Nag Hammadi Documents

In the late s, the world of biblical scholarship was handed a stunning surprise. A trove of previously unknown papyrus manuscripts discovered near Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, dating back to the earliest centuries of Christianity, contained a number of alternative gospels. Some scholars believe that many of the texts may predate the four canonical gospels and express a set of beliefs known as Gnosticism. Part of the reason for this is that Gnostic teachings were secret and most were never committed to writing; what writings did exist were sought out and destroyed by the branch of the Christian church that became dominant. But the Nag Hammadi texts disclosed a combination of Asian mysticism, magic, astrology, and Jewish Kabbalah in a Christian setting. Gnostics believed the widespread myth of the Trickster, a human or animal who, like the serpent in Genesis, tricks humanity out of its rightful enjoyment of the world.

The Nag Hammadi Library

In scholarship, there are some things that are known to be true, some things that are known to be false, some things that are simply unknown whether true or false , and some matters of opinion and speculation that are keenly debated. Who knows? The earliest instance of it in any form, which I personally can find, dates from and is found on Usenet, where it was immediately called into question by another poster, Roger Pearse.

Day Brown wrote August 3, :. This is not even the same century as the one usually credited for the Nag Hammadi Library the fourth century , let alone accurate information regarding the Carbon 14 dating of the Nag Hammadi codices.

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The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in Examination of the datable papyrus used to thicken the leather bindings, and of the Coptic script, place them c. But scholars sharply disagree about the dating of the original texts. Some of them can hardly be later than c. The contents of the codices were written in Coptic language , though the works were probably all translations from Greek [ citation needed ].

The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas , of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in , and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas has been proposed, though this is disputed by many if not the majority of biblical matter researchers.

The once buried manuscripts themselves date from the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Nag Hammadi library

The first two lines of the text read, ‘Eugnostos the blessed, to those who are his,’ and the title at the end of the tractate is given as ‘Eugnostos the Blessed. Still, the opening of the version of the text in Codex V 1,,17 , even if it is largely in lacuna, cannot be reconstructed in the same way, and the title at the conclusion of the document is merely ‘Eugnostos.

On this name, Scopello observes, “But who is Eugnostos, and what is the meaning of this name?

Nag Hammadi Library, dating from the 3rd-4th centuries AD, as proof for their. of John in the Nag Hammadi Library does, in fact, contain “Yahweh” (ΙΑΥΕ) as​.

The manuscripts had been buried in a sealed jar. Eleven of the codices were in their original leather covers. This collection of codices in Coptic bindings, called the Nag Hammadi Library , comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic tractates or treatises, dating from about to about , and documenting a “. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas , of which the Nag Hammadi codices contained the only complete text.

The Nag Hammadi texts were all Coptic translations of works that had been originally written in Greek. This collection of codices represents one of the most extensive collections of early papyrus codices in Coptic bindings. Their language is Coptic, the native language of Egypt as recorded in the third century A. Coptic script is a modification of the Greek alphabet, reflecting the fact that, in its written form, Coptic was essentially the language of Egyptian Christianity, whose early literature including the heterodox Gnostic texts was in large part translated from the Greek.

The Nag Hammadi codices were written and bound in the first half of the fourth century, presumably within a religious community.

The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library

See E. Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels ; K. Rudolph, Gnosis ; B.

The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, edited by Marvin Meyer, is the most complete, up-​to-date, one-volume, English-language edition of the renowned library of.

This article is no longer being updated. Scholar Elaine Pagels explores these documents and their implications. In December an Arab peasant made an astonishing archeological discovery in Upper Egypt. Rumors obscured the circumstances of this find—perhaps because the discovery was accidental, and its sale on the black market illegal. For years even the identity of the discoverer remained unknown. Originally natural, some of these caves were cut and painted and used as grave sites as early as the sixth dynasty, some 4, years ago.

