(Return to Visalia Friends Meeting Home Page)

Gnostic Writings

Beware that no one lead you astray saying Lo here or lo there! For the Son of Man is within you. Follow after Him! Those who seek Him will find Him.
--Gospel of Mary Magdalene

Jesus said, "Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father's light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light."
--Gospel of Thomas (#83)

A number of us have come across Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels and/or her recent book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. Although branded as heretical by the orthodox church of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Gnostic thought played a significant role in early Christianity and some of their writings contain striking precursors to Quaker thought. Central among these is the belief that God is to be known inwardly through continuing revelation.

Here are some resources for exploring these writings in comparison with the canonical gospels.

The Gospel of Thomas

A collection of commentaries on the Gospel of Thomas (Note the link to parallel sayings in the Biblical gospels and other writings in the top right-hand corner!)

Gospel of Thomas FAQ (internet jargon for "Frequently Asked Questions")

The Gospel of Philip

The Gospel of Truth

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

"Q": A collection of sayings of Jesus (with many striking parallels in the Gospel of Thomas) that was incorporated into the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Q no longer exists as an independent manuscript; what we know of it has been reconstructed from Matthew and Luke. It is from Q that we get such memorable passages as The Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount.

The Nag Hammadi Library. The largest repository of Gnostic writings was unearthed in a large urn at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. This web site is a rich resource with numerous links to online versions of the texts themselves and related materials, including a series of audio lectures available on the internet in Real Audio format.

A brief introduction to Gnostic history and thought

The Gnostic Society Library: is a starting point for exploring Gnostic writings known before the Nag Hammadi discovery.

The Early Christian Writings web site is a massive online collection of canonical and non-canonical writings of the early church. This is a wonderful resource and a portal into comparitive study among these writings. Being digital documents, searching for words or phrases is especially easy.

The Bible (Revised Standard Version, many other online versions)