The lay-out here is an internet facsimile
of the opening pages of The Hidden Passion,
and does not accurately reproduce
the lay-out of the published novel.

      The Nazarene looked at her, and for a few moments, their eyes met. It frightened him to see his own face mirrored in hers. But his mother's face was wiser, more feminine and mysterious. Though he was a part of her, and she a part of him – he did not know her.
      “I walk the Messiah's path...” Jesus revealed.
For a long time, the Virgin said nothing.
       “...Then you know,” she said at last.
      “And you have always known..?”
      His mother nodded. “Before the three magi left us, just after your birth, they warned me to be careful. Many great powers were searching for you, they said, hoping to destroy you. They themselves had avoided Herod's spies and gone into hiding. But they could not conceal themselves from other powers, from the stars in the heavens watching our movements here below.”
      The old woman gave him a look that pierced him to the bone.
      “The more you know about yourself, the more they will come to know about you. The more you reveal yourself, the greater the risk that they will find you. When you were ignorant of these things – in the monastery, even here in this home – you were safe. Now, with each step you take, you risk discovery. Only the prophecy can protect you.”
      “The Five Seals...” the Nazarene realized.
      “They will seal and protect you. But others want to seize their power for themselves. You must find the seals – find all of them – particularly the fifth. Until then, you are vulnerable.”
      She took his head in her arms, caressed his hair, and anointed his forehead with a kiss.
      “I am only a woman; a daughter of Israel blessed and chosen by God. I can only tell you what Wisdom reveals through me. You understand?”
      The son of Nazareth nodded.
      “Then know that you will never find the fifth seal alone. Only a daughter of Israel can help you...”
      His mother looked at him, as his eyes opened wide. She nodded her head gently two or three times. “Yes, you know it yourself... First, you must betroth yourself to Mary of Magdala...”


Copyright © 2007 by L. Caruana
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any
manner whatsoever without the prior written permission
of the publisher.

Published by Recluse Pub.
First edition - 2007
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper

For more information on Gnosticism
and for the source texts cited in the margins:
About the author:

Copies of this book may be ordered through:

Front cover image: Masaccio, The Crucifixion, altarpiece of Pisa
Back cover image: Photo of Nag Hammadi manuscripts by Jean Doresse

Library of Congress cataloging-in-publication data
Caruana, Laurence, 1962 -
The Hidden Passion:
A Novel of the Gnostic Christ Based on the Nag Hammadi Texts
1st edition - Recluse Publishing
ISBN 13: 978-0-9782637-0-6
ISBN 10: 0-9782637-0-7
1. Gnosticism
2. Gnosticism - fiction
3. Title

Map of Palestine at the Time of Christ
A Note on the Sources
Abbreviations of the Source Texts



I. The Monastery
II. The Cavern
III. Nazareth
IV. Pilgrimage
V. Jerusalem & Tyre
VI. Awakening


VII. Perea
VIII. Galilee
IX. Cana
X. Gennesaret
XI. The Upper Jordan


XII. Batanea
XIII. The Wedding Feast
XIV. Bethany
XV. Gethsemane
XVI. The Praetorium
XVII. Golgotha

Diagram of the Gnostic Cosmos
A Glossary of Proper Names and Gnostic Terms

This book is dedicated to
Florence Ménard
Mein Licht, my soul, ma soeur
Mein Leben, my love, mon coeur


      L. Caruana is an artist and writer living in Paris. He holds a Philosophy degree in Hermeneutics (the study of Biblical Interpretation) and is the author of Enter Through the Image: The Ancient Image Language of Myth, Art and Dreams, also published by Recluse.
      From his studio in the Bastille quarter, he edits The Visionary Revue while exhibiting his works across Europe.
      See: and

      Lest my intentions be misconstrued from the beginning, this is a novel of the Gnostic Christ. The canonical gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John have provided us with the traditional fourfold interpretation of Jesus' words and deeds.
      But, over the course of the last two centuries, numerous 'non-canonical' texts have resurfaced which offer important, alternative versions of the life of Christ. In particular, the Nag Hammadi Corpus, unearthed in Egypt in 1945, retells the Christian gospel from – what is generally accepted as – a Gnostic standpoint. Supplemented by other non-canonical gospels, these texts offer sayings and narrative fragments which lie outside the narrower scope of the orthodox accounts.
      By gathering these texts together, I have sought to present, in narrative form, the life of the Gnostic Christ. From the beginning, the man Jesus must be separated from the heavenly Christ, who only descends into Jesus during his baptism in the Jordan. Thereafter, Mary Magdalene and Judas Didymos Thomas play pivotal roles in the Messiah's quest for the Five Seals. And towards the end, a fundamentally different vision of the Passion emerges. Much of this novel is dedicated to a coherent and dramatic presentation of Gnosticism and its unique worldview.
      But Gnosticism yields a wide variety of interpretations since the texts themselves – a rich plurality of the Christian Word – can be inherently contradictory. I have not hesitated to include disparate, even contradictory accounts (the Bridal Chamber, the Passion) with the idea in mind that these, through the reader's own interpretation, will offer up a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of the Gnostic stance.
      Scholars are generally agreed on the methods which the four evangelists used to compose their canonical accounts. In the three synoptic gospels, Matthew and Luke based their narratives on Mark, while also employing a list of Jesus' sayings that scholars later called 'Q' (from the German Quelle for 'source'). The fourth evangelist, John, based his narrative on an earlier 'Signs gospel', while adding many sayings that are not found in the synoptic gospels (perhaps from another 'Q' list). A good number of these sayings have a decidedly Gnostic ring to them, though John's gospel is clearly more than Gnostic.
      This theory of the gospels' composition was partially confirmed when The Gospel of Thomas resurfaced in the Nag Hammadi Corpus. This 'gospel' presents a list of Jesus' sayings – exactly as Q was imagined to be. Some of the sayings in Thomas are orthodox; others are clearly Gnostic.

