First page of "Gospel of Thomas" coptic manuscript. (Photo Courtesy of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate University)

Nag Hammadi Library main page

Introduction to Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library

Alphabetic Index of the Nag Hammadi Library

Codex Index of the Nag Hammadi Library

Gospel of Thomas Collection

Search the Nag Hammadi Library

Return to The Gnostic Society Library page

Return to The Gnosis Archive main page


(Above image of the Gospel of Thomas courtesy of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate University)


Visit the Bookstore for a complete selection of translations and books about the Gnostic Gospels.

The Gnostic Gospels, by Elaine Pagels (Click to buy the book)


The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James Robinson (Click to buy the book)

The Gnostic Society Library

The Nag Hammadi Library

Trimorphic Protennoia - Annotated Edition
(Three Forms of First Thought)


Translated by John D. Turner

This original translation is presented in the Gnostic Society Library by permission of Dr. John D. Turner, who retains all copyright. The headings shown in bold text are added to the text by Dr. Turner. Numbers in bold indicate page number in the codex. Lines lost from the surviving manuscript are indicated by [...]. Dr. Turner's fully annotated version of this translation (NHC XIII 35, 1 -50, 24) including the complete line numbering referenced by his translation, is available here.


35 [I] am [Protennoia, the] Thought that [dwells] in [the Light. 
I] am the movement that dwells in the [All, 
        she in whom the] All takes its stand, 
        [the first]-born among those who [came to be, 
        she who exists] before the All.

[She (Protennoia) is called] by three names, although she dwells alone, [since she is perfect].

I am invisible within the Thought of the Invisible One. 
I am revealed in the immeasurable ineffable (things). 
I am incomprehensible, dwelling in the incomprehensible. 
I move in every creature.

I am the life of my] Epinoia that dwells within
        every Power and 
        every eternal movement and (in) 
        invisible Lights and within 
        the Archons and Angels and Demons and 
        every soul dwelling in [Tartaros] and (in) 
        every material soul. 

I dwell in those who came to be. 
I move in everyone and 
I delve into them all.
I walk uprightly, and those who sleep I [awaken]. 
And I am the sight of those who dwell in sleep.
I am the Invisible One within the All.
It is I who counsel those who are hidden, since I know the All that exists in it.  
I am numberless beyond everyone. 
I am immeasurable, ineffable, yet  whenever I [wish, 
        I shall] reveal myself of my own accord. 
I [am the head of] the All. 
I exist before the All, and] I am the All,  since I exist in] everyone.

I am a Voice [speaking softly]. 
I exist [from the first. I dwell] within the Silence [that surrounds every one] of them.

36  And [it is] the [hidden Voice] that [dwells within] me, 
        [within the] incomprehensible, immeasurable [Thought, 
        within the] immeasurable Silence. 

I [descended to the] midst of the underworld and 
I shone [down upon the] darkness. 
It is I who poured forth the [water]. 
It is I who am hidden within [radiant] waters. 
I am the one who gradually put forth the All by my Thought. 
It is I who am laden with the Voice. 
It is through me that Gnosis comes forth. 
[I] dwell in the ineffable and unknowable ones. 
I am perception and knowledge, uttering a Voice by means of thought. 
[I] am the real Voice.
I cry out in everyone, and they recognize it (the voice], since a seed indwells [them].
I am the Thought of the Father and 
        through me proceeded [the] Voice,
        that is, the knowledge of the everlasting things. 
I exist as Thought for the [All] - 
        being joined to the unknowable and incomprehensible Thought -
I revealed myself - yes, I - among all those who recognize me. 
For it is I who am joined with everyone 
        by virtue of the hidden Thought and 
        an exalted <Voice>,  even a Voice from the invisible Thought. 
        And it is immeasurable  since it dwells in the Immeasurable One. 
        It is a mystery;  it is [unrestrainable] by [the Incomprehensible One]. 
        It is invisible [to all those who are] visible  in the All. 
        It is a Light] dwelling in Light.

It is we [also who] alone [have separated]  [from the] visible [world] since we [are saved by the] hidden [wisdom by means of the] 37  ineffable, immeasurable [Voice]. And he who is hidden within us pays the tributes of his fruit to the Water of Life.

