DO THE NAG HAMMADI WRITING AND DEAD SEA SCROLLS
IS EINAR ERICKSON CONFUSED ?
In recent years, Mormon lecturer, Einar C. Erickson, has
given numerous talks to Mormon church groups concerning the
Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi writings, Mandean Ginza and
related Middle East finds. These lectures have been taped
and widely distributed for use in converting the uninformed
to Mormonism. Mr Erickson states that the writings
discovered in the vicinity of Nag Hammadi, Egypt, are one
of the greatest confirmations of the "truthfulness" of the
Mormon church that anyone would find anywhere.
On one of his tapes, Mr. Erickson boldly declares that:
"These documents and others leave without doubt evidence
positive even on the best rules of evidence that an
attorney might be able to assemble, that this gospel [i.e.
the Mormon gospel] is true. You get no credit for faith
anymore." Mr. Erickson attempts to convince his listeners
that the writers of the Nag Hammadi were the true
Christians, (based upon his allegation of their similarity
to Mormonism) and that all others had slipped off into
However; the Nag Hammadi writings are of "Gnostic" origin
which were written during the first to fourth century A.D.
The Gnostic heretics did cherish both the Old and New
testament Scripture, but re-interpreted them in terms of a
mythological Gnostic Redeemer. Gnosticism gave rise to the
writings of a number of totally spurious apocalyptic books,
false gospels and epistles that incorporated their own
Gnosticism was a movement that vigorously contended with
Orthodox Christianity for supremacy. Writings by the early
Church Fathers show how widespread and influential
Gnosticism was; and it was combatted as a lethal threat to
the proclamation of the Gospel. The bishops pointed out the
great gulf between Biblical Christianity and Gnosticism,
even though the Gnostics made use of Biblical text. It is
obvious that Paul, the Apostle, knew of the false ideas of
Gnosticism, and spoke out against such doctrines several
times in the Scriptures.
The Gnostics believed in the supreme being as an
undescribable God. He is invisible, incomprehensible, and
dwells unbegotten in eternal peace. Some names used to
describe God and to stress His transcendence were "Father
of All", "The Unapproachable God", "The Unknowable". Such a
God could not possibly have direct contact with the
material world; therefore, He does so through
intermediates, each one answerable to the other. Each
intermediate in descending order is less divine and more
earthy as the chain nears the material world.
Mr. Erickson spellbinds his listeners when he tells them
that the Nag Hammadi writings confirm the Mormon doctrine
of the Heavenly Mother! What he fails to tell them is that
this Mother God of the Nag Hammadi is the "Holy Spirit."
Certainly this is in direct conflict with the Mormon
concept of a Mother God, because in Mormon doctrine, the
Holy Spirit is a male. The supreme being has a female
counterpart which emanates from Him. She is known as
"Mother of All" or "The Holy Spirit."
Other emanations that come forth from the Supreme Being
in pairs are called AEONS; the lowest Aeon being "Sophia
Akhamoth", she was so full of passion to understand or know
God that she fell and was placed outside the Pleroma, God's
heavenly dwelling. Because of her desire, she becomes
fertile with a formless monster. This monster (Yaldabaoth,
Samael or SATAN) is the Demiurge or inferior god who
created this material world and brought forth man upon it.
According to the Gnostic, all matter is evil; therefore,
only an inferior being could have created it. Satan is the
creator-god of this earth and of man, and is an evil god.
To the Gnostics, Satan is Jehovah of the Old Testament!
After Jehovah (Satan) creates man and breathes life into
him, he creates Eve. The demonic forces see the beauty of
Eve, and proceed to rape her. Through this act, she
conceives Cain and Abel.
Mr. Erickson often refers to the Hypostasis of the
Archons of the Nag Hammadi and being direct parallel to the
Garden of Eden scene of the Mormon Temple Ceremony .
However, he fails to inform his listeners that the
Hypostasis of the Archeons tells of the demons raping Eve!
Nor does he point out that the serpent in the garden is
really the Holy Spirit coming to give Adam and Eve the
"true knowledge." He neglects to mention to his listeners
that the "god" who comes into the garden to ask Adam and
Eve what they have done is not the "Heavenly Father" but is
Satan the arrogant Archon, the evil god. In this instance,
Mr. Erickson is, at best, mistaken about the facts -- a
fault which reappears throughout his lectures and tapes.
