Jacob Slavenburg (Photo: Peter Beemsterboer)


I was born at Gorinchem, The Netherlands, during the summer of 1943.  Early in my life, I was employed in the business world and resumed my studies at a later age.  In 1986 I gained my degree to the level of PhD candidate in cultural history.  During my study of the history of religion I came in touch with the spectacular find near Nag Hammadi in 1945, which became known to the word in the English language at the end of the seventies.  I completed my studies with a thesis on Gnosis under the guidance of Professor Roelof van den Broek. The successor of the legendary Gilles Quispel.


I changed my career in the business world into an agency in order to have time and opportunity to immerse myself in the study of Gnosis.  Although I did not grow up in a religious environment, Gnosis touched me in the fibers of my soul.  Especially the vision of the man of Nazareth, who has always intrigued me and appealed to me.  From my earliest youth I have known that the actual events of history were very different from what I had learned in school and from what I heard about them in religious circles. I started writing about Gnosis, about a dissertation by Roelof van den Broek, articles and interviews with people such as Gilles Quispel.  In 1989 my first book was published.  The “Secret Words” about the history of Gnosis.  The book is close to a sixth print, something I could not even have dreamt about even then.  After this debut a number of other books, studies, articles and interviews followed in rapid succession.

Nag Hammadi

For my book “The Secret Words” I translated passages of the Nag Hammadi texts  from English and French editions.  My conviction that these remarkable writings should also be made available in the Dutch language became ever stronger.  For  “De Verborgen leringen van Jezus” (The Hidden Teachings of Jesus) a book from the Hermes series  which I had arranged together with Marcel Messing and the publisher Ankh Hermes, I translated a number of texts–with the aid of a close acquaintance of mine–from the Nag Hammadi find as an incentive to come to an integral translation. Willem Gaudemans was impressed by the texts of this booklet.  He offered to translate with me the entire Nag Hammadi Library into the Dutch language, a prestigious project for which we found support with the publishing house of Ankh Hermes.  The Coptic expert Berte Hogervorst, was prepared to cooperate in this huge project and so we got to work. Five years we spent on this project.  The collaboration between Willem and myself has been a joyful undertaking.  We talked a lot about Gnosis, about each of the texts separately, about translation problems and their solutions.  Sometimes we were so tired at night that during the last hour we were howling with laughter.  Humor is a good weapon against fatigue.  In 1994 the first part of the edition was published.  More than a year later the second.  After seven prints Willem and I went back over the texts again, which resulted in a revised translation in a single volume of more than 1,200 pages on thin paper.  Prof. Quispel, the undisputed pioneer in the field of Gnosis in the Netherlands, wrote in a Foreword:

“The thought had occurred to me that one must know Coptic in order to translate the 52 Nag Hammadi texts, but I have second thoughts since I established that the Nag Hammadi Library in English by Robinson contains huge errors.  The reason for this is that those translations were made by Protestant theologians, whose thinking patterns were limited by their training.  For these writings one needs to have a “feel” for Gnosis.  The theosophist, G.R.S. Mead had this in the past.  In our time Jacob Slavenburg has it, together with Willem Goudemans responsible for this edition.”

The edition in a single volume was published in 2004, and is currently undergoing a fourth print.  A fact that pleases me greatly.  

Teaching Experience

In the twentieth year of my writing career, harsh polemics were written about Gnosis and spiritual Christianity.  Especially about my book “Valsheid in Geschrifte” (Forgery in the Scriptures) (Walburg Press, Zutphen, currently in its seventh print), which deals with the changes and “adaptations” of Bible texts in the earliest centuries of Christianity.  During the last few years we have seen a period of rest.  The controversial insights at that time are now increasingly shared by scholars and authors.  Next to my authorship I am active in lecture series.  I am also an instructor at various institutions, among which are the Jungiaans Instituut at Nijmegen, the Hogeschool voor Geesteswetenschappen (College of Spiritual Science) at Utrecht, the Academie Intagrale Mens Wetenschappen  (Academy of Comprehensive Humanities) at Utrecht, and the Origen Institute at Zeist.  Together with John van Schaik I also present at Zeist-Driebergen an annual course “Western Esoterica and Eastern Wisdom.”   

The following are translations into English of the books written by me:  

The Secret Words

The Logical Jesus

The Hermetic Link

The Nag Hammadi Texts

The Big Bang of Christianity

The Lost Inheritance

The Woman Jesus Loved

“And the Man Shall Rule…”

A Key to Gnosis

Jesus’ Tomb * new

The Testament that Falls Open

The Gospel of Thomas

Introduction to Esoteric Christianity

Love and Initiation * new

Man and Woman

Mary Magdalene and Her Gospel

Mysticism and Spirituality

Opus Posthuum

Forgery in the Scriptures