In the Coptic Apocalypse of Paul, Paul meets an "old man" in seventh heaven1:

Then we went up to the seventh heaven, and I saw an old man [...] light and whose garment was white. His throne, which is in the seventh heaven, was brighter than the sun by seven times. The old man spoke, saying to me, "Where are you going, Paul? O blessed one and the one who was set apart from his mother`s womb." But I looked at the Spirit, and he was nodding his head, saying to me, "Speak with him!". And I replied, saying to the old man, "I am going to the place from which I came." And the old man responded to me, "Where are you from?" But I replied, saying, "I am going down to the world of the dead in order to lead captive the captivity that was led captive in the captivity of Babylon." The old man replied to me saying, "How will you be able to get away from me? Look and see the principalities and authorities." The Spirit spoke, saying, "Give him the sign that you have, and he will open for you." And then I gave him the sign. He turned his face downwards to his creation and to those who are his own authorities.

Who is this old man? Is it god? If so, why isn't he in the ninth heaven? And why does he try to prevent Paul's ascent?

1 The Apocalypse of Paul. Translated by George W. MacRae and William R. Murdock


1 Answer 1


The Demiurge.

The Gnostic Demiurge is a creator deity responsible for crafting the physical universe, an entity distinct from and subordinate to the highest, unknowable God. The Gnostics adopted the concept and term from Plato, but in contrast to Platonic ideas, their Demiurge is often considered antagonistic to the will of the supreme being. This is rooted in the idea that the Demiurge's creation, the material world is fundamentally flawed; an attempt to replicate the divine with physical matter. Willingly or not, the Demiurge's creation entraps the divine in materiality. For the Gnostics, the material world is nothing more than a spiritual prison.

You may find more information on the Demiurge, including the story of how he came to be, in Chapter 5 of Book I of Irenaeus' Against Heresies.

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