Prayer of Thanksgiving
Ancient Vegetarian Meal Mentioned in
the Nag Hammadi Library and in the Corpus Hermeticum
The Manichaeans, the largest Gnostic movement in history, almost
became one of the world's major religions and they were vegetarian,
as were many Hermetic, Jewish, and Gnostic Christian groups 2,000
years ago. There are Hebrew Gospels which present Jesus and John the
Baptist as vegetarians, rather than eating Passover lamb and fish
(Jesus) and bugs (John's famous "locusts"). The Jewish Christians
read vegetarian gospels reflecting their values, even as the gospels
of Paul's version of Christianity reflected the values of that group
A really good book on this is, "THE GOSPEL OF JESUS - IN SEARCH OF
HIS ORIGINAL TEACHINGS," John Davidson, Clear Press. His other
book, "THE ROBE OF GLORY," same publisher, is a good one on
the 'Hymn of the Pearl' found in the Acts of Thomas. He's one of the
best authors on the teachings and spirituality of early groups:
Essenes, the Jesus Movement (Aramaic-speaking), Hermetic philosophy,
Mandaean and Manichaean Gnosis. Those books by Davidson are
currently out of print but can be borrowed through inter-library
loan via any city or college library.
The following comes from an ancient Egyptian scripture called, "The
Prayer of Thanksgiving," one of 50 books unearthed near the village
of Nag Hammadi in upper Egypt. Since the same prayer is also found
in the Corpus Hermeticum, another Egyptian scripture, I've decided
it's useful to include three other Hermetic translations of the last
sentence, which further describes the vegetarian nature of the meal.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving
Translated by James Brashler,
Peter A. Dirkse and Douglas M. Parrott
This the prayer that they spoke:
"We give thanks to You!
Every soul and heart is lifted up to You,
undisturbed name, honored with the name 'God'
and praised with the name 'Father',
for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness
and affection and love,
and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain,
giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge:
mind, so that we may understand You,
speech, so that we may expound You,
knowledge, so that we may know You.
We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge.
We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself.
We rejoice because while we are in (the) body,
You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
"The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You is one thing:
that we know You.
We have known You, intellectual Light.
Life of life, we have known You.
Womb of every creature, we have known You.
Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father,
we have known You.
Eternal permanence of the begetting Father,
thus have we worshiped Your goodness.
There is one petition that we ask:
we would be preserved in knowledge.
And there is one protection that we desire:
that we not stumble in this kind of life."
When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each
other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in
* A vegetarian meal. This passage is also found in the Epilogue of
Asclepius, in "HERMETICA," translated by Sir Walter Scott:
"Having prayed thus, let us betake ourselves to a meal unpolluted by
flesh [animalia] of living things."
The G.R.S. Mead translation of the same passage says:
"With this desire we now betake us to our pure and fleshless meal."
"With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living
thing." (Asclepius, translated in "Hermetica", Brian Copenhaver,
Cambridge University Press)