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Ancient Gnostic Wisdom for the 21st Century

Gnosticism Extracts from a selection of Gnostic scriptures. They show the timeless nature of the Gnostic message...

The Gnostics,” declared the 18th century historian Edward Gibbon, “were distinguished as the most polite, the most learned, and the most wealthy of the Christian name.” Over a century ago the great scholar of Gnosticism, G.R.S. Mead wrote:

They strove for the knowledge of God, the science of realities, the gnosis of the things-that-are; wisdom was their goal; the holy things of life their study. They were called by many names by those who subsequently hailed them from their hidden retreats to ridicule their efforts and anathematise their doctrines, and one of the names which they used for themselves, custom has selected to be their present general title. They are now generally referred to in Church history as the Gnostics, those whose goal was the Gnosis, if indeed that be the right meaning, for one of their earliest existing documents expressly declares that Gnosis is not the end it is the beginning of the path, the end is God and hence the Gnostics would be those who used the Gnosis as the means to set their feet upon the Way to God.1

Our understanding of the early Gnostics was greatly increased by the remarkable discovery in 1945 of a veritable Gnostic library, unearthed near Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. These ancient texts present the teachings of the Gnostic schools active in the first centuries of the Christian era and relate directly to the beginnings of Christianity. Some of the texts, known today as the Gnostic Gospels, were written around the time of the New Testament gospels but were purposely left out when the Christian Bible was compiled in the 4th century.

The following extracts are from a selection of Gnostic scriptures. They show the timeless nature of the Gnostic message.

For the whole creation that came from dead earth will be under the authority of death. But those who reflect upon the knowledge of the eternal God in their hearts will not perish.
Apocalypse of Adam2

When you come to know yourselves, as you will become known, and it is thus you will realise that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourself, you will dwell in poverty, and you are that poverty.
Gospel of Truth

He who has known himself already comes to knowledge concerning the depth of All.
Book of Thomas The Contender

Human beings associate with human beings… Members of a species usually associate with those of the same species. Just so, spirit unites with spirit...and light merges with light. If you are born a human being it is human beings who will love you, if you become a spirit you will unite with their spirit.
Gospel of Philip

Beware let no-one lead you astray, saying,
“Lo here” or “Lo there”
For the Son of Man is within you.
Follow after him.
Gospel of Mary

Shall we, then, as children enter the kingdom? Jesus said to them, When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male be not male nor the female female…then you will enter the kingdom.
Gospel of Thomas

Just as gold placed in mud cannot harm the world, so we cannot damage or lose our spiritual nature, even if we engage in various material actions.
Gospel of Philip

Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way.
Gospel of Philip

I [Jesus] shall give you what no eye hath seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind.
Gospel of Thomas

Through him he enlightened those who were in darkness, because of oblivion. He enlightened them and indicated a path for them, and that path is the truth that he taught.
Gospel of Truth

I have thrown fire on the world and watch, I am guarding it until it is blazing.
Gospel of Thomas

I tell you this that you may know yourself.
Apocryphon of James

He who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep. Arise and remember that it is you who hearkened, and follow your root, which is I, the merciful one.
Apocryphon of John

Christ was spoken of in their midst so that those who were disturbed might receive a bringing back, and he might anoint them with ointment. The ointment is the mercy of the Father who will have mercy on them.
Gospel of Truth

Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over all.
Gospel of Thomas

I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated.
Gospel of Thomas

If the flesh came into being because of the spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty.
Gospel of Thomas

Those whose names He knew in advance, were called at the end, so that he who knows, is he whose name has been spoken by the Father.
Gospel of Truth


1. Fragments Of A Faith Forgotten, G.R.S. Mead

2. All extracts are from The Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M. Robinson, ed.




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Keywords: gnosticism, gnostic, gnosticism, modern gnosticism, definition gnosticism, history of gnosticism, introduction gnosticism, gospel of truth

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"This is a great modern introduction to Gnosticism. It covers Gnostic creation myth, rituals, teachers, Sophia (divine feminine wisdom), the Gnostic Jesus, Mandaens Manichaens Cathars, modern Gnostics and more.

This is a basic overview for beginners, not for the advanced. If you know nothing of gnosticism, and are looking for a general overview, this is it. It is written very simply and clear. It also lists a good list of books for further study. Also includes a short dictionary of Gnostic terms. Details teachings and myths.

There is no better introduction than this." -- Zev Bazarov
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