What is Gnosticism?
Many visitors have requested some basic introductory
material explaining Gnosticism. To meet this need we offer these
"places to start": two short articles, The
Gnostic World View: A Brief Summary of Gnosticism and What is a Gnostic?; and two audio lectures (mp3 format)
on Gnosticism and its Legacy, and the Gnostic
concept of Christ: The Misunderstood Redeemer.
A reading of the Overview of the Library collection will give a useful brief introduction to the history and textual legacy of the Gnostic tradition.
For more in-depth reading suggestions visit the Gnostic Society Bookstore -- you will find offered there a selection
of the best introductory and advanced books on Gnosticism, along with
brief reviews of recommended books. And of course just "surfing" The Gnosis Archive will lead to a wealth of information. Blessings on your journey!
Take a moment to reflect on a brief meditation and reading from the Gnostic scriptures, selected
from this week's Gnostic liturgy. Consider the Sophianic aspect of
divinity expressed in the meditation and readings from this month's Sophia liturgy.
(Sunday homilies delivered by the Most Rev. Stephan A. Hoeller at the Diocesan center are now available in high-quality internet video and mp3 audio. Visit the Sunday Homilies from the Diocesan Center to view this collection.)
The Gnostic Society Library
Visit the Gnostic Society Library, a
comprehensive library of Gnostic scriptures -- including the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic texts and other ancient writings and documents relating to Gnostic tradition.
Since 1995 the Gnostic Society Library has been the principal
internet resource on Gnosticism and Gnostic traditions.
Simply reading our Overview of the Library Collection will give you a good introduction to the nature and history of Gnostic tradition, and the depth of this library collection. Also check the Gnostic Society Bookstore featuring the best
current works on Gnosis and Gnosticism.
The Lost Gospels -- a ninety minute long BBC documentary (first released in 2008). This is an entertaining and educational even if somewhat superficial introduction to the Gnostic Gospels; it is both well researched and nicely produced, with extensive location filming in Egypt. The story centers on the personal quest of Anglican priest Pete Owen Jones to understand the many ancient Christian texts that didn't make it into the New Testament. The focus is principally on the Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi.
Recently updated in the Library's Classical Gnostic Scripture Collections:
The Corpus Hermeticum and Hermetic Tradition, the Cathar Writings, the Patristic Polemical Works, the Christian Apocrypha, and the Mandaean Scriptures sections have all been updated and greatly expanded during Easter week of 2011. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala section, one of the most popular pages on our site, has been augmented and updated.
Among the several dozen ancient
Gnostic manuscripts rediscovered in modern times, the Secret Book of John
(also known as the Apocryphon of John) is widely considered to be the most
important. It is the preeminent “Gnostic Gospel”, a sacred reservoir for
the defining essence of Gnostic myth and revelation. Recognizing the
importance of this text, we have now added a large section to the Library
dedicated to the Secret Book of John. If you are interested in reading a
"Gnostic Gospel", this is a good place to start.
New in the collection - Gnosis and C. G. Jung:
"C.G. Jung and the Red Book," a collection of eighteen lectures by Dr. Lance Owens is available free online. Dr. Owens' lectures delivered at the C.G. Jung Institute Zurich on "C.G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis" are also now online.
Dr. Stephan Hoeller's exceptional thirteen lecture series on the Red Book of C.G. Jung is available for purchase at BC Recordings.
The Gnosis of C. G. Jung -- This is an extended excerpt from Stephan Hoeller's classic study of Jung and Gnosticism, The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead.
Recent Recommendations from the Bookstore
Gospels of Jesus, edited by Marvin Meyer.
