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A landmark work of scholarship and literary translation, The Gnostic Bible presents the most significant and beautiful sacred texts of gnostic mysticism. The gnostics were religious thinkers who believed that salvation is found through mystical knowledge and personal religious experience. Gnostic writings offer striking perspectives on both early Christian and non-Christian thought. Dating from the first to the thirteenth centuries, the selections in this volume represent Jewish, Christian, Hermetic, Mandaean, Manichaean, Islamic, and Cathar forms of gnostic spirituality, and their sources include Egypt, the Greco-Roman world, the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, China, and France. These texts show that gnosticism was a world religion that sought truths in a wide variety of traditions and expressed those truths in powerful and provocative mystical poetry and prose. This is the first time that such a diverse collection of ancient gnostic texts has been published in a single volume, and many of the texts have never before been translated into English.
The Definitive Collection of Gnostic Writings The year is 1945. At the foot of a cliff along the Nile River, near the city of Nag Hammadi, an Egyptian peasant unearths a large storage jar containing ancient manuscripts. The discovery turns out to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the past century. A treasure of fourth-century texts, the manuscripts are the scriptures of the ancient mystical tradition commonly called Gnosticism, from the Greek gnosis, that is, secret knowledge. It is a discovery that challenges everything we thought we knew about the early Christian church, ancient Judaism, and Greco-Roman religions. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures is the most complete and up-to-date English-language edition of these sacred texts from Egypt. It is full of treatises, testimonies, and secret books that had been lost for centuries. In addition to gospels purportedly by the apostles Thomas and Philip, and the revelations of James, Peter, and Paul, this collection also includes the Gospel of Mary and the controversial Gospel of Judas. The documents have been newly translated by a team of prominent international scholars. This volume also features introductory essays and extensive notes to help readers understand the context and significance of these texts that have revolutionized the study of early Christianity and ancient religious thought.
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time The Gnostic Gospels is a landmark study of the long-buried roots of Christianity, a work of luminous scholarship and wide popular appeal. First published in 1979 to critical acclaim, winning the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Gnostic Gospels has continued to grow in reputation and influence over the past two decades. It is now widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and accessible histories of early Christian spirituality published in our time. In 1945 an Egyptian peasant unearthed what proved to be the Gnostic Gospels, thirteen papyrus volumes that expounded a radically different view of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from that of the New Testament. In this spellbinding book, renowned religious scholar Elaine Pagels elucidates the mysteries and meanings of these sacred texts both in the world of the first Christians and in the context of Christianity today. With insight and passion, Pagels explores a remarkable range of recently discovered gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, to show how a variety of “Christianities” emerged at a time of extraordinary spiritual upheaval. Some Christians questioned the need for clergy and church doctrine, and taught that the divine could be discovered through spiritual search. Many others, like Buddhists and Hindus, sought enlightenment—and access to God—within. Such explorations raised questions: Was the resurrection to be understood symbolically and not literally? Was God to be envisioned only in masculine form, or feminine as well? Was martyrdom a necessary—or worthy—expression of faith? These early Christians dared to ask questions that orthodox Christians later suppressed—and their explorations led to profoundly different visions of Jesus and his message. Brilliant, provocative, and stunning in its implications, The Gnostic Gospels is a radical, eloquent reconsideration of the origins of the Christian faith.
The Meaning of the Nag Hammadi, now in paperback opens the with the thrilling adventure story of the discovery of the ancient Papyrii at Nag Hammadi. Muhammad Ali, the fellahin, discovered the sealed jar, he feared that it might contain a jinni, or spirit, but also had heard of hidden treasures in such jars. Greed overcame his fears and when he smashed open the jar, gold seemed to float into the air. To his disappointment, it was papyrus fragmenst, not gold, but for scholars around the world, it was invaluable. Meyer then discusses the pre–Christian forms of wisdom that went onto influence what Christians believe today. In addition, some Nag Hammadi texts are attributed to Valentinus, a man who almost became Pope, and whose rejection changed the church in significant ways. Text by text, Meyer traces the history and impact of this great find on the Church, right up to our current beliefs and popular cultural fascination with this officially suppressed secret knowledge about Jesus and his followers.
Mary Magdalene, Jesus's Closest Disciple Marvin Meyer, one of the foremost scholars of the Gnostic Gospels: translates and introduces the Gnostic and New Testament texts that together reveal the story and importance of Mary Magdalene includes new translations of the Gospels of Mary, Thomas, Philip, and related texts about Mary Magdalene discloses, with Esther A. De Boer, the long-suppressed story of Mary's vital role in the life of Jesus and in the formative period after his crucifixion presents as authentically as possible the real Mary Magdalene
[This] book acquaints the beginner with the topic of gnosticism and early Christianity and presents to the specialist some of the new frontiers their colleagues are exploring. For the beginner there is a concise introduction to gnosticism. It covers the issues of origin, literature, leading ideas, and possible links with early Christianity. Each contributor has prepared a preface to his or her paper that points to its salient features and explains how the essay fits into the overall subject of the book. --from the Preface
Details the momentous discovery and significance of the ancient gnostic texts hidden for sixteen centuries in Chenoboskion, Egypt • Author was a member of the party that discovered these ancient Coptic documents • Sheds new light on the vanished world in which Christianity was born • 40,000 copies sold of earlier editions • Includes the first translation of the Gospel of Thomas, with full commentary Hidden for sixteen centuries, the Nag Hammadi library, the most prodigious collection of sacred gnostic texts, were discovered in the late 1940s in Chenoboskion, a remote hamlet in upper Egypt. Among them was the Gospel according to Thomas, which aroused international publicity and alerted the world to the significance of this archeological find, believed by many scholars to surpass the Dead Sea Scrolls in importance. The Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Texts is the original survey of the contents of these documents and their significance to the world at large. Doresse's narrative allows readers direct contact with an ancient form of Christianity through the philosophical wealth of the texts-ranging from gnostic revelations and Christian apocrypha to Hermetic literature-Included in the book is the original English translation of the Gospel of Thomas first published in 1960.