71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Not the best of its class, anymore,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gnostic Scriptures: A New Translation with Annotations and Introductions by (Anchor Bible Reference Library) (Paperback)
I own this book and have read it. It was wonderful for its time, but if I were buying now I'd buy the recent Nag Hammadi Library in English. Mr. Layton's collection isn't as comprehensive and I found his format a little annoying, as well as the New Age cover! The book omits some material from the Nag Hammadi find that I found myself really missing after a while. That said, I've used this book for years and have benefited enormously from it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 25, 2006 9:21:27 AM PDT
Actually a quick review of the pythagorean influences of gnosticism will reveal the "new age cover" is actually an illustration of Sacred Geometry.
Posted on Aug 3, 2007 4:13:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2007 4:32:26 PM PDT
Min Sun Yee says:
I wish you had listed which Nag Hammadi Library book you bought instead.
Also, I would have appreciated knowing what is missing from the Layton translation.
This is the best, by far.
Also the first NHL, the one editied by Robinson alone, had 61 scriptures.
The recent one, by Meyer, has 50 scriptures.
The one here by Layton that you are complaining about for not being "comprehensuive" has at least 100 different scriptures, and that does not count the excellent introductory chapter, the thumbnail summaries of the scriptures themselves.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2010 10:53:13 AM PDT
A. Waters says:
Layton's text is by far the best selection for non-specialists. The problem with the Nag Hammadi library is that it is massive and no other translations contain as much useful background information as Layton about how the various ways of relating the texts, the question of classifying authentic gnostic from having gnostic elements, etc. Also, what make Layton's edition especially unique is his command of Coptic and his mastery of the ecclesiastical history of early Christianity until the rise of Islam in the 7th century. I have studied his Sahidic Coptic language books and his ability to explain complex ancient languages and interpret the ideas of desert religions in preliterate societies surviving through memorizing tens of thousands of lines of oral legends -- that became written in codices only much later -- presents monumental problems of interpretation for those of us who seek to gain understanding of worlds so unlike our own. I know of no one else who has the gift of presenting such difficulties of translation and interpretation as clearly and comprehensively as Prof. Layton. If he were to include the entire Gnostic library, it would take 5 or more volumes to convey as much information as he has done in this 500 page plus edition. Min Sun Yee is very reasonable in her assessment. Many of the commentators simply have no idea about how difficult it is to decide what is an authentic Gnostic text and what is related but definitely a work that should be classified as related to or influenced by, but definitely distinct from, authentic Gnostic texts. I also doubt that Prof. Layton chose the cover for his collection. That was clearly done by the publisher and its is definitely not new age. It fits in well with the influence of Greek astrology and astronomy, something that Gnostics were very familiar with.
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