Cover image: Detail from the Robail-Navier Family Sepulchre, Cimitière de la Madeleine, Amiens, France, ca. 1832. Though stained with age, the sleeves and hands shown here remain remarkably lifelike. As a gesture now captured in perpetuity, the smooth fingers of the beloved wife rest calmly within the enclosing grasp of her husband. Photograph taken by the author. 

This article is adapted from Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Freemasonry and the Origins of Latter-day Saints Temple Ordinances. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2022. Available at Eborn Books, FAIR Bookstore, and other Latter-day Saint booksellers—and online at For the previous article in this series, CLICK HERE.

The Marriage Handclasp

Besides their use in tests of knowledge, clasped hands have been a frequent symbol of the marriage relationship since ancient times, as exemplified in this image on a family monument for Jean-Baptiste Robail, age 70, and his wife, Rose Duclocher, age 72, who passed away on the same day in 1832.

The marriage handclasp was also a symbol used by the Prophet Joseph Smith from at least 1835. For example, Matthew B. Brown observed that on November 24, 1835, Joseph Smith “performed a marriage ceremony ‘by the authority of the everlasting priesthood.’ He requested the bride and groom to ‘join hands’ and then they entered into a ‘covenant’ while the Prophet pronounced ‘the blessings that the Lord conferred upon Adam and Eve.’”[i]

Left: Wedding Procession, Attic white-ground pyxis by the Splachnoptes painter, ca. 450 BCE;[ii] Right: The New Jerusalem, Bamberg Apocalypse, ca. 1000.[iii]

Although sculptured hands of marriage partners in modern times nearly always show a simple handclasp, a significant number from ancient times pointedly feature a somewhat different gesture where the hand of the man is placed over the wrist of the woman. For example, Nicoletta Isar has analyzed a series of images from Greek Attic painted pottery that show “a certain ritual gesture” of “the bridegroom-god holding the wrist of his bride” that Isar takes as representing “the bond created by the nuptial ritual.”[iv] This is the same ritual handclasp that is represented nearly 1500 years later when John is depicted as being admitted to the New Jerusalem.

Rite of Redemption and the Bridal Chamber in the Gospel of Philip

In the Gospel of Philip, a text written by a second-century movement of Christianity with gnostic leanings called the Valentinians, we find extensive commentary on their unique set of rituals: “baptism, chrism, eucharist, redemption, and bridechamber.”[v] Elaine Pagels finds that “much of what we find in Philip … the author shares in common with many of his Christian contemporaries,” including that “the primary transactions of religious life taking place in the community [are] through ritual means.”[vi] However, the Valentinian Christian rituals listed in Philip go beyond the traditional Christian sacraments to include additional components, notably the rites of “redemption” and the “bridal chamber.”[vii] Irenaeus, a contemporary of these Christians, rejected the Valentinian teaching that there was a rite of redemption that had to be performed after baptism in order to bring Christians to “perfection.” He reported them as teaching that:[viii]

the baptism of the visible Jesus is for the remission of sins, but the redemption of the Christ who came down into him is for perfection. They assert that the first is psychic, but the second spiritual. Baptism was proclaimed by John for repentance, but [the rite of] redemption was introduced by Christ for perfection.

Though not every scholar is convinced that the five items listed in Philip constitute five distinct rituals,[ix] Einar Thomasson, the author of the most comprehensive work to date on the Valentinian Christians argues that there is a shared conception among the varying texts of this movement that the acts must be performed “in a progressive sequence.”[x] Leaving out the Eucharist (roughly equivalent to the Latter-day Saint “sacrament”), which is a repeated rather than a one-time ritual, Thomassen summarizes the sequence in Philip 70:34–71:3 as follows:

Rebirth [baptism] → anointing [chrism] → redemption → the bridal chamber

Although the limited data currently available precludes any certain conclusions, Thomassen’s sequence, if understood as referring to rites that were to take place after baptism,[xi] might be conveniently compared to the sequence of Latter-day Saint ordinances:

