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The Gospel of Eve

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Estimated Range of Dating: 100-200 A.D.

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Information on the Gospel of Eve

Epiphanius makes this quotation from the Gospel of Eve (Panarion, 26.3.1):

I stood upon a high mountain and saw a tall man, and another of short stature, and heard as it were a sound of thunder and went nearer in order to hear. Then he spoke to me and said: I am thou and thou art I, and where thou art there am I, and I am sown in all things; and whence thou wilt, thou gatherest me, but when thou gatherest me, then gatherest thou thyself.

It's possible that this other quotation by Epiphanius derived from the Gospel of Eve: "I saw a tree which bore twelve fruits in the year, and he said to me: This is the Tree of Life." (Panarion, 26.5.1)

Henri-Charles Puech, as revised by Beate Blatz, writes concerning the contents of the Gospel of Eve: "The first passage quoted in Epiphanius appears to belong to the beginning of the document. It is however very difficult to make any precise statements about the identity of the speaker and the mythical interlocutor. Eve herself could be the narrator of the vision, but it could just as well be some anonymous seer. Several interpretations may likewise be offered for the two figures who appear in the vision. They may represent 'the Urmensch and his dwarfish earthly likeness', or the Urmensch and the Son of Man, or it may be a question of 'God the Father and Barbelo, who is stunted because the power has been taken from her'. Perhaps also the two figures are in reality one, seen at one and the same time under two different aspects, as is frequently the case in narratives of this type (cf. e.g. the beginning of the Apocryphon of John or appearances of Jesus Christ or other beings, divine or demonic, in manifold embodiments). All that is certain is that the Gospel of Eve belongs to the revelation documents, hence to the apocalyptic literature. It is constructed after the widespread pattern of the 'vision report' and employs the usual motifs of this kind of literature: the setting of the scene upon a mountain, the appearance of a figure of very great or gigantic stature, an address by this figure to the seer. The revealer, or divine being, discloses to his interlocutor his identity with him, by an almost stereotyped formula (egw su kai su egw) which is often employed in gnostic, Hermetic, magic or alchemical texts. This identity implies that the one is everywhere and always present to the other, and that there is consubstantiality between them. 'To gather oneself' (eauton sullegein), i.e. to gather the substance of one's spiritual 'light-nature' which is dispersed in the body and in matter, to recover and save one's 'ego' by disengaging it from the diversity of the world and restoring it to its original unity, is equivalent to saying that the one at the same time gathers and saves the substance, or a part of the substance, of the other, which is likewise scattered, dispersed and imprisoned in the world. There is a collaboration between the Saviour and the saved. Here again the theory and the language are gnostic. They recur in Manicheism." (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, p. 359)

Further, concerning the second, hypothetical fragment: "The context of the second quotation adds that the 'Gnostics' read these lines in apocrypha (en apokrufois) and saw in them a symbolic reference to menstrual blood. But it is more probably a case of a very free quotation of Rev. 22:2 (K. Holl in his edition of the Panarion, I, 281, not to line 17). Even if it be maintained that apokrufa here indicates an esoteric writing of gnostic origin, it would seem that the passage ought rather to be connected with 'The Great Questions of Mary' (below p. 390f), where we find a theory of menstrual blood, based on allegorical interpretation of other biblical passages, which is analogous to that which our quotation is held to presuppose (Epiph. Pan. 26.8.7 and 9.2)." (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, p. 360)

They also explain Harnack's hypothesis concerning this text: "Harnack (Litg. I, 166 and 168) believed it possible to find traces of the Gospel of Eve in the Pistis Sophia (c. 96) and among the Peratae (Hippol. Ref. V 16.8 and 13-14), but the evidence on which he relies admits of several opinions. On the other hand one may agree with him in the assumption (op. cit. II 1.539) that the work was written in the 2nd century." (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, p. 360)

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Kirby, Peter. "The Gospel of Eve." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospeleve.html>.