This is our top
recommendation for readers beginning their exploration of the Gnostic
scriptures. Over the last three decades Prof. Meyer has distinguished
himself as a singularly talented translator and commentator on Gnostic
traditions. In this new collection -- the best of several that he has now published -- Meyer presents twelve key Gnostic "gospels" in
succinct, accurate and highly readable new translations. The book's
subtitle claims it to be: "The definitive collection of mystical gospels
and secret books about Jesus of Nazareth." Though perhaps not
"definitive", we agree this is the best introductory
Meyer states his goal in these translations is to be "as accurate as
possible" while still presenting the texts in "felicitous English." At
this he succeeds beautifully. Readers who have labored with the sometimes
tortured translations and editorial conventions presented in the original
editions of the Nag Hammadi Library published thirty years ago will
be amazed at the graceful intelligibility of Meyer's translations. Meyer
adds to the collection an overview of our evolving understanding of
Christian Gnosticism, and prefaces each of the selected text with an
excellent introductory essay. Get the book
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is one the most surprising
and delightful of the rediscovered Gnostic texts.
This excellent new print
edition of the Gospel of Mary of Magdala by the widely respected scholar
Karen King is the best authoritative edition available. It
incorporates translations of the ancient Coptic Gospel of Mary discovered in 1896, along with the two small third-century Greek fragments of the text found at
Oxyrhynchus. Included is a superb introduction along with
extensive commentary on the text and its implications for modern
understandings of early Christianity. Highly Recommended. Visit the Gnostic Society Bookstore for
more information. Also visit our Gospel of Mary Magdalene page, where we have more information on the Gospel of Mary and a preview excerpt from Dr. King's introduction to her book.
Nag Hammadi Scriptures edited by Marvin Meyer, introduction by
The epochal new edition of the entire
Nag Hammadi library has finally arrived! Dr. Marvin Meyer has done a
masterful job in producing a volume that will serve for many decades as
the standard source. Scholarly understanding of the Gnostic texts found at
Nag Hammadi has vastly matured since their original publication as the Nag Hammadi Library in 1977. This new edition fully reflects
that refinement in "the scholarly ear" for both the forgotten ancient
tongue and the spiritual tradition preserved in the Gnostic Coptic texts.
In every possible way, publication of The Nag Hammadi Scriptures represents a milestone in modern understanding of Gnostic tradition.
Elaine Pagels, the author and professor who introduced a generation of
readers to the Gnostic Gospels, appropriately pens the introduction to
this landmark edition. Every student of Gnosticism will want to own
this book, but before jumping into the big volume, we still highly
recommend a study of some of the briefer introductory readings listed in
the Bookstore. Get the book
The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity by David Brakke
This short book is a fine representative of the increasingly nuanced understanding of Gnostic tradition that has been developing over the last decade. In a concise and engaging fashion, Dr. Brakke explores key questions central tothe study of Gnostic tradition: Who were the Gnostics? How did the Gnostic movement influence the development of Christianity in antiquity? Is it true that the Church rejected Gnosticism? In answer to these questions, Brakke offers an illuminating discussion of recent scholarly debates over the concept of “Gnosticism” and the nature of early Christian diversity. He shows how Gnostic myth and ritual addressed basic human concerns about alienation and meaning, offered a message of salvation in Jesus, and provided a way for people to regain knowledge of God, the ultimate source of their being.
Rather than depicting the Gnostics as heretics or as the losers in the fight to define Christianity, Brakke argues that the Gnostics participated in an ongoing reinvention of Christianity, in which other Christians not only rejected their ideas but also adapted and transformed them. (For more information on the book, read the fine review published by the Society of Biblical Literature.) Buy the book
Visions, Prophecy, And Politics In The Book Of Revelation by Elaine H. Pagels.
Dr. Pagels gives us another fine study of early Christianity, focusing on the most controversial New Testament text, the Book of Revelation. In her critique of the Book of Revelation, she opens a discussion of the other revelatory texts, the Gnostic texts, that were excluded from the Christian canon. Dr. Pagels looks at the sociology and politics and dogmatics of the age, but it is her discussion of the message of the many alternative Christian texts - the Gnostic texts - that we find most valuable. Listen to the interview with Dr. Pagels on NPR for a fine discussion of what Dr. Pagels was trying to explore in her new work. Get the book
C. G. Jung: A Biography in Books by Sonu Shamdasani
C. G. Jung: A Biography in Books is the most important biographical study of Jung published in a generation, and the essential companion to reading and understanding Jung's The Red Book: Liber Novus. And to boot, the book is beautiful - sumptuously illustrated, artfully designed, and exquisitely crafted (it is printed in Italy by Mondadori, the company that produced the Red Book). Whether you are just starting to read about Jung or have been studying his work for decades, an evening with A Biography in Books will open new perspectives.
