Central Ideas and Concepts of the Gospel of Truth
The main theme of the Gospel of Truth reveals that knowledge of the Father breaks down ignorance and makes possible revelation so that the return to the divine realm becomes possible. The gospel discusses how Error came into the world, and stresses that fear is a fog suffered by ignorant beings. In that fog, Error takes hold and grows in power. Jesus came from the Father to erase ignorance, prompting Error (now personified) to become inflamed with hostility and anger and to nail Jesus to the cross.
Does the figure of Error in the Gospel of Truth signify Sophia or the Demiurge of Gnostic myth?
Some have theorized that a mythological figure underlies the gospel's “creation story” but others assert that Error is tied to Jesus' crucifixion and linked with destruction, putting the gospel at variance with known myths about Sophia. Still others say that Error is simply a synonym for the Valentinian idea of “lack” or “deficiency.”
The Gospel of Truth holds that ignorance of the Divine is what brings about fear and terror. The gospel reveals that the way of coming to know the Father is through mystical experience (gnosis), for the lamp of divine knowledge dispels the darkness of ignorance. Another idea, not as easily understood so that it remains a bit of Gnostic mystery, is that error and ignorance are found in the Pleroma; since the Pleroma or heavenly realm resides in the Father, those things (error and ignorance) come forth from the Father — but they are neither created by him nor take away from his power. The gospel's description of Error (which appears in the first section) probably is underscored by the myth of Sophia's fall. The mythological references to her error can be found in such Gnostic texts as the Hypostasis of the Archons and On the Origin of the World.
Hypostasis of the Archons is an anonymous text found in the Nag Hammadi discovery. It features two characters, a questioner and an angel, whose discourse about Genesis provides a purely esoteric interpretation. The text has been classified as a Gnostic Christian work. On the Origin of the World is a fourth-century Gnostic text written in a scholarly fashion. It was also found at Nag Hammadi and bore no title or author's name. It deals with the cosmology of the universe and the end-time.
The Valentinians believed that error of thought, perception, and understanding represented humanity's downfall but salvation was available through interior mystical knowledge. Because of forgetfulness, many humans fall into darkness, fear, and terror. The Gospel of Truth declares that Jesus revealed aspects of the face of the Father to those who appeared like children and became spiritually strong. The gospel states that for those living in the fog of ignorance, Jesus embodied perfection and knowledge and revealed to them that which remains hidden in the Father's heart. The Gospel touches upon troubling nightmares and how a spiritual aspirant achieves clear vision and awakens to gnosis. It offers a parable of the good shepherd and another about anointing before concluding with a discussion about the relationship between the Father and Son.