Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

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Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

By G.R.S. Mead

Some Forgotten Sayings

IN the early centuries of Christianity there were in circulation many traditions, legends, and religious romances, called Memoirs, Acts, and Gospels, which contained Sayings-of-the-Lord or Logoi. These Logoi or Logia were oracles, or oracular utterances, couched in the same language and of much the same tenour as the prophetic utterances of the members of the Schools of the Prophets, which were introduced by the solemn formula, "Thus saith the Lord," when recorded in the books of the Old Covenant of the Jewish race.

In course of time certain of these traditional, legendary and mythical settings of the Logoi were declared to be alone historical, and a canon of orthodox tradition was evolved from the second half of the second century onwards. I use the term "mythical" in its best sense, that is to say, stories embodying in a designed symbolic fashion the teachings of the mysteries, concerning the nature of God, the universe and the human soul.

As only a few out of the many writings were selected, a large number of Logoi was thus rejected. Rejected Logoi.The latest collection of these rejected Logoi has been made by Resell, and was published in 1889 in Gebhardt and Harnack's series of Texte und Untersuchungen, under the title of Agrapha: Äussercanonische Evangelienfragmente.

Some of these extra-canonical fragments are variants of the familiar canonical Sayings, and are of interest mainly for the reconstruction of one of the root-sources from which the synoptic compilers drew their information. A few have been preserved in the Pauline Letters. Others are entirely unfamiliar to those who are only acquainted with the canonical selection of the books of the New Covenant, generally called the New Testament. These Logoi are of special interest to students of the origins, and I therefore append a selection of them translated from Resch's text.

It may be mentioned that some of these Logoi have been worked into a religious novel by a Jewish writer, under the title As Others Saw Him, published in 1895, at London, by William Heinemann.


Be merciful that ye may obtain mercy; forgive that it may be forgiven unto you; as ye do so shall it be done to you; as ye give so shall it be given unto you; as ye judge so shall ye be judged; as ye do service so shall service be done to you; with what measure ye mete, with the same shall it be measured to you in return.

Wisdom sendeth forth her children.

He who is near Me is near the fire; and he who is far from Me is far from the kingdom.

If ye observe not the little [sci., mystery], who will give you the great?

They who would see Me and reach My kingdom need must attain Me with pain and suffering.

Good must needs come, but blessed is he by whom it cometh; in like manner also evil must needs come, but woe unto him by whom it cometh.

The weak shall be saved by the strong.

Guard the mysteries for Me and for the sons of My house.

Cleave to the holy ones, for they who cleave to them are made holy.

The fashion of this world passeth away.

[Fashion--that is, configuration (σχ?μα), for there are other worlds and other phases of this world].

As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup make proclamation of My death and confession in My resurrection and ascension until I come [to you].

[A variant gives the saying in the third person, and speaks of the "death of the Son of the Man," the Logos. The Master promises to return to His disciples at the time of the performance of a certain holy rite.]

Be ye mindful of faith and hope, through whom is born that love to God and man which giveth life eternal.

There is a mingling that leadeth to death, and there is a mingling that leadeth to life.

Beholding a certain man working on the Sabbath., He said unto him: Man, if thou knowest what thou doest thou art blessed; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the law.

Why do ye wonder at the signs? I give unto you a mighty inheritance which the whole world doth not contain.

When the Lord was asked by a certain man, When should His kingdom come, He saith unto him: When two shall be one, and the without as the within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female.

Call not any one "Father" on earth, for on earth there are rulers [only]; in heaven is the Father from whom is every descent [that is, "blood descent from a father" (πατρι?)] both in heaven and on earth.

Grieve not the Holy Spirit which is in you, and put not out the Light which hath shone forth in you.

As ye see yourselves in water or mirror, so see ye Me in yourselves.

As I find you, so will I judge you.

Seek for the great [mysteries] and the little shall be added to you; seek for the heavenly and the earthly shall be added to you.

Be ye approved money-changers, rejecting the bad and retaining the good.

