About the Nag Hammadi Library (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures)
The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient books (called “codices”) containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary “Gnostic Gospels” – texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define “orthodoxy” – scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth. The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, initially completed in the 1970’s, has provided impetus to a major re-evaluation of early Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism.
For an introduction to the Nag Hammadi discovery and the texts in this ancient library, we offer several resources. First, read an excerpt from Elaine Pagels’ excellent popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi texts, The Gnostic Gospels. Then, for an overview of the Gnostic scriptures and a discussion of ancient Gnosis, read this excerpt from Dr. Marvin Meyer’s introduction to The Gnostic Bible. For another brief general overview, we offer an Introduction to Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library by Lance Owens.
For further reading, The Gnostic Society Library Bookstore provides a selection of the foremost books on the Nag Hammadi library and Gnostic tradition.