Cerinthus: The Most Important Heretic You’ve Never Heard Of

Of the early Christian heretics who get attention from scholars and enthusiasts alike, Marcion, Valentinus, and Arius occupy the most head space.  Other sects, including the Sethians, Encratites, and Ebionites are often seen as noteworthy, but probably not too influential on the development of later Christian doctrine.

It might go without saying, but I’ll say (or write) it any way, that I think these groups had much more influence on the development of modern Christianity than is presumed.  Put more bluntly, I believe that the heretics that were described by the early church fathers from the 2nd to 5th century were actually the inventors of Christianity’s core.

A recurring theme is detectable among these early heretics.  This theme circled around the extent of Jesus’ humanity.

Was Jesus a human who received the spirit after baptism by John, as Mark indicates?  Or was Jesus the result of divine insemination, as Matthew posits?  Or did John have it right, where Jesus was the actual word of God who existed prior to humanity and the world, and was later sent as a human sacrifice 40 years before the 2nd temple’s destruction in Jerusalem?  After all, we hear it verbatim that God so loved the world that he sent his only son to die for the sins no one here actually committed…

Fights about Jesus and God’s nature continued for hundreds of years, through various iterations, despite eventual government persecution for those holding beliefs which strayed from the Orthodoxy.

The Marcionites, Gnostics (notably the Valentinians and Sethians), and later Arians all held views that were directly or indirectly concerned with how human Jesus was, and those ideas were incompatible with the eventual official decision, which made Jesus equivalent to God.  By the time the Arian position was deemed a heresy in the 4th century, Valentinian and Marcionite theologies were on their way out.  Some of these heresies survived to the East in the form of Manichaeism and Mandeaism.  Though Christianity washed its hands of the early heresies, byproducts from these forgotten theologies carried through into modernity, notably the Basilidean notion that Jesus escaped death by transferring his spirit to Simon of Cyrene, a view which still persists within the Islamic faith.

According to some heretics, the Spirit was transferred from Jesus to Simon while Simon bore Jesus’ cross

Along with the question of how human Jesus was, there was also the matter of who God was.  If there is any truth to Irenaeus’ statement that the Cerinthians  used something like the Gospel of Mark (AH iii.11.7), or perhaps a Matthew derivative, as other heresy hunters such as Epiphanius asserts, one is right to presume that those early Christians saw nuance in the matter of who the high God was.  Where many in this early class assumed a god other than the Abrahamic God as having sent the Christ, the Ebionites (perhaps equivalent to the Men from James, as described by Paul in Galatians) were more attached to the Old Testament God; yet, according to the earliest heresy hunters, notably Irenaeus, the Ebionite impression of Jesus was similar to those of heretics who saw Jesus and the Christ as separate entities.

In my mind, the 2 questions most critical to understanding early Christianity are:

  1. Which opinion came first:  that Jesus was sent by the Abrahamic God, or that Jesus was sent by some other God?
  2. Who was the first so-called heretic to this Adoptionist view (that Jesus’s humanity was separable from the Christ spirit)?

Investigation of Christianity’s earliest heresies quickly leads to discovery of the so-called “father of all heresies”, Simon Magus.  According to Irenaeus, this is what Simon Magus thought of Jesus:

For since the angels ruled the world ill because each one of them coveted the principal power for himself, he had come to amend matters, and had descended, transfigured and assimilated to powers and principalities and angels, so that he might appear among men to be a man, while yet he was not a man; and that thus he was thought to have suffered in Judæa, when he had not suffered.

In Irenaeus’ statement above, we see two key attributes characteristic of a theology similar to Adoptionism, Docetism:  Jesus was a phantom and Jesus did not actually suffer.

Simon Magus offering money to Peter to buy apostleship

Simon Magus is an attractive candidate as being the “father of all heresies,” and given Irenaeus’ statement, he also appears to be one of the earliest instigators of this Docetic view.  Simon Magus’ connection to the apostolic era, specifically the conflict with Apostles John and Peter in Acts of the Apostles 8, along with his role as chief antagonist in the Acts of Peter, makes him a likely candidate for the inventor of the heresies.

After much research into the matter, the problem I have with attributing intellectual property rights of Christianity’s earliest heresies to Simon Magus is that he seems hyper-polemicized, and somewhat derivative.   Simon’s presumed deviation from Judaism makes the Adoptionistic Cerinthian and Ebionite views closer to the expected profile for Christianity’s core.  At this risk of injecting a false dilemma, I propose that it was Simon who was deviating from pre-existing Ebionite and Cerinthian models, rather than various imaginable alternatives.

