Did you know that "spiritual brides" lived and snuggled with early Christian holy men, such as (possibly) St. Paul?1 They were known as the "agapetae,"2 based on the Greek word agape. Agape is defined as "spiritual, selfless, chaste love" - in contrast with eros or "sexual love." "Agapetae" is most often translated as "the beloveds." The most famous was Paul's companion, Thecla, although her existence may have been apocryphal. Nevertheless, she is commemorated in the chapel pictured here. Legend has it that she was nearly roasted for renouncing her fiancee in order to follow Paul.
Articles about Nag Hammadi texts
Our articles about some of the Gnostic Gospels
It is satisfying to see academics begin to acknowledge the apparent integrity of the early so-called gnostics, and consider the possibility that the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber calls for some type of desire-free union of man and woman.1 I’d like to share an insight about the possible nature of this mysterious union, in case it may have merit.
- 1. Rethinking "Gnosticism", Michael A. Williams, Princeton University Press, 1999
Yale Divinity School dean Harold Attridge asked this question recently in a short piece piece prepared in response to The Da Vinci Code. He concludes that such a relationship was improbable based on his interpretation of the Gospel of Philip, one of the codices discovered in the 1940’s in Upper Egypt near the town of Nag Hammadi.
"The Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber: What Was It?"
"There Is No Male and Female"
Years ago in the Harvard Divinity School library, I read a thesis called, There Is No Male and Female by Dennis R. MacDonald. Professor MacDonald revised and published it,  and just recently, I read it again.