Proto-Gnostic Matthew II

INTRO: Proto-Gnostic Matthew part II continues with the beheading of John the Baptist which begins with chapter 12 (Catholic Matthew 14) and covers chapters 14 – 26 of Catholic Matthew, with most of chapters 15 – 26 edited or removed, and chapters 27 – 28 omitted. The remaining text is consolidated into six new chapters, 12 – 17. Part II ends with a concluding essay on the Crucifixion/ Resurrection myth.

Read the main Introduction text Read Part I text


At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist’s head in a charger.

And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.

And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.


And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me.

And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit (phantasma); and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord (Kurie), if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord (Kurie), save me.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Note: Jesus likewise violated this commandment and encouraged his followers to do so in Catholic Matthew 10:35-37 and 12:46-50. So the words of Jesus here cannot be a literal appeal to the Law of Moses or the “commandment of God”. The purpose of the statement here is to expose the hypocrisy and conflict in the laws and piety of the Pharisees.)

Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Isaiah, 29:13)

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Note: the phrase “every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted” can be easily understood in a dualistic context, viz. not everything comes from the Father.)

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

[Catholic Matthew 15:21-31, the crumbs from the master’s table; those who have been healed by Jesus glorify the God of Israel; omitted. This passage belongs to the original Judean Gospel where Jesus’s ministry was directed toward Hebrews only (CM. 10:5-6). To refer to other people and their afflicted children as “dogs” surely belongs to a Judeo-centric tradition.]

Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

[Catholic Matthew 16:1-4, the Pharisees and Sadducess ask for a sign; omitted. This passage is part of the failed end time prophecy theme.]

And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.


When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, Some say John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (Note: CM. 16:13-14 has been revised to read in the third person speech rather than the incorrect first person context in the KJV, e.g. there is no “I am” (“ego eimi”) or “you are” (“su ei”) in the Greek text. It is only in verse 15 onward that the dialogue shifts to first person speech.)

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (uios tou theou tou zontos: son of the God of the Living).

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

[Catholic Matthew 16:18-19, Peter the Rock, the Church, the keys of the kingdom; omitted. This passage originates from a Jewish Christian writer who wanted to place ecclesiastical authority into the hands of Peter, probably in opposition to other Hellenist Christians who followed Paul or Nicholas (cf. Clementine Homilies, 17:19). Later Catholic leaders made use of this passage and the Roman Catholic establishment venerates Peter above the other Apostles.]

Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord (Kurie): this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan (satana): thou art a snare (skandalon) unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

[Catholic Matthew 16:27-28, the son of Man will appear with his angels, there be some standing here, which shall…see the Son of man coming in his kingdom; omitted. This passage is part of the failed prophecy theme.]

[Catholic Matthew 17:1-21, the transfiguration, instruction on faith; omitted. The transfiguration is an attempt to base Jesus’s authority on Moses and Elijah as stated in Malachi 4; which also ties in John the Baptist. Yet there are other passages in Catholic Matthew, e.g. CM. 5:38-48 & 11:27, which do not acknowledge the authority of Moses or a connection with John (CM. 21:23-27). The transfiguration passage belongs to a Catholic source who wants to tie all these figures together under a Catholic theology. The rebuke and instruction regarding faith (verses 14-21) is highly judgmental, mean-spirited and inconsistent with the compassionate spirit of the proto-Gnostic Gospel.]

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Peter saith unto him, Of strangers (allotrion). Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. (Note: the purpose of this passage may have been to appease the Romans, to portray Jesus as a man who still paid the tribute. For Gnostics or Catholics this position allowed them to live in peace with Roman authorities and to not be confused with any revolutionary, nationalist or Zionist movement.)

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea..

[Catholic Matthew 18:7-9, the condemnation against offenders (viz. those who lead astray); omitted. This passage is from a Catholic writer and is a condemnation of libertine teachers (read: Paul) who taught that the Law of Moses was no longer binding on Christians. I believe it is possible that this passage is based on an earlier Jewish fragment that was aimed at St. Paul (cf. CM. 5:17-19ff.). The references here to the valley of Hinnom indicate that this passage includes material that originated from a Jewish writer (cf. CM. 5:21-30).]

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

And if so be that he find it, truly I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

[Catholic Matthew 18:15-20, the offended brother, “where two or three are gathered together in my name”; omitted. This passage appeals to the Law of Moses as the basis for settling conflicts between Christians, and surely originates from a Jewish Christian writer. CM. 18:20 contradicts Gnostic thought that Christ is present in every person alone, e.g. in the Gospel of Thomas, 30: “Where there are two or one, I am with him”.]