There are other alternatives to where Christianity came from, notably the famous heretic Marcion, along with his supposed teacher, Cerdo.  With these heretics, we see an increasingly complex Demiurge model, where one God created the earth and another sent Jesus. This is quite similar to Cerinthus, with his presumption that inferior angels created the earth (AH i.26.1), and in contrast to the Ebionites, who along with their hatred of Paul, also believed that the Abrahamic God was the most high (AH i.26.2).

A suspicion I have developed throughout my analysis of early Christianity is that Marcion’s teacher, Cerdo is the same person as the sparsely-mentioned heretic named Cerinthus.  This speculation is derived from a number of factors:

  1. The first 3 letters of their names begin with the same letters
  2. The name [Cerdo] appears to be a polemic against the heretic, as Cerdo means “fox” in ancient Greek, “pig” in modern Spanish, and “profit” in modern Greek (any money-related scandals make Marcion a likely target).
  3. Cerinthus had a direct connection to the Johannine community in Western Turkey, via Irenaeus’s anecdote of a conflict between John and Cerinthus
  4. Cerinthus held views which seem earlier than Marcion’s phantom-Christ view
  5. Cerinthus was presumed to be an author of Revelation.  One of Marcion’s core texts was 2 Corinthians, which seems to make reference to a person who underwent experience similar to those described in Revelation (2 Corin 12)

The earliest detail which gave rise to my initial suspicion about Cerinthus and Cerdo was that Cerinthus had a quarrel with the Apostle John.  Here is Irenaeus’ account of it:

The brave and might Apostle John running away from Cerinthus

There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.

The subtext Irenaeus conveyed in this anecdote is that Cerinthus was a contemporary of the apostles.

When Epiphanius of Salamis wrote about Cerinthus, he put Cerinthus in the Apostolic era as well, only Epiphanius linked Cerinthus to Peter:

gerbrand_van_den_eeckhout_-_vision_of_cornelius_the_centurion_-_walters_372492[Cerinthus] is also one of those who opposed St. Peter because he had gone to St. Cornelius when Cornelius had been vouchsafed a vision of an angel and had sent for Peter [Acts 10]. And Peter was dubious and saw the vision of the sheet and the things that were in it, and was told by the Lord to call nothing common or unclean.

Like Simon Magus, Cerinthus supposedly had an adversarial relationship with both John and Peter.

Irenaeus also alluded to analogous relationships when he gave the following account in the very next sentence following the Cerinthus-bathhouse incident:

Polycarp with Marcion and his father.

And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me? “”I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.”

Irenaeus earlier described a connection between John and the Asian church leader, Polycarp, by claiming that Polycarp was a student of John (Irenaeus also claimed to be a student of Polycarp; that was his claim to apostolic authority).  By mentioning John and Cerinthus in one sentence, and then mentioning Polycarp and Marcion in the next, one speculation is that Irenaeus subconsciously revealed that Cerinthus and Marcion’s relationship was analogous to John and Polycarp’s.

Consider Irenaeus’ entire description of Cerinthus; note that he makes several allusions to the inklings of a much more robust Gnostic view, notably that there was a “God above God”, the “other” God was ignorant, the Christ descended onto Jesus like a dove, and that Jesus (the man) suffered, but the Christ did not:

Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.

The foundation on which Christianity was built relied on Apostolic succession.  The easiest lineage to hash out is the lineage of John, precisely because of Irenaeus’s tome.  Polycarp received the Spirit from John (this is perhaps detectable in the Acts of John, although Polycarp is not mentioned by name), and from Polycarp, Irenaeus received the spirit.

Early Christians realized the Apostle John did not write anything.  Here is what the 3rd century presbyter Caius had to say about Cerinthus:

Cerinthus, by means of revelations which pretend to be written by a great apostle, speaking falsely, introduces wonders which he speaks of as if they had been shown to him by angels, saying that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ was to be on earth, and that again men in bodily form would live in Jerusalem and be subject to lusts and pleasures.

Likewise, Eusebius could not hold his tongue about what he would have recognized to be an obvious deception:

…that he was called John, and that this book is the work of one John, I do not deny. And I agree also that it is the work of a holy and inspired man. But I cannot readily admit that he was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, by whom the Gospel of John and the Catholic Epistle were written.

Hippolytus, as repeated by Epiphanius, mentioned another 2nd century CE heretical group called the Alogi “do not receive the books of John…for they say that they are not [works] of John, but of Cerinthus”.  The Alogi lived in roughly the same geographic area as the Ephesian Johannines (perhaps geographically between the Ephesians and the Montanists) in modern day Western and Central Turkey.

