Guide to the Nag Hammadi Library

The Mystic Christ

   by Ethan Walker III
The light of non-duality and the path of love according to the life and teachings of Jesus. The Gnostic path is the inner path to God-realization. Buddha, Krishna, Jesus and the other great Masters are all one and in essence taught the same thing.
  The Nag Hammadi    Scriptures
    edited by Marvin Meyer,     introduction by Elaine Pagels
This comprehensive and crucial translation proves a much better way for Gnostics and Gnostic scholars to enjoy and understand the Gnostic scriptures.

Guide to the Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Jesus: MAIN PAGE
Gnostic Gospels:Overview/Intro
     Translation of the Gnostic Gospels
     Discovery of the Gnostic Gospels
     Impact of the Gnostic Gospels
     Guide to the Gnostic Gospels
  Guide to the Codices:  I  II  III  IV  V VI  VII VIII  IX  X  XI  XII

Codex I (The Jung Foundation Codex)

The Prayer of the Apostle Paul: This Valentinian work shows clear gnostic similitude. Scholars also find it very strikingly similar to the Psalms and the Pauline letters. There are two lines missing at the beginning.

The Apocryphon of James: Also referred to as the Secret Book of James. This work is also considered to be Valentinian in nature. This book was only meant for a select few, but those who did receive its message will attain salvation. In this book, the secret teachings of Jesus to James and Peter are revealed.

The Gospel of Truth: This work also being Valentinian in nature, describes the Gnostic idea of creation.

The Treatise on the Resurrection: This eight-page treatise describes a wholly unorthodox interpretation of the Christian teaching about life after death. The author of this work is anonymous.

The Tripartite Tractate: This tractate is a three segmented Valentinian theological drama.


Codex II

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The Apocryphon of John: This Sethian text reveals the story of Jesus’ reappearance to John after his ascension to offer him secret knowledge.

The Gospel of Thomas: This Thomasine gospel is described at times as being a “sayings” text, as it is a collection of logia; it combines narrative accounts with 114 sayings of Jesus.
The Gospel of Philip: This Valentinian sayings gospel contains a major theme of the sacraments. This work is also an early source for the idea of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdala.

The Hypostasis of the Archons: This is considered to be a Sethian exegesis on the Book of Genesis 1-4.

On the Origin of the World: While there is no distinct Gnostic sect in which this book belongs, it draws on Manichaean , Sethian and Valentinian traditions to relate a story dealing with creation and end times.

The Exegesis on the Soul: This unclassified text relates the history of the soul’s fall into the world, its corruption and its virtuous return to Heaven.

The Book of Thomas: This book is not to be confused with the Gospel of Thomas. This Thomasine work is best described as a revelation work between the resurrected Jesus and his twin brother Judas Thomas.


Codex III

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The Apocryphon of John: See above in Codex II.

The Gospel of the Egyptians: This Sethian gospel teaches the understanding of how the Earth came into being and how Seth is incarcerated as Jesus.

Eugnostos the Blessed: This work is unclassified and holds no Christian association or themes. While this book describes the esoteric cosmology of the Gnostics, some scholars have theorized that because it is so similar to The Sophia of Jesus Christ, that the latter of the two was written with a Christian twist to satisfy the Christian audience of the time.

The Sophia of Jesus Christ: see above

The Dialogue of the Savior: While unclassified, this important document contains dialogue of Jesus and was possibly based on the Gospel of Thomas.


Codex IV

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The Apocryphon of John: see above

The Gospel of the Egyptians: see above

Codex V

Eugnostos the Blessed: see above

The Apocalypse of Paul: This book is an incredibly gnostic account of Paul’s ascension through the heavens. In this Valentinian work, it is revealed to the reader that Paul meets Yaldabaoth (Yaldabaoth is sitting on a throne) and has the gnosis that is needed to defeat him. Without this knowledge, one will never be able to attain salvation.

The First Apocalypse of James: When discovered, the first and second books of James were titles as one, but translators have decided to separate the two. The First is an excellent example of revelation dialogue. Its classification is unknown.

The Second Apocalypse of James: Throughout this unclassified text, there are permeating Jewish-Christian themes interweaving a report to Theuda, the father of James. This is also the Gnostic work that tells of a secret kiss between Jesus and James, told in a manner similar to the way that Jesus kissed Mary Magdalene.

The Apocalypse of Adam: This Sethian text reveals the revelation received by Adam from three heavenly visitors as narrated to his (Adam’s) son Seth.

Codex VI

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The Acts of Peter and Twelve Apostles: While this work remains unclassified, it contains an expositional allegory, with the rest of the work explaining it. This text bears close resemblance to the Gospel of Matthew.

The Thunder, Perfect Mind: This text consists of an extended, riddling monologue in the form of a poem discerning a revelation of a female figure, considered by some to be the lower Sophia This work is unclassified.

