The Gnostic Bible
Gnosticism was a wide-ranging religious movement of the first millennium CE—with earlier antecedents and later flourishings—whose adherents sought salvation through knowledge and personal religious experience. Gnostic writings offer striking perspectives on both early Christian and non-Christian thought. For example, some gnostic texts suggest that god should be celebrated as both mother and father, and that self-knowledge is the supreme path to the divine. Only in the past fifty years has it become clear how far the gnostic influence spread in ancient and medieval religions—and what a marvelous body of scriptures it produced. The selections gathered here, in poetic, readable translation, represent Jewish, Christian, Hermetic, Mandaean, Manichaean, Islamic, and Cathar expressions of gnostic spirituality. Their regions of origin include Egypt, the Greco-Roman world, the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, China, and France. Also included are introductions, notes, an extensive glossary, and a wealth of suggestions for further reading.

The Gnostic Bible Details

TitleThe Gnostic Bible
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 18th, 2011
PublisherShambhala Publications
Rating
GenreReligion, Philosophy, Gnosticism, History, Nonfiction, Christianity, Spirituality, Reference, Fantasy, Mythology, Theology

The Gnostic Bible Review

  • Kevin Bello
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wonderful reference library to give the reader a taste of the different Gnostic literatures existing in the Christian world. I especially liked how the compilers delineated the different gnostic groups and then gave a sampling of that particular group's literatures, from the Sethians to the Valentinians, to the Cathars and the Mandaeans.I found their section on Manichaeism and Mandaeism particularly interesting, being that Manichaeism was one of the competing religions of the day, rela This is a wonderful reference library to give the reader a taste of the different Gnostic literatures existing in the Christian world. I especially liked how the compilers delineated the different gnostic groups and then gave a sampling of that particular group's literatures, from the Sethians to the Valentinians, to the Cathars and the Mandaeans.I found their section on Manichaeism and Mandaeism particularly interesting, being that Manichaeism was one of the competing religions of the day, relative to how Appolonius was a contending contemporary of Jesus. Mandaeism is just exciting in itself, called the "Christianity of John the Baptizer" where Jesus Christ is seen as a false messiah to John the Baptizer.I highly recommend this to Christians votaries of all walks of life, whether it be of the laity or of the clergy. It definitely breaks with the modern, Trinitarian Christian organisation and gives ponderance upon an alternative Christianity that was once, and still is, considered blasphemous.
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  • April
    January 1, 1970
    This is a more readable translation of the Nag Hammadi gospels of Jesus Christ, translated into language that is easier for most to understand. It is also edited by Marvin Meyer whose translations and writings I greatly respect. Its an excellent place to start for beginners. Each gospel contains a preface by known writers in the field describing the time period the book was first discovered, where and how its meaning was discerned. This is a book many gnostics like myself have waited on. Thank Y This is a more readable translation of the Nag Hammadi gospels of Jesus Christ, translated into language that is easier for most to understand. It is also edited by Marvin Meyer whose translations and writings I greatly respect. Its an excellent place to start for beginners. Each gospel contains a preface by known writers in the field describing the time period the book was first discovered, where and how its meaning was discerned. This is a book many gnostics like myself have waited on. Thank You!
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  • Trever
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! Everyone should read: 1) The Gospel of Thomas2) The Gospel of Judas3) The Gospel of Philip4) Thunder: Perfect Mind (double WOW)5) The Prayer of the Messenger Paul6) The Round Dance of the Cross7) The Gospel of Mary
  • David Michael
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a fascinating collection of so-called Gnostic texts, ranging from the Nag Hammadi library to Sethian to a diverse array of scripture, poems and other writings thought to be related in some way to Gnostic philosophy and theology. Some of the writings feel disparate and questionable, but that weakness is what makes this book a much more thorough and open-ended examination of Gnosticism, from pre-Christian times through to today.
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  • Chelsea Wright
    January 1, 1970
    There isn't much I can say other than you really can't do without this one if you are interested in Gnosticism. It is a 'must have' reference, and Meyer is one of the best. I imagine most people would be happy with the translations and descriptions offered here.
