυστία, βάρβαρος, Σκύθης, δοῦλος, ἐλεύθερος, ἀλλὰ [τὰ] πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν Χριστός. / 10 ...and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 -- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
Thomas 22: 22 Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father's) kingdom." They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's) kingdom as babies?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter."
Thomas 37: 37 His disciples said, "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?" Jesus said, "When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample them, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid."
2 Clement 12.1-6: 1. Ἐκδεχόμεθα οὖν καθ’ ὥραν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ, ἐπειδὴ οὐκ οἴδαμεν τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ θεου. 2. ἐπερωτηθεὶς γὰρ αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ὑπό τινος, πότε ἥξει αὐτοῦ ἡ βασιλεία, εἶπεν· Ὅταν ἔσται τὰ δύο ἕν, καὶ τὸ ἔξω ὡς τὸ ἔσω, καὶ τὸ ἄρσεν μετὰ τῆς θηλείας οὔτε ἄρσεν οὔτε θῆλυ. 3. τὰ δύο δὲ ἕν ἐστιν, ὅταν λαλῶμεν ἑαυτοῖς ἀλήθειαν καὶ ἐν δυσὶ σώμασιν ἀνυποκρίτως εἴη μία ψυχή, 4. καὶ τὸ ἔξω ὡς τὸ ἔσω, τοῦτο λέγει· τὴν ψυχὴν λέγει τὸ ἔσω, τὸ δὲ ἔξω τὸ σώμα λέγει· ὃν τρόπον οὖν σου τὸ σῶμα φαίνεται, οὕτως καὶ ἡ ψυχή σου δῆλος ἔστω ἐν τοῖς καλοῖς ἔργοις. 5. καὶ τὸ ἄρσεν μετὰ τῆς θηλείας, οὔτε ἄρσεν οὔτε θῆλυ, ταῦτο λέγει· ἵνα ἀδελφὸς ἰδὼν ἀδελφὴν οὐδὲν φρονῇ περὶ αὐτῆς θηλυκόν, μηδ̀ φρονῇ τι περὶ αὐτοῦ ἀρσενικόν. 6. ταῦτα ὑμῶν ποιούτων, φησίν, ἐλεύσεται ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ πατρός μου. / 1 Let us, therefore, in love and righteousness expect every hour the kingdom of God, since we know not the day of the appearing of God. 2 For the Lord himself, when he was asked by a certain man when his kingdom should come, replied, When two shall be one, and that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female neither male nor female. 3 Now two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is, without hypocrisy, one soul in two bodies. 4 And by that which is without being as that which is within, he meaneth this: He calleth the soul that which is within, and the body that which is without; in like manner, therefore, as thy body is visible, let thy soul be made manifest by good deeds. 5 And by the male with the female neither male nor female, he meaneth this: When a brother seeing a sister doth not in any way regard her as a female, nor doth she regard him as a male; 6 when ye do these things, he saith, the kingdom of my Father will come.
Acts of Peter 38: Περὶ ὧν ὁ κύριος ἐν μυστηρίῳ λέγει· Ἐὰν μὴ ποιήσητε τὰ δεξιὰ ὡς τὰ ἀριστερὰ καὶ τὰ ἀριστερὰ ὡς τὰ δεξιὰ καὶ τὰ ἄνω ὡς τὰ κάτω καὶ τὰ ὀπίσω ὡς τὰ ἔμπροσθεν, οὐ μὴ ἐπιγνῶτε τὴν βασιλείαν. / Concerning this the Lord says in a mystery: Unless you make what is on the right hand as what is on the left and what is on the left hand as what is on the right, and what is above as what is below, and what is behind as what is before, you will not know the kingdom of God.
Acts of Philip 140: Εἶπεν γάρ μοι ὁ κύριος· Ἐὰν μὴ ποιήσητε ὑμῶν τὰ κάτω εἰς τὰ ἄνω, καὶ τὰ ἀριστερὰ εἰς τὰ δεξιά, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν μου. / For the Lord said to me: If you do not make your lower part into the higher, and the left into the right, you will not enter into my kingdom.
Dialogue of the Savior 49-52: Judas said, "Behold! The governors dwell above us, so it is they who will rule over us!" The Lord said, "It is you who will rule over them! But when you rid yourselves of jealousy, then you will clothe yourselves in light and enter the bridal chamber." Judas said, "How will our garments be brought to us?" The Lord said, "There are some who will provide for you, and there are others who will receive [...]. For it is they who will give you your garments. For who will be able to reach that place which is the reward? But the garments of life were given to man because he knows the path by which he will leave. And it is difficult even for me to reach it!"
Dialogue of the Savior 84-85: Judas said to Matthew, "We want to understand the sort of garments we are to be clothed with when we depart the decay of the flesh." The Lord said, "The governors and the administrators possess garments granted only for a time, which do not last. But you, as children of truth, not with these transitory garments are you to clothe ourselves. Rather, I say to you that you will become blessed when you strip yourselves! For it is no great thing [...] outside."

