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History Reincarnation

Resurrection and Reincarnation

The apparent contradictory concepts of reincarnation and resurrection can be resolved by a very interesting theory developed by Peter Novak, author of The Division of Consciousness: The Secret Afterlife of the Human Psyche and The Lost Secret of Death: Our Divided Souls and the Afterlife. His compelling theory, which he calls the “Division of Consciousness Theory,” is based both on modern science and ancient scripture. It explains for the first time how each of these ancient perspectives might be true simultaneously.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Division of Consciousness
  2. The Science of the Division
  3. The History of the Division
  4. The Christian Connection

1. Introduction to Division of Consciousness

Novak’s research uncovered extensive data from both scientific and scriptural sources that all pointed to the same promising yet highly disturbing conclusion – that the human psyche does survive physical death, but often divides entirely apart in the process into separate conscious and unconscious components. Novak suggests that the traditional “reincarnation” and “resurrection” hypotheses can, at long last, be reconciled by factoring the dissimilar scientific qualities and functions of the conscious and unconscious minds into the equation, pointing out that scriptures from a great number of different traditions already reflect just such a divided, “binary-soul” vision of the afterlife.

Basically, Novak’s theory states that the soul body and spirit body separate after death. The soul body is discarded and the spirit ultimately reincarnates with a new soul body. After a large number of reincarnations, the spirit has discarded a large number of soul bodies. At the time of the “Final Judgment,” a doctrine held by all Middle Eastern religions, the so-called “resurrection” will occur. Novak theorizes that at this time, all the discarded soul bodies will reunited with the spirit body. The result will be a world of highly enlightened people knowing all their past lives and their associated life experience and knowledge. Thus, reincarnation and resurrection are not mutually exclusive concepts according to Novak’s theory.

Not only do elements of both classic psychology and modern sociological research support such a hypothesis, but eerily similar concepts appearing in Biblical, Persian, Egyptian, Gnostic, Greek, Hawaiian, Chinese, Native American, Swedenborgian, and many other traditions raise the intriguing possibility that this peculiar and unfamiliar “Division Theory” may actually be a millennia-old case of deja-vu.

If this extraordinary hypothesis is proven to be true, it will revolutionize the entire field of religion. A number of respected scientists, theologians, and philosophers are already convinced Novak’s “Division Theory” will do just that.

The following are excerpts from Peter Novak’s book reprinted by permission from Peter Novak.

2. The Science of the Division

Early this century, our scientists discovered and proceeded to map out the basic characteristics and functions of the conscious and unconscious halves of the human mind. But for nearly a century, those psychological discoveries have quietly contained an unnoticed surprise of incalculable significance to the world of theology and life-after-death research. According to the commonly accepted tenets of modern scientific theory, if the human psyche actually was to survive and continue to function after death, but did so in a divided state, then the two surviving components of the psyche would, due to their very natures, encounter entirely different conditions after death, conditions startlingly similar to those described in Eastern and Western traditions:

The conscious would completely lose all traces of its memory, but it would also remain free to go on to new experiences (in effect, reincarnating). Its partner, meanwhile, would undergo a memory-review, and then become trapped in a dreamlike, unconscious heavenly or hellish netherworld.

In short, modern science has found that the conscious and unconscious each possess the very characteristics necessary for them to perfectly reproduce the millennia-old afterlife scenarios of Eastern and Western traditions, but only if they divided apart at death.

A bizarre coincidence? Perhaps. But an after-death division would also explain a number of extremely peculiar details routinely reported by researchers investigating near-death experiences, past-life regressions, and ghost reports.

3. The History of the Division

Such an after-death split was widely recognized in ancient times, being mentioned in Gnostic scriptures as the division of the soul and spirit, in Egyptian texts as the detaching of the “ba” from the “ka“, in Greek teachings as the rending of the “thymos” from the “psyche“, in Hindu doctrine as the withdrawing of the “vital spirit” from the “reasonable soul“, and in Zoroastrian works as the separation of the “urvan” and “daena“.

Such an after-death division of dual souls also appears in ancient Chinese religion as the splitting of the “p’o” and “hun”, in Native American tradition as the cleaving of the “ni” and “nagi”, and, more recently, in Swedenborgian theology as the parting of one’s “inner and outer elements”, and in Edgar Cayce’s readings as the divide between the soul and spiritual forces (this same fundamental dicotomy is also reflected in the philosophies of Kant, Blake, Hegel, Tillich, Schopenhauer, Buber, and Sartre).

Just as with today’s conscious and unconscious, each of the above traditions held that one of the two soul-units was more willful, objective, and intellectual, while the other was more responsive, subjective, and emotional. And in each case, the two soul-units encountered radically different afterlife conditions after separating.

4. The Christian Connection

Numerous passages within the recovered Nag Hammadi scriptures make it clear that such a division-based doctrine was not only present in the early stages of Christianity, but constituted the very heart of the mysterious Gnostics’ theology.

As did the cultures surrounding them, the Gnostics viewed man’s inner being as bipartite in nature, differentiated into two entirely different elements – soul and spirit:

“…without the soul the body does not sin, just as the soul is not saved without the spirit. But if the soul is saved when it is without evil, and the spirit is also saved, then the body becomes free from sin. For it is the spirit that quickens the soul….” – The Apocryphon of James 11:38-39, 12-1-6

For the Gnostics, death specifically meant having these two parts divide apart, having one’s inner being sliced right down the middle at death:

“For such [death] is the judgment which had come down from above. It has passed judgment on everyone; it is a drawn sword, with two edges, cutting on either side.” – The Gospel of Truth 25:35-26:4

“On the day you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?” – The Gospel of Thomas 11

They were even under the impression that Jesus himself underwent such a division at his death:

“‘My God, my God, why, O Lord, have you forsaken me?’ It was on the cross that he said these words, for it was there that he was divided.” – The Gospel of Philip 68:26-29

To be “divided” was spiritual doom, while being “undivided” meant spiritual salvation:

“If he is undivided, he will be filled with light, but if he is divided, he will be filled with darkness …” – The Gospel of Thomas 61

The story of Adam and Eve was inextricably linked to their ideas about death, seeing the separation of Eve from Adam as a profoundly seminal “First Division”, the tragic origin of death itself:

“When Eve [the soul] was still in Adam [the spirit], death did not exist. When she separated from him, death came into being. If he again becomes complete and attains his former self, death will be no more.” – The Gospel of Philip 68:22-26

This division and its reparation are themes these Gnostic scriptures return to again and again, often using the term “woman” to indicate “soul”, and “man” for “spirit” :

“For they [the soul and spirit] were originally joined to one another when they were with the Father before the woman [the soul] led astray the man [the spirit], who is her brother. This marriage has brought them back together again and the soul [the woman] has been joined to her true love, her master [the man, the spirit]….” – The Exegesis on the Soul 133:4-9

Repairing this ancient division was expected to restore the souls of the dead to life:

“If the woman [soul] had not separated from the man [spirit], she would not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those [souls] who died as a result of the separation and unite them.” – The Gospel of Philip 70:9-22

This “Reunion of the Two” is a common theme in the Gnostic scriptures. But instead of always calling them “soul and spirit” or “Adam and Eve”, they sometimes portray the two in terms very reminiscent of science’s “conscious and unconscious”:

“When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside, and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female … then you will enter the Kingdom.” – The Gospel of Thomas 22

To firmly unite these two, they thought, would make a person like Christ himself:

“Jesus said, ‘If two [the soul and spirit, the conscious and unconscious] make peace with each other in this one house [body], they will say to the mountain, `Move away’, and it will move away’ … ” – The Gospel of Thomas 48

Given Novak’s extensive research on this subject and the evidence he provides to support it, his Division Theory should be considered to be one of the best theories ever devised to explain the mysteries of reincarnation and resurrection.

