Valentinian Cosmology Explained


Valentinian Cosmology






Valentinian Cosmology is pretty complicated doctrinal things and some modern Gnostics have a tendency to think that Gnosticism is post doctrinal and that dogma and doctrine are bad things but to the classical Gnostics they were important and and for us as modern Gnostics they're important because cosmology (Cosmogony is the study of the creation of the universe.) determines anthropology (Christian anthropology is the study of the human ("anthropology") as it relates to God) our view of mankind.

Valentinian Cosmology comes from a study of the prologue of the Gospel of John. It is a study of Creation and the Divine Attributes of God together they make up the Pleroma.


To Explain the Divine Attributes Valentinians would refer to the prologue in the Gospel of John when it says "the word was in the beginning," Valentinians believed that John was referring to mind and truth this we can see from Theodotus: Excerpta ex Theodoto 6 quoted below

Valentinians believed that some Greek words in the prologue in the Gospel of John and the letters of Paul form the totality of the Divine Attributes which they called the Pleroma



The Pleroma
First of all the Pleroma did not always exist it was produced and formed by the Eternal Spirit this we call the emanation.
(He created the holy Pleroma in this way The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)

The word Pleroma means "fullness". It refers to all existence beyond visible universe. 

In other words it is the world of the Aions, the heavens or spiritual universe. 

Bythos (Ro 11:33) is the spiritual source of everything which emanates the pleroma, 


The Aions are emanations of the Divine Mind as well as Divine Beings

(For each of the aions is a name corresponding to each of the Father's qualities and powers the Tripartite Tractate)

The Pleroma is both the abode of and the essential nature of the True Ultimate Deity or Bythos.
(Ro 11:33)

The Pleroma as well as being the the dwellings place of the Aions is also a a state of consciousness

The lowest regions of Pleroma are closest to darkness—that is, the physical universe.


For more information on the Pleroma see my studies
The Pleroma the Waters Above the Heavens

The Concept of the Pleroma


Different myth

Different forms of this Cosmological myth appear in different Valentinian writings for example in the the Tripartite Tractate the fall is because of the actions of the Logos not Sophia as many other text say

Valentinians do not use the terms Barbelo or Yaldabaoth in their myths


Valentinian viewed the emanations we are going to looking at as syzygy that is pairs Logos male Zoe female Anthropos male and Ekklesia female.


This is not really a myth but a study of the mind of God pre-creation it would be best to call this a primordial drama instead of a myth.


 the pattern of heavenly things

The Pleroma the region of light, is the archetypal heavenly things, it is the pattern which was shown to Moses and is called the heavenly things themselves

Acts 7:44–7:44
44“Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.


Heb 8:5  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.


Heb 9:23 ¶  It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.


Philo of Alexandria: The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason; and the world, perceptible by the external senses, was made on the model of it; and the first portion of it, being also the most excellent of all made by the Creator, was the heaven, which he truly called the firmament, as being corporeal; for the body is by nature firm....called it the heaven, either because it was already the Boundary{2} of everything, or because it was the first of all visible things which was created; and after its second rising he called the time day, referring the entire space and measure of a day to the heaven, on account of its dignity and honour among the things perceptible to the external senses. 


{philo means that ouranos was derived either from horos, a boundary, or from horaoµ, to see, horatos, visible.}

The Demiurge

In the prologue of the Gospel of John can be interpreted in two ways as a pre-creation myth in this case we should view words such as logos, life, light, man, not as separate beings but as Divine Attributes of the One True Deity. However if we look at this as a creation myth it should be in interpreted that the logos did not make the world this was done by the Craftsman or Demiurge, this can be seen from Heracleon's Commentary on the Gospel of John:

Heracleon Fragment 1, on John 1:3 (In John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made.”) The sentence: "All things were made through him" means the world and what is in it. It excludes what is better than the world. The Aion (i.e. the Fullness), and the things in it, were not made by the Wordthey came into existence before the Word. . . “Without him, nothing was made” of what is in the world and the creation. . . "All things were made through Him," means that it was the Word who caused the Craftsman (Demiurge) to make the world, that is it was not the Word “from whom” or “by whom,” but the one “through whom (all things were made).”. . . It was not the Word who made all things, as if he were energized by another, for "through whom" means that another made them and the Word provided the energy.