Attestation

Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 5.7.8b-9a: εἶναι δέ φασι τὴν ψυχὴν δυσεύρετον πάνυ καὶ δυσκατανόητον· οὐ γὰρ μένει ἐπὶ σχήματος οὐδὲ μορφῆς τῆς αὐτῆς πάντοτε, οὐδὲ πάθους ἑνός, ἵνα τις αὐτὴν ἢ τύπῳ εἴπῃ ἢ οὐσίᾳ καταλήψεται. τὰς δὲ ἐξαλλαγὰς ταύτας τὰς ποικίλας ἐν τῷ ἐπιγραφομένῳ κατ' Αἰγυπτίους εὐαγγελίῳ κειμένας ἔχουσιν. ἀποροῦσιν οὖν – καθάπερ <καὶ> οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες τῶν ἐθνῶν ἄνθρωποι – πότερόν ποτε ἐκ τοῦ προόντος ἐστὶν <ἢ> ἐκ τοῦ αὐτογενοῦς ἢ ἐκ τοῦ ἐκκεχυμένου χάους. / And they say that the soul is unfindable and unknowable; for it remains neither upon the same scheme or form always nor in one passive [state], that one might speak of it by a type or comprehend it in being. But they have these various changes set down in the gospel inscribed according to the Egyptians. They are therefore in doubt, just as all the other men of the gentiles, whether it is at all from the pre-being, from the self-born, or from the poured-out chaos.
Origen, Homily on Luke 1.1: Ecclesia quator habet evangelia, haeresis plurima, e quibus quoddam scribitur secundum Aegyptios [τὸ μέντοι ἐπιγεγραμμένον κατὰ Αἰγυπτίους εὐαγγέλιον], aliud iuxta duodecim [τὸ ἐπιγεγραμμένον τῶν Δώδεκα εὐαγγέλιον] apostolos. ausus fuit et Basilides scribere evangelium et suo illud nomine titulare. / The church has four gospels, heresy many, from among which a certain one is written according to the Egyptians, another according to the twelve apostles. Even Basilides dared to write a gospel and to entitle it by his own name.
Ephiphanius, Panarion 62.2, writing concerning the Sabellians: Τὴν δὲ πᾶσαν αὐτῶν πλάνην καὶ τὴν τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν δύναμιν ἔχουσιν ἐξ ἀποκρύφων τινῶν, μάλιστα ἀπὸ τοῦ καλουμένου Αἰγυπτίου εὐαγγελίου, ὥς τινες τούτῳ ὄνομα ἐπέθεντο. ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ πολλὰ τοιαῦτα ὡς ἐν παραβύστῳ μυστηριωδῶς ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ σωτῆρος ἀναφέρεται, ὡς αὐτοῦ δηλοῦντος τοῖς μαθηταῖς τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι πατέρα, τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι υἱόν, τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι ἅγιον πνεῦμα. / But their whole deception, and the whole power of their deception, they have from certain apocrypha, especially from the gospel called Egyptian, upon which some place this name. For in it many such things are quoted mysteriously, as if in a corner, as if from the person of the savior, such as when he makes clear to the disciples that he himself is the father, that he himself is the son, and that he himself is the holy spirit.