Authoritative Teaching: This text is best described as a metaphorical exposition of the origin, condition and ultimate destiny of the soul. While it contains no elements of any typical cosmological myth, it is still considered to be a Gnostic work.

The Concept of Our Great Power: Keeping true with the central Gnostic ideas, this tractate is a wonderful example of a Christian Gnostic salvation history. In the first few lines, the reader is told that their salvation depends on their attainment of gnosis.

Plato, Republic: This was originally a Coptic version of Socrates’ parable on the ninth book of Plato’s Republic. While the original version is not Gnostic, the version discovered at Nag Hammadi presents a modified one with Gnostic influences.

The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth: This tractate has been identified as Hermetic.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving: A nearly perfectly preserved Hermetic prayer of an individual proffering their gratitude for receiving gnosis.

Asclepius 21-29: A Hermetic tractate that was originally composed in Greek, but exists in Latin in its only complete form.


Codex VII

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The Paraphrase of Shem: This text is known mostly as an apocryphal work that reports a cosmogonic myth similar to the Paraphrase of Seth. This work is considered to be Sethian, but it is not officially recognized as a Sethian text.

The Second Treatise of Seth: While this work is labeled as the second treatise, there has been no discovery of a preceding text. Scholars speculate that the purpose for the composition of this treatise is solely polemical. The first tractate describes the true history of Jesus Christ, emphasizing his docetic passion. The second half of the tractate is a refutation of the Orthodox Church’s claim to be the true church.

The Apocalypse of Peter: This writing gives the account of a revelation seen by Peter as interpreted by Jesus. This document is classified as a literary apocalypse and is organized around three visions held by Peter.

The Teachings of Silvanus: Blending late Jewish ideas with Middle Platonic and late Stoic anthropological, ethical and theological concepts, this writing attempts to impart the wisdom of Christ and to help one become like God.

The Three Steles of Seth: This Sethian text draws no influence from Christian traditions, instead focusing on Jewish and Neoplatonic ideals. Many scholars have speculated that the three sects of this work may have been originally composed as liturgies.


Codex VIII

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Zostrianos: One of the longest works in the Nag Hammadi library, this Sethian text offers a heavenly apocalypse journey and story about a man named Zostrianos and the vision he received.

The Letter of Peter to Philip: This two-part writing contains a letter from Saint Peter to Saint Philip and a Gnostic discourse on the nature of Christ.


Codex IX

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Melchizedek: This apocalypse is the only writing of the Nag Hammadi Library that names “priest of God Most High”. Sadly, this writing is extremely ill-preserved; with only nineteen lines of what was originally assumed to be around 745 still remain.

The Thought of Norea: With no clear Christian influences, this writing is the shortest of all the texts discovered at Nag Hammadi. This work is divided into four sections, composing all fifty two lines of text.

The Testimony of Truth: Although nearly half of this poorly preserved text has been lost, its implications are still incredibly interesting. While the author is unknown, his sole purpose in writing this testimony appears to be an effort to spread his Gnostic Christian polemic ideas. Not only does the author speak against the Orthodox Church, but also the Gnostics themselves that do not share similar practices.


Codex X

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Marsanes: While this sole text composes Codex X, it is missing quite a bit of pages. Regardless, this tractate is another esoteric cosmogony consisting of divine emanations. This text also indicates that the Sethians had implications towards monism.

Codex XI

The Interpretation of Knowledge: This tractate shows how the gnostic teacher used New Testament writings and applied these writings and lessons to the church. Some scholars assume that due to the style of this work, it was intended to be a homily.

A Valentinian Exposition: This Valentinian text describes the beginning of creation and the process of redemption. The myth of Sophia is also emphasized throughout. There are also two other titled sections within (On the Anointing, On Baptism A and B and On the Eucharist A and B)

Allogenes: This Sethian text provides an account of Allogenes, and the revelations that concerned him. According to Allogenes, he overcame fear and ignorance to ascend to the realm of the Gnostic God

Hypsiphrone: Although this text bears no trace of traditional Sethian names, it is closely related to Sethian literature, as this gives an account of Hypsiphrone, who is possibly modeled after Sophia.


Codex XII

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The Sentences of the Sextus: Before the discovery at Nag Hammadi, there were Latin, Syriac, Armenian and Georgian translations of this text that were known. This text consists of wisdom sayings.

The Gospel of Truth: see above

Fragments: There are two fragments at the end of the collection; it is unknown as to whether or not they are from the same tractate.

Trimorphic Protennoia: Independent of any codex, this Barbeloite treatise has both Sethian and Christian influences. Trimorphic Protennoia is translated to mean “The Three Formed Divine First Thought”. The text is based upon a foundation of “I Am” sayings.

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