Separate groups, over a thousand miles and a hundred years apart, with different theological agendas, came to similar conclusions: Cerinthus wrote Revelation.  There are hardly any more obvious smoking guns in the web of lies and mischaracterizations the early church fathers created than the Cerinthus-Revelation link.  In my opinion, Cerinthus must have written parts of Revelation between 4:1 and 22:7, which seem to be the original components of the book.

Consider another link to Cerinthus.  Irenaeus, in the paragraph immediately following the one about Cerinthus, writes about an anti-Paul group called The Ebionites:

Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law.

Irenaeus wrote the Ebionites “agree that the world was made by God.”  Because this Ebionite section came immediately after the Cerinthus section, one might interpret this to mean that the Ebionites agreed with Cerinthus that the world was made by God.  But the paragraph earlier made Irenaeus’ characterization of Cerinthus clear:  “…the world was not made by the primary God.”  Irenaeus meant that the Ebionites agreed with him and his desired Orthodoxy.

If one presumes that the instruction from “the pillars” of Jerusalem in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians that Paul should “remember the poor” is a reference to the Ebionites, then what Galatians might represent is the second generation of this Christian dissonance which began years earlier when the Ebionites disagreed with Cerinthus about the nature of God and the source of Jesus.

Consider a reference Epiphanius made to Cerinthus:

And so Cerinthus stirred the circumcised multitudes up over Peter on his return to Jerusalem by saying, ‘He went in to men uncircumcised.’

In the above quote, Epiphanius makes reference to Acts 11, which had Peter assuming the same role the Apostle Paul held in Galatians 2.  In Acts 11, Peter convinces his community that eating with (and like) the uncircumcised is acceptable, which is in direct contrast to Paul’s description of Cephas in Galatians.  This Petrine incident seems a striking rewrite of his actual position, recreating him as an Orthodoxical “Super Apostle.”

The fact that Cerinthus inherited Cephas’ original role, while Peter was reworked into Paul, makes for an intriguing speculation:  Cerinthus was the person at the root of Paul’s Cephas.

It could very well be the case that Cerinthus was not the mastermind I imagine.  He might simply have been a 2-bit early heretic that history barely remembers.  But that is not the indication I get.  I see indications that Christianity’s original mystery origins was later hijacked by people who saw a political opportunity to rework Christianity into a religion with mass appeal, and which was acceptable to the political actors in Rome.

Updated:  20170409


Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

35 thoughts on “Cerinthus: The Most Important Heretic You’ve Never Heard Of”

  1. I think it would be fair to say that Catholic orthodoxy was not the majority position of most Christians for the first three centuries of the existence of Christianity. The idea of the trinity was much more bizarre than the holy spirit descending as a dove, etc.


      1. If anyone needs to learn who the original Nazarenes were, they only need to look in the Bible and ante Nicene fathers writings and they will discover that the Nazarenes don’t get mentioned until Epiphanius’ Panarion but the Ebionites are mentioned as early as Irenaeus, and in the New Testament, the, “Poor Saints of Jerusalem (Ebion Hasidim)” and, “Remember the poor” and by the very man they viewed as an enemy, Paul, who likewise did not care for them or the Law of Moses.

        Not until after Justin Martyr writes against Marcion without ever mentioning Paul, does Irenaeus appear to speak on behalf of Paul but against Marcion.

        What we have of testimony of the historical existence of Paul is non canonical and even anonymous Epistles like the one ATTRIBUTED (rather generously at that) to Clement of Rome. I actually think the Homilies are more likely to be authentic, and reject the charge of pseudo-epigraphy, because the MSS are as old as the oldest extant New Testament and the Syriac version older than the oldest Peshitta or old Syriac, not sure which but probably both, either way they are dated and the Syriac is the oldest dated MS in the world!!! 50 years older than the Peshitta!!!

        Syriac Christianity has a pre Catholic history that at best mentions A Paul, but nothing about this Paul, leaving one translator baffled (before the Peter vs Paul feud was so well known, but still the explanation offered of Medieval corruption seems rather pathetic) as to why “he who labored more abundantly than all…” (according to himself, how humble, and they wonder why they hated Paul!) is virtually ignored.

        It’s my opinion that his name was inserted, if you simply don’t read the name Paul in the “Teachings of Addai “, you wouldn’t notice a difference than if you did read it. Epiphanius tells us that Ebionites and Nazarenes were united, that they could be found in the Arabian regions, which then meant more than the peninsula itself and part of Syria and Idumea, Nabatea.