Baptism/washing → confirmation/anointing → endowment → marriage sealing

Supporting the view that each listed Valentinian rite should be seen as separate and distinct is another passage from Philip[xii] that associates them with different areas of the temple. Old Testament scholar George W. MacRae explained:[xiii]

The writer is talking about an outer court, a middle court, and the inner court which is the Holy of Holies. The allegory seems to identify these with three different sacraments in the sacramental system of the Valentinian Gnostics. But I think it is more than that. It is more than that because it builds on the concept that one moves toward the divine presence as one moves successively through the outer courts of the temple toward the inner Holy of Holies, to which only the priest has access. Consequently, the order in which the courts are identified with sacraments becomes very important. The initiatory rite of baptism is the outermost one. The rite of redemption, whatever that may have consisted of, is the second one. And it is the bridal chamber, the rite of which was the supreme rite for the Valentinian Gnostic, which is the approach into the presence of God himself.

Rough, Conjectural Comparison of Valentinian Rituals, Israelite Temple Layout, and Temple Ordinances. Two distinct sorts of water ordinances—namely baptism by immersion and washing—seem to have become confused in the first centuries after Christ. Although we can be confident that Philip intended to associate the symbolism of the laver in the courtyard with Christian baptism,[xiv] scholars disagree as to whether the Valentinian ordinances also included a second baptism,[xv] perhaps analogous to the additional washing ordinance at the entrance of the tent described in Exodus 29:4 and 40:12.[xvi] In early Christianity, rituals resembling washing, anointing, and clothing were sometimes performed in conjunction with “baptism.” Drawing from another Valentinian text, Thomassen posits a period of instruction preceding the ordinances, describing, among other things, “who we were, what we have become, where we were, where we have been placed, where we are going.”[xvii] In the Valentinian list of five ordinances, the eucharist (the counterpart to the Latter-day Saint sacrament of bread and water) is listed as being prior to the rite of “redemption.” Hence, I show it here, consistent with the conclusion of other scholars,[xviii] as a “repeated maintenance ritual”[xix] associated symbolically with the bread and wine of the table of shewbread. Because the culminating Valentinian rites are associated both with some kind of mystical reunion of earthly and heavenly personages (perhaps symbolized by a sacred embrace?)[xx] and also “entering the heavenly temple”[xxi] as well as with the union of husband and wife, the rite of redemption (perhaps roughly corresponding to the culminating steps of the endowment) is conjecturally positioned to reflect its possible role in providing a ritual preceding entrance to the bridal chamber. The rite of the bridal chamber (here shown as roughly corresponding to the Latter-day Saint marriage sealing) is shown as taking place in the bridal chamber itself.[xxii]

The interpretation of the term “bridal chamber” is especially complex and disputed. Lance S. Owens, a scholar of Gnosticism, writes:[xxiii]

Whether this ultimate sacrament of the bridal chamber was a ritual enacted by a man and women, an allegorical term for a mystical experience, or a union of both, we do not know. Only hints are given in Gnostic texts about what this sacrament might be:[xxiv]

Christ came to rectify the separation … and join the two components; and to give life unto those who had died by separation and join them together. Now a woman joins with her husband in the bridal [chamber], and those who have joined in the bridal [chamber] will not reseparate.