      For many years, I nurtured the hope of presenting the tale of the Gnostic Christ, based on the methods of the four evangelists. To this end, I created the Gnostic Q through a careful reading of the related texts, isolating sayings that could be attributed to the Gnostic Christ. At the same time, I identified narrative fragments (the baptism in the Jordan, the transfiguration, the crucifixion) which offer uniquely Gnostic interpretations of these established mythologems.
      After several years of inspired labour, the forgotten gospel of the Gnostic Christ gradually emerged. The sayings from the Gnostic Q were woven into the narrative fragments, thus creating an alternative version of Christ's teachings and his final Passion. Since the Gnostic account has remained hidden for most of our history, I have titled my novelization, The Hidden Passion.
      Through the use of pointed brackets < >, all the Gnostic sayings and narrative fragments are clearly indicated over the course of the novel's unfolding. The textual references for these citations are provided in the margins, near the beginning of each bracketed passage. A complete list of the citations, in the standard translations, can be found on-line under Textual Sources for The Hidden Passion at
      Alas, in an age of copyright, where even the translations of ancients texts are protected by law, it is not possible to quote long passages of the standard translations of the Nag Hammadi Texts verbatim. (If Matthew and Luke were to publish their gospels today, Mark would surely sue them for copyright violation...)
      On the other hand, this opens up other creative possibilities for the author. The stilted biblical phrasings have been modified to roll off the characters' tongues more easily. Thus, a sentence such as: “And so speak I, separating off the manhood. Perceive thou therefore in the first place of the Word; then shalt thou perceive the Lord, and in the third place the man, and what he hath suffered.” (Acts of John 101) has been replaced by: “I have cast off my humanity, so you might see me as the Word, and not only as a man who has suffered.” (p. 407). In the vast majority of cases, the original sense of the utterance has been preserved.
      My fundamental premise has been to let the Gnostic texts speak for themselves. But, due to their multiple redactions, fragmented condition and obscure terminology, the Gnostic texts can easily become a confusing labyrinth of speculations. In order to make a clear presentation of the Gnostic worldview, I have had to make certain creative decisions which, per force, delimit and interpret the Gnostic stance. In the Afterword, I explain some of the motivations for these decisions. The back pages of the novel also include A Glossary and A Diagram of the Gnostic Cosmos, which may be helpful in threading one's way through the Gnostic labyrinth...
      It is my hope that the reader, in the true Gnostic spirit, will encounter these texts and experience their revelations in his or her own way – freed from dogma and authority, as a unique and living experience.
L. Caruana                  
Paris, Dec 2006                 
     I have, for the most part, avoided using the Canonical Gospels as a source of sayings, since these are already well-known. The exception is The Gospel of John, in cases when it reveals some very strong Gnostic sentiments.
     My main source has been the fifty-two tractates found in The Nag Hammadi Library. Some of the texts in this collection are not Gnostic; others are Gnostic but non-Christian (e.g. Sethian, Hermetic). Nevertheless, I have included all of them as possible sources, since the ancient editor of this collection deemed them worthy of inclusion.
      Outside The Nag Hammadi Library, I have not hesitated to cite passages from texts which are generally recognized as Gnostic: The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene), The Acts of John, The Acts of Peter, The First and Second Books of Jeu, The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex, The Pistis Sophia and the recently released Gospel of Judas.
      I have also used ancient texts which express certain insights in a language that is akin to Gnosticism. These include The Hymn of the Pearl, The Corpus Hermeticum, The Asclepius and The Odes of Solomon.
      The testimonies of the heresiologists (Irenaeus, Clement, Epiphanius) have been used sparingly. The exception is their accounts of Gnostic libertinism (pp. 329 - 331), the Ophite diagram (p. 305), and those cases where their writings illuminate obscure events in Gnostic myth (e.g. the Valentinian version of Sophia's passion on pp. 230 - 231).
A Gnostic Sign from The Book of Jeu