Then the Son who is perfect in every respect - that is, the Word who originated through that Voice; who proceeded from the height; who has within him the Name; who is a Light - he (the Son) revealed the everlasting things and all the unknowns were known. And those things difficult to interpret and secret, he revealed, and as for those who dwell in Silence with the First Thought, he preached to them. And he revealed himself to those who dwell in darkness, and he showed himself to those who dwell in the abyss, and to those who dwell in the hidden treasuries he told ineffable mysteries, and he taught unrepeatable doctrines to all those who became Sons of the Light .

Now the Voice that originated from my Thought exists as three permanences: the Father, the Mother, the Son. Existing perceptibly as Speech, it (Voice) has within it a Word endowed with every <glory>, and it has three masculinities, three powers, and three names. They exist in the manner of Three ¨ ¨ ¨ – which are quadrangles – secretly within a silence Of the Ineffable One.

[It is he] alone who came to be, that [is, the Christ. And] as for me I anointed him as the glory [of the] Invisible [Spirit] with [goodness]. Now [the Three] I established [alone in] eternal [glory] over  [the Aeons in the] Living [Water], that [is, the glory that surrounds him] 38 who first came forth to the Light of those exalted Aeons, and it is in glorious Light that he firmly perseveres. And [he]  stood in his own Light that surrounds him, that is, the Eye of the Light that gloriously shines on me. He perpetuated the Father of all (the) Aeons, who am I, the Thought of the Father, Protennoia, that is, Barbelo, the [perfect] Glory and the [immeasurable] Invisible One who is hidden. 

I am the image of the Invisible Spirit and it is through me that the All took shape, and 
(I am) the Mother (as well as) the Light which she appointed as Virgin, she who is 
called Meirothea, the incomprehensible Womb, the unrestrainable and immeasurable Voice.

Then the Perfect Son revealed himself to his Aeons who originated through him, and he revealed them and glorified them and gave them thrones and stood in the glory with which he glorified himself. They blessed the Perfect Son, the Christ, the only-begotten God. 
And they gave glory, saying, "He is! He is! The Son Of God! The Son of God! It is he who is! The Aeon of Aeons beholding the Aeons which he begot! For thou hast begotten by thine own desire! Therefore [we] glorify thee: MA MO O O O EIA EI ON EI! The [Aeon] Of [Aeons! The] Aeon which he gave!" 
Then, moreover, the [God who was begotten] gave them (the Aeons) a power of [life on which they might rely] and [he] established [them.

The] first Aeon, he established [over the first]: Armedon, Nousa[nios, Armozel; 
the] second he established [over the second Aeon]: 39 Phaionios, Ainios, Oroiael; 
the third over the third Aeon: Mellephaneus, Loios, Daveithai; 
the fourth over the fourth: Mousanios, Amethes, Eleleth.

Now those Aeons were begotten by the God who was begotten - the Christ - and these Aeons received as well as gave glory. They were the first to appear, exalted in their thought, and each Aeon gave myriads of glories within great untraceable lights and they all together blessed the Perfect Son, the God who was begotten.

Then there came forth a word from the great Light Eleleth and said, "I am King! Who belongs to Chaos and who belongs to the underworld?" And at that instant his Light appeared radiant, endowed with the Epinoia. The Powers of the Powers did not entreat him and likewise immediately there appeared the great Demon who rules over the lowest part of the underworld and Chaos. He has neither form nor perfection, but on the contrary possesses the form of the glory of those begotten in the darkness. Now he is called "Saklas," that is, "Samael," "Yaltabaoth," he who had taken power, who had snatched it away from the innocent one (Sophia); who had earlier overpowered her who is the Light's Epinoia (Sophia) who had descended, her from whom he (Yaltabaoth) had come forth originally.

Now when the Epinoia of the [Light] realized that [he (Yaltbabaoth)] had begged him (the Light), for another [order, even though he was lower] than she, she said,  "Grant me another order so that you may become for me [a dwelling place lest I dwell] in disorder [forever." And the order of the] entire house of 40 glory [was agreed upon her word. A blessing was brought for her and the higher order released it to her.

And the great Demon began to produce aeons in the likeness of the real Aeons, except that he produced them out of his own power. 

Then I too revealed my Voice secretly, saying, 'Cease ! Desist, (you) who tread on matter; for behold I am coming down to the world of mortals for the sake of my portion that was in that place from the time when the innocent Sophia was conquered, she who descended so that I might thwart their aim which the one revealed by her appoints." 