BYU professor Gaye Strathearn provides reasons to believe that the Valentinian bridal chamber, identified with the Holy of Holies, was thought of as “a place where individuals were united with their divine self, their angel.”[xxv] That said, she also points out that “certain passages in the Gospel of Philip use the language of a man and a woman being united in the bridal chamber.”[xxvi] Could the rites of the bridal chamber have included both the union of mortal and heavenly personages (perhaps an entrance ritual symbolized by a sacred embrace?) as well as the union of a man and a woman (a marriage ritual), in line with the possibility that Owens has conjectured? Strathearn’s findings suggest that this possibility is well worth our consideration:[xxvii]

According to the Gospel of Philip, the separation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden resulted in two adverse consequences, both of which are rectified in the bridal chamber. The first consequence is paralleled in the Bible: it brought death into the world. “When Eve was still in Adam death did not exist. When she was separated from him death came into being” (68.22–26). Likewise, “If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death” (70.9–12. Compare Genesis 3:19). If, however, “he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more” (68.25–26). This reunification takes place in the bridal chamber. “Therefore, Christ came that he might correct again the separation that happened from the beginning [that is, the division of Adam and Eve] and unite the two and give life to those who died in the separation and unite them. But the woman is always united with her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who are united in the bridal chamber will no longer be divided. Thus, Eve separated from Adam because she was not united with him in the bridal chamber” (70.13–22).

The second adverse consequence of Adam and Eve’s separation was that it made their descendants vulnerable to the attacks of evil spirits. This scenario is based on the Valentinian belief that the Pleroma is balanced by the series of divinely paired male/female emanations mentioned above. Before Adam and Eve were separated, they represented the male/female emanations of the Pleroma, but when they separated, not only was death introduced but the separated beings became exposed. “The forms of evil spirit include male ones and female ones. The males are they that unite with the souls which inhabit a female form, but the females are they which are mingled with those in a male form. … When the wanton women see a male sitting alone, they leap down on him and play with him and defile him. So also, the lecherous men, when they see a beautiful woman sitting alone, they persuade her and compel her, wishing to defile her” (65.1–7, 12–19).[xxviii]

The only way to counteract these attacks, according to the Gospel of Philip, is to “receive a male power and a female.”[xxix] This power is described as “the bridegroom and the bride” (65.9–11). Williams argues that this power comes from an “actual social joining of man and woman” and understands that joining to be a “spiritual marriage.”[xxx] Yet in coming to this conclusion, he follows Isenberg’s translation that an individual must receive “a male power or a female power.”[xxxi] The Coptic, however, reads [“and” instead of “or”].

Therefore, I have chosen to translate the phrase as “receive a male power and a female.” Jean-Marie Sevrin is probably correct to interpret the power as coming from the combined androgynous power of a male and a female.[xxxii] This reading not only makes better sense of the Coptic, it also fits better with the idea that the malevolent spirits have power because of the separation of male and female. It seems reasonable to assert that the power to overcome the separation would be a unified power.

The Gospel of Philip teaches that this unifying power is received in the eikonikos (bridal chamber) (65.12).

Rite of Redemption and the Bridal Chamber in the Gospel of Philip

While any definite relationship between the Valentinian rites and Latter-day Saint temple ordinances necessarily remains conjectural, at the very least their affinities demonstrate that the idea of additional rites, beyond baptism, that were “introduced by Christ for perfection” were accepted by some early Christians. Moreover, the idea that a “separation of male and female” made them “vulnerable to the attacks of evil spirits” and that “the power to overcome,” a “unifying power,” was “received in the … bridal chamber” is certainly evocative of the enthusiastic Latter-day Saint endorsement of Paul’s teaching that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”[xxxiii]



Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. ; (accessed November 29, 2020).

DeConick, April D. Heavenly temple traditions and Valentinian worship. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 63, ed. John J. Collins. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1999.

———. “The true mysteries: Sacrementalism in the ‘Gospel of Philip’.” Vigilae Christianae 55, no. 3 (2001): 225–61. . (accessed July 6, 2022).

Fossum, Jarl E. The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 36. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1985.

Hennecke, Edgar, and Wilhelm Schneemelcher. “The Acts of Thomas.” In New Testament Apocrypha, edited by Edgar Hennecke and Wilhelm Schneemelcher. 2 vols. Vol. 2, 425-531. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1965.

