Why did Sethian gnostic authors write pseudonymously? In addition to making a claim to authority, gnostic pseudepigraphy, exemplified by The Three Tablets of Seth, was multiple and performative, implying that the self is multiple—a manifestation of selfhood at different levels of a single reality—and that performing one’s self as multiple provides a path to higher knowledge of one’s self and thus of God. That is, gnostic pseudonymity stems from a distinctive understanding of the self and functions as a mystical practice that performs that understanding. The eschewal of pseudonymity in Valentinian literature reflects different conceptions of the self and of the path to gnosis.
KingKaren L., '“ ‘What is an Author?’: Ancient Author-Function in The Apocryphon of John and The Apocalypse of John”', in William Arnal(ed), A Share in All Good Things: Essays in Honour of John S. Kloppenborg, (Peeters, LeuvenForthcoming).
SchenkeHans-Martin, '“The Phenomenon and Significance of Gnostic Sethianism”', in Bentley Layton(ed), The Rediscovery of Gnosticism: Proceedings of the International Conference on Gnosticism at Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, March 28–31, 1978, (Brill, Leiden1981) 588-616.
ThomassenEinar, '“Notes pour la délimitation d’un corpus valentinien à Nag Hammadi”', in Louis Painchaud and Anne Pasquier(eds), Les textes de Nag Hammadi et le problème de leur classification, (Les Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec1995) 243-259.
Ehrman 2012; cf. Brakke2016. I presented earlier versions of this paper at meetings of the the Center for the Study of Religion at The Ohio State University; the Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity Section of the Society of Biblical Literature; and, originally, the North American Patristics Society in honor of James E. Goehring upon his retirement from Mary Washington University. I am grateful to Professor Goehring and to the other participants in those sessions for their questions and suggestions.
Wekel1975, 572. His translation leaves numerous spaces between sense units or paragraphs, but provides no structural analysis beyond differentiating the three tablets and the introductory and concluding elements.