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The Sentences of Sextus

The Sentences of Sextus is the first tractate of Codex XII from the Nag Hammadi Library.

The Greek original version of the Sentences of Sextus comprised 451 sayings concerning appropiate religious and moral behaviour assigned to an unknown spiritual master called Sextus.

The Sentences of Sextus was widely read and commented upon in the first centuries in both Christian and pagan circles. They express the idea that humans can experience divinity through their mind (nous) or intelligence; that it is difficult if not impossible to express God’s being through language, and that the soul is the most important component of humanity. 

The Greek original has been lost and the Coptic translation is in a very fragmentary condition with just 115 sayings remaining.

They are simple and to the point. More importantly they are from the heart…

The author acknowledged spiritual teachings can seem complicated and result in further complicating an already complicated world.

Here are a few of my favourites:-

158   Love truth, and treat falsehood like poison.

164b It is a skill to speak and also a skill to remain silent.

310 Everything God has a wise person has.

323 Fear of death causes a person grief because of the ignorance of the soul.

326b A godly heart gives rise to a blessed life.

328 Don’t let an ungrateful person make you stop doing good.

330 You will manage great wealth if you give willingly to those in need.

331 Persuade a foolish brother not to be foolish. If he is demented, take care of him.

333 You cannot acquire understanding unless you first know you do not have it.

336 It is better to serve others than to make others serve you.

346 Say in your heart that your body is the garment of the soul. Keep it pure, since it is innocent.

359 Let your deeds of love for God come before all your words about God.

371 The love of humankind is the beginning of godliness.

383 The words of the faithful are few, but their deeds are many.

397 It is not death that destroys the soul, but rather an evil life.

As I said in my earlier blog on Zostrianos, I believe the Sentences of Sextus was written by Mary, daughter of Sarah and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene, at Lake Mareotis community in the late 1st century. She recognized her mighty tome Zostrianos would not be read by the masses – in fact the Sentences of Sextus  became the favourite reading material of many educated Christians.  

#egypt #gnostic  #mary #naghammadi #spiritual                                                         

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