Irenaeus. ca. 150-200. “Against Heresies.” In The Ante-Nicene Fathers (The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325), edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. 10 vols. Vol. 1, 315-567. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1885. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Isar, Nicoletta. Choros, The Dance of Adam: The Making of Byzantine Chorography. Leiden, The Netherlands: Alexandros Press, 2011.

Isenberg, Wesley W. “The Gospel of Philip (II, 3).” In The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James M. Robinson. 3rd, Completely Revised ed, 139-60. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990.

Josephus, Flavius. 37-ca. 97. “The Antiquities of the Jews.” In The Genuine Works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historian. Translated from the Original Greek, according to Havercamp’s Accurate Edition. Translated by William Whiston, 23-426. London, England: W. Bowyer, 1737. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1980.

Layton, Bentley, ed. The Gnostic Scriptures: A New Translation with Annotations and Introductions. The Anchor Bible Reference Library, ed. David Noel Freedman. New York City, NY: Doubleday, 1987.

Lundhaug, Hugo. Images of Rebirth: Cognitive Poetics and Transformational Soteriology in the Gospel of Philip and the Exegesis on the Soul. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 73, ed. Johannes van Oort and Einar Thomassen. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2010.

———. “Evidence of ‘Valentinian’ ritual practice? The Liturgical Fragments of Nag Hammadi Codex XI (HC XI, 2A–E).” In Gnosticism, Platonism, and the Late Ancient World: Essays in Honour of John D. Turner, edited by Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus, 225–43. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

MacRae, George W. “The temple as a house of revelation in the Nag Hammadi texts.” In The Temple in Antiquity, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 175-90. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1984.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. “Return to the temple.” In Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12, 42-90. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1992. (accessed August 21, 2020).

Owens, Lance S. An Introduction to Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library.  In The Nag Hammadi Library — The Gnostic Society Library. (accessed July 6, 2022).

Pagels, Elaine. “Ritual in the Gospel of Philip.” In The Nag Hammadi Library after Fifty Years: Proceedings of the 1995 Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration [in Philadlephia], edited by John Douglas Turner and Anne Marie McGuire. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 44, eds. James M. Robinson and H. J. Klimkeit, 280–92. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1997. (accessed July 6, 2022).

Philo. b. 20 BCE. “Moses 1 and 2 (De Vita Mosis).” In Philo, edited by F. H. Colson. Revised ed. 12 vols. Vol. 6. Translated by F. H. Colson. The Loeb Classical Library 289, 274-595. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1935.

Sevrin, Jean-Marie. “Les noces spirituelles dans l’’Évangile selon Philippe.” Muséon: Revue d’études orientales 87 (1974): 143–93.

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen. Journals: 1832-1839. The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals 1, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2008.

Strathearn, Gaye. “The Valentinian bridal chamber in the Gospel of Philip.” Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 1, no. 1 (2009): 1-22. (accessed July 6, 2022).

Thomassen, Einar. The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the Valentinians. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.Гнозис/Исследования/ENG/Thomassen%20E.%20-%20The%20Spiritual%20Seed.%20The%20Church%20of%20the%20«Valentinians».pdf. (accessed July 6, 2022).

Twigg, Matthew. The Valentinian Temple: Visions, Revelations, and the Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Paul. Gnostica. Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England: Routledge, 2022.

Uro, Risto. “The bridal chamber and other mysteries: Ritual system and ritual transmission in the Valentinian movement.” In Sacred Marriages, edited by Martti Nissinen and Risto Uro, 457-86. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008.

van Os, Bas. “The Gospel of Philip as gnostic initiatory discourse.” In Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient Literature, edited by April D. DeConick, Gregory Shaw and John D. Turner, 91–112. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

Williams, Michael A. Rethinking ‘Gnosticism’: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.


[i] J. Smith, Jr. et al., Journals, 1832-1839, 24 November 1835, pp. 109-110. Two months later, he pronounced upon a couple “the blessings of Abraham Isaac and Jacob and such other blessings as the Lord put into my heart” (20 January 1836, p. 165. See also 14 January 1836, p. 153).