Digging around a massive boulder, they hit a red earthenware jar, almost a meter high. But realizing that it might also contain gold, he raised his mattock, smashed the jar, and discovered inside thirteen papyrus books, bound in leather. Having received one from al-Qummus Basiliyus, Raghib sent it to a friend in Cairo to find out its worth.

Sold on the black market through antiquities dealers in Cairo, the manuscripts soon attracted the attention of officials of the Egyptian government. Through circumstances of high drama, as we shall see, they bought one and confiscated ten and a half of the thirteen leather-bound books, called codices, and deposited them in the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

But a large part of the thirteenth codex, containing five extraordinary texts, was smuggled out of Egypt and offered for sale in America.


The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient books called “codices” containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary “Gnostic Gospels” — texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define “orthodoxy” — scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas , the Gospel of Philip , and the Gospel of Truth. The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, initially completed in the ‘s, has provided impetus to a major re-evaluation of early Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism.

For an introduction to the Nag Hammadi discovery and the texts in this ancient library, we offer several resources.

Download this stock image: Nag Hammadi library a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt dating​.

However, the latest scholarship paints a difference picture. This picture is perhaps more intriguing than the accepted view of the storage of these so-called Gnostic Gospels. And far more occult. Elaine Pagels explains the accepted account on the Nag Hammadi library, which has its roots in the alluring idea of overcoming censorship:. Their suppression as banned documents, and their burial on the cliff at Nag Hammadi, it turns out, were both part of a struggle critical for the formation of early Christianity.

The Nag Hammadi texts, and others like them, which circulated at the beginning of the Christian era, were denounced as heresy by orthodox Christians in the middle of the second century. Matters only got worse for the Gnostics, according to historical data. In AD, Athanasius, the formidable Bishop of Alexandria, issued a decree known as the Festal Letter, banning the use of alternative Christian writings. Also, he outlined an accepted canon of orthodox scripture.

In reaction to this censorship, brave monks from the St Pachomius Monastery in Upper Egypt smuggled out codices and buried them in the nearby sands. These 52 texts were discovered in close to the town of Nag Hammadi. When it comes down to it, this theory on the burial of the Nag Hammadi library is highly speculative.

Nag Hammadi

The first and only textbook on the fascinating but often obscure topic of “Gnosticism”. Discovered in Egypt in , the fascinating and challenging Nag Hammadi writings forever changed our understanding of early Christianity. State-of-the-art and the only volume of its kind, Introduction to “Gnosticism”: Ancient Voices, Christian Worlds guides students through the most significant of the Nag Hammadi texts.

See more ideas about Nag hammadi library, Gnostic gospels, Early church fathers. Assigning a date to the Gospel of Thomas is very complex. Scholars have.

Kent Brown was a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University when this was published. In or , it is reported, an Egyptian camel driver named Mohammad Ali discovered a cache of early Christian texts in Upper Egypt, now known as the Nag Hammadi library. And while the texts are not all demonstrably Christian in origin, [3] this notable library consists largely of heretofore unknown writings preserved by Christians who both stood apart from the early Catholic church and yet at the same time claimed to possess the true gospel.

To be sure, it inspired studies which took issue with his views. But his basic thesis that the early church did not constitute a unified entity after the deaths of the Apostles still stands. Before we turn to an examination of teachings found in this literature, it is important to discuss the inevitable question whether these texts constitute reliable historical and doctrinal accounts which go back to the personalities featured in the documents.

For, on the one hand, a few texts deal tantalizingly with prominent figures from the Old Testament—such as Adam and Melchizedek—while, on the other, many deal with Jesus and his disciples. The solution, I suggest, is largely one of dating. What we possess in the Nag Hammadi library are copies produced in the second half of the fourth century A.

But, obviously, we are taken back neither to the time of the earliest church nor to an even earlier period required for those texts attributed to Old Testament personalities such as Adam and Seth.


