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The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library [Hardcover]

By Marvin Meyer (Author)
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Item Number 161368  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6.2" Height: 1"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2005
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060821086  
EAN  9780060821081  
UPC  099455021951  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

The Meaning of the Nag Hammadi, now in paperback opens the with the thrilling adventure story of the discovery of the ancient Papyrii at Nag Hammadi. Muhammad Ali, the fellahin, discovered the sealed jar, he feared that it might contain a jinni, or spirit, but also had heard of hidden treasures in such jars. Greed overcame his fears and when he smashed open the jar, gold seemed to float into the air. To his disappointment, it was papyrus fragmenst, not gold, but for scholars around the world, it was invaluable.

Meyer then discusses the pre-Christian forms of wisdom that went onto influence what Christians believe today. In addition, some Nag Hammadi texts are attributed to Valentinus, a man who almost became Pope, and whose rejection changed the church in significant ways. Text by text, Meyer traces the history and impact of this great find on the Church, right up to our current beliefs and popular cultural fascination with this officially suppressed secret knowledge about Jesus and his followers.

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More About Marvin Meyer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Marvin Meyer, Ph.D. (1979) in Religion, Claremont Graduate School, is Professor of Religion at Chapman University, Orange, California, and Director of the Coptic Magical Texts Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity. He has published extensively on ancient Gnostic and magical traditions. Paul Mirecki, Th.D. (1986) in Religious Studies, Harvard Divinity School, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. His publications include a wide variety of articles on ancient Mediterranean religions with a primary focus on Coptic papyrology.

Marvin Meyer currently resides in Orange, in the state of California.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [6817  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Gnosticism   [221  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History   [4688  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A book about Gnostic discoveries  May 23, 2008
In the year 1945 some Egyptian peasants looking for natural fertilizer stumbled on a large storage jar which contained several ancient codices. Even today the codices of Nag Hammadi library represent some of the oldest books known. The writings stand at point of written works' transition from papyrus scrolls to bound books.

The duplicate copies of the same texts in the library and also the codices' different kind of covers and handwriting styles suggest that the Nag Hammadi library was merged together of several smaller collections of texts. In this book the discoveries of the Gnostic texts are described in detail and a quick overview is provided of the texts themselves.
Fine overview on the contents of the Nag Hammadi codexes and of gnostic schools of thought  Apr 27, 2006
The Nag Hammadi codexes are a series of papyrus books originating from around 300 AD, discovered buried near the town of Nag Hammadi by Egyptian farmers just after World War II. Long an outpost of Coptic and gnostic thought in early christianity, Egypt has proven to be an archeological bounty when it comes to early religious works. Upon examination of the codexes by scientists and scholards it was discovered they contained early christian writings including many of what are considered gnostic texts and gospels. Meyer's book dissects and discusses the various schools of gnosticism, their relation to greek and egyptian religious beliefs, and the value offered by certain texts like the Gospel of Mary which lie outside the official Christian canon.

Meyer also does an excellent job summarizing each codex with the works contained within. He explains the differences between the Valentinian Gnostics and the Sethian gnostics, which are baffling to say the least, and shows that early christianity was even more diverse then we ever believed. So how did the Codexes become buried in the sands? Meyer makes a strong case for Coptic monks from monastery close to Nag Hammadi being the source of the compilation of the Codexes, as monks in those days were often scribes. Meyer believes that after Christian leaders like Irinaeus declared the acceptable, approved list of what would become the New Testament from the hundreds of various gospels, letters, and essays in the early church, the monks took everything that might be heretical and had them buried.

Meyer succeeds in making clear what is considered fact, what is scientific theory, and what is his personal opinion. The reader is allowed to make up their own mind without undue influence, which in works on religion or archeology is so often not the case. Meyer's writing is concise and easy to digest, and the pages move quickly without bogging down into jargon. Fair warning though, only minor passages from the codexes are contained in this book. There are many other works available that contained detailed translations. Good overview on the subject, recommended for those interested in the topic.

A.G. Corwin
St.Louis, MO
A Fine Introduction   Apr 18, 2006
This is a slim little book easily read by almost anyone. Further, it is a fine introduction to the Gnostic texts of the early Common Era both on a substantive basis as well as their place in a broader evaluation of the religions of Antiquity and Late Antiquity. However, as with the Dead Sea Scrolls, expect to find nothing that shockingly changes anything in the present. The thought patterns of Gnosis are alien to modern rational thinking. Therefore, they seem exotic to some. But, reified dualistic gnosticism was always heretical to Christianity. Neither Primitive Christianity or Second Temple and early Rabbinic Judaism were dualistic. The soul and the body are tied together in both religions.

Meyer is a master of this subject. In this book he supplies enough information for almost anyone. Both the texts and their importance are covered incisively and with an economy of words. Beyond the Thomas corpus and the Valentinian writings and activities in Rome, Christian Gnostic texts have had little influence in the West. While gnosticism reflected the marginalization of women by the Catholic Church, it was not alone in this indictment. If you wish to go on, Valentinus's writings are gorgeous literature that constitute some of the most moving Christian mysticism known. The Gospel of Thomas always makes one think about who Jesus of Nazareth was. I found this book to be very enjoyable and informative.
Comprehensive  Feb 24, 2006
While this book does not contain any new information about the Nag Hammadi texts not covered in other books, it does contain the whole story of their discovery in Egypt along with some of the more important gnostic myths. If you aren't familiar with Christian gnosticism, it is a great place to start your study. If you are, having both the discovery of the texts and a brief description of the gnostic belief system in one volume can be very useful.
1/2 a book is better than no book at all  Feb 2, 2006
In 2005 Meyer produced 2 books which deal with the gnostic texts, both published by HarperCollins who are a leading company in the Christology field. Meyer's other book, The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus, is a collection of common (Mary, Philip, Thomas) and obscure (Baruch, Seth) texts and provides a valuable resource for the serious student. When reading that book I longed for a more comprehensive in-depth discussion of gnosticism and the texts themselves. Well, here it is! Meyer provides us with an excellent discussion of gnosticism and a detailed analysis of the texts themselves.

I suppose someone (either Meyer himself or his publisher) made the decision to do 2 good books instead of one excellent one. Too bad. There is a certain redundancy to owning both of these books, yet neither one is fully complete. Maybe the economics of publishing requires such decisions, but the reality of purchasing also dictates decisions. If you had to choose only 1, I would go with the texts themselves, and forgo the excellent work in the other book. If you can afford both, go for it.

My main criticisms of the current book are (a) Meyer's updated translation (e.g., the "Son of Man" is NOT the "child of humankind"), (b) the lack of a narrative strand in the text descriptions, and (3) the lack of integration between the general discussion and the text discussions. Otherwise this is a fine 1/2 book.

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