[ii] Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, MS A. II. 42, Folio 55 recto. http://commons. Jerusalem.JPG. In the public domain.

[iii] In N. Isar, Choros, plate 85, IMG_2109. With permission.

[iv] Ibid., pp. 52-53. Isar notes that some scholars see the imagery primarily as “one of abduction,” with the gesture signifying “the submission of the bride to her husband.” However, as discussed by Isar and other sources she cites, “the bridegroom’s grasp of the wrist also means ‘joining’” (ibid., p. 53 n. 14). See also ibid., pp. 54-57.

[v] W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 67:29-30, p. 150. Bas van Os vigorously argues that the rhetorical structure of the Gospel of Philip confirms that it is a well-organized gnostic initiatory discourse rather than an incoherent collection of sayings (B. van Os, Gospel of Philip).

[vi] E. Pagels, Ritual in the Gospel of Philip, p. 281.

[vii] See W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 67:27-30, p. 150. For additional Latter-day Saint perspectives on the Valentinan rites, see, for example, G. Strathearn, Valentinian Bridal Chamber, p. 108; H. W. Nibley, Return, p. 54.

[viii] Irenaeus wrote (Irenaeus, Heresies, I 21:2):

They affirm that the redemption is necessary for those who have received perfect knowledge, in order that they may be reborn into the power which is above all things. Otherwise, it is impossible to enter inside the Fullness, for according to them, it is this redemption which leads them down into the profundities of the Abyss. Now the baptism of the visible Jesus is for the remission of sins, but the redemption of the Christ who came down into him is for perfection. They assert that the first is psychic, but the second spiritual. Baptism was proclaimed by John for repentance, but redemption was introduced by Christ for perfection. And it is about this that he says, “And I have another baptism to be baptized with, and I am strongly urged towards it” (See Luke 12:50). And the Lord is also said to have put this redemption before the sons of Zebedee, when their mother asked that they might sit on his right hand and his left in the kingdom, saying, “Can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am going to be baptized?” (Matt 20:22, Mark 10:38). And they say that Paul often referred to the redemption in Christ Jesus explicitly, and that this is what they transmit in various and discordant ways.

Besides his aversion to rites that followed baptism, Irenaeus was also frustrated by his apparent inability to get a simple, consistent description of the rite of “redemption” from any two individuals. His statement may hint at the fact that this rite was secret rather than public:

The tradition concerning their “redemption” happens to be invisible and incomprehensible, since it is the mother of ungraspable and invisible things. And therefore, being unstable, it cannot be explained simply or in a word, since each one of them transmits it as he wishes. For there are as many different “redemptions” as there are mystagogues of this doctrine

[ix] See, for example, A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries; E. Pagels, Ritual in the Gospel of Philip; E. Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, pp. 341–342.

[x] E. Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, p. 101. Thomassen’s 2018 views in this regard are summarized by Matthew Twigg (M. Twigg, The Valentinian Temple, p. 107n61):

Thomassen translates [Philip] 69.25–26 as “Baptism leads to the resurrection [through the] redemption,” and follows Schenke’s (1997, 407) suggestion that this … must be taken as implied in the following two phrases. Hence, not only does baptism lead to resurrection through the redemption, but redemption also leads to resurrection through the bridal chamber, and the bridal chamber also leads to resurrection through “that which is above.” In other words, each ritual stage is made efficacious by the superior power flowing down from above through each “house,” like a chain reaction, as Thomassen puts it.

[xi] As E. Pagels, Ritual in the Gospel of Philip, p. 282 avers, the argument for against the claim of Irenaeus that the Valentinians were pointing to a second set of rites largely rests on negative evidence, namely, the fact that the author of Philip “neither denigrates ‘first baptism’ nor indicates any knowledge of a ‘higher’ or even a distinct baptismal ritual.” Yet, if it is possible to understand the water rite of “rebirth” as a “washing” rather than a “baptism,” the likelihood of a distinct rite increases.

