Dear colleagues,
it is a pleasure for us to offer to your attention selections from four basic Bogomil sources:

translated beautifully by the eminent scholar,  professor Thomas Butler, Harvard university. They are included in his excellent book 'Monumenta Bulgarica (A bilingual anthology of Bulgarian texts from the 9th to the 19th centuries). Ed. by Michigan  university, 1996. In 2000 the book received the honorary medal "Ivan Vazov" by the Government Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Republic of Bulgaria.


P.P. Copies of Professor Butler's book can be ordered through the Slavic Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
 

 

THE SECRET BOOK OF THE BOGOMILS FROM THE CODEX CARCASSONIENSIS

  "The Secret Book" (Tajnata kniga) was the name Jordan Ivanov gave to a twelfth-century Latin manuscript discovered in the Archives of the Inquisition in Carcassonne, France. This untitled text purports to be a dialogue between Christ and John the Evangelist at the Last Supper, during which they discuss the Creation of the Earth and the Last Judgment. In fact, it is an apocryphal treatise setting forth some of the principal cosmogonic and eschatological tenets of the Bulgarian Bogomils and their co-believers in Bosnia, Northern Italy, and Southern France — the Patarins and Cathars.1

We have no Slavic manuscript of the Tajnata kniga, although it is believed to have been written originally in Bulgarian. An inscription at the end of the Carcassonne MS. notes that it was brought from Bulgaria to Concorezzo, near Milan, by a Bishop Nazarius, who was a leader of the Cathar sect in Northern Italy. There is one other version of this Bogomil text, the fourteenth century Vienna MS., also in Latin. While both the Carcassonne and Vienna MSS. are similar, significant differences in language and content indicate that they were not translated from the same manuscript. If the original language of the "Secret Book" was indeed Bulgarian, it is likely that on his return trip to Northern Italy Nazarius stopped off on the Dalmatian Coast to have it translated into Latin, since it would have been impossible for him to have it done in Bulgaria. (Tsar Kalojan, who lived and ruled during approximately the same period, had to have his letters to Pope Innocent III written first in Greek, and only later were they retranslated into Latin in Rome.)

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The dialogue between John the Evangelist and Christ in the Carcassonne MS. contains some "touches" designed to mislead the reader into thinking it is an authentic work by the Evangelist himself. For example, the opening lines are reminiscent of the "Apocalypse" ("Ego Johannes, frater vester, particeps in tribulatione ..."), and the special tenderness between Christ and John reminds one of the love described in John's gospel. But such elements aside, the message of the Bogomil Tajnata kniga is radically different from the dogma of the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches. For example, Christ tells John that it was Satan who drained the earth of its water and made it habitable, creating man in his own likeness. Thus, according to the Bogomils, we are not the sons and daughters of God, but of the Devil or serpent. Likewise the "Secret Book" has a typically Bogomil bias against marriage and sexual intercourse, as well as a strong antipathy against the Old Testament and its prophets, especially Enoch. And while giving us a contemporary description of the beliefs of twelfth-century heretics in Bulgaria, Bosnia, Northern Italy, and Provence — it also echoes the views of the early Gnostics and Manichaeans, as well as even more ancient, mythological constructs about the nature of the universe.

Several modern publications offer one or both versions of the "Secret Book," including Izvorft which reproduces both the Carcassonne and Vienna MSS., together with modern Bulgarian translation. Jordan Ivanov (1970) gives both versions. Krustanov and Dujcev (1954) include the Vienna MS. For background, it would be particularly useful to read D. Obolensky (1948) and H. Soderberg (1949), as well as M. Loos (1974) and D. Angelov (1966).

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THE SECRET BOOK OF THE BOGOMILS

 

Codex Carcassoniensis

1. Ego Joannes, frater vester, particeps in tribulatione, et in regno coelorum ut essem particeps, cum recumbuissem supra pectus Domini nostri lesu Christi, et dixi: Domine, qui est qui tradet te? Et respondens, dixit:

qui intingit manum mecum in catino. Tunc introivit in eum Sathanas, et quaerebat ut traderet me.