This Fragment from Heracleon's Commentary on the Gospel of John is in agreement with the Tripartite Tractate:

Over all the archons he appointed an Archon with no one commanding him. He is the lord of all of them, that is, the countenance which the Logos brought forth in his thought as a representation of the Father of the Totalities. Therefore, he is adorned with every <name> which <is> a representation of him, since he is characterized by every property and glorious quality. For he too is called "father" and god" and "demiurge" and "king" and "judge" and "place" and "dwelling" and "law."

The Logos uses him as a hand, to beautify and work on the things below, and he uses him as a mouth, to say the things which will be prophesied.

The things which he has spoken he does


For more information on this see my study on the Demiurge


A brief summary of the Valentinian system


From the transcendent Deity there was emanated a male principle called Mind and a female principle called Thought. 


In these principles emanated others, in male and female pairs to the total of thirty knows as Aions who collectively constitute the fullness or the divine realm which others would call the spirit world which is beyond the physical heavens it is also called the 3rd Heaven.
John 1:1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word (logos or the first thought or reason of God), and the Word was with God (the Monad [meaning the One] the transcendent Deity or the Uncreated Eternal Spirit), and the Word was God. (It was "with God" in that it emanated from him; )
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 ¶ And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Note The word “beginning” in John 1:1 cannot refer to the “beginning” of God the Creator, for he is eternal, having no beginning. (Ps 90:2)

John 1:18 No one, hath seen, God, at any time: An Only Begotten God, The One existing within the bosom of the Father, He, hath interpreted him.

"Theos was the Logos."

In this text, then, there is ONE DEITY, and he is styled THE LOGOS. This word signifies, "the outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known; also, the inward thought or reason itself

No Logos, then there would be no Theos; and without Theos, the Logos could have no existence. This may be illustrated by the relation of reason, or intelligence and speech, to brain, as affirmed in the proposition, No brain, -- no thought, reason, nor intelligence. Call the brain Theos; and thought, reason, and understanding intelligently expressed, Logos; and the relation and dependence of Theos and Logos, in John's use of the terms, may readily be conceived. Brain-flesh is substance, or the hypostasis, that underlies thought; so Theos is substance which constitutes the substratum of Logos. Theos is the substance called Spirit; as it is written, "Theos is Spirit;" and he who uttered these words is declared to be himself both substance and spirit. Dr. John Thomas Eureka Volume 1 Of Deity Before Manifestation in Flesh.

Theos is the Brain, Logos is the Mind or thought


Valentinian Commentary

Ptolemy's Commentary On The Gospel of John Prologue: John, the disciple of the Lord, intentionally spoke of the origination of the entirety, by which the Father emitted all things. And he assumes that the First Being engendered by God is a kind of beginning; he has called it "Son" and "Only-Begotten God." In this (the Only-Begotten) the Father emitted all things in a process involving posterity. By this (Son), he says, was emitted the Word, in which was the entire essence of the aions that the Word later personally formed.

"Only-Begotten God." meaning a begotten God of the unbegotten God

Theodotus: Excerpta ex Theodoto 6 The verse, “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God” the Valentinians understand thus, for they say that the “beginning” is the “Only Begotten” and that he is also called God, as also in the verses which immediately follow it explains that he is God, for it says, “The Only-Begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.” (John 1:18) Now they say that the Logos in the beginning, that is to say in the Only-Begotten, in the Mind and the Truth, indicates the Christ, the Logos and the Life [Zoe]. Wherefore he also appropriately calls God him who is in God, the Mind. “That which came into being in him,” the Logos, “was Life,” the Companion. Therefore the Lord also says, “I am the Life.”

God came forth: the Son, Mind of the All, that is, it is from the Root of the All that even his Thought stems, since he had this one (the Son) in Mind. The Nag Hammadi Library A Valentinian Exposition

The logos here is a personification of the mind of God or the Father's first thought. We will look more at personifications later.





This logos which is mind and truth can be compared with the The Tripartite Tractate:
The Father, in the way we mentioned earlier, in an unbegotten way, is the one in whom he knows himself, who begot him having a thought, which is the thought of him, that is, the perception of him, which is the [...] of his constitution forever. That is, however, in the proper sense, the silence and the wisdom and the grace, if it is designated properly in this way.

