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Before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi documents in the 1940s, Gnosticism was considered to be a form of anti-Christian heresy taught by some early church fathers and condemned by others. Modern readers depended on secondary works condemning Gnosticism in order to understand its proponents' point of view. But with the unearthing of the Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, scholars have a better idea of the scope and direction of Gnostic teaching in the early years of Christianity as told by its adherents. Meyer, professor of Bible and Christian studies at Chapman University in California, boasts nine previous publications on the subject and demonstrates a deep understanding of both the history and content of the documents. After briefly recounting their discovery, he analyzes their content, sorting through the teachings and relating them, not just to the biblical text, but even to the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Although there is no new material, the author's concise presentation will appeal to many readers. Meyer writes clearly, bringing both the people and the times of the early Gnostic writings to life and making them accessible to scholar and layperson alike. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Meyer (Bible & Christian studies, Chapman Univ.; The Gospels of Mary), one of the foremost experts on the Nag Hammadi Library, here presents a stellar review of several of these ancient Gnostic texts, suppressed by the Early Church and rediscovered in 1945. Through an examination of the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Truth, the related Berlin Codex, and other Nag Hammadi texts, he sheds new light on both the historical Jesus and the world in which he lived. Highlights of this book include an analysis of Valentian Nag Hammadi texts and many pre-Christian variants of wisdom that would later influence modern-day Christian beliefs. Beginning scholars studying Gnosticism and Early Christianity will find Meyer's introduction, in which he provides an excellent survey of works that examine Gnosticism-from both a pre- and a post-Nag Hammadi perspective-particularly invaluable. Highly recommended for all academic and religious collections.-Brad S. Matthies, Butler Univ. Lib., Indianapolis Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.