The Temple-Mystical Background to a Valentinian Saying of the Saviour

The Interpretation of Knowledge (NHC XI, 1) 10.18–38

Matthew Twigg

The Interpretation of Knowledge (NHC XI, 1) is a Nag Hammadi text which appeals to a Christian congregation, apparently consisting of both Valentinians and non-Valentinians, for unity in the face of divisions in the church caused by the jealousy of some over the superior spiritual gifts possessed by others. The work makes use of several sayings of the Saviour, portrayed as “the living teacher,” one of which is an otherwise unattested Valentinian saying (10.18–38). This article investigates the Temple-mystical background of the saying, situating it within a current of thought that associated the flesh of the crucified Christ with the veil of the holy of holies, and considered his post-resurrection ascension to be an enthronement experience. The emphasis on imitating Christ in his humility and suffering reaches a crescendo in this saying, where the Valentinian soul is exhorted to enter into Christ, beyond the veil, and be enthroned therein as preparation for their pneumatic heavenly ascent.

Interpretation of Knowledge; Valentinianism; Temple; Veil; Crucifixion; Mysticism