The Apocryphon, or "Secrets" of John forms the cornerstone of Gnostic mythology and cosmology. In this text we are introduced to the major entities of creation and lordship. We learn how the universe, including earth and man, came into being. The origin of evil, the creator god, and the material world are explained in detail. The story seems to be a mixture of various belief systems, including those of Plato, who seems to have borrowed freely from the format of Greek mythology, and Christianity. The story is loosely based on Genesis chapters one through 13 as a timeline.
The basic text of the Apocryphon of John existed in some form before 185 C.E. when a book called the Apocryphon of John was referred to by Irenaeus in his book, Against Heresies (Adversus Haereses), written in that year. Irenaeus reported about the Gnostic texts saying that teachers in second century Christian communities were writing their own books to gain converts. He called these books, "an indescribable number of secret and illegitimate writings, which they themselves have forged, to bewilder the minds of foolish people, who are ignorant of the true scriptures" (A.H. 1.20.1)
The Apocryphon of John continued to be circulated, expanded, and embellished for the next 700 years. The document was reportedly in use during the eighth century by the Audians of Mesopotamia.
©2012 Joseph Lumpkin (P)2017 Joseph Lumpkin