Why is A Biography in Books essential reading? Here we have the first rendition of Jung's history that integrates an understanding of Liber Novus into the story. By illustrating the centrality of Liber Novus in Jung's life, Sonu Shamdasani radically transforms the way in which Jung's biography will hereafter be rendered and read. This is a landmark accomplishment. Read our complete online review
Voices of Gnosticism by Miguel Conner.
This is a wonderful and very readable collection of interviews with thirteen leading scholars in Gnostic studies - including Elaine Pagels, Marvin Meyer, Karen King, April DeConick and other internationally recognized authorities on Gnostic tradition. For several years, Miguel Conner has engaged the most prominent writers and scholars on Gnosticism and early Christianity on his AeonByte Gnostic Radio show, a weekly internet audio podcast. The interviews published here represent some of the best of his many broad-ranging conversations.
If you have ever thought it might be interesting to sit down for an informal conversation with "the people who write these books on Gnosticism" -- the books you will find widely referenced and recommended here in The Gnosis Archive -- then you will very much enjoy this book. While the interviews are animated by the personal commitment each of these scholars feels for Gnostic tradition, they also reveal the wide range of perspectives that now focus on Gnostic studies. These interviews provide one of the best ways to get to know ancient Gnosticism, as seen through the eyes of its best informed modern students. This is fun, easy, and informative reading. Get the book at Amazon.com
Important New Release
by Alfred Ribi, Foreword by Lance Owens
“Excellent book... Ribi has the feel of Gnosis and knows his sources, both ancient and modern...
There is no doubt that it was Jung, and not Hans Jonas, who rediscovered Gnosticism and its importance for modernity.”
- Gilles Quispel, Professor of Early Christian History,
The publication in 2009 of C. G. Jung's The Red Book: Liber Novus has initiated a broad reassessment of Jung’s place in cultural history. Among many revelations, the visionary events recorded in the Red Book reveal the foundation of Jung’s complex association with the Western tradition of Gnosis.
In The Search for Roots, Alfred Ribi closely examines Jung’s life-long association with Gnostic tradition. Dr. Ribi knows C. G. Jung and his tradition from the ground up. He began his analytical training with Marie-Louise von Franz in 1963, and continued working closely with Dr. von Franz for the next 30 years. For over four decades he has been an analyst, lecturer and examiner of the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, where he also served as the Director of Studies.
But even more importantly, early in his studies Dr. Ribi noted Jung’s underlying roots in Gnostic tradition, and he carefully followed those roots to their source. Alfred Ribi is unique in the Jungian analytical community for the careful scholarship and intellectual rigor he has brought to the study Gnosticism. In The Search for Roots, Ribi shows how a dialogue between Jungian and Gnostic studies can open new perspectives on the experiential nature of Gnosis, both ancient and modern. Creative engagement with Gnostic tradition broadens the imaginative scope of modern depth psychology and adds an essential context for understanding the voice of the soul emerging in our modern age.
A Foreword by Lance Owens supplements this volume with a discussion of Jung's encounter with Gnostic tradition while composing his Red Book (Liber Novus). Dr. Owens delivers a fascinating and historically well-documented account of how Gnostic mythology entered into Jung's personal mythology in the Red Book. Gnostic mythology thereafter became for Jung a prototypical image of his individuation. Dr. Owens offers this conclusion:
“In 1916 Jung had seemingly found the root of his myth and it was the myth of Gnosis. I see no evidence that this ever changed. Over the next forty years, he would proceed to construct an interpretive reading of the Gnostic tradition’s occult course across the Christian aeon: in Hermeticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, and Christian mysticism. In this vast hermeneutic enterprise, Jung was building a bridge across time, leading back to the foundation stone of classical Gnosticism. The bridge that led forward toward a new and coming aeon was footed on the stone rejected by the builders two thousand years ago.”