        So it’s understandable why so many people embraced Islam so early and so quickly, as there were very few monotheistic Nazara at that time, according to Islamic and non Islamic sources even prior to the Hijra.

        So the heretics had their 500 years of depriving people of their right to distinguish between God and His Messiah, who even in the extant Gospels states his God, “OUR God is One God worship HIM!” without adding “and me and the Holy Spirit.” That was done by the Latin translation of John which in Greek states that “The was with God (Tontheon) and the word was divine (those, not synonymous and obviously not if used in one sentence intended to be synonymous).

        Which explains why God never revealed the meaning of the teachings of the Messiah in book form, had He done so it would just have been misunderstood and corrupted by pagans, which was the case with the exoteric teachings we have today, turned into a pagan dying godman cult, the world needs Christ, the Messiah(as) , and the world needs God.

        If they God to become human and die, so that they can go to Heaven, they are delusional, and regardless of the fact it is demonstrably true that the extant Gospels do not teach this Nicene pagan innovation that called the real Nazarenes heretics.

        Oh and early MSS of Luke have the same quote “This day I have begotten thee” quoted from Psalms, at Jesus Baptism(as).


      1. Pagan, polytheistic religions.

        It was strange to the Apostles and their successors, Nazarenes and Ebionites, or Jewish Christians as people love to think of them as and call them, not realizing that Christianity was not the religion of Jesus who never claimed to be God.

        It was strange, and it had nothing to do with Greek people or Gentiles, a fancy term for “not Jewish, and everything to do with the fact that no Jewish person of sincerity would worship the Messiah as God in the flesh, just as they do not today. While it may not seem as strange to the modern Jews, there are 2,000 good reasons (years) why, they know today that Christians are idol worshipping, and think it’s dumb as heck, but it would have been dumb and strange to the first century (or 3) Jew hearing it for the first time.

        It would be nothing new to the pagans, definitely true, but that rather makes the point more clear than it is already, which is pagans of non Semitic descent corrupted so called Jewish Christianity, Nazarene Judaism, and it culminated in the nonsensical Nicene Creed, which would be unnecessary if the Bible had ANY support for it.

        And simply saying three nouns sequentially does not make them one noun, Father, son and Holy Spirit, are obviously three different things, saying that they are the same God in one like a Divine Voltron, is the result of some serious stupidity.

        Even the Epistle of Clement, once Canonical and a part of the second oldest New Testament extant, says “Do we not have ONE God, and ONE Messiah.”

        And that was written from Rome!


  2. What I propose is that early Christian writers borrowed noteworthy historical events and figures from Josephus, and then they integrated their own myths into them.

    I think you may burn in Hell for this piece. 🙂

    Excellent, Tim. Where do you find the time to do such detailed studies and research?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much! I’ve been working on this for a few days…actually, I see the whole web of heretics and orthodoxy as one big story, and I’ve developed a pretty clear picture in my mind, over the past year, about what was going on during these first few centuries of the religion.

      I’ve been asked by Mythicist Milwaukee (the group who are putting on the Ehrman/Price debate in October) to contribute content from time-to-time, so I am trying to write better quality and less stream-of-conscious that I’m inclined to write.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cerinthus might have been the leader of the group Pliny the Younger noticed in Bithnya in 112CE

    Too bad Christian apologists will take it at face value and consider it as a good evidence for the historical Jesus. Some scholars have said however that it wasn’t really Christians that Pliny the Younger describes but rather “χρηστιανου/chrestians” meaning good people or followers of the good just like Acts 11:26. While most of the modern translations render it as “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”, in the Codex Sinaiticus (c. 4th century CE), it has “ΧΡΗΣςΤΙΑΝΟΥ” which is related to Marcionism as extant archaeological evidence suggests, Marcionites didn’t called Jesus as Jesus Christ but rather “Isu Chrestos” meaning “Jesus the Good”. I only have precursory knowledge in Greek but I know that “Εε/epsilon” is pronounced short “e” like how we say “egg”. “Ηη/eta” on the other hand is long “e” like “eel”. I guess both people in antiquity and modern scholars have conflated “Ηη” and “Ιι/iota” meaning “i” like “ink”. I’m still inclined that Pliny the Younger’s letter is authentically calling out Christians as troublemakers but I’m feeling he is not calling out followers of orthodox Christianity but rather:

    1. Followers of the Graeco-Egyptian god Serapis.
    2. Some other pagan god bearing the title since “Christos” and “Christianou” are epithets meaning the anointed.
    3. Some proto-Christian Jews who are followers of King David since he’s also anointed.
    4. Some Roman or Greek aristocrats or rulers that are deemed as sons of god.
    5. Pliny made a mistake and considered Cerinthus followers as Christians.