2. Et dixi: Domine, antequam Sathanas caderet, in qua gloria persistebat apud Patrem tuum? Et dixit mihi: in tali gloria erat, quod ordinabat virtutes coelorum; ego autem sedebam apud Patrem meum. Ipse erat ordi-nans omnem imitatorem Patris, et descende-bat de coelo in infimum et ascendebat ab in-fimis usque ad thronum invisibilis Patris. Et observabat gloriam, quae erat moventis coe-los, et cogitavit sedem suam ponere super nubes coelorum et volebat Altissimo similis esse. Et cum descendisset in arem, ad angelum aëris dixit: aperi mihi portas aëris, et aperuit ei portas aëris. Et petens deorsum, invenit angelum, qui tenebat aquas, et dixit ei: aperi mihi portas aquarum, et aperuit ei. Et transcendens, invenit universam faciem terrae coopertam aquis. Et transcedens subtus terram, invenit duos pisces iacentes super aquas, et erant sicut boves iuncti ad arandum, tenentes totam terram, invisibilis Patris praecepto, ab occasu usque ad solis ortum. Et cum descendisset deorsum, invenit suum ossop, quod est genus ignis, et postea non potuit descendere deorsum propter flammam ignis ardentis. Et reversus est Sathanas retrorsum, et replevit semitas, et introivit ad angelum aëris et ad eum, qui super aquas erat, et dixit eis: haec omnia mea sunt: si audieritis me, ponam sedem meam in nubibus et ero similis Altissimo, et tollens aquas de superiori firmamento isto, caetera loca maris congregabo, et post hoc non erit aqua super

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1. I, John, your brother and sharer in your sorrows, so that I might also be a sharer in the heavenly kingdom, as I was reclining on the breast of our Lord Jesus Christ, I said: "Lord, who is it who will betray Thee?" And answering, He said: "He who dips his hand with me in the dish. Then Satan will enter him, and he will seek to betray me."

2. And I said: "Lord, before Satan fell, in what state of glory was he with Thy Father?" And He said to me: "He was in such glory that he was directing the heavenly forces. I, however, was sitting next to my Father. That one /Satan/ was managing things completely in imitation of the Father, and he was descending from heaven to the depths, and ascending from the depths to the throne of the invisible Father. And he was observing the glory which pertained to the Mover of the Heavens, and he got the idea of placing his throne above the clouds of heaven, and he wanted to be like the Most High.

"And when he descended to the air he said to the angel of the air: 'Open the gateway to the air for me,' and he opened the gateway to the air for him. And moving farther down he found the angel who was in charge of the waters, and he said to him:

'Open the gateway to the waters for me,' and he opened it for him. And moving farther on he found the whole face of the earth covered with water. And moving farther, beneath the earth, he found two fish lying above the water and they were like oxen harnessed for plowing, holding up the whole earth by order of the invisible Father, from the setting to the rising of the sun. And when he descended farther he found his hell, that is a kind of fire, and afterwards he was unable to descend farther because of the burning fire.

"And Satan turned back, taking the same path, and he came to the angel of the air and to the one who was over the waters, and he said to them: 'All this is mine. If you will obey me, I shall place my throne in the clouds and I shall be like the Most High. And when I shall remove the water from above this firmament, I shall gather up the remaining places of the sea, and after that

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faciem universae terrae, et regnabo vobiscum in saecula saeculorum. Et haec dicens angelis ascendit ad caeteros angelos usque ad quintum coelum, et ita dicebat ad singulos: quantum debes Domino tuo? Ipse dixit: centum choros tritici. Et dixit ei: accipe calamum et atramentum et scribe sexaginta. Et alii dixit: et tu quantum debes Domino tuo? Qui respondit: centum cados olei. Et dixit: sede et scribe quinquaginta. Et ascendens ad omnes coelos, ita dicebat usque ad quintum coelum, blandiendo angelos invisibilis Patris.

