Gnostic Literature

The Apocryphon of John

1. What is the fictive setting of the account? Note the question and answer format. Is there something similar here to the narrative in Daniel 7 or 10?

2. How is the source of all existence described? Any resonances to earlier readings?

3. Don’t try to remember every exact detail of every member of the Entirety/All/Fullness, but note how it is formed, how many members there are in it, and their gender. Can you suggest any significance behind the numbers chosen for the various groupings?

4. What causes the formation of this world? Who is to blame? Do you see any parallel to the pattern in the Garden of Eden narrative in Genesis 2-3?

5. Why are Ialdabaoth’s cohorts linked to the days of the week and year?

6. After the creation of the realm of Ialdabaoth begins an interpretation of Genesis 1-4. What is the role of the snake in the story? In what way is this account an anti-Genesis story? What does that say about the group who authored this account?

7. What takes place in the formation of Adam? What actors are involved? How many Eves are there?

8. How does the narrative continue? In what way are the descendants of Adam prototypes for the division of humanity?

Final big question: within Christian tradition, the story of Adam and Eve is usually read as The Fall/Original Sin. For the author of The Secret Book According to John, what is the decisive turning point in the way the cosmos works? Why?

Gospel of Mary

1. Who are the good guys in this gospel, who the bad?

2. What is Mary’s claim to privilege? Why is it rejected?

3. In the late second century CE, for whom might Peter be a cipher? Mary?

Taking Notes