Also known as the Nag Hammadi library, the Gnostic Gospels are a collection of leather-bound books that date back to the 4th century. They make up the major texts of Gnosticism, an offshoot of Christianity that existed around the time of the 2nd century, adherents are believe that salvation comes through deep self-knowledge and an understanding of a “higher reality.” The Gnostic Gospels, feature such volumes as “The Gospel of Thomas,” “The Gospel of Mary,” and even the Gospel of Judas.
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The story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 has been described as 'exciting as the contents of the find itself'. In December of that year, two Egyptian brothers found several papyri in a large earthenware vessel while digging for fertilizer in Upper Egypt. The find was not initially reported. It is reported that the brothers' mother burned several of the manuscripts, worried, apparently, that the papers might have 'dangerous effects.'