Categories
History Reincarnation

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Her Near-Death Experience

A lot of media attention is being given to the novel “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown because of its radical claims purporting to be historical truth. The book may be riding the popular crest of another recent religious story about Jesus called “The Passion.” Since the book was released, a primetime television special was broadcast about the book. Hollywood director Ron Howard is said to be planning to make a movie about it. Cable programs have been airing debates about the book and the controversy surrounding it. The following is an article about the Gnostic “Gospel of Mary.”

Table of Contents

  1. Historical Concepts About Mary Magdalene
  2. Evidence Revealing Jesus was Married to Mary Magdalene
  3. Who was Mary Magdalene?
  4. The Orthodox Mary Magdalene Versus the Gnostic Mary Magdalene
  5. Jesus’ Elevation of the Role of Women
  6. The Fall of the Role of Women by Orthodox Christianity
  7. Mary Magdalene – The Beloved Disciple
  8. Mary Magdalene’s Near-Death Experience
  9. The Gospel of Mary
  10. An Analysis of Mary Magdalene’s NDE

1. Historical Concepts About Mary Magdalene

Before I heard about the book, The Da Vinci Code, I was already familiar with the historical concepts the book is based on:

(1) Jesus was not believed to be God by his followers, but was viewed to be a man who was very close to God.

(2) Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene who was the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”

(3) That Mary Magdalene played a larger role in early Christian history than previously thought. She was considered an apostle of Christ and was the author of the Gospel of John. (She was also the author of the Gospel of Mary which was discovered in 1945 and describes the soul’s journey after death which resembles a near-death experience. It also has concepts similar to those found in Tibetan Buddhism‘s “Book of the Dead.” More about this later.

(4) There was a covered-up, either intentionally or ignorantly, by the Church centuries after Jesus’ death which attempted to hide these controversies.

These controversial claims may be the only thing about The Da Vinci Code which are actually true. The leading authority on the women of ancient Christianity is the Harvard professor Karen L. King who has commented on the entire book by saying it is “good fiction.”

In the 60s and 70s, there were controversial books and movies about Jesus such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” which assumed that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a sexual relationship. Of recent date, Martin Scorsese’s 1988 movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” included a sex scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The idea of a married Jesus is a controversy thousands of years old.

Concerning “The Da Vinci Code,” I only want to mention the importance of Leonardo Da Vinci‘s painting entitled “The Last Supper” which you can see on the right. If you look at the painting you will notice that the disciple seated to Jesus’ right appears to be either a woman or a very, very effeminate man. Historically, the orthodox Church has assumed the identity of the “disciple whom Jesus loved” to be the Apostle John. The disciple whom Jesus loved is the disciple described in the Bible as resting his head on the bosom of Jesus during the Last Supper. If this “beloved disciple” really is John, this raises an interesting question: What kind of relationship did this “disciple whom Jesus loved” actually have with Jesus?

If we assume that Jesus loved everyone, then what made this special disciple become more favored by Jesus? Such questions have led some scholars (and movie producers) to speculate that Jesus may have been a homosexual. This theory is even more controversial. Besides Jesus having a special male disciple to love, Jesus is described in the Bible as kissing men, living and sleeping with men, washing their bodies, and teaching them to love other men. The Bible also records Jesus “giving his body” to his disciples to “eat.” Jesus also preached tolerance for so-called “sinners” such as adulterers, prostitutes, and even homosexuals (Matthew 10:14-15). He rejected the social norms of his day which considered such outcasts as worthy of death. In those days, women had the same status as cattle, slavery was sanctioned, and so-called sexually immoral people were stoned to death. Not only did Jesus not follow the social norms of his day, he hung out with the sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and even made some of them apostles. He even told the religious bigots that the prostitutes were entering heaven before they were.

2. Evidence Revealing Jesus was Married to Mary Magdalene

Despite all these things, I am convinced that the evidence shows that Jesus was not a homosexual (although I would not think less of Jesus if he was) but that the “special disciple” whom Jesus loved was none other than Mary Magdalene. There are some very good reasons to believe that Jesus was married. Here are the major ones:

(1) Jesus was culturally obligated to be married. In those days, Jewish law required every Rabbi to be married. Unmarried men were considered a curse to Jewish society. Jesus said he fulfilled the law and the prophets. The first positive commandment found in the Bible deals with the propagation of the human race (Genesis 1:28). It was therefore considered the duty of every male in Israel to marry – usually at the age of eighteen. Anyone who remained unmarried after age twenty was considered cursed by God (source: Kid. 29b). So important was marriage to the Jews of ancient Israel that men were frequently compelled by the courts to take a wife (source: M. Zvi Udley, Ph.D.). Given the cultural conditions in which Jesus lived, the burden of proof lies with those who do not believe Jesus was married. They must show why Jesus and his parents would have been derelict in their civic responsibilities and not contracted a marriage for Jesus.

(2) According to Josephus, the great Jewish historian, the descendants of David felt a moral obligation to perpetuate their royal heritage because they never knew which one of their descendants would be the chosen Messiah. The Bible shows that Jesus was a direct descendant of David and this made him morally obligated to be married.

(3) Hippolytus and Origen, two earlier Church leaders, wrote that the Song of Solomon was a prophecy of a marital union between Christ and Mary Magdalene.

(4) While the Bible “appears” to be silent on the subject of Jesus’ marital status, it was not until late in the second century that any Christian leader denied that Jesus was married. Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria believed that a married Jesus was inconsistent with his role as the Savior of the world. Other Church fathers denied that Jesus was married based upon the supposed silence in the Bible about his marital status. They also believed it conflicted with the Church’s doctrine of a celibate priesthood and the Church’s general view of sex as sinful. The evidence shows that the Church eventually denied the very humanity of Jesus when the council declared him God.

(5) Irenaeus, a major second century Christian leader, wrote about the so-called “Doctrine of Recapitulation” which supports the idea of a married Jesus. Irenaeus taught that Jesus symbolically entered every critical stage of human existence and sanctified it. This included a person’s family and sexual life.

(6) There was a second century tradition among certain early Christian sects which held that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. There is also Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence of their special relationship as man and wife.

3. Who was Mary Magdalene?

Throughout history, Mary Magdalene has been a mysterious figure for many Christians. She is the most prominent woman in the Gospels and is mentioned first in seven of the eight lists of women who walked with Jesus. An orthodox tradition exists which claims that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute – even though there is no Biblical evidence suggesting she was a prostitute. She is mentioned in the Bible as being among the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and his disciples. She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. She was one of the women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. She was the first to see the risen Christ. By definition, this meant she was the “first apostle.” She was the one who announced Jesus’ resurrection to the apostles. Because she was the first to announce his resurrection, the Catholic Church honored her with the title “apostola apostolorum” which means “the apostle to the apostles.”

