Dialogue of the Saviour

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The Dialogue of the Saviour is one of the New Testament apocrypha texts that was found within the Nag Hammadi library of predominantly gnostic texts. The text appears only once in a single Coptic codex, and is heavily damaged. The surviving portions indicate that the general content is a dialogue with Jesus, in a similar manner to, and possibly based on, the Gospel of Thomas.

The text is somewhat peculiarly constructed, containing also a few large interruptions seemingly out of place within, and only superficially edited into, the dialogue. Starting with a series of questions ultimately concerning esoteric knowledge and its pursuit, the text abruptly turns to a description of the origin of the world, interrupted briefly by a return to dialogue. Having expounded the description of creation, it returns to the gnostic question and answer session about how to achieve salvation via gnosis, but is abruptly interrupted by a natural history list of the Four Elements, the powers of heaven and earth, and so forth.

After the history list, there is an apocalyptic vision, in which Didymus Judas Thomas, Mary, and Matthew, are shown hell from the safety of the edge of the earth, and an angel announces that the material world was an unintended evil creation (see Yaltabaoth). Finally, the text returns to the question-based dialogue.

The rather artificial manner in which other texts (the vision of hell, the natural history list, and the creation theory) appear to have been inserted into a question-based dialogue, and the abrupt change halfway through from referring to Jesus as Lord to referring to him as Saviour, has led many to propose that it is based on four or five different original works. However, due to the damage that the text has suffered, study of it has so far proven too difficult to identify what these texts might be (although the dialog shares an affinity with the Gospel of Thomas).

Although the text appears to be misogynist in its command to destroy the works of femaleness, it is generally considered that this was a reference to destroying sexuality and thus reproduction, thus suppressing carnal desire.

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