Tag Archives: Timothy James Lambert

On the Secret Teachings and the Hidden Mythos

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Five: On the Secret Teachings and the Hidden Mythos by Timothy James Lambert.

Lambert On the Secret Teachings and the Hidden Mythos

Reviewed on the basis of a complimentary copy from the author. (Nevertheless, this review contains only my usual biases.)

Although the jacket copy refers to a forthcoming “new book” from Timothy James Lambert, this fifth volume of The Gnostic Notebook appears to be the final book of that project. It does successfully take up all sorts of esoteric threads that were left lying in the earlier volumes, in service here to Lambert’s distinctive exegesis of the synoptic gospels, and concluding the discussion of the seven chief parables which has extended through the series. On the Secret Teachings and the Hidden Mythos is structured very much like its immediate predecessor On the Fruit of Knowledge and the Precession of the Ages, moving on from ancient Hebrew scripture to the Greek tales of Jesus. As before, at least half of the book’s text is direct quotation from various translations of the Bible.

An important concept relatively latent in the earlier books, but brought out in great relief early in this volume, is the notion of centuries-long human “breeding programs” among the ancient Hebrews, engineered by a sometimes-secretive goddess cult. The impression provided is something like a cross between the Bene Gesserit of Dune and the Cirinists of Cerebus. This background motivates an intriguing comparative study of the gospel genealogies of Jesus.

One of Lambert’s hermeneutic idiosyncrasies is an insistence on aggregating similarly named but customarily distinct characters of the Gospels. Many Marys are collapsed into one, just as there can be only one Simon, one John, and so forth. The narrative consequences of these identifications tend to be startling, to say the least. Those familiar with Gnostic scriptures should enjoy the solutions offered here for the origins of Christian baptism, the removal of the head of John, and other enigmas. The application of logion 13 from the Gospel of Thomas to clarify the Transfiguration is a clever approach, although I did not find Lambert’s explanation of logion 13 itself to be as compelling as the one that I have received through initiated sources. (“Lord, you are like the most discreet and perceptive bartender.”)

A “Conclusion” sums up Lambert’s between-the-lines revision of the gospel story in a mere three pages! If he were to revisit the material of this book in a different style, presenting it as a straightforward but detailed story in which his readings were made obvious (rather than the long Bible quotes with often obliquely hinting interpretive expositions of the Notebook series), I think it would be more accessible, and at least as likely to blow the minds of any readers with conventional orientations to the Bible. There could be a Gnostic Gospel of Timothy James perhaps, maybe with a supplementary Secret Book of Timothy James to cover his version of key Hebrew scriptures.

Lambert professes disinterest in establishing facts about an objective historical Jesus. He is instead supplying a provocative variant reading of the biblical texts, undertaking what Ioan Couliano characterized in The Tree of Gnosis as a characteristically Gnostic activity of creative misprision with respect to scripture. Lambert neither proves nor even claims that he is in receipt of any perspective authoritatively transmitted outside of the texts, but the work demonstrated in these books shows that the Bible can still support the sort of hair-raising doctrinal experimentation found among the ancient Gnostics.

On the Fruit of Knowledge and the Precession of the Ages

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Four: On the Fruit of Knowledge and the Precession of the Ages by Timothy James Lambert.

Lambert The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Four: On the Fruit of Knowledge and the Precession of the Ages

Reviewed on the basis of a complimentary copy received from the author. (Nevertheless, this review contains only my usual biases.)

In this fourth volume of his Gnostic Notebook series, Timothy James Lambert starts in earnest to apply the tools assembled in the first three volumes to the project that he initially forecast. Most of On the Fruit of Knowledge consists of a somewhat digressive exegesis of the biblical books of Genesis and Exodus in terms of the astrological symbolism of equinoctial precession. Lambert begins with the Age of Leo and works forward to Aries. This topic is one to which I have myself given serious attention, although I have prioritized a modern Hermetic symbol system, rather than the “Gnostic” biblical one–with its occasional odd reference to the I Ching–deployed by Lambert. (My work is in part reflected in an essay available online.) The broad outlines of our conclusions on the topic are not too dissimilar.

Throughout this work, Lambert emphasizes the ruling planet of the sign of the vernal equinox. He also includes, as a supplementary characterization, the other sign traditionally ruled by the planet in question. Thus for the Age of Taurus he stresses the symbolic attributes of Venus and also the second Venusian sign of Libra. In my experience it is more customary and more sound to orient to the vernal equinoctial sign of the age and to its complement in the autumnal equinoctial sign–which for Taurus would be Scorpio.

In a few cases, he makes some questionable leaps or contradicts himself. For example, having identified the eruption of Santorini (ca. 1628 B.C.E.) as the ultimate cause of the various plagues of Moses’ Egypt, he suggests that the guiding pillars of cloud and fire of Exodus 13 were “the active volcano in the distance, marked by its massive plume by day and lit by the glow of the molten lava at night” (129). Yet earlier, he had noted accurately, “It is unlikely that the volcanic plume being from a volcano over seven hundred miles away caused the darkness as reported in [Exodus 10:21-29]” (118), and it is no more probable that the lava’s glow would be visible at such a distance. On the whole, I think he is a little more rationalizing than the biblical narrative demands. Still, I share his essential recurring suspicions about ergot-based pharmacopoeia and venereal germ intrigue among the ancient Hebrews.

There is some fuzziness in the chapter on the Age of Gemini regarding regarding the angels or “Sons of God” who had productive congress with the daughters of men. Lambert quite forthrightly raises the question of the objective nature of these entities, and seems dismissive of Sunday School notions about them. But he doesn’t give a clear answer of his own. Are we to suppose that they were merely specially inspired humans? Spirits of psychedelic plants? Extraterrestrial intelligences? I wonder.