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord (Kurie), how oft shalt my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.

[Catholic Matthew 18:23-35, instruction on forgiveness; omitted. This parable is a poorly reasoned and deeply flawed metaphor about forgiveness in the kingdom of heaven, e.g. CM. 18:25, where the “lord” in the kingdom commands that a subject’s wife and children be sold into slavery in order to pay his debts.]

[Catholic Matthew 19:1-15, On divorce, eunuchs and the presence of children; omitted. This passage is from the Judean Gospel and portrays Jesus’s inflexible stance on the Law as regards marriage. The disciples conclude that it is not good to marry. Jesus replies with a comment about eunuchs. This exchange is followed, seemingly in awkward fashion, by the command that children should not be kept away. CM. 19:11-12 has been transposed to CM. 22:30 where it has a valid context in the proto-Gnostic teaching there present. CM. 19:13-14 contains a restatement of CM. 18:4, 10 which is included in the proto-Gnostic Gospel. The Proto-Gnostic Matthew continues with CM. 19:16 below.]

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

[Catholic Matthew 19:17-20, “there is none good but one”, “keep the commandments”; omitted. The overall passage from CM. 19:16-24 contains two conflicting themes: 1) one pleases God and gains eternal life by keeping the Ten Commandments; 2) one can only be initiated by following Christ. Note also that verse 24 contradicts verse 17, showing that this passage does not contain a coherent message as it now exists. In Gnostic thought these two themes are irreconcilable. I am uncertain of the provenance of the passage. My best guess is that it originates from a Jewish Christian writer and has been modified by a proto-Gnostic writer who added the initiation theme. I have separated the conflicting elements and set forth the Gnostic theme here. The Jewish Christian theme will be included in my project Judean Matthew.]

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect (teleios), go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Truly I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Truly I say unto you

[Catholic Matthew 19:28b-30, the Apostle’s reward; omitted. The supposed reward is part of the failed prophecy theme and belongs to the Judean Gospel. Moreover the reward passage is in conflict with what follows in the parable of Labourers, which comes from a proto-Gnostic source. The problem is that the parable contradicts the preceding statement regarding the Apostles’ reward. The latter says that the Twelve Apostles will be exalted; whereas in the parable it is said that everyone will receive the same compensation regardless of whether they were first or last. What follows below is the parable of Labourers which starts following CM. 19:28a. Verse 30 has been omitted as a gloss viz. an attempt to connect the reward with the parable when one really contradicts the other.]

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Cf. Irenaeus viz. the Gnostics and parable of Labourers, Against Heresies, 1.1.3.)

[Catholic Matthew 20:20-28, the sons of Zebedee and a mother’s ambition, omitted. This passage reflects the failed prophecy theme regarding how the Apostles will hold authority in Jesus’s “kingdom”. The ethic attributed to Jesus here is admirable, viz. that all who will be in positions of authority will be as servants. This passage contradicts the Apostles’ Reward passage where Jesus explicitly states that his apostles will reign and judge along with him (CM. 19:28). Whereas in this passage Jesus says it is not his place to appoint offices (CM. 20:23b).The references to the crucifixion in verses 22 and 28 point to an early Catholic source.]

And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord (Kurie), thou son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord (Kurie), that our eyes may be opened.

So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.


And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

[Catholic Matthew 21:1-11. Jesus enters Jerusalem in Triumph; omitted. In other passages, e.g. CM. 16:20 and 20:31, Jesus’s followers are said to have kept silent regarding Jesus’s identity as Jesus himself commanded. Supposedly Jesus’s followers were unwilling to identify him even in Jerusalem and it took one in Jesus’s inner circle, Judas, to point him out to authorities. This passage originates from a Judean or Catholic writer who wishes to portray Jesus in the context of Messianic prophecy viz. that he is the king of the Jews. And a clumsy effort is made to create a fictional incident where Jesus supposedly fulfilled a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. In Gnostic thought Jesus is the mythical Son of God the Father and not an earthly king.]

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Isaiah, 56:7, Jeremiah, 7:11. Note: in Gnostic thought the ideal “house of prayer” is expressed in Isaiah by Sophia, but the physical counter-part, the physical reality, is Herod’s temple establishment where poor people are preyed upon by money-changers and vendors.)

