from The Gnostic John the Baptizer
The evil fishers, noting that the good fisher had caught no fish that they could see, offered him a partnership where in return for a share in his great ship they would become his servants and share their net-making and fish-baiting expertise.
Their nets, filled with stinking bad dates as bait, trapped fish in various ways; they pinned the fish to the mud, or some fish were too big to escape through the mesh or lacked the wit to find a way out. ‘Wise are the fish who know them. They pass by all of the baits … One of a thousand sees it …’ [p. 77] Out of a thousand people, perhaps only one would be a suitable candidate for the Mandaean school.
The fishers described their cunning trap: ‘… a bell is hung on its side-door, – a bell that is forged in mischief and catches the whole of the world.’ [p. 77] The bell is temptation; its tinkling attracts, but what you are attracted to is illusory. The bell may be your identification with making a lot of money, or wanting to be liked by everybody; whatever it is that weakens you is your bell, enticing you like the singing of sirens. In a part of Paul’s writings that was not polluted with interpolation there is a wonderful passage to the effect that when he was a child, he played with childish things and when he became a man, he put away childish things. The bell is a childish plaything.