Theodotus: Excerpta ex Theodoto 7 Therefore, the Father, being unknown, wished to be known to the Aions, and through his own thought, as if he had known himself, he put forth the Only-Begotten, the spirit of Knowledge which is in Knowledge. So he too who came forth from Know ledge, that is, from the Father's Thought, became Knowledge, that is, the Son, because “through' the Son the Father was known.” But the Spirit of Love has been mingled with the Spirit of Knowledge, as the Father with the Son, and Thought with Truth, having proceeded from Truth as Knowledge from Thought. And he who remained “ Only-Begotten Son in the bosom of the Father” explains Thought to the Aions through Knowledge, just as if he had also been put forth from his bosom; but him who appeared here, the Apostle no longer calls “ Only Begotten,” but “ as Only-Begotten,” “Glory as of an Only-Begotten.” This is because being one and the same, Jesus is the” First-Born” in creation, but in the Pleroma is “Only- Begotten.” But he is the same, being to each place such as can be contained [in it]. And he who descended is never divided from him who remained. For the Apostle says, “For he who ascended is the same as he who descended.” And they call the Creator, the image of the Only-Begotten. Therefore even the works of the image are the same and therefore the Lord, having made the dead whom he raised an image of the spiritual resurrection, raised them not so that their flesh was incorruptible but as if they were going to die again.


Theodotus: Excerpta ex Theodoto 8 But we maintain that the essential Logos is God in God, who is also said to be “in the bosom of the Father,” continuous, undivided, one God.

The first thought is the logos and also called Mind and Truth

The Father through that first thought brings forth the only begotten Son
Valentinian cosmology starts with this primal being primal being we're going to call the Monad meaning the One. "The Monad who is, the Father, that is, the Root of the All, the Ineffable One He dwells alone in silence, and silence is tranquility since, after all, he was a Monad and no one was before him." Valentinian Exposition.

From the Valentinian Exposition we can we that the primal ineffable Father has two components a male and a female component or aspects, attribute, the male aspects is called Bythos (Ro 11:33) meaning depth and the female aspect is called Sige (1Ki 19:12 ) meaning silence. Silence can be compared to wisdom thus Sige is also Sophia.

This describes the supreme Deity as being androgynous this is what the Valentinian Exposition means when it says "He dwells in the Dyad and in the Pair, and his Pair is Silence, "

This also describes the Deity has incomprehensible and cannot be seen cannot be heard since the Father-Mother is unfathomable and Silent

The primal Depth (the masculine principle) and Ennoia or Sige meaning Thought (the feminine principle) together make up the first Dyadic or a syzygy

This view of God being androgynous can be found in the Bible in the Book of Proverbs God has a feminine aspect wisdom (Sophia):
8:22 Yahweh possessed me," saith the Logos, "in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from olahm (the hidden period) from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the open places, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the deep; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree that the water should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him as one brought up with him (the Logos was with the Theos): and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights with the sons of men" (Prov. 8:22).

Here wisdom is personified. Wisdom here is not a separate deity. 
but it is the personification of the attribute of wisdom displayed by God:  truth, justice, value, the beautiful, faithful, eternal companion and handmaid of God.


The personification begins with the love relationship she has with her followers is a guarantee of prosperity, provided they walk in her ways [vv 17-21]. Then, in the astounding passage in vv 22–31, she affirms her origins from God, and from of old before creation. The description of creation in vv 25–29 is not really important here; there is no concentration on creation itself, which merely serves to underscore Wisdom's preexistence. 

So from the Gospel of John chapter 1 and the Book of Proverbs chapter 8 we can see that the God of the Bible also incorporated masculine and feminine characteristics Logos and 
Sophia through these attribute the Father created the universe


This is the same as the Gnostic understanding

Getting back now to the the prologue of the Gospel of John 

Ptolemy's Commentary On The Gospel of John Prologue "The entirety was made through it, and without it was not anything made." [Jn 1:3] For the Word became the cause of the forming and origination of all the aions that came after it. 