And all were disturbed, each one who dwells in the house of the ignorant light and the abyss trembled. And the Archigenetor of ignorance reigned over Chaos and the underworld and  produced a man in my likeness. But he neither knew that that one would become for him a sentence of dissolution nor does he recognize the power in him.

But now I have come down and reached down to Chaos. And I was [with] my own who were in that place. [I am hidden] within them, empowering [them and] giving them shape. And [from the first day] until the day [when I will grant mighty power] to those who [are mine, I will reveal myself to] those who have [heard my mysteries], 41 that is, the [Sons] of [the] Light.

I am their Father and I shall tell you a mystery, ineffable and indivulgeable by [any] mouth: Every bond I loosed from you, and 
the chains of the Demons of the underworld, I broke,
        these things which are bound on my members, restraining them. And
the high walls of darkness I overthrew, and 
the secure gates of those pitiless ones I broke, and 
I smashed their bars. 
And the evil Force and the one who beats you, and 
the one who hinders you, and 
the Tyrant, and 
the Adversary, and 
the one who is King, and 
the present Enemy,
indeed all these I explained to those who are mine, who are the Sons of the light, in order that they might nullify them all and be saved from all those bonds and enter into the place where they were at first.

I am the first one who descended on account of my portion which remains, that is, the Spirit that (now) dwells in the soul, (but) which originated from the Water of Life and out of the immersion of the mysteries, and I spoke, I together with the Archons and Authorities. For I had gone down below their language and I spoke my mysteries to my own - a hidden mystery - and the bonds and eternal oblivion were nullified. And I bore fruit in them, that is, the Thought of the unchanging Aeon, and my house, and their [Father]. And I went down [to those who were mine] from the first and  I [reached them and broke] the first strands that [enslaved them. Then everyone [of those] within me shone, and 42 I prepared [a pattern] for those ineffable Lights that are within me. Amen. 


The Discourse of Protennoia: [One] 

I am the Voice that appeared through my Thought, for I am "He who is syzygetic," since I am called "the Thought of the Invisible One." Since I am called "the unchanging Speech," I am called "She who is syzygetic."

I am a single one (fem.) since I am undefiled. 
I am the Mother [of] the Voice, speaking in many ways, completing the All. 
It is in me that knowledge dwells, the knowledge of (things) everlasting. 
It is I [who] speak within every creature and I was known by the All. 
It is I who lift up the Speech of the Voice to the ears of those who have known me, that is, the Sons of the Light. 

Now I have come the second time in the likeness of a female and have spoken with them. And I shall tell them of the coming end of the Aeon and teach them of the beginning of the Aeon to come, the one without change, the one in which our appearance will be changed. We shall be purified within those Aeons from which I revealed myself in the Thought of the likeness of my masculinity. I settled among those who are worthy in the Thought of my changeless Aeon.

For I shall tell you a mystery [of] this particular Aeon and tell you about the forces that are in it. The birth beckons: [hour] begets hour, [day begets day]. The months made known the [month. Time] has [gone round] succeeding [time]. This particular Age 43 was completed in [this] fashion, and it was estimated, and it (was) short, for it was a finger that released a finger and a joint that was separated from a joint.

Then when the great Authorities knew that the time of fulfillment had appeared - just as in the pangs of the parturient it (the time) had drawn near, so also had the destruction approached - all together the elements trembled, and the foundations of the underworld and the ceilings of Chaos shook and a great fire shone within their midst, and the rocks and the earth were shaken like a reed shaken by the wind. And the lots of Fate and those who apportion the domiciles were greatly disturbed over a great thunder. And the thrones of the Powers were disturbed since they were overturned, and their King was afraid.

And those who pursue Fate paid their allotment of visits to the path, and they said to the Powers, "What is this disturbance and this shaking that has come upon us through a Voice (belonging) to the exalted Speech? And our entire habitation has been shaken, and the entire circuit of our path of ascent has met with destruction, and the path upon which we go, which takes us up to the Archigenetor of our birth, has ceased to be established for us." 

Then the Powers answered, saying, "We too are at a loss about it since we did not know what was responsible for it. But arise, let us go up to the Archigenetor and ask him."

