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GNOSTIC WRITINGS

"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in on attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself."
 (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.2)
 
Much scholarly knowledge of Gnosticism comes from anti-Gnostic Christian texts of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, which provide the only extensive quotations in the Greek of the original Gnostic texts. Most surviving Gnostic texts are in Coptic, into which they had been translated when Gnosticism spread to Egypt in the late 2nd and the 3rd centuries. In 1945 an Egyptian peasant found 12 codices containing more than 50 Coptic Gnostic writings near Nag Hammadi. It has been determined that these codices were copied in the 4th century in the monasteries of the region. It is not known whether the monks were Gnostics, or were attracted by the ascetic nature of the writings, or had assembled the writings as a study in heresy.

50 - 140 A.D.  The Gospel of Thomas - The Gospel of Thomas is extant in three Greek fragments and one Coptic manuscript.
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THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS - The following is a fresh translation, made from the Coptic text published by Messrs. Brill of Leiden.

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Information on Gospel of Thomas

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The Christology And Protology of the Gospel of Thomas

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Mark's Use of the Gospel of Thomas PART I - by Stevan Davies.

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Mark's Use of the Gospel of Thomas PART II - by Stevan Davies.

100 - 150 A.D. The Secret Book of James -  The Apocryphon (Secret Book) of James is probably the earliest example of a long-standing Gnostic tradition that the risen Jesus delivered secret teachings to his disciples.

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The Apocryphon of James - Translated by Ron Cameron.

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Information on Secret Book of James

120 - 140 A.D. Writings of Basilide - The earliest of the Alexandrian Gnostics; he was a native of Alexandria and flourished under the Emperors Adrian and Antoninus Pius, about 120-140.

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Fragments from the Writings of Basilides

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Information on Basilides

120 - 140 A.D. The Naassene Fragment - This fragment is quoted by Hippolytus in Ref. 5.7.2-9. It is attributed to the Naassene Gnostics, who are thought to have flourished in the time of Hadrian.

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The Naassene Psalm  - and Information on Naassene Fragment.

120 - 180 A.D. The Dialogue of the Savior - According to Julian Hills in The Complete Gospels, the Dialogue of the Savior is a gospel about baptism.

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The Dialogue of the Savior - Translated by Stephen Emmel.

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Information on Dialogue of the Savior

120 - 180 A.D. The Gospel of Mary - The Gospel of Mary exalts Mary Magdalene over the male disciples of Jesus. The Gospel of Mary provides important information about the role of women in the early church.

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The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene

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Information on Gospel of Mary

130 - 140 A.D. Fragments of Marcion - MARCION was a rich shipowner of Sinope, the chief port of Pontus, on the southern shore of the Black Sea; he was also a bishop and the son of a bishop. His chief activity at Rome may be placed somewhere between the years 150 and 160. At first he was in communion with the church at Rome, and contributed handsomely to its funds; as, however, the presbyters could not explain his difficulties and refused to face the important questions he set before them, he is said to have threatened to make a schism in the church; and apparently was finally excommunicated.

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An Introduction to Marcion

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The Gospel of the Lord

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The Gospel of Marcion - Section I

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The Gospel of Marcion - Section II

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The Gospel of Marcion - Section III

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The Gospel of Marcion - Section IV

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The Gospel of Marcion - Section V

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The Gospel of Marcion - Section VI

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ANTITHESIS - Contradictions Between the Old Testament Diety and the New Testament God.

130 - 160 A.D. Epiphanes On Righteousness - Also known by the title "Concerning Justice", this text by Epiphanes, the son of the Gnostic teacher Carpocrates, is found in Clement of Alexandria, Stromaties, III 6,1-9,3.

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Ephiphanes, the Son of Carpocrates: On Righteousness

130 - 160 A.D. The Ophite Diagrams - Celsus and Origen describe a diagram in use by a second century gnostic sect, the Ophites.

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The Ophite Diagrams

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Information on Ophites

140 - 160 A.D. Fragments of Ptolemy - Ptolemy the Gnostic, a heretic of the second century and personal disciple of Valentinus. He was probably still living about 180. No other certain details are known of his life; Harnack's suggestion that he was identical with the Ptolemy spoken of by St. Justin is as yet unproved

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Ptolemy's Commentary On The Gospel of John Prologue

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Ptolemy's Letter to Flora

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Information on Ptolemy

140 - 180 A.D. The Gospel of Truth - The Gospel of Truth's combination of literary and conceptual sophistication with genuine religious feeling suggests much better than the rather dry accounts of Gnostic systems in the heresiologists why the teaching of Valentinus and his school had such an appeal for many Christians of the 2nd century.

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The Gospel of Truth

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Information on Gospel of Truth

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Information on Valentinus

150 - 180 A.D.  Excerpts of Theodotus - It is the work of a Montanist, perhaps, who may have had some relations with the Alexandrian school; but it is hard to say precisely who of three or four named Theodotus (all heretics), may have made the compilation, more especially because disjointed and contradictory fragments seem mixed up in it as it is commonly edited.

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Selections from the prophetic scriptures

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INTRODUCTORY NOTICE TO EXCERPTS OF THEODOTUS

150 - 180 A.D.  Fragments of Heracleon - Heracleon (1), a Gnostic described by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. iv. 9, p. 595) as the most esteemed (dokimwtatoV) of the school of Valentinus; and, according to Origen (Comm. in S. Joann. t. ii. § 8, Opp. t. iv. p. 66), said to have been in personal contact (gnwrimoV) with Valentinus himself. He is barely mentioned by Irenaeus (ii. 41) and by Tertullian (adv. Valent. 4).

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Heracleon: Fragments from his Commentary on the Gospel of John

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Heracleon: Introduction

150 - 200 A.D.  The Acts of Peter -  Written, probably by a resident in Asia Minor (he does not know much about Rome), not later than A. D. 200, in Greek. The author has read the Acts of John very carefully, and modelled his language upon them. However, he was not so unorthodox as Leucius, though his language about the Person of our Lord (ch. xx) has rather suspicious resemblances to that of the Acts of John. 

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The Acts of Peter

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The Acts of Peter: Introduction

200 - 225 A.D.  The Acts of Thomas -  the Acts of Thomas are probably the most overtly Gnostic of the apocryphal Acts, portraying Christ as the "Heavenly Redeemer" who can free souls from the darkness of the physical world. Surprisingly, Thomas is the only one of the five primary Acts to have survived in its entirety—in a Syriac text from the seventh century and a Greek text from the eleventh, as well as scores of fragments.

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The Acts of Thomas

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The Acts of Thomas: Introduction

 

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“Brethren, we must preach the doctrines; we must emphasize the doctrines; we must go back to the doctrines. I fear that the new generation does not know the doctrines as our fathers knew them.”

John A. Broudus


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