“I Turned away from the Temple”: Sethian Counterculture in the Apocryphon of John

In: Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies
Grant Adamson Rice University

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In the myth as well as the frame story of the Apocryphon of John, Sethian conflict with others is narrativized. For instance, Adam and Eve withdraw from the biblical creator just as John turns away from the temple in Jerusalem after an altercation with a Jewish antagonist. The gnostic authors of the text portrayed the creator so negatively that he is incomparable with most demiurgic figures in Platonism, Judaism, and Christianity. Their ignorant, boastful, jealous and apostate Ialdabaoth was shocking to their ancient opponents. And for modern scholars, this countercultural vilification of the creator makes it difficult to categorize the authors of the apocryphon in Platonic, Jewish, or Christian terms.

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