Friday, October 24, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 10-24-08

Give me your mercy!
O my savior,
save me, for I am yours!
I came from you.
You are my mind.
Bring me forth!
You are my treasury.
Open for me!
You are my fullness.
Take me to you!
You are rest.
Give me what is perfect,
what cannot be grasped!

Prayer of Paul A.3-10 (a Valentinian second century prayer)

Commentary: Now go back and read 2 Corinthians 4:1-18 (in Greek if you are able). I posted a translation of part of this passage yesterday which was correctly identified by Jim Deardorff. What do you make of it now? By the way, I was not thinking about this Valentinian prayer when I posted the entry yesterday. I posted it because it came up in my mysticism seminar since we were discussing Paul and mysticism. Today I thought that we needed a prayer so I decided to pull out this Valentinian text. And wow, as I translated it was I surprised to see 2 Corinthians 4 invoked! These little coincidences always make me wonder...


R.Eagle said...

Sounds like a mystical experience :-) both the poem and this "little coincidence".

Bob MacDonald said...

It reminds me of Donne's Batter my heart - Maybe Donne had read this quote.

Sorry for no comments on this interesting topic - but words await their birth at their own time.

Jim Deardorff said...

I don't see any real dependence of the Prayer upon 2 Cor, just religious similarity.

Is it known how this prayer got named The Prayer of Paul the Apostle? Its first two lines were missing. Does that mean any title or title page was missing also? Is it likely that someone other than Valentinus named it?

Br. Jay said...

What a beautiful prayer! Thank you for sharing this translation!

pearl said...

Jim, the actual author is unknown, but the prayer was used by Valentinians. It appeared in the Nag Hammadi findings on the flyleaf of Codex I, which contains Valentinian texts.

So, even without this prayer, would it be accurate to also view the previous quote from 2 Corinthians 4 in light of Valentinian exegesis? Sure. Elaine Pagels, for one, has written about that. The “god of the aeons” might be seen as the Valentinian demiurge, as well as other suggestions offered in the previous thread, such as “God” or “Satan”. Whether or not justifiable, Paul was claimed by different groups. Regardless of Paul’s intent, he appears to be quite the chameleon. For instance, Paul shows up not only in the Bible canon, but also as apostolic authority for the Valentinians, who claimed that Valentinus was taught by Theudas, who in turn was said to be a student of Paul.

R. Eagle, you mention mystical experience. Both quotes offered by Dr. DeConick emphasize “mind”. In fact, 2 Cor 4 shows the unbelievers’ blinded minds as keeping them from seeing the light. There appears to be a highly cognitive element in this experience. I’m curious how much of mystical experience would even involve the sensible, reactive world. On the other hand, I’ve heard some modern popular renditions of mystical experience to involve an unthinking experience, which doesn’t seem to fit here.

R.Eagle said...

Thank you, Pearl.

I really enjoyed hearing about Paul's connection to the Valentinian work by way of Theudas. Very cool to know! But who is Theudas? The only reference I find in the Bible to this name must be referring to someone else.

As for your mystical explanations, I would have to say that both of your descriptions seem to concur with my own experience.

So, thank you.

Bob MacDonald said...

I think there are considerable hints in the NT of the somatic experience of the Spirit of Christ - besides the resurrection appearances. Romans 8 is very clear on the Spirit giving life to our mortal bodies, and Hebrews 6 lists 5 specific items - most of which do not have to be thought of as mental, cerebral, intellectual, or 'mind' based.

been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and known the Spirit, and tasted the goodness of the Word of God, and known the powers of the age to come...

tasting and knowing are potentially more than insubstantial pageant fading and leaving not a wrack behind

Most people seem to be thinking on a mental or cerebral level only but our creed says - of the body - making God somatically present through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whatever this is, it is not need 'to be seen' solely a matter of imagination - but of at least potential physical impact on our actions, thoughts, and somatic responses - I would class it with the experience intimated by the psalmist in Psalm 34.

Blind is as blind does - I am not sure we need a causative 'god of this world' agent, though as Wormwood reminds us, this is one of Screwtape's best deceptions - making himself invisible.

pearl said...

You’re welcome, R. Eagle. I don’t know much more about Theudas. Perhaps others do.

Bob, certainly how spirit is manifested could be a lively discussion. I was only commenting on what appears to be a Platonizing influence within the particular quotes provided. If you can get hold of a copy of The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels, you will find an interesting Valentinian interpretation of 2 Cor 4 (pages 97-98) that also directly addresses the somatic aspect in relation to “psychics” and the “elect”.

Also to note, when you mention “our creed,” I assume you are referring to your personal Christian creed. Obviously, a blog entitled “The Forbidden Gospels Blog” is bound to attract readers coming from varied backgrounds.

Bob MacDonald said...

You are quite right - 'our' creed was a typo - unless I meant it exclusively or generically - neither of which is true at the moment.

Bob MacDonald said...

April - what language is the quote in? Many mss witnesses or is it unique? Do you think Donne might have known it? Here's his poem:
BATTER my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.