To understand Epiousios it is necessary to first understand a little about the word’s history and how it has survived through – and perhaps in spite of – the Gospels. Here is a brief study of some significant facts regarding the word.
Epiousios is a Greek word used in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 6:11) and the Gospel of Luke (Luke 11:3). Most people will immediately recognize the passage “Give us this day our daily bread…” Here the English word “daily” has replaced the Greek word “Epiousios.”
Epiousios is a Hapax Legomenon, i.e. a word that appears only once within a corpus. There are no other validated living examples of the word being used by the Ancient Greeks outside of Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3.
The Greek rendering of the Gospels is a translation of an Aramaic rendering of the Gospels and that original Aramaic rendering has been lost. The indication is that whatever the writers of the Aramaic Gospels were trying to express with this mysterious word, it was such a novel and unique idea that the Greek writers had to create an entirely new word to convey it, pointing to the possibility that Epiousios is actually a fragment from a lost teaching.
When the translator for the Latin version of the Gospels (St. Jerome 347-420 AD) came across the Greek word Epiousios, he apparently found it so unique that he produced the Latin innovation of “supersubstantialem” in Matthew, which in English we can easily identify as supersubstantial, and even innovate other interesting expressions like extremely nourishing, excessively real, or high quality essence. Keep in mind that Latin as spoken in the Roman Empire did not encourage this sort of linguistic innovation, and we can assume Jerome would not have dared such an innovation unless truly needed; unless he were truly mystified by the word Epiousios.
In his translation of Luke, St Jerome made the curious decision to translate Epiousios as “quotidianum” or “Daily,” and this was then superimposed back on Matthew in the English translation. This is the point at which we really have to start considering this a corruption, as we can clearly see that whatever was intended by Epiousious/Supersubstantialem, it was quite different if not the opposite of ‘Daily’ – something commonly occurring, expected, predictable, obligatory.
Following this linguistic progression back through history not only shows us how badly ideas can be corrupted, it also points to that time period predating the contemporary Abrahamic world-view. It takes us back to the times of ancient mystery schools were the Elect sought knowledge and wisdom in places removed from the mainstream. The ancient users of the technology of Epiousios were boldly wishing for something vital and powerful, not humbly groveling for their common/average/daily allowance.
In reference to the progression of such Gospel distortions via subsequent translations, P.D. Ouspensky stated:
The alterations and distortions are all similar to one another. Their psychological nature is always identical, that is in every case in which an alteration is noticed it can be seen that the translator or scribe did not understand the text; something was too difficult, too abstract, for him. So he corrected it very slightly, adding one little word, and in this way giving to the text in question a clear and logical meaning on the level of his own understanding. This fact does not allow of the slightest doubt and can be verified in the later translations. [P.D. Ouspensky, A New Model of the Universe 1931]
Clearly Epiousios represents an example of just such distortion. The Latin translator had to innovate to transcribe the word and subsequent translators found even that too difficult. Various modern biblical scholars who have tried to re-interpret Epiousios as reflecting some sense of “daily” are entirely at a lost to explain the Latin “Supersubtantialem” and may therefore be dismissed.
Jesus the Magician
Some will likely shudder at the notion of a Left-Hand Path word or teaching that traces back to Jesus of Nazareth. Like many, when I began my quest on the Left-Hand Path I imagined it taking me far away from things like Jesus and the Gospels. Indeed it has, in regard to the conventional manner in which such ideas are traditionally taken.
I began my initiation from a ‘launch pad’ of LaVeyan Satanism, where anything having to do with the Gospels is summarily dismissed, and images of Jesus are merely piñatas for the next Black Mass. But as I ventured in to the Setian realm, which tends to take you far away from both Satan and the Gospels, I began to see things in a new light; to evaluate things differently and measure by new standards. I explored Gnosticism, Hermeticism and other esoteric streams which reveal many of the formative ideas that later got subsumed by Christianity. I also studied Aleister Crowley, who in his Book of Lies counts Jesus (Dionysus) as a Magus of the old world, one of his “Dinosaurs,” of the Aeon of Osiris.
This way of thinking about great teachers, or Magi was continued by the Temple (e.g. Set’s referencing Crowley and LaVey as Magi in the Book of Coming Forth by Night) and indeed taken much further. It is a unique way of organizing a perspective on history that puts the question of man’s possible evolution at the center of things.
Regarding the status of Jesus within all this, In exploring the figure of Jesus in his definitive work Lords of the Left-Hand Path Dr. Stephen Flowers concludes:
“…was Jesus a master of the left-hand path? It would appear that from the most objective evidence and methods of investigation – filtering out the often self-serving redactions and interpretations of his followers – that the man and magus Jesus was a practitioner of the left-hand path…” [Stephen Flowers, Lords of the Left Hand Path, 1992 Manuscript].
In regard to why such a teaching as suggested by Epiousios might have been lost, Dr. Flowers further states:
“…his teachings were at once betrayed by a group of his followers so that now no more of this true doctrines survive than do those of Apollonius of Tyana or Simon Magus. “[ibid.]
Thus the mysterious appearance of Epiousios in Matthew 6:11 is quite possibly an example of such a ‘true doctrine,’ a higher teaching that has been lost; until now. Moreover, the word almost certainly represents a fragment of teaching much larger than one man, but rather that of a an esoteric school. It is generally agreed upon by scholars that the Gospels were not written by any of the Apostles, but were likely written much later, probably based on collections of documents accumulated with certain initiatory groups or centers, such as the Gnostics.
“My dear and beloved Grandfather, tell me, please, what does the word Legominism mean?” Hassein asked.
“This word Legominism,” replied Beelzebub, “is given to one of the means existing there of transmitting from generation to generation information about certain events of long-past ages, through just those three-brained beings who are thought worthy to be and who are called initiates.
“This means of transmitting information from generation to generation had been devised by the beings of the continent Atlantis. For your better understanding of the said means of transmitting information to beings of succeeding generations by means of a Legominism, I must here explain to you a little also about those beings there whom other beings called and call initiates.”
– G.I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson
Gurdjieff was fond of using this term ‘Legominism’ in referring to certain terrestrial works which contain with them a message of certain initiatory value that is able to endure over centuries and Aeons, and eventually be received and comprehended by initiates of future generations. Such encoded terrestrial works can take form in art, literature, music, dance and so forth. Gurdjieff referred to the Sphinx as being a legominism, certainly the Temple at Luxor, the Bremer Rhind Papyrus, Stonehenge, the Gothic Cathedrals, certain Dervish Dances and a variety of other things might qualify as well. Words like Thelema and Xeper could certainly be considered Legominisms considering their ancient origins and the seemingly purposeful circumstances surrounding their contemporary re-emergences.
I sense that Epiousios is a Legominism as well. It’s unique existence in the whole of the Greek language, it’s clearly intentional and thoughtful placement in the Gospels, as well as it’s endearance despite attempts to ‘cover it up’ over the centuries and up to the present day speak volumes to the Word’s significance and relevance to the quest for initiatory truths.
But the real proof is in comprehending the sense of the Supersubstantial, and how it integrates with Xeper to produce a Supersubstantial Being.