Dr. King offers an invaluable review of the academic study of Gnosticism over the last century, and closely questions the dogmatic biases that have motivated most prior studies. She suggests that the category of "gnosticism" needs a careful reevaluation in light of current understanding of this ancient tradition. Anyone interested in the history and evolution of Gnostic studies in light of the Nag Hammadi Library - including the the many other studies listed below - will find this a very useful book; it is however oriented to a scholarly audience. Buy the Book.
Gnosis: The Nature
and History of Gnosticism by Kurt Rudolph
This is a detailed and learned exposition, equally valuable to scholar and lay-person,
but recommended for those who have already complete a course of introductory reading. The
author's point of view is objective and in the main uninfluenced by heresiological bias.
Gnostic Religion by Hans Jonas
A classic work, employing existential principles of analysis to Gnostic teachings (the
author was a student of Heidegger). Contains many valuable quotations, including many from
Mandaean and Manichaean sources. Written before the publication of the Nag Hammadi
scriptures, it contains only scant references to these sources.
Gnosis: An Esoteric Tradition of Mystical Visions
and Unions by Dan Merkur
A startlingly creative and insightful work that sees Gnosticism as originating in a
certain kind of spiritual experience akin to C. G. Jung's "active imagination".
Overall, it is a well documented and readable study. Merkur touches upon cognate material
from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic mysticism to amplify his conclusions.
Gnostics by Jacques Lacarriere
A poetic meditation on Gnosticism and Gnostic teachings. The author's
anti-establishment orientation is occasionally overbearing, but the book contains useful
information and is sympathetic to Gnosticism. Included is a worthwhile forward by Lawrence
Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters by Elaine H.
An examination of the Valentinian Gnostic reading of the Pauline letters, offering a
new perspective on Pauline studies. Written before The Gnostic Gospels, Pagels
here presents an exegesis of Paul in high scholarly style.
Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine H. Pagels
In her usual lucid and insightful style, Pagels examines the impact of the first three
chapters of Genesis on the political thought and development of Christendom. The
chapter of Pagel's book titled "Gnostic Improvisions on Genesis" is of
particular value and interest to Gnostic studies.
Mani, the Angel and the Column of Glory by Andrew
The resurgence of Gnostic studies has led to a renewed interest in the world religion
founded by the Prophet Mani (216-276 AD). During the last century entire libraries of
Manichean texts were unearthed in the orient, but only recently in the context of Gnostic
studies are scholars beginning to evaluate these writings and the religion they witness.
Andrew Welburn presents here a wonderful introduction to the Gnosis of Mani, "Apostle
of Jesus Christ", along with the most accessible collection of Manichean texts
presently available. This is a book highly recommended to those interested in the nature
and history of Gnosticism.
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