John 11:43-44 & Hymn of the Pearl & others — LeGrand Baker)

Before we discuss the story of Lazarus, there is some background material we should examine.

These are the stories we will visit: (1) Lazarus coming from the tomb to have his burial clothes removed. (2) A young man (probably Mark) coming to Jesus at night, meeting soldiers and running away naked. (3) The young man in the Secret Gospel of Mark who, after being raised from the dead, came to Jesus to be initiated into the secrets of heaven, dressed, like Mark, only “having a linen cloth cast about his naked body.” (4) Enoch’s sode experience beginning with the necessity to remove his worldly clothing so he can be dressed in heavenly garments. (5) The Hymn of the Pearl which follows a boy from his premortal glory, through this world’s experience, to his returning to his Father. The entire story focuses on the importance of the clothes he wears during the different phases of his journey.

The crowning portion of the story of Lazarus is very brief.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go (John 11:43-44).

John’s gospel is a carefully crafted testimony that tends to give few details that are not necessary to what John wishes to teach. Here, he does not just tell us that Lazarus came out of the tomb alive, but that the Savior instructed the people to remove his burial clothes. It seems reasonable to suppose that John finds important symbolism in pointing out that removing those graveclothes was a necessary part of Lazarus’s entering his new life.

In his gospel, Mark tells the very brief account of a young man who came to Jesus on the night he was arrested. The story seems to be a side issue to the reader, but the detail makes it clear that it was important to the writer. Since New Testament authors often mention themselves in third person, some scholars believe this may be about Mark himself. It uses the same language that is found in Mark’s Secret Gospel.

51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked (Mark 14:48-52).

What the young man was wearing—and not wearing—gives us an important insight into what may have happened that evening. In this and in the Secret Gospel, both young men are dressed the same: “wearing a linen cloth over his naked body”—not really a garment, perhaps something more like a sheet, an initiatory “shield.”

The Secret Gospel of Mark brings together both the miracle of Lazarus and the hoped-for ordinances implicit in the story of Mark’s naked young man.

A copy of the following letter was found by Dr. Morton Smith in 1958. It was written on the endpaper of a 17th century printed edition of Ignatius. Professor Smith was cataloging the library of the Mar Saba monastery, southeast of Jerusalem, when he discovered it. The book is now lost, but he photographed it so it can still be examined by scholars. No other part of the Secret Gospel is known to exist. The letter is attributed to Clement, Bishop of Alexandria. Most scholars agree that the letter is authentic as to its time and language, but they question its content. Few Christian scholars accept the notion that Jesus would have participated in secret religious rites.

The Secret Gospel of Mark, translation by Morton Smith: {1}

From the letters of the most holy Clement, the author of the Stromateis. To Theodore. You did well in silencing the unspeakable teachings of the Carpocratians. For these are the “wandering stars” referred to in the prophecy, who wander from the narrow road of the commandments into a boundless abyss of the carnal and bodily sins. For, priding themselves in knowledge, as they say, “of the deep things of Satan,” they do not know that they are casting themselves away into “the nether world of the darkness” of falsity, and, boasting that they are free, they have become slaves of servile desires. Such men are to be opposed in all ways and altogether. For, even if they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not, even so, agree with them. For not all true things are the truth, nor should that truth which merely seems true according to human opinions be preferred to the true truth, that according to the faith. Now of the things they keep saying about the divinely inspired Gospel according to Mark, some are altogether falsifications, and others, even if they do contain some true elements, nevertheless are not reported truly. For the true things being mixed with inventions, are falsified, so that, as the saying goes, even the salt loses its savor. As for Mark, then, during Peter’s stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord’s doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.
But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them and using deceitful arts, so enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got from him a copy of the secret Gospel, which he both interpreted according to his blasphemous and carnal doctrine and, moreover, polluted, mixing with the spotless and holy words utterly shameless lies. From this mixture is drawn off the teaching of the Carpocratians. To them, therefore, as I said above, one must never give way; nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath. For, “Not all true things are to be said to all men.” For this reason the Wisdom of God, through Solomon, advises, “Answer the fool from his folly,” teaching that the light of the truth should be hidden from those who are mentally blind. Again it says, “From him who has not shall be taken away,” and, “Let the fool walk in darkness.” But we are “children of light,” having been illuminated by “the dayspring” of the spirit of the Lord “from on high,” and “Where the Spirit of the Lord is,” it says, “there is liberty,” for “All things are pure to the pure.” To you, therefore, I shall not hesitate to answer the questions you have asked, refuting the falsifications by the very words of the Gospel. For example, after ,”And they were in the road going up to Jerusalem,” and what follows, until “After three days he shall arise,” the secret Gospel brings the following material word for word: “And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’ But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.”After these words follows the text, “And James and John come to him,” and all that section. But “naked man with naked man,” and the other things about which you wrote, are not found. And after the words, “And he comes into Jericho,” the secret Gospel adds only,
“And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them.” But the many other things about which you wrote both seem to be and are falsifications. Now the true explanation and that which accords with the true philosophy…

