At the end of the Coptic Apocalypse of Paul, Paul enters the Ogdoad, where he sees the twelve apostles1:

And then the heaven opened and we went up to the Ogdoad. And I saw the twelve apostles. They greeted me, and we went up to the ninth heaven. I greeted all those who were in the ninth heaven, and we went up to the tenth heaven. And I greeted my fellow spirits.

What is the Ogdoad? Is it related to the Egyptian Ogdoad? Is it something more than a name for the eight heaven?

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


1 Answer 1


No, it is not. Coptics are Christians and Greeks, they are not fond of Egyptian mythology. Back in the days only seven "celestial objects" were known (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the sun and the Moon), that added to the eighth sphere, the stars themselves. Egyptians are not renown for their astrological beliefs, contrary to the Greeks. Pointing to the facts that the terms Ogdoads and Enneads are here to be used as Greeks not Egyptians at all (besides the fact Egyptologists are just using Greek terms there).

Now, the very term Ogdoad varies in significance during the time of its uses. Precisely in this text, you have to see it as the realm antechamber before the celestial one. Such a spheric conception is found in Dante. There are in this text two Heavens over the Ogdoad. What are those 2 heavens exactly is pretty much left unanswered. Traditionally there is one (the Ennead so, an example is found in the text the Dialogue between the Ogdoad and Ennead).

Sometimes the sense of Ogdoad will vary and be more in what you expect (8 deities) but it is probably never really related to the old Egyptians beliefs. Except very very thinly.

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