The Book of Mary



Note:  The teachings in this part are largely based upon the extant version of the Gospel of the Twin known as the Gospel of Thomas.

The teaching of Mary

Now Jesus taught through Mary, and through her lips he spoke.  These are the words that Mary spoke to her disciples.

“The kingdom of heaven is not in the sky, the kingdom of heaven is not under the sea, the kingdom of heaven is not under the ground. It is within you and without you.  You are of the kingdom. You are the sons and daughters of the living father.”

“You have become one by becoming two.  For in you the spirit has become manifest.  Let the sprit eat of what is dead within you.  Do not allow the animal in your natures to consume the spirit but rather let the spirit consume it. Blessed is he who consumes the lion for the lion becomes man. But wretched is he who is consumed by the lion for the man becomes lion.”

And the disciples asked her, how should we live?

“Do not be concerned with the things of this world.  Do not be afraid. Do not ask what will I eat or what will I wear. Trust in the father and mother to give you your bread. As for what you should wear, look at the lilies of the valley. Are they not clothed with the splendour of Achamoth?  Do you think the father cares for them less than for you?”

“Yet the days will come when this existence will end, when the worldly heaven around you will pass away, and the spiritual heaven inside will pass away. Do not grieve, for those who are dead have never been alive and those who are living will not die.  What is living within you has eaten of what is dead within you to give you life. But when you become only spirit passing into the light what will you do?  On that day when you became one, you became two.  But when your spirit separates from your body you will again become two and then what will you do?”

“Remember that you are not of this world.  You are your spirit and your spirit is you. Do not cling to what is perishable. You are like children living in a field that is not yours. For your body does not belong to you it belongs to the powers of this age. If they would take your body and destroy it, give it to them willingly, strip off your perishable cloths of flesh and take on the cloak of light your father and mother have prepared for you.” 

“When the time comes to unclothe yourselves be not ashamed or grievous.  Be like a little child who casts off their garments joyously and tramples them beneath their feet.  For then you will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid.”

“Do not cling to the things of this world. If a thief would steal your cloak then give them your tunic also.  For cloak and tunic belong to the thieves and powers of this world, not to you. So give back to them what belongs to them.”

“You have nothing of this world. You are passers-by.  The foxes, the powers, have their holes.  The birds, the thieves, have their nests.  But the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”

“He who does not leave behind his father and his mother, his brother and his sisters does not love the son of man. You must take up your cross in the way of Jesus. Woe to the flesh that depends on the soul. For the living soul, the spirit does not care for the things of the flesh. Woe to the soul that depends upon the flesh. For the souls of those who live by the flesh are dead.” 

 “Be like the wise man who went fishing. He cast his net down into the sea and drew it up filled with fish. Among them he found a large good fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea.”

“Be like the shepherd who had a hundred sheep. The largest of these went astray.  He left the other ninety nine to go and search for the one who was lost, for this one he loved the most.”

And her disciples asked her “What do these things mean?  What is the large fish, what is the large sheep?”

So she explained to them.

“The large good fish is the spirit.  The large fish is the kingdom.  The little fish are the good things of this world. Throw back the little fish and keep just the big fish.”

“The large sheep is your soul and spirit, that which was lost and is found.  The large sheep is the kingdom. The other sheep are your other responsibilities and cares. Like the shepherd you must desert these other responsibilities and cares for the greater responsibility of the kingdom.”

Later many of the things which Jesus spoke through Mary were written down and are preserved in the Gospel Of Thomas. So in Thomas it is written:

Jesus said: The kingdom is like a shepherd who had hundred sheep. One of them, the biggest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and sought after the one till he found it. When he had laboured, he said to the sheep: I love thee more than the ninety-nine.

Later one of the foolish pondered this saying. He had been told that the sheep represented the lost soul.   But who then, he asked himself, were the other ninety-nine sheep? If the large sheep was a lost soul then the others must be souls who were not lost. But the fact that the lost sheep was ‘large’ did not fit this idea so he dropped the word and this is what he wrote.

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  And having found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.  I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15)

Thus came into being the absurdity that one person who strays is worth more than ninety nine people who do not stray. Many were disturbed by this conclusion.  How is it possible that a faithless one should be worth not just more than one person who had stayed faithful but more than ninety-nine such faithful people? In an attempt to explain this another story was made up about a man with two sons, one whom was prodigal and the other faithful. And the father loved both sons, the prodigal as much as the faithful. And this story was added in Luke after the parable of the sheep.  But it does not explain the unexplainable because the man loves his two sons equally and does not love the prodigal son more than ninety-nine dutiful sons.

