Pistis Sophia - G. R. S Mead - E-Book

Pistis Sophia E-Book

G. R. S. Mead

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IT came to pass, when Jesus had risen from the dead, that he passed eleven years discoursing with his disciples, and instructing them only up to the regions of the First Commandment and up to the regions of the First Mystery, that within the Veil, within the First Commandment, which is the four-and-twentieth mystery without and below--those [four-and-twenty] which are in the second space of the First Mystery which is before all mysteries,--the Father in the form of a dove.

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Pistis Sophia

Pistis SophiaPREFACEINTRODUCTIONANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHYTHE FIRST BOOK OF PISTIS SOPHIATHE SECOND BOOK OF PISTIS SOPHIAA THIRD BOOKA FOURTH BOOKA FIFTH BOOKA SIXTH BOOKCopyright

Pistis Sophia

Mead, G. R. S

PREFACE

IN the Introduction (pp. xxxv f.) to the first edition (1896), the translator wrote:"In presenting the following translation to the English-reading public, I may say that I should not have ventured on such an undertaking if any Coptic scholar had undertaken the task, or I had heard that such a task was contemplated. In a matter of so great difficulty every possible liability to error should be eliminated, and it stands to reason that the translation of a translation must needs be but an apology for a first-hand version. Nevertheless I am not without predecessors. The Coptic MS. itself is in the first place a translation, so that even Coptic scholars must give us the version of a translation. I am persuaded also that the anonymous and very imperfect French translation (1856) in the Appendix to Migne's Dictionnaire des Apocryphes (vol. i.) is made from Schwartze's Latin version (1851) and not from the Coptic text. C. W. King in The Gnostics and their Remains(2nd ed., 1887) has also translated a number of pages of the Pistis Sophia from Schwartze. Some three or four years ago Mr. Nutt, King's publisher, sent out a notice proposing the publication of the whole of King's translation, but the project fell through. Last year (1895) I offered to edit this translation of King's, but was informed that the literary legatee of the deceased scholar was of the opinion that it would be unfair to his memory to publish a MS. that was in so incomplete a condition."In 1890 I had already translated Schwartze's Latin version into English and published pages 1 to 252, with comments, notes, etc., in magazine-form from April 1890 to April 1891. But I hesitated to put it forward in book-form, and should not have done so, but for the appearance of Amélineau's French translation in 1895. I then went over the whole again and checked it by Amélineau's version. I was further induced to venture on this undertaking, because the narrative, though dealing with mystical and therefore obscure subjects, is in itself exceedingly simple, and therefore mistakes cannot so readily creep in as into a difficult philosophical work. I, therefore, present my translation with all hesitation, but at the same time think that the English public, which is steadily increasing its interest in mysticism and allied subjects, will be better satisfied with half a loaf than with no bread."A quarter of a century has rolled away; much water has flowed under the bridges of scholarly research whence the general stream of Gnosticism has been surveyed with greater accuracy, and much good work been done on the special subject of the Coptic Gnostic documents. Though the first edition of this book was quickly exhausted and many requests were made for a second, I had hitherto refused to accede to this demand, still hoping that some English Coptic scholar would take the matter in hand. Indeed, at one time I was in high expectation that this would be achieved. Shortly before the War a friend, whom I had interested in the work, completed a version of the fine Untitled Apocalypse of the Bruce Codex, and was next to have attempted a translation of the P.S. But pressing interests and activities of a totally different nature connected with the War and its aftermath have absorbed all my friend's energies, and the version of the P.S. has been definitely abandoned. Nor can I hear of any other project of translation. This being the case, and as the utility of even a translation of a translation is evidenced by the keen demand for the volume in the second-hand market, I have at last decided to repeat my venture.Nevertheless a reprint of the first edition was not to be thought of. Introduction and translation needed revision in the light of twenty-five years' further study of the work of specialists. To this end the most valuable help, not to speak of his long labours on the allied documents, is afforded by Carl Schmidt's admirable German translation of the P.S. (1905).Schwartze's Latin translation was good for its date (1851), and scholars still quote it to-day; Amélineau's French rendering (1895) was somewhat of an improvement; but Schmidt's version is unquestionably the best. I have therefore revised my prior Englishing from the former two by the finer work of the latter. Schmidt is exceedingly careful throughout, and not only have I taken his decision where Schwartze and Amélineau differ, but have generally preferred him for consistency in phrasing. In my humble opinion it will be long before we have a better rendering than that of this ripe Coptic scholar.But not only has the Translation been thoroughly revised; the Introduction has been entirely rewritten and the Annotated Bibliography corrected and brought up to date. The second edition is practically a new book.The Schwartze-Petermann marginal pagination, which is the usual scheme of reference, and which in the first edition was shown in brackets in the text, is now indicated at the side of the page. I have also adopted Schmidt's division into chapters as an additional convenience for more general reference, and have numbered the verses of the Psalms and of the Odes of Solomon for easier comparison with the Repentances and Songs of Sophia. It should, of course, be understood that the detailed paragraphing does not exist in the original, which runs on for the most part monotonously without break.G. R. S. M.