And the Powers all gathered and went up to the Archigenetor. [They said to] him, "Where is your boasting in which [you boast]? Did we not [hear you say], 'I am God [and I am] your Father 44  and it is I who [begot] you and there is no [other] beside me'? Now behold, there has appeared [a] Voice belonging to that invisible Speech of [the Aeon] (and) which we know not. And we ourselves did not recognize to whom we belong, for that Voice which we listened to is foreign to us, and we do not recognize it; we did not know whence it was. It came and put fear in our midst and weakening  in the members of our arms. So now let us weep and mourn most bitterly! As for the future, let us make our entire flight before we are imprisoned perforce and taken down to the bosom of the underworld. For already the slackening of our bondage has approached, and the times are cut short and the days have shortened and our time has been fulfilled, and the weeping of our destruction has approached us so that we may be taken to the place we recognize For as for our tree from which we grew, a fruit of ignorance is what it has; and also its leaves, it is death that dwells in them,  and darkness dwells under the shadow of its boughs. And it was in deceit and lust that we harvested it, this (tree) through which ignorant Chaos became for us a dwelling place. For behold, even he, the Archigenetor of our birth, about whom we boast, even he did not know this Speech."

So now, O Sons of the Thought, listen to me, to the Speech of the Mother of your mercy, for you have become worthy of the mystery hidden from (the beginning of) the Aeons, so that [you might receive] it. And the consummation of this [particular] Aeon [and] of the evil life [has approached and there dawns 45 the] beginning of the Aeon to come] which [has no change forever].

I am androgynous.
[I am Mother (and) I am] Father since [I] copulate] with myself. 
I [copulate] with myself [and with those who love] me, [and]
it is through me alone that the All [stands firm]. 
I am the Womb [that gives shape] to the All 
        by giving birth to the Light that [shines in] splendor. 
I am the Aeon to [come.
I am] the fulfillment of the All, that is, Me[iroth]ea, the glory of the Mother. 
I cast [voiced] Speech into the ears of those who know me.

And I am inviting you into the exalted, perfect Light. Moreover, (as for) this (Light), when you enter it, 
you will be glorified by those [who] give glory, and 
those who enthrone will enthrone you. 
You will accept robes from those who give robes and 
the Baptists will baptize you and 
you will become gloriously glorious, the way you first were when you were (Light). 

And I hid myself in everyone and revealed [myself] within them, and every mind seeking me longed for me, for it is I who gave shape to the All when it had no form. And I transformed their forms  into (other) forms until the time when a form will be given to the All. It is through me that the Voice originated and it is I who put the breath within my own. And I cast into them the eternally holy Spirit and I ascended and entered my Light. [I went up] upon my branch and sat [there among the] Sons of the [holy] Light. And [I withdrew] to their dwelling place 46 [...] which [...] become [glorious .... Amen]. 


On Fate: [Two] 

I am [the Word] who dwells [in the] ineffable [Voice].
I dwell in undefiled [Light] and

a Thought [revealed itself] perceptibly through [the great] Speech of the Mother, although it is a male offspring [that supports me] as my foundation. And it (the Speech) exists from the beginning in the foundations of the All.

But there is a Light [that] dwells hidden in Silence and it was first to [come] forth. Whereas she (the Mother) alone exists as Silence. I alone am the Word, ineffable, unpolluted, immeasurable, inconceivable. It (the Word) is a hidden Light, bearing a Fruit of Life, pouring forth a Living Water from the invisible, unpolluted, immeasurable Spring, that is, the unreproducible Voice of the glory  of the Mother, the glory of the offspring of God; a male Virgin by virtue of a hidden Intellect, that is, the Silence hidden from the All, being unreproducible, an immeasurable Light, the source of the All the Root the entire Aeon.

It is the Foundation that supports every movement of the Aeons that belong to the mighty Glory. 
It is the Foundation of every foundation.
It is the Breath of the Powers. 
It is the Eye of the Three Permanences, which exist as Voice by virtue of Thought. 
And it is a Word by virtue of Speech; 
it was sent to illumine those who dwell in the [darkness] 

Now behold [I will reveal] to you [my mysteries] since you are my fellow [brethren, and you shall] know them all [...]. 47 [...] [...] [...] [...] I [told all of them about my mysteries] that exist in [the incomprehensible], inexpressible [Aeons]. I taught [them the mysteries] through the [Voice that exists] within a perfect Intellect [and I] became a foundation for the All, and [I empowered] them.
The second time I came in the [Speech] of my Voice. I gave shape to those who [took] shape until their consummation.