3. Et exivit vox de trono Patris, dicens:

quid facis, negator Patris, seducens angelos? factor peccati, cito fac, quod excogitasti. Tunc praecepit Pater angelis suis. dicens:

tollite vestimenta eorum. Et tulerunt vestimenta eorum et coronas eorum, omnibus an­gelis qui eum audierunt. Et interrogavi Do-minum: quando Sathanas cecidit, in quo loco habitavit? Et respondit mihi: Pater meus transfiguravit eum propter superbiam suam, et ablatum est lumen ab eo, et facta est fa­cies ejus sicut ferrum calefactum, fuitque fa­cies ejus tota sicut hominis; et traxit eum cauda tertiam partem angelorum Dei, et projectus est de sede Dei et de villicatione coelorum. Et descendens Sathana sin firmamentum hoc, nullam requiem potuit tacere sibi nec iis qui eum eo erant. Et rogavit Patrem, dicens: patientiam habe in me, et omnia reddam tibi. Et miseritus est ei Pater et dedit ei requiem et his, qui eum eo erant, quod-cunque vellet usque ad septem dies.

4. Et sic sedit in firmamento et praecepit angelo, qui erat super aërem, et qui erat super aquas, et elevaverunt terram sursum, et apparuit arida. Et accepit coronam angeli, qui erat super aquas, et de medietate fecit lumen lunae et de medietate lumen stellarum, et de lapidibus fecit omnes militias stellarum. Et dehinc fecit angelos ministros suos secundum ordinem formae Altissimi et praecepto invi-

 

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heavens he spoke in the same way, even up to the fifth heaven, seducing the angels of the invisible Father.

3. "And a voice came out from the throne of the Father, saying: 'What are you doing, denier of the Father, seducing the angels? Sinner, do what you have planned quickly!' Then the Father gave orders to his angels, saying: 'Take their vestments!' And they took their vestments and their crowns from all the angels who had obeyed /Satan/."

And I asked the Lord: "When Satan fell, in what place did he live?" And he answered: "My Father transformed him because of his pride, and the light was removed from him, and his face was made to appear like molten iron, and his face was made completely like a man's, and with his tail he dragged away one-third of the angels of God, and he was banished from the throne of God and from the overlordship of the heavens.

"And Satan, descending to this firmament, was unable to find rest either for himself or for those who were with him. And he entreated the Father, saying: 'Have patience with me and I shall give you back everything.' And the Father had mercy on him, and he gave rest to him and to those who were with him, and he let him do whatever he wanted for seven days.

4. "And so he sat on the firmament and gave orders to the angel who was over the air, and to the one who was over the waters, and they raised up the earth and it became dry. And he took the crown of the angel who was over the waters, and from half of it he made the light of the moon and from half of it the light of the stars, and from its gemstones he made all the hosts of stars. And after that he made the angels his deputies, following the example of the Most High, and by the command of

 

 

 

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sibilis Patris — tonitrua, pluvias, grandines et nives. Et misit angelos ministros suos super ea, et praecepit terrae, ut produceret omne aitile et omne reptile et arbores et herbas; et praecepit mari, ut produceret pisces et aves coeli.