The frequent confusion among early Christians between baptism and washing, confirmation and anointing and other paired rites that use water and oil is discussed in chapter 7.

In chapter 12, I argue that the repeated sequence of similar rites is part of a deliberate design. As Thomassen rightly argues, though likely with a somewhat different view of the details, “Redemption and the bridal chamber are thus conceived as further stages on the way to salvation [partially] provided by and already implicit in the acts of baptism and anointing” (E. Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, p. 324).

[xii] W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 69:14-70:4, p. 151.

[xiii] G. W. MacRae, House of Revelation, pp. 184-185. Compare and contrast the views of R. Uro, Bridal Chamber and the following summary of April DeConick’s views (A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries; A. D. DeConick, Heavenly Temple Traditions, pp. 335–339) provided by Matthew Twigg: (M. Twigg, The Valentinian Temple, p. 87)

DeConick draws out the parallels between the three “sacraments” (baptism–redemption–bridal chamber) which constitute Gos. Phil.’s temple and the priestly activities which took place in each of the three areas of the historical temple. First, according to DeConick, Gos. Phil.’s Holy, or ulam, could be connected with baptism–chrismation because just outside the ulam of the temple stood a large bronze basin in which the priests were required to immerse themselves before they were permitted to enter the temple. Further, Exodus 29:4–9 describes how, in consecrating priests, they were washed at the entrance to the tent, before being invested with their priestly attire, and then anointed with oil. Second, Gos. Phil.’s Holy of the Holy, or hekhal, could be connected with redemption—which DeConick equates with the Eucharist—because within the hekhal of the temple stood, among other things, the Table of the Presence upon which the Bread of the Presence was offered before being consumed by the priests each week. The possibility that the priests consumed this bread with wine leads DeConick to suggest at least a typological connection to Gos. Phil.’s redemption qua Eucharist. Finally, Gos. Phil.’s Holies of the Holies, or devir, could be connected with the bridal chamber—which DeConick identifies as earthly marriage anticipating an eschatological angelic union – because numerous early Jewish sources associated the devir with marital, sexual, and reproductive imagery.

[xiv] Describing the first stage in Valentinian ritual, A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries, p. 231 writes:

The initiatory stage in the mystical-sacramental praxis is a ritual performance stage. Since this stage is the first of the three Holy shrines, it plausibly can be associated with the ulam or vestibule of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is quite noteworthy that before the priests were permitted to enter the Temple, they had to ritually immerse themselves (See Mishnah, Tamid 1:2, 4; 2:1. See Yoma 3:3). This immersion took place in the “sea of bronze” (1 Kings 7:23-26), a great water container supported by twelve statues of bulls (2 Chronicles 4:6). This basin was located to the south of the altar just outside the ulam.

[xv] In support of the idea of two baptisms is a section of Nag Hammadi Codex XI, called On Baptism A (NHC XI, 2b) that refers specifically to “the first baptism” (H. Lundhaug, Evidence of ‘Valentinian’ Ritual Practice?, p. 230) that “effects the forgiveness of sins” (ibid., p. 233). The interpretation of the “second baptism” is “rather more of a problem” (ibid., p. 233). The most Lundhaug can say about it is that it “required previous participation in common Christian initiatory baptism in water” (ibid., p. 234).

[xvi] Speaking of a second baptism or washing, following immersion in the laver, A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries, p. 235 writes:

According to Exodus 29, the consecration ceremony for the priest began by first washing him at the entrance to the Tent. Then the priest was to be invested with the priestly garb which included the turban. There is evidence that the turban was decorated with the Name of God (See Philo, Moses, 2.114, 132 F. Josephus, Antiquities, 3.331). Furthermore, his head was anointed with oil. After these ceremonies, he could enter the holy place and perform his liturgical functions.

