Pseudo-Priscillian and the Gospel of Truth

in Vigiliae Christianae
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


A treatise On the Trinity, once ascribed to Priscillian of Avila, but now more commonly held to be the work of a disciple, quotes the aphorism “the name of the Father is the Son” as an apostolic saying. In fact it appears to be a quotation of the Gospel of Truth, affinities to which are also visible in the teaching of this treatise on the procession of the Word from the Father, the role of the Holy Spirit in this procession, the universal bondage of the human race in oblivion, the revelation of the Father’s face to the elect, and the common brotherhood of the elect with Christ. After noting a further affinity between the Gospel of Truth and another Priscillianist writing, the article concludes with some reflections on the use of apocryphal literature in the fourth century by authors whose theology was in most respects orthodox.

Pseudo-Priscillian and the Gospel of Truth

in Vigiliae Christianae




See H. ChadwickPriscillian of Avila: The Occult and the Charismatic in the Early Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press1976) 110-169.


On Adam Enoch and Noah see Conti (2010) 82-85.


Conti (2010) 232-234.


Conti (2010) 234.


On the title see B. Standaert“ ‘Evangelium Veritatis’ et ‘veritatis evangelium’: La question du titre et les témoins patristiques”Vigiliae Christianae 30 (1976) 138-150. For criticism of the prevailing opinion see C. Markschies Valentinus Gnosticus. Untersuchungen zur valentinianischen Gnosis mit einem Kommentar zu den Fragmenten Valentins (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1992) 339-356.


An error shared by AugustineTractates on John 38.4.


TatianOration 5; Theophilus of Antioch To Autolycus 2.10; Tertullian Apology 19 and Against Praxeas 5.


Conti (2010) 214.


IgnatiusMagnesians 8.2. J.B. Lightfoot Ignatius and Polycarp vol. 2 (London: Macmillan 1890) argues that the reading “from silence” rather than the ms “not from silence” should be upheld because it has better external support and is more harmonious with the doctrine of other letters in the corpus. See also W.R. Schoedel A Commentary on the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1985) 120-122. T.D. Barnes “The Date of Ignatius” Expository Times (2010) 105-118 employs familiar arguments in favour of “not from silence” but does not address the equally familiar counter-arguments.


IrenaeusAgainst Heresies 1.1-2.


See M.J. Edwards“Ignatius and the Second Century: An Answer to R. Hübner”Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 2 (1998) 214-225.


AthanasiusAgainst the Arians 2.1; Marius Victorinus Against the Arians 1.58 p. 93 Locher.


Conti (2010) 214.


Conti (2010) 214 punctuates as follows: spiritus sancti ore prolatum est verbum opus sequitur; but it seems to me that prolatum requires a subject.


Conti (2010) 215 has “it performs the duty of both the mouth and the voice”; but impletur is passive.


Conti (2010) 236. Cf. John 14.8.


Conti (2010) 244. Conti’s translation “fear our oblivion” is intended I believe to convey this sense although his use of the English noun is unidiomatic and he omits to translate the possessive pronoun.


Conti (2010) 212 translates: “In addition it is necessary that the argument of the one who sees should be evident in the Son; the apostle says that Our God and saviour knew with God that ‘he was the firstborn among many brothers’ and as a prophet showing in himself the person of the Lord” etc. But (a) he is taking argumentum as the object of opus despite the fact that opus (in the sense of “need”) takes the more correct ablative in the previous sentence; (b) he has translated apostolo as if it were a nominative; (c) a full stop is necessary after dicit since otherwise the following clause (built round the verb appellat) will be anacolouthic.


AthanasiusAgainst the Arians 2.62; Macarius of Egypt Homily 16.8; John Chrysostom Homilies on John 46.3.


Conti (2010) 254.


Luke 3.38. Cf. OrigenHomilies on Numbers 27.3 p. 260 in the edition of W. Baehrens (Leipzig: Hinrichs 1921).


V. BurrusThe Making of a Heretic: Gender Authority and the Priscillianist Controversy (Berkeley: University of California Press1995) 18-21.


Cyril of JerusalemCatechetical Homilies 6.36; Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on John 5.4 in Patrologia Graeca 73 651a. Both juxtapose this adage with 1Thessalonians 5.21 and Cyril of Alexandria ascribes it to Paul himself. Perhaps the Priscillianist has been misled by a subconscious recollection of Philippians 2.9.


GelasiusChurch History 2.17.17 p. 54.24 in the edition of G.C. Hansen (Berlin: De Gruyter 2002).


A.S. Jacobs“The Disorder of Books: Priscillian’s Canonical Defense of Apocrypha”Harvard Theological Review 93 (2000) 135-159 adduces this text as evidence that the canon was not so rigid in the fourth century as is commonly supposed. See also V. Burrus “Canonical References to Extra-Canonical ‘Texts’: Priscillian’s Defense of the Apocrypha” in D.J. Lull (ed.) Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers (Atlanta: sbl 1990) 60-67.


See TertullianOn Fasting 1.1; J. Konstantinovsky Evagrius: The Making of a Christian Gnostic (Farnham Surrey: Ashgate 2009).


TertullianAgainst Praxeas 8.1.


Pacianus of BarcelonaLetters 1.4 and 2.2 in Écrits ed. C. Granado (Paris: Cerf 1995) 174 and 188.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 27 27 15
Full Text Views 83 83 61
PDF Downloads 5 5 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0