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The Testimony of Truth

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: 150-200 A.D.

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Information on the Testimony of Truth

Birger A. Pearson writes, "The original title of this tractate, if there was one, is unknown. It is possible that a title was supplied at the end of the tractate, but the last two pages of the codex are lost. The title now in regular use has been editorially assigned on the basis of a major theme found in the tractate ('word of truth,' 31,8; 'true testimony,' 45,1), part of its polemical thrust. The author is intent upon presenting his version of the truth - a radically encratic Gnostic Christianity - and contrasting this with the false opinions and practices of his 'heretical' opponents. His polemics are presented in the form of rhetorical antitheses (light-darkness, knowledge-ignorance, incorruptibility-corruption, etc.). The author's opponents are easily identifiable on the basis of how they are described. They consist for the most part of members of the catholic ('orthodox') church, who clearly constitute a majority of Christians in the author's locale. Interestingly enough, the author's opponents also include fellow Gnostics, such as the Valentinians, Basilidians, Simonians, and others, with whose practices he vehemently disagrees." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 613)

Birger A. Pearson asks, "Who was this man? He was surely well schooled in the Valentinian tradition, even though he included Valentinians among his opponents, so we might look upon him as an ex-member of the Valentinian school. As it happens, Clement of Alexandria provides us with information in his Miscellanies (3.85-95) on a teacher of radical encratism, Julius Cassianus, who is said to have 'departed from the school of Valentinus,' presumably because he had come to disagree with Valentinian practices. There is considerable overlap between what Clement tells us about this man and the views expressed by the author of the Testimony of Truth, so it is not unreasonable tentatively to identify Julius Cassianus as the author of our tractate. To be sure, this identification has been criticized on various grounds: the absence of attacks on martyrdom and baptism in what Clement tells us of Julius's teachings, supposed differences between Julius and our tractate's author on the interpretation of Genesis 2-3, and a more favorable view of the Old Testament attributable to Julius than is reflected in the Testimony of Truth. It must be remembered that Julius's writings are not extant, and Clement's information about him is not extensive, so the question of the authorship of our tractate must remain open. In any case, whoever the author was, he wrote around the same time and in the same place as Julius Cassianus, in the late second- or early third-century Alexandria." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pp. 615-616)


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Kirby, Peter. "The Testimony of Truth." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/norea.html>.