INTRODUCTION

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. 1770. Art. in Brittische theol. Magazin (?); see Köstlin below, 13.2. 1773. Woide (C. G.). Art. in Journal des Savants (Paris).3. 1778. Woide (C. G.). Art. in J. A. Cramer's Beyträge zur Beförderung theologischer und andrer wichtigen Kenntnisse (Kiel u. Hamburg), iii. 82 ff.It was by W. that the New Testament, according to the text of the famous Codex Alexandrinus, was edited, in uncial types cast to imitate those of the MS., in 1786. In an Appendix to this great undertaking, in 1799 (see below, 5), he added certain fragments of the New Testament in the Thebaico-Coptic dialect, together with a dissertation on the Coptic version of the New Testament. The date of the C.A. is generally assigned to the 5th cent., and, with the exception of the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, which are sometimes assigned to the 4th cent., is the oldest extant MS. of the New Testament. This being the case, it is of interest to quote from the Beiträge W.'s opinion on the date of the MS. of P.S., which was lent to this careful scholar by Dr. Askew and which he copied from the first word to the last:"It [P.S.] is a very old MS. in 4to on parchment in Greek uncial characters, which are not so round as those in the Alexandrine MS. in London, and in the Claromontain MS. in Paris [Codex Regius Parisiensis, also an Alexandrine text]. The characters of the MS. [P.S.] are somewhat longer and more angular, so that I take them to be older than both the latter MSS., in which the letters eta, theta, omicron, rho and sigma are much rounder."Thus W. would date the MS. towards the end of the 4th cent.4. 1794. Buhle (J. G.). Literarischer Briefwechsel von Johann David Michaelis (Leipzig), 3 vols., 1794-96, iii. 69.Under date 1773 there is a letter from Woide to Michaelis, in which the former says in reference to the P.S. Codex that Askew had picked it up by chance in a book-shop. There follows a description of the MS.5. 1799. Woide (C. G.). Appendix ad Editionem Novi Testamenti Græci e Codice MS. Alexandrino . . . cum Dissertatione de Versione Bibliorum Ægyptiaca quibus subjictur Codicis Vaticani Collatio (Oxford), p. 137.W. gives the date of the P.S. Codex as about the 4th cent., and considers the writer of the Greek original to have been Valentinus.6. 1812. Münter (F.). Odæ Gnosticæ Salomoni Tributæ, Thebaice et Latine, Prefatione et Adnotationibus philologicis illustratæ; (Hafniæ).Bishop Münter, a learned Dane, probably got his text from Woide's copy. His brief pamphlet is of no particular importance; nevertheless it was solely upon these few selections, the five Odes of Solomon, that, with the exception of Dulaurier, scholars formed their opinion of the P.S. up to the time of the publication of Schwartze's translation in 1851. Münter believed that the original treatise belonged to the 2nd cent. For Odes of Solomon see below, 49, 53 and 60.7. 1838. Dulaurier (É.). Art. in Le Moniteur (sept. 27).8. 1843. Matter (J.). Histoire Critique du Gnosticisme et de son Influence sur les Sectes religieuses et philosophiques des six premiers Siècles de l’Ère chrétienne (Paris), 2nd ed., ii. 41 ff., 350 ff. The first edition appeared in 1828 and contains no reference to P.S. In Dörner's German translation the references are ii. 69 ff. and 163 ff.M. rejects the authorship of Valentinus, though he bases himself otherwise entirely on Woide. He vaguely places the date of the original treatise between the end of the 2nd and the end of the 5th cent., but gives no opinion as to the school to which it belongs (p. 352).9. 