PRAYER OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

This prayer forms part of the Jung ( I of the ), to which it probably is an addition. It begins with a series of four attributes referring to the Redeemer, to whom the initiate applies to obtain certain graces: “you are my mind . . . you are my house . . . you are my fullness . . . you are my repose.” Subsequently, the initiate invokes God through the mediation of Christ.

The divinity is addressed as the one who is and preexisted. This first part of the Prayer is worthy of comparison with the first Stele of the Three Steles of Seth (NHC VII, 5) with which it shares many features. The expression “my Redeemer, redeem me for I am yours” recalls the first Stele 118.32, “for I am thine [own] Son,” for “you are my mind” (cf. first Stele 119: “you are my mind, my Father”).

The titles given to God in the Prayer are found in part in the first Stele: “I invoke you, the One who is and preexisted” recalls the first Stele 119.25, “you are he who is,” and the second Stele 124.5: “the first preexistent One.” The evocation of the treasure house, on the other hand, recalls the heavenly treasure and the storehouse of the soul in the Authentikos Logos (NHC VI, 2): “her enemies watch her as she rises towards heaven, in her treasure, where her nous is, and in safety in her storehouse” (28.22-27). The theme of treasure is also found in the Manichaean (cf. index to Allberry, 1938).

The initiate asks God for healing of the body as well as of the soul: “give healing for my body . . . and redeem my eternal light- soul and my spirit.” This feature is also found in the Manichaean , where Jesus is the heavenly physician who cares for body and spirit (cf. index, Allberry, 1938).

This prayer, Gnostic in character, must be read in the light of the and Hermetic and . Moreover, the formal structure of this text follows an exact schema, which is that of the prayers in the literature of Egypt between the second and third centuries A.D.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Allberry, C. R. C. A Manichaean Psalm-Book, Pt 2. Stuttgart, 1938.
  • Mueller, D. “The Prayer of the Apostle Paul,” trans. D. Mueller. In The Nag Hammadi Library in English, ed. J. M. Robinson. San Francisco, 1977.

MADELEINE SCOPELLO

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