    1. Marcion’s Chrestos is a huge clue, which is another reason why I like him as a student of Cerinthus. The geography is a really compelling feature for me – I think it was Bithnya, which is right next to Galatia, so I don’t feel any trouble associating Pliny’s group with the earliest Christians. Good insights, as far as the Serapis consideration…might very well be. I’ve never really considered Serapis as an option…might have to dig into that.


      1. The Serapis cult was a syncretism of the Egyptian god Osiris and the apis bull. It was an attempt to hellenize Egyptian religion in order to unite both Greeks and Egyptians. It could may well be scholars who translated the Hebrew OT into Greek (LXX/Septuagint) where the very earliest stages that Jesus character came into existence where the Hebrew word Yehoshua or Joshua was rendered as Ieosous/Jesus into Greek. But hey, that is just me speculating as to whom Pliny the Younger is calling as Christian troublemakers since Pliny didn’t go in detail when he was reporting to his boss Emperor Trajan. But during the Time of Hadrian, there are letters circulating

        Quoting Christ in Egypt (p. 279-280)

        In addition, over the centuries it has bee asserted that the Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD/CE), ruling just before Antoninus Pius (86-161 AD/CE), had deemed Serapis the “peculiar god of the Christians” Hadrian’s remarks purportedly appeared in a letter from him to one Servianus , as reproduced by the Sicilian writer of the third century Vopiscus (Vita Saturnini 8), who claimed to have taken it in turn from a writer named Phlegon …

        .. This purported letter from Hadrian has been reported in numerous relatively publications as being genuine, and from a close and scientific analysis of the origins of Christianity, the remarks would appear to be accurate for the most part. Nevertheless, many scholars and writers have wished to find in this revealing epistle a “forgery” or “malicious satire.” The notable defender of the faith Bishop Dr. J.B. Lightfoot, however did not consider the letter to be spurious but insisted that the emperor was in reality ridiculing the Christians. Be that as it may, it should be not assumed that by “Christ” in the Hadrian quote is necessarily meant a man in Judea executed under Pontius Pilate, and the fact will remain that the word “Christos” – Christ – was applied to anyone considered “annointed”, likely including the revered god Serapis; hence, his followers could also be styled “Christians”… (Emphasis Added)

        So it could be genuine but not describing Jesus Christ of Judea but some other Christs. But given that the Early Church Fathers described Cerinthus to be educated from the wisdom of the Egyptians, it could be that Cerinthus has incorporated near eastern religious philosophies and beliefs and incorporated it to his own docetic cult.


    1. I was reading one of the comments here on the use of Christ vs Messiah and after having just typed the relevant quote from 1 Clement I realized that it was a case of an early Christian writer using the Aramaic word transliterated into Greek, which could easily mean that Christ wasn’t called Christ in the first century.

      Also the later Catholic rewrite of Syrian Christian history calls them Messianists so as to distinguish between the Marcionites who use Christian. By the time of Justin Martyr Christian may have been used by Greek speaking people, but in the Aramaic tongues like Syriac Christian always referred to Marcionites. Strange if Antioch was in Syria, depending upon which Antioch, and strange anyway because even in Arabic and Hebrew Nazara and Notzerim are used for the followers of Jesus (as), but the Talmud also calls some of them Minim, which is believed by many to refer mostly to the Pauline Christian religion than that of Yeschu ha Notzri.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Church records state that Cerinthus ‘rewrote’ the original Sibyl’s prophecies to create a falsified version, that was adjusted again in the fourth century, when it was added to the New Testament. The early church was so concerned that the general populace would learn that its Christian Book of Revelation was a forgery, that in 405 CE the Bishop of Rome ordered the Roman general Flavius Stilicho to burn as many copies of the Sibylline Books as he could find. The Bishop of Alexandria, Dionysius (d.c. 204 CE), had much earlier denounced the Book of Revelation, as being “without sense or reason, a forgery by Cerinthus.”

    The Book of Revelation was clearly plagiarized from The Mysteries of Isis and Osiris : “The Sybilline Revelation”
    by Sibyl of Tarquin (510 BCE). Read her prophecies below for yourself.

