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The Gnostics and the Nag Hammadi Library
Discovered in 1945, the Nag Hammadi Library was buried for nearly 1700 years. This was one of the most significant archeological discoveries of our time. Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, a fairly complete translation was released shortly after it was discovered. The Library is a collection of religious scriptures held by the Gnostics, who were wiped out by the Romans in the 4th Century AD. The most famous of the books is the Gospel of Thomas, which includes many quotations and sayings attributed to Jesus, which were otherwise lost.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
More coming soon!
= Gary Beckwith's comments
= This book was suggested by a Friend of the Harmony Institute.
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