Alfred Ribi's examination of Jung’s relationship with Gnostic tradition comes at an important time. Initially authored prior to the publication of Jung's Red Book, current release of this English edition offers a bridge between the past and the forthcoming understanding of Jung’s Gnostic roots.
For a preview of the book, download the complete Foreword by Lance Owens in pdf format. Visit our publishing site, Gnosis Archive Books for more information. Buy the book at Amazon.com.
On occasion of the publication of this book, Dr. Lance Owens presented an introductory lecture at the Gnostic Society in Los Angeles. This lecture is now available for listening online. (Click here to listen or to download the lecture.)
In Memoriam — Dr. Marvin Meyer
On August 16, 2012 there passed from this earthly life a great light of the Gnosis, and one of the most delightful and insightful men of our epoch.
Marvin Meyer held the chair of Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies and was co-chairman of Religious Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. He also served as director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute at the same university. He was arguably the most prolific author and prestigious scholar of Gnostic literature in the world today. Among the very large number of translations and commentaries dealing with Gnostic texts, some of the best known are the international edition of The Nag Hammadi Scriptures (which he edited and to which he made major contributions), the normative edition the The Gospel of Thomas, his several works dealing with "The Gospel of Judas", and the splendid anthology, The Gnostic Bible, co-authored with Willis Barnstone.
Marvin Meyer was a man after our heart. We were personally acquainted with him for several decades, back to the time when he acted as assistant to Professor James Robinson at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont, California. More importantly, he was truly sympathetic to our Gnostic tradition, while rejecting the academic fads of some of his colleagues which came to sow confusion in recent years. In this regard he refuted the contention that the word "Gnostic" had no legitimacy in the present discourse. (See his Introduction to The Gnostic Bible.) I recall him laughingly asking me if we were going to re-name our church "The Alternative Christian Ecclesia".
I and two of my associates last saw him on April 2nd of this year when over a 3 hour lunch we discussed many issues as fellow Gnostics. The news of his death shocked and saddened all of us who knew him or knew of him.
May God's Holy Angels receive him and guide him to the light of the Pleroma!
+Stephan A. Hoeller
Publication of C. G Jung's Red Book: Liber Novus - Vision, Psychology and Gnosis
This is the book many of us have awaited for decades, and its importance cannot be overstated.
During WWI, Jung entered an extended visionary experience that he called his “confrontation with the unconscious.” Based on these visions, he subsequently developed his principal theories of the collective unconscious, the archetypes, psychological types and the process of individuation. Jung focused on transforming psychotherapy from a practice concerned with the treatment of pathology into a means for reconnection with the soul and the recovery of meaning in life. At the heart of this endeavor was his legendary Red Book, a large, leather bound, illuminated volume that he created between 1914 and 1930, which contained the substance of his visions and became the nucleus of his later works. While Jung considered the Red Book, or Liber Novus (" The New Book") to be the central work in his oeuvre, it has remained unpublished till this day, and unavailable for study and unseen by the public at large.
The Red Book is best described as a visionary and prophetic work, and not simply as an imaginative literary or scientific document. It is possibly the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. Its publication is a watershed that inaugurates a new era in the understanding of Jung’s life and work; it fully reveals the experiential, Gnostic roots of Jung's psychology. (See a preview of the Red Book contents, including several illustrations and the translation of the first page: download and view in .pdf format.) As Jung stated:
"The years … when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life.... Everything later was merely the outer classification,the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”
Over a hundred-thousand copies have now been sold. It is available at Amazon.com at a discount price. Buy the Book.
The Red Book: Reader's Edition - No Illustrations
In December 2012 the "Reader's Edition" of The Red Book was released - and this edition does NOT contain any of the facsimile images of the original book. There is none of the artwork here, just Jung's translated text, along with Dr. Shamdasani's introduction and notes. So, why purchase a "Reader's Edition"? Because the text of Liber Novus (as Jung formally titled his "Red Book") is really more important than the art. And the size of the facsimile edition makes it physically very difficult to hold in hand and read. See our full review for more information. If you are ready to read Liber Novus, this is the edition to use. But of course, you will want the big book with the images, too!