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Psalms 8:2)

And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

[Catholic Matthew 21:18-22, the cursing of the fig tree; omitted. This passage belongs to a Catholic writer who portrays Jesus as condemning the Jewish nation/ religious establishment (cf. CM. 27:25).]

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?

And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

But what think ye? A certain man had two children (tekna); and he came to the first, and said, “Child (Teknon), go work today in my vineyard”. He answered and said, “I will not”: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, “I go, sir (kurie)”: and went not.

Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Truly I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. (Note: in Gnostic thought “Jesus” is understood here to mean that the publicans and harlots will enter the mystic kingdom because they have repented and accepted the mystic teachings of John and Jesus. The Sadducees and Pharisees cannot enter because they will not accept the teachings, and will not repent. The Sadducees and Pharisees are those who profess an external piety, viz. they say yes and display piety on the outside; but on the inside they won’t enter the vineyard. Whereas the publicans and harlots, who say no to religion and piety, yet are the ones who inevitably heed and enter the vineyard and perform the work. The vineyard is a metaphor for the soul.]

[Catholic Matthew 21:33-46, the parable of the land-owner, the chief corner-stone; omitted. These passages come from a Jewish writer who presents Jesus as presenting the claim for the Messianic throne. Moreover, the parable of the land-owner appears to reflect a distinction between the “son” and the “lord” which may be consistent with Jesus’s original message, in which he did not identify himself with the Messiah. Also: in CM. 21:45-46 the priests want to lay hands on Jesus but fear the multitude who believe him to by a prophet. Yet we have already noticed elsewhere that Jesus wanted to keep his identity secret; e.g. CM. 16:20 & 20:31.]

[Catholic Matthew 22:1-14, the parable of the marriage feast; omitted. This passage is incompatible with any spiritual message. It is a vicious threat of revenge in which evil is repaid for evil and is incompatible with the ethic attributed to Jesus, e.g., in CM. 5:38-48. The parable of the marriage feast may belong to the earliest strata of Jewish-Christian doctrine. It is a metaphor for Israel, the bride, being united with her new husband, the messianic king. Of note is that the threats of revenge are not connected with a crucifixion or any harm to the king’s son who was to be wed, and remained unharmed. The revenge warned of was in consequence of the servants (douloun: slaves) being mistreated or killed. This parable should not be confused with the Gnostic metaphor of the marriage of Sophia with the Savior. Rather, one should be seen as the dark and material shadow of the other, if these are to be connected at all.]

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a denarius. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (Note: I remain uncertain as to the source of this passage. If it is Judean then it is a plausible and clever diversion to a difficult question, which in turn is open to interpretation. The answer attributed to Jesus can be seen either as an evasion on a political issue; or it could mean that one avoids political conflicts by separating religion from politics.)

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

[Catholic Matthew 22:34-40, the two greatest commandments; omitted. This passage is intended to harmonize the theology and ethic of Jesus with the Pharisees and sages such as Hillel. Moreover the quotes attributed to Jesus from Deutronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 amount to a contradictory and hypocritical statement. The commandment to “love the Lord” (Dt. 6:5) is from a passage where the Lord commands his followers to invade and slay their Canaanite neighbors, including their children (Dt. 6:10, 7:1-2).]


While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, “The LORD (Kurios) said unto my Lord (Kurio), Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” If David then call him Lord (Kurion), how is he his son? (Psalms 110:1) [1] 

And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: but do not ye after their works. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

[Catholic Matthew 23:3a has been omitted based on the premise that the proto-Gnostic Jesus does not acknowledge the authority of the Law of Moses, e.g. CM. 5:38-48, 11:27. Also, the condemnation heaped on the Pharisees in this passage, viz. CM. 23:4-39, is out of context with the supposed premise that the “Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat” and “whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do”. In its present state CM. 23:1-39 is a vitriolic, antisemitic diatribe from a Catholic writer that reflects the tension between Christians and Jews in Roman times.]

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (Rabbei).

But be not ye called Rabbi (Rabbei): for one is your Teacher (didaskalos), even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father (patera) upon the earth: for one is your Father (pater), which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters (kathegetai): for one is your Master (kathegetes), even Christ.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Cf. Gospel of Thomas, 39)

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

[Catholic Matthew 23:33-36, Jesus claims to send the prophets and wise men that the Pharisees will persecute and crucify, “All these things shall come upon this generation”; omitted. This passage reflects a Catholic view of history fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem.]