But the true meaning is indicated in the writings of Irenaeus who records that the Gnostics believed that the lost sheep represented Achamoth in her fallen state who herself represents the lost soul.

And the disciples questioned Mary further. “How should we fast, how should we prey, how should we give alms?”

She answered them thus:

“Live by the spirit, live by the living truth. Clear your minds, let the spirit fill you. Do not live by the law, do not follow lies, do not do what you abhor. For what is truth to the law is all lies to the spirit.  And what is good by the law is abhorrent to the spirit. But all things, both the right and the wrong are revealed to heaven, and nothing shall be hidden from your spirit.  Follow your spirit and you will always do what is right.”

But her disciples were unhappy with this reply.  They were shocked that she told them not to obey the law.  They wanted rules, and they asked her again, Please tell us how we should fast, how we should prey, how we should give alms?

And Jesus was angry with the disciples.  And through Mary he asked them “Why do you fast, why do you pray, why do you give alms?”

“We fast to be purified from sin, we pray to be saved, we give alms for the sake of our spirits” replied the disciples.

And Jesus replied “If you fast, you will beget a sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do an evil to your spirits.”

And these words of Jesus are those that are preserved in Thomas. And by these words Jesus meant that the disciples should do all things by the spirit and not by the law.  He meant that they should have no rules, no preconceptions of what was right and wrong. They should give themselves to the spirit and let the spirit work through them.

And to this Jesus added. “Do not deny the spirit, even if you deny me, even if you deny God himself. For he whom blasphemes against the son of man will be forgiven, and he who blasphemes against God will be forgiven but he who blasphemes against the spirit will never be forgiven”

In saying this Jesus knew that no one could blaspheme God in the spirit. But he wanted to drive home to them that there were no rules upon them, not a single one, not even the rule against blasphemy. The only rule was to be ruled by the spirit.

After this Jesus was silent and the disciples went away muttering and distressed.  And some said that Mary was possessed by an evil spirit and that Jesus was a demon.

Now many years later the writer of Mathew had before him the saying about fasting, prayer and alms which was so troublesome. The writers of the other gospels had omitted it.

But the meaning also had been passed down to the writer of Mathew. This was that these things should not be done according to the law but according to the spirit so that god could work through the person.  This presented the author of Mathew with a problem. He saw Jesus as coming to fulfil the law and the prophesies not to deny them.  As it says in the Gospel of Mathew: 

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For I say to you, until heaven and earth pass, not one letter or one stroke shall pass out from the law, until all be fulfilled. (Mathew 5)

To resolve this problem Mathew interpreted the saying as meaning that these things should not be done in the way of those who follow the law in form only – the hypocrites.  Mathew also had problems as to what was meant what it is said that things should be done in the spirit.  He interpreted this as meaning that they should be done in the presence of the spirit, which to Mathew was the spirit of god.  This spirit of god sees all things so he tells us to only do the activities in secret where the spirit of god alone will perceive them.

From this saying about fasting, prayer and alms he derived some of the discourse in the Sermon on the Mount.  He followed the Gospel of the Twin by taking each of these three items and explaining first in what manner it should not be done. This curious negative form, of explaining how these things can be done in a harmful way, he uses for just the three items which the Gospel of the Twin says are harmful.  This is the sign that Mathew is following the Gospel of the Twin saying.  But he shifts the meaning slightly - instead of saying they should not be done in rote obedience to the law, Mathew says they should not be done in the manner of the Hypocrites who appear to follow the law.  He then for each item says how it should be done – not in the spirit but in the secret presence of god.

For example he interpreted the saying of how giving alms is harmful based on his own understanding:    

Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.  (Mathew 6)

He then added how giving alms was good if done in the ‘presence of God’:

But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly.  (Mathew 6)

The first sentence “let not your left hand know what your right hand does” he took from another saying from the Gospel of the Twin.  He appends this saying here because giving alms involves giving with a hand.  Giving a physical meaning to this saying is the author’s naïve interpretation.  In the version of the Gospel of the Twin that has survived, the Gospel of Thomas, it is placed with a saying about Jesus’ mysteries:

Jesus said: I tell my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries. What thy right hand shall do, let not thy left hand know what it does.