1847. Dulaurier (É.). Art. in the Journal Asiatique, 4 e série, tom. ix., juin, pp. 534-548, ' Notice sur le Manuscript copte-thébain, intitulé La Fidèle Sagesse; et sur la Publication projetée du Texte et de la Traduction française de ce Manuscript.'D. had prepared a translation of the P.S. He writes: "The translation of the Pistis Sophia and the glossary which forms a complement to it are finished, and will be sent to the printers, when I have convinced myself that I have fulfilled the requirements that this task imposes, taking into consideration the present state of science and my own capabilities. The MS. from which I have made my translation is a copy which I have taken from the original, during my stay in England in 1838-1840, when I was charged by MM. De Salvandy and Villemain, successive ministers of public instruction, with the commission of proceeding to London to study this curious monument." (p. 542). D., however, did not publish his labours, nor have I as yet come across any record of the fate of his MS. He ascribes the treatise to Valentinus.10. 1851. Schwartze (M. G.). Pistis Sophia, Opus Gnosticum Valentino adjudicatum, e Codice Manuscripto Coptico Londinensi descriptum. Latine vertit M. G. Schwartze, edidit J. H. Petermann (Berlin).In 1848 Schwartze made a copy of the Codex in London, but unfortunately died before the completion of his labours on the P.S., and the MS. translation he left behind contained a number of blanks and passages which he intended to fill up and correct. His friend Petermann confined himself in his notes strictly to verbal corrections and suggestions as to variæ lectiones. The consequence is that we have a translation without the notes of the translator and without a word of introduction. P. says the task of editing was so severe that he frequently suffered from fits of giddiness. In spite of numerous blemishes this first edition is said to be 'an outstanding achievement.' S. considers the original treatise, as we see from the title of his work, to have been written by Valentinus; but P. is of the opinion that it is the work of an Ophite, and promises to set forth his reasons at length in a treatise, which has unfortunately never seen the light. A review of S.'s work appeared in the Journal des Savants of 1852 (p. 333).11. 1852. Bunsen (C. C. J.). Hippolytus and seine Zeit, Anfänge and Aussichten des Christenthums and der Menschheit (Leipzig), i. 47, 48. Hippolytus and his Age (London, 1852), i. 61, 62."Great, therefore, were my hopes in 1842, that the ancient Coptic manuscript of the British Museum, inscribed Sophia, might be a translation, or at least an extract, from that lost text-book of Gnosticism [the work quoted by Hippolytus, sub Valent.]: but unfortunately the accurate and trustworthy labours of that patient and conscientious Coptic scholar, Dr. Schwartze, so early taken away from us, have proved to me (for I have seen and perused his manuscript, which I hope will soon appear), that this Coptic treatise is a most worthless (I trust, purely Coptic) offshoot of the Marcosian heresy, of the latest and stupidest mysticism about letters, sounds and words."B.'s Marcosian theory has been partially revived by Legge (below, 57), but is supported by no one else, and we doubt whether B. could have read Schwartze's MS. with any great care.12. 1853. Baur (F. C.). Das Christenthum and die christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte (Tübingen), notes on pp. 185, 186, and 205, 206.B. evidently added these notes at the last moment before publication. On page 206 he leans to the idea of an Ophite origin.13. 