Exegesis on the Soul

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The Exegesis on the Soul is one of the ancient texts found at Nag Hammadi, in Codex II. Its purpose is to teach that the soul is a woman which fell from perfection into prostitution, and that the Father will elevate her again to her original perfect state. [1]

According to Irenaeus, this teaching was a foundational pillar of the doctrine of Simon Magus, which Simon viewed as so important that he actually married a prostitute and elevated her in society in order to demonstrate the point. Hence, it is possible that the text was written by the Simonian school of Gnostics.

The text quotes copiously from the Old Testament prophets, from the New Testament gospels, and from the epistles of Paul. Curiously, the text also quotes from Homer's Odyssey. These quotes indicate that the author viewed Greek legend and mythology as a type of scripture, just as the author also viewed large portions of the Old and New Testaments as scripture.

The author and date are not certain, however is likely from between the 1st century AD and the 4th century AD.[original research?] Although it is silent concerning the typical Gnostic cosmology, its placement in the same codex with such texts as the Apocryphon of John, Hypostasis of the Archons, and On the Origin of the World indicate that it may well have been produced by a school which accepted Gnostic cosmology. In this context, the female personification of the soul resembles the passion of Sophia, which is a theme pervasively found in Gnostic cosmology. Also, the text's placement toward the back of the codex may indicate that it was written later and/or was of relatively lesser importance than the other texts in the codex.


  1. ^ "The Nag Hammadi Library - The Exegesis on the Soul". HarperCollins. Retrieved 2011-03-05.

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