Marsanes is a Sethian Gnostic text from the New Testament apocrypha. The only surviving copy comes from the Nag Hammadi library, albeit with four pages missing, and several lines damaged beyond recovery, including the first ten of the fifth page. Scholars speculate that the text was originally written by a Syrian in Greek during the third century.
Like Zostrianos, and Allogenes, the text describes a very elaborate esoteric cosmogony of successive emanations from an original God, as revealed by Marsanes, who is recognized as a Gnostic prophet. Within the text there are indications that the Sethians had developed ideas of monism, an idea comparable to Heracleon's notion of universal perfection and permanence as expressed through the constancy of the total mass of things within it (that is, all matter in the universe may only change form, and may not be created or destroyed), and the later Stoic insistence of nothing existing beyond the material. The text also is an apocalypse that may at one point have been used by the school of Plotinus in Rome. Common Gnostic thought is especially prominent through the text’s discussion on the power of sacred knowledge, which can allow readers to ascend through the levels of the universe until they reach the highest heaven where God resides.
- English Translation by Birger A. Pearson at the Library of Congress Web Archives (archived 2001-11-24)
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