The third time I revealed myself to them [in] their tents as Word and I revealed myself in the likeness of their shape. And I wore everyone's garment and I hid myself within them, and [they] did not know the one who empowers me. For

I dwell within all the Sovereignties and Powers and 
within the Angels and in every movement [that] exists in all matter. 
And I hid myself within them until I revealed myself to my [brethren].
And none of them (the Powers) knew me, [although] if is I who work in them. Rather [they thought] that the All was created [by them] since they are ignorant, not knowing [their] root, the place in which they grew.

[I] am the Light that illumines the All. I am the Light that rejoices [in my] brethren, for I came down to the world [of] mortals on account of the Spirit that remains [in] that which [descended] (and) came forth [from] the innocent Sophia. I [came] and I delivered [...] and I [went] to 48 [...] [...] [...] [...] [...] which he had [formerly and I gave to him] from the Water [of Life, which strips] him of the Chaos [that is in the] uttermost [darkness] that exists [inside] the entire [abyss], that is, the thought of [the corporeal] and the psychic. All these I put on. And I stripped him of it and I put upon him a shining Light, that is, the knowledge of the Thought of the Fatherhood. 

And I delivered him to those who give robes - Yammon, Elasso, Amenai - 
        and they [covered] him with a robe from the robes of the Light,
and I delivered him to the Baptists and 
        they baptized him - Micheus, Michar, Mn[e]sinous - and 
        they immersed him in the spring of the [Water] of Life. 
And I delivered him to those who enthrone - Bariel, Nouthan, Sabenai - 
        and they enthroned him from the throne of glory.  
And I delivered him to those who glorify - Ariom, Elien, Phariel - 
        and they glorified  him with the glory of the Fatherhood 
And those who snatch away snatched away - Gamaliel,  [...]anen, Samblo, 
        the servants of <the> great  holy Luminaries - 
        and they took him into the light-[place] of his Fatherhood. 
And he received the Five Seals from  [the Light] of the Mother, Protennoia, 
and  it was granted] him [to] partake of the mystery of knowledge
and [he became a light] in Light.

So, now, [... ] 49   [...] [...] [...] [...] [...] I was] dwelling in them [in the form of each one. [The Archons] thought [that I] was their Christ. Indeed I [dwell in] everyone. Indeed within those in whom [I revealed myself as Light [I eluded] the Archons. 
I am their beloved, [for] in that place I clothed myself [as] the Son of the Archigenetor, and I was like him until the end of his decree, which is the ignorance of Chaos.

And among the Angels I revealed myself in their likeness,
and among the Powers as if I were one of them, 
but among the Sons of Man as if I were a Son of Man, 
even though I am Father of everyone.

I hid myself within them all until I revealed myself among my members, which are mine, and I taught them about the ineffable ordinances, and (about) the brethren. But they are inexpressible to every sovereignty and every ruling power except to the Sons of the Light alone, that is, the ordinances of the Father.

These are the glories that are higher than every glory, that is, [the Five] Seals complete by virtue of Intellect. He who possesses the Five Seals of these particular names has stripped off (the) garments of ignorance and put on a shining Light. And nothing will appear to him that belongs to the Powers of the Archons. Within those of this sort darkness will dissolve and [ignorance] will die. And the thought of the creature which [is scattered will] present a single appearance and [dark Chaos] will dissolve and 50 [...] [...] and the [...] incomprehensible [...] within the [...] until I reveal myself [to all my fellow brethren] and until I gather [together] all [my fellow] brethren within my [eternal kingdom. And I proclaimed to them the ineffable [Five Seals in order that [ I might] abide in them and they also might abide in me.

As for me, I put on Jesus. I bore him from the cursed wood, and established him in the dwelling places of his Father. And those who watch over their dwelling places did not recognize me. For I,  I am unrestrainable together with my Seed, and my Seed, which is mine, I shall [place] into the Holy Light within an incomprehensible Silence. Amen. 

The Discourse of the Appearance: Three 

Trimorphic Protennoia, in three parts 

A Sacred Scripture written by the Father 

with Perfect Knowledge



| Nag Hammadi Library | Gnostic Society Library | Gnosis Archive |