[xvii] E. Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, p. 341. As to the specifics of this instruction, Thomassen mentions that (ibid., p. 386. See also p. 346):

Exc. 78:2 presupposes that the candidate has acquired a certain type of knowledge—who we were, what we have become, where we were, where we have been placed, where we are going; from what we are redeemed, what birth is, and what rebirth.

Thomassen also finds evidence for the “idea of putting on a new garment” as a separate act from “the anointing of the body or the subsequent donning of [white] baptismal robes” (ibid., p. 348).

[xviii] See, for example, A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries, p. 239 (see, further, pp. 239–245):

The eucharist sacrament is another ritual activity referred to by Philip. It seems to correspond to the Holy of the Holy shrine, the shrine closely tied to “redemption” (69:23). Accordingly, this shrine is to be associated with the second room in the Temple, the hekhal or holy place. In the hekhal stood a golden altar for incense offerings (1 Kings 7:48. See 1 Kings 6:20-21), ten lampstands (1 Kings 7:48-49), shulchan ha-panim or the table of the Countenance (1 Kings 7:48-49) upon which was ritually offered lechem ha-panim, the bread of the Countenance. Every Sabbath twelve loaves of unleavened bread were placed on the table before the face of Yahweh (Leviticus 24:5-9). After a week, the loaves were eaten by the priests (Leviticus 6:7-9; 24:5-9). There seems also to be evidence that the priests placed jugs of wine on the Table along with the loaves and then partook of beverage and bread when the time came for them to participate in the weekly meal.

See also Exodus 25:22–29; 37:9–12; Numbers 4:7; 1 Samuel 21:7; 1 Kings 7:34–35; 2 Chronicles 4:19.

[xix] According to E. Thomassen, Spiritual Seed, p. 345, the eucharist

unfolds a soteriological symbolism that is parallel to and overlaps with that of baptism–anointing [confirmation, in Latter-day Saint tradition]. … The fact that the eucharist has soteriological significance autonomously of the baptism-anointing sequence is probably related to the nature of the eucharist as a repeated maintenance ritual, which makes it functionally distinct from the initiation ritual performed only once for each candidate”).

[xx] A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries, p. 258 describes this idea that accomplishes a “transformation into Christ” through the Valentinian idea of the uniting of individuals with their “angelic bridegrooms,” as follows:

It seems then that the sacramental experiences allowed the believer to mystically penetrate the heavenly Temple as far as the veil of the Holy of Holies. Through the sacraments of initiation and the eucharist meals, the believer gazed upon the Spirit and was transformed into the Spirit, beheld the Christ and was transfigured into Christ. Moreover, by enacting the sacred marriage through properly directed sexual activity, the believer participated mystically in the hierogamy taking place behind the veil and thus influenced the harmony of the divine world. Philip reminds the believer that at this third stage, the human is enacting the divine marriage, and in so doing: “You saw the Father” (61:31). But complete transformation into the Father must wait until the Eschaton when “you shall become Father” (61:31). In that divine bridal chamber, the believer will see his angelic self, “and what you see you shall [become].”

Similarly, according to the Extracts of Theodotus, on the Lord’s Day, the believers which have been purified and have passed into the second room of the heavenly Temple where they have discarded their soul bodies, are transformed into their pure spiritual bodies. Together with their angelic bridegrooms, they cross the threshold, passing into “the bridal chamber.” They “attain to the vision of the Father,” now “having become intellectual aeons, in the intellectual and eternal marriages of the Syzyge” (64:1-65:1).

