Universal Brotherhood – September 1898

THE EVANGEL ACCORDING TO IOANNES — James M. Pryse

EXCERPTS FROM A NEW TRANSLATION OF "THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN"

[I. 1-9.]

In a First-principle (1) was the Mind, (2) and the Mind was in relation to The God, (3) and the Mind was a God. (4) This [God] it was who in a First-principle was in relation to The God. All [things] (5) came into being (6) through him, and apart from him not one single [thing] came into being. That which has come into being was Life (7) in him, and the Life was the Light of the Men; (8) and the Light illuminates in the Darkness (9) and the Darkness did not overtake it.

There came into being a Man sent forth from a God; his name [was] Ioannes. This [forerunner] came for a witness, (10) that he might bear witness about the Light, that all might gain intuition (11) through him. He was not the Light, but [he was sent] that he might bear witness about the Light. That True (12) Light, which lights every Man, was coming into the Kosmos. (13)

[III. 1-21.]

Now, there was a man of the Pharisaians — Nikodemos [was] his name, — a leader (14) of the Ioudaians. This [man] came to him by night and said:

"Rabbi, we know that you have come from a God as a Teacher; for no one can do these Signs which you do unless The God is with him."

Iesous answered and said to him:

"Amen, Amen, I say to you, if any one be not born from above (15) he can not see the Realm (16) of The God."

Nikodemos says to him:

"How can a man be born when he is old? Into the womb of his mother can he enter a second time and be born?"

Iesous answered:

"Amen, Amen, I say to you, if any one be not born of Water and of Breath, he can not enter into the Realm of The God. That which has been born from the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born from the Breath is Breath. Do not wonder because I said to you, You have to be born from above. The Breath breathes where it wills, and you hear only its voice; (17) but you do not know whence it comes and where it goes. So is every one who has been born from the Breath." (18)

Nikodemos answered and said to him:

"How can these [things] be brought about?"

Iesous answered and said to him:

"Are you the Teacher of Israel and do not know these [things]? Amen, Amen, I say to you, That what we know, we speak, and what we have seen, we bear witness to; and our witness you do not receive. If I told you the [things] of the Earth, (19) and you did not gain intuition, how, if I tell you the [things] of the Sky, will you gain intuition? And no one has gone up into the Sky, unless he who came down out of the Sky — the Son of the Man, he who is (20) in the Sky. And as Moses raised on high the Snake in the desert, so shall the Son of the Man have to be raised on high, (21) that every one who gains intuition into him may not die, but have On-going (22) Life. For The God so loved the Kosmos that he gave his son, the Singly-generated, that every one who gains intuition into him may not die, but have On-going Life. For The God did not send his Son into the Kosmos that he might separate (23) the Kosmos, but that through him the Kosmos might be saved. (24) He who gains intuition into him is not separated; but he who does not gain intuition into him is separated already, in that he has not gained intuition into the Name of the Singly-generated Son of The God. And this separating is because the Light has come into the Kosmos, and the Men loved rather the Darkness than the Light, for their works (25) were useless. (26) For every one who practises worthless (27) [things] hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be brought to proof. But he who does the Truth comes to the Light, that his works may shine forth, for they have been accomplished in a God." (28)

FOOTNOTES:

1. Gr. arché, first cause, inherent principle of evolution as opposed to the primary elements (stoicheia), which are the first differentiations of the root-substance. It is the divine spirit of Life pulsating through Chaos, or Space. Considered as the kosmic matrix, or womb of the world, it was symbolized by the crescent moon (typical of female generative power), and by the ark, or ship of life, floating on the "Great Deep," or watery abyss of Space, and preserving the germs of all living things during the intervals between the periods of kosmic objectivity. (return to text)

2. Gr. logos, the external expression of the interior thought, and the thought itself; a saying, oracle, divine revelation; a "word" as the embodiment of an idea, but never in the grammatical sense as the mere name of a thing. The Vulgate mistranslates it Verbum, "Word"; but the Beza has Sermo, "Speech"; and Tertullian (Apol. c. xxi) gives Sermo atque Ratio "Speech and Reason." To render it in English as "Thought" would be misleading and in conflict with the context; for if The God (ho theos) be taken as synonymous with absolute mind (nous), then it could hardly be said that "the Thought was a God" (theos). The Logos must therefore be taken as the Receptive Mind which mirrors the ideas of the Absolute Mind. It is the Archetypal World, containing the Ideas or Souls of all things. The Logos and the Absolute Principle (arche) are the two aspects of the One. (return to text)

3. Gr. ho theos, probably from the older form Zeus — the Father of the Gods and of men; but still not Absolute Deity, the Unmanifested, which was called Sige, the Silence, and Buthos, the Abyss. The God is a collective term for all in the purely spiritual worlds. (return to text)

