The word "aeon", also spelled "eon" or "æon", means "age", "forever" or "for eternity". It is a Latin transliteration from the koine Greek word polytonic|ὁ αἰών ("aion"), from the archaic polytonic|αἰϝών ("aiwon"). In Homer it typically refers to life or lifespan, but by at least Hesiod it could refer to ages or generations. It has a similar meaning to the Sanskrit word "kalpa" and Hebrew word "olam". A cognate Latin word "aevum" or "aeuum" (cf. polytonic|αἰϝών) for "age" is present in words such as "longevity" and "mediæval". [ [ Math words page 16 ] ]

Although a proposal was made in 1957 to define an aeon to be a unit of time equal to one billion years (1 Ga), the idea was not approved as a unit of scientific measure and is seldom used for a specific period of time.Fact|date=November 2007 Its more common usage is for any long, indefinite, period of time.

Eternity or Age

Bible translation is treatment of the Hebrew word "olam" and the Greek word "aion". These two words have similar meaning, and Young's Literal Translation renders them and their derivatives as “age” or “age-during”. Other English versions most often translate them to indicate eternality, being translated as eternal, everlasting, forever, etc. However, there are notable exceptions to this in all major translations, such as bibleref2|Matthew| 28:20: “…I am with you always, to the end of the age” (NRSV), the word “age” being a translation of "aion". Rendering "aion" to indicate eternality in this verse would result in the contradictory phrase “end of eternity”, so the question arises whether it should ever be so. [Canon F.W. Farrar “Mercy and Judgment” 1904 pages 378-382 ] Proponents of Universal Reconciliation point out that this has significant implications for the problem of hell. [ Thomas Talbott "Three Pictures of God in Western Theology" 1995 pages 13-15 ] Contrast bibleref2|Matthew|25:46 in well-known English translations with its rendering in Young's Literal Translation:

And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during. (YLT) [Matthew 25:46 Young's Literal Translation ]

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (NIV) [Matthew 25:46 New International Version ]

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NASB) [Matthew 25:46 New American Standard Bible ]

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. (KJV) [Matthew 25:46 King James Version ]

And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life. (NWT) [Matthew 25:46 New World Translation ]

In philosophy and mysticism

Plato used the word "aeon" to denote the eternal world of ideas, which he conceived was "behind" the perceived world, as demonstrated in his famous allegory of the cave.

Christianity's idea of "eternal life" comes from the word for life, "zoe", and a form of "aeon" [ [ Strong's link for the word Eternal (Aeon) in the Christian Concept of Eternal Life] ] , which could mean life in the next aeon, the Kingdom of God, or Heaven, just as much as immortality, as in bibleref2|John| 3:16.

Universal Reconciliation according to Christian doctrine, as found in the Greek New Testament scriptures, uses the word "eon" to mean a long period of time (perhaps 1000 years) and the word "eonian" is used to mean "during a long period of time". The New Testament teaching is that there was a time before the eons and that the eonian period of time is now coming to an end. After each man's mortal life ends, they are judged as worthy of eonian life or eonian punishment. That is, after the period of the eons all punishment will cease and death is overcome and then God becomes the all in each one.

Occultists sometimes speak of a "magical Aeon" that may last for far less time, perhaps as little as 2,000 years. [See Thelema.]

In Gnosticism

In many Gnostic systems, the various emanations of God, who is also known by such names as the One, the Monad, "Aion teleos" (The Broadest Aeon), Bythos ("depth or profundity", Greek polytonic|Βυθός), "Proarkhe" ("before the beginning", Greek polytonic|πρόαρχή), the "Arkhe" ("the beginning", Greek polytonic|ή αρχή), are called aeons. This first being is also an æon and has an inner being within itself, known as "Ennoea" ("thought, intent"), "Charis" ("grace"), or "Sige" ("silence", Greek polytonic|Σιγη). The split perfect being conceives the second aeon, "Caen" ("power"), within itself. Along with the male "Caen" comes the female æon, "Akhana" ("love").

Aeons bear a number of similarities to Judaeo-Christian angels, including their roles as servants and emanations of God, and their existence as beings of light. In fact, certain Gnostic Angels, such as Armozel, also happen to be Aeons. [ [] ]

The aeons often came in male/female pairs called "syzygies", and were frequently numerous (20-30). Two of the most commonly listed æons were Jesus and Sophia. The aeons constitute the "pleroma" ("region of light"). The lowest regions of the pleroma are closest to the darkness — that is, the physical world.

When an æon named "Sophia" emanates without her partner aeon, the result is the "Demiurge", or half-creator, [Occasionally referred to as 'Yalda Baoth in Gnostic texts] a creature that should never have come into existence. This creature does not belong to the pleroma, and the One emanates two savior æons, "Christ" and "the Holy Spirit", to save humanity from the Demiurge. Christ then took the form of the human "Jesus", in order to be able to teach humanity how to achieve gnosis; that is, return to the pleroma.

