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222 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reference, November 21, 2003
This review is from: The Nag Hammadi Library (Paperback)
This is a book of more interest to scholars, perhaps, than to the general public. The Nag Hammadi library was discovered in the Egyptian desert, near Nag Hammadi, in 1945. The library was composed of scrolls buried by the Gnostics, who in the fourth century maintained a monastery nearby. They were contained in a buried clay jar, in an apparent attempt by Gnostic Christians to save them from destruction by the Constantinian Christians who had orders from the Christian Emperor, Constantine, to destroy all such writings as heresy, along with those who adhered to them.
Over the nearly 2,000 years buried in the desert sand, time took its toll, and many of the scrolls were fragmentary as a result. Yet the 38 scholars who undertook the translation from the ancient Egyptian (coptic) in which they were written, did a magnificent job: not only translating, but also making commentaries comparing them to those gospels which Constantine's scholars considered canonical, and discarding all others as heretical.
This volume is one of the results, with the various codices identified with the translators, and beginning with their commentaries.
Other volumes of a similar nature, including two books by Dr. Elaine Pagels--one of the translators--"The Gnostic Gospels" and "Beyond Belief," are also available on Amazon. Dr. Pagels taught at Barnard College, where she chaired the Department of Religion, and Columbia University. She is currently professor of religion at Princeton.
The Nag Hammadi Library consists of twelve codices as well as fragments of a thirteenth, and fifty-two separate tractates. A brief history of the effort to translate and edit the materials is included in the preface to this book.
The struggle to eliminate the Gnostics and their ancient literature, by the Constantinian Christians (who prevailed and became the universally accepted Christianm church) was highly succesful, so much so that the only evidence of the Gnostic literature, for centuries, were the disparaging remarks in the writings of the orthodox authors referring to the heretics.
Until the discovery of these scrolls, in 1945!
For those who are interested in this subject matter, this is a most interesting book, and one you will wish to own.
Joseph (Joe) Pierre

author of The Road to Damascus: Our Journey Through Eternity
and other books
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Initial post: Sep 25, 2009 6:37:34 PM PDT
KarenAnn says:
Hi Joe,

I just read the review you posted on November 21, 2003 for The Nag Hammadi Library by James Robinson.

Recently I have gone through a personal struggle with life and death and existence of a higher power.
For months now, I have been emerging from years of darkness and fear and anger, trying to right my life's course.

I was raised Catholic and we never studied the Bible, although we heard certain watered down passages during mass. I withdrew from participating as a young adult, but still believed that Jesus was the living proof of eternal life. He ensured my certainty that only our bodies died; that our soul or spirit lived on forever.
They had me at resurrection.
When I married a protestant born again Christian, I followed once again, but this time studying the Bible, alone and with a group of friends. I never fought so much in my life. They would just pluck a quote out of context and fling it at you arrogantly. As if to say "Look! Here's proof!". The truths of the Bible, though, are not always literal. If you dissect the passages, the message is lost. Their self righteousness was the very thing that disconnected them from the truth. So I studied and discerned to the point I could, divorced my husband and knew that the Bible was not complete somehow.

I looked to self help writings from Dr. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. I was introduced to the notion that God was within me. I read The Da Vinci Code in hardcover. But didn't look up the Gnostic Gospels until last month when I saw it mentioned on the bulletin board I was posting on.

This leads me to the hard recent past years of getting older and family or friends dying. My life's dream of marriage and children never to come true. Hyper aware that all too soon it would be my turn to die. I spent the last year or so living in panic and fear of my death. Fear of my mother and my father's deaths.

Posting on the message board for the last month, all my collected pieces of truth became organized as I wrote. I was no longer afraid or depressed. I suddenly felt connected to the source from which I came and recognized it as the same place where the artist draws from to create the song. I believe that there is something bigger that we add to when we create or love and draw from it to create or love. We guarantee it's existence. This is where we are all connected. This is the fate that awaits all of us. We become part of the "something bigger", from where we came. When my mother passes, she will always be available to me as part of that life force I can access at any moment, to create or to love.

If we all believed that there would be no fear.

I suddenly thought that maybe these missing texts are what would make the difference in so many Christians lives. The difference between reciting the words and living the words. In believing in eternal life, with the power of knowing you are already a part of eternity. So many of the people around me know nothing of the Gnostic Gospels. So I googled it today, hoping to read the full text and see if it could be the connecting link that is missing in the Bible I studied. The complete picture, the additional information needed to see the truth.

My search led me to the book The Nag Hammadi Library by James M. Robinson, which led me to your review of it. Your review made me buy the book.

Thank you.

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