The Nag Hammadi Library
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The Nag Hammadi Library

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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  2,718 ratings  ·  73 reviews
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 revise...more
Paperback, Revised, 576 pages
Published November 21st 1990 by Harper (first published 1977)
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Erik Graff
Sep 26, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gnosticism fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
The scholarly controversy about the nature and origins of gnosticism was the topic of my undergraduate thesis at Grinnell College and a subject of further study at Union Theological Seminary, most particularly with Cyril Richardson and Elaine Pagels. It has remained an intellectual hobby since then.

The appearance of the long-discussed Nag Hammadi codices in an affordable English edition was a happy event. Breaking with usual habits, I bought it new, possibly at the bookstore of the C.G. Jung Ins...more
Adrienne
Sep 28, 2007 Adrienne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gnostics or anyone curious about biblical history and time period
Sometime last year I decided...well heck I'm going to read the King James from beginning to end...which I did. And it took me a few months to do it in! I read it every morning when I woke, on my lunch breaks at work and in bed before falling asleep at night. I was always affraid to read the bible because I didn't want to get pissed off at all the woman hating in it. OR SO the church made me believe when I was younger, EVE this and Mary M that etc... Wellll I TOTALLY enjoyed the bible! And it WAS...more
Roumissette
Aug 13, 2011 Roumissette rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Beginners and Advanced Spiritualists :)
Recommended to Roumissette by: friend
Only missing in this book, is the Gospel of Judas, but then since it was only translated into English in 2006, it is understandably so.

There are many profound texts in the Nag Hammadi Library, and it really shows how much of Jesus' own teachings was thought as heretical by the Fathers of the Church and how much they were separated and blind from His own teachings since so many of His texts did not make it to the Bible.

I would recommend reading the Flight of The Feathered Serpent by Armando Cosan...more
Junkie for the Written Word
I can't say that I read the book in it's entirety but I did read the actual texts and a few of the explanatory passages that accompanied them.

Very eye opening. I can see why they were not included in the Bible.
Rhonda
Typically when one does any scholarship, he or she uses source material relatively close to the font of that source. In this particular case, all of these books or letters were written in the second century. In addition, there is not any record that any of the writers of the epistles actually knew Jesus. We have names which imply that actual apostles wrote them, but there is no evidence whatsoever to support this and in fact, considerable evidence against it. In addition, these texts were found...more
Kiwi
For those who want an insight into Gnostic thought as it was, without having recourse to those who opposed them or the modern "reinterpretations" of the faith, this is an invaluable resource. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures is a collection of Gnostic works, as well as a few other bits and bobs, from a variety of Gnostic schools in the early centuries of our era. You will find a few books from the Valentinian school, (made famous of Irenaeus of Lyon), as well as a great deal from the more radical Seth...more
Maureen
Sep 18, 2012 Maureen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"When I came down, no one saw me, for I kept changing my forms on high, transforming from shape to shape, so when I was at their gates, I assumed their likeness. I passed by them quietly. I saw their realms, but I was not afraid or ashamed, because I was pure. I was speaking with them and mingling with them, through those who are mine" (480).
Don Pulsipher
It's always a fun to get different points of view on a subject. The Gnostics believed that a human can reach enlightenment by following secret teachings from Jesus, without the aid of an organized church. Naturally this made them targets of the early Catholic church who wished to establish its own authority as the way to heaven.
Logan Marlowe
Excellent collection of ancient religious writings found in Egypt in the 1920s I think. My favorites are the gospels that didn't make it into the Bible, such as the ones that show Mary Magdalene as knowing as much as or more than Peter and the other disciples. If you're open to a different view of early Christianity, read this.
Velma Sampson
Feb 03, 2013 Velma Sampson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scripture/Bible students.
Shelves: religion
Great resource of scriptures that never made it into today's versions of the Bible/Torah. It's not something you sit down and "read" in one sitting. It is a great book for cross-referencing with today's versions of the Bible if you are trying to figure out what was "actually" written or said!
63alfred
Ahh, if only we were all exposed to ALL the books of the New Testament instead of just a sanitized four.
David Sarkies
Sep 01, 2012 David Sarkies rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Archeologists and Ancient Historians
Recommended to David by: Holy Trinity Church
Shelves: philosophy
In 1945 some shepherds in Egypt were out tending their flocks when they stumbled upon a cache of documents. They took them back home and because they were poor, and lived in the desert (which means that not only is there a severe lack of burning material, but it also gets very cold at night) they decided to use some of these scrolls for the fire. Fortuitously they did not burn all of them and decided that they would take them to a university to find out what they were. It turned out that these...more
John Wilson
Jul 18, 2012 John Wilson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those researching early Christianity
Shelves: reference
This book is a collection of Gnostic gospel's and writings from the early Christian era. Gnosticism was largely centred in Egypt though it existed elsewhere as well. Hints of it are found in the Gospel of John in places.
It was an attempt to move Christianity into the realm of a mystery faith a style of faith and worship popular in Ancient Egypt and practiced there for thousands of years before Jesus' birth. It also insisted, broadly, in requiring the guidance of an adept and questioned the tradi...more
Tess Rupprecht
While listening to the preaching of Pastor David Jeremiah, he mentioned that while the Apocrypha is not part of the canonical books of the bible it is nonetheless accurate and historical. I got really interested to find out which other books did not make it to the bible. So I did a research on these books which were read and studied by early Christians. Then one Saturday while the kids and I were in our local library I chance upon this book called "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures". This book turned o...more
April
This is very similar to 'The Gnostic Bible' except the translations are more direct and take some reading and studying to understand. It is probably not for a beginner as the direct translations are harder to understand due to our cultural and language differences. I love the history in the introductions to each gospel and enjoy being able to see accurately the portions that have been lost and are not readable so that I can determine meanings for myself. I've been reading this since I first boug...more
Rich Kooyer
The books has a telling quote on the cover as being an absolute authority on the Gnostic texts. This book is a great source but there isn't a lot of explanation to go along with it.

