The story relates to a recently-discovered, second-century set of gnostic inscriptions, which may be the earliest physical-culture aspect of Christianity that we have. They seem to be directly related the bridal-chamber imagery we've been discussing.
To my bath, the brothers of the bridal chamber carry the torches,Now, this is a gnostic site, which means that from the perspective of the modern Christian tradition the inscription relates to a suppressed heresy. Another recent discovery is the so-called "Gospel of Philip," which contains a number of the gnostic beliefs. Scholars seem to be unsure what to make of these.
[here] in our halls, they hunger for the [true] banquets,
even while praising the Father and glorifying the Son.
There [with the Father and the Son] is the only spring and source of truth.
The mysteries of truth are revealed, though in type and image. The bridal chamber, however, remains hidden. It is the Holy in the Holy. The veil at first concealed how God controlled the creation, but when the veil is rent and the things inside are revealed, this house will be left desolate, or rather will be destroyed. And the whole (inferior) godhead will flee from here, but not into the holies of the holies, for it will not be able to mix with the unmixed light and the flawless fullness, but will be under the wings of the cross and under its arms...
(Translation by Wesley Isenberg)
"It's not quite clear what it [the bridal chamber] is, it's explained to some degree, but explained in cryptic terms in the Gospel of Philip, it's a ritual involving freedom and purification and union with the deity," McKechnie said.You may wonder why the Gnostics were suppressed. Gnosticism was the doctrine of salvation by knowledge, or as the Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to call it, "the dreadful sum of all heresies... a retrogression... the last throes of expiring cults and civilizations[.]"
Why? Well, that's kind of hard to explain. The core doctrines were these:
"[Gnostics] held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Saviour."
That matter is a deterioration of spirit is a neo-Platonic view, though, which was a school important to many early Christian philosophers (and, actually, the very Christian and much-later philosopher Hegel ends up arguing something quite close to this view); that the whole universe is a depravation of the Deity is very similar to the writings of the neo-Platonist Plotinus, who nevertheless wrote a treatise against Gnosticism; and the desire to leave the fallen world and return to God the Father, led by the God-sent Savior, is of course the foundation of the entire Christian church.
Two core areas of dispute are the use of magic, and the evilness of the flesh. Christianity is opposed to both doctrines, the first more obviously than the second. Orthodox Christianity, though, expects the resurrection of the flesh -- and therefore is opposed to the idea that flesh, or body-dependent qualities such as manhood or womanhood, are wicked or undesirable. Rather, they are part of the creation originally blessed as good.