A collection of Gnostic treatises contained in the Askew Codex, divided in the manuscript into four books. A title is found at the end of the second and the third books: “A Part of the Books of the Savior.” Inscribed by a later hand at the beginning of the second book is the title, “The Second Book of the Pistis Sophia.” All four books are now customarily referred to as Pistis Sophia (“Faith Wisdom”) and divided into chapters numbered consecutively.
In all four books, the risen Jesus is featured in dialogue with his disciples, including several women. Book 1 (chapters 1-62) is concerned with the repentance of the fallen Pistis Sophia, mother of the Gnostic race. Book 2 contains further material on the same subject (chapters 63-82), followed by discourses on various types of souls (chapters 83-101).
In Book 3 (chapters 102-135), Jesus commissions his disciples, providing elaborate explanations of various mysteries. Book 4 (chapters 136-148) is a miscellany of ritual prayers, revelation discourses, and visions experienced by the disciples. The first two books contain extensive quotations from the Bible and apocryphal writings, including some of the Odes and Psalms of Solomon. Pistis Sophia is extant only in Coptic, but its various parts were originally composed in Greek, probably in Egypt during the third and early fourth centuries.