You will also enjoy viewing the video about the digital reproduction of the Red Book (available on YouTube). Visit our C. G. Jung and Gnostic Tradition: Gnosis, Gnosticism and Jungian Psychology section for more information.
C. G. Jung: The Red Book, Gnosis and the Gnostic Traditions
With publication of the Red Book, irrefutable evidence is presented of Jung's deep relationship to the visionary and experiential tradition of Gnosis. Throughout his life, Jung publicly and privately affirmed his affinity to Gnostic tradition. We consider it quite possible that future generations will understand Jung as a seminal, prophetic figure heralding a new Sophianic age and a resurgent understanding the timeless traditions of the Gnosis.
Gnosis is not a "dead ancient philosophy", but instead a lived and living fact of human experience with ancient roots and a transformative potential for the future development of human consciousness. Jung provides signal evidence of this fact.
We have added a section to the Gnosis Archive dedicated to C. G. Jung and Gnostic Tradition: Gnosis, Gnosticism and Jungian Psychology. You will find here a wide range of material to help center your understanding of C. G. Jung and Gnosis.
We offer two audio collections of lectures on the Red Book by Dr. Lance Owens; visit the C.G. Jung and the Red Book collection for information on these audio recordings. Dr. Owens' lectures delivered at the C. G. Jung Institute Zurich on "C.G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis" are also now online.
We also offer a four hour video seminar presented by Dr. Stephan Hoeller to the Theosophical Society in America: The Red Book of C. G. Jung - Its Meaning for Our Age. This presentation provides an extensive introduction to Jung and the importance of the Red Book.
Jung and Aion: Time, Vision and a Wayfaring Man
This article, first published in Psychological Perspectives (Journal of the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles) is now available online in pdf format. The article abstract reads:
C. G. Jung stated in 1957 that the visionary experiences recorded in The Red Book: Liber Novus were the foundation of his life work: “My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream ... the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.” Liber Novus is now historically placed in a hermeneutic relationship with Jung’s subsequent writings.
Jung composed the first page of Liber Novus in 1915. On this introductory folio leaf he graphically intertwined a prophecy of the future and the coming of a new aeon: an epochal turning-point in human consciousness. Though this revelation was foundational to his subsequent work, Jung did not initially feel free to publicly disclose its keynote.
After several extraordinary near-death visions in 1944, Jung realized it was his duty to finally and openly communicate the central revelation recorded in Liber Novus. The first manuscript page of Liber Novus penned by Jung in 1915—deeply considered, dense with verbal and pictorial imagery formed in response to the Spirit of the Depths—and the complexly crafted commentary in Aion, composed three decades later, are fundamentally wed. They both declare the dawning of a new aeon. While each work might be studied as an independent text, one can only comprehend Jung and his struggle with Liber Novus in their conjunction.
The Gnostic Viewpoint: Essays on Contemporary Gnosticism
The Gnostic Viewpoint section offers a
series of short articles examining Gnosis from a modern perspective
selected from past volumes of Gnosis: A Journal of Western Inner
Experience. These essays offer an excellent introduction to the wide
scope of modern Gnostic interests. A sample of some of the titles: Valentinus: A Gnostic for All Seasons -- What is a Gnostic? -- The Gnosis of the Eucharist -- Hermes and Hermeticism Throughout the Ages -- and many others.
Genesis and Gnosis
The popular PBS television special "Genesis: A Living Conversation",
hosted by Bill Moyers, directed wide attention to the many interpretations
of the Book of Genesis. One of the vital readings of Genesis -- the
Gnostic reading -- was, however, completely ignored. Explore this
balancing perspective in The Genesis Factor, an
essay by Dr. Stephan Hoeller.