The Bible never claims that Mary Magdalene was the repentant prostitute who washes the feet of Jesus with her hair in Luke 7:36-50. But this incident of a woman anointing the feet of Jesus is cited by some scholars as the most direct witness to Jesus being married. This incident is recorded in all four Gospels and was a story in which Jesus himself gave express command that it be preserved. This feet anointing ceremony was an ancient ritual among royalty in the ancient world. It was a ritual which sealed the marital union between a king and his spouse. The ritual is even mentioned briefly in the Song of Solomon.

The Bible never claims that Mary Magdalene was the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and saved from being stoned to death by Jesus in John 8:1-11. However, she is identified as having once been possessed by seven demons in Luke 8:2. This may be the source of the orthodox tradition that Mary was a prostitute before she met Jesus.

The Bible records that Mary met Jesus after his resurrection. The Bible records a degree of intimacy between them during this incident which one would expect between lovers, not friends. When Mary is referred to as “woman” by Jesus, it can just as easily be translated as “wife”. The Greek word for “woman” and “wife” is the same and translators have to rely on the context in determining how to translate it. Sometimes, the translation between “woman” and “wife” is completely arbitrary.

4. The Orthodox Mary Magdalene Versus the Gnostic Mary Magdalene

In 1945, ancient texts which yielded more information about Mary Magdalene and the early Christians were discovered in Upper Egypt. Many early Christian texts were found which included several previously unknown gospels. These gospels reveal teachings and events surrounding Jesus and the disciples which had never been known before. For example, one gospel mentions that Jesus kissed Mary Magdalene frequently and “on the mouth.” Another text shows that Jesus called Mary Magdalene the “woman who knows all.” These early writings affirm that Mary was the “companion,” even the consort, of Jesus. Mary is even the author of her own gospel called the Gospel of Mary.

All these facts begs the question: Why would there be two different traditions of Mary Magdalene? The most plausible explanation can be found in the historical schism which developed very early in the Christian community. It is apparent that the early Christian community was split by doctrinal disagreements. The majority of the community were Christians who leaned toward so-called “heretical doctrines” such as Docetism, Montanism, and Gnosticism. The rest of the community were incorporated into the emerging institutional Church. They became known as “orthodox” believers who conformed to the political and spiritual authority of the Church. These orthodox believers labeled those outside of their organization as “heretics” because they did not conform to the authority of the priests.

While the Christian Gnostics preserved the tradition of Mary Magdalene as the beloved disciple and a leader in the Christian community, the orthodox Christians, on the other hand, removed all references to Mary Magdalene as being the founder of the Johannine Community. They did this by turning the references to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” into an anonymous male disciple. Grammatical flaws found by Bible scholars within various Bible passages in the Gospel of John support this transformation. It is theorized that the emerging Church did this because they could not accept the authenticity of a gospel written by a woman. And not only did the Church suppress the prominent role of Mary Magdalene, it suppressed the role of women in general within the Church. It did this by denying the historical role that women had in Judaism.

5. Jesus’ Elevation of the Role of Women

Despite the historical treatment of women as having the same status of cattle, the Bible records that a woman once ruled ancient Israel: “Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4). The Bible even declares Rahab the prostitute to be “righteous” for giving lodging to the spies and sending them off in a different direction (James 2:25). Besides Deborah, the Bible recognizes other female prophetesses such as the four daughters of Philip, Mary (the sister of Aaron), and Mary (the mother of God) whom the Bible states: “Henceforth all women and all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). The Bible also reports that many women became missionaries and even martyrs for the Christian cause. While women in general held a low status in society in those days, Jesus is seen ignoring these social norms concerning women. In one incident, the disciples marvel that they find Jesus talking to a woman – and not just any woman – a Samaritan woman. Jews were forbidden to associate with Samaritans. Men were also forbidden to even touch a woman because they never knew if they would be breaking their tradition of not touching a woman while she is in her menstrual phase (Leviticus 15:19-24). Compared to the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Luke, and Mark) the Gospel of John shows women playing a bigger role. In the Gospel of Mark, there are only 5 instances where women are recorded as speaking. In the Gospel of Matthew, there are 9 instances. In the Gospel of Luke, there are 11 instances. But the Gospel of John records 22 instances of women speaking. Of course, the Christian Gnostics maintained a tradition which started with Jesus of having women perform equal functions with men in the community. This suggests the author of this gospel, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” viewed women more favorably. And there is evidence that the identity of the author of the Gospel of John and the “disciple whom Jesus loved” is Mary Magdalene.

6. The Fall of the Role of Women by Orthodox Christianity

As the orthodox Church gained increasing political power, the role of women in the Church decreased. This can be directly attributed to the influence of the letters and teachings of Paul. Paul frequently takes an anti-women stance in his letters. While the so-called “heretical” believers allowed women to serve as priests and gave them equal status, the orthodox Church adopted Pauline Christianity which rejected the role of women. Paul taught that women are too poor of judgment to teach; that they must remain silent in Church; that they are forbidden to have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:12-14). In essence, Paul was saying that because women were created second and sinned first, they should shut up. Paul also demanded that women be submissive to men (Ephesians 5:22-23); that women are inferior to men (1 Corinthians 11:7); that women are “saved through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15); and although God declares the institution of marriage to be “good” (Genesis 2:18), Paul declares marriage to be “not good” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Paul demanded that women should wear veils to indicate their secondary status in the order of creation (1 Corinthians 11:4-16). Paul’s anti-women stance may have come from the fact that he himself was not married (although unmarried Jewish men were considered cursed) or it may be because his anti-Gnostic crusade caused him to reject the Christian Gnostic idea of equality among the sexes. Here is a comprehensive article on Paul as the source of misogyny, antisemitism, and slavery in western civilization.

The Gospel of John was written by someone who was an eyewitness to the events (John 21:24). This is a claim which the Synoptic gospels cannot make. But for some reason, the writer of the Gospel of John wanted to remain anonymous. The writer was obviously an extremely important figure. It is clear that the “disciple whom Jesus loved” was highly favored by Jesus over the other disciples. Most Biblical scholars today do not believe the Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John. The author is assumed to be the anonymous disciple of Jesus referred to as “the beloved disciple” and “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” As mentioned earlier, there is compelling evidence suggesting that the identity of this beloved disciple was Mary Magdalene. In fact, some scholars believe she may have been the true founder of what has come to be known as the Johannine Community. But at some point after the death of Jesus, the emerging male leadership of that community simply became embarrassed about having a female founder. The theory goes that in the Gospel of John, the “beloved disciple” was transformed into a male disciple in the text because this beloved disciple was clearly the founder and champion of the community that produced this gospel. That disciple was Mary Magdalene.

