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105 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2005
Alan Jacobs has made a life-long study of the subject of mysticism and the way in which it manifests throughout all religions and philosophies around the world. His latest offering is no exception and is a personal transcription of the Gnostic Gospels, which form one of a series of Sacred Texts taken from around the globe, published by Watkins Publishing.

In this first volume of two (the remaining extended one will be published a little later in the year), Jacobs includes The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Gospel of Philip, The Sophia of Jesus Christ and The Gospel of Truth, amongst others. Although he is true to the essence of the nondualist philosophy of the gospels, Jacobs adds his own poetic flavour by composing free verse in keeping with modern diction and linguistic style. Moreover, by presenting the gospels in an accessible and elegant format, their mystical message is all the powerful and moving.

I highly recommend this literary gem, particularly as it is produced as a pocket book, one which can be slipped away somewhere and then read at leisure or on the move, as a reminder of our essential nature in the hubbub of our daily lives.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2009
An excellent insight into another chapter in the history of Christianity. Reading these 'omitted' gospels, one can see why the Church rejected so much when the Bible was created. I would recommend any serious religious researcher to read these gospels.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
As someone who likes to read the Gnostic Gospels as it takes me back right to the start of the Christian faith - I have found this little book really helpful. Being hard back it fits well when moving around.

A god and interesting buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2015
I am sorry to disagree with so many reviews on here, but I really did not like this book at all.

The book is very attractively presented, with a beautiful cover, but sadly, for me, this was about the high point of the book.

What we have here described as ‘The Gnostic Gospels’ is a selection of texts, and excerpts from texts, from the Nag Hammadi library discovered in Egypt in 1945. These include the Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Philip, and the Gospel of Truth (besides other, more esoteric Gnostic texts).

I had two major issues with this book:

(1) In the foreword Alan Jacobs describes his process as follows: “my poetic transcription is in free verse form paraphrased from the widely differing literal prose translations in existence. I have relied on my own practical knowledge of the mystical path in the higher religious traditions to make as much sense as possible of these truly beautiful, ecstatic and awe-inspiring texts.”

What this means in practice, is that we have here a paraphrase of the Nag Hammadi text, in which we are entirely dependent on the author’s whim. How do we know how close what we’re reading is to the source text?

For example, the famous passage in the Gospel of Philip in which Jesus allegedly ‘kisses’ Mary Magdalene, is translated thus:

Of all his disciples he loved
his companion, Mary Magdalene,
the most, and kissed her.

There is no equivocation expressed about this, no footnote to flag to the reader the fact that the key word ‘kissed’ is a conjecture supplying a lacuna in the original.

(2) I did not enjoy the style of the translation. In many places the English poetic rendering doesn’t even make sense. Far from ‘enlightening’ the meaning of the Gnostic texts for 20th-century readers unaccustomed to Gnostic thought, in my opinion this simply obscures it. Since Gnosticism is a theosophy quite alien to most modern readers, you really need a more scholarly translation with explanatory footnotes, rather than this ‘mystical’ but quite baffling ‘translation.’

For anyone really wishing to understand what the Gnostic Gospels are about, can I recommend instead James M. Robinson’s ‘The Nag Hammadi Library’ [978-0060669355], or even St. Irenaeus’ Christian explanation of the Gnostic worldview, Against Heresies (example [978-1480081154]).

For reference, the texts included in this book are:

1. The Fable of the Pearl (10 pages)
2. The Gospel of Thomas (34 pages)
3. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (9 pages)
4. Melchizedek (10 pages)
5. The Gospel of Philip (52 pages)
6. Poimandrés (22 pages)
7. The Apocalypse of the Great Power (16 pages)
8. The Sophia of Jesus Christ (25 pages)
9. Human Suffering (2 pages)
10. The Gospel of Truth (39 pages)
11. The Greatest Human Evil is Forgetfulness of God (4 pages)
12. The Secret Book According to St John I, II & III (10 pages)
13. Thunder (9 pages)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2012
Nice little pocket sized book with various gospels which did not make the directors cut to the Bible. If nothing else, they cross check a lot with the existing gospels. Definitely worth a look and the occasional browse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2012
Lovely little book and very well made and presented. Content is of interest to anybody wanting to expand their insight to the early days of Christianity.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2009
i studied the synoptic gospels at degree level. i always said i would get round to the gnostic ones. this book is a good introduction to them. clearly written with an introduction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2013
Have always wanted to know what they said, but I think that you need a commentary for some of the writings. Just like Jesus explained some of the parables to his disciples, so I would like some of the writings explained in simple English. Am glad to have read through this though.
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on 8 April 2013
full of content I was looking for, I really like the edition and high quality of banding . hardcover and nice flyer .... for the content you know what you are looking for
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on 2 May 2013
It's not an easy read,of course, so am only part way though. Very interesting, makes one think and, maybe, get some fresh angles on past, important, happenings
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