If you have already made an unprejudiced exploration of the first books of the Hebrew Bible with an eye to their significance in the evolution of human culture and consciousness, then this book may be a quick read on the whole. Easily half of the text consists of review of key passages from that scripture. If you have not made such study, it may be a challenge, and many of the author’s asides are likely to puzzle you. In any case, the overall thrust of the treatment is to emphasize a hidden Hebrew lore that Lambert takes to have been perpetuated in the Christian tradition represented by the Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptics. He sees this tradition as countered and concealed by the Platonizing Johannine school expressed in the Fourth Gospel and the Apocryphon of John.

The principal theological divide between Lambert’s Thomasines and Johannines is essentially one of serial monotheism versus absolute monotheism. According to the Gnostic Notebook, “Jehovah” is simply a title for the presiding god of the age, and so the Marcionite concept of a Christian god distinct from the Hebrew god is extended with multiple iterations going back through the ages, a notion supposedly affirmed within Thomasine circles. The Johannines, by contrast, had a Platonist opposition to the idea that the true God could be in any way subject to change. Thus the Apocryphon of John removes God from creation entirely, abstracting Him out of the field of tangible existence, and devolving the creator role onto a debased Demiurge spawned from the menses of Sophia (164-6). Exoteric Christianity, according to Lambert, split the difference, maintaining that a single continuous God changed His character from age to age. Though Lambert doesn’t remark the fact, a vivid albeit superstitious elaboration of this doctrine can be found in modern Dispensationalism.

When viewed in the astrological terms advanced by Lambert, the precession of the equinoxes can in fact be seen as the evolution of single deity, the godhead being the sun in its changing relationship to the earth and the fixed stars. In early Platonism, the sun is closely identified with the true world and with the Demiurge, a more benevolent figure than the (Johannine) Gnostic Demiurge. An exploration of esoteric heliolatry that makes an interesting counterpoint and/or supplement to Lambert’s work is the admirable Jesus Christ: Sun of God by David Fideler, with its emphasis on neo-Pythagorean elements in Christian scripture.

Lambert does not advance under this cover to present his view of the Age of Aquarius, which he dates from 1914. (What’s a decade’s difference in twenty-one-and-a-half centuries?) Perhaps he will make some disclosures in that direction in his next volume, where he promises to treat “deeper and darker secrets” of Thomasine Gnosticism, including those contained by the Gospel of Phillip. [via]

The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Three: On Plato, the Fourth Dimension, and the Lost Philosophy

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Three: On Plato, the Fourth Dimension, and the Lost Philosophy by Timothy James Lambert.

Lambert The Gnostic Notebook Volume Three

Reviewed on the basis of a complimentary copy received from the author. (Nevertheless, this review contains only my usual biases.)

In this third volume of Timothy James Lambert’s Gnostic Notebook, I was pleasantly surprised to find him executing a version of a project I had contemplated undertaking myself some years ago. To wit: He revisits the theory of matter from Plato’s Timaeus and relates it to the ideas of Buckminster Fuller’s Synergetics (particularly the closest-packing of spheres and consequent formation of polyhedra), all viewed under the influence of esoteric correspondences. Oddly, Lambert doesn’t credit Fuller’s work with closest-packing of spheres, although he does use an evocative quote from Critical Path to illustrate one of the correspondences that he asserts.

Most of Lambert’s text is concerned to ground these ideas in an unlikely textual synthesis of the Genesis creation account and the I Ching. He admits on his final page that he hasn’t provided any narrative to support his claim that the authors of Genesis had the I Ching at their disposal as a key for coding ideas, but he says he’ll be picking up this thread in a later volume. Another tease for future work is the promise (150) that the next book will undertake a reading of the I Ching as chiefly concerned with enlightened human procreation, which would perhaps capitalize on the occasional broad hints at sexual symbolism in volumes II and III of the series so far.

Throughout the book, Lambert intuits and adduces a multi-layered system of correspondences which he insists are “falsifiable” and inductively robust. I didn’t have trouble maintaining my skepticism toward them, however. One point of especial weakness was his “correction” of the traditional meanings of two of the I Ching trigrams on the basis of relationship within a hypothetical octahedron with planetary attributions to the vertices (in turn corresponding to yin and yang hexagram lines). It’s ironic that he takes this revision to indicate the utility of his theory here, as well as suggesting that Hakuin Ekaku (an 18th-century Zen master) composed the “one hand clapping” koan specifically to serve as a clue to this supposed secret (132-5).

There is constant reference to an astrological diagram, “an image which I call the tree of life” (76, fig. 69), which is not the Etz Chaim of the qabalah. It has the planets in a central column, ranging from Earth at the bottom, up through the days of the week from Sol (Sunday) to Saturn (Saturday). While this arrangement is useful for his exposition of the Genesis creation story, he makes an unjustified pivot at the book’s end to assert that it maps on to the sat chakras of esoteric human anatomy. The result is one that I personally consider “falsified” on the basis of esoteric instruction I’ve received, as well as my personal practice.

Despite the “Fourth Dimension” in the title and some discussion in the early parts of the book, there was disappointingly little hypergeometry here. And while Lambert has promised to revisit Salvador Dali’s Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), he intends to do so in the context of the Platonic-Christian connection, rather than that of hypergeometry. This volume was as long as the previous two put together, but held my attention less efficiently. Perhaps a more magisterial tone would better suit the material than Lambert’s chatty exploratory approach? Yet these are titled as a “Notebook,” and the style reflects that: a tentative groping on the page for the content that will deserve to be summed up in the exposition of a “divine system.” [via]