June 20, 2005
The Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Texts: A Firsthand Account of the Expedition That Shook the Foundations of Christianity
By Jean Doresse
Publisher: Inner Traditions (February 2005)
Pages: 374 - Price: $19.95
Review by Lee Prosser - firstname.lastname@example.org
This remarkable book is a firsthand account of the actual expedition that literally rattled the foundations of Christianity with its discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts. This collection of writings lay hidden for sixteen centuries.
This collection of sacred gnostic texts was discovered in the late 1940s at Chenoboskion, a very remote village in upper Egypt. What is of major importance was the discovery of the Gospel according to Thomas. Many scholars believe the Thomas document and these other writings surpass the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Jean Doresse was a member of the expedition which discovered this cache of documents. Doresse shares his findings and reveals the ancient form of Christianity as seen in the various texts ranging from Gnostic revelations, Christian apocrypha, and Hermetic literature. Included in this book is the original English translation of the Thomas Gospel first published in 1960.
Following the book introduction comes much detailed information concerning the problems of Gnosticism in its earliest known elements, original texts and monuments, the story of the discovery, thirteen codices of papyrus, the discovery of forty-four secret and unknown books, the Sethians according to their writings, the survival of Gnosticism from Manichaeism to the Islamic texts, an epilogue, and appendices.
There are three appendices. They are: "The Teaching of Simon Magus in the Chenoboskon Manuscripts," "The Gospel According to Thomas," and the Index of References to the Canonical Gospels." There are also photographs of the texts.
Exciting, written in a smooth style, and enjoyable are three aspects of this fine nonfiction work. An educational adventure, this is a book you will want to share with a friend. Highly recommended.
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