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The Nag Hammadi Library in English, 4th rev. ed.

by Robinson, James M.

Brill 1996

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The Nag Hammadi Library in English, 4th rev. ed. See inside
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Overview

The Gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Philip—texts that have garnered so much discussion recently in both the scholarly world and in popular literature, such as The Da Vinci Code—are just a few of the many Gnostic documents contained in The Nag Hammadi Library. These documents are invaluable sources for the study of Gnosticism and "alternate Christianities" that competed with the early orthodox church.

If you have an interest in studying Gnostic texts to gain insight into the roots of Christianity—or are simply curious as to what all the commotion is about—this is a set of texts you'll want to add to your library!

This revised and expanded edition of The Nag Hammadi Library is the only complete, one-volume, modern language version of the reknowned library of fourth-century manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1945. Now you can read for yourself these widely-discussed and controversial texts.

First published in 1978, The Nag Hammadi Library launched modern Gnostic studies and was widely acclaimed by critics and scholars alike. Although some of the texts had appeared in other translations, the 1978 edition was the first and only translation of these ancient and fascinating manuscripts to appear in one volume.

This new edition is the result of ten years of additional research, and editorial and critical work. Every translation has been changed or added to; many have been thoroughly revised. This edition also includes a translation of the Berlin Gnostic Papyrus 8502 (which is not really part of the Nag Hammadi Codices but shares some similarities).

Each text is accompanied by a new and expanded introduction. Also included are a revised general introduction and an afterword discussing the modern relevance of Gnosticism, from Voltaire and Blake through Melville and Yeats to Jack Kerouac and science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

The translations and introductions to the Nag Hammadi texts are by members of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project, which includes such scholars as Helmut Koester, George McRae, and Elaine Pagels.

"The Nag Hammadi texts are...important for NT studies. They contribute to the discussion of the alleged anti-gnostic character of certain NT texts...The Gospel of Thomas contributes to the discussion of the tradition of Jesus’ sayings in the Synoptic Gospels, as do The Apocryphon of James and The Dialogue of the Savior." —D. M. Scholer

Contents

  • Table of Tractates in the Coptic Gnostic Library
  • Textual Signs
  • Introduction
  • The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
  • The Apocryphon of James
  • The Gospel of Truth
  • The Treatise on the Resurrection
  • The Tripartite Tractate
  • The Apocryphon of John
  • The Gospel of Thomas
  • The Gospel of Philip
  • The Hypostasis of the Archons
  • On the Origin of the World
  • The Exegesis on the Soul
  • The Book of Thomas the Contender
  • The Gospel of the Egyptians
  • Eugnostos the Blessed and The Sophia of Jesus Christ
  • The Dialogue of the Savior
  • The Apocalypse of Paul
  • The (First) Apocalypse of James
  • The (Second) Apocalypse of James
  • The Apocalypse of Adam
  • The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
  • The Thunder, Perfect Mind
  • Authoritative Teaching
  • The Concept of Our Great Power
  • Plato, Republic 588A-589B
  • The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth
  • The Prayer of Thanksgiving and Scribal Note
  • Asclepius 21-29
  • The Paraphrase of Shem
  • The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
  • Apocalypse of Peter
  • The Teachings of Silvanus
  • The Three Steles of Seth
  • Zostrianos
  • The Letter of Peter to Philip
  • Melchizedek
  • The Thought of Norea
  • The Testimony of Truth
  • Marsanes
  • The Interpretation of Knowledge
  • A Valentinian Exposition with On the Anointing, On Baptism A and B, On the Eucharist A and B
  • Allogenes
  • Hypsiphrone
  • The Sentences of Sextus
  • Fragments
  • Trimorphic Protennoia
  • The Gospel of Mary
  • The Act of Peter
  • Afterword: The Modern Relevance of Gnosticism

Praise for the Print Edition

This definitive translation has become a standard since its first publication in 1977.

—J.K. Elliott, Novum Testamentum, 1991

An absolute gold mine of the literature of Gnosticism.

