The people we've come to call gnostics were passionate advocates of the view that salvation comes through knowledge and personal experience, and their passion shines through in the remarkable body of writings they produced over a period of more than a millennium and a half. Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer have created a translation that brings the gnostic voices to us from across the centuries with remarkable power and beauty--beginning with texts from the earliest years of Christianity--including material from the Nag Hammadi library--and continuing all the way up to expressions of gnostic wisdom found within Islam and in the Cathar movement of the Middle Ages. The twenty-one texts included here serve as a compact introduction to Gnosticism and its principal ideas--and they also provide an entree to the pleasures of gnostic literature in general, representing, as they do, the greatest masterpieces of that tradition.
About the Author
Willis Barnstone, born in Lewiston, Maine, and educated at Bowdoin, the Sorbonne, Columbia and Yale, taught in Greece at end of civil war (1949-51), in Buenos Aires during the Dirty War, and in China during Cultural Revolution, where he was later a Fulbright Professor in Beijing (1984-85). Former O'Connor Professor of Greek at Colgate University, he is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. A Guggenheim fellow, he has received the NEA, NEH, Emily Dickinson Award of the PSA, Auden Award of NY Council on the Arts, Midland Authors Award, four Book of the Month selections, four Pulitzer nominations, and Lanner Poetry Award for BORDER OF A DREAM: THE POEMS OF ANTONIO MACHADO (Copper Canyon). His work has appeared in APR, Harper's, NYRB, Paris Review, Poetry, and the New Yorker. Author of seventy books, recent volumes are Poetics of Translation (Yale, 1995), The Gnostic Bible (Shambhala, 2003), Life Watch (BOA, 2003), BORDER OF A DREAM: SELECTED POEMS OF ANTONIO MACHADO (2004), Restored New Testament (Norton, 2009), Stickball on 88th Street (Red Hen Press, 2011), Dawn Cafe in Paris (Sheep Meadow, 2011), The Poems of Jesus Christ (Norton, 2012), ABC of Translation (Black Widow Press, 2013), Borges at Eighty (New Directions Press, 2013), and MOONBOOK AND SUNBOOK: POEMS (Tupelo Press, 2014).
Marvin Meyer is one of the "foremost" scholars on early Christianity and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament. He is Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. Among his recent books are "The Gospel of Judas", "The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus", "The Gospels of Mary", "The Gospel of Thomas", and "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures".
"An important sampler of relatively unknown spiritual literature."—Library Journal
"May well be the most comprehensive collection of Gnostic materials ever gathered into one volume. A valuable resource."—Publishers Weekly
"An enormously rich collection of sources—a wonderful achievement!"—Elaine Pagels, author of Beyond Belief