CLICK AWAY WINDOW WHEN FINISHED


PREFACE


      Lest my intentions be misconstrued from the beginning, this is a novel of the Gnostic Christ. The canonical gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John have provided us with the traditional fourfold interpretation of Jesus' words and deeds.
      But, over the course of the last two centuries, numerous 'non-canonical' texts have resurfaced which offer important, alternative versions of the life of Christ. In particular, the Nag Hammadi Corpus, unearthed in Egypt in 1945, retells the Christian gospel from – what is generally accepted as – a Gnostic standpoint. Supplemented by other non-canonical gospels, these texts offer sayings and narrative fragments which lie outside the narrower scope of the orthodox accounts.
      By gathering these texts together, I have sought to present, in narrative form, the life of the Gnostic Christ. From the beginning, the man Jesus must be separated from the heavenly Christ, who only descends into Jesus during his baptism in the Jordan. Thereafter, Mary Magdalene and Judas Didymos Thomas play pivotal roles in the Messiah's quest for the Five Seals. And towards the end, a fundamentally different vision of the Passion emerges. Much of this novel is dedicated to a coherent and dramatic presentation of Gnosticism and its unique worldview.
      But Gnosticism yields a wide variety of interpretations since the texts themselves – a rich plurality of the Christian Word – can be inherently contradictory. I have not hesitated to include disparate, even contradictory accounts (the Bridal Chamber, the Passion) with the idea in mind that these, through the reader's own interpretation, will offer up a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of the Gnostic stance.
      Scholars are generally agreed on the methods which the four evangelists used to compose their canonical accounts. In the three synoptic gospels, Matthew and Luke based their narratives on Mark, while also employing a list of Jesus' sayings that scholars later called 'Q' (from the German Quelle for 'source'). The fourth evangelist, John, based his narrative on an earlier 'Signs gospel', while adding many sayings that are not found in the synoptic gospels (perhaps from another 'Q' list). A good number of these sayings have a decidedly Gnostic ring to them, though John's gospel is clearly more than Gnostic.
      This theory of the gospels' composition was partially confirmed when The Gospel of Thomas resurfaced in the Nag Hammadi Corpus. This 'gospel' presents a list of Jesus' sayings – exactly as Q was imagined to be. Some of the sayings in Thomas are orthodox; others are clearly Gnostic.
      For many years, I nurtured the hope of presenting the tale of the Gnostic Christ, based on the methods of the four evangelists. To this end, I created the Gnostic Q through a careful reading of the related texts, isolating sayings that could be attributed to the Gnostic Christ. At the same time, I identified narrative fragments (the baptism in the Jordan, the transfiguration, the crucifixion) which offer uniquely Gnostic interpretations of these established mythologems.
      After several years of inspired labour, the forgotten gospel of the Gnostic Christ gradually emerged. The sayings from the Gnostic Q were woven into the narrative fragments, thus creating an alternative version of Christ's teachings and his final Passion. Since the Gnostic account has remained hidden for most of our history, I have titled my novelization, The Hidden Passion.
      Through the use of pointed brackets < >, all the Gnostic sayings and narrative fragments are clearly indicated over the course of the novel's unfolding. The textual references for these citations are provided in the margins, near the beginning of each bracketed passage. A complete list of the citations, in the standard translations, can be found on-line under Textual Sources for The Hidden Passion at GnosticQ.com.
      Alas, in an age of copyright, where even the translations of ancients texts are protected by law, it is not possible to quote long passages of the standard translations of the Nag Hammadi Texts verbatim. (If Matthew and Luke were to publish their gospels today, Mark would surely sue them for copyright violation...)
      On the other hand, this opens up other creative possibilities for the author. The stilted biblical phrasings have been modified to roll off the characters' tongues more easily. Thus, a sentence such as: “And so speak I, separating off the manhood. Perceive thou therefore in the first place of the Word; then shalt thou perceive the Lord, and in the third place the man, and what he hath suffered.” (Acts of John 101) has been replaced by: “I have cast off my humanity, so you might see me as the Word, and not only as a man who has suffered.” (p. 407). In the vast majority of cases, the original sense of the utterance has been preserved.
      My fundamental premise has been to let the Gnostic texts speak for themselves. But, due to their multiple redactions, fragmented condition and obscure terminology, the Gnostic texts can easily become a confusing labyrinth of speculations. In order to make a clear presentation of the Gnostic worldview, I have had to make certain creative decisions which, per force, delimit and interpret the Gnostic stance. In the Afterword, I explain some of the motivations for these decisions. The back pages of the novel also include A Glossary and A Diagram of the Gnostic Cosmos, which may be helpful in threading one's way through the Gnostic labyrinth...
      It is my hope that the reader, in the true Gnostic spirit, will encounter these texts and experience their revelations in his or her own way – freed from dogma and authority, as a unique and living experience.
L. Caruana                  
Paris, Dec 2006