The savior of the Gospel of Judas is not a Jesus you’d want to meet in some dark alley at the end of days. This trickster Christ who arranges his own death and laughs at the destined destruction of the universe is more a dark lord messing with the mortals than a messiah.
Yet this pseudogospel, possibly the same one denounced by Irenaeus in the late second century AD, is a true Gnostic treasure, hiding a divine spark of wisdom within. The ancient author of this work offers up a magic box filled with the mystical numbers of precession and more. The more that I’m talking about is a nested surprise which I found wondrous, but was this gift deliberately included or just an artifact of production?
The “easter egg” I’m referring to is hidden in the section which Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King have numbered as 11.611.10 in their book Reading Judas:
“11.6 By the will of the spirit, He made seventytwo luminaries appear in the imperishable race 11.7 Then by will of the Spirit, the seventytwo luminaries themselves made three hundred sixtyluminaries appear in the imperishable race, in order that their number might become five for each.
“11.8 And their father is the twelve realms of the twelve luminaries11.9 with six heavens for every realm, so that the seventytwo heavens might come into being for the seventytwo luminaries, 11.10 with five firmaments for each one of them so that three hundred sixty [firmaments might come into being…].”
If you think there is no sense in this nonsensical passage, remember that knowledge, “Sophia”, was often hidden or encoded in the writings of mystic adepts. I should mention that the paragraphs, like the reference numbers, were inserted by the translators. Also, other interpretations favor aeon over realm, and substitute indestructible generation for imperishable race. As Pagels, with a nuanced understanding that is both scholarly and intuitive, notes, “…‘realm’ here is aeon, which means ‘a period of time’, ‘an age’, ‘a lifetime’. In adverbial form, aionios, it means eternity.” There is also a “spatial as well as temporal connection”, she mentions, but “here the main sense is a realm that exists with regard to a period of time (whether limited or eternal).”
The 5, 6, 12, 72 and 360 in this passage are, of course, suggestive of the precessional cycle, as many modern mystics immediately recognized. In rounded off numbers, the clock of precession ticks one degree every 72 years and does this 30 times (5 X 6) over the course of one world age, and 360 times when ticking through the 12 zodiac signs that make up a Great Age. The true meaning of this passage doesn’t lay in the words. “Judas” wants us to read the numbers.
As Lori Tompkins observed in her article Zodiacal & Cosmological References in the Gospel of Judasat QuantumYoga.org:
If one abandons Scientific and Religious antipathy towards the art of Astrology (‘the Mother of all Sciences’) and grants that the ‘heavens and their 360 firmaments’ is very likely referring to the 360 degrees of the Ecliptic (in the Heavenly Sphere), one’s religious and/or world view begins to undergo a major transformation.
Heaven, in that view, becomes equated with the circle’s number ‘360’.[5] In that ‘code’ 6 heavens would be 6 x 360 = 2160. So when Jesus writes that there are ‘6 heavens for each aeon’, one can see by a quick multiplication of 6 x 360 = 2160, and his reference to ‘the twelve Aeons’ that he is PROBABLY referring to the twelve 2160year Astrological Ages which comprise the Precession of the Equinox.
Given that each degree of the Precession is 72 years and each year is one 360 degree cycle or ‘heaven’ (360 degrees x 72 years = 25,920 years), we can see that ’72 heavens for the 72 luminaries’ can also be interpreted as a description of the mechanics of the precessional movement. The reference to the ‘5 firmaments’ of each of the ’72 heavens’ (360 degree cycles) is a bit less enigmatic when one remembers that 360 divided by 5 is 72.
In fact, Judas points in several ways to the figure of 25920, often considered to be an ancient measure of the earth’s precessional cycle. The Precession of the Equinoxes creates the world ages. Right now we’re in the tail end of the Age of Pisces and in the future will see the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Twelve ages add up to one Great Year but a Great Year doesn’t last 25,920 years, that rounded figure the ancients loved so well. One precessional degree actually takes 71.6, not 72, years to pass. A back of the envelope calculation gives us 25,776 years (71.6 X 360 = 25776) for each Great Year cycle. But who could blame our ancient scribe for getting it wrong? They were still using an incorrect measure for precession in the 18^{th} century! We wouldn’t expect our second century A.D. mystic to come up with a modern estimate of precession, would we?
In cryptography, a double reference is often used to mark the beginning or end of a message. Think of it like the stop in a telegraph message. A plain old period just wouldn’t do. Let’s look at the text again.
“11.6 By the will of the spirit, He made seventytwo luminaries appear in the imperishable race. 11.7 Then by will of the Spirit, the seventytwo luminaries themselves made three hundred sixty luminaries appear in the imperishable race, in order that their number might become five for each.
The first number is repeated, so we’ll start with the second 72. From there we are given a simple math problem: 72÷360=5. Let’s look at the same numbers with the eye of a mystic, searching for an esoteric or hidden meaning. After the second 72, the next number is 360. 72 x 360 = 25920. Following that we see the number 5. In another post I’ll talk about the relationship of the number five and seventytwo to 25920, and how 25920 came to be considered the sacred, esoteric number for the Pentagram, but for now I’ll just point out that the author of Judas may have meant to evoke an image of the fivepoint star. And also that 25920 x 5 (or 72 x 360 x 5) equals 129600, the beloved number of Plato and the square obtained when you multiply a perfect circle by a perfect circle (360 x 360).
