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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 3

by G.R.S. Mead

p. 26



(I have added the title, it being the same as that of the main section of Stobæus, Patrizzi (p. 51) giving only the simple heading “From the [Sermons] to Tat.”

Text: Stobæus, Phys., xi. 2, under the heading: “Of Hermes from the [Sermons] to Tat”; G. p. 121; M. i. 84, 85; W. i. 131.

Ménard, Livre IV., No. viii. of “Fragments from the Books of Hermes to his son Tat,” p. 250.)

Her. Matter both has been born, O son, and it has been [before it came into existence]; for Matter is the vase of genesis, 1 and genesis, the mode of energy of God, who’s free from all necessity of genesis, and pre-exists.

[Matter], accordingly, by its reception of the seed of genesis, did come [herself] to birth, and [so] became subject to change, and, being shaped,

p. 27

took forms; for she, contriving the forms of her [own] changing, presided over her own changing self.

The unborn state 1 of Matter, then, was formlessness 2; its genesis is its being brought into activity.


26:1 Or receptacle or field of genesis, or birth (ἀγγεῖον γενέσεως). The idea of a vessel or vase of birth was a familiar symbol with the Pythagoreans; μεταγγισμός (from the simile of pouring water out of one vessel into another) being one of their synonyms for metempsychosis.

27:1 ἀγεννησία

27:2 ἀμορφία. Compare this with the Christian Gnostic commentator of the Naassene Document, quoted by Hippolytus (Philos. v. 7), and the comment of Hippolytus on him: “Their first and Blessed Formless Essence (ἀσχημάτιστος οὐσία), the cause of all forms” (“Myth of Man,” § 7).

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