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Comparative Religion
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Dead Sea Scrolls
The Gnostics
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We have selected a mixture of traditional Christian scriptures and books that reflect the new interpretations of Christianity. The basic "new" idea is that the Christ is something that is inside us all. Jesus was a person who discovered the Christ inside him, and if we follow his teachings we can pursue a path towards a more spiritual life.

The Complete Parallel Bible
The Complete Parallel Bible presents four of the most highly respected modern language Bible translations arranged side by side for easy comparison. The parallel format brings new insights into the distinct characteristics that distinguish the texts used by Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians. This unique work highlights the importance of the translation process in defining the priorities and concerns of these different groups, and reveals interesting contrasts in literary styles, verse placement, and canonical content.

Idioms in the Bible Explained and A Key to the Original Gospels
by George Mamisjisho Lamsa
World-renowned Bible translator and commentator George M. Lamsa explains nearly one thousand crucial idioms that will enrich reading of the Old and New Testaments for students and general reader alike. Lamsa, who was raised speaking Aramaic in a community that followed customs largely unchanged since the times of Christ, offers fresh, accurate translations of important idioms, metaphors, and figures of speech found in the Scripture--and provides clear explanations of their meaning of biblical context.

The Gospel of Thomas : The Hidden Sayings of Jesus
by Marvin Meyer (Translator)
The gospel according to Thomas is an ancient collection of sayings attributed to Jesus and thought to be recorded by his brother Judas, the Twin (Thomas means "twin" in Aramaic). Some scholars suggest that this gospel was collected from New Testament sayings, while others believe it springs from a completely independent author because many of the quotations are not in the New Testament at all. It slept for two millennia in a stone jar until it was accidentally exhumed by a group of fertilizer gatherers in the northern Egyptian desert in 1945. (The gospel is just one document in the fourth-century papyrus library discovered near the city of Nag Hammadi, from which the entire collection gets its name.) Marvin Meyer's distinguished translation includes Coptic text on each left page and the English translation on the right. It is considered by many to be perhaps the closest we'll ever get to reading what was actually said by the historical Jesus.

The Gospel of Thomas is one of the most important links to the new interpretation of Jesus and his life. Even the traditional Bible includes references to Thomas, but mysteriously his Gospel is left out. Until 1945, scholars knew there was a Gospel of Thomas, but we didn't know what it says. Now we do, and it offers a mystical and metaphysical view of Jesus and his teachings. Jesus expands on the idea that the Kingdom is within, with some very interesting passages.

Metaphysical Bible Dictionary
by Charles Fillmore
We've all heard that there are several "ways" or "levels" on which to interpret the Bible. This extremely useful book provides insight into the "metaphysical" interpretation, in which it is thought that each person, city, and event in the Bible relates to something in the inner world of the reader. This is a true dictionary, where you can look up just about any term, character, or event in the Bible and read about the metaphysical interpretation.

The Kingdom Within : The Inner Meaning of Jesus' Sayings
by John A. Sanford
By showing how Jesus' teachings relate to our inner depths, this book guides us toward a more conscious and creative life. The Kingdom Within explores the significance of Jesus' teachings for our interior life -- that inner reality that Jesus called "the kingdom of God." It is Sanford's conviction that contemporary Christianity has overlooked this inner dimension of Jesus' teachings and so has lost touch with the human soul.Illustrated with case histories and dream material drawn from the author's work as a psychotherapist, The Kingdom Within examines such characteristics as extroversion and introversion, masculinity and femininity, thinking and feeling, and sensation and intuition to show how Jesus met the criteria of wholeness or fullness of personhood. Step by step, Sanford helps us to shed the outer mask, to eschew sin, which "means living in enslavement to what we don't know about ourselves," and to follow the road of consciousness, which leads to "a great treasure waiting only to be discovered."

The Nag Hammadi Library in English
James M. Robinson (Editor)
The Nag Hammadi Library was discovered in 1945 buried in a large stone jar in the desert outside the modern Egyptian city of Nag Hammadi. It is a collection of religious and philosophic texts gathered and translated into Coptic by fourth-century Gnostic Christians and translated into English by dozens of highly reputable experts. First published in 1978, this is the revised 1988 edition supported by illuminating introductions to each document. The library itself is a diverse collection of texts that the Gnostics considered to be related to their philosophy in some way. There are 45 separate titles, including a Coptic translation from the Greek of two well-known works: the Gospel of Thomas, attributed to Jesus' brother Judas, and Plato's Republic. The word gnosis is defined as "the immediate knowledge of spiritual truth." This doomed sect believed in being here now, and that heaven is an internal state, not some place above the clouds. That this collection has resurfaced at this historical juncture is more than likely no coincidence.

