Sometimes all we want is to read a book, not as a scholar or student, halting at footnotes and bracketed text, but sitting on a sofa, or lying in bed, absorbing the essence of the word. What I love about this book is how simply arranged are the chapters. I don't need my reading glasses to read minute fonts, and the chapter subheadings are simple and helpful. Furthermore, unlike the often obscure tractates of the Nag Hammadi Library, by James M. Robinson, "The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus" are Jesus-centered, and if you have been away from The Man for a while, as I have been, out of disappointment with the inadequacy of your local church, or oppression by politicized agenda, then this is the book that will allow you to love Him once again on your own terms. Just you and Him, by the glow of your reading lamp. Marvin Meyer has a knack for translating in a way that is not dumbed-down, but simple and easy to read. There is a difference.
Reading the Secret Book of John from this very edition has changed my life, and the way I think about Jesus. I can honestly say that a perception of humanity's place in the universe has opened itself up to me. For example, William Blake's rhyme:
"Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"
...immediately took on new meaning (Yaldabaoth as the talented, not necessarily evil, but nonetheless ignorant and soul-less creator of the material world--seek Heaven, not Earth, as eternal Paradise).
And, how about one more snippet of Blake, to drive home the proof that the essence of Gnosticism has lived, even through eyes that had not lain upon the desert papyri treasure:
"The Awakener is come outstretch'd over Europe: the Vision of God is fulfilled:
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,
He listens to the sounds of War astonish'd & ashamed..."
I finally grasp the Gnostic path, and why knowledge is the key to salvation, as opposed to simply having faith and doing good works. If you are looking for a compilation of Gnostic literature that includes the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip, they also are included in this book.
Honestly, I spent my Easter Sunday reading and meditating on the Secret Book of John, and it all made sense. If you ever thought there was something wrong with the fruit of traditional Orthodoxy, or why some believe they are successful in life (oh, but are they really...), this is the book for you. As one who has studied Asian philosophical systems for decades, I have rediscovered my Western roots and the Meaning of Life in Marvin Meyer's book. It is a strange but rewarding path; not Jesus of the Cross (death! suffering! an imposter!), but Jesus Christ the Eternal Light who came down to this dark world to wake us from our thrall.