an ancient Gnostic text
When I was a little child
and dwelling in my
in my father's house, and was content with the wealth and
luxuries of my nourishers,
from the East, our home,
parents equipped me (and) sent me forth;
and of the wealth of our
they took abundantly, (and) tied up for me a load
and (yet) light, which I myself could carry,
gold of Beth-Ellaya,
and silver of Gazak the great,
and rubies of India,
and they furnished me with the adamant,
can crush iron.
And they 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
"If you go down into Egypt,
and bring the one pearl,
which is in the midst of the sea
around the loud-breathing
you shall put on your glittering robe
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."
the East (and) went down,
there being two guardians,
for the way
was dangerous and difficult,
and I was very young to travel it.
I passed through the borders of Maishan,
the meeting-place of the
merchants of the East,
and I reached the land of Babel,
entered the walls of Sarbug.
I went down into Egypt,
companions parted from me.
I went straight to the serpent,
dwelt in his abode,
(waiting) till he should lumber and sleep,
and I could take my pearl from him.
And when I was single and alone
(and) became strange to my family,
one of my race, a free-born
and Oriental, I saw there,
a youth fair and loveable,
the son of oil-sellers;
and he came and attached himself to me,
and I made him my intimate friend,
and associate with whom I shared
I warned him against the Egyptians,
consorting with the unclean;
And I dressed in their dress,
they might not hold me in abhorrence,
because I was come from abroad
in order to take the pearl,
and arouse the serpent against me.
But in some way other or another
they found out that I was not their
and they dealt with me treacherously,
and gave their
food to eat.
I forget that I was a son of kings,
and I served
and I forgot the pearl,
for which my parents had
and because of the burden of their oppressions
I lay in
a deep sleep.
But all this things that befell me
perceived, and were grieved for me;
and proclamation was made in our
that every one should come to our gate [kingdom],
and princes of Parthia,
and all the nobles of the East.
wove a plan on my behalf,
that I might not be left in Egypt;
they wrote to me a letter,
and every noble signed his name to it:
"From your father, the king of kings,
and your mother, the
mistress of the East,
and from your brother, our second (in
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!
and remember your splendid toga,
which you shall wear
and (with which) you shall be adorned,
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,
king sealed with his own right hand,
(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 eagle,
the king of all birds;
it flew and alight beside me,
and became all speech.
voice and the sound of its rustling,
I started and arose from my
I took it up and kissed it,
and I began (and) read it;
and according to what was traced on my heart
were the words of
I remembered that I was a son of royal parents,
my noble birth asserted itself.
I remembered the pearl,
I had been sent to Egypt,
and I began to charm him,
loud breathing serpent.
I hushed him asleep and lulled him into
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
And their filthy and unclean dress I stripped off,
and left it in their country;
and I took my way straight to come
to the light of our home in the East.
And my letter, my
I found before me on the road;
and as with its voice
it had awakened me,
(so) too with its light it was leading me.
It, that dwelt in the palace,
gave light before me with its form,
and with its voice and its guidance
it also encouraged me to
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 merchants,
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,
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
on a sudden, when I received it,
the garment seemed to
me to become like a mirror of myself.
I saw it all in all,
to received all in it,
for we were two in distinction
gain one in one likeness.
And the treasurers too,
who 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,
gold and beryls
and rubies and agates
and sardonyxes, varied in
And it was skillfully worked in its home on high,
with diamond clasps
were all its seams fastened;
and the image
of the king of kings
was embroidered and depicted in full all over
and like the stone of the sapphire too
its hues were varied.
And I saw also that all over it
the instincts of knowledge were
and I saw too that it was preparing to speak.
the sound of its tones,
which it uttered with its....., (saying):
"I am the active in deeds,
whom they reared for him before my
and I perceived myself,
that my stature grew according
to his labors."
And in its kingly movements
it poured itself
entirely over me,
and on the hand of its givers
it hastened that
I might take it.
And love urged me too run
to meet it and
and I stretched forth and took it.
With the beauty
of its colors I adorned myself,
and I wrapped myself wholly in my
of brilliant hues.
I clothed myself with it, and went up to
of salutation and prostration;
I bowed my head and
worshipped the majesty
of my father who sent me,--
for I had
done his commandments,
and he too had done what he promised,--
and the gate of his....,
I mingled with his princes,
rejoiced in me and received me,
and I was with him in his kingdom,
and with the voice of....
all his servants praised him.
he promised that to the gate too
of the king of kings with him I
and with my offering and my pearl
with him should
present myself to our king.
The Hymn of Judas Thomas the Apostles,
which he spoke in prison, is ended.