The wonderful book does cover the missing texts wonderfully. The breaks are great and the symbology is nice because it makes it realy easy to read. I wish I had more background on what it might all mean.

I know that it's hard to find one book that's definitive on a subject and you have to go a ways to do extra researc...more
Marcela
I read this in college for one of my major courses. It's one of the books I've kept, years later. Completely fascinating.
Karleen Farrell St.Germain
Defiantly not a casual read, this reference is for anyone who plans on keeping an open mind about religious dogma.
David Melik
This is said to be the only book with all the surviving Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts/Gospels, but there are other Gnostic texts such as _Gospel_of_Mary_Magdalene_, _Pistis_Sophia_, the Hermetic texts, and another ancient Nazarean text as well as ones from later Gnostic sects. I have read the _Gospel_of_Thomas_ translation that is probably in here, but other than that I have only skimmed some of this book because I am about halfway through the _Zohar_ and concentrating on it, but this Gnostic book i...more
Charles
A very interesting look at something that has obfuscated for much of history: the evolution of Christianity. The book contains all the same things you would find in the Bible: bizarre stories, absurd theology, and moral lessons relevant to today's world, and moral lessons irrelevant to today's world. After reading it, it's no surprise that the writers and followers of these works were persecuted and generally slaughtered. If they had survived, Christianity, and the world, would be a very differe...more
Richard
The works themselves are tedious and irrelevant. They're very useful in making contemporary Christians understand that their Bible wasn't compiled as a coherent whole, but has gone through vast periods of revision where books have been added to and subtracted from it. The decision to include or exclude portions of it has been made multiple times in known history by groups of people whose justifications are a matter of record. The book is no divinely inspired text, but a bureaucratic fabrication...more
Emma
I will never understand this book
(and I will never finish it).

I hate it. And I completely adore it.
Vrinda Pendred
Honestly, one of the most fascinating ancient religious texts I've ever read. Quite a lot of deep philosophy and mysticism, rather than just 'mythology'. I don't necessarily agree with it all, but I enjoyed every page.
Jolyon
You haven't read the bible, until you've read this collection of manuscripts that were for some reason not incorporated in the centuries old 'original' compilation of the Catholic Holy Bible.

After reading this and the Book of Enoch, I firmly believe several of the books of the original old and new testaments were fabricated based on original accounts contained in here, such as the Book of Thomas and the Apocryphon of John.
Lance
Nag Hammadi can be thought of as the Christian (or Gnostic, if you must) version of Qumran. Like the Dead Sea scrolls, which do not contain all of the Jewish Scriptures and Apochrypha, the coptic texts found at Nag Hammadi do not contain all the Gnostic texts. They do, however, contain quite a few that were thought to be lost forever. Of particular interest to LDS readers would be the Gospel of Philip.
Haines
This is a massive collection, and I can't imagine reading every word of it. Nonetheless, THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS and EUGNOSTOS THE BLESSED, as well as the often anthologized THUNDER: THE PERFECT MIND, are all amazing. Also, the afterward is great, in which gnostic influence on contemporary thought is examined. I'm really understating things here because it's not for everyone.
Sammy Sutton
This is quite a book to purchase, however, it has been an invaluable resource to me in my research. The translations are very well done. It may be the only complete translation of The Nag Hammadi Scrolls in english. There are plenty of references published, and partial translations, but James McConkey Robinson's is to my knowledge a complete collection.
Roland Volz
Very scholarly and comprehensive. A great reference for those interested in comparative religious texts. I love the "lost books" angle, and, as hidden/forbidden texts, the stories form a fascinating glimpse into the minds of the common religious theorist from the early centuries of the Common Era.
Ruth
Jan 24, 2012 Ruth added it
I finished. I enjoyed the Nag Hamnmadi Library much more than the Dead Sea Scrolls. It read more like the KJV of the Bible. Gnosticism is confusing and not relevant to me, however there are intriguing phrases and concepts that add to my appreciation of ancient texts and spirituality in general.
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