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Valentinian Exposition with Valentinian Liturgical Readings

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: 150-350 A.D.

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Einar Thomassen writes, "Although the general scheme of the system in Valentinian Exposition is unmistakably Valentinian, it offers some unusual and puzzling variations. One odd feature is that the usual tripartition into material, psychical, and spiritual is missing, apparently replaced by a dualistic division into spirit and matter, or flesh. No satsifactory explanation has so far been found for this major divergence from the normal doctrine. Also unusual is the important role played by Sophia's original partner in the Pleroma (36; 39): it is to her partner that she is restored at the end, instead of being united with the Savior, or Jesus, as the systems normally have it. Jesus on his part is said to be united at the end with Christ, another odd idea. ... The Valentinian Liturgical Readings (40,1-44,37) are five short texts that deal with ritual practices: anointing, baptism (two readings), and the eucharist (two readings). They are written immediately after Valentinian Exposition in Codex XI, and it is a plausible (though unprovable) assumption that they were used in worship by the same Valentinian group as was using that particular tractate for instruction." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 665)

Birger A. Pearson writes, "The tractate lacks a title in the manuscript; so a title has been assigned to it by its first translators, based on its content. Up to sixteen lines are missing from the tops of each of the pages, and what remains of the pages reflect considerable damage. Even so, it is possible to see that the tractate is an exposition of Valentinian mythology, consisting of protology, the fall of Sophia, the creation of the world and humankind, and the ultimate return of Sophia into the Pleroma, together with the spiritual seed. ... A Valentinian Exposition was evidently composed as a text used for catechetical instruction of neophytes preparing for initiation into the Valentinian church. The main tractate ends on line thirty-nine of page thirty-nine and is marked off with decoration in the manuscript. What follows on page forty through forty-four consists of five liturgical appendices, each of them also delineated by decorations in the manuscript. ... This material provides for further instruction to neophytes, preparing them for liturgical rites that will be part of their initiation." (Ancient Gnosticism, pp. 182-183)

Einar Thomassen writes, "The date and provenance of Valentinian Exposition is an open question. The text contains some materials that are undoubtedly very old in the history of Valentinianism, since it uses a system that has a series of eatures similar to that attributed (though wrongly) by Irenaeus to Valentinus in Against Heresies 1.11.1: Sophia being abandoned by her son, the use of 'Ineffable' as the primary name for the Father, and the idea that the Boundary separates the Father from the aeons. On the other hand, the author also has access to other Valentinian sources, and the tractate itself may have been composed at a considerably later time than the materials incorporated into it. Thus, any time between 160 and 350 (the approximate date of the codex itself) is conceivable." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 665)


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Kirby, Peter. "Valentinian Exposition with Valentinian Liturgical Readings." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/valentinian.html>.