Works Consulted and Links

John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus.
Bart Ehrman and Zlatko Plese, The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations.
Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha.
Stephen Emmel, English translation of Dialogue of the Savior.
Early Christian Writings: The Gospel of the Egyptians.
TextExcavation: The Gospel of the Egyptians.
Biblical Criticism & History Forum: Other Gospel Texts.

Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by rakovsky » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:43 pm

Ben, I respect your translation on your Text Excavations page alot because you are very careful.

One part that got me tripped up because I don't know Greek was what Clement of Alexandria in Stromata III.9 said was in the Gospel of the Egyptians. Your translation reads to me as if he wrote that the Gospel of the Egyptians taught the "Euphemism of Encratites", but all the other translations that I found said instead that the Gospel of the Egyptians contained Salome's words earlier. It turns out that in Greek linguistics, the phrase in question, feretai, especially refers to text quotes, so you translated it in a good, literal way, but I missed the sense. Let me explain:

First, in Stromata III.6, Clement of Alexandria writes that those who use their continence to blaspheme the Creator and the Creation, but that
we may destroy their case on the ground that they pervert the sense of the books they quote, as follows. When Salome asked the Lord: "How long shall death hold sway?" he answered: " As long as you women bear children." Her words do not imply that this life is evil and the' creation bad, and his reply only teaches the ordinary course of nature. For birth is invariably followed by death.
Next, in Stromata III.9, Clement of Alexandria refers back to this quote, writing:
Οι δε αντιτασσομενοι τη κτισει του θεου δια της ευφημου εγκρατειας κακεινα λεγουσι τα προς Σαλωμην ειρημενα, ων προτερον εμνησθημεν· φερεται δε, οιμαι, εν τω κατ Αιγυπτιους ευαγγελιω. φασι γαρ οτι αυτος ειπεν ο σωτηρ· Ηλθον καταλυσαι τα εργα της θηλειας. θηλειας μεν της επιθυμιας, εργα δε γεννησιν και φθοραν.
My basic issue was: Does Clement mean that The Gospel According to the Egyptians has (A) the Euphemism of Encratites, (B) what was said to Salome back in III.6, or (C) the Savior's words to Salome in the next sentence, "I came to abolish the works of the female"?

You translated Clement's passage to mean that "it", (A) the Euphemism of Encratites, is in the Gospel According to the Egyptians:
But those who order themselves against the creation of God on account of the euphemism of Encratism also say those things that were said to Salome, of which we first made mention. And it is extant, I suppose, in the gospel according to the Egyptians. For they say that the savior himself said: I came to abolish the works of the female. What are of the female are desires, but the works are birth and corruption.
I took this to mean: The Euphemism of Encratism, Clement supposes, is in The Gospel According to the Egyptians, for they (the Encratites or the Egyptians) say that Jesus said "I came to abolish the works of the female."

But the 5 other translations that I found go with Option (B). John Ernest Leonard Oulton, in his book "The Library of Christian Classics: Volume II, Alexandrian Christianity", translates the passage to refer to (B) the words spoken to Salome earlier
Those who are opposed to God's creation, disparaging it under the fair name of continence, also quote the words to Salome which we mentioned earlier. They are found, I believe, in the Gospel according to the Egyptians. They say that the Saviour himself said "1 came to destroy the works of the female," meaning by "female" desire, and by "works" birth and corruption.
In other words: The words to Salome mentioned earlier, Clement believes, are found in the Gospel According to the Egyptians, and they (those opposed to the Creation, or the Egyptians), say that the Saviour said, "I came to abolish the works of the female."

Ye. Afonasin, in his Russian translation of the Stromata, N. Korsunsky in his own Russian translation of the Stromata, M.R. James in The Apocryphal New Testament, and Ron Cameron in The Other Gospels all agree with Oulton and translate the passage as saying that (B) Salome's words mentioned earlier are in the Gospel According to the Egyptians.

