The (Second) Apocalypse of James
Translated by Charles W. Hedrick
This is the discourse that James the Just spoke in Jerusalem, which Mareim, one of the
priests, wrote. He had told it to Theuda, the father of the Just One, since he was a
relative of his. He said, "Hasten! Come with Mary, your wife, and your relatives
[...] therefore [...] of this [...] to him, he will understand. For behold, a multitude
are disturbed over his [...], and they are greatly angry at him. [...] and they pray
[...]. For he would often say these words and others also."
"He used to speak these words while the multitude of people were seated. But (on
this occasion) he entered and did <not> sit down in the place, as was his custom.
Rather he sat above the fifth flight of steps, which is (highly) esteemed, while all our
people [...] the words [...]."
"[...]. I am he who received revelation from the Pleroma of Imperishability. (I
am) he who was first summoned by him who is great, and who obeyed the Lord - he who passed
through the worlds [...], he who [...], he who stripped himself and went about naked, he
who was found in a perishable (state), though he was about to be brought up into
imperishability. - This Lord who is present came as a son who sees, and as a brother was
he sought. He will come to [...] produced him because [...] and he unites [...] make him
free [...] in [...] he who came to [...]."
"Now again am I rich in knowledge and I have a unique understanding, which was
produced only from above and the [...] comes from a [...]. I am the [...] whom I knew.
That which was revealed to me was hidden from everyone and shall (only) be revealed
through him. These two who see I <...> (and) they have already proclaimed through
these words: "He shall be judged with the unrighteous". He who lived without
blasphemy died by means of blasphemy. He who was cast out, they [...]."
"[...] the flesh and it is by knowledge that I shall come forth from the flesh. I
am surely dying, but it is in life that I shall be found. I entered in order that they
might judge [...] I shall come forth in [...] judge [...] I do not bring blame against the
servants of his [...]. I hasten to make them free and want to take them above him who
wants to rule over them. If they are helped, I am the brother in secret, who prayed to the
Father until he [...] in [...] reign [...] imperishability [...] first in [...]."
- I am the first son who was begotten. -
- He will destroy the dominion of them all. -
- I am the beloved.
- I am the righteous one.
- I am the son of the Father.
- I speak even as I heard.
- I command even as I received the order.
- I show you even as I have found.
Behold, I speak in order that I may come forth. Pay attention to me in order that you
may see me!
"If I have come into existence, who then am I? For I did <not> come as I am,
nor would I have appeared as I am. For I used to exist for a brief period of time
"Once when I was sitting deliberating, he opened the door. That one whom you hated
and persecuted came in to me. He said to me, "Hail, my brother; my brother,
hail." As I raised my face to stare at him, (my) mother said to me, "Do not be
frightened, my son, because he said 'My brother' to you (sg.). For you (pl.) were
nourished with this same milk. Because of this he calls me "My mother". For he
is not a stranger to us. He is your step-brother [...]."
"[...] these words [...] great [...] I shall find them, and they shall come forth.
However, I am the stranger, and they have no knowledge of me in their thoughts, for they
know me in this place. But it was fitting that others know through you.
"<You are> the one to whom I say: Hear and understand - for a multitude,
when they hear, will be slow witted. But you, understand as I shall be able to tell you.
Your father is not my father. But my father has become a father to you.
"This virgin about whom you hear - this is how [...] virgin [...] namely, the
virgin. [...], how [...] to me for [...] to know [...] not as [...] whom I [...]. For this
one (masc.) [...] to him, and this also is profitable for you. Your father, whom you
consider to be rich, shall grant that you inherit all these things that you see.
"I proclaim to you to tell you these (words) that I shall speak. When you hear,
therefore, open your ears and understand and walk (accordingly)! It is because of you that
they pass by, activated by that one who is glorious. And if they want to make a
disturbance and (seize) possession [...] he began [...] not, nor those who are coming, who
were sent forth by him to make this present creation. After these things, when he is
ashamed, he shall be disturbed that his labor, which is far from the aeons, is nothing.
And his inheritance, which he boasted to be great, shall appear small. And his gifts are
not blessings. His promises are evil schemes. For you are not an (instrument) of his
compassion, but it is through you that he does violence. He wants to do injustice to us,
and will exercise dominion for a time allotted to him.
"But understand and know the Father who has compassion. He was not given an
inheritance that was unlimited, nor does it have a (limited) number of days, but it is as
the eternal day [...] it is [...] perceive [...]. And he used [...]. For in fact he is not
one (come) from them, (and) because of this, he is despised. Because of this he boasts, so
that he may not be reproved. For because of this he is superior to those who are below,
those by whom you were looked down upon. After he imprisoned those from the Father, he
seized them and fashioned them to resemble himself. And it is with him that they exist.
"I saw from the height those things that happened, and I have explained how they
happened. They were visited while they were in another form, and, while I was watching,
they came to know <me> as I am, through those whom I know.
"Now before those things have happened they will make a [...]. I know how they
attempted to come down to this place that he might approach [...] the small children, but
I wish to reveal through you and the spirit of power, in order that he might reveal to
those who are yours. And those who wish to enter, and who seek to walk in the way that is
before the door, open the good door through you. And they follow you; they enter and you
escort them inside, and give a reward to each one who is ready for it.
