The Gnostic Bible: Revised and Expanded Edition

Overview

Gnosticism was a wide-ranging religious movement of the first millennium CE—with earlier antecedents and later flourishings—whose adherents sought salvation through knowledge and personal religious experience. Gnostic writings offer striking perspectives on both early Christian and non-Christian thought. For example, some gnostic texts suggest that god should be celebrated as both mother and father, and that self-knowledge is the supreme path to the divine. Only in the past fifty years has it become clear how far...

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Overview

Gnosticism was a wide-ranging religious movement of the first millennium CE—with earlier antecedents and later flourishings—whose adherents sought salvation through knowledge and personal religious experience. Gnostic writings offer striking perspectives on both early Christian and non-Christian thought. For example, some gnostic texts suggest that god should be celebrated as both mother and father, and that self-knowledge is the supreme path to the divine. Only in the past fifty years has it become clear how far the gnostic influence spread in ancient and medieval religions—and what a marvelous body of scriptures it produced.

The selections gathered here, in poetic, readable translation, represent Jewish, Christian, Hermetic, Mandaean, Manichaean, Islamic, and Cathar expressions of gnostic spirituality. Their regions of origin include Egypt, the Greco-Roman world, the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, China, and France. Also included are introductions, notes, an extensive glossary, and a wealth of suggestions for further reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This 880-page compilation is the most comprehensive collection of Gnostic writings ever assembled. Poet/translator Willis Barnstone and Christian scholar Marvin Meyer have combined to present an anthology of Gnostic primary sources that cover 13 centuries. The Gnostic Bible represents the diversity and sometimes the contradictions of this divergent faith.
From the Publisher
"This book may well be the most comprehensive collection of gnostic materials ever gathered in one volume. What is clear from the sourcebook is the tremendous diversity of thought that exists under the 'gnostic' umbrella including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Zoroastrian, and Greco-Roman themes. A valuable resource for students and scholars."—Publishers Weekly

“The selection of texts ranges across two millennia and various cultures.  Each work, some translated into English for the first time, is accompanied by a clear introduction and synopsis.  This is an important sampler of relatively unknown spiritual literature.”—Library Journal

“To read The Gnostic Bible is to witness something astonishing. . . . I read it with dizzy excitement.”—Ian Cant, Ascent Magazine

“A Godsend for anyone interested in alternative Christianity, the history of Christianity, or spirituality in general.”—Turk’s Head Review

"An enormously rich collection of sources—a wonderful achievement!"—Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief

"Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer's Gnostic Bible joins Bentley Layton's Gnostic Scriptures as one of the true critical sourcebooks for gnostic texts. Here, from China to Catalonia, from the first to the fourteenth centuries, gnosticism is seen as a global meditation."—Harold Bloom, author of Genius: A Mosaic, Hamlet: Poem Unlimited, and The Western Canon

“I feel as if I had been waiting for this book all my life.”—Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

“Everyone interested in the tumultuous origins of Christianity and in a mysticism of direct, unmediated communion with God should fall on this brilliant and ground-breaking book.  In it, for the first time, are assembled all the major texts of gnosticism, with illuminating notes and introductions, and in translations that radiate clarity.”—Andrew Harvey, author of Sun at Midnight, Son of Man, and The Direct Path

“These ancient texts have not lost any of their power to awaken higher consciousness.  Seekers of knowledge owe an enormous debt to Barnstone and Meyer for presenting these works to us in a fresh, clear, and accessible form.”—Richard Smoley, author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition

“In this wonderfully readable anthology the authors have brought together a large number of interesting selections from a wide chronological, geographical, and cultural range of traditions that nevertheless illustrate fascinating overlapping patterns in religious symbolism and worldviews.”—Michael Williams, author of Rethinking Gnosticism

“These two wise men have written an amazing book—the best of its kind, ever.  They bear lit matches in our dark tunnel—sometimes they are the matches themselves.”—Gerald Stern, author of American Sonnets and What I Can’t Bear Losing

Library Journal
Poet and translator Barnstone and Meyer (Bible & Christian studies, Chapman Univ.) have joined forces to present a large collection of gnostic source literature. The nature and beliefs of gnosticism are hotly debated. Michael Williams (Rethinking Gnosticism) and Karen L. King (What Is Gnosticism?) have argued for the abandonment of the label as something artificially applied by Christian orthodoxy to heretical movements with widely varying beliefs. Others, including the editors of this volume, argue that certain specific ideas distinguish beliefs of the gnostic religions: salvation through knowledge and enlightened living, wisdom personified as a character in a cosmic drama, and dualistic creation stories positing a higher God of the spirit and a lower demiurge who created the physical world. Meyer's introduction presents highlights of this debate. The selection of texts that follows (most elegantly translated by Barnstone) ranges across two millennia and various cultures. Each work, some translated into English for the first time, is accompanied by a clear introduction and synopsis. This is an important sampler of relatively unknown spiritual literature. The publication by Shambhala gives an underlying sense of credence to the contents as, in Meyer's words, a "sacred literature attractive to free spirits." Recommended for all libraries with an audience interested in religions, alternative spirituality, and early Christianity.-William P. Collins, Library of Congress Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590306314
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Edition description: Revised & Expanded
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 896
  • Sales rank: 296,306
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.99 (d)

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