    “Behold, the Spirit of the Air shall bring Her, and every eye shall see Her. The Community, all the vast Community of the living, shall raise their voices as one, and sing, because of Her. Even so, Amen. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, which was, and is, and shall be.”
    A voice spoke, and I turned to see who it was that spoke to me. Turning, I saw seven golden candles, and, in the midst of their blazing light, one who seemed to be the Mother of All, clothed in white, white as snow. Her voice filled the air with the sound of rushing water, and in Her hands were seven stars, full of the flaming light of the heavens from whence they came. She spoke, Her face streaming light, blazing and golden, like a thousand suns. She said, “Have no fear. I am the first, and the last. I am the beginning, and the end. Write the things which you have seen, the things which are, which are yet to be, the mystery of the seven stars which fill My hands, and the seven golden candles, blazing with eternal light.

    The seven stars are the Spirits of your father, the Sun, and the seven candles are the Spirits of your mother, the Earth. The Spirit of humanity is a flame, streaming between starlight and glowing candle, a bridge of holy light, shining between the heavens and the Earth.” She who said these things holds the seven stars in Her hands. She walks in the midst of the flames of seven golden candles. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear the words of Mother Isis. “To whoever overcomes, I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, that stands in the midst of the shining paradise of Eternity.”

    Then I looked, and behold, a door was opened in the heavens, and a voice which sounded from all sides, like a trumpet, spoke to me, “Come up here, and I will show you what must be, in the future.” Immediately I was there, in spirit, at the threshold of an open door. I entered through the open door, into a sea of blazing light. In the midst of that blinding ocean of radiance was a throne, on which sat one whose face was hidden, and there was a rainbow about that emerald-like throne. Around the throne were thirteen seats, and upon these seats I saw thirteen elders sitting, clothed in white, their faces hidden by swirling clouds of light.

    Seven lamps burned before the throne, the fire of our mother, the Earth, Seven stars shone before the throne, the fire of our father, the Sun. Before the throne was a sea of glass-like crystal, and reflected in it were all the mountains, and valleys and oceans of the Earth, and all the creatures living there. The thirteen elders bowed down before the splendour of the one who sat on the throne, whose face was hidden. Rivers of light streamed from their hands, one to the other, as they cried, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Mother of all Glory, Who was, and is, and is to come. You are worthy, O Great One, of glory, honour and power, for You created all that is.’

    Then I saw, in the right hand of the one who sat on the throne, whose face was hidden, a book, written within, and sealed with seven seals. I saw a Spirit, who was proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book, to loose its seals?” No-one in Heaven, on the Earth, or under the Earth was able to open the book, or even to look upon it. I wept, because the book could not be opened, and I could not read what was written there. One of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Reach out your hand, and take the book, yes, this very book with seven seals. Open it, for it was written for you, – at once the lowest of the low, and the highest of the high.” I reached out my hand, touching the book.”

    “Behold ! The cover was lifted, my hands touched the golden pages, my eyes beheld the mystery of the seven seals. I heard the voices of many Spirits round about the throne, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands upon thousands, singing with a loud voice, “All glory, and wisdom, and strength and power, for ever and ever, be to the one who shall reveal the Mystery of Mysteries.” I saw swirling clouds of golden light, stretching like a fiery bridge between my hands, the hands of the thirteen elders, and the feet of the one who sat on the throne, whose face was hidden.

    I opened the first seal, and beheld the Spirit of the Air. Between her lips flowed the breath of life. She bowed over the Earth, and gave to man the inspiration of Wisdom. Man breathed in. When he breathed out, the sky darkened, the sweet air became foul and fetid, and clouds of evil smoke hung low over all the Earth. I turned my face away in shame.

    I opened the second seal, and beheld the Spirit of Water. Between her lips flowed the water of life She bowed over the Earth, and gave to man an ocean of Love. Man entered the clear and shining waters. When he touched the water, the clear streams darkened, the crystal waters became thick with slime, the fish lay gasping in the foul blackness, and all creatures died of thirst. I turned my face away in shame.

    I opened the third seal, and beheld the Spirit of Fire. Between her lips flowed the light of life. She bowed over the Earth, and gave to man the fires of Power. The strength of the Sun entered into the heart of man. He took the power, and made with it a false sun. He spread abroad the fires of destruction, burning the forests, laying waste the green valleys, leaving only the charred bones of his brothers. I turned my face away in shame.

    I opened the fourth seal, and beheld the Spirit of Joy. Between her lips flowed the music of life. Bowing over the Earth, She gave to man the song of Peace, and peace and joy, like music, flowed through the soul of man. He heard nothing but the harsh discord of sadness and discontent. He lifted his sword, and cut off the hands of the peacemakers, lifted it once again, and cut off the heads of the singers. I turned my face away in shame.