But as MWH wrote to me on the Greek Textkit forum:
φερεται is often used of a textual passage—e.g. a phrase, or a line or a stanza of verse—that is carried (i.e. transmitted, found) or not carried (ου φερεται) in a specified manuscript or source. Here it’s most naturally understood as referring to τα προς Σαλωμην ειρημενα, as reported in the first passage you cite, i.e. "As long as you women bear children."

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:04 pm

rakovsky wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:43 pm
Ben, I respect your translation on your Text Excavations page alot because you are very careful.

One part that got me tripped up because I don't know Greek was what Clement of Alexandria in Stromata III.9 said was in the Gospel of the Egyptians. Your translation reads to me as if he wrote that the Gospel of the Egyptians taught the "Euphemism of Encratites", but all the other translations that I found said instead that the Gospel of the Egyptians contained Salome's words earlier. It turns out that in Greek linguistics, the phrase in question, feretai, especially refers to text quotes, so you translated it in a good, literal way, but I missed the sense. Let me explain:

First, in Stromata III.6, Clement of Alexandria writes that those who use their continence to blaspheme the Creator and the Creation, but that
we may destroy their case on the ground that they pervert the sense of the books they quote, as follows. When Salome asked the Lord: "How long shall death hold sway?" he answered: " As long as you women bear children." Her words do not imply that this life is evil and the' creation bad, and his reply only teaches the ordinary course of nature. For birth is invariably followed by death.
Next, in Stromata III.9, Clement of Alexandria refers back to this quote, writing:
Οι δε αντιτασσομενοι τη κτισει του θεου δια της ευφημου εγκρατειας κακεινα λεγουσι τα προς Σαλωμην ειρημενα, ων προτερον εμνησθημεν· φερεται δε, οιμαι, εν τω κατ Αιγυπτιους ευαγγελιω. φασι γαρ οτι αυτος ειπεν ο σωτηρ· Ηλθον καταλυσαι τα εργα της θηλειας. θηλειας μεν της επιθυμιας, εργα δε γεννησιν και φθοραν.
My basic issue was: Does Clement mean that The Gospel According to the Egyptians has (A) the Euphemism of Encratites, (B) what was said to Salome back in III.6, or (C) the Savior's words to Salome in the next sentence, "I came to abolish the works of the female"?
Definitely option B.
You translated Clement's passage to mean that "it", (A) the Euphemism of Encratites, is in the Gospel According to the Egyptians....
That was a mistranslation on my part. The origin of this mistake is transparent to anyone who knows Greek: neuter plurals in Greek take singular nouns, and φέρεται is a singular noun. Out of context, φέρεται could be either "it is extant" or "they are extant," with the probability actually leaning toward the former; in context, however, it is clearly supposed to be the latter in this passage. I have corrected the implied subject and the actual verb to "they are extant" above (but will probably not be doing so on my website, since I am no longer updating it; it is what it is, blotches and all). Thanks for pointing this out.
But as MWH wrote to me on the Greek Textkit forum:
φερεται is often used of a textual passage—e.g. a phrase, or a line or a stanza of verse—that is carried (i.e. transmitted, found) or not carried (ου φερεται) in a specified manuscript or source. Here it’s most naturally understood as referring to τα προς Σαλωμην ειρημενα, as reported in the first passage you cite, i.e. "As long as you women bear children."
MWH, whoever that may be, is correct.
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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by rakovsky » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:20 pm

Thanks for writing back so quickly, Ben.
Another translation issue is whether Hippolytus said that (A) the Naassene Gnostics set down the changes of the soul in the Gospel According to the Egyptians, or if he said that (B) they had the description of the changes of the soul that was set down in the Gospel According to the Egyptians. The basic issue is whether he meant that the Naassenes wrote the Gospel According to the Egyptians.

Hippolytus wrote in Greek:
Τας δε εξαλλαγας ταυτας τας ποικιλας εν τω επιγραφομενω κατ Αιγυπτιους ευαγγελιω κειμενας εχουσιν.

You translated this as: "But they have these various changes set down in the gospel inscribed according to the Egyptians".
It isn't clear to me whether this means Option A or Option B (above).