Note also the following passage from ibid., pp. 243–244, which she interprets in terms of the eucharist, but could be just as easily seen as symbolism applying to an encounter with the Lord at the veil:

[The idea that the disciple must obtain a “body of light” by uniting with the Perfect Man in the ordinances (70:5–10) seems] to be the basis for a passage found in another Valentinian text, the Interpretation of Knowledge. In this text, believers must “receive” Jesus’ “shape.” … This “shape” “exists in the presence [of the Father.” So it seems that the resurrected body of Jesus is being described. Furthermore, the shape or resurrected body is the vehicle which will allow the believer to ascend because Jesus is bearing him upon his “shoulders.” Jesus commands him, “Enter through the rib whence you came and hide yourself from the beasts” or Archons (10:24-36). Clearly the believer is understood to become part of the resurrected body of Jesus, which is also described as the body of the primordial Adam. The connection with the primordial Adam should not be surprising since the first earthly man was identified in Jewish and Christian literature with the “image and likeness of God,” the heavenly Man, and the Kavod (J. E. Fossum, Name of God, pp. 266–291). Thus, for the Valentinians, to receive the resurrected body, the Perfect Man, is to have one’s own body transformed into the primordial body which can be resurrected but which also will be invisible to the archons. Only if one possesses the transformed body will one be able to enter the heavenly throne room and gaze on the Father. Philip explains: “Do not despise the Lamb [that is, the sacrificed body], for without it, it is not possible to see the King. No one will be able to go in to the King if he is naked” (58:15-17). The transformed body then is the proper covering for the ascent into the cosmic Temple and the much-anticipated vision of the Father. Therefore, the body of the human must be transformed into the body of the Perfect Man.

[xxi] M. Twigg, The Valentinian Temple, p. 107n56, summarizing the view given in A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries, p. 241 (see further at pp. 241–245):

How do believers enter the Temple to worship God who dwells in the fiery depths of the Holy of Holies? In Hebrews 10:19-22, we find an answer not unlike the one Philip offers: through the initiatory rituals and the eucharist meal: “We have confidence to enter the Temple by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

However, DeConick (seemingly influenced by the connections between the eucharist and the heavenly temple contained in the Roman Mass and Greek Orthodox liturgies) interprets the passage in Hebrews as describing the entrance as taking place through the eucharist. However, it seems more natural and consistent, as I have argued in chapter 5, to understand it as referring to an entrance of the believer through the temple veil.

[xxii] See A. D. DeConick, True Mysteries, p. 253 (see further at pp. 249–256):

Philip teaches that Jesus came to reestablish the lost harmony by restoring marriage and conception to its proper form. This was accomplished through Jesus’ own conception and birth. Because Jesus’ earthly conception and birth imitated the conception and birth of his aeonic body, the proper form of marriage finally was brought to earth, a marriage which mirrored the great hierogamy: “Christ, therefore, was born from a virgin to rectify the fall which occurred in the beginning” (71:19-21). Jesus came “to repair the separation which was from the beginning” by bringing, through his own birth, the divine bridal chamber to earth. Now those who imitate this divine union in their marriages “will no longer be separated” (70:20-21). The believers, by following the example of the divine marriage, will enter rest, reestablishing the lost harmony of the pleromic world (70:10-22; 71:12-15. See 68:22-26).

[xxiii] L. S. Owens, An Introduction to Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library. For an overview of different metaphorical and literal interpretations of “marriage” in the Gospel of Philip, see also H. Lundhaug, Images of Rebirth, pp. 272–279.

[xxiv] B. Layton, Gnostic, 70:12–20.

[xxv] G. Strathearn, Valentinian Bridal Chamber, p. 103.

[xxvi] Ibid., p. 103.

[xxvii] Ibid., pp. 100–102.

[xxviii] “For narrative accounts of humans being attacked by malignant spirits, see E. Hennecke et al., Acts of Thomas, 42–43; 62–64.

[xxix] “Isenberg translates this phrase as ‘receive a male power or a female power’ (1:171).”

[xxx] M. A. Williams, Rethinking “Gnosticism”, p. 149.

[xxxi] W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 1:171.

[xxxii] J.-M. Sevrin, Les noces spirituelles, p. 154n36.

[xxxiii] 1 Corinthians 11:11. See J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 111–116.