    I opened the fifth seal, and beheld the Spirit of Life. Between her lips flowed the covenant between all that lives and humanity. She bowed over the Earth and gave to man the gift of Creation. The forests and trees were burnt up, and all green grass shriveled to cinders.

    The second Spirit sounded, and, as it were, a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea. Blood rose from the Earth as a vapour.
    The third Spirit sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as if it were a lamp. It fell upon the rivers and fountains, turning them to bitter poison.
    The fourth Spirit sounded, and there was a great earthquake. The Sun turned black, a sackcloth of hair, and the Moon became as blood.

    The fifth Spirit sounded, and the stars of heaven fell to earth, even as a fig tree casts her unripe figs, when shaken by a mighty wind.

    The sixth Spirit sounded – the heavens departed like a rolled up scroll. Over the whole Earth there was not one tree, one flower, one blade of grass. I stood on the Earth, and my feet sank into the soil, soft and thick with blood, stretching as far as the eye could see. Over all the Earth was silence.
    The seventh Spirit sounded, and I saw a mighty being come down from the heavens, clothed with a cloud. A rainbow was upon his head, his face was like the sun, his feet pillars of fire. In his hand was an open book.”

    “He set his right foot upon the sea, and he set his left foot on the earth, crying with a loud voice, wonderous to hear, “Woman, would you have this vision come to pass ?” I answered, “You know, O Holy One, that I would do anything that these terrible things might not happen.” He spoke, “Man has created these powers of destruction. He has brought them into being from his own mind. He has turned his face away from the Spirits of his Father Sun and his Mother Earth – he has fashioned his own destruction.” I asked, “Then is there no hope, bright Spirit?” A blazing light streamed like a river from his hands, as he answered, “There is always hope, O you for whom Heaven and Earth were created,”

    The Spirit, standing on the sea and on the earth, lifted up his hand to the heavens. He swore by the One who lives for ever, who created the Heavens, all that is in them, the Earth, all within her, the sea, and all it contains, that there should be time no longer, but that, in the days of the voice of the seventh Spirit, when he shall begin to sound, the Mystery of absolute unity should be revealed to those who have eaten of the Tree of Life, which stands forever, in the Eternal Sea. The voice spoke again, saying, “Go, take the book, which is open in the hands of the Spirit who stands on the sea and on the earth.”
    There fell upon men a great hail out of the heavens, every stone about the weight of a gold talent.

    A mighty Spirit took up a stone, like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, “Thus, with violence, shall the great city be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. The voice of harps, and musicians, and pipers, and of singers and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in you. No craftsman, whatever his craft, shall be found any more in you. The sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in you. The light of a candle shall shine no more in you. The voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall be heard no more at all in you. For your merchants were the great men of the Earth. By your sorceries all men were deceived. In you was found the blood of prophets, saints, and of all who were slain upon the Earth.”

    My brothers laid hold of my hand, struggled out of the slimy pit, and stood, bewildered, on the sand. The skies opened, washing their naked bodies with rain. I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder. I heard the music of a great many harps, singing, as it were, a new song before the throne. I saw a Spirit flying in heaven, having songs of day and night, the everlasting teaching to preach to them that dwell on the Earth, until they climb from the pit of slime, and stand, naked, and washed by the rain, before the throne.

    The Spirit cried, “Fear the Almighty, and give glory to the Absolute, for the hour of judgement is come. Worship the Mother of the heavens and the earth, the sea, and the fountains of the waters”. I saw the heavens open, and beheld a white horse. He that rode him is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He was cloaked in blazing light, and his feet were bare. His name is the Word of Truth. The Holy Community followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. They entered the Eternal Garden, in whose midst is the Tree of Life. The rain-washed, naked throngs came before them, trembling, to receive their judgement. Their sins were many, for they had defiled the Earth, destroyed the creatures of land and sea, poisoned the ground, fouled the waters and the air, and buried alive the mother who had given them birth. But I did not see what befell them, for my vision changed.

    I saw a new Heaven, and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth were passed away. I saw the Holy House of the Community of Life coming down, out of the Heavens, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, “Lo, the mountain of your Father is established above all mountains, and the house of your Mother is exalted above the hills. All people shall flow into it. Come, let us go up the mountain, and to the house of your Mother. You shall walk in his paths, she shall teach you of her ways. The Way shall go forth, out of the Holy Congregation. Behold, Heaven’s House is here with you. He himself shall dwell with you, and you shall be his people.

