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Envy and Anger at the World’s Creation and Destruction in the Treatise without Title ‘On the Origin of the World’ (NHC II,5)

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

The passion of envy in the Nag Hammadi Treatise without Title has been noted by scholars for four decades. The present essay approaches the use of the competitive emotions in the Treatise without Title with a sensitivity to ancient conceptions of the passions, and thus clarifies the role of envy. The Treatise without Title links the passion of envy with anger, an emotional concatenation that is found elsewhere in Jewish and Christian emotional thought, and this emotional concatenation drives the action in three core episodes: the origin of the world from the shadow, the engendering of Death by Yaltabaoth, and the final destruction of the gods of chaos and the prime parent. By reading the emotions in the Treatise thusly, the structuring role of envy is clarified, and long debated elements (i.e. the descent of “bile” into the world, and the mutual destruction of the archons) are explained.

Affiliations: 1: Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of History 811 S. Cathedral Pl., Box 842001 Richmond, VA 23284-2001 USA


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