Monday, December 10, 2018

Nag Hammadi Library

For the past several months I have been researching and exploring the Apostolic Johannite Church which offers a free school where new members can learn more about the thought, practice, community, and history of the Apostolic Johannite Church. One of the topics of discussion led me to the subject of the Nag Hammadi Library and I thought I'd share this on my website.

The Nag Hammadi Library is a collection of 13 books containing over 50 texts including a number of the Gnostic Gospels, the Corpus Hermeticum, and a partial translation of Plato's Republic. The most famous Nag Hammadi codex is the only known complete copy of the gospel of Thomas. These texts are dated between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and were thought to have been destroyed during the early years of the Roman Catholic Church and their attempts to establish their orthodoxy. Some theorize that some early Christians tried to destroy these Gnostic writings because they contained secret teachings about Jesus and Christianity. Many Christians today decry the Nag Hammadi Library as heretical and forgeries "that espouse false doctrines about Jesus Christ, salvation, God, and every other crucial Christian truth."

This collection was discovered in December of 1945, but the translation wasn't completed until the 70s. They were found by a farmer named Muhammed al-Samman and his brother who found the documents in sealed jars that had been buried in the Jabal al-Ṭārif caves near the town of Hamrah Dom in upper Egypt.

Some scholars believe that this collection had belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery and were buried after Saint Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 A.D. The Nag Hammadi Library were originally written in the Coptic language and are currently housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. They take their name from the nearest major city (12-km SW of Hamrah Dom).

When al-Samman took these manuscripts home, his mother burned some of them out of fear of their "dangerous effects." Their significance went unacknowledged for some time. It wasn't until 1948 when a Coptologist, Jean Doresse, at the Coptic Museum published a reference to them. The remaining documents found their way to the Egyptian Department of Antiquities which came from a Coptic Priest who had received them from the brothers. After the 1952 revolution, the Nag Hammadi Library was given over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo. One of the documents was sold out of Egypt and made its way into the hands of Carl Gustav Jung. After his death in 1961, there was quarrel over ownership, but by 1975 it had made its way to the Coptic Museum and finally reuniting the codices.

Here is a list of the documents of the Nag Hammadi Library:
  • Codex I (also known as The Jung Codex):
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
The Apocryphon of James (also known as the Secret Book of James) 
The Gospel of Truth 
The Treatise on the Resurrection 
The Tripartite Tractate 
  • Codex II: 
The Apocryphon of John
The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Philip
The Hypostasis of the Archons
On the Origin of the World
The Exegesis on the Soul
The Book of Thomas the Contender
  • Codex III: 
The Apocryphon of John
Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (The Gospel of the Egyptians)
Eugnostos the Blessed
The Sophia of Jesus Christ
The Dialogue of the Savior
  • Codex IV: 
The Apocryphon of John
Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (The Gospel of the Egyptians)
  • Codex V: 
Eugnostos the Blessed
The Apocalypse of Paul
The First Apocalypse of James
The Second Apocalypse of James
The Apocalypse of Adam
  • Codex VI: 
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
The Thunder, Perfect Mind
Authoritative Teaching
The Concept of Our Great Power
Republic by Plato (an alternate gnostic translation)
The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (a Hermetic treatise)
The Prayer of Thanksgiving (a Hermetic prayer)
Asclepius 21-29 - another Hermetic treatise
  • Codex VII: 
The Paraphrase of Shem
The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter
The Teachings of Silvanus
The Three Steles of Seth
  • Codex VIII: 
Zostrianos
The Letter of Peter to Philip
  • Codex IX: 
Melchizedek
The Thought of Norea
The Testimony of truth
  • Codex X: 
Marsanes
  • Codex XI: 
The Interpretation of Knowledge
A Valentinian Exposition, On the Anointing, On Baptism and On the Eucharist
Allogenes
Hypsiphrone
  • Codex XII:
The Sentences of Sextus
The Gospel of TruthFragments
  • Codex XIII: 
Trimorphic Protennoia
On the Origin of the World
References

1. McRae, M. (2018, April 15). Scholars Have Found a Rare Copy of Heretical Writings on Jesus And His 'Brother'. Retrieved from Science Alert: https://www.sciencealert.com/greek-first-apocalypse-james-nag-hammadi-library-teaching-tool 

2. The Nag Hammadi Codices and Gnostic Christianity. (2018, October 12). Retrieved from Bible History Daily: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/post-biblical-period/the-nag-hammadi-codices/ 

3. The Nag Hammadi Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Gnostic Society Library: http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html 

4. What is the Nag Hammadi library? (n.d.). Retrieved from Got Questions: https://www.gotquestions.org/Nag-Hammadi.html

5. Nag Hammadi Library. (n.d.) Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nag_Hammadi_library

1 comment: