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Author Topic: NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY  (Read 169 times)
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« on: June 08, 2007, 06:43:11 pm »


The Nag Hammadi Library

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About the Nag Hammadi Library Section
The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary Gnostic scriptures -- texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define "orthodoxy" -- scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth.

The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, completed in the 1970's, has provided impetus to a major re-evaluation of early Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism.  Readers unfamiliar with this history may wish to review the brief Introduction to Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library provided here, as well as an excerpt from Elaine Pagels' excellent popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi texts, The Gnostic Gospels.  (Visit the Bookstore to purchase the The Nag Hammadi Library and  The Gnostic Gospels or to find information on other important introductory works that will help explain this material -- or click now to buy The Nag Hammadi Library.)

The texts discovered at Nag Hammadi available in the Gnostic Society Library are indexed in alphabetical order, and by their location in the original codices. A subject categorized list of the writings is also given, below. You may also search the entire collection of texts for keywords or phrases using the search form. We also have a special collection of resources about the Gospel of Thomas.

Several of the major texts in the Nag Hammadi collection have more than one English translation; where more than one translation is made available, we have listed the translators' names in parenthesis below the name of the text. Texts marked with the {*} have more than one version extant within the Nag Hammadi codices; often these were used conjointly by the translators to provide the single text presented here. In 1997 all files presented here were re-edited for accuracy by Michael Grondin, whose many hours of effort we gratefully acknowledge.

Other important primary Gnostic texts -- texts available prior to discover of the Nag Hammadi Library collection -- are also available; these are indexed in the Gnostic Scriptures section of the The Gnostic Society Library.

An Overview of the Nag Hammadi Texts
When analyzed according to subject matter, there are six separate major categories of writings collected in the Nag Hammadi codices:

Writings of creative and redemptive mythology, including Gnostic alternative versions of creation and salvation: The Apocryphon of John; The Hypostasis of the Archons; On the Origin of the World; The Apocalypse of Adam; The Paraphrase of Shem.  (For an in-depth discussion of these, see the Archive commentary on Genesis and Gnosis.)

Observations and commentaries on diverse Gnostic themes, such as the nature of reality, the nature of the soul, the relationship of the soul to the world: The Gospel of Truth; The Treatise on the Resurrection; The Tripartite Tractate; Eugnostos the Blessed; The Second Treatise of the Great Seth; The Teachings of Silvanus; The Testimony of Truth.

Liturgical and initiatory texts: The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth; The Prayer of Thanksgiving; A Valentinian Exposition; The Three Steles of Seth; The Prayer of the Apostle Paul. (The Gospel of Philip, listed under the sixth category below, has great relevance here also, for it is in effect a treatise on Gnostic sacramental theology).

Writings dealing primarily with the feminine deific and spiritual principle, particularly with the Divine Sophia: The Thunder, Perfect Mind; The Thought of Norea; The Sophia of Jesus Christ; The Exegesis on the Soul.

Writings pertaining to the lives and experiences of some of the apostles: The Apocalypse of Peter; The Letter of Peter to Philip; The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles; The (First) Apocalypse of James; The (Second) Apocalypse of James, The Apocalypse of Paul.

Scriptures which contain sayings of Jesus as well as descriptions of incidents in His life: The Dialogue of the Saviour; The Book of Thomas the Contender; The Apocryphon of James; The Gospel of Philip; The Gospel of Thomas.

This leaves a small number of scriptures of the Nag Hammadi Library which may be called "unclassifiable." It also must be kept in mind that the passage of time and translation into languages very different from the original have rendered many of these scriptures abstruse in style. Some of them are difficult reading, especially for   those readers not familiar with Gnostic imagery, nomenclature and the like. Lacunae are also present in most of these scriptures -- in a few of the texts extensive sections have been lost due to age and deterioration of the manuscripts. The most readily comprehensible of the Nag Hammadi scriptures is undoubtedly The Gospel of Thomas, with The Gospel of Philip and the The Gospel of Truth as close seconds in order of easy comprehension. (These texts were all also thankfully very well preserved and have few lacunae.) There are various translations of most of these scriptures available; the most complete being the one volume collection The Nag Hammadi Library in English, edited by James Robinson, from which the translations presented here are principally quoted.

Commentary on the Nag Hammadi Collection
To help place the Nag Hammadi materials into a better focus of understanding, the in association with BC Recordings, the Library has developed a series of introductory lectures and commentaries upon NHL materials.  You will find an extensive collection of these lectures by Dr. Stephan Hoeller introducing Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library at BC Recordings.  In addition to that extensive collection, we have these free lectures available:

Christ:  The Misunderstood Redeemer --  An understanding of the Gnostic perception of Christ is crucial to any meaningful reading of texts in the Nag Hammadi collection.  In this lecture Dr. Stephan Hoeller uses several of the works in the Nag Hammadi Library to introduce the Gnostic Christ. (RealAudio format, 75 min.)

Redemption and Redeemer in the Gospel of Thomas -- The Gospel of Thomas is one of the most important Gnostic texts discovered at Nag Hammadi. In this lecture, Dr. Hoeller explores the "soteriology" -- the concept of a redeemer and the process of redemption -- as developed in the text of the Thomas Gospel.   (RealAudio format, 75 min.)

The Sorrow of Sophia:  Feminine Divine Image of Suffering -- Gnosticism developed a unique understanding of the feminine aspects within divinity. In this lecture Dr. Hoeller explores the Gnostic image of the suffering and the alienation of the divine feminine, using as his text a reading from The Exegesis on the Soul  (NHL II,6). (RealAudio format, 80 min.)

We also offer a comprehensive collection of text resources on Valentinus and the Valentinian Tradition.


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