The right hand is the spiritual, the left hand the non-spiritual.  This can apply to a person, the right hand being their spirit, the left hand their non-spiritual animal mind.  The saying is telling a person to follow their spirit almost unconsciously. If the thinking conscious mind intervenes then the message of the spirit will be distorted. It can also be applied within a group of Christians. In this case the right hand are the spiritual Christians called pneumatics and the left hand the non-spiritual baptised Christians called psychics. The innermost mysteries are for the pneumatics only. 

In a manner similar to alms he treated the question of fasting.  If done in the manner of the hypocrites who appear to follow the law it is harmful:

 Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.  (Mathew 6)

Only if done in the secret presence of god is it beneficial:

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; that you appear not unto men to fast, but to your Father which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly. (Mathew 6)

The same formula is applied to prayer:

And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.  (Mathew 6)

Instead he said you should pray in the ‘presence of God’:

But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.  (Mathew 6)

With prayer he offers another pair of right and wrongs.  To one with the spirit prayer is superfluous because they have inside them that which is a gateway to god.  Prayer, for such a one, is a form of blasphemy to the spirit because it denies the spirit.  The author of Mathew clearly has access to some teachings that prayer is unnecessary but expresses this in his own, psychic, terms: 

But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not you therefore like them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.  (Mathew 6)

After saying the prayer is unnecessary he then gives the prayer that became known as the Lords Prayer.  The author of Mathew is struggling with contradictory teachings.  Although prayer may be harmful to the pneumatic Christian it is a necessity to the psychic Christian who does not possess the spirit.  The prayer that the author of Mathew gives is intended for the psychic Christian.

A version of what is now know as the Lords Prayer appears in the very old document, the Didache, also known as the apostles creed. This gives some simple guidance to early Christians and parts of it are older than the gospels.  The Didache describes a world of travelling apostles, prophets and teachers. It was written for a community of psychic, non-spiritual, Christians living in some rural location but contains rules for dealing with the undoubtedly pneumatic ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’.  There have been a number of false prophets and apostles imposing themselves upon the communities.  The Didache addresses a very fundamental problem with a movement based upon a spirit that is only perceptible in the interior mental world of the pneumatic – how do you distinguish those with the true spirit from those without the spirit or with a false spirit?  The answer the Didache gives is that you observe their behaviour.  A true spiritual person asks only for their necessities and either moves on quickly to the next village or supports themselves by their own work. Effectively the Didache gives the early Christians a number of simple rules for distinguishing the good from the impostors.  But it also contains early traditions that hint at the freedom in the spirit whereby a person with a spirit is freed from the constraints of the Law and should not be judged by others.  For example one sentence seems to echo the saying in the Gospel of the Twin that the only blasphemy is blasphemy against the spirit: 

And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.

Another refers to not judging the behaviour of a ‘spiritual’ Christian:

And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets.

The same freedom from the judgement of man is central to Paul’s conception of the pneumatic Christian. In Galatians Paul talks about two covenants. He uses as an allegory the story of the two sons of Abraham, one born of the free woman and the other of the slave girl. The slave girl represents the worldly Jerusalem and her children are slaves of the Law. These are the psychics who must follow the law. The freewoman represents a spiritual Jerusalem.  Those who are children of the spirit are free of the law.  Paul quotes from Isaiah: 

For it hath been written, `Rejoice, Oh barren one, who has no children; break forth and cry, thou who art not in labour, because many are the children of the desolate -- more than of her who has a husband.'  (Galatians 4)

To the Gnostics Achamoth or Wisdom, is also called the barren one whose children are many. So the children of the spirit are the children of Achamoth.  But the children of the flesh, that is the worldly Jerusalem, do not understand the freedom of the children of Achamoth and so persecute them:

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4)

In Galatians Paul continues with the argument that one who walks in the spirit is free from the law:

Walk in the spirit and not in the desires of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit that which is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed one to another, so that you do not do the things that you would.  But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. (Galatians 5)

In 1 Corinthians Paul is even more explicit:

All things to me are lawful, but not all are profitable; all things to me are lawful, but not all build up;  (1 Corinthians 10)

The pneumatic is free from the law but that does not mean they should do what they wish. They should do instead what the spirit guides them to do. Paul sums up his philosophy of freedom under the spirit by contrasting the spiritual and non-spiritual man:

The natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of god, for to him they are foolishness, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual man judges all things and is judged by no one. (1 Corinthians 2)