5. Et praeterea excogitavit et fecit hominem ad similitudinem ejus vel sui, et prae­cepit angelo tertii coeli intrare in corpus luteum. Et tulit de eo et fecit aliud corpus in formam mulieris, et praecepit angelo secundi coeli introire in corpus mulieris. Angeli vero ploraverunt videntes in se formam mortalem et esse dissimilis forma. Et praecepit opus carnale tacere in corporibus luteis, et non intellexerunt tacere peccatum. Sententiator malorum ita cogitavit cum ingenio suo ut faceret paradisum, et introduxit homines, et praecepit adducere. Et plantavit Diabolus arundinem in medio paradisi, et ita celavit ingenuum suum Diabolus nequam, ut ipsi non cognoscerent deceptionem eius. Et intrabat et loquebatur ad eos, dicens: de omni fructu, qui est in paradiso, comedite, de fructu vero scientiae boni et mali nolite comedere. Verumtamen introivit Diabolus in serpentem ne­quam et seduxit angelum. qui erat in forma mulieris, et effudit frater ejus concupiscentiam peccatorum, et fecit concupiscentiam suam cum Aeva in cantu serpentis. Et ideo dicuntur filii Diaboli et filii serpentis facientes concu­piscentiam Diaboli patris eorum usque ad consummationem hujus saeculi. Et iterum effudit Diabolus in angelo, qui erat in Adam, venenum suum et concupiscentiam quae generat filios serpentis et filios Diaboli usque ad consummationem hujus saeculi.

6. Et postea ego Joannes interrogavi Dominum, dicens: quomodo dicunt homines, Adam et Aevam a Deo creatos esse et in pa­radiso positos servare praecepta Patris, et morti traditi sunt? Et dixit mihi Dominus:audi Joannes, dilecte Patris mei, insipientes homines ita dicunt in praevaricatione Patrem meum corpora lutea fabricare, sed Spiritu sancti propter praevaricationem inventi sunt habentes corpora lutea mortalia, et ideo morti traditi sunt.

 

 

 

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the snow. And he sent angels — his deputies — to be over them, and he commanded the earth to produce every kind of bird and reptile and trees and plants. And he commanded the sea to produce fish and the birds of the air.

5. "And in addition /Satan/ devised and made man in his likeness, that is his own, and he ordered the angel of the third heaven to enter a body of clay. And he took from it and made another body in the form of a woman, and he ordered the angel of the second heaven to enter the body of the woman. Now the angels wept when they saw their mortal forms, and that their forms were different. And he commanded them to perform the carnal act with their clay bodies, and they didn't understand that they were committing a sin.

"And the Creator of Evil got the idea to make Paradise, and he brought in people and commanded that they be brought in. And the Devil planted reeds in the middle of Paradise, and in this way he concealed his depraved spirit, so they might not recognize his deception. And he was entering and talking to them, saying: 'Eat of all the fruits which are in Paradise, but do not eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.' But even so, the Devil then entered into a wicked serpent and seduced the angel who was in the form of a woman, and his brother also effused sinful passion and vented his lust with Eve, to the song of the serpent. And that is why those who give vent to the concupiscence of the Devil, their father, are called 'Sons of the Devil and of the Serpent,' even to the end of this earth. And again the Devil poured his poison and lust into the angel who was in Adam, creating sons of the serpent and sons of the Devil until the end of this age."

6. And after that I, John asked the Lord: "Then why do people say that Adam and Eve were created by God and were placed in Paradise to serve the commands of the Father, but they were condemned to death?" And the Lord said to me: "Listen, John, beloved of my Father — ignorant people say that my Father made their bodies of clay because of their disobedience, but it was because of their disobedience that the Holy Spirit became aware that their bodies were clay and mortal, and so they were condemned to death."5

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Et iterum ego Joannes interro­gavi Dominimi: qualiter homo incipit esse in spiritimi in corpore carnali? Et dixit Dominus ad me: de caducis angelis de coelo ingrediuntur in corporibus mulierum et accipiunt carnem de concupiscentia carnis, et nascitur — spiritus de spiritu et caro de carne, et ita consummatur regnimi Sathanae in hoc mundo et in omnibus gentibus.