[Catholic Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus condemns Jerusalem. “Ye shall not see me henceforth…” (Ps. 118:26), omitted. This passage belongs to the failed prophecy theme along with CM. 23:36.]

[Catholic Matthew 24:1-51, warning against false Christs and prophets, the end time prophecy; omitted. The warning regarding false claims that Jesus is “Christ” and against other false Christs and prophets probably originates from the earliest strata of the primitive Judean Gospel; where Jesus considered himself a prophet and did not identify himself with the Messiah. The rest of the passage is an end-time prophecy that was never fulfilled, save the destruction of the Temple. But the Son of man never arrived.]

[Catholic Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins; omitted. This is another metaphor for the failed end time prophecy, as is clearly indicated in verse 13.]

[Catholic Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of talents; omitted. The themes in this passage involving the use of “slaves” (“doulous“) and the practice of usury (which in another questionable parable involves debtors being sent to prison and wives and children sold into slavery, CM. 18:25, omitted) are completely incompatible with any spiritual message. Moreover this contradicts the words of Jesus in CM. 11:30 “For my yoke is easy, my burden is light”. The relationship between teacher and student is not one of master and slave.]

[Catholic Matthew 25:31-46, the Son of man will judge the nations; omitted. This passage contains ideas and imagery that may resemble Gnostic teaching, and it has something that resembles a lofty ethic. Inevitably this passage is part of the failed end time theme. It speaks of how Jesus will get his revenge on those who mistreat his followers. Make no mistake here: this is not a universal teaching about caring for the poor, the sick or the imprisoned; the message here is how Jesus’s followers, his “brethren”, are treated (CM. 25:40). This all fits with the message of the Judean Gospel as preserved in CM. 10:5-6.]


And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Truly I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Note: In Gnostic tradition the number 30 is a symbol of Sophia, who is designated in Gnostic myth as the 30th Aion. In this passage the 30 pieces of silver symbolize that Judas is acting according to the will of Sophia–as compared with Peter who opposed the crucifixion, and is designated as “Satan” (CM. 16:23). The Gnostics in turn had a “Gospel of Judas” as mentioned by Irenaeus [2]; and an actual Gnostic text by that title has been found and was translated and published in Marvin Meyer’s Nag Hammadi Scriptures. In Gnostic myth Judas is not a villain; instead he is someone who carries forth a divine plan. The lesson is that Judas alone understood the mystery of the betrayal and the crucifixion. And the end purpose was that the “Archon” would be condemned for slaying an innocent man; M. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pg. 768; Gospel of John, 12:23-32)

Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Truly I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

[Catholic Matthew 26:24, “…woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”; omitted. This passage is a contradiction: if Peter is called “Satan” for wanting to prevent the crucifixion then how can Judas be condemned for wanting to accomplish it? In Gnostic thought this paradox does not go ignored, as I have noted above. The 30 pieces of silver symbolize the plan of Sophia in the myth/ mystery of the crucifixion. Moreover, I do not consider CM. 26:14-16 and 20-23, 25 to reflect the correct sequence of ideas. The former should follow the latter and verse 23 should be understood to mean that Jesus chose Judas to go and reveal him to the authorities. However, in the original Judean Gospel Judas Iscariot may have been an actual traitor. But in Gnostic thought the narrative has a different, symbolic meaning.]

And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Note: the latter sentence is a reference to the after-life which is the kingdom of the Father. The elect of who have the seed of the kingdom in their hearts wil inherit the Fullness (Pleroma) in the after-life.)

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. (Zech. 13:7)

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Truly I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Note: Irenaues reports that in the following passages Jesus is filled with the passion of Sophia, and not his own passion, viz. Against Heresies, 1.8.2. I have included these passages from Catholic Matthew 26:36-45, but I remain doubtful this originates from a proto-Gnostic writer; one problem being that the words attributed to Jesus cannot be connected with the Psalms or any other prophetic source.)

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

[Catholic Matthew 26:46, “Rise, let us be going…”; omitted. This passage contradicts the preceding passage where Jesus tells his slothful disciples to sleep on, and seems to be an occasion to denounce Judas as a traitor when that may not be the real meaning of the narrative.]

And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Note: In Gnostic thought Jesus does not refer here to the Jewish messianic prophecy but to an esoteric prophecy that is hidden in the writings of the prophets and refers to the hidden plan of Sophia.)

