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Exegesis on the Soul

At a Glance
Treatise
Genre:
(5/5) *****
Reliability of Dating:
(5/5) *****
Length of Text:
Greek
Original Language:
Ancient Translations:
Modern Translations:

Estimated Range of Dating: 200-230 A.D.

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Information on the Exegesis on the Soul

On the text's story, Madeleine Scopello writes, "The soul, the Exegesis on the Soul recounts, has a feminine name and a female nature (she even has a womb). She is virginal and androgynous in form when she is alone with her Father, but when she falls into a body and comes to life, she pollutes herself with many lovers. The soul's deceptions are many, and her lovers--brigands and bandits--treat her as a whore. She suffers when she understands that they are taking undue advantage of her, and she seeks other lovers. But even these compel her to live with them and make her their slave, for their sexual satisfaction. Though ashamed, the soul remains enslaved and submissive; her dwelling places are brothels, her steps lead her from one marketplace to another. The only gift she receives from her lovers is their polluted semen, by means of which she bears sick and feebleminded children (127,19-128,26)." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 223)

On the historical context of the text's author, Scopello comments, "The attention given to the theme of marriage and the nuptial chamber in the Exegesis on the Soul, in which the soul and the Spirit ultimately come together in an androgynous union, leads us to situate the writer of the tractate in a Valentinian Gnostic context. The text also gives some attention to the sacraments, though not to the extent of other Valentinian texts within the Nag Hammadi scriptures. All these elements suggest that the Exegesis on the Soul was composed in Alexandria, at the beginning of the third century, by a writer with a cultivated, syncretistic background." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 226)

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Kirby, Peter. "Exegesis on the Soul." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/exegesisonsoul.html>.