Keep thy flesh pure.

Because of the sick I was sick; because of the hungry I was ahungered; because of the thirsty I was athirst.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, or fist for fist, or curse for curse.

Love hideth a multitude of sins.

There are false christs and false teachers who have blasphemed the Spirit of Grace, and have spit forth its gift of grace; these shall not be forgiven either in this æon or in the æon to come.

[Grace is the "power above," the power of the Logos which makes a man a "christ." Charis or Grace is the consort of the Logos, His power or shakti. The false "christs" are those who have been "initiated" and broken their vows. The æon is a certain time-period.]

For the Heavenly Father willeth the repentance of the sinner rather than his chastisement.

For God willeth that all should receive of His gifts.

Keep that which thou hast, and it shall be increased into more.

Behold, I make the last as the first.

I am come to end the sacrifices, and if ye cease not from sacrificing, the wrath shall not cease from you.

[Woe unto him] who hath made sad the spirit of his brother.

And never rejoice unless ye see your brother [also] happy.

He who hath wondered shall reign, and he who hath reigned shall rest.

[This is a dark saying; it has been compared to the phrase of Plato: "There is no other beginning of philosophy than wondering"--that is to say, regarding the works of the Deity with wonder and reverence. This is the beginning of philosophy, or gnosis, and the end of it makes the man king of himself, and thus master of gods and men; thus is he at peace.]

My mother, the Holy Spirit, even now took me by one of the hairs of my head and carried me to the great mountain Tabor.

[The hairs of the head may perhaps symbolise the nadi's, as they are called in the Upanishads, by which the soul goes forth from the body; the mountain is the way up to the spiritual regions.]

He who seeketh me shall find me in children from seven years [onwards]; for hidden in them I am manifested in the fourteenth period (æon).

[This may refer either to the higher ego or light-spark from the Logos, or to certain degrees of initiation, the initiated having to become as "little children."]

When Salome asked how long should death hold sway, the Lord said unto her: So long as ye women bring forth; for I came to end the works of the female. And Salome said unto Him: I have then done well in not bringing forth. And the Lord answered and said: Eat of every pasture, but of that which hath the bitterness [of death] eat not. And when Salome asked when should those things of which she enquired be known, the Lord said: When ye shall tread upon the vesture of shame, and when the two shall be one, and the male with the female neither male nor female.

["Shame" is presumably the same as the "mingling" in one of the Logoi quoted above. To tread on the vesture of shame is to rise above the animal nature.]

Pray for your enemies; blessed are they who mourn over the destruction of the unbelievers.

I stood on a lofty mountain, and saw a gigantic man and another, a dwarf; and I heard as it were a voice of thunder, and drew nigh for to hear; and He spake unto me and said, I am thou and thou art I; and wheresoever thou mayst be I am there. In all am I scattered, and whencesoever thou wiliest, thou gatherest Me; and gathering Me thou gatherest Thyself.

[Here again we have the mountain of initiation. The initiate beholds the vision of the Heavenly Man, the Logos, and of himself, the dwarf; of the Great Man and the little man, the light-spark which sits in the heart.]

May thy Holy Spirit come upon us and purify us [From a very ancient version of the Lord's Prayer, instead of the clause "Thy kingdom come."]

Possess nothing upon the earth.

Though ye be gathered together with me in My bosom, if ye do not My commandments, I will cast you forth.

Gain for yourselves, ye sons of Adam, by means of these transitory things which are not yours, that which is your own, and passeth not away.

For even among the prophets after they have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, the word of sin has been found among them.

[That is to say, after they have been made "christs" (μετ? τ? χρισθ?ναι α?το?ς ?ν πνε?ματι ?γ??). The "word of sin" means apparently erroneous prophetical utterances.]

If a man shall abandon all for my name's sake, at the second coming he shall inherit eternal life.