[Here the fragment ends]

The nakedness of these young men seems to be both factual and symbolic, and the symbolism is no less important than the fact. One would expect them to come to Jesus in a near naked state if he were going to dress them in sacred clothing, as was an import part of the ancient Israelite temple drama coronation ceremony. One cannot put on that which is sacred without first removing the mundane this-world clothing. Their coming unclothed is perfectly consistent with two principles. One is the idea of replacing the ordinary clothing with the sacred. The other is being naked in oneself. That is being humble—not wearing masks or facades when coming before the Lord. Those who come before God dressed in their riches or emblems of authority will discover that God can see through their facade into their naked soul. Both John the Beloved and Alma described the consequences. John prophesied,

15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:15-16).

And Alma warned,

13 Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.
14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.
15 But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance (Alma 12:13-15).

A real and necessary kind of spiritual nakedness is to wear no masks but to simply be unabashedly one’s Self. So Alma asked, “Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God (Alma 5:28).”

In sacred ordinances, one cannot be clothed in the robes of righteousness until one first removes the “filthy” clothing by which defines in this world, thus becoming “naked” before God. “Naked” does not necessarily mean nude. To be naked is to be stripped of the insignia by which one is defined, as when a court-martialed general is cashiered. He is stripped of medals that denoted his honors and rank, but he is not disrobed. He stands naked, but not nude. Similarly, when Alma instructed the Saints of his day that “they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul (Mosiah 18:27-30),” he was meaning those who were clothed poorly, but not nude.

An apocryphal writing reports that Jesus’s disciples asked,

“‘When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?’ Jesus said, ‘When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your [clothes] and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid’” {2}

The Secrets of Enoch describes that prophet’s sode experience. He arrived at the place where the Council in Heaven meets:

8 And the Lord said to Michael: Go and take Enoch from out of his earthly garments, and anoint him with my sweet ointment, and put him into the garments of My glory.
9 And Michael did thus, as the Lord told him. He anointed me, and dressed me, and the appearance of that ointment is more than the great light, and his ointment is like sweet dew, and its smell mild, shining like the sun’s ray, and I looked at myself, and I was like one of his glorious ones {3}

Enoch was dressed in a garment of light like those worn in the Garden by Adam and Eve. Jewish tradition holds that Adam and Eve were originally clothed in a garment of light, which Nibley suggests was the Shechinah. The loss of their garments meant the loss of all things—one’s personal relationship with God, the clothing that defined one as sacred space, food and drink that kept one’s body forever young—the loss of those things left humankind naked, vulnerable, hungry, and increasingly feeble until only death could release them from their infirmities. Yearning to return home and regaining the garment was the foundation principle of the ancient Israelite religion. The conclusion of their temple drama was an expression of hope that somehow they might regain access to the paradisiacal world, partake of the fruit, and participate in the society of the gods. {4}

