Book of John the Evangelist
Introduction [from edition]
Reprinted by Thilo from I. Benoist's Histoire des Albigeois,
&c., Paris, 196, T. 1, 283-96. Dollinger in his Beitrage zur
mittelalterlichen Sektengeschichte, vol. ii, printed another text from
a fourteenth-century manuscript at Vienna. I have not given the variants.
Thilo's reprint is followed. The Vienna MS. is rather imperfect at the
end. Benoist derived his text from the Archives of the Inquisition at Carcassonne.
The manuscript of it had this annotation in Latin:
'This is the secret book of the heretics of Concoreze, brought
from Bulgaria by their bishop Nazarius; full of errors.'
This Nazarius was examined by Rainer (Contra Waldenses, vi: printed
in Bibl. Patr. max. xxv. 271). He said that the Blessed Virgin was an angel
and that Christ did not take upon him a human nature but an angelic or
heavenly one: and that he had this erroneous teaching from a bishop and
elder son of the church of Bulgaria almost sixty years since.
The book is a Bogomil production, denying that the world was
made by God, and attributing creation to the devil. Catholic Christians
are disciples of John Baptist: baptism has no value, nor, probably the
Eucharist: but the statement about this has dropped out of the text. The
law of sacrifices (promulgated by Enoch) and the Mosaic law are works of
The account of the Last Judgement, I agree with Thilo, seems
too orthodox and conventional to square with the rest of the book: one
suspects dilution from another source. In its Latin dress the book can
hardly be older than the twelfth century. The original might be of the
sixth or seventh century.
I, John, your brother and partaker in tribulation, and that shall be
also a partaker in the kingdom of heaven, when I lay upon breast of our
Lord Jesus Christ and said unto him: Lord, who is he that shall betray
thee? [and] he answered and said: He that dippeth his hand with me in the
dish: then Satan entered unto him and he sought how he might betray me.
And I said: Lord, before Satan fell, in what glory abode he with
thy Father? And he said unto me: In such glory was he that he commanded
the powers of the heavens: but I sat with my Father, and he did order all
the followers of the Father, and went down from heaven unto the deep and
ascended up out of the deep unto the throne of the invisible Father. And
he saw the glory of him that moveth the heavens, and he thought to set
his seat above the clouds of heaven and desired to be like unto the Most
And when he had descended into the air, he said unto the angel
of the air: Open unto me the gates of the air. And he opened them unto
him. And he sought to go further downward and found the angel which held
the waters, and said unto him: Open unto me the gates of the waters. And
he opened to him. And he passed through and found all the face of the earth
covered with waters. And he passed through beneath the earth and found
two fishes lying upon the waters, and they were as oxen yoked for ploughing,
holding the whole earth by the commandment of the invisible Father, from
the west even unto the sunrising. And when he had gone down he found clouds
hanging which held the waters of the sea. And he went down yet further
and found hell, that is the gehenna of fire and thereafter he could go
down no further because of the flame of the burning fire. And Satan returned
back and filled up (passed over again) the paths and entered in unto the
angel of the air and to him that was over the waters, and said unto them:
All these things are mine: if ye will hearken unto me, I will set my seat
in the clouds and be like the Most High, and I will take the waters from
this upper firmament and gather together the other parts (places) of the
sea, and thereafter there shall be no water upon the face of all the earth,
and I will reign with you world without end.
And when he had said thus unto the angels, he went up unto the
other angels, even unto the fifth heaven, and thus spake he unto each of
them: How much owest thou unto thy lord? He said: An hundred measures (cors)
of wheat. And he said unto him: Take pen and ink and write sixty. And unto
others he said: And thou, how much owest thou unto thy lord? and he answered:
An hundred jars of oil. And he said: Sit down and write fifty. And as he
went up through all the heavens he said thus, even unto the fifth heaven,
seducing the angels of the invisible Father. And there came forth a voice
out of the throne of the Father, saying: What doest thou, O denier of the
Father, seducing the angels? doer of iniquity, that thou hast devised do
Then the Father commanded his angels, saying: Take away their
garments. And the angels took away their garments and their thrones and
their crowns from all the angels that hearkened unto him.
And I asked of the Lord: When Satan fell, in what place dwelt
he? And he answered me: My Father changed his appearance because of his
pride, and the light was taken from him, and his face became like unto
heated iron, and his face became wholly like that of a man: and he drew
with his tail the third part of the angels of God, and was cast out from
the seat of God and from the stewardship of the heavens. And Satan came
down into this firmament, and he could find (make) no rest for himself
nor for them that were with him. And he asked the Father saying: Have patience
with me and I will pay thee all. And the Father had mercy on him and gave
him rest and them that were with him, as much as they would even unto seven
And so sat he in the firmament and commanded the angel that was
over the air and him that was over the waters, and they raised the earth
up and it appeared dry: and he took the crown of the angel that was over
the waters, and of the half thereof he made the light of the moon and of
the half the light of the stars: and of the precious stones he made all
the hosts of the stars.
