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The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library Hardcover – November 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (November 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060821086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060821081
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,598,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi documents in the 1940s, Gnosticism was considered to be a form of anti-Christian heresy taught by some early church fathers and condemned by others. Modern readers depended on secondary works condemning Gnosticism in order to understand its proponents' point of view. But with the unearthing of the Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, scholars have a better idea of the scope and direction of Gnostic teaching in the early years of Christianity as told by its adherents. Meyer, professor of Bible and Christian studies at Chapman University in California, boasts nine previous publications on the subject and demonstrates a deep understanding of both the history and content of the documents. After briefly recounting their discovery, he analyzes their content, sorting through the teachings and relating them, not just to the biblical text, but even to the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Although there is no new material, the author's concise presentation will appeal to many readers. Meyer writes clearly, bringing both the people and the times of the early Gnostic writings to life and making them accessible to scholar and layperson alike. (Nov.)
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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.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Marvin Meyer is one of the foremost scholars on gnosticism, the Nag Hammadi library, and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Way on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dr. C. H. Roberts on January 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr Meyer's book is wisely titled for it not only provides an interesting and engaging narrative of the discovery and publication of the Nag Hammadi texts, it will be helpful to those seeking to discover in Gnosis a deeper and more personal spirituality. The first part of the book provides an adequate history of the origin, discovery and publication of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic writings. In the second part of the book, Meyer gives a brief analysis of the entire contents of the Nag Hammadi library, along with selected quotes from the documents themselves. This is a good, basic introduction to modern Gnostic studies. Seasoned readers on the subject will find it excellent reading as well. Thank you, Marvin Meyer, for a well written book!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David E. Blair on April 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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