Trimorphic Protennoia

The sixteen papyrus pages containing Trimorphic Protennoia (or Three Forms of First Thought, in Three Parts) and the first ten lines of another copy of On the Origin of the World (Codex II), are all that remain of Codex XIII from the Nag Hammadi Library.

Trimorphic Protennoia celebrates the feminine powers of Thought, Intelligence and Foresight.

Protennoia (Barbelo) recites her three salvific descents into the lower world.

First, Protennoia is the divine but as yet inarticulate voice of the Invisible Spirit’s first Thought. She presides over the heavenly realms for her members, and descends into the realm of chaos to give shape to her “members”, fragments of her spirit that have fallen into the world.

The text opens as a divine figure speaks:

“I am Protennoia, the Thought that is in the Light…she who exists before the All…I move in every creature…I am the Invisible One within the All.

I am perception and knowledge, uttering voice by means of Thought. I am the real Voice. I resonate in everyone, and they know it, since a seed is in them.”

Second, Protennoia is the articulate Speech of the Thought who descends to overthrow the old aeon ruled by the evil powers. She empowers her fallen members to prepare for the coming new age by giving them spirit or breath.

The second section, spoken by a second divine figure, opens with the words,

“I am the Voice…I speak in every creature…Now I have come a second time in the  likeness of a female, and have spoken with them…I revealed myself in the thought of the likeness of my masculinity.”

In this text Protennoia is an androgynous form of the Mother-Father:

“I am androgynous. I am mother and I am father, since I mate with myself. I mate with myself since it is myself that I love…I am the womb that puts forth the All by giving birth to light shining in splendor…I am the fulfilment of all, Meirothea (feminine name for Barbelo), the glory of the Mother.”

Third, Protennoia is the fully articulate Word, or Logos, of the Thought who descends in the likeness of successively lower powers. Entering the “tents” of her members, conferring upon them the saving baptismal rite of the Five Seals, by which they are immersed in divine “living water”. This washes away their bodily nature, so along with the crucified Christ they are raptured into the light:

“I proclaimed the ineffable Five Seals to them so that I might abide in them and they also might abide in me.”

Along with many of the texts, these were secret teachings intended to be read by the initiated. This text appears to be aimed for a higher level of initiate:

“Now look, I shall reveal to you my mysteries, since you are my brethren, and you will know them all…”

Tantalizingly the next five lines are missing followed by,

“I told all of them about my mysteries.”

I believe these lines were intentionally missing, their absence itself being a teaching of the text.

Trimorphic Protennoia is similar to the Gospel of John and the Secret Book of John. The Gospel of John was for the masses, and the Secret Book of John was written in allegorical form for the initiated.

#egypt #gnostic #marymagdalene #naghammadi #spiritual                                      

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