["For my name's sake" signifies the power of the Great Name which the Master used in his public preaching; the second coming is the descent of the Christ-spirit upon the candidate at his initiation. "Eternal life" is the life of the æons or spiritual existences, whose lives are an eternity.]

If ye make not the below into the above and the above into the below, the right into the left and the left into the right, the before into the behind [and the behind into the before], ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God.

[That is to say, ye shall not enter into the central point and so pass into the spiritual region.]

I am to be crucified anew.

I recognised myself, and gathered myself together from all sides; I sowed no children for the ruler, but I tore up his roots, and gathered together [my] limbs that were scattered abroad; I know thee who thou art, for I am front the realms above.

[This is the apology, or defence, of the soul of the initiate as it passes through the realms of the unseen world, each of which is in charge of a ruler, the minister of Death. As the Logos gathers together his children (the light-sparks, the limbs of his body), and takes them home into his bosom, so does the ego collect its limbs and becomes the Osirified.]

What ye preach with words before the people, do ye in deeds before every man.

Thou art the key [who openest] for every man, and shuttest for every man.

[This saying is put in the mouth of the disciples; in the direct formula it would read, "I am the key," &c.]

The Oxyrhynchus Papyrus.Numerous other Logoi could be added from Gnostic literature, especially from the contents of the Coptic Codices; but enough has been given to show the reader that much of the Sayings-material has been rejected and forgotten. How precious some of this matter was, has been lately shown by a recent discovery. The ancient papyrus-fragment discovered on the site of Oxyrhynchus by Grenfell and Hunt, in 1897, preserves for us the most primitive form of the Logoi known to us. Of the six decipherable Sayings it contains, one is familiar to us, two contain new matter and important variants, and three are entirely new. If the proportion of now unknown to known sayings was as high in the rest of the MS. as in the solitary leaf which has reached us, then we have indeed lost more by the Canon than we have gained.

The new-found Sayings run as follows, omitting the one already familiar to us:

Jesus saith: Except ye fast to the world, ye shall in no wise find the Kingdom of God; and except ye sabbatize the Sabbath, ye shall not see the Father.

Jesus saith: I stood in the midst of the world, and in flesh was I seen of them, and I found all drunken, and none found I athirst among them. And My soul grieveth over the souls of men, because they are blind in their heart and see not. . . .

Jesus saith: Wheresoever there be two, they are not without God; and wherever there is one alone, I say, I am with him. Raise the stone, and there thou shalt find Me; cleave the wood, and there am I.

[The first part of this saying is exceedingly imperfect; I have followed Blass's conjectures. See Taylor's Oxyrhynchus Logia, Oxford; 1899].

Jesus saith: A prophet is not acceptable in his own country, neither doth a physician work cures upon those that know him.

Jesus saith: A city built on the top of a high hill and stablished can neither fall nor be hid.

Jesus saith: Thou hearest with one ear (but the other thou hast closed).

Since the publication of the first edition of this work the rubbish heaps of ancient Oxyrhynchus have yielded yet another battered scrap of papyrus containing material from a similar collection of sayings, the decipherable portions of which run as follows in Grenfell & Hunt's edition (New Sayings of Jesus; London, 1904):

These are the . . . words which Jesus the Living (One) spake to . . . and Thomas, and He said unto (them): Every one who hearkeneth to these words shall never taste of death.

Jesus saith: Let not him who seeketh . . . cease until he findeth, and when he findeth he shall wonder; wondering he shall reign, and reigning shall rest.

Jesus saith: (Ye ask? Who are these) that draw us (to the kingdom if) the kingdom is in Heaven? . . . the fowls of the air, and all beasts that are under the earth or upon the earth, and the fishes of the sea (these are they that draw) you; and the Kingdom of Heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it. (Strive therefore?) to know yourselves, and ye shall be aware that ye are the sons of the . . . Father; (and?) ye shall know that ye are in (the City of God?), and ye are (the City?).

Jesus saith: Everything that is not before thy face and that which is hidden from thee shall be revealed to thee. For there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest, nor buried which shall not be raised.



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