4. Gr. theos, without the definite article, in contrast with ho theos, The God. The distinction is clearly indicated also in the preceding phrase (which is emphatically repeated), "in relation to The God," pros ton theon, where the preposition pros — though commonly translated "with," out of deference to theological notions and in defiance of Greek — has somewhat of an adversative force; in fact, it would be good Greek for "in spite of The God," while the rendering "with God" is wholly unwarrantable. The conception in the text is unmistakably identical with that of Philo Judaeus, who speaks of the Logos as "the Second God" (De Somn., i, 655), and makes him the synthesis of all the piritual powers acting upon the Kosmos . Hermes Trismegistos also (quoted approvingly by Lactantius, Divin. Instit., iv. 6) calls the Logos "the Second God"; he moreover makes the same distinction between theos and ho theos, calling the Logos "a God," to distinguish him from The God. Justin Martyr held the same view, using the term "Second God." (return to text)

5. Gr. panta, all things; here used absolutely, all, the whole Kosmos. (return to text)

6. Gr. ginesthai, to become, to come into objective existence, to come out of the Eternal into Time, as contrasted with einai, to be. The God is boundless Duration, which neither is nor is not; the Logos is Time in the abstract, which eternally is; the Kosmos, in manifested Time, is ever becoming. Nothing is "created" or "made," but all things emanate from the Eternal Substance (ousia), and pass through the sphere of Transition (genesis) into the differentiated World (kosmos). (return to text)

7. Gr. zoe, life, as opposed to death. Life is also the Breath (pneuma). In kosmic manifestation it is the Solar energy, which visually is Light. The punctuation of the text as above is incontestably the correct one, having the support of a majority of the orthodox church fathers as well as of all the so-called "heretics." The punctuation which severs the words "that which became" (ho gegonen) from the sentence to which they belong, and joins them in a meaningless way to the preceding sentence, is a futile attempt to conceal the fact that Life (the Breath) is one of the Emanations that came into being in the Logos. Not only do all ancient authorities prove that the stop should be placed before ho gegonen but also the whole sense of the passage imperatively demands it. (return to text)

8. The Men are the twelve zodiacal signs — in the astronomical rendering — the twelve "Patriarchs" of the Old Testament; the twelve months of the year, whether a year of mortals, or the sidereal year of about 25,000 years, or a year of the Gods, the whole life-time of the kosmos. The zodiacal signs are alternately diurnal and nocturnal, making six periods of activity as days and nights. (return to text)

9. The principle of duality, of good and evil. Darkness is the chaotic element, that blind turbulent energy in matter which is the source of all "evil." The imagery in this passage is solar, referring to the ancient mythos of the dragon of darkness pursuing the sun to devour it, but never able to overtake it. he verb used, katalambanein, means to catch, to come upon, to overtake; in the middle voice it is used in the Epistles in the sense of apprehending mentally, but in the active voice, as here, it can not have that meaning. The word is used also in the passage, "Walk while you have the Light, so that Darkness may not overtake you." (ch. xii, v. 35). (return to text)

10. One who can retain in his physical consciousness the memory of things in the psychic and spiritual worlds is said to "bear witness" when he declares them to men who cannot so remember, to help revive their dormant psychic faculties. (return to text)

11. Gr. pisteuein, to trust in, to rely on, to have conviction; from pistis, assurance, good-faith, credit (in business affairs), a pledge, an argument, a proof; in a philosophic sense, certain knowledge based upon intuitive perception gained by correlating the physical body with the psychic. Those who had the faculty of pistis were called the psychics (psuchi-koi), as distinguished from the spiritually-regenerated men (pneumatikoi) on the one hand, and the carnal or earthy men (sarkikoi, cho'ikoi) on the other. While pistis is psychic knowledge rather than spiritual, it is by no means blind faith or unreasoning opinion. For lack of an English verb to convey its exact force, pisteuein is here translated "to gain intuition." (return to text)

12. Gr. alethinos, the real, as opposed to the apparent. At the beginning of each of the Life-Cycles there is an outshining of the Light, and a Messias (one anointed by the Breath) appears as the spiritual Teacher of mankind for that particular cycle. The cycle of Ioannes-Iesous (for the two are really one, the sycho-spiritual man) was that of the Sun in the sign Pisces, the Fishes. Microcosmically, Ioannes is the psychic or magnetic light which precedes, and prepares the way for, the True Light, the noetic or spiritual illumination. (return to text)

13. This word is left untranslated, as it as not even an approximate equivalent in English. Its primary meaning is "good order," and it is applied to anything having definite form or arrangement, from an ornament, or a fashion in dress, to the whole manifested universe. Chaos, or rather the primary matter it contains (hule, unwrought material) becomes, through the formative power of the Logos, the Kosmos or objective universe, each department of which is also a Kosmos or world in itself; hence the word applies to the suns and planets in space, to this earth, to humanity in general, and to individual man. (return to text)

