About using the Library. . .
The Gnostic Society Library (a section of The Gnosis Archive), contains a vast collection
of primary documents relating to the Gnostic tradition as well as a
selection of in-depth audio lectures and brief archive notes designed to
orient study of the documents, their sources, and the religious tradition
they represent. (See the Overview of the Library Collection, below.)
The library includes over a thousand documents (four gigabytes of material) related to the
Gnostic tradition, including all major Gnostic writings and anti-Gnostic
patristic texts. Using the Archive Search
function, students and researches can easily find just about any
anything relating to the Gnostic tradition.
Lectures provided in the library are from the audio archives of The Gnostic Society in Los Angeles and
BC Recordings; they are
presented in MP3 format
or an older RealAudio format and run about 75 minutes in length. As you visit the library, set aside
time to listen to a lecture. Remember to also visit the
Gnostic Society Bookstore for
a collection of the best current works on Gnosis and Gnosticism.
Recently updated in the Library:
During Easter 2011, the entire library underwent a major upgrade, cleaning and reformatting (and reformatting 1600 separate documents and 36,000 internal links is quite a task).
The Corpus Hermeticum and Hermetic Tradition, the Cathar Writings, the Patristic Polemical Works, the Christian Apocrypha, and the Mandaean Scriptures sections in particular have all been greatly improved and expanded.
Overview of the Library Collection. . .
The Nag Hammadi Library
- The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection
of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, was discovered in
upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large
number of primary Gnostic scriptures -- 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 has provided impetus
to a major re-evaluation of early Christian history and the nature of
Gnosticism. (Readers unfamiliar with this history may wish to read an excerpt from Elaine Pagels'
excellent popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi texts,
The Gnostic Gospels.)
add extensive resources on two centrally important texts from Nag Hammadi: The Gospel of Thomas and The Secret Book of John. Multiple authoritative translations of
several Nag Hammadi scriptures are included in the collection.
- Valentinus and Valentinian Gnosis. Valentinus was one of the most influential Gnostic Christian teachers of the second century A.D., and was the only Gnostic considered for election as Bishop of Rome (Pope). He founded a movement which spread throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Despite persecution by developing orthodoxies, the Valentinian school endured for over 600 years. A large number of texts in the Nag Hammadi collection are influence by Valentinian tradition. Due to its importance, we have a large section of the library dedicated specifically to Valentinus
and the Valentinian Tradition.
Gnostic Writings and Related Texts (known prior to discovery of the Nag Hammadi Collection).
- The G.R.S Mead Collection
contains over a dozen volumes written by G. R. S. Mead (1863-1933), one the greatest early scholars of Gnosticism.
These works provide an invaluable evaluation of texts relating to Gnostic
tradition available before discovery of the Nag Hammadi collection.
- With an interest in Gnosticism awakened by the Nag Hammadi materials,
scholars are now re-examining Manichaeism and beginning a more serious
consideration of the many Manichaean writings discovered just in the last
century. A large sample of these is presented in the
Manichaean Writings collection, along with an introductory lecture.
- The Cathar religion represents a major medieval resurgence of Gnosticism, and we
offer an important collection of Cathar Texts, including the complete manuscript of the Lyon Ritual, Interrogatio Iohannis, and The Book of the Two Principles.
included in the library is a section devoted to
Mandaean Texts and this still living Gnostic tradition.
- Alchemy was recognized by C. G. Jung as another strand of Gnosticism; the
library here provides links to a comprehensive collection of
Alchemical Writings. And, finally, we
have on file a small but growing collection of
Texts from Modern Gnosticism
Hermetism and the Hermetic Gnosis -- including the Corpus Hermeticum
- Beyond the bounds of classical Christian Gnosticism -- represented by
the above materials -- the Hermetic tradition is another very important and influential Western tradition of
Gnostic character. The Hermetic writings represents a non-Christian
lineage of Gnosticism. Our Corpus Hermeticum and Hermetic Writings section offers the most extensive collection of Hermetic texts available on the internet. Included here you will find introductory material, the complete texts of the Corpus Hermeticum, and essentially all other extant Hermetic writings. Included is an introductory lecture.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Collection
- The Dead Sea Scrolls Collection in the Gnostic Society Library is one of the largest and most referenced Dead Sea Scroll resources on the internet. During the middle years of the twentieth century two important but very different collections of ancient religious texts were unearthed in Palestine and Egypt: the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library. Visitors to the Gnostic Society Library often do not understand the distinction between these two discoveries. Since our Library collection contains a vast amount of material related specifically to the Nag Hammadi texts (including complete translations), a comparative description of the two discoveries is useful.
Related Library Resources
- No resource on the Internet is a substitute for a good library of
books. Students of Gnosticism will find our
Annotated Bibliography of Books on Gnosticism to be a useful aid for
- A complete collection of patristic writings, all carefully and
recently reedited, is available at the
CECL Early Church Fathers
collection. This site offers the entire Ante-Nicene Fathers and
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collections (about 38 volumes in the
print edition), and includes a search function. The documents are also found in the early Christian writings section at New Advent.
- The St. Pachomius
Library offers a comprehensive collection of early Christian writings
with emphasis on sources of the Orthodox Christian tradition.
- An excellent collection of Apocrypha, including Old Testiment Apocrypha, Old Testiment Pseudepigraph and other non-canonical texts is
found at the Wesley
Center Noncanonical Literature page.
- Another site with a fair collection of texts and commentary is the
Early Christian Writings
site. (This site has copied many of our older files, and references many documents from our collection.)
An Important Note on Internet Text Collections
Almost all of the several dozen internet sites with collections of
texts similar to our own obtained their material by directly or indirectly
copying some files present at the Gnosis Archive. Ours was perhaps
the first major collection of such texts to appear on "the web" in 1994,
and thus has served as a source for others creating "their own"
Unfortunately transcription errors, typos, and primitive HTML formatting were present in the massive
amount of material added to the Gnosis Archive in our first years; in
a repeated process of "copying" they have been very widely propagated around the internet. Over
nearly two decades we have made many corrections to these texts. It appears that
few of the sites copying material from this collection have taken the
time to read, edit and correct the texts! This is of course exactly
how the manuscript tradition has propagated errors in the past centuries,
though with vastly different technologies of reproduction.
We now kindly request that websites provide links to these pages rather than just copying and randomly reproducing them. If you do copy content, please carefully read and edit it anew; when you find errors, please send us a copy of any corrections so we can improve this stable resource. (We have benefited from public contributions made by many people over the last two decades.) This library is a public resource supported by a wide community of interest, it is not a commercial project.
We continue to express gratitude for the initial work of our friend Terje Dahl Bergersen of Oslo, Norway who first collected initial materials for this internet library in