The Gospel of John was initially not accepted by orthodox authorities. The oldest known commentary on the Gospel of John is that of the Gnostic Heracleon (AD 180). Irenaeus of Lyons (AD 202) refuted the Gnostic exegesis of it. There is an abundant amount of correlation between the ideas found in the Gospel of John and the early Christian Gnostic writings discovered in 1945 which strongly suggests that the Gospel of John was a Gnostic gospel. It is the Gospel of John which shows Jesus teaching doctrines considered to be heresies to the Orthodox Church such as: (1) pre-existence (John 1:2; John 8:58; John 9:1-2; John 9:34); (2) reincarnation (John 3:3-8; Revelation 3:12); (3) the Jewish leaders believing in reincarnation (John 1:19-25); (4) the mystery of God within human beings (John 10:30-38; John 14:20; John 17:20-23); and (5) Jesus paying the karmic debt for the sins of humanity (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 4:10). In the Secret Revelation of John, a Gnostic gospel written by 185 A.D. at the latest, reincarnation is placed at the center of the discussion concerning the salvation of souls. John’s perspective of reincarnation in his secret teachings is that everyone is born into this world having drunk from the water of forgetfulness and lives in a state of spiritual ignorance. People are able to overcome this ignorance by having the life-giving Spirit descend upon them. These souls “will be saved and will become perfect,” that is, escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. John asks Jesus what will happen to those who do not attain salvation. Jesus answers that they are hurled down “into forgetfulness” and thrown into “prison” – the Christian Gnostic symbol for a new body. The secret teachings of Jesus reveal that the only way for souls to escape the cycle of birth and rebirth is to acquire knowledge (“gnosis“) after coming from forgetfulness by finding a teacher who can lead the soul in the right direction:

“This soul needs to follow another soul in whom the Spirit of life dwells, because she is saved through the Spirit. Then she will never be thrust into flesh again.” (Secret Book of John 14:20)

As the Church gained political power, it not only denied women their rightful place in the Church, it also denied the humanity of Jesus by declaring him to be God. This made it even more impossible to assert that Jesus was ever married. Deifying Jesus also elevated him beyond humanity’s ability to become like him in attaining one-ness and son-ship with God as he did. Salvation through the example of Jesus was replaced with salvation through Jesus-worship.

7. Mary Magdalene – The Beloved Disciple

The orthodox view is that Peter was the leader of the twelve disciples and head of the Church. But the early Christian writings discovered in 1945 tell a different story – that Mary Magdalene was the beloved disciple who had more authority than Peter. This is also supported by Biblical facts. In John 13:23-26, the beloved disciple is “resting on bosom of Jesus” while Peter must petition the beloved disciple to ask Jesus a question for him. In John 18:15-16, the beloved disciple has access to the high priest’s palace while Peter does not. In John 20:2-10, the beloved disciple immediately believes in Jesus’ resurrection while Peter and the rest of the disciples do not understand what’s going on. In John 21:7, the beloved disciple is the only one who recognizes the risen Christ while he speaks from the shore to the disciples on their fishing boat. In John 21:20-23, Peter jealously asks Jesus about the fate of the beloved disciple. Even more struggles between Peter and Mary are recorded in the newly discovered writings.

These writings portray Peter as being jealous of the revelations that Mary received from the risen Christ. For example, the Gospel of Thomas describes Peter as saying: “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.” In the Gospel of Philip, the favorable relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is contrasted with Jesus’ relationship with the rest of the disciples. Similar examples of Mary Magdalene being favored by Jesus over Peter can be found in the Gospel of the Egyptians and Pistis Sophia. These texts also describe Peter rejecting the authority of women to teach.

The Gospel of Mary describes Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ beloved disciple who possessed and taught superior knowledge than the public orthodox tradition had.

The Gospel of Thomas records a very interesting promise made to Peter by Jesus. He is promised that Jesus will lead Mary Magdalene in order to:

“…make her male so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Gospel of Thomas)

This seemingly strange comment can only be understood in the context of Jesus teaching the one-ness of all things which can be found throughout these writings.

In the Acts of Philip, Jesus praises Mary Magdalene for her manly character. Because of this he gives her the task of joining the weaker Philip on his mission journey – but not as a woman:

“As for you, Mary,” Jesus says, “change your clothing and your outward appearance: reject everything which from the outside suggests a woman.” (Acts of Philip)

This shows how society in those days generally rejected the authority of women.

In the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Pistis Sophia, Peter is described as denying Mary Magdalene’s closeness to Jesus. These writings give Mary Magdalene a special position. In the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, she is the only person to whom the other disciples refer to as the one loved by Jesus more than the others and as the one who has a greater insight.

The Gospel of Philip states:

“And the companion of the [Savior is] Mary Magdalene. [But Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples [and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended] by it [and expressed disapproval]. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.” (Gospel of Philip)

The Gospel of Philip states:

“There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.” (Gospel of Philip)

His sister and his mother and his companion were each named Mary.

These passages establish the fact that Christian Gnostics believed Mary Magdalene to be the “beloved disciple” and the companion of the Lord. She is repeatedly singled out as the disciple whom Jesus loved the most.

8. Mary Magdalene’s Near-Death Experience

Mary Magdalene is seen in the Gospel of Mary as a disciple who is singled out by Jesus for special teachings. This gospel also shows Mary describing her vision of the soul’s journey after death and the challenges it must overcome. These passages from the Gospel of Mary contain concepts similar to concepts found in near-death experiences and Tibetan Buddhism‘s Book of the Dead.

The Gospel of Mary describes how, after the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were gathered together and weeping. At Peter’s request, Mary tells the disciples about revelations given to her that were hidden from them. The basis for her knowledge is the vision of the Lord she had and a private dialogue with him. What is incredibly unfortunately is that four pages of the Gospel of Mary are missing and only the beginning and end of Mary’s revelation exist. Nevertheless, judging by what does exist of this gospel, Mary’s vision certainly resembles an NDE.

The revelation is in the form of a dialogue. The first question Mary asks the risen Christ is how one sees a vision. Jesus replies that the soul sees through the mind which is between the soul and the spirit. At this point the text breaks off. When the text resumes at the end of the gospel, Mary is in the midst of describing her revelation concerning the rise of the soul past the four afterlife “powers.” The four powers represent the four of the multi-dimensional levels of the afterlife hierarchy. According to Mary’s vision, the enlightened soul becomes free of their bonds, rises past the four powers, conquering them with “gnosis” (spiritual knowledge), and finally attain eternal life.

9. The Gospel of Mary

The following is the Gospel of Mary which describes this vision further:

The Gospel of Mary

…They wept greatly, saying, “How shall we go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel of the kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare him, how will they spare us?” Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, “Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for his grace will be entirely with you and will protect you. But rather let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us into men.” When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the [Savior]. Peter said to Mary, “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember – which you know (but) we do not, nor have we heard them.” Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you will proclaim to you.” And she began to speak to them these words: “I,” she said, ” I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him, “Lord, I saw you today in a vision.” He answered and said to me, “Blessed are you, that you did not waver at the sight of me. For where the mind is, there is the treasure.” I said to him, “Lord, now does he who sees the vision see it (through) the soul (or) through the spirit?” The Savior answered and said, “He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind which (is) between the two – that is (what) sees the vision and it is ….’ (Missing pages here) “I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie, since you belong to me?” The soul answered and said, “I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment, and you did not know me.” When it had said this, it went away rejoicing greatly. Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance. It (the power) questioned the soul saying, “Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge!” And the soul said, “Why do you judge me although I have not judged? I was bound though I have not bound. I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly (things) and the heavenly.” When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, (which) took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven (powers) of wrath. They ask the soul, “Whence do you come, slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?” The soul answered and said, “What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been overcome, and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died. In a (world) I was released from a world, (and) in a type from a heavenly type, and (from) the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.” When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, “Say what you (wish to) say I about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.” Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: “Did he really speak with a woman without our knowledge (and) not openly? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?” Then Mary wept and said to Peter, “My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?” Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as he commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. When [ …] and they began to go forth (to) proclaim and to preach.

