>I took care to see that what I presented as the meaning of the name matched
>pretty exactly the descriptions of "her" given in the text. Not only did it
>match, but it made sense of some things said about 'Barbelo' that otherwise
>seem off-the-wall. To me, this indicates that the originators of AOJ were
>not just some crazy mystics making up weird stuff for no reason, but were in
>fact highly intelligent mystics ... whose weird stuff can be understood -
>but only if we seriously try to put ourselves in their shoes.
>What you seem to be doing amounts to reverse-engineering so as to find the
>theological design-process that caused a resulting ultra-mysterious product,
>'Barbelo.' You do this by discovering theological symbolism you perceive as
>inherent in the letters themselves and in the Barbeloites' minds.
I suppose this stems from my experience in computer-programming. It
sometimes happened that I came across a totally mysterious command within a
program written by someone else. Rather than simply remove the command
without further ado (which could have been a mistake), my usual procedure
was to try to figure out what the original programmer might have been
thinking. When I could fit the mysterious command into a logical
thought-process, then it usually became obvious what the command was
supposed to do, and whether it should be removed or not. In a sense, this
is detective work.
>Specifically, you state that "B" simply mean femininity to these fellows.
>This is the key. That may "be" indeed. The problem is, I do not know if you
>are saying this is an original hypothesis (i.e., speculation) or if you are
>asserting that this is the prevailing opinion on the matter among Coptic
It's a fact-based hypothesis. :-) Unfortunately, the field of numerical
symbolism is not one that enjoys much academic repute. We know that the
Copts used the Greek number system, but almost nothing is written about it.
When we start talking into mystical numerology, it's hard to avoid mention
of the Kaballah, and when that's mentioned, NH scholars tend to stop
As to the number 'B' itself, I've probably gone somewhat further than I
needed to go. In "The Occult Power of Numbers" (1890), Wynn Westcott says
of "the Dyad" (=2), "It is the fountain of all female divinities ...", but,
as usual, his sources, and the cultural environment within which this
statement would have been believed to be true, are not specified. I have to
admit I haven't found a reputable book on numerology yet.
>I know about mystical numerology in Hebrew, but the 'beta = female ' in
>Greek and/or Coptic is a new one for me.
My argument would be that the Barbeloites were familiar with Hebrew
numerology, and carried it over into the Greek/Coptic. This would be
consistent with my view that the Barbeloites were intellectuals with strong
Hebraic background and familiarity.
>"The number [sic] 'B' serves to pick out two letter segments: 'AR' and 'EL'.
>Bearing in mind that Hebrew reads from right to left, the 'AR' is reversed
>to form 'RA', the name of the Egyptian sun-god, appropriately Hebrewized. So
>now we have two gods: RA and EL."
>ya lost me, big-time. Coptic reads left to right and Hebrew right to left.
>You're saying this word is Hebrew OLEBRAB. Now, in Coptic the "RA" appears
>as it should -- but the "El" has now become reversed and is "LE." Yikes! I
>don't find this approach at all persuasive or even logically coherent. Can
I'm not saying that the entire word 'Barbelo' is reversed, but only the two
letters 'AR' picked out by the first 'B'. I know it seems odd to think of
the 'B' here as functioning as a selector/separator for other letters in
the word, but I'm trying to account for weird names for which no other
explanation satisfies me. If, in the end, it can be shown that 'ISRAEL' can
be gotten from 'BARBELO' using such a technique, then it might count as
some small piece of evidence that I might be on the right track. Much more
is needed, of course.
>Also, theologically I don't think the sun god was in the same league with
>the Canaanite El, nor do I see a likelihood that the NH community would have
>extolled Ra, nor do I recall even a single parallel "Ra" allusion in NHC.
You're absolutely right. Perhaps I was wrong, then, to call 'IS', 'RA', and
'EL' three gods. But note that 'AR' is reversed, whereas the others are
not. This would put it/him in a different category, though still among the
three "powerful males".
>"But there's a third one [i.e. a god] as well. Take the omega on the end of
>'Barbelo' and conjoin it with alpha (= the Monad = the Father): you've got
>"the alpha and the omega", which is Jesus, named with the sacra nominum
>'IS'. Result? IS RA EL !"
>Mike, why should I conjoin the Omega with the alpha? I see the "O" but I
>don't see any alpha in either the initial or terminal position. This part of
>your argument escapes me completely.
In a later note, I identified "the Monad" as the Hebrew letter aleph, and
the Greek alpha as being "his image" in the waters. If you have a copy of
AOJ, you'll note that Barbelo asks for several things, and that they are
given to her, but that "forethought" appears out of nowhere, suddenly
mentioned in the same breath with Barbelo, but never specifically asked
for. I'm thinking that "the forethought" is the image of the Monad, i.e.,
the Greek alpha, so that we have at the outset <A + BARBELO>, i.e., Barbelo
and "the forethought" (pronoia). Thus, we have an alpha in the initial
position, and an omega in the end position, as would be required if the
letters were being taken symbolically.
>"Confirmation: read what is said about 'Barbelo', especially what is said
>about "her" being "the thrice-Male, the thrice-powerful, the thrice-named
>You're possibly on to something here. (Was this in AOJ? Whereabouts?) Hermes
>Trismagestis was big with these folks.
Yeah, it's in AOJ. Right after Barbelo is created, there's a number of
descriptions of "her". Seems to me that any adequate interpretation of the
name has got to make sense of those descriptions. The virtue of my
hypothesis, as I see it, is that it has the explanatory power to account
for the decidedly odd things said about "Barbelo".
As for old H.T., wish I knew more about his ideas.
>A more direct and (to me) logical derivation for 'Barbelo' is to consider
>nomina sacra techniques not with Greek letters but in Hebrew where n.s. all
>began -- and possibly in Aramaic. Here, I was hoping Jack Kilmon would
>discuss possible interplay of "bar-" "Bel" and "eloi."
>In support of the loanword concept I mentioned (2x's now, without
>acknowledgement) that the name for Death God in GTh is MOT, an old Hebrew
>word with strong cognates in the east. And this strengthens "Bel" and "eloi"
>as possibly being imported from the old country.
You don't say so exactly, but if it's your claim that this derivation of
the word 'Barbelo' makes sense of the descriptions of "her", I'd be
interested to hear the argument. Without that, I don't see how this
possible derivation has the requisite explanatory power.
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