And thereafter he made the angels his ministers according to the
order of the form of the Most High, and by the commandment of the invisible
Father he made thunder, rain, hail, and snow.
And he sent forth angels to be ministers over them. And he commanded
the earth to bring forth every beast for food (fatling), and every creeping
thing, and trees and herbs: and he commanded the sea to bring forth fishes,
and the fowls of the heaven.
And he devised furthermore and made man in his likeness, and commanded
the (or an) angel of the third heaven to enter into the body of clay. And
he took thereof and made another body in the form of a woman, and commanded
the (or an) angel of the second heaven to enter into the body of the woman.
But the angel lamented when they beheld a mortal shape upon them and that
they were unlike in shape. And he commanded them to do the deed of the
flesh in the bodies of clay, and they knew not how to commit sin.
Then did the contriver of evil devise in his mind to make paradise,
and he brought the man and woman into it. And he Commanded to bring a reed,
and the devil planted it in the midst of paradise, and so did the wicked
devil hide his device that they knew not his deceit. And he came in and
spake unto them, saying: Of every fruit which is in paradise eat ye, but
of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil eat not. Notwithstanding,
the devil entered into a wicked serpent and seduced the angel that was
in the form of the woman, and he wrought his lust with Eve in the Song
of the serpent. And therefore are they called sons of the devil and sons
of the serpent that do the lust of the devil their father, even unto the
end of this world. And again the devil poured out upon the angel that was
in Adam the poison of his lust, and it begetteth the sons of the serpent
and the sons of the devil even unto the end of this world.
And after that I, John, asked of the Lord, saying: How say men
that Adam and Eve were created by God and set in paradise to keep the commandments
of the Father, and were delivered unto death? And the Lord said to me:
Hearken, John, beloved of my Father; foolish men say thus in their deceitfulness
that my Father made bodies of clay: but by the Holy Ghost made he all the
powers of the heavens, and holy ones were found having bodies of clay because
of their transgression, and therefore were delivered unto death.
And again I, John, asked the Lord: How beginneth a man to be in
the Spirit (to have a spirit) in a body of flesh? And the Lord said unto
me: Certain of the angels which fell do enter unto the bodies of women,
and receive flesh from the lust of the flesh, and so is a spirit born of
spirit, and flesh of flesh, and so is the kingdom of Satan accomplished
in this world and among all nations.
And again I asked the Lord: How long shall be the reign of Satan?
he said to me: My Father hath suffered him to reign seven days, which are
And I asked the Lord and said: What shall be in that time? And
he said to me: From the time when the devil fell from the glory of the
Father and (lost) his own glory, he sat upon the clouds, and sent his ministers,
even angels flaming with fire, unto men from Adam even unto Henoch his
servant. And he raised up Henoch upon the firmament and showed him his
godhead and commanded pen and ink to be given him: and he sat down and
wrote threescore and seven books. And he commanded that he should take
them to the earth and deliver them unto his sons. And Henoch let his books
down upon the earth and delivered them unto his sons, and began to teach
them to perform the custom of sacrifice, and unrighteous mysteries, and
so did he hide the kingdom of heaven from men. And he said unto them: Behold
that I am your god and beside me is none other god. And therefore did my
Father send me into the world that I might make it known unto men, that
they might know the evil device of the devil.
And then when he perceived that I had come down out of heaven
into the world, he sent an angel and took of three sorts of wood and gave
them unto Moses that I might be crucified, and now are they reserved for
me. But then (now) did the devil proclaim unto him (Moses) his godhead,
and unto his people, and commanded a law to be given unto the children
of Israel, and brought them out through the midst of the sea which was
When my Father thought to send me into the world, he sent his
angel before me, by name Mary, to receive me. And I when I came down entered
in by the ear and came forth by the ear.
And Satan the prince of this world perceived that I was come to
seek and save them that were lost, and sent his angel, even Helias the
prophet, baptizing with water: who is called John the Baptist. And Helias
asked the prince of this world: How can I know him? Then his lord said:
On whom soever thou shalt see the spirit descending like a dove and resting
upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost unto forgiveness
of sins: thou wilt be able to destroy him and to save. And again I, John,
asked the Lord: Can a man be saved by the baptism of John without thy baptism?
And the Lord answered: Unless I have baptized him unto forgiveness of sins,
by the baptism of water can no man see the kingdom of heaven: for I am
the bread of life that came down from the seventh heaven and they that
eat my flesh and drink my blood, they shall be called the sons of God.