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

[Catholic Matthew 26:59-69a, The chief priests and the council try to frame Jesus, Jesus claims they will see the Son of man in the clouds, Peter sits outside the palace (69a); omitted. There is no way to verify any of the information here viz. that the chief priests tried to frame Jesus. And Jesus’s prophecy of the Son of man in the clouds is part of the failed end time theme. This part of the narrative has Jesus playing the role of false prophet while the Jewish priests and the council take the blame. Under the tenets of the proto-Gnostic teaching (e.g. CM. 5:38-48, 6:6, 11:27) Jesus would have been condemned for blasphemy just as St. Stephen was portrayed in Acts 6:11, 7:53-54 (cf. Dt. 13, Jn. 8:58-59, 9:29) And finally, verse 69a has been omitted because it says that Peter sat outside the palace whereas verse 58 says that he entered and sat inside the palace. Moreover, perhaps by coincidence, or not, verse 69b neatly follows verse 58 and everything in between seems to be a disruption].

Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. (Note: this theme of Peter’s three-fold betrayal may be a symbol reflecting both the Jewish Christian and Catholic opposition to Gnostic teaching which Gnostics see as the true spiritual essence of the Gospel and remains preserved in Catholic Matthew.)


I have omitted the crucifixion and resurrection accounts from Catholic Matthew (CM) which includes part of chapter 26 and all of chapters 27-28; because I cannot verify that it is part of the Proto-Gnostic teaching. The account of the crucifixion in CM appears to be the product of someone’s effort to re-construct an historical event in which the Jewish nation is assigned the blame for the death of Jesus. The priests are said to have brought forward two false-witnesses and a host of other charges which really cannot be substantiated. And Jesus himself continues to insist that his priestly accusers will soon see the Son of man coming in the clouds (CM. 26:63-64). In theory, I suspect that there was a crucifixion event that was reported in the Judean Gospel and was brief in detail. This foundation was later added to by other writers, and an early Catholic writer is probably responsible for the crucifixion and resurrection accounts that exist in their present form—with all the anti-Jewish bias and fairy-tail embellishments that go with it (e.g. CM. 28:2-6).

This is not to say that early Gnostics did not make use of the entire text of Catholic Matthew, including the crucifixion, as Irenaeus affirmed. But as Irenaeus also explained, they attributed one part of the Gospel to Sophia and another part to the Demiurge (Against Heresies, 3.2.2.). And I want to mention once again that the purpose here is to separate the spiritual part. Yet even in a passage such as Catholic Matthew 27:46, which may not have come from a proto-Gnostic writer, the Gnostic reader would see Jesus’s lament “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” as an inspired utterance of Sophia’s passion, as expressed originally in Psalms 22:1 (Ireneaus, ibid., 1.8.2.).

Getting back to the historical question of the crucifixion: Personally I do lean toward the theory that there was a real Jesus and a real crucifixion; but it was all a misunderstanding and Jesus never actually died. He turned up alive after his crucifixion; and his superstitious followers took this for a miracle and this led to the founding of a Jewish sect. Meanwhile Jesus fled to the far-east to avoid anymore trouble with the Judean and Roman authorities. He promised his followers he would come back someday with an army of angels; but he never returned.

Gnostic tradition has turned this historical Jesus into a mythological figure and has disregarded his original and obsolete message. A whole new set of teachings and a different theology have been attached to him—which took root once the original prophecies failed with the passing of the Apostles to whom Jesus made his original promises regarding the end of the Age (see Proto-Gnostic Matthew: Introduction). The Gospel of John itself is a product of this transformation, where the kingdom is spiritual like the wind, and there is no clear doctrine of the End of the Age and a second coming.

In Gnostic tradition the crucifixion is a symbol with two principle meanings:

1) Jesus’s crucifixion condemns the cosmic archons and their Law (the Law of Moses) which are exposed as unjust, e.g. John 12:27-32; see also the Nag Hammadi Library: The Concept of our Great Power, 40-42; Second Discourse of the Great Seth, 58-59, J. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 314, 366; M. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pp. 397f., 481).

