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The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus: The Definitive Collection of Mystical Gospels and Secret Books about Jesus of Nazareth Hardcover – February 15, 2005
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
Reading the Secret Book of John from this very edition has changed my life, and the way I think about Jesus. I can honestly say that a perception of humanity's place in the universe has opened itself up to me. For example, William Blake's rhyme:
"Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"
...immediately took on new meaning (Yaldabaoth as the talented, not necessarily evil, but nonetheless ignorant and soul-less creator of the material world--seek Heaven, not Earth, as eternal Paradise).
And, how about one more snippet of Blake, to drive home the proof that the essence of Gnosticism has lived, even through eyes that had not lain upon the desert papyri treasure:
"The Awakener is come outstretch'd over Europe: the Vision of God is fulfilled:
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,
He listens to the sounds of War astonish'd & ashamed..."
I finally grasp the Gnostic path, and why knowledge is the key to salvation, as opposed to simply having faith and doing good works. If you are looking for a compilation of Gnostic literature that includes the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip, they also are included in this book.
Honestly, I spent my Easter Sunday reading and meditating on the Secret Book of John, and it all made sense. If you ever thought there was something wrong with the fruit of traditional Orthodoxy, or why some believe they are successful in life (oh, but are they really...), this is the book for you. As one who has studied Asian philosophical systems for decades, I have rediscovered my Western roots and the Meaning of Life in Marvin Meyer's book. It is a strange but rewarding path; not Jesus of the Cross (death! suffering! an imposter!), but Jesus Christ the Eternal Light who came down to this dark world to wake us from our thrall.
I have a few criticisms of the book. His discussion of gnosticism is merely adequate as are his notes on the texts themselves. Somone of Meyer's stature has more to offer than he does here, but for a non scholar it is probably sufficient. I also have a problem with his updating of the translations. Personally I think a lot is lost when (for example) the "Son of Man" becomes a "Child of Humankind". It is not only historically offensive, it separates the current texts from their historical contexts, leaving the current addition adrift without the benefit of the threads which tie together so much of Christian research and scholarship.
Leaving aside these criticisms, if your budget permits you to buy only one book of gnostic texts, this is probably the book you'll want.
There has been significant refinement during the last four decades in "the scholarly ear" for both the forgotten ancient tongue and the spiritual tradition preserved in the Gnostic Coptic texts discovered over the last century. Meyer states his goal in these translations is to be "as accurate as possible" while still presenting the texts in "felilcitious English." At this he succeeds beautifully. Readers who have labored with the sometimes tortured translations and editorial conventions presented in the original editions of the Nag Hammadi Library (first published thirty years ago) will be amazed at the graceful intelligibility of Meyer's translations. Meyer adds to the collection an overview of our evolving understanding of Christian Gnosticism, and prefaces each of the selected text with an excellent introductory essay.