Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.

Ebook Details
  • 02/2015
  • B00TGC9OAA
  • 62 pages
  • $.99
The Gnostic Notebook: Volume One: On Memory Systems and Fairy Tales
An ancient Latin text, the Ad Herennium, lays down instructions for building effective Memory Systems. These instructions just happen to mirror one of the central images of Christianity as found in the Gospels. Were the Gospels constructed to act as a type of literary memory system? Could it be that the authors were actually adepts at the Art of Memory? Perhaps the tri-fold nature of the Synoptic Gospels is not a historical accident, but is actually a method of encrypting the data contained within the miraculous tales of Jesus the Wonder Worker. More importantly, perhaps this correspondence is a signifier to anyone familiar with the Art of Memory, that here is something screaming for attention, begging to be decrypted, promising, knock, and the door will be opened. The Gnostic Notebook is an examination of hidden layers of meaning uncovered within various classic and ancient texts including the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales and the Gospels. The meanings are decrypted using a variety of steganographic and cryptographic techniques. These hidden readings are not the usual esoteric or Freudian interpretations, rather they seem to reveal actual, undeniable information encoded into the texts ages ago.
elenchus from LibraryThing

Received a complimentary copy from the author (via LibraryThing).

Lambert argues certain Gnostic texts contain hidden messages ("not the usual esoteric or Freudian interpretations") which can be decoded using mnemonic systems from Classical Antiquity. Inviting readers to corroborate, or refute, his findings, Lambert provides a summary of his thinking and evidence:

• Generally, ancient memory systems employ a key for coding information: these systems are a form of cryptography. Familiarity with a memory system's key makes it possible to decode texts even when not intended for you (albeit not infallibly). 

• In some cases, it is useful not merely to encrypt a text, but also to mask the fact of its encryption, i.e. use steganography. 

• Aspects of text in the Gospel of Mark align at various points with the key for a system proposed in the Rhetorica ad Herennium (late 80s BC). "One of the central images of Christianity is nearly an image-for-image recreation of the core guiding principle of the Art of Memory as set down in writing around three hundred years before the Gospels had been written." [6]

• With this foundation, veiled messages are sought within Gnostic texts, e.g. the Gospel of Thomas.

Lambert devotes the balance of his first Notebook to a demonstration using fairy tales included in the collection published by the Brothers Grimm. Following principles from the ad Herennium in tandem with specific memory keys(the symbols and patterns outlined in specific memory systems), Lambert proceeds stepwise through each of three stories. In these examples, the requisite memory keys derive from Gurdjieff's triad [13-15] and the I Ching hexagrams [26-27]. The messages Lambert claims to find are pragmatic and plausibly hieratic in nature (i.e. warrant sharing across generations by individuals perhaps unknown to one another, and which could preserve information not easily discovered by an individual, nor easily taught in short order). Lambert's specific examples involve a teaching on the likely evolution of social orders during succession of authority; and artisanal knowledge of musical instruments, such as would be passed among bards and apprentices.

In each case, Lambert posits three layers of meaning. [19-20] The outer layer is that of the literal text: the familiar story or narrative. The middle layer contains the clues (woven into the story) for which the memory key is needed; for example, those aspects of the text aligning with Gurdjieff's triad, together becoming the decrypted text. This middle layer, once identified, points to the inner layer or hidden message. So the literal text is decrypted using a key (in one case: two keys), and in turn the decrypted text is interpreted. 

Unlike a cipher, neither decryption nor interpretation is clear-cut, the reader must draw meaning based on what is known from the memory system, what is provided in the text, and finally, the anticipated message. If messages are sent between colleagues, the intended recipient has context for the message even before interpreting it, and this context may be crucial for an accurate interpretation. Lambert must make do without this given information.


In reading the first Notebook, three broad points for critique occurred to me:

1 - For what purpose was a message encoded? (Who encoded / for whom / why not simply deliver message openly and plainly). Considerable effort is required to encode and decode a message, and it's reasonable to seek a rationale for making the effort. Absent one, it's unreasonable to expect any given text contains an encrypted message, hidden or not.

I assume Lambert can't be expected to know the answers himself (not privy to the knowledge of an intended recipient), the corollary query becoming: Is Lambert's identification & interpretation of an encrypted message more or less likely than alternative explanations? 

2 - For instance, perhaps there is no hidden message, and Lambert erroneously identifies a text as encrypted (first alternative explanation).

3 - Or, the text is in fact encrypted, but Lambert does not understand it correctly either due to (a) faulty decryption using in/appropriate key(s), or (b) misinterpretation of the decrypted text (second alternative explanation).


The real test will come in subsequent Notebook(s). I cannot determine whether Lambert correctly identifies and interprets the Grimm stories discussed in the first Notebook, but I'm persuaded messages were encrypted at various times in history, and that it is plausible for an unintended recipient to decode them with some accuracy. The Grimm's stories may be historical examples, though Lambert has not established this as historical fact, rather he demonstrates they are potential cases and provides instructive interpretations.

In any case, I am more interested in Lambert's broader claim. He promises the second Notebook "will turn from fairy tales to an examination of certain Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi and how they serve as keys to unlock the canonical Gospels." [61] A brief discussion early in this first Notebook suggests Lambert's ultimate argument concerns a break in the Gnostic Tradition between Johannine and Thomasine schools.

That is, the Johannine tradition can be understood to provide an explicit alternate interpretation of Bible stories, linked to a Johannine Creation story involving the Demiurge (an entity distinct from God). The Thomasine tradition, on the other hand, can be understood as providing messages and riddles without an explicit interpretation. Lambert notes: "A common assumption is that the questions and riddles raised by the Thomasine tradition are answered by the Johannine tradition. My studies have led me to another conclusion."  (4/5 stars)

kubar from Amazon

An excellent read!!!

April 15, 2015

This book is an excellent read. It is obvious that Timothy James Lambert knows his subject matter well and has a great love & interest in it. His style of writing displays a lot of patience and gives the feeling of him sitting in front of you explaining the points simply yet profoundly. (4/5 stars)

The subject matter is also extremely fascinating. To see the Bible and various fairytales opened up & their inner secrets revealed is a journey into another time and space. Using the concepts of the Triad and the I Ching Lambert shows how secrets were hidden within the Fairy Tales of old only to be realized by those with knowledge.

I am looking forward to Vol. 2.

Somone Timeo from Amazon

An interesting look into antiquity.

April 18, 2015

Deciphering the coded. This book is a rosetta stone for gnosis enthusiasts.It offers an alternative to the obvious interpretations of fairy tales, and how they may be applied for a different purpose.Triads,the I Ching are utilised as tools deciphering a message. A must read for anyone interested in mythology and Gnosticism. (5/5 stars)

Ebook Details
  • 02/2015
  • B00TGC9OAA
  • 62 pages
  • $.99