2) The crucifixion and passion are symbols of cosmic events which in turn are directly connected with travails and transformations within the soul. It is also denied that Jesus suffered any passion, and that the passion and crucifixion are really symbols of the primeval travails of Sophia/ Achamoth. Even the utterances in the Psalms that are attributed to Jesus are really the utterances of Sophia. Irenaeus and other church fathers report these doctrines (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.7.2., 1.8.2, 2.20.1-5; Tertullian, Against Valentinians, 27; Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pp. 325, 327; vol. 3, pg. 516). And in the New Testament itself it can be seen where Paul himself affirms similar ideas in 1 Corinthians 2:1-6; where Paul makes a distinction between the doctrine of Christ crucified and the hidden Sophia which is spoken among the “perfect” (teleiois: initiates). And in Galatians 4:26 Paul states that the earthly Jerusalem is a type of the “mother” which is above. In Hebrews 6:1 “Christ” is again referred to as an elementary doctrine that is not directly connected with “perfection” (teleioteta: initiation).

Whether in Paul, or in Gnostic tradition (which follows Paul), or even in Catholicism, the crucifixion and resurrection are a theme that is inspired by the Mystery religions, viz. the doctrine of a god who dies and lives again (Justin Martyr, 1 Apology, 21-22, Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, 40; Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 170; vol. 3, pg. 262f.). Catholic writers such as Justin Martyr do not deny this connection, but they insist that Jesus is the one who literally lived this all into history. And again, in Gnostic tradition this is a symbol for the fall and redemption of Sophia/ Achamoth, in which all initiates take part (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.6.1., 1.7.1.).

Regarding the resurrection: Gnostic tradition denies that Jesus ever really died. His body may have died, but his supernatural essence was unaffected and experienced neither death nor suffering (Nag Hammadi Library: Apocalypse of Peter, 81-83; Letter of Peter to Philip, 139; J. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, pp. 377, 436; M. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, pp. 495f., 592f.). Thus in Gnostic tradition it is generally held that there is no literal fleshly resurrection, and that Jesus only appeared to be a fleshly being. The earliest texts that promote these ideas are the Letters of Paul. In Philippians 2:7 it is said that Jesus appeared in the “likeness” (“omoiomati”) of man. And in Romans 8:3 it is said that God sent his Son who appeared in the “likeness” (“omoiomati”) of “sinful flesh”. And in 1 Corinthians 15 there is a distinction between “earthy” and “heavenly” bodies and that Christ bore a “heavenly” body (1 Cor. 15:47-49). And regarding the resurrection it is said that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50). The supposed “passion” or suffering of Jesus is not a theme in Paul’s letters; and neither is it a theme among the Gnostics who followed in Paul’s footsteps.

In Gnostic thought the non-fleshly “resurrection” and the absence of passion are symbolic of the perfection or maturity of the philosopher: who has no fear of death or suffering, and is only concerned for the fate of the soul, not the body. In Gnostic thought this enlightenment of the soul is the true meaning of the resurrection that one finds in this life. It is to find salvation from the ignorance and oppression of the world even before the body dies. To live in ignorance and oppression is to be part of the fall of Sophia and to be a prisoner of the Archons. To discover the spiritual seed, the essence of the kingdom of Light, within one’s soul is to find peace and liberation; this is the true resurrection, which is to participate in the redemption of Sophia/ Achamoth.

Here finally is a quote from the Letter of Peter to Philip: “My brothers, Jesus is a stranger to this suffering. But we are the ones who have suffered through the Mother’s transgression. For this reason he did everything symbolically among us” (M. Meyer, ibid. pg. 593; Cf. J. Robinson, ibid. pg. 436).

And also from the Treatise on the Resurrection: “Rheginus, do not get lost in details, nor live according to the flesh for the sake of harmony. Flee from divisions and bonds and then you already have the resurrection” (M. Meyer, ibid. pg. 55).

In the New Testament, in the Letter to Colossians 2:12-18, it is said that the disciples already share in the resurrection of Jesus and that they have been freed from the Law of Moses and the “worship of angels”. Similar ideas are found throughout Paul’s letters, especially in Galatians.


1] Catholic Matthew 22:44. The quote from Psalms 110:1 alludes to the connection between Jesus and the mysterious dispensation of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4). In Gnostic thought Melchizedek is a symbol of the priestly and theological dispensation that is separate from the theological dispensation of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites; the latter symbolizing the unjust rule of angels. Historically and linguistically, Melchizedek is a relic of the pre-Israelite culture of Jerusalem under the Jebusites (hence the city of “Salem”). Historically, Melchizedek was probably the name of a high-priest of Jupiter (i.e.”Zedek” see G. Buttrick, Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3, pg. 343; James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, “Melchizedek”).

2] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.31.1. Regarding the Gospel of Judas, Irenaeus wrote: “… For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.”

By Jim West. Copyright © April 1, 2013; revised July 7, 2014.

All Rights Reserved.

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