J.H. MacMahon, in "Ante-Nicene Fathers", Vol. 5., translates it similarly: "But they have these varied changes (of the soul) set down in the gospel inscribed "according to the Egyptians.""

G. R. Mead, in his book "Thrice Greatest Hermes", translates it to mean that (A) the Naassenes themselves wrote this in the Gospel According to the Egyptians, meaning that they authored the book: "These variegated metamorphoses they have laid down in the Gospel superscribed 'According to the Egyptians.'" G.R. Meadalso commented about this Gospel's origins: "We, however, here learn that it described the matamorphoses of the soul. It was a Gospel having its origin in Egypt and suited to Egyptian modes of thought. It follows, therefore, that the doctrine of the soul's transformation was Egyptian."

In contrast, Otto Bardenhewer, in his book Patrology: The Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church takes it to mean (B) that the Naassenes used the book, as opposed to specifying that they authored it: "Hippolytus says that the Naassenes made use of expressions from the Gospel of the Egyptians in defence of their theories on the soul (and the transmigration of souls?)."

M.R. James in The Apocryphal New Testament translates it similarly to the way in which Bardenhewer took it: "And they have these various changes of the soul, set forth in the Gospel entitled according to the Egyptians."

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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:24 pm

rakovsky wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:20 pm
Thanks for writing back so quickly, Ben.
Another translation issue is whether Hippolytus said that (A) the Naassene Gnostics set down the changes of the soul in the Gospel According to the Egyptians, or if he said that (B) they had the description of the changes of the soul that was set down in the Gospel According to the Egyptians. The basic issue is whether he meant that the Naassenes wrote the Gospel According to the Egyptians.

Hippolytus wrote in Greek:
Τας δε εξαλλαγας ταυτας τας ποικιλας εν τω επιγραφομενω κατ Αιγυπτιους ευαγγελιω κειμενας εχουσιν.

You translated this as: "But they have these various changes set down in the gospel inscribed according to the Egyptians".
It isn't clear to me whether this means Option A or Option B (above).
It looks as ambiguous in Greek as it is in English.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by rakovsky » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:49 pm

Thanks. Maybe in his time it wasn't clear to him (3rd century). In the late 2nd century it sounds like Clement of Alexandria was saying that the Encratites used it but that they used it incorrectly, eg. they interpreted it, wrongly in his view, as opposing marriage. So if the Encratites were relying on it but Clement considered them not its authors, and even tried to justify its ideas, then it might not be clear to a reader a century later what sect wrote it, whether it was orthodox or not in its origin. It had unorthodox ideas according to Hippolytus and was being used by those heretical sects, but meanwhile Clement was trying to treat it as orthodox.This of course is even assuming that this was the same book they were talking about.

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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by rakovsky » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:16 pm

Based on how literally and carefully I expect your translation is, Ben, I think that strictly speaking the short answer is that the sentence ("But they have these various changes set down in the gospel inscribed according to the Egyptians") only means that the Naassenes possess the theory of the changes of the soul that is explained in The Gospel According to the Egyptians. It does not entail that they set forth in this Gospel their theory.

Now one can also say that whoever wrote the Gospel According to the Egyptians shared the Naassene Gnostics' theory on the changes of the soul. But are the changes such that the author would be a gnostic? And is the modalism that Epiphanius describes also such that the author would be Gnostic? Modalism I think is not necessarily considered Gnostic. But the Modalism that Epiphanius describes reminds me of the description of Simon Magus' Gnostic theology wherein Simon Magus was all three modes of the Trinity. So my guess is that Yes, the author was a Gnostic.

