A (Sethian) ritual of ascent

The Three Steles of Seth belong among the Nag Hamnadi writings which are attributed to Sethian Gnosis. The writing displays no Christian influences; rather, it is associated with Middle or Neoplatonic and Jewish”” thought. The threefold recitation of particular lines indicates liturgical usage.The Sitz inn Leben of the Three Steles of Seth is the liturgy. From the statements in the last section we may conclude that the Three Steles of Seth is evidence of a Sethian mystery of ascent. Here reference should be made to the Gnostic apocalypses Zostrianos and Allogenes, and with qualifications also to Marsanes and the ritual of ascent in the Trimorphic Protennoia. Almost all these texts are reports of the heavenly journeys of the recipients of revelation in the first person and stamped by their ascent to ever higher knowledge. Perfecting takes place through instruction by mythological entities and sacraments (baptisms [see the baptisms of Zostrianos, ], anointings, crownings). All these ascent accounts have close parallels with one another and with the Three Steles of Seth in terminology; mythology and content, so that we can assume that they reflect the religious feelings of a particular Gnostic group, the so-called Sethian Gnostics.” It is thought that these Gnostics knew two sacraments, baptism and the mystery of ascent. The Three Steles of Seth could have represented the liturgical text for this Sethian sacrament, whereas the heavenly journeys mentioned above could have been a kind of edifying religious literature in the context of this sacrament.In terms of content, the Three Steles of Seth consist of three hymns which are devoted to the Autogenes, the Barbelo and the Unbegotten Father. 

 (Extract from “Supressed Prayers Gnostic spirituality in early Christianity” Ludemann and Janssen) 

The revelation of Dositheos about the three steles of Seth, the Father of the living and unshakable race, which he (Dositheos) saw and understood. And after he had read them, he remembered them. And he gave them to the elect, just as they were inscribed there. Many times I joined in giving glory with the powers, and I became worthy of the immeasurable majesties. Now they (the steles) are as follows: The First Stele of Seth


I bless thee, Father Geradama(s), I, as thine (own) Son, Emmacha Seth, whom thou didst beget without begetting, as a blessing of our God; for I am thine (own) Son. And thou art my mind, O my Father. And I, I sowed and begot; but thou hast seen the majesties. Thou hast stood imperishable. I bless thee, Father. Bless me, Father. It is because of thee that I exist; it is because of God that thou dost exist. Because of thee I am with that very one. Thou art light, since thou beholdest light. Thou hast revealed light. Thou art Mirotheas; thou art my Mirotheos. I bless thee as God; I bless thy divinity. Great is the good Self-begotten who stood, the God who had already stood. Thou didst come in goodness; thou hast appeared, and thou hast revealed goodness. I shall utter thy name, for thou art a first name. Thou art unbegotten. Thou hast appeared in order that thou mightest reveal the eternal ones. Thou art he who is. Therefore thou hast revealed those who really are. Thou art he who is uttered by a voice, but by mind art thou glorified, thou who hast dominion everywhere. Therefore the perceptible world too knows thee because of thee and thy seed. Thou art merciful. And thou art from another race, and its place is over another race. And now thou art from another race, and its place is over another race. Thou art from another race, for thou art not similar. And thou art merciful, for thou art eternal. And thy place is over a race, for thou hast caused all these to increase; and for the sake of my seed. For it is thou who knows it, that its place is in begetting. But they are from other races, for they are not similar. But their place is over other races, for their place is in life. Thou art Mirotheos.
I bless his power which was given to me, who caused the malenesses that really are to become male three times; he who was divided into the pentad, the one who was given to us in triple power, the one who was begotten without begetting, the one who came from that which is elect; because of what is humble, he went forth from the midst. Thou art a Father through a Father, a word from a command. We bless thee, Thrice Male, for thou didst unite all through them all, for thou hast empowered us. Thou hast arisen from one; from one thou hast gone forth; thou hast come to one. Thou hast saved, thou hast saved, thou hast saved us, O crown-bearer, crown-giver! We bless thee eternally. We bless thee, once we have been saved, as the perfect individuals, perfect on account of thee, those who became perfect with thee who is complete, who completes, the one perfect through all these, who is similar everywhere. Thrice Male, thou hast stood. Thou hast already stood. Thou wast divided everywhere. Thou didst continue being one. And those whom thou hast willed, thou hast saved. But thou dost will to be saved all who are worthy.
Thou art Perfect! Thou art Perfect! Thou art Perfect!
 

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