7. [Et interrogavi Dominimi, dicens: usque quo regnabit Sathanas in hoc mundo super essentia hominum?] Et dixit mihi: Pater meus permisit ei regnare septem diebus, quae sunt septem saecula. Et interrogavi Dominum et dixi: quid erit in tempore hoc? Et dixit mihi:

ex quo cecidit a gloria Patris Diabolus et suam gloriam noluit , sedit super nubes et misit ministros suos angelos ignis urentes ad homines infra ab Adam usque ad Henoc, ministrum suum. Elevavit Henoc super firmamentum et ostendit deïtatem suam, et praecepit ei dari calamum et atramentum, et sedens scripsit sexaginta septem libros. Et praecepit, ut adduceret eos in terram, et tradidit eos filiis suis. Et deposuit Henoc libros in terram et tradidit eos filliis suis, et coepit eos docere lacere formam sacrificiorum et mysteria injusta, et ita abscondebat regnum coelorum ante homines. Et dicebat eis: videte, quod ego sum Deus vester, et non praeter me alius Deus. Ideo misit me Pater meus in mun­do, ut notum faciam hominibus, ut cognos-cant malum ingeni um Diaboli. Et tunc cum cognovisset, quod descendi de coelo in mundum, misit angelum, et accepit de tribus lignis , et dedit ea ad crucifigendum me Moìsi, quae nunc mihi servantur. Sed ei hic nunc praenunciabat deìtatem populo suo, et praecepit legem dari filiis Israel, et eduxit eum per siccum maris medium.

8. Cum cogitaret Pater meus mittere me in mundum, misit angelum suum ante me, nomine Maria, ut acciperet me. Ego autem descendes intravi per auditum et exivi per auditum. Et cognovit Sathanas, princeps hujus mundi, quia descendo quaerere et salvare qui

 

 

 

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And again I, John asked the Lord: "How did it happen that man became spirit in carnal body?" And the Lord said to me:

"Some angels who had fallen from heaven entered the bodies of women and took on flesh as a result of sexual desire, and there was born spirit of spirit and flesh of flesh, and thus is consummated the reign of Satan in this world and in all the tribes."

7. And I asked the Lord, saying: "Until when will Satan rule in this world over human beings?" And he said to me: "My Father allows him to rule for seven days, which is seven ages." And I asked the Lord and I said: "What will happen in that time?" And he said to me: "Since the Devil fell from the glory of the Father and desired6 his own glory, he sits above the clouds and sends his angelic deputies as burning fires to men, from Adam to his deputy Enoch.7 He raised Enoch above the firmament and showed him his divine nature, and he ordered that he be given pen and ink. And sitting down he wrote sixty-seven books. And /the Devil/ ordered him to bring them to earth and pass them on to his sons. And Enoch brought the books to earth and passed them on to his sons, and he began to teach them to perform unrighteous forms of sacrifice and mysteries, and thus the Kingdom of Heaven was hidden from men. And he was saying to them: 'You see, I am your God and there is no other God besides me.' That is why the Father sent me /Jesus/ into the world, so that I might tell people how to recognize the evil spirit of the Devil.

"And when /Satan/ learned that I had come down from heaven into the world, he sent an angel, and he received three pieces of wood and gave them to Moses for my crucifixion, and they are being kept for me even now. But now /Moses/ was proclaiming his divinity to his people, and /the angel/ ordered him to give the laws to the sons of Israel, and he led them over dry land through the middle of the sea.

8. "When my Father decided to send me into the world, He sent His angel before me, Maria by name, so that she might receive me. And descending, I entered her by one ear and exited by the other. And Satan, the Prince of this World, found out that I had come down to find and save those who were perishing; and

 

 

 

 

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perierant, et misit angelum Heliam prophetam baptisantem in aqua, qui dicitur Joannes Baptista. Helias autem interrogavit principem huius mundi: quomodo possum scire? Tunc ipse Dominus dixit: super quem videris Spiritum descendentem sicut columbam et manentem super eum, ipse est, qui baptisat in Spirito sancto in remissionem peccatorum, ipse poteris eum perdere et salvare.