The Hymn of the Pearl is a most beautiful example pre-exilic writing. It follows the pattern of the ancient Israelite temple drama and is quoted in the New Testament apocrypha in the Acts of Thomas. The poem is unique in that it focuses on the clothing worn, not worn, then worn again by the young prince. As in the cosmic myth, the hero is required to leave his first home among the Gods but first he must remove his royal clothing. He comes to this world where he dresses in mundane clothing just as do the people here. He struggles in this world until he receives a message from his Father which is a renewal of the covenants he made before he left home (the ancient temple blessings). Then he regains his royal robes so he is enabled to return home again. At this place in the story, Nibley comments, “If the whole rest of the poem is applied to the garment only, it is full of strange anomalies, which become perfectly clear in terms of the well-known Veil of the Temple.”{5}

The poem is not named in the Acts of Thomas, but is now called The Hymn of the Pearl. Its first translation was titled, The Hymn of the Soul Contained in the Syriac Acts of St. Thomas, Re-edited with an English translation by Anthony Ashley Bevan. {6}

Bevan’s translation remains the basic English text, but more recent translators differ in some parts. The following is Bevan’s translation interspersed with the work of other scholars. Those differences are important because they often amplify the meaning and broaden the scope and significance of the poem. {7}

The Hymn of the Pearl by Anthony Ashley Bevan.

1 When I was a little child,
And dwelling in my kingdom in my Father’s house,
2 And in the wealth and the glories
Of my nurturers had my pleasure,

“In my first primeval childhood I was nurtured in the royal house of my Father with loving care in the midst of abundance and glory” (Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 267).

3 From the East, our home,
My parents, having equipped me, sent me forth.
4 And of the wealth of our treasury
They had already tied up for me a load,
5 Large it was, yet light,
So that I might bear it unaided-
6 Gold of . …
And silver of Gazzak the great,
7 And rubies of India,
And agates (?) from the land of Kushan (?),
8 And they girded me with adamant [diamond ]
Which can crush iron.
9 And they took off from me the bright robe,
Which in their love they had wrought for me,

9. They removed from me the garment of light,
which they had made for me in love”
(Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 268).

10 And my purple toga,
Which was measured (and) woven to my stature.
11 And they made a compact with me,
And wrote it in my heart that it should not
be forgotten:

11 And they made with me a covenant
And wrote it in my heart, that I might not forget”
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2: 499).
“Covenant” is also in: Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 268; James, Apocryphal New Testament, 411.

12 “If thou goest down into Egypt,
And bringest the one pearl,
13 Which is in the midst of the sea
Hard by the loud-breathing serpent,
[devouring serpent, ]
I4 (Then) shalt thou put on thy bright robe
And thy toga, which is laid over it,
15 And with thy Brother, our next in rank,
Thou shalt be heir in our kingdom.”
16 I quitted the East (and) went down,
There being with me two messengers,
17 For the way was dangerous and difficult,
And I was very young to tread it.
18 I passed the borders of Maishin,
The meeting-place of the merchants of the East,
19 And I reached the land of Babel.
And entered the walls of … [Sarbug ]
20 I went down into Egypt,
And my companions parted from me.
21 I betook me straight to the serpent,
Hard by his dwelling I abode,
21 (Waiting) till he should slumber and sleep,
And I could take my pearl from him.
23 And when I was single and alone,
A stranger to those with whom I dwelt,
24 One of my race, a free-born man,
From among the Easterns, I beheld there-
25 A youth fair and well favored ….
26 …. and he came and attached himself to me.
27 And I made him my intimate,
A comrade with whom I shared my merchandise.
28 I warned him against the Egyptians
And against consorting with the unclean;

23 And since I was all aloneI was a stranger to my companions of my hostelry.
24 But one of my race I saw there, A nobleman out of the East,
25 A youth fair and lovable,
26 An anointed one, And he came and attached himself to me
27 And I made him my intimate friend, My companion to whom I communicated my business.
28 I (He ?) warned him (me ?) against the Egyptians
And against consorting with the unclean (Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:499).