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  • Wade Duvall
    January 1, 1970
    "To know [the] principles of Gnostic Christianity is to court disaster." --Philip K DickBefore I get too deep into this, I will present my "must read" list for anybody interested but without the mental fortitude to get through 850 pages of this stuff.* Gospel of Thomas (probably the best of the wisdom books)* Gospel of John (I'm recommending this for 2 reasons: 1. because it's translated by Willis Barnstone, not by a religious committee allowing him to explore the poetic beauty of the Bible that "To know [the] principles of Gnostic Christianity is to court disaster." --Philip K DickBefore I get too deep into this, I will present my "must read" list for anybody interested but without the mental fortitude to get through 850 pages of this stuff.* Gospel of Thomas (probably the best of the wisdom books)* Gospel of John (I'm recommending this for 2 reasons: 1. because it's translated by Willis Barnstone, not by a religious committee allowing him to explore the poetic beauty of the Bible that so often suffers at the hands of approved translations and 2. because it's important in the context of gnosticism)* Gospel of Judas * Secret Book of John (most satisfying cosmogony)* Thunder, Perfect Mind (If you have to only read one, make it this one, its short)* Gospel of Truth* Gospel of Philip* The Round Dance of the Cross* The Prayer of the Messenger Paul* The Songs of Solomon* The Song of the Pearl* The Gospel of Mary* Poimandres* Songs from the Mandaean Liturgy* Parthian Songs* A Nun's Sermon (This may seem like a lot but many of these are pretty short. Of the major periods discussed by the book, only Islam is not represented here; if you're curious you could check Mother of Books. Its the only Islamic gnostic work included and is quite long.)To put this review in perspective let me say that I am nonreligious, and I read this in much the same way I would read The Iliad or Beowulf. As alluded to above, I am reading this now as part of my epic post 2-3-78 Philip K Dick writings.The Gnostic Bible attempts to bring together a corpus of major gnostic works drawing on many sources (many from the Nag Hammadi library). It does a wonderful job of drawing from many sources and selecting the most important and well preserved texts. The introductory texts and notes do a very good job of explaining the general ideas of the writing, showing similarities and differences between other works, and giving historical context. In some cases, I will probably revisit some of these works with a more critical edition. The translations by Myers and Barnstone are really quite good. In the introduction, Barstone discusses how important translating the spirit of the work is in the introduction, and it really comes through (for more details I highly recommend reading Barnstone's translators introduction). In a few cases (generally when neither Myers nor Barnstone understood the language in question) another translation was used. Who translated and the primary sources consulted are well discussed in the notes. A few of the text's, however, have been poorly translated, edited, or transcribed when the initially translation from Greek to Coptic. This comes through strongly a few times and the translators refer to these works as challenging. Still they can be interesting and are generally worth reading. Overall, Myers and Barstone have done an wonderful job with this collection.Gnosticism is something I've been curious since high school (Pope Innocent III would be crushed if he know a Catholic school invoked an interest in gnosis) and recently my Philip K Dick addiction^Winterest has rekindled my curiosity in ancient writing (my interest goes beyond just gnosticism and into other esoteric religion). Gnosticism is also an inspiration for many great authors I love including William Blake, Jorge Luis Borges, etc. I'm really glad I finally got around to reading this. It's not for everyone though.Some closing thoughts on the body of works themselves. Many of the works, while having the same overall themes, vary in their cosmogony, roles of various biblical and extra-biblical characters. This can make it a little confusing at times. Most of the works are either cosmogonies (often revealed in a platonic dialog-cum-gospel) or wisdom sayings. Many of the wisdom sayings present an almost Zen Jesus, much different from the Jesus of the synoptic gospels.
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  • Fred Kohn
    January 1, 1970
    In the excellent epilogue, Barnstone writes, "[G]nosticism was a new, alluring alternative to the normative religion that locked ideas into dogma, bureaucracy, and worldly power to defeat infidels and banish creative solitude." What was true then is true now. Though these writings rarely rise to the sublime heights of the Bible or the Qur'an, the latter two have been so colored by centuries of fundamentalist interpretations bent on retaining religious authority that it requires a tremendous effo In the excellent epilogue, Barnstone writes, "[G]nosticism was a new, alluring alternative to the normative religion that locked ideas into dogma, bureaucracy, and worldly power to defeat infidels and banish creative solitude." What was true then is true now. Though these writings rarely rise to the sublime heights of the Bible or the Qur'an, the latter two have been so colored by centuries of fundamentalist interpretations bent on retaining religious authority that it requires a tremendous effort for a contemporary reader to recover their original beauty. Is it any wonder that people are turning elsewhere for spiritual inspiration? The poetic rendering of these early writings in the present volume will certainly serve that purpose, and is a definite improvement on the dry prose of other translations I have read.
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  • Davis
    January 1, 1970
    This isn't a book as much as it is an anthology. That said, it was still very good. It contains a collection of Gnostic gospels from various traditions, and presents them translated to English. There is also a brief opening section at the beginning of each translation describing the background and some important aspects of the different gospels. Furthermore, there's a nice introduction to Gnosticism as a whole.I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to read Gnostic texts in English, but This isn't a book as much as it is an anthology. That said, it was still very good. It contains a collection of Gnostic gospels from various traditions, and presents them translated to English. There is also a brief opening section at the beginning of each translation describing the background and some important aspects of the different gospels. Furthermore, there's a nice introduction to Gnosticism as a whole.I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to read Gnostic texts in English, but it's certainly not for a person just looking at starting to learn about Gnosticism.