9. Et iterum ego Joannes interrogavi Do-minum: potest homo salvus esse per baptis-mum Joannis, sine tuo baptismo? Et respondit Dominus: nisi ego baptisavero in remissionem peccatorum, per baptismum aquae nemo potest videre regnum coelorum, quia ego sum panis vitae descendens de septimo coelo, et qui manducant carnem meam et bibunt sanguinem meum, isti filii Dei vocabuntur. Et interrogavi Dominum et dixi: Quid est manducare carnem meam et bibere sanguinem meum?

 

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he sent his angel, the Prophet Elias, who was called John the Baptist,8 to baptize with water. Elias, however, asked the Prince of this World: 'How am I to know him?5 Then the lord /of this world/9 himself said: 'The one above whom you see the Spirit descending as a dove and hovering above him, is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins — you yourself can destroy him and save him.'"10

9. And again I, John asked the Lord: "Can a man be saved by the baptism of John without your baptism?" And the Lord answered: "If I do not baptize in the remission of sins, no one will see the kingdom of heaven through baptism with water, because I am the bread of life descending from the seventh heaven, and those who eat my flesh and drink my blood will be called the Sons of God." And I asked the Lord and I said: "What is it: to eat my flesh and to drink my blood?"

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Notes

1. The Cathars were also known as the "Albigensians" in Southern France (Provence), where they suffered a particularly cruel persecution at the hands of the Inquisition, under Pope Innocent III and his successors.

2. An inscription at the end of the Carcassonne MS., evidently appended by one of the inquisitors, notes: "Hoc est secretum hoereticum de Concorezio, portatum de Bulgaria Nazario suo episcopo, plenum erroribus." That Nazarius was a historical figure has been substantiated from a thirteenth-century account of one Brother Rainer Sacconi, a heretic who recanted and joined the Dominican Order, becoming a leader in the exposing and persecution of Cathars. In his Summa Fratris Raynerii de Ordine Fratrum Praedicatorum, de Catharis et Pauperibus de Lugduno (Lyon), Rayner tells that when he himself was a Cathar he heard Bishop Nazarius of the church of Concorezzo claim that the Blessed Virgin was an angel and that Christ himself had not received a human but rather an angelic nature. Nazarius claimed to have learned these ideas from the Bishop and Senior Son of the Bulgarian Church. See Izvori za bulgarskata istorija, XXIV, 177. Brother Rainer's complete Summa is given in Izvori, XXIV, 159-178.

3. Izvori, XXIV, 107-125.


 

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4. This account of the reduction of the debts of the angels has been taken by some commentators to indicate a social conscience on the part of the Bogomils, and an antipathy to heavy feudal taxes. One wonders about this logic, since Satan was not a champion of the Bogomils, but merely the creator of all that is material and evil. More likely, this scene is just another element lifted from the New Testament, namely, the parable about the bad steward, whom the Bogomils believed was the devil.
5. This passage in the Carcassonne MS. differs significantly from the corresponding section in the Vienna text, which has:
"Listen, beloved John, ignorant people say that because of their disobedience my Father made their clay bodies, but that all the heavenly powers were made of the Holy Spirit, and that it was their fault they have clay bodies and are condemned to death."
6. Ivanov has interpreted noluit ("did not desire") as voluit, which makes sense here.

7. Enoch is an Old Testament prophet whom the Bogomils despised for having instituted sacrifice to God and for hiding man's divine side from him.

8. "and he sent his angel, the Prophet Elias, who was called John the Baptist" ... this contradicts the Gospel of St. John, wherein John the Baptist expressly denies that he is Elias.

9. Although the ms. has: "Tune ipse Dominus dixit" ("Then the Lord himself said"), it makes more sense here to translate this passage as a lower case dominus ("lord"), referring of course to the "lord of this world," the Devil.

10. The clause "you yourself can destroy him and save him" (i.e. that Elias, alias John the Baptist can destroy or save Christ) makes no sense and seems garbled. More faithful to the original wording, perhaps, is the Vienna MS, which says in reference to Christ: "ille est, qui potest perdere et salvare," i.e. "It is He who can destroy and save."


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