Myther and others suggestFact|date=December 2007 that the whole mechanism can be an allegorical representation of violation of CP symmetry, required to create a universe of matter, by facilitating particles to win over antiparticles. CP symmetry requires emanation of equal amount of matter and antimatter which obviously has been violated somehow in the beginning of the universe; otherwise we would not have a material universe. Æons may denote this conjugation of particles-antiparticles produced in equal number. Somehow the perfect symmetry of Pleroma gets violated and a particle or a number of particles (Sophia) ensued out without its/their antiparticle counterparts, resulting in an increase in number of particles (birth of Demiurge) – a process which ultimately led to the creation of our physical universe."Fact|date=November 2007

The Gnostic Gospel of Judas, recently found, purchased, held, and translated by the National Geographic Society, also mentions the aeons and speaks of Jesus' teachings of them. [ [ The Lost Gospel] - online feature from National Geographic, including [ Coptic text, English translation, and photos] ]


The Valentinian system was, until recently, only known through the criticisms of its opponents; however, the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library has given access to Valentinian texts, including sources that have been tentatively identified as written by Valentinus. According to Tertullian's "Against the Valentinians", the Gnostic Valentinius had 30 different aeons that emanate each other in sequence. The first eight of these aeons, corresponding to generations one through four below, are referred to as the "Ogdoad." [Tertullian. "Against the Valentinians". ( _la. Adversus Valentinianos.) Books 7-8.]

*First generation:
**"Bythos" (The Depth) and "Sige" (The Silence)

*Second generation:
**"Caen" (Power) and "Akhana" (Love)

*Third generation, emanated from Caen and Akhana:
**"Nous" (Nus, Mind) and "Aletheia" (Veritas, Truth)

*Fourth generation, emanated from Nous and Aletheia:
**"Sermo" (the Word) and "Vita" (the Drive)

*Fifth generation, emanated from Sermo and Vita:
**"Anthropos" (Mankind) and "Ecclesia" (Civilization/ Community)

*Sixth generation:
**Emanated from Sermo and Vita:
***"Bythios" (Profound) and "Mixis" (Mixture)
***"Ageratos" (Ageless) and "Henosis" (Unification)
***"Autophyes" (Growth) and "Hedone" (Pleasure)
***"Acinetos" (Immovable) and "Syncrasis" (Commixture)
***"Monogenes" (Common origin) and "Macaria" (Destined death)
**Emanated from Anthropos and Ecclesia:
***"Paracletus" (Comforter) and "Pistis" (Faith)
***"Patricas" (Paternal) and "Elpis" (Hope)
***"Metricos" (Maternal) and "Agape" (Love)
***"Ainos" (Praise) and "Synesis" (Intelligence)
***"Ecclesiasticus" (Son of Ecclesia) and "Macariotes" (Blessedness)
***"Theletus" (Perfect) and "Sophia" (Wisdom)

According to Myther et alia in some unreferenced work,

:"The total number of Æons, being 32, reflects the similarity of the mechanism to the Tree of Life, which, as suggested in the Zohar, incorporates 10 Sephiroth and 22 paths interconnecting these 10 Sephiroth; while 10 Æons are created during the first five generations from which come the other 22 Æons later during the sixth generation." "Myther" et al. Fact|date=November 2007

Ptolemy and Colorbasus

According to St. Irenaeus [Irenaeus. "Against heresies" (Latin: "Adversus Haereses") also known as "The Detection and Overthrow of Falsely So-Called Gnosis" book 1, chapter 12] , the followers of the Gnostics Ptolemy and Colorbasus had aeons that differ from those of Valentinius. Logos is created when Anthropos learns to speak. The first four are called the "Tetrad" and the eight are called the "Ogdoad."

*First generation:
**"Bythos" (the One) and "Sige" (Silence, Charis, Ennoea, etc.)

*Second generation (conceived by the One):
**"Caen" (Power) and "Akhana" (Love)

*Third generation, emanated from Caen and Akhana:
**"Ennoae" (Thought) and "Thelesis" (Will)

*Fourth generation, emanated from Ennoae and Thelesis:
**"Nous" (or "Monogenes") and "Aletheia"

*Fifth generation, emanated from Nouse and Aletheia:
**"Anthropos" (Homo, Man) and "Ecclesia" (Church)

*Sixth generation, emanated from Anthropos and Ecclesia:
**"Logos" and "Zoe"

*Seventh generation:
**Emanated from Logos and Zoe:
***"Bythius" and "Mixis"
***"Ageratos" and "Henosis"
***"Autophyes" and "Hedone"
***"Acinetos" and "Syncrasis"
***"Monogenes" and "Macaria"
**Emanated from Anthropos and Ecclesia:
***"Paracletus" and "Pistis"
***"Patricos" and "Elpis"
***"Metricos" and "Agape"
***"Ainos" and "Synesis"
***"Ecclesiasticus" and "Macariotes"
***"Theletos" and "Sophia"

The order of Anthropos and Ecclesia versus Logos and Zoe is somewhat debated; different sources give different accounts. Logos and Zoe are unique to this system as compared to the previous, and may be an evolved version of the first, totalling 34 aeons, but it is not clear if the first two were actually regarded aeons.

ee also



External links

* [ Tertullian's account against the Valentinians] is the source text for much of what we know about the Æons.
* [ Corresponding text in original Latin]
* [ Irenaeus: Against heresies]
* [] - Website of Information on Gnosticism
* [ Dark Mirrors of Heaven: Gnostic Cosmogony]

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