- For you are not the redeemer nor a helper of strangers.
- You are an illuminator and a redeemer of those who are mine,
- and now of those who are yours.
- You shall reveal (to them); you shall bring good among them all.
- You they shall admire because of every powerful (deed).
- You are he whom the heavens bless.
- You he shall envy, he who has called himself your Lord.
- I am the [...] those who are instructed in these things with you.
- For your sake, they will be told these things, and will come to rest.
- For your sake, they will reign, and will become kings.
- For your sake, they will have pity on whomever they pity.
- For just as you are first having clothed yourself,
- you are also the first who will strip himself,
- and you shall become as you were before you were stripped."
"And he kissed my mouth. He took hold of me, saying, "My beloved! Behold, I
shall reveal to you those things that (neither) the heavens nor their archons have known.
Behold, I shall reveal to you those things that he did not know, he who boasted,
"[...] there is no other except me. Am I not alive? Because I am a father, do I not
have power for everything?" Behold, I shall reveal to you everything, my beloved.
Understand and know them, that you may come forth just as I am. Behold, I shall reveal to
you him who is hidden. But now, stretch out your hand. Now, take hold of me."
"And then I stretched out my hands and I did not find him as I thought (he would
be). But afterward I heard him saying, "Understand and take hold of me." Then I
understood, and I was afraid. And I was exceedingly joyful.
"Therefore, I tell you judges, you have been judged. And you did not spare, but
you were spared. Be sober and [...] you did not know.
- He was that one whom he who created the heaven and the earth
- and dwelled in it, did not see.
- He was this one who is the life.
- He was the light.
- He was that one who will come to be.
- And again he shall provide an end for what has begun,
- and a beginning for what is about to be ended.
- He was the Holy Spirit and the Invisible One,
- who did not descend upon the earth.
- He was the virgin, and that which he wishes, happens to him.
- I saw that he was naked, and there was no garment clothing him.
- That which he wills, happens to him [...].
"Renounce this difficult way, which is (so) variable, and walk in accordance with
him who desires that you become free men with me, after you have passed above every
dominion. For he will not judge (you) for those things that you did, but will have mercy
on you. For (it is) not you that did them, but it is your Lord (that did them). He was not
a wrathful one, but he was a kind Father.
"But you have judged yourselves, and because of this you will remain in their
fetters. You have oppressed yourselves, and you will repent, (but) you will not profit at
all. Behold him who speaks and seek him who is silent. Know him who came to this place,
and understand him who went forth (from it). I am the Just One, and I do <not>
judge. I am not a master, then, but I am a helper. He was cast out before he stretched out
his hand. I [...].
"[...] and he allows me to hear. And play your trumpets, your flutes and your
harps of this house. The Lord has taken you captive from the Lord, having closed your
ears, that they may not hear the sound of my word. Yet you will be able to pay heed in
your hearts, and you will call me 'the Just One.' Therefore, I tell you: Behold, I gave
you your house, which you say that God has made - that (house) in which he promised to
give you an inheritance through it. This (house) I shall doom to destruction and derision
of those who are in ignorance. For behold, those who judge deliberarate [...]."
On that day all the people and the crowd were disturbed, and they showed that they had
not been persuaded. And he arose and went forth speaking in this manner. And he entered
(again) on that same day and spoke a few hours. And I was with the priests and revealed
nothing of the relationship, since all of them were saying with one voice, 'Come, let us
stone the Just One.' And they arose, saying, 'Yes, let us kill this man, that he may be
taken from our midst. For he will be of no use to us.'
And they were there and found him standing beside the columns of the temple beside the
mighty corner stone. And they decided to throw him down from the height, and they cast him
down. And they [...] they [...]. They seized him and struck him as they dragged him upon
the ground. They stretched him out and placed a stone on his abdomen. They all placed
their feet on him, saying 'You have erred!'
Again they raised him up, since he was alive, and made him dig a hole. They made him
stand in it. After having covered him up to his abdomen, they stoned him in this manner.
And he stretched out his hands and said this prayer - not that (one) which it is his
custom to say:
- 'My God and my father,
- who saved me from this dead hope,
- who made me alive through a mystery of what he wills,
- Do not let these days of this world be prolonged for me,
- but the day of your light [...] remains
- in [...] salvation.
- Deliver me from this place of sojourn!
- Do not let your grace be left behind in me,
- but may your grace become pure!
- Save me from an evil death!
- Bring me from a tomb alive, because your grace -
- love - is alive in me to accomplish a work of fullness!
- Save me from sinful flesh,
- because l trusted in you with all my strength,
- because you are the life of the life!
- Save me from a humiliating enemy!
- Do not give me into the hand of a judge who is severe with sin!
- Forgive me all my debts of the days (of my life)!
- Because I am alive in you, your grace is alive in me.
- I have renounced everyone, but you I have confessed.
- Save me from evil affliction!
- But now is the time and the hour.
- O Holy Spirit, send me salvation [...] the light [...]
- the light [...] in a power [...].'
"After he spoke, he fell silent [...] word [...] afterward [...] the discourse
Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library,
revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.