1854. Köstlin (K. R.). Two arts. in Baur and Zeller's Theologische Jahrbücher (Tübingen), xiii. 1--104 and 137--196, ' Das gnostische System des Ruches Pistis Sophia.'K. was the first to make an exhaustive analysis of the contents of the treatise, with the special object of setting forth the system of P.S., and his labours were used later by Lipsius in his art, in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography(below, 20). He assigns its date to the first half of the 3rd cent., and thinks that it is of Ophite origin. In a note to page 1, K. writes:"The MS. from which the work is published belongs to the collection of MSS. collected by Dr. Askew of London during his travels in Italy and Greece, of which The British Theological Magazine ( Das Brittische theol. Magazin) for the year 1770 (vol. i. part 4, p. 223) gives more particulars."We know nothing of these travels, and there is no such magazine in the catalogue of the British Museum. The Theological Repository for 1770 contains no information on the subject; and no permutation of names solves the mystery. There were very few magazines published at that early date, so that the choice is limited.14. 1856. An Anonymous Translation in Migne's Dictionnaire des Apocryphes, tom. i. app. part. ii. coll. 1181--1286; this tome forms vol. xxiii. of his third Encyclopédie Théologique.The translation is a sorry piece of work, more frequently a mere paraphrase from Schwartze's version than translation; there are also frequent omissions, sometimes as many as 40 pages of Schwartze's text; e.g. pp. 18, 19, 36 ff., 50, 51, 72, 73, 86-90, 108-135, 139, 157-160, 162, 171, 179, 180, 184-186, 221-243, 245-255, 281-320, 324-342. These are some of the omissions; but there are many more. It is, therefore, entirely useless to the student. The anonymous writer vaguely suggests a late date for the treatise because of the complicated nature of the system.15. 1860. Lipsius (R. A.). Art. ' Gnosticismus,' in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopädie, separately published at Leipzig, 1860, pp. 95 ff. and 157 ff.L. considers P.S. an Egypto-Ophite treatise, and with Köstlin assigns its date to the first half of the 3rd cent. See his Art. in Dict. of Christ. Biog. (1887).16. 1875-1883. The Palæographical Society, Facsimiles of MSS. and Inscriptions, Oriental Series, ed. by William Wright (London).Plate xlii. The editor says that the original is later than Valentinus, and places the MS. in the 7th cent. There is a careful analysis of the text from the technical standpoint, and the facsimile is of f. 11 a.17. 1877. Jacobi (H.). Art. ' Gnosis,' in Herzog's Theolog. Real Encyclopädie (Leipzig), 2nd ed., 1888; Translation (New York), 1882, 1883.J. believes in an Ophite origin.18. 1887. King (C. W.). The Gnostics and their Remains, Ancient and Mediæval (London), 2nd ed. The first ed. appeared in 1864, but contains no reference to P.S.K. regards the P.S. as the most precious relic of Gnosticism. Besides many references scattered throughout the volume, there are translations from Schwartze of pages 227-239, 242-244, 247-248, 255-259, 261-263, 282-292, 298-308, 341, 342, 358, 375. K. does not venture an opinion on either the date or author.19. 1887. Amélineau (E.). Essai sur le Gnosticisme égyptien, ses Développements et son Origine égyptienne, in Annales du Musée Guimet(Paris), xiv.See the third part for system of Valentinus and of P.S., pp. 166-322.20. 1887. Lipsius (R. A.). Art. 'Pistil Sophia,' in Smith and Wace's Dict. of Christ. Biog. (London), iv. 405-415.A still valuable study. "We may regard ourselves as justified in assigning (with Petermann and Köstlin) the book Pistis Sophia to one of the large groups of Ophite sects, though nevertheless the system it contains is not identical with any one of the other Ophite systems known to us." Of importance is L.'s suggestion that P.S. may be indirectly one of the sources of the Manichæan religion. In any case, "it may be assumed as probable that the book Pistis Sophia was written before the time of the Manichæan system, and therefore before A.D. 270. Moreover, as the system contained in it is evidently more recent than the other Ophitic systems known to us, we shall have, with Köstlin, to assign its composition to the first half of the 3rd cent." (p. 414b).21. 1888. Hyvernat (H.). Album de Paléographie Copte (Paris-Rome).