    She herself shall be with you, and you shall be her children. She shall wipe away all tears from your eyes. There shall be no more fear of death, neither sorrow nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. Those who made war shall beat their swords into ploughshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore, for the former things are passed away.” The voice spoke again, “Behold, I make all things new. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give freely to the one who is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life. Whoever overcomes shall inherit all things – I shall be your parent, and you My child. But the fearful and unbelieving,the abominable, murderers and liars, shall dig their own pit, burning with fire and brimstone.”

    Again my vision changed. I heard the voices of the Holy Community, raised in song, saying, “Come, let us walk in the light of the Way”. I saw the Holy House, and all of the people streaming into her. This house needs no sun, nor moon to shine upon her, for divine glory illumines her. I saw the pure, crystal clear river of the Water of Life, flowing from the throne of the Source of all that is. In the river stands the Tree of Life, bearing fourteen different kinds of fruit, and yielding her fruit to those who would eat of it. The leaves of the Tree are for the healing of the people. There is no night there, they need no candle, nor the light of the sun, for the Almighty gives them light, and they shall live for ever and ever.

    I have reached the inner vision, and by the grace of Your spirit within me, I have heard Your wondrous secret. Through Your mystic insight You have caused a spring of knowledge to well up within me – a fountain of power, pouring forth living waters, a flood of love, and of all-embracing wisdom, like the splendour of Eternal Light.”

    – by Sibyl of Tarquin
    c. 510 BCE

    The Sibyl’s writings, regarded as ‘the mouthpiece of the gods’, were recognised as the most efficacious instruments in Roman religion, and were customarily observed and respected by all Romans.
    The originals perished in the fire that destroyed the Temple of Capitolinus in 83 BCE, and were immediately replaced with copies from other temples. A special priestly college, called the Quindecimviri Sacris Faciundis, was set up by Julius Caesar, to take charge of the Sibylline books, and its sixteen members excercised great influence on decisions of state.
    Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, directed the preparation of additional identical sets of the Sibyl’s oracles, and they were supplied to the Senate in Egypt, and to priests in all the Hellenised lands.
    In 12 BCE, he transferred a special ‘pontifex’ collection to the Temple of Apollo, on the Palatine hill, where it remained until 405 CE. All this demonstrated their legal status, and their immeasurable worth, while misuse of the Sibyl’s oracles was punishable by death. For at least the first four centuries CE, the Sibylline Books were held to be the highest religious authority in the Roman Empire. So highly regarded were the Sibyl’s prophecies that the fourth century church usurped her second book, inserted narratives that dealt with Christian characters, and then said it was a divine revelation given to the apostle John by Jesus Christ from Heaven, and added it to their New Testament.
    Church records state that Cerinthus ‘rewrote’ the original Sibyl’s prophecies to create a falsified version, that was adjusted again in the fourth century, when it was added to the New Testament. The early church was so concerned that the general populace would learn that its Book of Revelation was a forgery, that in 405 CE the Bishop of Rome ordered the Roman general Flavius Stilicho to burn as many copies of the Sibylline Books as he could find.
    The Bishop of Alexandria, Dionysius (d.c. 204 CE),had much earlier denounced the Book of Revelation,as being “without sense or reason, a forgery by Cerinthus. Bishop Eusibius had confirmed Dionysius’ findings: “But Cerinthus, by means of a revelation which he pretended was written by a great man, falsely pretended to wonderful things.”

    The original author of the Book of Revelation, the Cumaean Sibyl, though, was always highly regarded as a clairvoyant by the Roman Catholic church. Even today, she can still be seen, magnificently portrayed by Michelangelo, in a prime central position among the great patriarchs of the Bible stories depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican itself. A total of 278 verses of the Sibyl’s predictions are also found in the books of Exodus, Psalms, Isiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zecheriah, indicating the high value placed on her forecasts by Old Testament authors. The Sibylline books were lost to history for many centuries, until the second book was discovered in the Vatican archives, some decades ago, by Edmond Szekely.

    So highly regarded were the Sibyl’s prophecies that the fourth century church usurped her second book, inserted narratives that dealt with Christian characters, and then said it was a divine revelation given to the apostle John by Jesus Christ from Heaven, and added it to their New Testament.

    Church records state that Cerinthus ‘rewrote’ the original Sibyl’s prophecies to create a falsified version, that was adjusted again in the fourth century, when it was added to the New Testament. The Sibylline books were lost to history for many centuries, until the second book was discovered in the Vatican archives, some decades ago, by Edmond Szekel.



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