In 1945 a trove of ancient books were found in the Egyptian desert. These weren’t just any books. These were books about Jesus including the Gospels of Judas, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Phillip and the lost Third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. These books were Christian books written at the same time as the four canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They centered on the mystical aspect of Jesus’ message, the Gnostic, rather than his role as sacrificial lamb of God that is Jesus as teacher rather than Jesus as God.
The priests decided that their power relied upon their ability to provide the only route to salvation whereas the Gnostic gospels spoke of a personal form of salvation. So, they were forbidden and ordered burned. A lone group of rebel priests, now unknown, defied the order of the Bishops and buried them in the desert where they remained for over 1600 years. Nobody can truly understand the message of Jesus, his life and the early Christian church without reading them.
Edited by James M. Robinson with an afterword by Richard Smith discusses the modern relevance of Gnosticism and its influence on such writers as Voltaire, Blake, Melville, Yeats, Kerouac, and Philip K. Dick.Acclaimed by scholars and general readers alike, The Nag Hammadi Library is a work of major importance to everyone interested in the evolution of Christianity, the Bible, archaeology, and the story of Western civilization.
Read it in our sangha library here.
Watch a fascinating documentary on the discovery and significance of the Nag Hammadi library with leading New Testament scholar Professor Bart D. Ehrman here.