And I asked the Lord and said: What meaneth it, to eat my flesh
and drink my blood? (An answer and question seem to have fallen out.) And
the Lord said unto me: Before the falling of the devil with all his host
from the glory of the Father [in prayer], they did glorify the Father in
their prayers thus, saying: Our Father, which art in heaven; and so did
all their songs come up before the throne of the Father. But when they
had fallen, after that they are not able to glorify God with that prayer.
And I asked the Lord: How do all men receive the baptism of John,
but thine not at all? And the Lord answered: Because their deeds are evil
and they come not unto the light.
The disciples of John marry and are given in marriage; but my
disciples neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels
of God in heaven. But I said: If, then, it be sin to have to do with a
woman, it is not good to marry. And the Lord said unto me: Not every one
can receive this saying (&c., Matt. xix.11, 12).
I asked the Lord concerning the day of judgement: What shall be
the sign of thy coming? And he answered and said unto me: When the numbers
of the righteous shall be accomplished that is, the number of the righteous
that are crowned, that have fallen, then shall Satan be loosed out of his
prison, having great wrath, and shall make war with the righteous, and
they shall cry unto the Lord with a loud voice. And immediately the Lord
shall command an angel to blow with the trumpet, and the voice of the archangel
shall be heard in the trumpet from heaven even unto hell.
And then shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give
her light, and the stars shall fall, and the four winds shall be loosed
from their foundations, and shall cause the earth and the sea and the mountains
to quake together. And the heaven shall immediately shake and the sun shall
be darkened, and it shall shine even to the fourth hour. Then shall appear
the sign of the Son of man, and all the holy angels with him, and he shall
set his seat upon the clouds, and sit on the throne of his majesty with
the twelve apostles on the twelve seats of their glory. And the books shall
be opened and he shall judge the whole world and the faith which he proclaimed.
And then shall the Son of man send his angels, and they shall gather his
elect from the four winds from the heights of the heavens unto the boundaries
of them, and shall bring them to seek.
Then shall the Son of God send the evil spirits, to bring all
nations before him, and shall say unto them: Come, ye that did say: We
have eaten and drunk and received the gain of this world. And after that
they shall again be brought, and shall all stand before the judgement seat,
even all nations, in fear. And the books of life shall be opened and all
nations shall show forth their ungodliness. And he shall glorify the righteous
for their patience: and glory and honour and incorruption shall be the
reward of their good works: but as for them that kept the commandments
of the angels and obeyed unrighteously, indignation and trouble and anguish
shall take hold on then.
And the Son of God shall bring forth the elect out of the midst
of the sinners and say unto them: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Then shall
he say unto the sinners: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,
which was prepared for the devil and his angels. And the rest, beholding
the last cutting off, shall cast the sinners into hell by the commandment
of the invisible Father. Then shall the spirits of them that believe not
go forth out of the prisons, and then shall my voice be heard, and there
shall be one fold and one shepherd: and the darkness and obscurity shall
come forth out of the lower parts of the earth -that is to say, the darkness
of the gehenna of fire- and shall burn all things from below even to the
air of the firmament. And the Lord shall be in the firmament and even to
the lower parts of the earth. (read And the distance from the firmament
unto the lower parts of the earth shall be) as if a man of thirty years
old should take up a stone and cast it down, hardly in three years would
it reach the bottom: so great is the depth of the pit and of the fire wherein
the sinners shall dwell. And then shall Satan and all his host be bound
and cast into the lake of fire. And the Son of God shall walk with his
elect above the firmament and shall shut up the devil, binding him with
strong chains that cannot be loosed. At that time the sinners, weeping
and mourning, shall say: O earth, swallow us up and cover us in death.
And then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
And he shall bring them before the throne of the invisible Father, saying:
Behold, I and my children whom God hath given me. O righteous one, the
world hath not known thee, but I have known thee in truth, because thou
hast sent me. And then shall the Father answer his Son and say: My beloved
Son, sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies the footstool
of thy feet, which have denied me and said: We are gods, and beside us
there is none other god: which have slain thy prophets and persecuted thy
righteous ones, and thou hast persecuted them even unto the outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And then shall the Son of God sit on the right hand of his Father,
and the Father shall command his angels, and they shall minister unto them
(i.e. the righteous) and set them among the choirs of the angels, to clothe
them with incorruptible garments, and shall give them crowns that fade
not and seats that cannot be moved. And God shall be in the midst of them;
and they shall not hunger nor thirst any more, neither shall the sun light
on them nor any heat. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.
And he shall reign with his holy Father, and of his kingdom there shall
be no end for ever and ever.
From The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. M.R. James-Translation
and Notes, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)
Scanned and Edited by Joshua Williams, Northwest Nazarene College, 1995
The source for this on the net seems to be
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain
and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document
is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution
in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate
the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial
© Paul Halsall November 1997