Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

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Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

By G.R.S. Mead

A few Sentences preserved in the Controversial Matter of Clement

The "elect race," the third Sonship of Basilides, has incarnated here for the abolition of "death,"The Face of God. the domain of the Ruler of the phenomenal world, the sa?sara of the Buddhist and Indian philosophers, the realm of the "ever-becoming" of Plato. This Ruler is the God of the Old Testament. "No man shall see the face of God and live." This is the face of death, but there is also a face of life, concerning which Valentinus writes:

"As far removed as is the [dead image] from the living face, so far is the [phenomenal] world removed from the living æon [the noumenal]. What then is the cause of the image? The majesty of the [living] face, [or person,] which exhibits the type [of the universe] to the painter, and in order that it [the universe] may be honoured by its name [--the name or real being of the majesty of the godhead]. For it is not the authentic [or absolute] nature which is found in the form; it is the name which completes the deficiency in the confection. The invisible nature of deity co-operates so as to induce faith in that which has been fashioned."

Here we have the same idea as in Fragment i., and presumably it was taken from the same Letter. The "painter" is of course the user of the creative forces of the phenomenal world, who copies from the types or ideas in the noumenal world of reality. He whom the Jews called God and Father, was said by Valentinus to be the "image and prophet of the true God," the word prophet meaning one who speaks for and interprets. The "image" is the work of Sophia or Wisdom, who is the "painter" who transfers the types from the noumenal spaces on to the canvas of the phenomenal world, and the "true God" or the "God of truth" is the creator of the noumenal world, which contains the types of all things. He is the god of life; the "image" is the god of death.

"All things that come forth from a pair [or syzygy] are fullnesses (pleromata), but all which proceed from a single [æon] are images."

This will be explained later on; it refers to the "fall" of Sophia from the æon-world, whereby the phenomenal universe came into existence.

The remarks of Clement which immediately follow are almost unintelligible; they deal with the coming of the "excellent" spirit, the infusion of the light-spark into man.



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