Lost Years of Jesus Revealed
by Rev. Charles F. Potter
For centuries Christian students of the Bible have wondered where Jesus was and what he did during the so-called "eighteen silent years" between the ages of twelve and thirty. The amazing and dramatic scrolls of the great Essene library found in cave after cave near the Dead Sea have given us the answer at last. That during those "lost years" Jesus was a student at this Essene school is becoming increasingly apparent. Scholars are gradually admitting the startling parallels between his doctrines and vocabulary and those of the Essenes and their "Teacher of Righteousness," who was evidently executed nearly a century before the birth of Jesus. It is to his title and authority that Jesus probably succeeded.

This book was written ahead of its time. We now know, from studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Jesus must have spent some of his "missing" years with the Essenes. But Potter wrote this book at a time when only a small portion of the Scrolls had been released. His intense research led to the same conclusions that scholars are now arriving at years later. Some have criticized this book because it takes on an accusatory tone, somewhat condeming the Catholic Church for systematically covering up the truth about Jesus. But the reader can choose to see through the accusations and see the book for what it is - an excellent look into the Jesus-Essene connection.

The Gnostic Gospels
by Elaine Pagels
Elaine Pagels suggests that Christianity could have developed quite differently if Gnostic texts had become part of the Christian canon. Without a doubt: Gnosticism celebrates God as both Mother and Father, shows a very human Jesus's relationship to Mary Magdalene, suggests the Resurrection is better understood symbolically, and speaks to self-knowledge as the route to union with God. Pagels argues that Christian orthodoxy grew out of the political considerations of the day, serving to legitimize and consolidate early church leadership.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered : The First Complete Translation and Interpretation of 50 Key Documents Withheld for over 35 Years
by Robert H. Eisenman, Michael O. Wise, Michael Wise
Eisenman and Wise have put together a phenomenal collection of some of the most significant missing scrolls. Each translation is accompanied by commentary and reproduction in the original Hebrew or Aramaic. Photographic plates of several of the actual scrolls are included.

The Way of the Essenes : Christ's Hidden Life Remembered
by Anne Meurois-Givaudan, Daniel Meurois-Givaudan, Daniel Meurois-Givausan (Contributor)

The Other Bible
by Willis Barnstone (Editor)
This is an excellent collection. It includes portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi Library, book of Enoch, Jewish Apocrypha, and more. There are many scriptures that were excluded from the codification of the Bible for one reason or another. This collection gives you access to many of them in one book.

The Prophet of the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Essenes and the Early Christians
by Upton Clary Ewing
Who, in fact, were the ancient Essenes? What secret doctrines did they uphold? Why did they keep their practices hidden? How do these writings relate to Jesus and His teachings? This vital book explores the pre-Christian origins of New Testament writings and the little-known mysteries of the ancient Hebrew sect called the Essenes. It explains their SEVEN DEVOUT PRACTICES. New evidence is presented concerning the conviction and crucifixion of Jesus, revealing the falseness of traditional accusations against the Jews. The author shows you why and how "The Sect of the Scrolls", the Nazarenes, the Ebionites, and the Palestine Christians were one and the same people.

The Cloud of Unknowing
by William Johnston (Translator), Huston Smith
Nobody knows who wrote the book, or exactly where he lived, or whether he was a member of a religious order, or even, really, whether he was part of any church at all. The text first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century, and it has inspired generations of mystical searchers (from St. John of the Cross to Teilhard de Chardin). The mysterious conditions of its composition, however, focus the reader's attention squarely on the book's message--an almost Zen rendering of Christianity, which has a great deal to teach our querulous, doctrine-obsessed churches: "And so I urge you," the author writes, "go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest."

This is one of those books that really reaches you on the subconscious level. You read the words and understand the author's points, but the further you get into the book, the more you start to "feel" it. And the feeling is a good one. It's also one of those books that you can't really describe in a review. You just have to read it.

The Sermon on the Mount : The Key to Success in Life and the Lord's Prayer : An Interpretation
by Emmet Fox
Emmet Fox has written dozens of insightful books. This one is a wonderful interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. One that provides new insight and a perspective that personalizes it for every reader.

I recommend all of Emmet Fox's books and this is one of my favorites.

The Hidden Gospel
by Neil Douglas-Klotz
THE HIDDEN GOSPEL is Dr. Douglas-Klotz's presentation of what he considers to be the overlooked aspect of the Gospels, namely the Aramaic writings of the early Church. Aramaic was the spoken language of Jesus's day. In presenting his translations of these Early Church writings, the author discusses a mystical aspect of the Gospels that seems to harken back to the Gnostic controversy. Bridging the gap between the historical Jesus of the scholar and the Jesus of faith of Christian believers, this book will appeal to anyone looking for an alternative spiritual vision of Jesus and his message.

More coming soon!

= Gary Beckwith's comments

= This book was suggested by a Friend of the Harmony Institute.

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