29 And I put on a garb like theirs,
Lest they should insult (?) me
because I had come from afar,

29 But I clothed myself in garments like theirs,
That they might not suspect that I was come from without”
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:499).

30 To take away the pearl,
And (lest) they should arouse the serpent against me,
31 But in some way or other
They perceived that I was not their countryman;
32 So they dealt with me treacherously,
Moreover they gave me their food to eat.
33 I forgot that I was a son of kings.
And I served their king;
34 And I forgot the pearl,
For which my parents had sent me,
35 And by reason of the burden of their… [food]
I lay in a deep sleep,
36 But all these things that befell me
My parents perceived and were grieved for me;
37 And a proclamation was made in our kingdom,
That all should speed to our gate,
38 Kings and princes of Parthia
And all the nobles of the East
39 So they wove a plan on my behalf,
That I might not be left in Egypt,

36. Meanwhile the heavenly parents, aware of what has happened,
37. call a family council
38. of all the great and noble relatives,
39. who decide it is time to act
(Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 269).

40 And they wrote to me a letter,
And every noble signed his name thereto:
41 “From thy Father, the King of kings,
And thy Mother, the mistress of the East,
42 And from thy Brother, our next in rank,
To thee our son, who art in Egypt, greeting!
43 Up and arise from thy sleep,
And listen to the words of our letter
44 Call to mind that thou art a son of kings!
See the slavery-whom thou servest!
45 Remember the pearl
For which thou didst speed to Egypt!
46 Think of thy bright robe,
And remember thy glorious toga,
47 Which thou shalt put on as thine adornment.
When thy name hath been read out
in the list of the valiant,
48 And with thy Brother, our. ..
Thou shalt be …in our kingdom.”

48 And thou with thy brother, our crown prince,
Be heir in our kingdom”
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:501).

45 Remember the pearl for the which thou wast sent into Egypt
46 Remember thy garment spangled with gold,
47 and the glorious mantle which thou shouldest wear
and wherewith thou shouldest deck thyself.
Thy name is named in the book of life,
48 and with thy brother whom thou hast received (thou shalt
be) in our kingdom (James, Apocryphal New Testament, 413).

49 And my letter (was) a letter
Which the King sealed with his right hand,
50 (To keep it) from the wicked ones,
the children of Babel,
And from the savage demons of … [Sarburg]
51 It flew in the likeness of an eagle,
The king of all birds;
51 It flew and alighted beside me,
And became all speech.
53 At its voice and the sound of its rustling,
I started and arose from my sleep.

53 At its voice and the sound of its rustling
I awoke and stood up from my sleep,
54 I took it and kissed it,
Broke its seal and read.
55 And even as it was engraven in my heart
Were the words of my letter written
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:501).

54 I took it up and kissed it,
And loosed its seal (?), (and) read;
55 And according to what was traced on my heart
Were the words of my letter written.
56 I remembered that I was a son of kings,
And my free soul longed for its natural state.

56 I remembered that I was a son of kings
And my noble birth asserted itself.
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:501).

54 He kisses the letter, breaks the seal, and reads,
55 Lo, it is the same letter as that which he brought
with him from on high written in his heart.
56 He remembers that he is a King son,
and his royal nature asserts itself
(Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 270).

57 I remembered the pearl,
For which I had been sent to Egypt,

56 I remembered that I was a son of kings,
And my freedom longed for its own nature.
57 I remembered the pearl,
For which I had been sent to Egypt
(Grant, Gnosticism, 119-20)

58 And I began to charm him,
The terrible loud-breathing serpent.
59 I hurried him to sleep and lulled him into slumber,
For my Father’s name I named over him,
60 And the name of our next in rank,
And of my Mother, the queen of the East;
61 And I snatched away the pearl,
And turned to go back to my Father’s house.
62 And their filthy and unclean garb
I stripped off, and left it in their country,

And I snatched the pearl,
and I turned to go to my father’s house.
I stripped off their dirty robe
and left it in their country
(Cartlidge and Dungan, Documents for the Study, 48).