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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:44 pm

Gospel of the Egyptians = Secret Mark
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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by rakovsky » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:57 pm

A third question that I had when reading the text came up for me when, in his refutation of the Naassene Gnostics' beliefs and his discussion of the Gospel According to the Egyptians, Pope Hippolytus writes that the Gnostics, like all the gentiles are "in doubt... whether (the soul) is at all from something pre-existent, or whether from the self-produced (one), or from a widespread Chaos." I wondered what the traditional Christian response was to this same quandery, and I think that the answer is that the human soul comes from God, Who is Pre-existent, existing before the universe and producing the 2nd and 3rd Persons of the Trinity, but that the soul is not from Widespread Chaos, although it's commonly thought that matter and earth were created "ex-nihilo". In Trinitarianism, does God have His own three Souls for each Person of the Trinity? I think that the answer is Yes:
Richard Swinburne, an Orthodox Christian and philosopher who converted from Anglicanism, "argues that there are three divine individuals. The three divine persons are three souls, three rational individuals." (Trinity - Oxford Scholarship, https://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/ ... -chapter-2)

Here was the passage that raised the question for me:
In order, therefore, that finally the Great Man from above may be overpowered, "from whom," as they say, "the whole family named on earth and in the heavens has been formed, to him was given also a soul, that through the soul he might suffer; and that the enslaved image may be punished of the Great and most Glorious and Perfect Man, for even so they call him. Again, then, they ask what is the soul, and whence, and what kind in its nature, that, coming to the man and moving him, it should enslave and punish the image of the Perfect Man. They do not, however, (on this point) institute an inquiry from the Scriptures, but ask this (question) also from the mystic (rites). And they affirm that the soul is very difficult to discover, and hard to understand; for it does not remain in the same figure or the same form invariably, or in one passive condition, that either one could express it by a sign, or comprehend it substantially.

But they have these varied changes (of the soul) set down in the gospel inscribed "according to the Egyptians." They are, then, in doubt, as all the rest of men among the Gentiles, whether (the soul) is at all from something pre-existent, or whether from the self-produced (one), [23] or from a widespread Chaos. And first they fly for refuge to the mysteries of the Assyrians, perceiving the threefold division of the man; for the Assyrians first advanced the opinion that the soul has three parts, and yet (is essentially) one. For of soul, say they, is every nature desirous, and each in a different manner. For soul is cause of all things made; all things that are nourished, (the Naassene) says, and that grow, require soul. For it is not possible, he says, to obtain any nourishment or growth where soul is not present. For even stones, he affirms, are animated, for they possess what is capable of increase; but increase would not at any time take place without nourishment, for it is by accession that things which are being increased grow, but accession is the nourishment of things that are nurtured. Every nature, then, as of thins celestial and (the Naasene) says, of things celestial, and earthly, and infernal, desires a soul. And an entity of this description the Assyrians call Adonis or Endymion;24 and when it is styled Adonis, Venus, he says, loves and desires the soul when styled by such a name. But Venus is production, according to them. But whenever Proserpine or Cora becomes enamoured with Adonis, there results, he says, a certain mortal soul separated from Venus (that is, from generation). But should the Moon pass into concupiscence for Endymion, and into love of her form, the nature,25 he says, of the higher beings requires a soul likewise. But if, he says, the mother of the gods emasculate Attis,26 and herself has this (person) as an object of affection, the blessed nature, he says, of the supernal and everlasting (beings) alone recalls the male power of the soul to itself.

FOOTNOTE [23]: autogenouj. Miller has auou genouj, which Bunsen rejects in favour of the reading "self-begotten."

SOURCE: Hippolytus, Against Heresies, 5:7
https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/005/0050009.htm

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Re: The gospel of the Egyptians.

Post by rakovsky » Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:04 pm

Another issue is the debate between the Encratites, Clement of Alexandria, and some modern theologians. Clement interprets the quotes from the Gospel of the Egyptians to be reconcilable with marriage, against the Encratites.
The basic Question is whether the Gospel of the Egyptians is against sex and marriage.

In Stromata III. 6, Clement writes:

Next we may destroy their case on the ground that they pervert the sense of the books they quote, as follows. When Salome asked the Lord: "How long shall death hold sway?" he answered: " As long as you women bear children." Her words do not imply that this life is evil and the' creation bad, and his reply only teaches the ordinary course of nature. For birth is invariably followed by death.
Clement's interpretation here is logical, and the quote by itself doesnt mean that sex and birth are wrong.