Lectures from the Gnostic Society
As of June of 2012, weekly lecture delivered by Dr. Hoeller are available here free in mp3 format. The current series of June is addressing "Four Great Essays of C.G. Jung." From Jung's shorter writings, Dr. Hoeller has selected four very significant titles which merit consideration at this time. The material will be evaluated in the light of insights from Jung's Red Book and related sources. Visit
our Web Lecture page for more information.
For over twenty-five years Bryan Campbell (a professional Hollywood
recording engineer) has been archiving recordings of Dr. Hoeller's weekly
lectures. A huge selection from this collection is now available by
for immediate online download and for shipping in CD albums.
Free Lectures (available at BC Recordings):
Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing
Dr. Hoeller introduces the subject of his latest book of the same
title. An excellent brief introduction to the Gnostic Tradition. (This
lecture introduces not only our 10-lecture album "The Wisdom of the
Gnostics", but all of our recordings on Gnosticism by Stephan A.
Hoeller) Running Time 47:25.
The Greatest Treasures of Nag Hammadi
"Thomas and Philip: Gospels of the Gnostic Christ" is a free,
full-length presentation introducing the ten part set of lectures on the
most popular and valued writings from the Nag Hammadi Library, the
Gnostic writings found in Egypt in 1945.
Running Time 79:52.
Introduction to The Gospel of Judas
Dr. Hoeller regards "The Gospel of Judas" as an important and very
Gnostic document, and gives his preliminary evaluation in this brief
talk. A series in four parts on the "Gospel of Judas" was delivered
Summer 2006, and is available in disk and in download formats. Running
Altered States Ancient and Modern
Aids to consciousness have so much history it takes 13 titles in
this set to cover this controversial subject. This brief lecture lays a
foundation for a Gnostic understanding of this topic. Running Time
Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings"
Gnosis and Creativity merged in this great work by J.R.R. Tolkien. A
7 part set on it is introduced by this brief presentation.
Running Time 74:04.
Battle about God: Where do Gnostics stand?
Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great" and Richard Dawkins' "The
God Delusion", Mother Theresa's Doubts and the timeless Gnostic answers
to the issues they raise in this full-length presentation. Running time
We also offer four lecture series presented Dr. Lance
J.R.R. Tolkien: An Imaginative Life. This series of the three lectures examines the broad span of Tolkien's life and work, with special focus on Tolkien’s experience of his imaginative gift. The lectures are available on line in illustrated format, or for download as mp3 audio files.
C.G. Jung and the Red Book. Two series of lectures (sixteen lectures in total) by Dr. Lance Owens that discuss the creative genesis and content of the Red Book, and explain its central place in the life and work of C. G. Jung. C.G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis, a series of lecture delivered in Zurich by Dr. Owens, is also now available.
Search the Gnosis Archive
You can search the entire Gnosis Archive for keywords, scriptural phrases, and subjects using our advanced search
functions. The Archive contains well over
a thousand documents specific to Gnostic studies, including
translations all the classical Gnostic scriptures and patristic documents
relevant to early Gnostic movements. The search function on the
Archive is a major resource for students and researchers.
Gnostic Studies on the Web
This section contains a wide selection of current Sites and Documents dealing with Gnosticism, ancient and modern,
available on the Web.
A selection of thoughts and writings from the
Ecclesia Gnostica, as well as a schedule of services for the parishes in
Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.
The Gnostic Society
The Gnosis Archive is maintained in association with The Gnostic Society. Dr. Stephan Hoeller lectures every Friday in Los Angeles. For more
information, visit the Gnostic Society page, which has the current "Friday Lecture
Note that we are now providing free many of the weekly lectures given by Dr. Stephan Hoeller at the Gnostic Society in Los Angeles in mp3 audio. All of the other weekly lecture are available for purchase. Visit
our Web Lecture page for more information.
Over the years, we have used "the Studio" to share visionary art that in some fashion strikes us as representative of Gnostic creativity. The present show in the Studio is a remarkable and evocative graphic novel by Scott D. Finch: A Little World Made Cunningly. The Studio is now open. Come in, and take a look around...
And then read the reviews of Scott's book at amazon.com.