63 And I took my way straight to come
To the light of our home, the East.

62 And I stripped off the filthy garment and left it in their 1and,
63 and directed my way forthwith to the light of my fatherland
in the East (James, Apocryphal New Testament, 413).

64 And my letter, my awakener,
I found before me on the road,
65 And as with its voice it had awakened me.
(So) too with its light it was leading me
66 … Shone before me with its form,
67 And with its voice and its guidance
It also encouraged me to speed,

66 For at times the royal garment of silk (shone) before mine eyes,
67 (and with its voice and its guidance it also encouraged me
to speed,) (James, Apocryphal New Testament, 414).

68 … And with his love was drawing me on.

65 And as with its voice it had awakened me
[So] too with its light it was leading me
66 For the royal garment of silk
Shone before me with its form,
67 And with its voice and its guidance
It also encouraged me to speed,
68 And with its love was drawing me on. (Grant, Gnosticism, 120).

69 I went forth, passed by …
I left Babel on my left hand,

68 And drawing me with its love.
69 I went forth, passed through Sarburg,
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:502).

70 And reached Maishin the great,
The haven of the merchants,
71 That sitteth on the shore of the sea …
72 And my bright robe, which I had stripped off,
And the toga wherein it was wrapped,

72 His garment of light and his outer robe were waiting for him here
(Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 270. Nibley adds, “Note that raiment is put on not only at the beginning of the journey and at the end, but is also donned at intermediate stages.”)

73 From the heights of Hyrcania (?)
My parents sent thither,
74 By the hand of their treasurers,
Who in their faithfulness could be trusted therewith.
75 And because I remembered not its fashion-
For in my childhood I had left it in my Father’s house
76 On a sudden, as I faced it,
The garment seemed to me like a mirror of myself.
77 I saw it all in my whole self,
Moreover I faced my whole self in (facing) it,
78 For we were two in distinction
And yet again one in one likeness.
79 And the treasurers also,
Who brought it to me, I saw in like manner,
80 That they were twain (yet) one likeness,
For one kingly sign was graven on them,

80 That they were two of a single form,
For one sign of the king was impressed upon them,
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:502).

81 Of his hand that restored to me (?)
My treasure and my wealth by means of them,
82 My bright embroidered robe,
Which …with glorious colours;

78 For we were two in distinction
And yet again one in one likeness.
79 And the treasurers also,
Who brought it to me, I saw in like manner,
80 That they were twain [yet] one likeness,
For there was graven on them one sign of the King,
81 Whose hands [they were] “which restored to me [?]
My treasure and my wealth by means of them,
82 My bright embroidered robe,
which was decorated with glorious colours;
(Grant, Gnosticism, 121).

83 With gold and with beryls,
And rubies and agates (?)
84 And sardonyxes varied in color,
It also was made ready in its home on high (?).
85 And with stones of adamant
All its seams were fastened;

85 “Fastened everywhere with diamond clasps.” (Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 271 . Nibley adds this note: “All its seams were sewn with diamonds” [Adam]. This indicates that the garment, though the same one, is now enhanced, gesteigert, the same garment, but a better one, enriched by earthly merits and victory [Hoffmann, p. 286]).”

86 And the image of the King of kings
Was depicted in full allover it,

86 And the likeness of the king of kings
Was completely embroidered all over it
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:503).
86 And the image of the King of Kings covered the whole thing. (Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 271. Nibley adds this note: “If the whole rest of the poem is applied to the garment only, it is full of strange anomalies, which become perfectly clear in terms of the well-known Veil of the Temple.”)

87 And like the sapphire-stone also
Were its manifold hues.
88 Again I saw that all over it
The motions of knowledge were stirring,
89 And as if to speak
I saw it also making itself ready.
90 I heard the sound of its tones,
Which it uttered to those who brought it down (?)
91 Saying, “I …
Whom they reared for him (?)
in the presence of my father,
92 And I also perceived in myself
That my stature was growing according to his labors.”