14. Gr. archon, chief, captain; king; magistrate. (return to text)

15. Gr. anothen, from above; from the first, over again (but very rarely used in his sense). The sidereal body is said to be "born from above," that is, from the brain-centres; the physical body being "born from below." The Immortals are hoi ano, "those above," as distinguished from the mortals, who are hoi kato, "those below," and hoi nekroi, "the dead ones," meaning those incarnated in the dead forms (physical bodies), and also those in the nether-world or region of "ghosts" — men in the psychic body, whether the physical body is dead or in the sleeping state. Nikodemos, however, takes the word and then in the sense "over again," thus betraying his ignorance. Such word-plays are common in this Evangel; and Iesous is usually represented as speaking in a mystical way, while his listeners are made to appear very materialistic, understanding his words only in a crudely literal sense. (return to text)

16. Gr. basileia, royal power, dominion, rule; a kingdom, dominion, realm. (return to text)

17. Gr. phone, a tone, articulate sound; vowel sound (as opposed to that of consonants); voice, speech. The Breath as seven sounds (the "seven vowels" of the Gnostics) corresponding mystic ally to the seven planes of the sidereal world. These sounds are heard in succession by the mystic as the Breath wakens the seven brain-centres. They are also called "trumpet-calls" (salpinges) in the New Testament, the seventh heralding the new-birth or "resuscitation of the dead ones" (Cor.,
xv. 52; Rev., xi. 15 — xii. 1-2). (return to text)

18. Alluding to the mysterious coming and going of the Initiate in his Fire-body or "mayavi-rupa." (return to text)

19. Earth (gaia) is the lowest of the our subtile elements, and is the material aspect of the World-Soul; Sky (ouranos, the expanse of air) being the spiritual aspect. Gaia is therefore represented as the bride of Ouranos, the two standing for the psychic and spiritual worlds respectively. Fire (pneuma, the vital Breath) is an active principle; Water (hudor) is passive; Air (ouranos)is active, and Earth (gaia) passive. The "things of the Earth" (ta epigaia) are psychic; the "things of the Sky" (ta epourania ), sidereal. (return to text)

20. That is, whose real being is always in the higher realm, even when manifesting in the lower worlds. Even when incarnate, the "Son of the God " — the true Self of man — still exists independently, as before, in the infinitudes of Space. (return to text)

21. The snake on the cross symbolizes he spiral action of the Breath coiling about the cross in the brain. (return to text)

22. Gr. aion, a period of time; a manifestation of life in time, period of evolution; lifetime (from the Sanskrit root i, "to go," the concept of time being inseparable from that of motion, and time being measured by the motion of the heavenly bodies in space). The God alone is Eternal or Boundless Duration; everything manifested has limits in time and space. The highest aion is the lifetime of the manifested Universe, considered as a conscious divine being; and each evolutionary cycle — as the lifetime of the planetary system, of the earth, of a human race — is also an aion and collectively a being. The sidereal body (sonia pneumatikon) of man endures throughout the life-cycle of the Kosmos, and so after the mystic birth "from above" his consciousness is continuous throughout all the lesser cycles of reincarnations, racial periods, etc., which constitute the great On-going or day of the Gods. (return to text)

23. Gr. krinein, to separate, put asunder; to pick out, choose, distinguish; to decide, determine, judge.

24. Gr. sozesthai, to be kept alive, preserved, saved; to escape, get well; frequently used in the New Testament in the sense of "making whole," "healing." (return to text)

25. Gr. ergon, deed, work, action; employment; mental effort. In New Testament terminology, works (erga) are the labors of purification, by which the soul regains its freedom. (return to text)

26. Gr. poneros, unlucky, sorry, good-for-nothing; bad, knavish. (return to text)

27. Gr. phaulos, paltry, mean, trifling; habby, ugly; easy. The useless and worthless works are those that are performed from ignoble motives or selfish ends, and do not make for spiritual progress. The many (hoi polloi) who lead thoughtless lives, absorbed in the objects of the senses, and having no definite purpose, no knowledge of the realities of the inner life, are called "the useless ones" (hoi poneroi), "the worthless ones" (hoi phauloi), and even "the dead ones" (hoi nekroi), as contrasted with "the wise" (hoi sophoi) and "the perfect" (hoi teleioi), the purified men and the Initiates, who take conscious control of the forces of evolution and become co-workers with the divine principle in nature. The "useless ones" are simply the immature souls, of few incarnations and little experience; and the sense of positive "evil" does not attach to the term, nor is it one of reproach. (return to text)

28. That is, they are in harmony with the energies of the World-Soul, or God of this planet. (return to text)


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