Until the 20th century the works of Irenaeus and other heresiologists orthodox Christian writers who described unorthodox groups were the principal sources of information about gnostic movements. Only a handful of manuscripts containing the authentic writings of such groups were known; they existed primarily in two sets of Coptic texts, the Askew Codex and the Bruce Codex, which were discovered in Egypt in the 18th century but not published until the 19th century.

A third important Coptic text, known as the Berlin Codex , was announced in but not published until the midth century. Many of the works also contain doctrines or myths that were condemned by Irenaeus and other heresiologists. Among the Nag Hammadi writings are three separate copies of the Apocryphon of John , an especially important gnostic myth ; a fourth copy is included in the Berlin Codex

the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library, it Nag Hammadi library ‘Gnostic’ right in doing so? sehen, inwieweit seine Aussagen up to date wa ren.

The Nag Hammadi texts were contained in 13 leather-bound volumes discovered by Egyptian farmers in Dated papyrus scraps used to strengthen the bindings of the books helped date the volumes to the mid-fourth century A. Until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices in , the Gnostic view of early Christianity had largely been forgotten. The teachings of Gnostic Christianity —vilified especially since they were declared heretic by orthodox Christianity in the fourth century—had been virtually erased from history by the early church fathers, their gospels banned and even burned to make room for the view of Christian theology outlined in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Learn the fascinating insights gained from artifacts and ruins, like the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where the Gospel of John says Jesus miraculously restored the sight of the blind man, and the Tel Dan inscription—the first historical evidence of King David outside the Bible. The Nag Hammadi texts, which represent a range of attitudes and beliefs in Gnostic Christianity and include everything from competing gospels to apocalyptic revelations, all assert the primacy of spiritual and intellectual knowledge over physical action and material well-being.

The Apocryphon of John, for example, is the most important tractate of classic Sethian Gnosticism. In it the risen Jesus reveals to John, son of Zebedee, the truth of creation. The forgotten gospel preserves sayings of Jesus that were not included in the canonical Gospels. According to this Gnostic myth, the God of the Hebrew Bible is actually a corrupted lower deity. Only through the intervention of Sophia Wisdom can gnosis be revealed and salvation attained.

Introduction to Gnosticism

Skip to content. Quick links. But there are also things that are known to be false that are often taken as true, and of such things it is said: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. And apparently not an “april fools” joke

The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient books (called “codices​”) containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in This imme.

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Nag Hammadi Library

Audible Premium Plus. Cancel anytime. This fascinating lecture course is a richly detailed guide to the theology, sacred writings, rituals, and outstanding human figures of the Gnostic movements. What we call “Gnosticism” comprised a number of related religious ideologies and movements, all of which sought ” gnosis, ” or immediate, direct, and intimate knowledge of God.

The Gnostics had many scriptures, but unlike the holy texts of other religions, Gnostic scriptures were often modified over time.

Central to the plot in this book are the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Gospels which originated in Egypt About the dating of the manuscripts themselves there is little debate. Christian texts, but this is not the only important monastic library in Egypt.

Thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local farmer named Muhammed al-Samman. In his introduction to The Nag Hammadi Library in English , James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery and were buried after Saint Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of A.

The discovery of these texts significantly influenced modern scholarship’s pursuit and knowledge of early Christianity and Gnosticism. The contents of the codices were written in the Coptic language. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas , of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery, scholars recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in P.

The written text of the Gospel of Thomas is dated to the second century by most interpreters, but based on much earlier sources. Scholars first became aware of the Nag Hammadi library in Making careful inquiries from , Jean Doresse discovered that a peasant dug up the texts from a graveyard in the desert, located near tombs from the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt.

Al-Samman told Robinson a complex story involving a blood feud , cannibalism , digging for fresh soil for agricultural use, and superstitions about a jinn. His mother claimed that she burned some of the manuscripts; Robinson identified these with Codex XII. Robinson gave multiple accounts of this interview, with the number of people present at the discovery ranging from two to eight.

Gospel of Truth ~ Nag Hammadi

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