Tag Archives: jordan stratford

The Lévitikon

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Levitikon: The Gospels According to the Primitive Church by Donald Donato, introduction by Jordan Stratford.

Donald Donato Jordan Stratford The Levitikon

This slim softcover book is the first English translation (so far as I know) of a reasonably hoary French curiosity, but its title appears to be an error. The text is purportedly a Christian gospel of antique provenance. It was first circulated within the Église Johannites des Cretiens Primitif of Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat at the start of the 19th century. Fabré-Palaprat claimed to be the heir to the Apostolic Succession of John the Divine, and it was on this authority that he founded the “Johannite Church,” primarily to serve as an ecclesiastical vehicle for his Templar revival. The Johannite Church used a variant version of the Fourth Gospel, called the Evangelikon, as its scripture, and it is this document that forms the principal substance of the current book. The Lévitikon was the title of an companion text that asserted a transmission of mysteries from Jesus through the beloved disciple and eventually to the Knights Templar. Its contents are not present in the current volume bearing that name.

Neither the Johannite Church nor the associated Templar Order seem to have survived Fabré-Palaprat’s death in 1838, but members of the Johannite clergy appear to have continued to exercise their ecclesiastic prerogatives in other venues. The 21st-century Lévitikon is issued under the imprimatur of the Apostolic Johannite Church, a Neognostic sect operating in the French tradition for which Jules Doinel was a major founding figure. The current AJC Patriarch Iohannes IV offers a foreword here, and the introduction and translation are supplied by other AJC clergy. Although there is an international reach claimed by this church, the main figures of the hierarchy represented in this volume appear to be in western Canada.

AJC Prefect Jordan Stratford’s introduction seeks to place the enigmatic Johannite gospel in a historical context, discussing its etiology (subject to an “official” discovery yarn similar to that of the Golden Dawn cipher manuscripts in England later in the 19th century), contemporary scholarship on the orthodox Fourth Gospel (to which this one bears a closer similarity than the synoptic gospels do to one another), and the historical phenomena of initiatic transmission and Templarism addressed in the original Lévitikon (again, a text not actually furnished under the current use of that title). Stratford’s conclusions (“Possibilities”) are reasonably skeptical, and include a comparison between the Evangelikon and the successful fraud of the Donation of Constantine.

The gospel itself is a pleasant and interesting read. Like the French original, it lacks the verse numberings of modern bibles, but the biblical pericopes sit squarely in the chapter structure parallel to its canonical model or cousin. As Stratford remarks, it emphasizes the alien quality of Jesus and his teachings, often implying or stating his relationship to Greek and Egyptian culture. With these small additions, some of the features of the canonical John stood out for me. For example in John 8:33 (as in the present text), the “Jews who had believed” Jesus say, “We are the seed of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man: how sayest thou: you shall be free?” So these Jews and/or the gospel author seem to have been ironically ignorant of the substance of the first half of Exodus. There is no resurrection narrative in this gospel, but there is a concluding attestation.

This book is published chiefly as an inspirational text for Christian Neognostics. I do not fall within that classification, but I found it worthwhile for my interest in the history of modern Neognosticism. [via]

Vault of Adepts

Vault of Adepts by Jordon Stratford’s Laudanum Studios is a crowdfunding effort to create a game which is described as “Penny Dreadful meets Arkham Horror in this pen and paper RPG of secret societies in 1900 London. Occult schemes in the age of absinthe.”

“VAULT OF ADEPTS is a pen and paper Role Playing Game of secret societies set in 1900 London. These occult Lodges attracted the elite of London society — poets and politicians, actors and heiresses, alchemists and aristocrats scheming against a backdrop of cut glass, in the age of absinthe.

You play one of these eccentric characters, choose a faction and an agenda — do you want to proceed through the mystic Grades to achieve enlightenment? To take over? To destroy from within? – and speed from location to location to secure ancient knowledge, spread rumours, and foil your opponent’s efforts.

A séance gone horribly wrong. A gentleman approached after a Mason’s meeting with an inquiry if he’d be interested in something more…unconventional. A book dealer looking over an incoming tome, and knowing more than he lets on. Somewhere in London, between Scotland Yard and the Blind Beggar, is the key to someone’s lifelong obsession. Seek it out. But will you use it, sell it, or destroy it?”

Laudanum Studios Vault of Adepts 1900

Living Gnosticism

Living Gnosticism: An Ancient Way of Knowing by Jordan Stratford, the 2007 paperback from Apocryphile Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Jordan Stratford Living Gnosticism from Apocryphile

“Twenty two centuries ago in Alexandria, a sect of philosopher-poets fashioned a myth the strands of which weave through Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Greek philosophy, and inspired the legends of the Holy Grail. Long banished to the realm of notorious heresy, the myths of the Gnostics (‘knowers‘) took root in the fertile imagination of the nineteenth century’s artistic movements and esoteric circles, bearing fruit in the daily spiritual practice of thousands today. In 1945, a library of Gnostic writings surfaced from the Egyptian desert, allowing the movement—after 1500 years of propaganda and slander—to speak with its own voice. Rich in imagery, nostalgic in tone, Gnosticism quietly restores Wisdom to her place as Goddess in Western religion, reveres Eve as the first saint, and acknowledges Mary Magdalene as foremost of the Apostles.” — back cover


New Jordan Stratford post suggests that identifying Gnosticism as a literary genre also makes it open source

New Jordan Stratford post at Wayfinding suggests that identifying Gnosticism as a literary genre also makes it open source.

“If I’ve brought anything to the table of contemporary Gnostic studies – and I hope that I have – it’s been in framing the debate; identifying Gnosticism as a literary genre, and in identifying its core defining characteristic in its soteriology. I’ve done this work in turn arrogantly, prayerfully, joyfully, shamelessly, inadvertently, deliberately, creatively, bitterly, originally, clumsily and on occasion gracefully.

The move of classifying Gnosticism as a genre is a risky one; it absolutely puts me outside the accepted heresiological paradigm of the academic world. And I have to accept that, although I did spend several years coming to terms with it. The payoff, however, is worth it, because it states plainly that Gnosticism, far from being an extinct antique heresy, is in fact Open Source. Any author in any era can pick up a pen and work within the symbolic language and peculiar strata of Gnostic aesthetic and create a genuinely, validly Gnostic text. The difficulty then lies in the task of determining whether or not the author is merely paying lip service to the surface trappings of Gnosticism, or delving deep into the rich mines of Gnostic theme and conveying and authentic Gnostic message. This process of reasoned, prayerful discernment is unlikely to win you many friends.” [via]