10. An Analysis of Mary Magdalene’s NDE

Mary’s description of her experience with “seven powers of wrath” causes me to wonder if this incident is somehow related to Luke’s mentioning of Mary Magdalene having seven demons cast out of her. Luke was the companion of Paul who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. If this vision by Mary is the cause of her being smeared with the accusation of being demon possessed, it may be merely a reflection of the orthodox rejection of Christian Gnosticism and the rejection of Mary Magdalene‘s traditional authority among the disciples.

According to her vision, the first afterlife state or “power” she describes is said to be “darkness”. This may correspond to the so-called “void” experienced by NDErs immediately after death. The second afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “desire”. This may correspond to the earthbound realm that people with strong physical desires are attracted to after death. The third afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “ignorance” where judgment occurs. This may correspond to the life review and the self-judgment which NDErs often describe. The fourth afterlife level that Mary describes is referred to as “the excitement of death”. This may correspond to the feeling of joy that NDErs describe when they realize they have escaped from these darker, lower realms and the joy of entering the realm of light. The fifth afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “the kingdom of the flesh”. This may be a reference to how heaven has a similar appearance and environment as Earth with mountains, cities, lakes, etc… The sixth afterlife state that Mary describes is referred to as “the foolish wisdom of the flesh”. This may be a reference to how living in the higher realms is completely different to living in the environment on Earth. The seventh afterlife state that Mary describes is called the “wrathful wisdom”. Surprisingly, this is a good description of one of the afterlife phases in the Tibetan Buddhist afterlife cosmology. Wisdom is also another correlation to the NDE which frequently involves tremendous knowledge.

According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, on the seventh “day” after death there appears the “knowledge-holding” deities, who appear fierce and demonic-looking to the unenlightened. To the enlightened, however, they appear as “peaceful deities.” But because of ignorance, the unenlightened soul cannot face these knowledge-holding deities who appear to them as “wrathful“. According to Buddhism, this confusion causes the soul to descend back to Earth to be reincarnated. On the other hand, the enlightened soul recognizes that these deities are really “peaceful” and only appear wrathful to ignorant people. It is the soul’s own negative karma which perceives these deities as they perceive them. But liberation from reincarnation is attained when the soul recognizes their one-ness with the deities. Those who do not recognize their one-ness with them will ignorantly flee out of fear to lower afterlife states.

Although this may seems very unusual to some people, a perfect example of this concept can be found in the NDE of Pastor Howard Pittman. During his NDE, Pittman is brought before God but perceives God to be the jealous and angry God of wrath he preached about for 35 years and is often incorrectly portrayed to be God in the Bible. Pittman is chased away from God’s “angry” presence because of judgment he feels before God (which is really self-judgment). But, amazingly, Pittman is allowed a second chance to go before God. This second time he is astonished to perceive God as a “God of love.” Pittman doesn’t realize it but his perception of God as a “God of wrath” was a figment of his own religious mind-set and an illusion created by his own ignorance. Pittman’s NDE is the epitome of how we create our own reality on Earth, but infinitely more so in heaven. The kingdom of heaven (or hell) is within us. Death is merely a body problem. What lives within us will become our environment after death. This is why it is critically important what a person has living within them. Is it love, joy and peace? Or do you see the devil everywhere?

Categories
History Reincarnation

Reincarnation In Early Christianity

In December, 1945, early Christian writings containing many secrets of the early Christian religion were found in upper Egypt, a location where many Christians fled during the Roman invasion of Jerusalem. Undisturbed since their concealment almost two thousand years ago, these manuscripts of Christian mysticism rank in importance with the Dead Sea Scrolls. These writings affirmed the existence of the doctrine of reincarnation being taught among the early Jews and Christians. These Christian mystics, referred to as Christian Gnostics, were ultimately destroyed by the orthodox Church for being heretics. Their sacred writings were destroyed and hidden with the belief that they would be revealed at an appropriate time in the future. The discovery in 1945 yielded writings that included some long lost gospels, some of which were written earlier than the known gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Brian A. Bain, M.A., has this to say about the 1945 discovery:

“Long considered to be heretical, ancient Gnostic Christian texts unearthed this century display compelling similarities between Gnostic conceptions of life and death and modern near-death experiences. The Gnostic texts devoted extensive tracts to what readers could expect to encounter when they died. Other passages make numerous allusions to near-death-like experiences that can be realized in this life, most notably the human encounter with a divine light. The Gnostic Christian literature gives us one more example of NDEs and similar experiences in the ancient world.”

Another interesting fact comes from Edgar Cayce (a near-death experiencer) who affirmed that Gnosticism is the highest form of Christianity.

The Christian Gnostics were regarded by some as a new Jewish sect who believed they had finally found the long-awaited Messiah and not a new religion. Some of the apostles became Gnostic and because of this, Christianity could well have grown up as a Gnostic religion had it not been for their eventual persecution by the organized Church centuries later.

Table of Contents

  1. The Secret Teachings of Jesus
  2. Origen: The Champion for the Secret Teachings of Jesus
  3. The Theology of Christian Gnosticism
  4. Christian Gnostic Writings
  5. The Gospel of Thomas
  6. The Apocalyptic Texts
  7. The Apocalypse of Paul
  8. The Suppression of Christian Gnosticism

1. The Secret Teachings of Jesus

An important Christian Gnostic teaching was the “Logos” which in Greek is translated as “the image of the Word.” It is an important concept found in the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Logos is the part of God that acts in the world. It is the perfect unity of the human and the divine. This is affirmed by John when he wrote that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” When John stated that Jesus is the Logos, he is stating that Jesus became the Logos, the Christ. The Logos is the “divine spark” of God within humans that needs to awakened. Everyone has the “image of the Word (Logos)” within them and it is for this reason that Genesis describes humanity as created “in the image and likeness of God.” The Logos is the divine Spirit in humanity. By using the Christian Gnostic idea of the Logos, John is not only affirming the pre-existence and divinity of Jesus, but he is affirming that all sons of God created in the “image of the Word” as Jesus was, preexisted in spirit before being born. In other words, every human is an incarnation of the Logos and every human has to potential of becoming like Jesus, a manifestation of the human-divine unity. Every human can attain “Christhood” and because of this, every soul will eventually be drawn back to God.

The Roman Church misunderstood what the Logos was in John and incorrectly concluded from this that only Jesus is divine – the Word made flesh. The orthodox Church either rejected or ignored this Christian Gnostic concept found in John. This may have been a factor when the Gospel of John was almost rejected from New Testament canon when it was being put together. This was during a time when Christian Gnosticism became an enemy of the organized Church. Nevertheless, it was the idea of the pre-existence of the soul and its corresponding doctrine of reincarnation that the Roman Church had great difficulty with:

“If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.” (Decree against reincarnation, Second Council of Constantinople)

The Christian Gnostics emphasized spiritual knowledge rather blind faith as the road to salvation. They indicated that they possessed secret knowledge (i.e., “gnosis” in Greek) concerning the hidden meaning of the “resurrection.” This was a part of the secret teachings of Jesus handed down to them by the apostles. This special knowledge was not given to people who were only given the public teachings of Christianity. They were given only to those initiated to receive these secret teachings. In contrast, the very term “Catholic” means “universal”, implying that anyone could become a member of the Church by adhering to the public teachings of faith and rituals. The Christian Gnostics were harsh critics of the orthodox Church and accused the Church of watering down the gospel in order to popularize it for the masses. The orthodox Church stressed salvation through faith alone and by the rituals of the Church.

This secret gnosis emphasized spiritual “resurrection” (i.e,. spiritual rebirth) and physical “resurrection” (i.e., reincarnation) as opposed to a resurrection defined as people sleeping in their graves until it is time for all corpses to come out of their graves on the Last Day. Christian Gnostics held the view that if spiritual resurrection was not attained in one lifetime, then the soul would be subjected to as many reincarnations as it takes until spiritual regeneration is attained.

One of the great Church leaders was Clement of Alexandria in Egypt (150-211 A.D.) who indicated that he possessed the secret teaching handed down from the apostles.

In the Gnostic text entitled the Secret Gospel of Mark, one of the Christian Gnostic texts discovered in 1945, describes Jesus performing secret initiation rituals. Before the discovery of this secret gospel, our only knowledge of it came from a letter written by Clement. Clement quotes from this secret gospel and refers to it as:

“…a more spiritual gospel for the use of those who were being perfected.” He also states, “It even yet is most carefully guarded [by the church at Alexandria], being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”

Clement mentions elsewhere that Jesus revealed a secret teaching to those who were:

“…capable of receiving it and being molded by it” He also affirmed that, “The gnosis (secret knowledge) itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles.” (Miscell. Book VI, Chapter 7)

The existence of a secret teaching can be found in the New Testament:

“He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.'” (Mark 4:11-12)

“He replied, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.'” (Matthew 13:11-12)

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-7)

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” (1 Corinthians 4:1)

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'” (Matthew 11:25-26)

Paul wrote about teachings which are taught to spiritual “babies,” teachings about righteousness for the more mature, and then teachings for the spiritually mature. Paul reveals this fact immediately after equating Melchizedek to Jesus by stating:

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)

According to tradition, after the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, the author of the Gospel of Mark established a church in Alexandria, Egypt. Mark may also have been the author of a “secret gospel” containing more advanced teaching for those being initiated into the Christian mysteries. This secret gospel contains passages portraying Jesus teaching secret doctrines.

2. Origen: The Champion for the Secret Teachings of Jesus

As the orthodox church in Rome gained more and more political power the more it viewed secret teachings as a threat to their own public teachings. But the Church leader who made the final and greatest attempt to revive the secret teachings of Jesus within the orthodox teachings was the first Church Father named Origen (183-253 A.D.) of Alexandria in Egypt who was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria. Origen was the first person since Paul to develop a system of theology around the teachings of Jesus. His effort was the first within the orthodox church to systematize a theology on such a vast scale. Although Origen defended orthodoxy, he included in his system the wisdom of the Christian Gnostics. His theology was a perfect synthesis of “orthodox” and “gnostic” teachings and came the closest to reviving the “Lost Christianity” of the original sects, communities and schools, at a time when the Christian Gnosticism was falling into disrepute. Unfortunately, hundreds of years later, the Church declared him a heretic and his teachings as heresy mostly because they affirmed pre-existence and reincarnation.

Origen had this to say about the secret teachings of Jesus:

“[Jesus] conversed with His disciples in private, and especially in their sacred retreats, concerning the Gospel of God; but the words which He uttered have not been preserved, because it appeared to the evangelists that they could not be adequately conveyed to the multitude in writing or in speech and they saw what things were to be committed to writing, and how this was to be done, and what was by no means to be written to the multitude, and what was to be expressed in words, and what was not to be so conveyed.” (Contra Celsus, Chap. VI. 18)

Concerning these secret teachings, Clement stated:

“James the Righteous, John and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge. They imparted it to the other apostles, to the seventy.” (Outlines Book VI)

3. The Theology of Christian Gnosticism

According to Gnostic theology, a series of “falling away” from “the Whole” (God) occurred in eternity which resulted in all that exists today. After the first “fall”, the divine consciousness descended to the level of the divided consciousness; now after another “fall”, it has fallen even further, into the depths of the unconscious; it has been “forgotten.” It is now humanity’s privilege to discover the potential realms of human existence and face the great challenge of the “ascension of consciousness” through the Man-God-Spirit transformation.

Once souls fell into the lower levels of consciousness, they became enamored of it and burned with the desire to experience the pleasures of matter. The souls then no longer wanted to disengage itself from these lower levels. Thus the world was born. From that moment souls forgot themselves. They forgot they original habitation, their true center and eternal being.

Gnosticism proceeds from one fundamental insight: this world in which we find ourselves is thoroughly and irretrievably less than holy. The soul is trapped in a prison of flesh, and the flesh is intrinsically less than divine. According to Gnostic theology, the creation of the cosmos came about as the result of a tragicomic mistake: the fall of the soul from God. Thanks to the advent of Christ in the lower realms of consciousness, the power of reconciling the fallen souls has been given to restore the One-ness and usher in the kingdom of light over the kingdom of flesh and matter. The unity of the Godhead is assured thanks to the introduction of the new uniting force, the Logos, the part of God who acts in the flesh and the material. It is important to distinguish the Logos (Christ) from the soul named Jesus. Any person has the potential of becoming a Logos but it was the soul known as Jesus who actually incarnated as a Logos and therefore became a Christ on Earth.

We, as humans, cannot comprehend the omnipotent power available to us until we utilize the Christ power. When we effectively use the divine “Christ awareness” we have the ability to help in the liberation of the imprisoned “sparks of divinity” from flesh and rejoin them to the Source. The divine plan of creation will become complete as the divine outpouring of Christ gnosis liberates humanity from ignorance. The result of this will be the redemption of all human beings.

The Christ power can only liberate souls through the call and revelation of Christ gnosis to, “Awake, remember who you are and where you come from!” But since the soul cannot by itself hear the gnosis, the Christ power resorts to elaborate strategies to create the conditions for which all souls will be saved.

Christian Gnostics felt that initiation into the Cosmic Christ gnosis is inseparable from “the light which lighteth every person coming into the world.” It is this light within, our Higher Self, which each individual must bring to at-onement with the divine Source if liberation is to occur.

As more and more people hear the call to “Wake up!” and attain the Christ gnosis and become liberated, their souls are received back into the bosom of Divine Consciousness. The soul becomes free from unholy flesh and from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Christian Gnostics seek to achieve this by cultivating the Higher Self within people to seek reunification with the Godhead. But each soul returning to its divine source must, after death, pass through the various levels of consciousness. Sometimes Christian Gnostics describe seven of these heavenly realms, other times ten.

4. Christian Gnostic Writings

The following quote from Jesus from the Christian Gnostic gospel, the Book of Thomas the Contender, describes Jesus teaching reincarnation:

“Watch and pray that you may not be born in the flesh, but that you may leave the bitter bondage of this life.” (Book of Thomas the Contender 9:5)

In another part of the Book of Thomas the Contender, Jesus tells the disciple Thomas that after death, those people who were once believers but have remained attached to things of “transitory beauty,” will be consumed “in their concern about life” and will be “brought back to the visible realm.”

The following quote from Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas affirms Jesus teaching reincarnation to his disciples:

“When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will bear!” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 84)

More excerpts from this very interesting gospel will be profiled later.

In the Secret Book of John, written by 185 A.D. at the latest, reincarnation is placed at the center of the discussion concerning the salvation of souls. The following is a summary of the Secret Book of John’s perspective on reincarnation:

Everyone has drunk from the water of forgetfulness and lives in a state of ignorance. Some people are able to overcome ignorance by having the life-giving Spirit descend upon them. These souls “will be saved and will become perfect,” that is, escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. John asks Jesus what will happen to those who do not attain salvation. They are hurled down “into forgetfulness” and thrown into “prison,” the Christian Gnostic symbol for a new body.