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  • Pedro
    January 1, 1970
    Para além da Biblioteca de Nag Hammadi, que tenho em português, o interesse deste volume, que inclui igualmente o Evangelho de Judas, que também tenho na edição portuguesa, é a de lhes reunir as tradições gnósticas Mandaeíta, Maniqueísta, Islâmica e Cátara. Cinco estrelas porque tem boas introduções a cada tema, boas notas de rodapé, um glossário, e uma boa mostra de texto originais de diferentes tradições do Gnosticismo. Ou seja, cinco estrelas para quem se interessa por estas coisas.
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  • Pat Fromm
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating book for anyone interested in theology. Zen Jesus is best Jesus.
  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    A treasure trove of mystical textsA lot of the texts contained herein are shared with the Nag Hammadi Library (and, in fact, come directly from those translations). However, what distinguishes this collection is the wider scope and, in my opinion, better contextualization of its contents. Rather than being rigidly scholarly, it attempts to bring Gnostic thought down to the understanding of a layperson. Ultimately, though, the same problems with these texts exist, in that they still remain laugha A treasure trove of mystical textsA lot of the texts contained herein are shared with the Nag Hammadi Library (and, in fact, come directly from those translations). However, what distinguishes this collection is the wider scope and, in my opinion, better contextualization of its contents. Rather than being rigidly scholarly, it attempts to bring Gnostic thought down to the understanding of a layperson. Ultimately, though, the same problems with these texts exist, in that they still remain laughably complex and often boring as a result. A few notable inclusions are a portion of the Sufi Islamic text "The Mother of All Books" and a few Cathar texts, bringing Gnostic thought into the medieval period. For the enthusiast, I would recommend this over the Nag Hammadi Library as an entry point into this kind of literature.
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  • Strong Extraordinary Dreams
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I only listened to the CDs.A few good bits, lots and lots of waffle. Like with canonical Christianity, I am much more interested in the ideas and realities surrounding the religion than with its poorly written rambling texts. I think these CDs would be better for someone who already had a great familiarity with the material and some of its 'hidden' (i.e. invented) meanings.
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  • Karin
    January 1, 1970
    The word of God
  • Louise Annetta
    January 1, 1970
    It was a good source for discussion. I read it, found it interesting and did not understand it all. I am glad we read it for a book group, as the other gals filled in the gaps of my understanding.
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This is not a 'book' to read through. I bought it 2 years ago & am still not finished. I come back to it here & there. Sometimes I go back to certain chapters. It is a spiritual reading that is, at times, difficult to 'get'. I recommend having a partner(s) to read with & exchange thoughts about certain texts & their meaning.
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    Having only skimmed through it at a bookshop, I was pleased at the breadth of "The Gnostic Bible", and also by the brief historical background given to each book (or part of a book? - I don't know if whole translations were given or not). I will see how I like it if and when I eventually purchase/read it in whole.
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  • Samuel
    January 1, 1970
    It took me the better part of a decade to make my way through this book, and every moment is worth it. The selection of works is impressive, and the critical apparatus formidable. Fascinating and revelatory.
  • Edward Smith
    January 1, 1970
    A great translation of the Nag Hammadi library. While ultimately, reading these texts for the most part repudiated my interest in Gnosticism as I found most of the literature to be bizarre (excluding the Gospel of Thomas), you can't get any better than the actual texts themselves.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    This got to be to much for me, I had to return it to the library!
  • Anèl
    January 1, 1970
    So far inspiring!
  • Jessica Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    I find it easier to make headway on this than I do the Holy Bible, but again, continuously have to set it aside and wonder if I'll ever finish. Once again, though, I'll keep working on it.
  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    I learned that I have a lot more questions.
  • Rich
    January 1, 1970
    Had to finally give up on this one. Confusing, just like the bible. If you can get through this audiobook, more power to ya. This audiobook did have multiple readers which was good.
  • Jessica Reeves
    January 1, 1970
    All gnostic Christian writing's under one roof.
  • Kendra
    January 1, 1970
    Read in 2008Re-Read Jan 21, 2015Good overview of the various versions of gnosticism. Also contains the more complete form of Thunder: Perfect Mind.
  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    I have this, but haven't read it yet. However, I have thumbed thru it, and I know a little bit about the subject matter, so I have high hopes for the book. If nothing else its a good reference book.
  • Shayne
    January 1, 1970
    Got this for the Song of the Pearl, and didn't stick around much longer. Lots of commentary included, which is okay and helps set the tone.
  • нєνєℓ ¢ανα
    January 1, 1970
    E x c e l l e n t !
  • Justin Renquist
    January 1, 1970
    very interesting and insightful. Too bad these documents were not what helped form the Christian Church, because then it would be much more humanist and almost Buddhist like.
  • gnosticpomegranate
    January 1, 1970
    A thorough, readable collection of the Nag Hammadi texts.
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