The authors of the Nag Hammadi writings taught a form of
re-incarnation, and that marriage was evil, because it is
of the earth. They believed the begetting of children was
from Satan, since it merely increases the number subjected
to the evil angels. Resurrection of the flesh is denied by
these Gnostics, since earthly flesh is in itself evil, and
can have no part in the spiritual scheme of God. All of
these concepts are not confirmations of Mormon doctrine,
but are direct contradictions of it!
Mr. Erickson, looking elsewhere in the Middle East for
"proof," tells his audiences that the writings of the
Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran are (also) a confirmation of
Mormonism. His "evidence" for this is that they speak of
baptism for the dead, baptism by immersion, priesthood and
baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Ghost. What he fails to mention to them is: according to
the Mandaeans, Jesus was a rebel and a heretic who led men
astray by betraying secret doctrine and making religion
easier. The Mandaean sacred book tells of how Jesus
perverted the Scriptures, and that Jesus told the Jews that
He was the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Furthermore,
the Mandaean book accuses Jesus perverting baptism by
baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
The Mandaeans were baptized many times throughout their
lives. They baptized infants; and if an infant died before
or during this baptism, a clay or dough image was made
which they then baptized in proxy for that infant. Proxy
baptism was also done for an adult who died before getting
his last minute washings before death. In this case, an
individual that looked like the deceased was baptized in
proxy for the dead person.
The Mandaeans also had a ceremony of "eating for the
dead" to give the deceased nourishment for his travels to
the heavenly spheres. The Mormon people do not baptize
infants, do not eat for the dead, nor do they have last
minute washing rituals before death as the Mandaeans did.
The Mormon proxy baptisms have less in common with the
Mandaean baptisms than they do with Catholic infant
baptisms, last rites ritual, and prayers for the dead.
Clearly, the Mandaean concepts of Jesus and baptism are in
no way similar to Mormon doctrine.
Those holding the Mandaean priesthood had to have a clean
family history for a number of generations, and meet strict
physical and mental qualifications. They had to be without
the slightest physical blemish, and be of pure Mandaean
blood. A man who was circumcised, impotent, or a eunuch
could not be a priest for the body must be sound, pure, and
perfect. If a man was already a priest and he received an
injury which destroyed his manhood or robbed him of a limb,
he could no longer officiate as a priest. There are no such
restrictions within the Mormon priesthoods. The only things
in common with the Mormon priesthoods and baptism and that
of the Mandaean are the very words themselves!
Mr. Erickson makes false claims about the Dead Sea
Scrolls community, as well. He states that those at Qumran
baptized at the age of eight, just as the Mormons do. This
is just simply NOT the case. They trained young men for
their celibate monastic order for about ten years before
they were baptized into their ranks. This baptism never
took place before the age of twenty. Mr. Erickson states
that the people of Qumran were essentially the first
"Mormons." However, the people at Qumran didn't even
believe in marriage! Rather they adopted in young men from
other Essene groups who married only to beget children. By
contrast, in Mormonism, marriage is absolutely essential to
each member's salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God.
Mr. Erickson claims that the Apocryphal books should be
used as scripture. However, even the Mormon's own "latter
day" revelation disagrees with him. In the introductory
heading of Section 91 of the Doctrine and Covenants, it
declares specifically that the apocryphal books are NOT to
be accepted as scripture. Beyond that built-in
contradiction, lies the fact that one need only to read
some of these apocrypha for himself to quickly discover
their singular lack of in spiration.
For example, two "Gospels" portray the life of the young
Jesus, allegedly covering the "silent" years skipped over
in the Bible. The book, "The First Gospel of the Infancy of
Jesus" portrays Jesus as a spoiled despot who curses
another child for bumping into him, and a schoolmaster who
was going to discipline Him for refusing to answer a
question. After these two people are killed at Jesus'
command, Joseph tells Mary, "we will not allow him to go
out of the house; for every one who displeases him is
killed." In Thomas' "Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus
Christ", we see Jesus causing the withering of hands,
blindness, and again, death. This is clearly not the Jesus
Christ of the Bible!
The conclusion is inexcapable -- the claims by Mr.
Erickson (and consequently other Mormons) that the Mormon
doctrine is "exonerated" by the findings in the Middle East
is totally without foundation. Mormon doctrine is not
confirmed by these different religious sects, it is
contradicted by them! It is apparent that these claims are
just another chapter in the long history of false
archeological boasts made by Mormons in the past.
-- Melaine Layton
A full and completely documented study of Mr. Erickson's
scholarship regarding the above topics has been written by
Mrs. Melaine Layton entitled: The Truth About the Dead Sea
Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Writings in Reference to
Mormonism. For further information, please write to the
office of Computers For Christ - San Jose