"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and all your house will be saved"
“The works of the flesh are known; they are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness … heresies … those who do this will not inherit the Kingdom of God"
On the pages of VO, we now and then come across stories about the Old Believers, who were almost a stronghold of statehood and justice in Russia, then with fabrications about the millions of pagan Slavs killed during baptism (I wonder who counted them then and how was the census of those killed?), that is, questions of religion are very interesting for both visitors and authors of articles on the site. Why this is so is understandable. On planet Earth (it just so happened!), People have no other purpose than to reproduce and die. And the first brings us pleasure, but the second is suffering. Naturally, the first one would like more, but the second one should not be at all. And it is here that religion offers us the way of salvation, that is, belief in the immortality of the soul and its salvation if a person believes in all this and becomes a follower of one of the religions. However, there were always people who were looking for special, “more correct” ways to salvation, different from those officially accepted and approved by the church. They were considered heretics and persecuted, but they also sought salvation, albeit in their own way. And there were a lot of such heresies, however, perhaps the most unusual among them was the heresy of the Borborites.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev, where, among other saints, Epiphanius of Cyprus is depicted (310 - 403)
However, they were called differently in different places: stratiotics, Zacchaeus, Fivionites, Barbelites, and also Coddians and Borborites. Moreover, the last two names are truly "speaking". The first designated people with whom no one would want to lie down at the table while eating, and the second is simply translated as "dung beetles"). But the name is the name. But what was the essence of this teaching? Well, first of all, it was also … Christianity, because the Borborites believed in Christ. And yet they were cursed by the church as heretics. Why and what exactly did they not please the official church?
Epiphanius the accuser
Unfortunately, the only source that reports more or less in detail about these ancient mystics long gone into oblivion from the distant past is the works of a certain Epiphanius of Cyprus, known in the 4th century for his denunciations of heretics. So the borborites (although it would be more accurate to call them barbelites) also got "nuts" from him. Moreover, it is interesting that Epiphanius himself was a Phoenician by origin, and initially converted to Judaism, and only then converted to the Christian faith. As befits any neophyte who came to believe, he tried to get rid of the inheritance he had inherited as soon as possible and went in search of the truth - that is, he began to wander around Egypt and Palestine and communicate with people who, in turn, were engaged in exactly the same searches, considering their occupation godly business.
In his wanderings around the world, he met the Barbelite Gnostics. Moreover, he not only met, but also entered into a theological dispute with them. However, with their statements, and most importantly, their deeds, they introduced his soul into such confusion that later, having already become the bishop of Salamis, that is, 30 years later, he still could not forget about meeting them. By this time, Epiphanius in his writings had branded more than one sect of heretics, he was almost killed by pagan Parsis, preaching to the Arabian Bedouins, he also almost died, but only these harmless and slightly mocking Gnostics, who gave him lodging and food, for some reason- then I never forgave.
Moreover, to denounce them, he picked up the most cruel and poisonous words, which from the mouth of the bishop, it seems, you would not expect to hear. He wrote the essay "Panarion" (translated from the Greek "casket with medicines") and in it he condemned several dozen different heretical teachings, both Christian and even pre-Christian. And here the barbelites also got it. Obviously, in his youth he wanted a faith that would be based not only on faith itself, but also on knowledge, and when such knowledge was offered to him, he did not understand anything about it. And he, obviously, was very much frightened of their rituals, and not only was frightened. He felt that he had fallen into temptation and sinned. And this horror in his soul before what he had done (or not done, but had a strong effect on him!) Remained in his soul until old age, although in fact all this had rather little relation to the teachings of the Barbelites …
Epiphanius of Cyprus in St. Sophia.
Rituals Dangerous for Soul Salvation
Judging by the description of Epiphanius, it was impossible to think of more disgusting than these people. They had common wives, but they were hospitable. And as soon as their guest stepped over the threshold, the barberite owner shook his hand, "tickling," that is, giving a secret sign. If he also answered him with “tickling,” it meant that he was his own, and if not, then the owners immediately understood that they were a stranger. The guest was seated at the table and treated to excellent food, including wine and meat dishes, "although they themselves were poor." Apparently, Epiphanius himself once fell for delicious food. In any case, he stayed with the Barberites and was later able to describe their manners and customs, as well as the religious beliefs that they, for some reason, revealed to him, a stranger!
According to his description, instead of mortifying the flesh, the barbelites, on the contrary, anointed their bodies with oils, kept them clean, looked after nails and hair, and also dressed up in beautiful clothes. They did not recognize any posts, but they loved to eat well at any time. On the days of church holidays, they dined together, that is, they recognized the holidays.
But after the meal was over, all those present indulged in carnal sin, which was an act of sacred significance for the barberites, since men plucked their seed onto the back of their hand, raised their hands to heaven and said: “We bring you this offering - the body of Christ ". Then everyone ate "this" together with a common prayer. Well, and instead of "the blood of Christ", well, yes, of course, they took menstrual blood. According to Epiphany, the Barberites explained this strange ritual by the fact that, they say, the tree of life gives twelve fruits annually, which means there is a connection between this ritual and ancient pagan rituals of sacrifices of seed to the gods of fertility and … the well-known female monthly cycle.
