I’ve had the translation of this innocuous little book sitting in my bookcase for over three years now. Why this weekend should I decide to pick it up and start reading, I ask myself. And why am I getting excited by it?
Maybe because I’ve been feeling troubled over the last week or so by the 'chaos of the aeon'. Events in the external have made me re-examine a number of things on the internal – my personal journey; my beliefs ... what has shaped them, and how they have evolved.
As an ‘exvangelical’, the feeling of freedom I now enjoy is something I value immensely and never take for granted. For sure I could never go back. And yet I catch myself finding my footing on the foundations laid during formative years; a clear knowledge of right from wrong and that simple childlike faith in Jesus and certainty of his love for me. I realise that Christianity, or at least the modified version of it, is woven into the story of my soul - and that somehow, despite the trauma, I’m attached to in a way that goes beyond sentimental nostalgia.
The Pistis Sophia is helping me renavigate. It's one of the lost texts, non-canonical and thereby deemed taboo by the established church. It was first discovered 1773, but dates back to the second century not long after the time of Christ and thought to have been written by those who were disciples of the disciples, including Mary Magdalene who has a prominent role. It’s a sequence of discourses – think Mount of Olives fly on the wall docusoap spanning 11 years post-resurrection before Jesus finally ascended in his light body (although in another sense has never left this earth). Gripped? I am. The Pistis Sophia is a delight of a discovery. A little gem that has me excited all over again about exploring the very earliest version of Christianity, before it even had that name, and certainly before it became an imperial colonising superpower. In my imagination I am with him now, sitting at his feet with Mary at my side, listening to her questions and the answers he gives, and adding my own to the mix. But what does this mean? Is it this? Is it that? What I find both thrilling and sobering is that so much of this content speaks directly to the events and content that play out before my eyes as I scroll my social media feed on this Sunday morning in July 2021.
In Greek ‘Sophia’ means wisdom, 'Pistis’ is faith.
So the Pistis Sophia is "The Wisdom of Faith".
Even this packs a punch. Many of my favourite ‘New Age’ teachers (self-proclaimed teachers, I should add, YouTube doesn’t vet credentials) are conspicuous by their accumulative lack of wisdom it would seem of late. The very thing that first attracted me to this eclectic milieu now seems to hail its downfall: lack of central organisation; absence of authority and accountability to shared virtues; an emphasis on subjective interpretation, an openness to many diverse beliefs and ideologies and the uncensored creative expression thereof.
The image of a rug pulled out under my feet flashes through my mind. Or more specifically a white cotton tablecloth, inexpertly tugged so that wine spills, glasses smash and the soiled remains collapse in a heap on the floor.
I told you so, says Pope Francis, or the General of the Salvation Army in my case … whoever that is right now. Maybe you can’t have your cake and eat it after all. But I do get to choose which cake, and I’m just getting started on the taster course.
More… much more still to come on the Pistis Sophia both here and on my YouTube channel Let’s Reconnect. Join my mailing list for updates.