Think of that first section as an introduction to the following information:
“11.8 And their father is the twelve realms of the twelveluminaries 11.9 with six heavens for every realm, so that the seventytwo heavens might come into being for the seventytwo luminaries, 11.10 with five firmaments for each one of them so that three hundred sixty [firmaments might come into being…].”
This section gives us a double twelve, so we’ll start with the second twelve. From there we are given another math example: 12 X 6 = 72. Here is a double seventy two, so seventy two will start our next line. He is repeating the information given in the “topic sentence” but instead of 72 divided by 360 equals 5 he switches the numbers around to 72 X 5 = 360. Now we have:
12 X 6 = 72
72 X 5 = 360
There’s that 25920 again. Multiply the products: 72 X 360 = 25,920. In fact Judas really, really wants us to pay attention to this number so he’s given us the information for a kind of magic box:
12 
6 
72 
5 
It’s already partially completed:
12 
6 
72 

72 
5 
360 

Let’s fill in the rest.
60 
864 
30 
432 
72 
12 
6 
72 
360 
72 
5 
360 
432 
864 
30 
60 
This gives us a few more multiplication problems. The horizontal products (72 X 360) equal 25920. The vertical products (30 X 864) equal 25920. And if you multiply the corners (60 x 432) you get 25920.
This is not just a magic box, it’s a divine magic box. All of these numbers are sacred, figuring prominently in the mystic number system. But Judas saved his best trick for last. He’s going to pull a rabbit out of that magic box, the rabbit that lays the golden egg.
Remember that easter egg I told you about? Go back to the double numbers in the text. We had 72 and 72, then 12 and 12. These are not random numbers.
72 + 72 = 144
12 X 12 = 144
Is Judas indicating the number 144, a mystic number in its own right? Well, if so he would want us to apply it to the 25920 somehow, right? Should we multiply, times, add, subtract, or what? Since any other way gives us jack for an answer, I recommend that you subtract the number.
25920 – 144 = 25776.
There’s your easter egg. 25776, a modern calculation of precession. Whether our “Judas” intended it or not, unraveling the mystic coding in this ancient passage leads us to a stunning find: a modern measure of the Platonic Great Year. By applying some of the principles of cryptography to this nonsense paragraph, we have discovered a modern number of the Great Year embedded in the text.
Thank our Gnostic mage for bringing this bit of wonder to our day. Did “Judas” know the true measure of precession or was the lord of synchronicity at play here? While the correction factor of 144 years, the divine number 72 X 2, was astonishingly precise, for the ancient scientist these numbers seemed built right into the system, permeating all of life. An average of 72 heartbeats in a minute which is 1/60^{th} of the 360 minute hour. Precession takes 72 years to tick back a beat in the 360 degree zodiac. There are 72 degrees between each point in a 5 point star and 72 X 5 = 360 degrees.
Take an example from our Magic Box of Precession, 30 x 864, for instance. Saturn, the timekeeper, takes 30 roundedoff years to circle the zodiac. In 25920 (72 x 360) of our years he makes 864 trips around the circle (864 = 72 x 12). Now an ancient scribe might have observed that it really only takes Saturn 29.5 years to make its yearly trip. If he took the next tentative step toward accuracy and applied the more accurate 29.5 to the rounded off 864 he would get a precessional year of 25488. If with 25920 he was originally 144 years over the true measure of precession, with 25488 he would fall 288 years short. 288 is 72 x 4, or 144 x 2. In a similar way there are 2160 Jupiter years in 25920 of our years, but only if you use rounded numbers. A mystic had to step a ways outside of the mystic number system, far from his tried and true comfort zone, before he could think “outside of the box” and obtain a clearer view of the universe.
Now Judas may have known exactly what he was doing. In many ways science was more advanced than it would be a millennium later. Just look at the Antikythera mechanism. I like to think that he knew (and believe he must have known about the magic box), but it is possible that Judas was pointing out the pentagram with its 72 degree angles and 5 points, 5 being the number of life and the partner of 72. The 5 and 72 were inevitably paired in the mystic number system because if you divided one number into 360 the answer you got was the other. He may have included these numbers as a kind of protective spell or talisman, and included our correction factor accidentally. Cue the Lord of Misrule, laughing.
25776 is not the most accurate estimate of precession today, by the way. Astronomers divide 360 by .0139697 to obtain a figure for the Great Year of 25770.0594… Modern scientific methods dispel mystical maths, blowing them away like so much smoke. That’s probably why Plato was so infuriated over the Pythagorean Hippasus’ discovery of irrational numbers. Mystic math can only survive in a world of whole, rounded numbers.
And yet, mystic numbers will never die entirely. Not while scientists debate whether their data means that the universe is shaped like one of the Platonic solids, the pentagon tiled, soccer ball looking dodecahedron, go figure! And not while the data in the Gospel of Judas tumbles down to an estimate of precession that was superseded only decades ago. And that number is, itself, only 6 away from the most precise measure of precession that science can offer today. Of course, the 6 is the root and foundation of all mystic numbers. Wait a minute, it wasn’t off the mark by 6, but off by something between 5 and 6 you say? Well, 5 and 6 were the only inner numbers in the magic box that we didn’t use as a correction factor. I can almost hear the Jesus of the Gospel of Judas…laughing again.