Sethianism attributed its gnosis to Seth, third son of Adam and Eve and Norea, wife of Noah, who also plays a role in Mandeanism and Manicheanism.
The Sethian cosmogonic myth gives a prologue to Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, presenting a radical reinterpretation of the orthodox
Jewish conception of creation, and the divine’s relation to reality. The Sethian cosmogony is most famously contained in the Apocryphon of John, which describes an Unknown God, the same as Paul had done in the Acts of the Apostles 17:23. Many of the Sethian concepts derived from a fusion of Platonic or Neoplatonic concepts with the Old Testament, as was common in Hellenistic Judaism, exemplified by Philo (20 BC – 40 AD).
The Sethians were one of the main currents of Gnosticism during the 2nd and 3rd century CE, along with Valentinianism. It originated in the
second-century CE as a fusion of two distinct Hellenistic Judaic philosophies, and was influenced by Christianity and Middle Platonism.
Source wikipedia Sethianism
We are going to be covering the myths contained in the Apocryphon of John. This text is an essentail text for classic 2nd century gnosis. Also this text was used all the way up to the 8th cenutry by the different off shoots of gnosticism. It is classic dualistic gnostic mythology, written around 180 Ad.
The prologue goes like this :-
John, brother of James was going up to the temple when he was challenged by a Pharisee. He was asked were his teacher was and he replies that Jesus had gone back to the place from where he came. The Pharisee said that his teacher had lied and took him away from his Judiac tradition. John went away unhappy asking himself questions like where did the savior go? For, although he told us, ‘This realm is modeled on the imperishable realm. He didn’t teach us about the latter.” (ABOJ)
Suddenly the heavens opened and he some visions appearing to him. The vision started saying – understand my lessons; Share them with any others who have received the spirit, Who are from the immovable race of perfect humanity.” (ABOJ).
Sethian Creation myth
Following this the book describes the nature of the divine monad. An example is :- The One cannot be seen for no one can envision it, The One is eternal for it exists forever, The One is inconceivable for no one can comprehend it. (ABOJ).
This is important , it says It is outside of the realms of being and time.
Concept : Monad – divine being and cannot be comprehended. The uncreated eternal being.
The origin of reality
The book continues saying, god looked into light water of spirit and became enamored. Gods self aware thought (ennoia) came into being. This is the first power (female and male Barbelo). Next the Autogenes Christ was born from the Barbelo then four lights arose from the Christ, these are Understanding, Grace, Perception, and Consideration. These lights are actually angels, Harmozel, Oriel, Daveithai and Eleleth. Also each angel has a realm.
The first spiritual man
From the will of the autogenes Christ came the first human, adamas. The first man was placed in the realm of Harmozel with Christ. Adamas’s son seth was placed with Oriel (the second realm). The children of seth were placed in the third realm Daveithai. In the fourth realm were placed the souls of those ignorant of the fullness, this is the realm of Eleleth.
The birth of the material world
It happened that the realm (aeon) sophia of conceptual thought, (epinoia) began to think for herself. She used her mood (enthymesis) and (prognosis) of the spirit, without the consent of the her partner. Something imperfect came out of her. This being had the form of a dragon and a lions head. She cast him far away outside of the realm. Sophia put him in a brillant cloud and put a throne in the center of the cloud. She named him Yaldbaoth, he assumed command and created realms for himself.
The Yadabaoth united with the thoughtlessness (aponoia) within him. He started begating ruling authorities (exousia) modelled on the incorruptible realms above. He created 12 rulers, 7 for the planets and 5 for hades (hell). It says in the text he is blasphemous through his thoughtlessness. The authorities he created created more and more dark beings. His mother , Sophia had lost some of her light (she had become dim) because her son had stolen it and she began to forget. She wept and repented and was partially restored but left in the ninth realm.
The Yaldabaoth says “Lets create a man in the image of god”, “let us call him Adam so he will give us the power of light “. His powers began creating the human body.
The lights from above descended and took on the forms of Yaldabaoth’s advisers. They said “Blow some spirit into his face then he will rise up. Yaldabaoths power left him when he did this. The man was taken into the lowest depts of the material world.
The light filled Epinoia was hidden in Adam.
From here the garden of eden story comes into play. Woman was created from the a portion of power from adam. Adam saw the woman and the light filled epinoia appeared.
It says Sophia came down to regain what she had lost, she was called life. By her assistance people can achieve perfect knowledge. The I thought appeared as an eagle perched on the Tree of Knowledge ,Which is the Epinoia from the pure Providence of Light.
The plot against humanity
When the chief archon realised humans were elevated above him, he made a plan to sleep with sophia and produced fate. In this way all creation became blind, ignorant of god. The chief ruler created an artifical spirit to impregnate souls. This way they enslaved all of humanity.
Note: this is a legend or myth to explain how the universe began and how humans where born in darkness unaware of the inner light.