Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bonus 9 - Nag Hammadi Papyri

Property of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
the codices are preserved in the Coptic Museum.
Here, the beginning of the Apocalypse of St. Peter.
Public Domain
This collection of fifty-two Coptic papyri (1,200 pages) was discovered near Nag Hammadi in Egypt between 1945 and 1946.1. While they date to the fourth cent. AD they are based on earlier Greek manuscripts from the first to third cent. AD. They are important for understanding the religious beliefs of the Gnostics, some of whom Paul dealt with in his NT letters. Today they are stored in the Coptic Museum of Cairo 2.  and are available online.

Some of these sayings are characterized by a series of questions that the disciples purportedly asked Jesus between the period of his resurrection and the ascension. They also deal with a reinterpretation of the creation account and include various visions that pertain to Gnostic beliefs as proposed by Marcion, Cerinthus, and Basilides.

Gnostic Creation and Salvation
These works include: The Apocryphon of John; The Hypostasis of the Archons; On the Origin of the World; The Apocalypse of Adam; and The Paraphrase of Shem.

The Gnostic Nature of Reality
These works include: The Gospel of Truth; The Treatise on the Resurrection; The Tripartite Tractate; Eugnostos the Blessed; The Second Treatise of the Great Seth; The Teachings of Silvanus; and The Testimony of Truth.

Gnostic Liturgical Rites
These works include: The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth; The Prayer of Thanksgiving; A Valentinian Exposition; The Three Steles of Seth; and The Prayer of the Apostle Paul.

Gnostic Divine Feminine (Sophia)
These works include: The Thunder, Perfect Mind; The Thought of Norea; The Sophia of Jesus Christ; and The Exegesis on the Soul.

Gnostic Apostolic Biographies
These works include: The Apocalypse of Peter; The Letter of Peter to Philip; The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles; The (First) Apocalypse of James; The (Second) Apocalypse of James; and The Apocalypse of Paul.

The Gnostic Jesus
These are called gospels but their form is simply a sequence of unrelated sayings and visions. These works include: The Dialogue of the Savior; The Book of Thomas the Contender; The Apocryphon of James; The Gospel of Philip; and The Gospel of Thomas.

These works include: The Apocryphon of John Codex II, III, IV; The Gospel of the Egyptians Codex III, IV; Fragment of the Perfect Discourse Codex V; Authoritative Teaching Codex VI; The Concept of Our Great Power Codex VI; Plato’s Republic 588A–589B Codex VI; The Teachings of Silvanus Codex VI; Zostrianos Codex VIII; Melchizedek Codex IX; Marsanes Codex X; The Interpretation of Knowledge Codex XI; Allogenes Codex XI; Hypsiphrone Codex XI; The Sentences of Sextus Codex XII; Unidentified fragments Codex XII; and Trimorphic Protennoia Codex XIII.

  • 1. For a detailed description of their discovery see Roger Pearse. The Nag Hammadi discovery of manuscripts.A Survey of the Manuscripts of some Ancient Authors. LINK
  • 2. Birger A. Pearson, “Nag Hammadi Codices,” ed. David Noel Freedman, Anchor Bible Dictionary (London: Doubleday & Company, 1996), 4:984–93.
This bonus material was quoted from:

David E. Graves, Key Themes of the Old Testament: A Survey of Major Theological Themes (Moncton, N.B.: Graves, 2013), 70-71.

For Further Study
  • Barns, John W. B., Gerald M Browne, and John C. Shelton, eds. Nag Hammadi Codices: Greek and Coptic Papyri from the Cartonnage of the Covers. Leiden: Brill, 1981.
  • Biblical Archaeology Society Staff. “The Nag Hammadi Codices and Gnostic Christianity: How the Nag Hammadi texts discovered in Egypt reintroduced the world to Gnostic Christianity.” Biblical Archaeology Society,  July 01, 2014.  
  • Cameron, Ron. The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Gospel Texts. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/Knox, 1982.
  • Dart, John. The Jesus of Heresy and History: The Discovery and Meaning of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Library. Rev Exp. New York, N.Y.: HarperOne, 1989.
  • Franzmann, Majella. Jesus in the Nag Hammadi Writings. Edinburgh, U.K.: T & T Clark International, 1996.
  • Layton, Bentley. The Gnostic Scriptures. London, U.K. SCM Press, 1987.
  • Markschies, Christoph. Gnosis: An Introduction. Translated by John Bowden. New York, N.Y.: T&T Clark, 2003.
  • Meyer, Marvin, and James M. Robinson, eds. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts Complete in One Volume. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
  • Meyer, Marvin. The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2005.
  • Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. New York, N.Y.: Random House, 2004. 
  • Patterson, Stephen J., Hans-Gebhard Bethge, and James M. Robinson. The Fifth Gospel: The Gospel of Thomas Comes of Age. New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury Academic, 1998.
  • Pearson, Birger A. “Nag Hammadi Codices.” Edited by David Noel Freedman. Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1996, 4:984–93.
  • Pearson, Birger A. Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions And Literature. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.
  • Robinson, James M. “The Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices.” Biblical Archaeology 42, no. 4 (October 1, 1979): 206–24.
  • Robinson, James M. From the Nag Hammadi Codices to the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Judas. Institute for Antiquity and Christianity Occasional Papers 48. Claremont, Calf.: Institute for Antiquity & Christianity, 2006.
  • Robinson, James M., ed. The Nag Hammadi Library: A Translation of the Gnostic Scriptures. London, U.K.: HarperCollins, 1990.
  • Tuckett, Christopher M. Nag Hammadi and the Gospel Tradition: Synoptic Tradition in the Nag Hammadi Library. Edinburgh, U.K.: T & T Clark, 1986.
  • Waldstein, Michael, and Frederik Wisse, eds. The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1, III,1, and IV,1 with BG 8502,2. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies: The Coptic Gnostic Library 33. Leiden: Brill Academic, 1995.
  • Yamauchi, Edwin M. Pre-Christian Gnosticism: A Survey of the Proposed Evidences. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1983.
  • Yamauchi, Edwin M. “Pre-Christian Gnosticism in the Nag Hammadi Texts?” Church History 48, no. 2 (June 1, 1979): 129–41.

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