The Original Book of Moses Cosmology


September 28, 2010 by Korshi

Morton Smith's Original Book of Moses Cosmology
At the end of my last post I threw in Morton Smith’s hypothetical original Book of Moses cosmology, and I realised I was being a bit lazy for not actually presenting it in infograph form.  So here it is.

Briefly, the original pairs identified by Smith are:

  1. Phos (male, light) – Auge (female, radiance)
  2. Earth (female) – Water (male)
  3. Nous (male, mind) – Phrenes (female, wits)
  4. Genna (female, creative power) – spora (male, procreation)
  5. Moira (female, fate) – Hermes (male)
  6. Kairos/Helios (male, time/the sun) – Basilissa/Selene (the Queen/moon)
  7. Psyche (female, soul)- Pythian Serpent (male)
In addition to these, Phobos (fear) was created to fix everything in place.
Looking at it now, it seems a) a lot less interesting than the final version and b) a bit arbitrary.  Hermes and Moira and Psyche and the Pythian Serpent don’t make particularly obvious  pairs; I’d say it’s more likely that, if the original system did involve syzygies, Hermes-Nous-Phrenes was probably one being, partnered with Moira-Psyche; the Pythian Serpent and Phobos would have been part of some other mythic fragment that was tagged on the end.  Why?  Because the identification of Hermes/Thoth with the mind (nous) of god is pretty common in late antique thought, and Moira is closely related to Hekate, the World Soul (Psyche) of the Chaldaean Oracles; with God they’d then correspond to the God-Nous/Aion-Hekate/Psyche triad of the Neoplatonist/Chaldaean system.  But it’s just a thought.
(I realise that the last paragraph may make very little sense, but this is a just follow up post; keep reading the cosmologies series and eventually all will become clear.)
Source: Morton Smith, ‘P Leid J 395 (PGM XIII) and Its Creation Legend’ in Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, Volume II, Shaye J D Cohen (editor), E J Brill, Leiden, 1996 (1986), pp.227-234

4 thoughts on “The Original Book of Moses Cosmology

  1. peter says:

    please i will like to get the book of moses,it will be a great pleaure if you can help me with it.remain bless.
    from peter alexander nwaeze.

  2. korshi says:

    Hi Peter,

    you may be confused about what this post is. It is talking about the Eighth Book of Moses, a spellbook dating from fourth century AD Egypt. It almost certainly wasn’t written by Moses, but it is an interesting source for religion in Roman Egypt. You can read it in the book ‘The Greek Magical Papyri’ edited by Hans Dieter Betz where its three versions are designated PGM XIII.1-343, PGM XIII.343-646 and PGM XIII.647-734. I talk about it in more detail in this post.

    The first five ‘Books of Moses’ are in the Jewish and Christian Bibles: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Again, Moses probably didn’t actually write these books (if he ever existed) but there is a tradition that he is the author.

    The Sixth and seventh Books of Moses exist as a 18th or 19th century AD spellbook written originally in German. You can read these online.

    There may be a Tenth Book of Moses mentioned at the end of the papyrus containing the Eighth Book, but the reading of the Greek is uncertain.

    So you should be able to find all of the Books of Moses from numbers One to Eight yourself without too much difficulty. Best of luck,


  3. Stefan says:

    Can you please tell me if there is any internet resource of the Scandinavian versions of “The Black Bible” (The Sixth and seventh Books of Moses)?From a series of discussions, it was my understanding that these versions contain different/extra info, though probably from the local magical tradition – not shure yet.I would very much like to research the subject.
    Thank you 🙂

  4. korshi says:

    Hi Stefan,

    I’m afraid the only resources I know of are the ones linked to in my previous comment; my area of study is the Greco-Egyptian magical papyri, which are much earlier (3-4th c. AD) so I know very little about these later European grimoires.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: