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The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts Complete in One Volume [Paperback]

Marvin W Meyer

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Book Description

May 15 2009

The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, edited by Marvin Meyer, is the most complete, up-to-date, one-volume, English-language edition of the renowned library of Gnostic manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1945, which rivaled the Dead Sea Scrolls find in significance. It includes the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, as well as other Gnostic gospels and sacred texts. This volume also includes introductory essays, notes, tables, glossary, index, etc. to help the reader understand the context and contemporary significance of these texts which have shed new light on early Christianity and ancient thought. The compilation of ancient manuscripts that constitute The Nag Hammadi Scriptures is a discovery that challenges everything we thought we knew about the early Christian church, ancient Judaism, and Greco-Roman religions.


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From the Back Cover

This is the most complete, up-to-date, one-volume, English-language edition of the renowned library of fourth-century Gnostic manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1945, which rivaled the Dead Sea Scrolls find in significance. It includes the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, as well as other Gnostic gospels and sacred texts. This volume also includes introductory essays, notes, tables, glossary, index, etc. to help the reader understand the context and contemporary significance of these texts which have shed new light on early Christianity and ancient thought.

About the Author

Marvin Meyer is one of the foremost scholars on early Christianity and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament. He is Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. Among his recent books are The Gospel of Judas, The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus, The Gospels of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, and The Nag Hammadi Scriptures.



James M. Robinson, consultant for this collection, is widely known for his groundbreaking contribution as the permanent secretary of UNESCO's International Committee for the Nag Hammadi codices, and his many published works on Gnostic texts and the Sayings Gospel Q.


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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  121 reviews
203 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whoever seeks life, this is their wealth. For the world's rest is false, and its gold and silver are deceptive. June 14 2010
By John E. Hart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For the title of this review I chose an excerpt from "The Dialogue of the Savior" which belonged to NHC III,5. On my quest to better understanding 'gnosticism' I first read Andrew Phillip Smith's book titled, "The Gnostics". His brief treatise on the overall scope of what gnosticism is really all about provided me with a more concise understanding of this exhaustive, scholarly translation of the Nag Hammadi text.

This book is by far the most complete and in-depth translation to date and will probably never be equaled. Scholars such as Marvin Meyer, Elaine Pagels, Madeleine Scopello, Einar Thomassen and John D. Turner are just a few of the names involved with the translation of the Nag Hammadi scriptures. There is an array of backgrounds involved which ultimately provide very different interpretations of the text, but this diversity only helps the reader to draw his/her own conclusions as to interpretation.

One positive aspect to this book is decision NOT to guess what the translation might have been. Quite frankly, much of the text within certain tractates were severely damaged and/or missing. Instead of guessing or including what the text may have said, Meyer and others, merely let the reader know that much of the text itself is missing. This is, of course refreshing, as many modern translations of either other Gnostic or Essene texts, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, authors will simply insert modern lexicons assuming that it follows suit to what we have today. Meyer and company don't do this, instead they provide a well documented, heavily footnoted, scholarly work. On many occasions, they provide un-biased opinions of certain words and supply the several meanings to what the word could have meant, allowing for the reader themselves to feel as if they are partaking in the translation.

Many of the text can be deciphered as being either Sethian or Valentinian (the names of the two 'truly' gnostic Christian sects). In the beginning of each tractate, an in-depth analysis of the text is provided, supplying interpretation and the dating of the text as well as to the importance of each.

One such text that doesn't perceive to have an origin is the Gospel of Thomas. It has no markers of being either Sethian or Valentinian and as some scholars have suggested, could very well be the 'Q' source that the Synoptic Gospels themselves are based off of. This is by far a minority viewpoint, but nevertheless, an intriguing claim.

This is a must have treatise to any library and it is clear that the Gnostics were well ahead of their time concerning "gnosis," or knowledge, they had achieved with interpretation of the scriptures, something they felt no one else had.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the writings in one volume May 18 2012
By Aeryck S. De Sade - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an updated release of a wonderful collection of the Gnostic writings that were found in Nag Hammadi in Egypt.

Unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic writings were ones that the church tried to destroy all remnants of, so as to not allow the common person to understand that a clergy class was not needed, or even meant to exist, according to the teachings of Jesus.

Over the centuries, the teachings of the Gnostics have endured through oral tradition, sometimes at great peril to those people keeping the stories, by such means of the church as damning them as heretics and killing them. No other works of early Christianity has ever been more controversial and no other writings have the early church tried so hard to dispose of, and the followers as well, as were the Gnostic writings.

When these writings were found in 1945, it brought together so many fragments from centuries of speculation and oral tradition. Obscure passages in the modern Bible that reference things unknown were finally brought to light as to their meaning, because the actual words of these texts are what was being referenced, yet hidden for so long.

This book compiles the writings in a complete volume, more complete that any other book ever has, of all the known fragments and complete works of the Gnostic scriptures. These writings are more complete in the actual first person teachings of Jesus among his disciples than even the Bible has kept, and show a picture that would have changed early Christianity forever if it would have been allowed the light of day by the church priests that sought to have them forever hidden.
110 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is Light within a Light-man ..." Jan. 5 2010
By tepi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts - The International Edition. Edited by Marvin Meyer. New York: Harper Collins, 2008. Paperback, 844 pages. ISBN 9780061626005

The present work, as the most complete and up-to-date English-language edition of the Nag Hammadi Scriptures, is probably the finest available edition for the general reader today and should appeal to a wide range of readers with varying interests.

Judging by the reviews, most readers seem to come to these texts with a strong Biblical background and are surprised to see how strikingly different they can be to the Bible.

In my own case I come to them with a background in Asian thought and am amazed at how strikingly similar they can at times be to the sacred texts of the East.

This is understandable since, as Duncan Greenlees pointed out in his excellent anthologyThe Gospel of The Gnostics (page xxvi): "We have not yet worked out the actual influence of India upon the Western ... Gnostics; yet it is clear to the sympathetic, and therefore to the honest, student it must have been very great. At times we can almost recognize a direct quotation from some Indian scripture."

To realize that he is right we need only turn, for example, to logion 24 of the Gospel of Thomas where we find Jesus saying (page 143):

"There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark."

Turning next to the Astavakra Samhita II.8, which Dr. Satkari Mookerjee in his Introduction explains "is a very early and pure Advaitic text which gives us the essentials of the Advaita Vedanta position," we find King Janaka announcing to the sage Ashtavakra:

"Light is my very nature; I am no other than light. When the universe manifests itself, verily then it is I that shine."

The translator comments: "The nature of the Self is Effulgence itself. Whatever is manifested is nothing but the Self. The manifestation of the world really implies the manifestation of the Self."

We should note that in Vedanta this Light (Skt. prakasha) is a property, not of a God-man such as Jesus, but of ordinary men such as King Janaka, or you and me.

We are dealing here with something very deep, far too deep to go into here. Readers whose curiosity may have been aroused should check out my Listmania List: The Ashtavakra Gita - A Very Early and Pure Advaita Text. This will set them on the path to understanding what logion 24 is really all about, and possibly much else in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures.
95 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Split the Wood and I Am There; Lift the Stone and You Will Find Me." July 4 2009
By William B. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Gospel of Thomas is likely the best-known of the extra-biblical texts found at the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi in 1945, as it offers evidence of the early compilation of sayings of Jesus which overlap (in part) and supplement (in other parts) New Testament writings. Numerous editions of the Gospel of Thomas in English translation have been published. Those seeking popular, non-techical translations of Thomas will do well with those by Marvin Meyer, Stevan Davies, Stephen Patterson and others. A more comprehensively annotated version of Thomas is that of April DeConick, who includes numerous ancient parallels to each saying attributed to Jesus (saying number 77 is given as the title to this review).

Those seeking to study Thomas in context with the rest of the Nag Hammadi texts may turn to Bentley Lion (Anchor Bible Reference Library), James Robinson (Nag Hammadi Library), and, now, Meyer's compilation (Nag Hammadi Scripture), the latter expanded to include the Gospels of Mary and Judas as well. Those seeking basic translations with brief introductions to many of these (and other) early Christian texts may turn to Bart Ehrman's "Lost Scriptures." Willis Barnstone's "Gnostic Bible" (now also available in briefer, excerpted form with accompanying CD) offers a more readable if less scholarly format which includes a selection of ancient "gnostic" texts beyond those found at Nag Hammadi. For a look at what "gnostic" means to begin with, and whether it is a useful category to place (confine?) texts in at all, Karen King provides a helpful overview.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity Revisited Sept. 23 2011
By Maerick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Nag Hammadi Scriptures is fabulous! It certainly gives a new slant on Christianity. It is high time we started scrutinizing the Bible as stories rather than historical fact.

Marvin Meyer's editing is astonishing in its honesty and intelligence. Reviewing the Gnostic viewpoint brings us from the sexual and violent simplicity and contradiction of the Christian Bible to a beautiful striving for intelligent knowledge, truth and peace. This does not mean I have walked away believing it as fact. What it means is that it has opened doors for someone who was raised a Catholic, and delved into various Christian religions throughout my life, much to my dissatisfaction and distate, resulting in constantly being forced to embrace dogma as an absolute. This scripture has affirmed that others have questioned the teachings of the early Christian church and bravely buried their thoughts rather than having them destroyed. Amazing that they were found and preserved!

I love the Scriptures and gave it as a gift to one of my friends, who was thrilled to receive it as well. Cannot wait to discuss some of the books with her.

I saw Dr. Meyer on the History Channel first about two years ago, and was overwhelmed with his teaching. I am so grateful for this book.

Maerick

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