In Book III Chapter 9, Clement takes Christ's abolition of the works of female to mean the abolition of sinful desires whose birth leads to death. Clement does not cite anything to support his interpretation of the "works of the female" except that Christ did not succeed in ending physical birth, so Christ must not have meant physical birth but rather sinful desires whose metaphorical "birth" leads to death. But later in the same passage Clement does use the term birth in a literal way, so his interpretation is not very compelling for me. Christ, in the eyes of the author, could have meant that He came to abolish birth over time through asceticism. To me, sinful desires are the work of both men and females so to call them the work of the female doesnt sound right. So whereas Clement's interpretation in chapter 6 was logical, his interpretation here doesnt seem to be.
Here is Clement's quote:
Those who are opposed to God's creation, disparaging it under the fair name of continence, also quote the words to Salome which we mentioned earlier. They are found, I believe, in the Gospel according to the Egyptians. They say that the Saviour himself said "1 came to destroy the works of the female," meaning by "female" desire, and by "works" birth and corruption. What then would they say? Has this destruction in fact been accomplished? They could not say so, for the world continues exactly as before. Yet the Lord did not lie. For in truth he did destroy the works of desire, love of money, contentiousness, vanity, mad lust for women, paederasty, gluttony, licentious- ness, and similar vices. Their birth is the soul's corruption, since then we are "dead in sins." And this is the incontinence referred to as "female." Birth and the corruption chiefly involved in the creation must necessarily continue until the achievement of complete separation and the restoration of the elect, on whose account even the beings mingled with this world are restored to their proper condition.
The same problem shows up again later in the chapter when, although Clement understandably interprets death as spiritual death, his metaphorical identification of women bearing children with having sinful desires does not make much sense to me, especially because later in the same part he interprets childbearing literally, saying that it's part of the natural cycle of birth and death. In fact, he interprets literal birth positively, saying that it gives us a chance to gain knowledge. Here is that passage in chapter 9:
It is probably therefore with reference to the consummation that Salome says: "Until when shall men die?" The Scripture uses the word "man" in two senses, the outward man and the soul, and again of him who is being saved and him who is not; and sin is said to be the death of the soul. That is why the Lord gave a cautious answer-" As long as women bear children," that is, as long as the desires are active. "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death came to all men, in that all sinned, and death reigned from Adam to Moses," says the apostle. By natural necessity in the divine plan death follows birth, and the coming together of soul and body is followed by their dissolution. If birth exists for the sake of learning and knowledge, dissolution leads to the final restoration. As woman is regarded as the cause of death because she brings to birth, so also for the same reason she may be called the originator of life.
Next in chapter 9 Clement takes Christ's reply to eat any plant but bitter plants to be an invitation to have children:
But why do they not go on to quote the words after those spoken to Salome, these people who do anything rather than walk according to the truly evangelical rule? For when she says, "I would have done better had I never given birth to a child," suggesting that she might not have been right in giving birth to a child, the Lord replies to her saying: "Eat of every plant, but eat not of that which has bitterness in it." For by this saying also he indicates that whether we are continent or married is a matter for our free choice and that there is no absolute prohibition which would impose continence upon us as a necessity. And he further makes it clear that marriage is co-operation with the work of creation.
My own initial reading of this passage is that it isnt clear whether Jesus categorizes conception as eating a bitter fruit or not, although I can see that the Encratites not quoting Jesus' reply could imply that Jesus' reply wasnt favorable to them.

In my mind, Christ's saying against eating the plant with bitterness in it could allude to the story of the Garden of Eden when God said that people could eat any tree's fruit but that of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but Eve ate the forbidden fruit that brought tragedy, or it could refer to the saying from the books that the Encratites quote where Christ says that death will prevail "As long as women bear children", which could indicate that sex produces bitter fruit - not just children, but mortality - otherwise why would death last as long as childbearing if there is no causal relationship?

The next quote from Clement, when he talks about Julius Casinos' views, doesn't suggest to me anything particularly against childbearing:
But he departed from the school of Valentine. On this account he says: "When Salome ' asked when she would know the answer to her questions, the Lord said, When you trample on the robe of shame, and when the two shall be one, and the male with the female, and there is neither male nor female."
The quote there just reminds me of Paul's words about being neither Male nor female, which were not directed against sex or marriage.

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