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The Nag Hammadi Library

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  3,074 Ratings  ·  57 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
Mar 23, 2010 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gnosticism fans
Recommended to Erik by: Elaine H. Pagels
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
Sep 28, 2007 Adrienne rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 22, 2010 63alfred rated it really liked it
Ahh, if only we were all exposed to ALL the books of the New Testament instead of just a sanitized four.
Aug 13, 2011 Roumissette rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Actually life changing for me. Beliefs became a very different thing after reading parts of this. It is something you can skip around in, read bits and pieces, look through, study. Very, very important book - for all brought up in a JudeoChristian household.
Joe Kolbek
Sep 05, 2014 Joe Kolbek rated it it was amazing
The earliest of the Gnostic Gospels derive roughly from the same century as the canonical Gospel of John (2nd century CE, which, with its curious introduction and fantastic imagery, was written to read like its competition). "Gnostic" is actually an umbrella term later used to describe a multitude of disparate sects of disparate origin (including Hermeticism; the Nag Hammadi Library contains several tracts considered Hermetic), which were, nevertheless, united by an extent of structural (cosmol ...more
Don Pulsipher
Nov 12, 2008 Don Pulsipher rated it really liked it
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
Feb 09, 2010 Logan Marlowe rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 22, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, reference
These are primary sources of The Gospel of Thomas and other gnostic writings. Fascinating background and context for anyone interested in late Biblical history.
Aug 14, 2014 Marcela rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, nonfiction
I read this in college for one of my major courses. It's one of the books I've kept, years later. Completely fascinating.
Jul 20, 2012 Josh marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-and-unread
This is one of my cooler Goodwill finds.
Michael Herrman
Apr 06, 2012 Michael Herrman rated it really liked it
A fundamentalist's worst nightmare.
Christopher Fick
Dec 22, 2016 Christopher Fick rated it it was amazing
What a Great Collection of Esoteric Knowledge!! I recommend this Book for Everybody!! From Lost Gospels of the Bible to Plato's Republic, crammed with Wisdom that was almost lost forever!! Thank God for those boys who found the clay pots in the desert. Christianity so suppressed and wiped out all other copies of the Wisdom found in it!!!! It shows how in early Christianity there were many schools of thought, not just the Pauline that has shaped our Western Civilization. How Christianity would ha ...more
David Sarkies
Sep 01, 2012 David Sarkies rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Archeologists and Ancient Historians
Recommended to David by: Holy Trinity Church
Shelves: philosophy
A Collection of Ancient Gnostic Writings
1 September 2012

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 universi
The official blurb gives reasons to read this book, more than that, reasons why anyone caring about history and truth thereof would probably find this worth a read. -

"This revised, expanded, and updated edition of The Nag Hammadi Library is the only complete, one-volume, modern language version of the renowned library of fourth-century manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1945. First published in 1978, The Nag Hammadi Library launched modern Gnostic studies and exposed a movement whose teachings
John Wilson
Jul 18, 2012 John Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 17, 2012 April rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Jul 30, 2011 Rich Kooyer rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2013 Charles rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2012 Richard rated it it was ok
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
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
Aug 16, 2008 Lance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 03, 2007 Jolyon rated it really liked it
Shelves: eternal
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.
Sammy Sutton
Oct 29, 2010 Sammy Sutton rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 22, 2008 Gerbik rated it really liked it
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.
John Mathis
Jan 27, 2010 John Mathis rated it it was amazing
I can see why a patrilineal society sought to instill in people the erroneous concept that divinity lies OUTSIDE of oneself and only a certain caste of people could act as a conduit to that divinity.
Roland Volz
Feb 03, 2009 Roland Volz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious
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.
Barnaby Thieme
A masterful collection of translations and commentaries on the various gnostic scriptures found at Nag Hammadi. I find this a more useful, informative, and readable collection than Barnstone's "The Other Bible".
Oct 13, 2011 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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well researched book 2 1 Jan 28, 2016 04:26AM  
  • The Gnostic Bible
  • Adam, Eve, and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity
  • The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins
  • The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity
  • Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism
  • Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments
  • Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
  • The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus
  • Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation, with Notes and Introduction
  • Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, NRSV
  • The Complete Works
  • Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians
  • The Lost Books of the Bible
  • A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume I - The Roots of the Problem and the Person
  • The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism
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