INNER CIRCLE: The Mystery of Error

INNER CIRCLE: The Mystery of Error June 28, 2024

IMAGE: Keith Giles [MidJourney]

One of the early mysteries in the Gospel of Truth centers around the identity of the “Error” mentioned in Chapter 2, or “Transgression” in some translations.

This metaphor serves as a central theme in the Gospel of Truth early on, so properly understanding what this error points to will guide us into a better understanding of the text. But, if we misunderstand this metaphor, we will end up with a totally different idea of what the author is trying to say.

So, it’s very important that we not make any errors about the meaning of the term “error” here. What does the term point to? What is the intended meaning of this?

Some scholars have suggested that the “error” refers to Sophia who is the embodiment of wisdom. But theories connecting error with Sophia can be easily dismissed because later in the text error is connected to the crucifixion of Jesus [Chapter 18:21-31] and error is destroyed in the penultimate chapter of the Gospel of Truth. The idea that Sophia [or the personification of perfect wisdom] could be responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus or that ultimate wisdom could be destroyed in the end is at odds with every known myth of Sophia and most certainly with anything of Valentinian origin.

So, of error is not Sophia, what is it? Some scholars suggest it might be a reference to the Demiurge, but this doesn’t work either. The Demiurge, which is a Gnostic fabrication of a lesser creator god who formed our planet but is not the one true God, doesn’t fit here because, as some scholars have noted, the Gospel of Truth makes no specific reference to gnostic mythology.

As a reminder, Valentinianism is not a Gnostic religion. To confuse the two is an error in itself. So, if the error in the Gospel of Truth is not Sophia, and it is not the Demiurge, then what could it be referring to?

Let’s take a look at the actual text as translated by Layton in 1987:

“Inasmuch as the entirety had searched for the one from whom they had emanated, and the entirety was inside of him — the inconceivable uncontained, who is superior to all thought – ignorance of the Father caused agitation and fear. And the agitation grew dense like a fog, so that no one could see. Thus error found strength and labored at her matter in emptiness. Without having learned to know the truth, she took up residence in a modeled form (a material body), preparing by means of the power, in beauty, a substitute for the truth.” [Chapter 2:1-6]

This section describes how all of creation – which exists within the “inconceivable uncontained” One – did not know the Father. Why? Simply because the Father was “inconceivable” by nature. So, how could we, as finite created beings, know or understand the incomprehensible? This is the error: our very natural inability to conceive of the inconceivable.

This inability to conceive the inconceivable is the error that leads us to anxiety and fear. This ignorance of the Supreme Reality – defined by our inherent Oneness with the Divine Creator – is the error that leads us to create “…a substitute for truth.”

The error, then, is simply another way of expressing our acceptance of the illusion of separation from the Divine, and therefore, from one another.

As Dr. Elaine Pagels explains:

“Thus “ignorance of the Father brought about anguish and terror”….Unable to comprehend the Father from whom they had come forth, since ignorance had obliterated their vision, they wandered in the dark, feeling abandoned and terrified, like children looking in vain for their lost parents.

“Strikingly, as this story tells it, what separates God’s children from their Father is not sin. Instead, what frustrates their longing for himis his transcendence, since he is “the incomprehensible, inconceivable one who is superior to every thought.

“The story goes on to say that when they realized that they could not find their way home, did not know where they came from, nor how they came into being, they opened themselves to error, and became entangled in oblivion, susceptible to the deceit that error creates in worldly existence.”

Simply put, our inability to comprehend the Incomprehensible One in whom we all live and move and have our being led us into the error of separation and division.

But, once the Father sees his beloved creation, fashioned in his own image of love and light, struggling in the darkness, unable to see or understand the truth, what is the response?


That’s what we’ll discuss in our next chapter.


The newest book from Keith Giles, “The Quantum Sayings of Jesus: Decoding the Lost Gospel of Thomas” releases TODAY on Amazon. Order HERE>

Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” He hosts the Second Cup with Keith podcast, and co-hosts the Apostates Anonymous podcast, and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast.


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