Into this house we’re born | Into this world we’re thrown – Riders on the Storm
The philosophers of the ages invite YOU – Manly P. Hall
Where we have come from, who we are, where we are going – Excerpta ex Theodoto
In 1945 a poor farmer in Egypt unearthed a stone jar containing ancient papyri in the desert near Nag Hammadi. They turned out to be the oldest Christian writings on the subject of gnosis, a special kind of knowledge. The followers of this belief were called gnostics . The original meaning of the Greek word ‘gnosis’ was: investigation, knowledge, insight; around the beginning of our Common Era it was used to refer to ‘knowledge of the divine world and the true nature of things’. To the gnostics, not the faith of the developing Christian church but spiritual knowledge was the key to salvation. The Church dismissed gnosis as an aberration, a heresy.
The main assumptions of the gnostic belief are:
- Man comes from a divine world of light and must return to it; but he is caught in this material world
- The awareness of his origin, his present situation and his ultimate destination is the beginning of man’s liberation and makes it possible to return to the divine world, already in this life, but certainly after death
- Self-knowledge and knowledge of God, therefore, are almost identical
- This knowledge cannot be taught but is revealed to man by the divine world
- Only those who are worthy, will receive this awareness and that is why its core belief needs to be kept a secret
The Egyptian farmer had no idea of the significance of his discovery and used part of the papyri as fuel. Thirteen manuscripts escaped this fate and eventually found their way to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, where they are cherished and are now regarded as equally important as the oldest biblical manuscripts.