Theodotus: Excerpta ex Theodoto 8 “All things were made by him”; things both of the spirit, and of the mind, and of the senses, in accordance with the activity proper to the essential Logos. “This one explained the bosom of the Father,” the Saviour and [Isaiah said, “And I will pay back their deeds into their bosom,” that is, into their thought, which is in the soul, from which it is first activated] “First-Born of all creation.” But the essential Only-Begotten, in accordance with whose continuous power the Saviour acts, is the Light of the Church, which previously was in darkness and ignorance.

“And darkness comprehended him not”: the apostates and the rest of men did not know him and death did not detain him.

Ptolemy's Commentary On The Gospel of John Prologue: But furthermore (he says), "That which came into being in it was Life."[Jn 1:4] Here he discloses a pair [syzygy]. For he says that the entirety came into being through it, but Life is in it. Now, that which came into being in it more intimately belongs to it than what came into being through it: it is joined with it and through it it bears fruit. Indeed, inasmuch as he adds, "and Life [Zoe] was the light of human beings", [Jn 1:4] in speaking of human beings he has now disclosed also the Church by means of a synonym, so that with a single word he might disclose the partnership of the pair [syzygy]. For from the Word [Logos] and Life [Zoe], the Human Being [Anthropos] and the Church [Ekklesia] came into being. And he called Life the light of human beings because they are enlightened by her, i.e. formed and made visible. Paul, too, says this: "For anything that becomes visible is light." [Eph 5:13] So since Life made the Human Being and the Church visible and engendered them, she is said to be their light.

Now among other things, John plainly made clear the second quartet, i.e. the Word; Life; the Human Being; the Church.

But what is more, he also disclosed the first quartet. describing the Savior, now, and saying that all things outside the Fullness were formed by him, he says that he is the fruit of the entire fullness. For he calls him a light that "shines in the darkness" [Jn 1:5] and was not overcome by it, inasmuch as after he had fitted together all things that had derived from the passion they did not become acquainted with him. And he calls him Son, Truth, Life, and Word become flesh. We have beheld the latter's glory, he says. And its glory was like that of the Only- Begotten, which was bestowed on him by the Father, "full of grace and truth". [Jn 1:14] And he speaks as follows: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; we have beheld its glory, glory as of the Only-Begotten from the Father." [Jn 1:14] So he precisely discloses also the first quartet when he speaks of the Father; Grace; the Only-Begotten; Truth. Thus did John speak of the first octet, the mother of the entirety of aions. For he referred to the Father; Grace; the Only-Begotten; Truth; the Word; Life; the Human Being; the Church.


The Nag Hammadi Library A Valentinian Exposition:


That Tetrad projected the Tetrad which is the one consisting of Word and Life and Man and Church. Now the Uncreated One projected Word and Life. Word is for the glory of the Ineffable One while Life is for the glory of Silence, and Man is for his own glory, while Church is for the glory of Truth. This, then, is the Tetrad begotten according to the likeness of the Uncreated (Tetrad). And the Tetrad is begotten [... ] the Decad from Word and Life, and the Dodecad from Man, and Church became a Triacontad. Moreover, it is the one from the Triacontad of the Aions who bear fruit from the Triacontrad. They enter jointly, but they come forth singly, fleeing from the Aions and the Uncontainable Ones. And the Uncontainable Ones, once they had looked at him, glorified Mind since he is an Uncontainable One that exists in the Pleroma.


You may be wondering why Ekklesia or Church used in the emanations described here this is because the church is the also part of the pleroma (Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.)


The ultimate transcendent deity Profundity (Βυθός), which is also called First-Beginning and First-Father (Προαρχή, Προπάτωρ) possesses Thought (Ἔννοια), which is also called Grace and Silence (Χάρις, Σιγή), which depicts the primal Deity as a self-thinking Unity.




In Irenaeus’s account, the Grace is mentioned as the conjugal pair of the Father, and they form together with the Mind and Truth the first Tetrad. In addition to the Logos and the Life, another pair, i.e. the Man and the Church, must be added in order to generate the second Tetrad. Consequently, the whole Ogdoad was completed, and it served as the Mother of all Aions. The Savior was according to Iren. Haer. 1.8.5 the fruit of the entire Pleroma.

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