The Los Angeles Times

This fascinating collection will become as welcome an addition to the understanding of the formative years of the early Christian church as the books on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

—The Washington Star

A tremendous achievement.

—Chicago Theological Seminary Register

Product Details

  • General Editor: James M. Robinson
  • Managing Editor: Richard Smith
  • Edition: Fourth Revised Edition
  • Publisher: E.J. Brill
  • Publication Date: 1996
  • Pages: 549

Significance of Nag Hammadi for Biblical Studies

Unearthed in 1945 near the town of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, the texts literally begin where the Dead Sea Scrolls end. In fact, you could say that The Nag Hammadi Library is to early Christianity what the Dead Sea Scrolls are to Judaism. Their discovery is seen as equally significant, bringing to light a long-hidden well of new information, sources, and insights into the roots of Christianity.

Another reason to read these texts is to gain insight into what the Early Church Fathers were refuting in their polemical works. Gnostics were a common opponent of the patristics as the church battled to define and defend orthodoxy.

The Anchor Bible Dictionary summarizes the importance of the texts as part of a lengthy and informative article on the Nag Hammadi Codices: "As one of the most important manuscript finds of the century, comparable in that respect to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi collection has had an enormous impact on a number of scholarly fields and disciplines."

The article goes on to catalog this impact on the areas of gospel tradition, Johannine scholarship, orthodoxy vs. heresy in the early Church, the religious character of various geographical regions, the history of the canon, the study of Judaism, the study of Gnosticism, and the study of the Coptic language.

Two other authors comment on the significance of the Nag Hammadi texts for shedding light on the New Testament milieu:

"The Nag Hammadi Codices surely help us understand the tendency toward a mystical piety based on revelation or ecstatic experience as one of the varieties of religious experience in the Greco-Roman world of late antiquity. These writings also provide new material for understanding the many types of ancient Gnosticism. How Greek philosophical thought interacted with early Christianity in both its Gnostic and emerging orthodox forms can also be illumined by these new writings."

>—James Brashler, Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 1984

"The Nag Hammadi find ranks with the Dead Sea Scrolls...as the most significant finds of this century for the reevaluation of our knowledge of the religious movements of the Greco-Roman period...including Judaism and the early church. The foremost contribution of the Nag Hammadi texts is that they provide primary source documents for the study of ancient gnostic movements, through which it is possible to understand better the variety and theological nuances of those movements...Further, the Nag Hammadi texts, by virtue of their sources, have contributed to our understandings of early church history, ancient Judaism and the Middle Platonic and Neo-Platonic traditions. With reference to early church history, these texts show how complex the issues were in the second century with reference to what in retrospect we consider 'orthodox' and 'heretical.'
"The Nag Hammadi texts are also important for NT studies. They contribute to the discussion of the alleged anti-gnostic character of certain NT texts (e.g., compare 1 John with the 'we have not sinned' litany in The Second Treatise of the Great Seth)...The Gospel of Thomas contributes to the discussion of the tradition of Jesus’ sayings in the Synoptic Gospels, as do The Apocryphon of James and The Dialogue of the Savior. Trimorphic Protennoia has been widely discussed as related to the prologue of the Gospel of John. Many of the Nag Hammadi texts were composed in the second century and indirectly give witness to the authority of many of the texts that were in the process of constituting the canonical NT at that time."

—D. M. Scholer, "Gnosis", Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments

The Logos Bible Software Edition

This is the first-ever electronic edition of Brill's Nag Hammadi Library! It contains the texts, introductions, front- and back matter found in the print edition.

All text is searchable and, as usual, there is a hyperlinked table of contents to jump to the desired section. In addition, data types have been created that will allow other Logos Bible Software titles to link to the Nag Hammadi Codices and the Berlin Gnostic Papyrus 8502 (included) by codex | tractate | page | line as well as link to the Gospel of Thomas, Dialogue of the Savior and the Sentences of Sextus by sentence or saying number.