Subj: hermes at nag hammadi 2x thanksgiving prayer Date: 4/22/02 4:15:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time From:Message 1 of 1 , Jul 23, 2002View SourceSubj: hermes at nag hammadi 2x thanksgiving prayer
Date: 4/22/02 4:15:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Part 1, a little levity
I thought I would start this one off on a lighter note, with a 'prayer' taken from a science fiction novel written by Roger Zelazny (in 1969ev i think). The novel features a future galactic human society with superhumans (masters of the art of "temporal fugue") who mostly take the form of gods &goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon, and an unknown being whose anger the human expansion somehow awoke ("the nameless thing that cries in the night").
When the novel opens, most of the superhumans/aegyptian god/desse/s, who helped regulate the various interstellar human worlds, have been trashed &dispersed by the attacks of "the nameless thing that cries in the night", though the nameless thing itself has been isolated and contained in some kind of stasis-field/container, with the use of "the hammer that smashes suns". Now it's just Osiris &Anubis left to run things as lords of the house of life &death respectively, with the weight falling on the house of death, and things not going so well for humans.
Thoth returns from a long exile and starts reincarnating/regathering the dispersed gods/superhumans (beginning with Set, heh) to take the reins back from the bloody rule of chicken-head &jackal-head. His crew is joined by, among others, one Madrak, the "Agnostic Preacher", who still longs for some real God behind all the superhuman playings.
Madrak offers the following careful, all-denominational prayer to his unknown God, which I offer here in light contrast to the hermetic (thothian :-) "Prayer of Thanksgiving" found at Nag Hammadi:
<<Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen. >>
(Thoth &crew are generally succesful, though Madrak himself discovers a rather terrific disappointment near the end, when he discovers who/what "the nameless thing that cries in the night" is.)
Part 2, the Nag Hammadi "Prayer of Thanksgiving"
(Translated by James Brashler, Peter A. Dirkse and Douglas M .Parrott)
[In a brief intro to this text in the book (Robinson's 1981 edition of "The Nag Hammadi Library"), D Parrott makes the comment: "...the 'Prayer of Thanksgiving' may once have been at home in a Hermetic Gnostic community committed to the presentation and transmission of the sort of knowledge celebrated in the prayer." -- In general magical ritual is more common in hermetic texts than religious, but its religious form may have been part of what appealed to the scribe who copied it with his appended note about having many such discourses.]
This the prayer that they spoke: "We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name 'God' and praised with the name 'Father', for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
"The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life."
When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it.
I have copied this one discourse of his. Indeed, very many have come to me. I have not copied them because I thought that they had come to you (pl.). Also, I hesitate to copy these for you because, perhaps they have (already) come to you, and the matter may burden you. Since the discourses of that one, which have come to me, are numerous ...
Selection made from James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.
I note at the outset of the prayer the introduction of the use of hermetic indeterminacy mentioned in my last post, marked in this text by the apostraphization of 'God' and 'Father' following "undisturbed name", and in the second paragraph by the identification of this 'Father' with the "Womb of every living creature".
This 'God' is thanked for having gifted humans with mind, speech, &knowledge -- reminding me of the tripartite linking Daniel suggested in a recent post:
"Concerning the soul = Tat
and the things of the soul = Asclepius
and the things of immortality..., = Ammon
In regards to this I am tempted to link the soul with mind, things of the soul with speech, and things of immortality with knowledge. (We shall see a similar threefold in "The Discourse on the Eighth &Ninth", in the notion of the unbegotten, the self-begotten, and the begotten God.)
Beyond this indeterminacy, I also would like to emphasize the line: "We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge."
Part 3, a little grave levity
Agnostic Madrak's problem in Part 1 above is that he takes the soul afterlife allegories too, um, literally &gravely, and does not quite get that hermetic knowledge "in the body".