an ancient Gnostic text
When I was a little child
and dwelling in my kingdom,
in my father's house, and was content with the wealth and the
of my nourishers,
from the East, our home,
my parents equipped me
(and) sent me forth;
and of the wealth of our treasury
abundantly, (and) tied up for me a load
large and (yet) light, which
I myself could carry,
gold of Beth-Ellaya,
and silver of Gazak the
and rubies of India,
and agates from Beth-Kashan,
they furnished me with the adamant,
which can crush iron.
took off from me the glittering robe,
which in their affection they
made for me,
and the purple toga,
which was measured (and) woven
to my stature.
And they made a compact with me,
and wrote it in
my heart, that it might not be forgotten:
"If you go down into
and bring the one pearl,
which is in the midst of the sea
around the loud-breathing serpent,
you shall put on your glittering
and your toga, with which (your art) contented,
and with your
brother, who is next to us in authority,
you shall be heir in our kingdom."
I quitted the East (and) went down,
there being two guardians,
for the way was dangerous and difficult,
and I was very young to
I passed through the borders of Maishan,
of the merchants of the East,
and I reached the land of Babel,
I entered the walls of Sarbug.
I went down into Egypt,
and my companions
parted from me.
I went straight to the serpent,
I dwelt in his abode,
(waiting) till he should lumber and sleep,
and I could take my pearl
And when I was single and alone
(and) became strange to
one of my race, a free-born man,
and Oriental, I saw
a youth fair and loveable,
the son of oil-sellers;
he came and attached himself to me,
and I made him my intimate friend,
and associate with whom I shared my merchandise.
I warned him against
and against consorting with the unclean;
And I dressed
in their dress,
that they might not hold me in abhorrence,
I was come from abroad in order to take the pearl,
and arouse the serpent
But in some way other or another
they found out that
I was not their countryman,
and they dealt with me treacherously,
and gave their food to eat.
I forget that I was a son of kings,
and I served their king;
and I forgot the pearl,
for which my
parents had sent me,
and because of the burden of their oppressions
I lay in a deep sleep.
But all this things that befell me
parents perceived, and were grieved for me;
and proclamation was made
in our kingdom,
that every one should come to our gate [kingdom],
kings and princes of Parthia,
and all the nobles of the East.
And they wove a plan on my behalf,
that I might not be left in Egypt;
and they wrote to me a letter,
and every noble signed his name to
"From your father, the king of kings,
and your mother,
the mistress of the East,
and from your brother, our second (in authority),
to our son, who are in Egypt, greeting!
Call to mind that you are
a son of kings!
See the slavery,--whom you serve!
Remember the pearl,
for which you were sent to Egypt!
Think of your robe,
your splendid toga,
which you shall wear and (with which) you shall
when your name has been read out in the list of the valiant,
and your brother, our viceroy,
you shall be in our kingdom."
My letter is a letter,
which the king sealed with his own right
(to keep it) from the wicked ones, the children of Babel,
and from the savage demons of Sarbug.
It flew in the likeness of an
the king of all birds;
it flew and alight beside me,
and became all speech.
At its voice and the sound of its rustling,
I started and arose from my sleep.
I took it up and kissed it,
and I began (and) read it;
and according to what was traced on my
were the words of my letter.
I remembered that I was a son
of royal parents,
and my noble birth asserted itself.
for which I had been sent to Egypt,
and I began to charm
the terrible loud breathing serpent.
I hushed him asleep and
lulled him into slumber,
for my father's name I named over him,
and the name of our second (in power),
and the of my mother, the queen
of the East.
And I snatched away the pearl,
and turned to go back
to my father's house.
And their filthy and unclean dress I stripped
and left it in their country;
and I took my way straight to
to the light of our home in the East.
And my letter, my awakener,
I found before me on the road;
and as with its voice it had awakened
(so) too with its light it was leading me.
It, that dwelt in
gave light before me with its form,
and with its voice
and its guidance
it also encouraged me to speed,
and with its love
it drew me on.
I went forth (and) passed by Sarbug;
I left Babel
on my left hand;
and I came to the great Maisan,
to the haven of
which sat on the shore of the sea.
And my bright robe,
which I had stripped off,
and the toga that was wrapped with it,
from Rantha and Reken(?)
my parents had sent thither
by the hand
of their treasures,
who in their truth could be trusted therewith.
And because I remembered not its fashion,--
for in my childhood I
had left it in my father's house,--
on a sudden, when I received it,
the garment seemed to me to become like a mirror of myself.
it all in all,
and I to received all in it,
for we were two in distinction
and yet gain one in one likeness.
And the treasurers too,
brought it to me, I saw in like manner
to be two (and yet) one likeness,
for one sign of the king was written on them (both),
of the hands
of him who restored to me through them
my trust and my wealth,
decorated robe, which
was adorned with glorious colors,
and rubies and agates
and sardonyxes, varied in color.
And it was skillfully worked in its home on high,
and with diamond
were all its seams fastened;
and the image of the king of
was embroidered and depicted in full all over it,
the stone of the sapphire too
its hues were varied.
And I saw also
that all over it
the instincts of knowledge were working,
saw too that it was preparing to speak.
I heard the sound of its tones,
which it uttered with its....., (saying):
"I am the active
whom they reared for him before my father;
and I perceived
that my stature grew according to his labors."
in its kingly movements
it poured itself entirely over me,
the hand of its givers
it hastened that I might take it.
urged me too run
to meet it and receive it;
and I stretched forth
and took it.
With the beauty of its colors I adorned myself,
I wrapped myself wholly in my toga
of brilliant hues.
myself with it, and went up to the gate
of salutation and prostration;
I bowed my head and worshipped the majesty
of my father who sent
for I had done his commandments,
and he too had done what
and the gate of his....,
I mingled with his princes,
for he rejoiced in me and received me,
and I was with him in his
and with the voice of....
all his servants praised him.
And he promised that to the gate too
of the king of kings with him
I should go,
and with my offering and my pearl
with him should present
myself to our king.
The Hymn of Judas Thomas the Apostles,
spoke in prison, is ended.