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Desiring DivinitySelf-deification in Early Jewish and Christian Mythmaking$
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M. David Litwa

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190467166

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190467166.001.0001

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“I Am God and There is No Other!”

“I Am God and There is No Other!”

The Boast of Yaldabaoth

Chapter:
(p.47) 3 “I Am God and There is No Other!”
Source:
Desiring Divinity
Author(s):

M. David Litwa

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190467166.003.0004

In one of the ironies of mythic history, Yahweh himself became guilty of self-deification. In the book of Isaiah, the Jewish deity declares: “I am God and there is no other!” (46:9). In gnostic sources, this declaration becomes the mantra of the foolish creator, Yaldabaoth. This chapter examines three versions of Yaldabaoth’s myth (all found in Nag Hammadi codex II) in (1) The Apocryphon of John, (2) The Nature of the Rulers, and (3) The Origin of the World. It is argued that Gnostic Christians created the character of Yaldabaoth not to subvert Judaism itself but to criticize fellow Christians who adopted Yahweh’s superiority. By fitting the Jewish deity into the typology of self-deification, gnostics showed how foolish it was to believe in a jealous god who tried to prevent the deification of others.

Keywords:   Yaldabaoth, Apocryphon of John, Nature of the Rulers, Origin of the World, demiurge, Gnosticism, parody

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