A Poem found in the Nag Hammadi collection in 1945, dated variously between 1st and 4th centuries. Written with a female narrator who sometimes identifies herself as male, using paradox similar to Zen koans, a sort of poetic riddle. It falls into a category of Ancient Greek poetry called aretalogy where the deity is described in the first person, identified in this instance variously as Eve, Isis or Sophia. But the poem also subverts this tradition by describing messy, chaotic, painful divinity.
The gnosticism exemplified by this text then, is transcendental, syncretic, and hortatory. It is transcendent in that it looks at the world and insists that there is a larger reality beyond what we see as separate, discrete things. It is syncretic in that it uses three distinct literary styles to get across its point. These three texts may have been actual texts on their own before incorporation into this text, or they may not. They fit so smoothly into each other in terms of subject continuity that were they originally distinct texts, they must have been revised for the purpose. The authors are hortatory as opposed to imperative in that they say that if you come to their idea of unity, then you will be less confused by the complexity of the world. If you do not, then you will stick to all those pleasant forms of passions and fleeting pleasures, and simply not achieve peace. They do not threaten any punishment for ignorance, only a perpetuation of a potentially temporary confusion.
The Thunder: Perfect Mind
Translation from ~ http://www.perankhgroup.com/thunder.htm
(Note the dots represent missing gaps in the one copy of the poem, which is in Coptic)
I was sent forth through the power
and I have come to those who contemplate me:
I was found by those who sought after me.
Look upon me, you who contemplate me
and you listeners, listen to me.
Those of you who pay heed to me, take me to yourselves.
And do not banish me from your sight,
and do not cause your voice to imprecate me, or your hearing.
Do not be ignorant of me (in) any place or (in) any time.
Do not be ignorant of me.
For I am the first and the last:
I am the one who is honoured and the one who is scorned.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren woman whose sons are many.
I am she of many weddings and I did not take a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labour pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom
and my man is the one who begot me.
I am the mother of my father,
and the sister of my man and he is my offspring.
I am the servant of he who prepared me.
I am the mistress of my offspring:
but he is the one who begot me,
prematurely, on a day of birth.
And in time he is my offspring
and my power is from him.
I am the staff of his power throughout his youth,
and he is the staff of my old age.
And that which he wishes befalls me.
I am the silence that cannot be apprehended
and the idea that is often remembered.
I am the sound of the manifold voice,
and the word of many aspects.
I am the story: (I am) my name.
Those who hate me–why do you love me
and (yet) hate those who love me?
Those who deny me, confess me,
and those who confess me deny me.
Those who speak truth of me, lie about me,
and those who lied about me, tell the truth about me.
Those who understand me, be ignorant of me.
And those who do not know me, let them know me.
For I am the Gnosis and the ignorance.
I am reticence and loquaciousness.
I am without shame, I am modest.
I am assurance and I am fear.
I am war and peace.
Observe me: I am the one who is condemned
and the (one who is) great.
Observe my poverty and my wealth.
Do not be arrogant with me when I am cast out upon the earth,
and you shall find me among those who are coming,
and do not view me on the dung-heap–
do not go, do not leave me then, abandoned,
and you shall find me in the dominions.
Nor view me abandoned among those who are condemned
and in the inferior places.
Do not mock me nor cast me down among those brutally slain.
But I, I am merciful and I am cruel.
Do not loath my obedience and my self-control do not love.
In my weakness do not forsake me,
and do not be afraid of my power.
For why are you contemptuous of my fear and curse my pride?
But I am she who exists in all fears,
and the security in insecurity.
I am she who is weak and am made whole in a voluptuous place.
I am foolish and I am wise.
Why have you hated me in your counsels–
that I shall be silent among those who are silent?
I shall appear and speak.
Why then have hated me?
Because I am a barbarian among barbarians?
For I am the Sophia of the Knowledge.
I am the judgement of the of the barbarians.
I am the one whose image is great in Egypt
and the one who has no image among the barbarians.
I am the one who has been hated and loved in every place.
I am the one called Life whom you called Death.
I am the one called Law whom you called Anarchy.
I am the one whom you have pursued and
I am the one whom you have grasped.
I am the one whom you have scattered and you have collected together.
I am the one before whom you have been ashamed,
and you have been shameless to me.
I am she who does not keep festival, and
I am she whose festivals are many.