Jesus says the only way for these souls to escape is to acquire knowledge after coming from forgetfulness. A soul can accomplish this by finding a teacher who can lead the soul in the right direction:

“This soul needs to follow another soul in whom the Spirit of life dwells, because she is saved through the Spirit. Then she will never be thrust into flesh again.” (Secret Book of John 14:20)

Another Christian Gnostic book, the Pistis Sophia (Greek for “Faith Wisdom”), outlines a system of punishment and rewards that includes reincarnation. The book explains the differences in one’s fate as a result of past-life actions. A “man who curses” will be given a body that is continually “troubled in heart.” A “man who slanders” will be given an “oppressed” body. A thief will be given a “lame, crooked and blind body.” A “proud” and “scornful” man will be given “a lame and ugly body” that “everyone continually despises.” From this, we can see how this Earth, as well as hell, is a place of education through suffering.

According to the Pistis Sophia, some souls experience hell as a place of shadows and torture. However, after these souls pass through hell, they return to Earth for further experiences. Only a relatively few extremely evil souls are not permitted to reincarnate. These souls are cast into “outer darkness” until a time when they are “destroyed and dissolved.”

The Pistis Sophia combines the ideas of reincarnation and divine union in a verse beginning with the question:

“[What happens to] a man who has committed no sin, but done good persistently, but has not found the mysteries?” (Pistis Sophia)

The Pistis Sophia reveals such a soul will receive “a cup filled with thoughts and wisdom,” allowing the soul to remember its divine origin and pursue the “mysteries of the light” until it finds them and is able to “inherit the light forever.” To “inherit the light forever” is a Gnostic term for union with God.

In the Gospel of Phillip, Philip makes a clear distinction between the resurrection of the Spirit (i.e., spiritual regeneration) and the resurrection of the body (reincarnation). In Jesus’ case, he was born with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and his death resulted in a miracle resurrection of his body:

“Those who say that the Lord first died and then arose, are confused. For first he arose and (then) he died. If someone first acquires the resurrection [of the Spirit], he will not die; (as) God lives, that one was [not] going to [die]” (Gospel of Philip 22)

In the Apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon, recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church, is the following verse:

“I was given a sound body to live in because I was already good.” (Wisdom of Solomon 8:19-20)

This verse raises the following question: How is it possible to get a body after you have already been good, unless reincarnation is true?

Among the works of the Christian Gnostics are some of the early gospels, including secret gospels which were not preserved in the New Testament. The Gospel of Thomas was the first gospel ever written and is considered by scholars to be the most reliable gospel. Much of this gospel contains sayings of Jesus that are contained in the four New Testament gospels.

The Christian Gnostic gospels reveal a clear and strong vision of the resurrection as a past and present event. Below is a verse from the Gospel of Thomas that shows the “resurrection” to be a past event:

“His followers said to him, ‘When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?’ He said to them, ‘What you look for has come, but you do not know it.'” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 51)

In the verse above, Jesus says the resurrection and the kingdom are already here. In Gnostic terms, this quote from Jesus refers to a person’s past “resurrection” (i.e., physical rebirth, reincarnation) and the fact that we are already living in the kingdom of God which exists within us. Only through the Christ gnosis can this kingdom be realized and the cycle of resurrection end.

5. The Gospel of Thomas

The sayings that are presented below are excerpts of the Gospel of Thomas that are not present in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

“These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Judas Thomas the Twin recorded.
Jesus said, “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.”
Jesus said, “Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one finds. When one finds, one will be disturbed. When one is disturbed, one will be amazed, and will reign over all.”
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Behold, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds in the sky will get there before you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will get there before you. Rather, the kingdom is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and embody poverty.”
Jesus said, “Know what is within your sight, and what is hidden from you will become clear to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.”
Jesus said, “I have thrown fire on the world and, behold, I am guarding it until it is ablaze.”
Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me with someone, and tell me whom I am like.” Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a just angel.” Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.” Thomas said to him, “Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say whom you are like.” Jesus said, “I am not your teacher. You have become intoxicated because you have drunk from the bubbling spring that I have tended.” And he took Thomas and withdrew, and told him three things. When Thomas came back to his friends, they asked him, “What did Jesus tell you?” Thomas said to them, “If I tell you even one of the things he told me, you will pick up rocks and stone me. Then fire will come forth from the rocks and devour you.”
The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us about the end.” Jesus said, “Have you already discovered the beginning, that now you can seek after the end? For where the beginning is, the end will be. Blessed is one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end, and will not taste death.”
Jesus said, “Blessed is one who came to life before coming to life.”
Jesus said, “If you become my disciples and hearken to my sayings, these stones will serve you.”
Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing babies are like those who enter the kingdom.” They said to him, “Then shall we enter the kingdom as babies?” Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female, when you make eyes replacing an eye, a hand replacing a hand, a foot replacing a foot, and an image replacing an image, then you will enter the kingdom.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are alone and chosen: you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again.”
His disciples said to him, “When will the final rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?” He said to them, “What you look for has already come, but you do not know it.”
Jesus said, “I disclose my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
Jesus said, “Whoever knows everything but lacks within lacks everything.”
Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you.”
Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: all came forth from me, and all attained to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Pick up a stone, and you will find me there.”
Jesus said, “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom.”
Jesus said, “Images are visible to people, but the light within is hidden in the Father’s image of light. He will reveal himself, but his image is hidden by his light.”
Jesus said, “When you see a likeness of yourself, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before you, and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will be able to tolerate!”
Jesus said, “When you make the two into one, you will become sons of man, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move!’ it will move.”
Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will be like me, and I shall be that person, and what is hidden will be revealed to that one.”
Jesus says, “Whoever finds self is worth more than the world.”
His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?” “It will not come by looking for it. Nor will it do to say, ‘Behold, over here!’ or ‘Behold, over there!’ Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out on the Earth, but people do not see it.” (Gospel of Thomas)

6. The Apocalyptic Texts

Among the Christian Gnostic writings were no less than five separate apocalypses. Here they are:

(1) The First Apocalypse of James contains the secret teachings of Christ that were given to James the Just, the Lord’s brother. In it, James refers to Jesus as “rabbi.” Jesus warns James to leave Jerusalem, for the city is a dwelling place of a great number of “archons” or evil angels. Jerusalem is stigmatized as the city which “gives the cup of bitterness to the sons of light.” Jesus coaches James on what to say when he is judged and challenged by the “toll collectors” of heaven in order to pass through the gates of heaven.

(2) The Second Apocalypse of James.

(3) The Apocalypse of Adam.

(4) The Apocalypse of Paul

(5) The Apocalypse of Peter is a record of the vision of Peter the apostle in which he speaks with Christ in the spirit. In this, Peter is clearly seen as the true successor to Christ and the founder of the Gnostic community. In the vision, Peter first sees hostile priests who seem to be intent upon stoning him and Christ to death. Next, Peter recalls the crucifixion during which Jesus stood nearby talking with him.

Peter asks, “Who is this one glad and laughing on the tree (i.e., cross)? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?”
Christ replies, “He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshy part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me.” (Apocalypse of Peter)

Peter seemed to realize that it would be a long time before his book was read and understood, for he writes:

“These things, then, which you saw you shall present to those of another race who are not of this age.” (Apocalypse of Peter)

He seems to be right, as this apocalypse has only just seen the light of day before we enter the age that many believe will begin with the second coming of Christ.

