The Secret Teachings of Jesus : Four Gnostic Gospels
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3.31 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0394744330
Manufacturer : Vintage|
Release data : 12 May, 1986
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I became interested in the Gnostic texts after I saw the movie Stigmata which made misleading references to the Gospel of St. Thomas. This is what I found regarding this particular book "The Secret Teachings of Jesus : Four Gnostic Gospels".
The book as written by Marvin Meyer lacks accuracy of translation which takes away the relationship of the Gnostic texts from their place in history and their relationship to the Bible in its accepted form. (see other critical comments that already cover these observations.) In general, the book does what is wants to...it makes the major Gnositic texts available to the general public, but there are better translations out there.
With regards to the Gnostic text themselves, they offer an important insight into the history of Christianity, especially how fractioned it was in the early days. These texts however do not provide insights into the beliefs of Christianity. For example, one of the texts is a blatant Christianized rewrite of an earlier heretical Judaified text of pagen origins. The text even uses God's name Yahweh in a vuglar manner. Another example is the fact that the Gospel of St. Thomas isn't even a gospel at all. It is merely a listing of sayings that Jesus may have said. These sayings have lost (and therefore useless) meanings because they are taken out of context. For someone seeking enlightment, it will be frustrating to be so close to Jesus' own words, yet be so far from his actual message.
Overall, I recommend reading the Gnostic texts to come to your own conclusions, but I do not necessarily recommend this particular translation unless you are only casually interested in the field.
Four amazing early Christian Gnostic texts from Nag Hamadi
Ancient Gnostic texts reveal a long-forgotten form of relationship with between humanity and the divine, and a surprisingly unique perception of the divinity among these circles.
This book presents the latest translations of four texts from the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic texts. The four texts chosen are classic Gnostic scriptures of particular importance to early Christianity. They are, "The Secret Book of James" (written by Jesus' brother), "The Gospel of Thomas" (the most prominent classic of Gnostic Christian spirituality, by Jesus' twin, Judas Thomas), "The Book of Thomas", and "The Secret Book of John" (by Jesus' disciple, John the fisherman).
Amazingly, each of these four authentic texts are specifically identified by the mysterious ancient authors, in the first verses, as containing secret information from Jesus Christ himself! These texts in particular make an essential contribution to our understanding of Gnosticism and its role in early stages of the development of Christianity, seeming to shed welcome new light on some previously uncertain aspects of the Christian religion.
We should be extremely grateful for the opportunity to read these fascinating documents, which were until recently all but lost forever. The Gnostic movement was systematically oppressed, and its legacy systematically destroyed, long ago by its powerful opponents. The Gnostics were triumphant in this epic story, because, in their wisdom, they deliberately sealed away their sacred knowledge to be re-discovered at a time in the distant future when they would be respected and appreciated. The Nag Hammadi library comprises 52 documents in 13 books, most of which were entirely unknown to until the Nag Hammadi artefacts were discovered.
In this book an informative introduction, including the intriguing story behind the texts, prepares a clear passage for the reader's journey into this repository of ancient wisdom. The notes at the end of the book provide a concise commentary, with useful explanation and reference to other scriptures including the Bible, to complete the reader's learning experience. The relatively thin size of this volume makes it highly accessible - most people could easily read the whole book in a single weekend!
If you have the slightest interest in history or religion - especially Gnosticism or Christianity, then you will certainly enjoy this book.
The texts in this book really are an amazing and important part of human history, and everyone should at least have a look at them.
About As Good As It Gets
I'd like to start by talking to some previous reviewers; I can understand (somewhat) why a lot of us are reluctant to give this book a listen I suppose. Down in Texas it seems we have a "Professor of Religion" or something, knowing more than this author about the books of the Bible. But it's all relative my friend from Texas, for it all depends on which denomination of Christianity you practice. These texts have been declared heretical, a denotation which refers to Satan. It's difficult for Christians to embrace the so called "pluralism" present here or, better yet, to open up to the religions of others. The Gnostic Gospels were more aimed at finding God within, and not by pointing some compass outward to the sky.
Now the one criticism I have of this particular book is that the commentary provided is somewhat cryptic and ambiguous; but I cut him some slack for that, it's a tough text to absorb. The translation is fairly concise, with some forgivable and hardly noticeable POSSIBLE mistranslations. All in all, as another reviewer said, it's a great book for those "casually interested" in the Gnostic Gospels; but I'll also take it a step further: It's for absolutely everyone. Enjoy it.