1Ap Jas - The (First) Apocalypse of James - NHC V.3.
1Bk Jeu - The (First) Book of Jeu (Ieou) - Codex Brucianus
1Kings - The First Book of Kings - Old Testament
2Ap Jas - The (Second) Apocalypse of James - NHC V.4.
2Bk Jeu - The (Second) Book of Jeu (Ieou) - Codex Brucianus
2Kings - The Second Book of Kings - Old Testament
2Tr Seth - The Second Treatise of the Great Seth - NHC VII.2.
3St Seth - The Three Steles of Seth - NHC VII.5.
A Gs Mt - The Apocryphal Gospel of Matthias in Clement of Alexandria
Act Pt 12A - The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles - NHC VI.1.
Acts Jn - The Acts of John
Acts Pt - The Acts of Peter - Papyrus Berolinensis 8502
Allog - Allogenes - NHC XI.3.
Anoint - On the Anointing - NHC XI.2a.
Ap Adam - The Apocalypse of Adam - NHC V.5.
Ap Jn - The Apocryphon of John - NHC II.1.
Ap Paul - The Apocalypse of Paul - NHC V.2.
Ap Pt - The Apocalypse of Peter - NHC VII.3.
Ap Jas - The Apocryphon of James - NHC I.2.
Apology - Plato, The Apology
Ascl - Asclepius
Auth T - The Authoritative Teaching - NHC VI.3.
Avesta - Avesta: Yasna, Ushtavaiti Gatha
Bap A - On Baptism A - NHC XI.2b.
Bap B - On Baptism B - - NHC XI.2c.
CH - The Corpus Hermeticum
Dial Sav - The Dialogue of the Saviour - NHC III.5.
Disc 8-9 - The Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth - NHC VI.6.
Epiph - Epiphanius, Panarion
Euch A - On the Eucharist A - NHC XI.2d.
Euch B - On the Eucharist B - NHC XI.2 e.
Eugnos - Eugnostos the Blessed - NHC III.3.
Ex Soul - The Exegesis on the Soul - NHC II.6.
Exod - Exodus - Old Testament
Fl Sophe - The tomb inscription of Flavia Sophe
Fr Bruce - Fragments of the Bruce Codex - Codex Brucianus
Gen - Genesis - Old Testament
Gr Pow - The Concept of Our Great Power - NHC VI.4.
Gs Egypt - The Gospel of the Egyptians - NHC III.2.
Gs Jud - The Gospel of Judas - Codex Tchacos
Gs Magd - The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) - Papyrus Berolinensis 8502
Gs Phil - The Gospel of Philip - NHC II.3.
Gs Thom - The Gospel of Thomas - NHC II.2.
Gs Tru - The Gospel of Truth - NHC I.3.
Hyp Arch - The Hypostasis of the Archons - NHC II.4.
Int Kn - The Interpretation of Knowledge - NHC XI.1.
Iren - Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses

Isaiah - Isaiah - Old Testament
Jer - Jeremiah - Old Testament
Jn - The Gospel according to John - New Testament
Jos - Josephus, Jewish Antiquities
L Pt Ph - The Letter of Peter to Philip - NHC VIII.2.
Lev - Leviticus - Old Testament
Lk - The Gospel according to Luke - New Testament
Lucian - Lucian (attributed to), The Syrian Goddess (De Dea Syria)
Mars - Marsanes - NHC X.
Meta - Aristotle, The Metaphysics
Melch - Melchizedek - NHC IX.1.
Micah - Micah - Old Testament
Mk - The Gospel according to Mark - New Testament
Mt - The Gospel according to Matthew - New Testament
NH Ascl - Asclepius 21 - 29 - NHC VI.8.
Norea - The Thought of Norea - NHC IX.2.
Num - Numbers - Old Testament
Ode Sol - The Odes of Solomon
Ophite Dia - Ophite Diagram - Origen, Contra Celsus Bk VI, Ch. 38
Orig Wld - On the Origin of the World - NHC II.5.
Oxyr - The Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 840
P Shem - The Paraphrase of Shem - NHC VII.1.
Pearl - The Hymn of the Pearl - from The Acts of Thomas
Phaedo - Plato, The Phaedo
Pistis - The Pistis Sophia - Codex Askewianus
Pr Paul - The Prayer of the Apostle Paul - NHC I.1.
Pr Thks - The Prayer of Thanksgiving - NHC VI.7.
Prov - Proverbs - Old Testament
Rep - Plato, The Republic
Seneca - Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epistoloe Ad Lucilium, Hercules Furens
Sirach - Sirach - Old Testament
Silv - The Teachings of Silvanus - NHC VII.4.
Songs - The Song of Songs - Old Testament
Soph JC - The Sophia of Jesus Christ - NHC III.4.
Symp - Plato, The Symposium
Test Tr - The Testimony of Truth - NHC IX.3.
Th Cont - The Book of Thomas the Contender - NHC II.7.
Thund - The Thunder: Perfect Mind - NHC VI.2.
Timaeus - Plato, The Timaeus
Tr Res - The Treatise on the Resurrection - NHC I.4.
Tri Prot - Trimorphic Protennoia - NHC XIII.1.
Tri Tr - The Tripartite Tractate - NHC I.5.
Unt MS - The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex - Codex Brucianus
Val Exp - A Valentinian Exposition - NHC XI.2.
V Allog - The Vision of Allogenes - Codex Tchacos
Wis - The Wisdom of Solomon - Old Testament
Zost - Zostrianos - NHC VIII.1.