7. The Apocalypse of Paul

The Apocalypse of Paul is an account of the apostle’s ascent into heaven and what he found there, with instructions for other souls on how to conduct themselves during judgment. One of the most interesting aspects of this text is that it corresponds to events found in the New Testament and includes references to reincarnation. Several Christian Gnostic texts combine the ideas of reincarnation and union with God.

As Paul passes through the fourth heaven, he witnesses a soul being punished for murder. This soul is brought “out of the land of the dead” (i.e., Earth) by angels where three witnesses charge the soul with murder. The soul looks sorrowfully down and is cast down into a body that has been prepared for it. The book describes Paul’s journey through the heavens, which is also symbolic for the Gnostic process of union with God.

The New Testament contains a letter by the apostle Paul to the Christians in the city of Corinth, Greece, where he had founded a church on his first visit there. The Christians at this church were being divided by the teachings of so-called “false teachers” that were infiltrating the church there and Paul wrote a letter telling them to not forget what they were taught by Paul. These “false teachers” were trying to get people to follow their teachings and not Paul’s. In order to put these false teachers to shame, Paul rebukes the Corinthians by using false pride and boasting about himself and telling the church why he is more qualified than the false teachers. He tells them of his sufferings and how he was once stoned and left for dead (2 Corinthians 11:23-26). The letter goes on to say:

“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this person – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows – was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that humans are not permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4)

In the above passage, Paul continued his “boasting” by telling about visions and revelations he had received from the Lord. “I know a person in Christ” means that he was speaking about himself. He explained that he didn’t know if he was taken up in his body or in his spirit, but he was in paradise (“the third heaven“). This incident cannot be positively identified with a recorded event in Paul’s career, although some think this may have been when he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20). Paul told about this incident to show that he had been uniquely touched by God.

Many people are unaware of this passage of the Bible and that it is a near-death experience which Paul had. The person who wrote most of the New Testament, the sacred writings of orthodox Christianity, had a near-death experience which he based his authority as an apostle of Christ to the Corinthian church. It can even be argued that his near-death experience directly or indirectly inspired his epistles.

The Apocalypse of Paul reveals how each soul must rise as best it can after death through a hierarchy of heavens and face the increasingly difficult challenges posed by the guardian angels of each heaven. The journey begins with Paul meeting a child on the mountain of Jericho on the way to heaven (symbolized by Jerusalem). This child turns out to be the Holy Spirit, who takes Paul first to the third heaven.

The Holy Spirit warns Paul to keep his wits about him for they are about to enter the realm of “principalities … archangels and powers and the whole race of demons.” The Holy Spirit also mentions that they will pass “one that reveals bodies to a soul-seed,” that is, the being that takes souls and plants them in new bodies for reincarnation. For the soul who wished to ascend to the highest heaven, reincarnation was to be avoided.

When Paul reaches the fourth heaven, the Holy Spirit encourages him to look down upon his body which he has left behind on the mountain of Jericho. As Paul ascends, he witnesses in the fourth heaven the judgment and punishment of another soul. He says, “I saw the angels resembling gods … bringing a soul out of the land of the dead.” The soul has been resurrected so that it can be judged, one of the four events promised for the end of the world. The angels were whipping it.

The soul spoke, saying, “What sin was it that I committed in the world?” The “toll collector” of this heavenly gate accuses the soul. The soul replies, “Bring witnesses! Let them show you in what body I committed lawless deeds.” Three bodies rise up as witnesses and accuse the soul of anger and envy, and finally murder. When the soul heard these things, it gazed downwards in sorrow … It was cast down.

At this point we expect the soul to be cast into hell, as in later Christian doctrine, but no: “the soul that had been cast down went to a body which had been prepared for it,” and was reincarnated.

Paul, somewhat shaken by this experience, was beckoned forward by the Holy Spirit and allowed to pass through the gate of the fifth heaven. Here he saw his fellow apostles and “a great angel in the fifth heaven holding an iron rod in his hand.” This angel and three other angels, with whips in their hands, scourge the souls of the dead and drive them on to judgment. Paul remains with the Holy Spirit and the gates to the sixth heaven swing open effortlessly before him.

In the sixth heaven, Paul sees a strong light shining down on him from the heaven above. He is motioned by the “toll collector” through the gates of the seventh heaven. Here, he sees “an old man filled with light and whose garment was white. His throne, which is in the seventh heaven, was brighter than the sun by seven times.” This old man bears a striking resemblance to Jehovah as he is described in the vision of Ezekiel.

The old man asks, “Where are you going, Paul?” Only reluctantly, after some encouragement from the Holy Spirit, does Paul speak with him and give the Gnostic sign he has learned. The eighth heaven then opens and Paul ascends. Here he embraces the twelve disciples, most of whom he has not met before, and together they rise to the ninth heaven. Finally, Paul reaches the tenth and highest heaven, where he is transformed.

8. The Suppression of Christian Gnosticism

The Christian Gnostics believed in reincarnation and the pre-existence of the soul. They refused to believe in a resurrection of corpses at the end of time. They emphasized meeting Jesus on a spiritual level to become liberated and attain permanent citizenship in heaven. The Church of Rome of the second century A.D., on the other hand, declared that those who deny a Last Day resurrection of corpses are heretics.

Many Christian Gnostics regarded themselves as part of the organized body of Christians of the early church. However, as the organized Church gained political control of the Roman Empire, the Christian Gnostics were persecuted by the organized Church and many were martyred. The Christian Gnostic tradition is one of many branches of early Christianity labeled as heretical by the early Church fathers. The Gnostic influences and writings were removed from official Church doctrines as heresy. Because of their suspected Christian Gnostic origins, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation were almost rejected from the New Testament. Nevertheless, the organized Church succeeded in hiding its Christian Gnostic doctrines.

It is not surprising that the orthodox Church bishops edited out the practical spiritual knowledge which were once an integral part of Christianity and was known and practiced by the apostle Paul. For these fathers, it was far more convenient and gratifying for their egos to assert that spiritual grace could only be attained through them as Christ’s representatives on Earth. To control the masses, the political organization of the church declared that salvation was attained only through the church rituals and through the priesthood. Salvation through a personal mystical experience with Christ apart from the organized church was cast away. In a move that is very likely to have met with the disapproval of Christ himself, the worldly political aspirations of a few priests won out over the spiritual enlightenment of the many.

And as it is with any religion or movement, the successors of its founder decided which things to keep and which to throw out. The organized Church discarded the spiritual knowledge of Christian Gnosticism as being too dangerous and kept the concept of blind acceptance of church doctrine.

Ultimately, the organized Church declared Christian Gnosticism a heresy and began killing those who adhered to its doctrines. Thus the powerful Roman Church began its crusade of eliminating all rivals to its authority. Christian Gnosticism was obliterated and relatively little historical and theological information was left to fully understand early Christian history. This all changed in 1945 with the discovery of the Gnostic Christian scriptures discovered in Egypt. Then in 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls of early Jewish Gnostic writings occurred. Today, with many Christians wondering if the Second Coming of Christ is soon to happen, it may not be a coincidence that these secret writings have come to surface after two thousand years of being hidden. Finally, after two thousands years, the secret is finally out again.