89 And as if to speak
I saw it also making itself ready.
90 I heard the sound of its tones,
Which it uttered to those who brought it down [?]
91 Saying,” I am he who is mighty in deeds
I whom they reared for him in the presence of my father,
92 And I also perceived in myself (Grant, Gnosticism,121).

93 And in its kingly motions
It was spreading itself out towards me,
94 And in the hands of its givers
It hastened that I might take it.

91 “I belong to the most valiant servant,
For whom they reared me before my father,
92 And I perceived also in myself
That my stature grew according to his labours.”
93 And with its royal movements
It poured itself entirely toward me,
94 And in the hands of its bringers
It hastened, that I might take it;
(Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:503).

95 And me too, my love urged on
That I should run to meet it and receive it,
96 And I stretched forth and received it,
With the beauty of its colors I adorned myself.
97 And my toga of brilliant colors
I cast around me, in its whole breadth.
98 I clothed myself therewith, and ascended
To the gate of salutation and homage;
99 I bowed my head, and did homage
To the Majesty of my Father, who had sent it to me,
100 For I had done his commandments,
And he too had done what he promised,
101 And at the gate of his princes
I mingled with his nobles;
102 For he rejoiced in me and received me,
And I was with him in his kingdom.
103 And With the voice of …
All his servants glorify him.
104 And he promised that also to the gate
Of the King of kings I should speed with him,
105 And bringing my gift and my pearl
I should appear with him before our King.

91 I am of him that is more valiant than all men,
for whose sake I was reared up with the Father himself.
92 And I also perceived his stature
(Greek reads, “I perceived in myself that my stature
grew in accordance with his working).
93 And all Its royal motions rested upon me as it grew toward
the impulse of it (And with its kingly motions it was spreading itself toward me).
94 And it hastened, reaching out from the hand of (him that
brought it) unto him that would receive it,
95 and me also did yearning arouse to start forth and meet it
and receive it.
96 And I stretched forth and received it, and adorned myself with
the beauty of the colours thereof,
97 and in my royal robe excelling in beauty I arrayed myself wholly.
98 And when I had put it on, I was lifted up unto the place of
peace (salutation) and homage,
99 and I bowed my head and worshipped the brightness of the
Father which had sent it unto me,
100 for I had performed his commandments, and he likewise
that which he had promised,
101 and at the doors of his palace which was from the beginning
I mingled among (his nobles),
102 and he rejoiced over me and received me with him into his palace,
103 and all his servants do praise him with sweet voices.
104 And he promised me that with him I shall be sent unto the
gates of the king,
105 that with my gifts and my pearl we may appear together
before the king (James, Apocryphal New Testament, 414-15).


{1} For the full story of its finding and translation see, Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel, The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark (Clearlake, CA, Dawn Horse Press, 1982), 14-17.

{2} Gospel of Thomas in James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1988), 130, 37.

{3} Book of the Secrets of Enoch, chapter 22:8-9, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, 2 vols., Translated and edited by R. H. Charles. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), 2: 431-69.

{4} Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981, 2000), 373; Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, in CWHN 14:373. See “Shechinah” in LDS Bible dictionary.
For a discussion of that garment of light and its significance, see Stephen Ricks, “The Garment of Adam in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Tradition.” in Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry. 705-39. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994.
For a discussion of the ancient Israelite temple drama see our Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord (the entire book).

{5}There is a careful discussion of the poem in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition, 103-21; second (paperback) edition 83-98. The paperback edition is available on this website.

{6}Anthony Ashley Bevan, trans, Hymn of the Soul Contained in the Syriac Acts of St Thomas, Re-edited with an English Translation (Cambridge, University Press, 1897).

{7} The other translators are:

David R. Cartlidge, and David L. Dungan, Documents for the Study of the Gospels (Philadelphia, Fortress, 1980).

Robert M. Grant, Gnosticism (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1966).

Edgar Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, 2 vols., edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher. Translated by R. McL. Wilson (Philadelphia, Westminster, 1963). (see “Schneemelcher,” for the revised edition.)

Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1975).

Montague Rhodes James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, Clarendon, 1975).


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