I, I am godless, and
I am the one whose God is many.
I am the one whom you have reflected upon,
and you have scorned me.
I am unlearned, yet they learn from me.
I am the one whom you have despised and you reflect upon me.
I am the one whom you have hidden from,
and you appear to me.
But whenever you hide yourselves, I myself shall appear.
For whenever you [appear], I myself [shall be hidden] to you.
Those who have […] by means of it
[…] in senselessness […]
Take me […] understanding through suffering,
and bear me to yourselves through understanding and suffering.
And bear me to yourselves from ugly places which are in ruin
and seize from those even in disgrace.
Out of shame accept me unto yourselves shamelessly;
and out of shamelessness and shame,
indict the parts of my being in yourselves,
and come into myself, those who (thus) know me,
and those who know the parts of my being,
and establish the great with the small first creatures.
Come to childhood and do not abhor it
because it is small and it is little.
And do not turn away greatnesses in some portions from the smallnesses,
for the smallnesses are known from the greatnesses.
Why do you curse me and esteem me?
You have wounded and you have had pity.
Do not separate me from the first ones you have known
and do not cast anyone out, nor reject anyone
[…] [nor] return without knowing it.
[…] that which is mine.
It is I who knows the first ones and their descendants know me.
But I am the Nous of the Promodial Time[…]
and the repose of […]
I am the Gnosis of my quest,
and the discovery of those who seek after me,
and the command of those who ask of me
and the power of the powers in my Gnosis with the angels,
they who have been sent by my word
and the gods in their aeons by my design,
and the spirit of each man existing with me,
and of women existing within me.
I am the one who is honoured and who is praised,
and who is despised scornfully.
I am peace and war comes to be because of me.
And I am a foreigner and a citizen.
I am the substance and the one who has no substance.
Those who exist together in my being are ignorant of me;
and those who exist in my substance are the ones who know me.
Those who have drawn near to me became ignorant of me,
and those far beyond me are the ones who have known me.
On the day I draw near to [you (pl)]; [you] are far beyond [me,
and] on the day when I [am far beyond] you [I draw near] to you.
[I am] […] within.
[I am] […] the inborn qualities.
[I am] the foundation of the spirits.
[I am] that which is asked for by the souls.
I am restraint and unrestraint.
I am in harmony with the dissolution.
I am the abiding and I am the dissolution.
I am the one below, and they come up to me.
I am the judgement and the forgiveness.
I, I am sinless and the root of sin comes from within me.
I am lust in (outward) appearance and abstinence exists within me.
I am the utterance attainable to everyone
and the speech which cannot be grasped.
I am a mute who does not speak,
and great is my multitude of words.
Hear me in weakness, and be instructed by me in strength.
I am she who cries out and I am cast forth upon the face of the earth.
It is I who prepares the bread and my mind inside.
I am the Gnosis of my name.
I am the one who cries out, and it is I who listens.
I appear and walk in a […]
seal of my […][…][…]
I am attacker and the defence.
I am the one who is called “the Truth,” and “Iniquity” […]
You esteem me and you whisper against me.
Those who are victorious, judge them before they pass judgement upon you,
for discernment and partiality exists in you.
If you are condemned in this way, who shall forgive you?
Or, if you are forgiven through this, who shall be able to control you?
For what is within you is that which is outside you,
and the one who fashioned you on the outside
(also) shaped the inside of you,
and that which you see on the exterior
you see on the interior: it is revealed and is your garment.
Hear me you auditors,
and learn from my words those who know me.
I am the hearing that is attainable to everything,
I am the speech which cannot be grasped.
I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name.
I am the sign of the letter
and the manifestation of the division.
And I (lines 1-3 missing) […] the light
[…] and […] auditors […] to you […]
[…] the great power and the […] shall not move the name
[…] to the one who created me.
I, however, shall speak his name.
Look then at his words and all the writings which have been completed.
Give heed then you auditors and for your part, the angels,
and those who have been sent,
and the spirits who have arisen from the dead…
that I am the one who exists alone,
and I do not have anyone to judge me.
For many are the delightful forms which exist in numerous sins,
and libertinisms, and condemned passions,
and transitory pleasures which are grasped until they become sober,
and they ascend to their resting-place
and they shall find me in that place,
and they shall live,
and they shall not die again.
Another possible translation by George W MacRae Source ~ http://gnosis.org/naghamm/thunder.html