The children that appeared as a result of these copulations were aborted and intended for … a sacrificial meal on the Easter holiday - they were prepared along with various other meat products along with herbs and spices and ate for the glory of Christ … The ritual, of course, is completely wild, isn't it, however, it is no more savage than the deprivation of virginity with the help of a stone idol or the sacrifice of their firstborn to the god Baal. However, the Bible directly states that Onan poured the seed onto the earth and God killed him for this, and here people do even worse than this … Indeed, they are the greatest sinners!
Epiphany, most likely, also had a chance to participate in one of these orgies … Otherwise, he would not have tried to justify himself with references to youth, inexperience and hide behind the depravity of morals … And besides, he in every possible way condemned those women who tried to seduce him then. At the same time, he proudly declared that, although these barbelites were very seductive and beautiful, he resisted them! He survived, yes, but then, apparently, he secretly regretted not having tried this. He also reproached the Barbelites for the fact that they resisted childbirth in every way (not for ritual purposes), and that their shepherds sinned with both sodomy and masturbation.
Epiphanius of Cyprus on a fresco at the Gratsanika Monastery in Kosovo.
Teaching about the number eight
According to Epiphany, the Barbelites considered both Testaments, as well as "Questions of Mary", "Apocalypse of Adam", "Book of Set", "Book of Noria", "Gospel from Eve" to the fundamental texts of their teaching. But Epiphanius was especially indignant at the "Questions of Mary", which used such an apocryphal text of the Sermon on the Mount, in which there was a story about the copulation of Christ with a woman.
The world, as the Barberites believed, consisted of eight (not three, not seven, but for some reason eight!) Spheres go to heaven. The first heaven belonged to prince Iao, on the second was Sakpas, the third was set by Set, in the fourth heaven was David, in the fifth heaven was Eloai, the sixth was given to Jaldabaot, the seventh was to Sabaoth, but at the very last, the eighth, was the mother of all things Barbelo, and also the Father of All, God the Self-Father and … another Christ, whom Mary did not give birth to. He was only "shown by her." Here's how!
In addition, the Barbelites argued that Jesus never died on the cross and was not a creature in the flesh, but appeared in the world as a ghost. The soul of the deceased can bypass this whole series of different heavens, but only if it possesses a certain knowledge. Well, if not, then one of the rulers of the material world will captivate her and bring her back to life on earth, but not in the form of a man, but an animal. Only initiates can avoid this miserable fate, for which all the above-described rituals are needed, and besides, they should be performed at least 760 times. In this case, the soul will reach the eighth heaven and will be in the possession of mother Barbelo.
It is interesting that Barbelo had another name - Tetragrammaton: which meant water, air, fire and earth (matter). Well, and Barbelo herself was considered by the Gnostics-Barberites as a universal mother and vital force, identified by them with the Logos-primary fire, cosmic "breath" and the holy spirit. That is, they connected the Greek philosophers with the cult of nature, added ancient Egyptian mysticism, Christian myths and got … what they got!
According to their text "Pistis Sophia", when the spirit enters the substance of Barbelo, the archons (chiefs) of the seven aeons (or special divine emanations) "are reconciled with the mystery of light" and thus Christ is born. At the same time, both the truth and the world kiss each other at the same time. They portrayed Barbelo as a cross. But it was a cross that had nothing to do with the cross of Calvary. Here the cross was a symbol of birth, not an instrument of execution. And not just a birth, but a birth in the spirit. That is, one should continue oneself not in the flesh, but in the spirit. Otherwise you will not be saved!
Of course, a lot of what Epiphanius wrote can be viewed both as slander and as an offense against the Barbelites who seduced him. He apparently simply did not understand much in their teaching. However, he was not the only one who treated them negatively. The Ophite Gnostics, for example, also called the teachings of the Barbelites disgusting (and it is clear why, because, in fact, they were engaged in real corpse eating) and unworthy, and argued that the Higher Powers under no circumstances will reveal their secrets to those who do not swallow monthly blood and semen. That is, both the Ophites and the Barbelites, although they read the same books, and equally aspired to knowledge, and were mystics, but the first was disgusting the method of eternal rebirth chosen by the latter, that is, eating bodily eruptions for the sake of assimilation to the ghostly Christ! At the same time, they urged people to avoid ignorance and fornication, since otherwise they would not see any secrets of the world and not hear divine revelations.
However, it is rather difficult to explain the doctrine, from which so little remains, practically nothing, except perhaps very brief comments of the Ophites, and the angry denunciations of Epiphanius. Moreover, the Barbelites are credited with two very beautiful and completely lacking any sexual background texts - "Trimorphic Protenonius" - a mystical cosmogonic text, and "Apocrypha from John."
The Apocrypha of John reveals the secrets that were revealed to the Apostle John by Jesus, to whom he appeared after his Resurrection. If these texts belong to the Barbelites, then it turns out that they do not at all coincide with their sacred sexual rites, or these rituals should be considered somehow differently, but how … it is not clear. But how all this really happened is still impossible to say due to the paucity of facts. Well, the heresy of the Barberites itself has remained in the history of religion, as one of the many "ways of salvation."