THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY“The Nag Hammadi Library”The “Nag Hammadi Library” is a collection of early Christian Gnostictexts discovered near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, in 1945.

Nag Hammadi libraryThe Nag Hammadi library (popularly known as The Gnostic Gospels) is a collectionof early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the town of Nag Hammâdi in 1945. Thatyear, twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a localpeasant named Mohammed Ali. The writings in these codices comprised fifty-two mostlyGnostic tractates (treatises), but they also include three works belonging to the CorpusHermeticum and a partial translation / alteration of Plato's “Republic”. In his"Introduction" to “The Nag Hammadi Library” in English, James Robinson suggests thatthese codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and were buriedafter Bishop Athanasius condemned the uncritical use of non-canonical books in hisFestal Letter of 367 AD.The contents of the codices were written in Coptic, though the works were probably alltranslations from Greek. The best-known of these works is probably the “Gospel ofThomas”, of which the “Nag Hammadi Codices” contain the only complete text. Afterthe discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings of Jesus appeared inmanuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898, and matching quotations wererecognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date ofcomposition circa 80 AD for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas has beenproposed, though this is disputed by many if not the majority of biblical matterresearchers. The once buried manuscripts themselves date from the 3rd and 4th centuries.The Nag Hammadi codices are housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. To readabout their significance to modern scholarship into early Christianity, refer to works onGnosticism.Discovery at Nag HammadiThe story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 has been described as'exciting as the contents of the find itself' (Markschies, Gnosis: An Introduction, 48). InDecember of that year, two Egyptian brothers found several papyri in a largeearthernware vessel while digging for fertilizer around limestone caves near present-dayHabra Dom in Upper Egypt. The find was not initially reported by either of the brothers,who sought to make money from the manuscripts by selling them individually atintervals. It is also reported that the brothers' mother burned several of the manuscripts,worried, apparently, that the papers might have 'dangerous effects' (Markschies, Gnosis,48). As a result, what came to be known as the Nag Hammadi library (owing to theproximity of the find to Nag Hammadi, the nearest major settlement) appeared onlygradually, and its significance went unacknowledged until some time after its initialuncovering.2

In 1946, the brothers became involved in a feud, and left the manuscripts with a Copticpriest, whose brother-in-law in October that year sold a codex to the Coptic Museum inOld Cairo (this tract is today numbered Codex III in the collection). The residentCoptologist and religious historian Jean Dorese, realizing the significance of the artifact,published the first reference to it in 1948. Over the years, most of the tracts were passedby the priest to a Cypriot antiques dealer in Cairo, thereafter being retained by theDepartment of Antiquities, for fear that they would be sold out of the country. After therevolution in 1956, these texts were handed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, and declarednational property.Meanwhile, a single codex had been sold in Cairo to a Belgian antique dealer. After anattempt was made to sell the codex in both New York and Paris, it was acquired by theCarl Gustav Jung Institute in Zurich in 1951, through the mediation of Gilles Quispel.There it was intended as a birthday present to the famous psychologist; for this reason,this codex is typically known as the “Jung Codex”, being Codex I in the collection.Jung's death in 1961 caused a quarrel over the ownership of the Jung Codex, with theresult that the pages were not given to the Coptic Museum in Cairo until 1975, after afirst edition of the text had been published. Thus the papyri were finally brought togetherin Cairo: of the 1945 find, eleven complete books and fragments of two others,'amounting to well over 1000 written pages' (Markschies, Gnosis: An Introduction, 49)are preserved there.TranslationThe first edition of a text found at Nag Hammadi was from the Jung Codex, a partialtranslation of which appeared in Cairo in 1956, and a single extensive facsimile editionwas planned. Due to the difficult political circumstances in Egypt, individual tractsfollowed from the Cairo and Zurich collections only slowly.This state of affairs changed only in 1966, with the holding of the Messina Congress inItaly. At this conference, intended to allow scholars to arrive at a group consensusconcerning the definition of gnosticism, James M. Robinson, an expert on religion,assembled a group of editors and translators whose express task was to publish abilingual edition of the Nag Hammadi codices in English, in collaboration with theInstitute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate University inClaremont, California. Robinson had been elected secretary of the InternationalCommittee for the Nag Hammadi Codices, which had been formed in 1970 by UNESCOand the Egyptian Ministry of Culture; it was in this capacity that he oversaw the project.In the meantime, a facsimile edition in twelve volumes did appear between 1972 and1977, with subsequent additions in 1979 and 1984 from publisher E.J. Brill in Leiden,called “The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices”, making the whole findavailable for all interested parties to study in some form.At the same time, in the former German Democratic Republic a group of scholars including Alexander Bohlig, Martin Krause and New Testament scholars Gesine3

Schenke, Hans-Martin Schenke and Hans-Gebhard Bethge - were preparing the firstGerman translation of the find. The last three scholars prepared a complete scholarlytranslation under the auspices of the Berlin Humboldt University, which was published in2001.The James M. Robinson translation was first published in 1977, with the name “The NagHammadi Library in English”, in collaboration between E.J. Brill and Harper & Row.The single-volume publication, according to Robinson, 'marked the end of one stage ofNag Hammadi scholarship and the beginning of another' (from the Preface to the thirdrevised edition). Paperback editions followed in 1981 and 1984, from E.J. Brill andHarper respectively. A third, completely revised edition was published in 1988. Thismarks the final stage in the gradual dispersal of gnostic texts into the wider public arena the full complement of codices was finally available in unadulterated form to peoplearound the world, in a variety of languages.A further English edition was published in 1987, by Yale scholar Bentley Layton, called“The Gnostic Scriptures: A New Translation with Annotations” (Garden City: Doubleday& Co., 1987). The volume unified new translations from the Nag Hammadi Library withextracts from the heresiological writers, and other gnostic material. It remains, along with“The Nag Hammadi Library in English” one of the more accessible volumes translatingthe Nag Hammadi find, with extensive historical introductions to individual gnosticgroups, notes on translation, annotations to the text and the organisation of tracts intoclearly defined movements.4

Complete list of Codices found in the Nag HammadiSeveral of the major texts in the Nag Hammadi collection have more than one Englishtranslation; where more than one translation is available, we have listed the translators'names in parenthesis below the name of the text. Texts marked with the {*} had morethan one version extant within the Nag Hammadi Codices; often these several versionswere used conjointly by the translators to provide the single translation presented here.INDEX (while loaded into Word): press-&-hold-down the “Control Key”, thenclick-on the desired chapter. This will cause a jump-to the selected page. The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles. 7Allogenes . 12The Apocalypse of Adam. 20The (First) Apocalypse of James . 26The (Second) Apocalypse of James . 31The Apocalypse of Paul . 37The Apocalypse of Peter . 39The Apocryphon of James. 44The Apocryphon of James. 50The Apocryphon of James. 56The Apocryphon of John (The Secret Book of John - The Secret Revelation of John). 62The Apocryphon of John (The Secret Book of John - The Secret Revelation of John). 77The Apocryphon of John (The Secret Book of John -- The Secret Revelation of Jon) . 92Short Version Berlin Codex (BG 8502,2) & Nag Hammadi Codex III,1. 92The Apocryphon of John (The Secret Book of John -- The Secret Revelation of John) . 109Long Version Nag Hammadi Codex II,1 & Nag Hammadi Codex IV,1 . 109Asclepius 21-29. 163Authoritative Teaching . 169The Book of Thomas the Contender . 174The Concept of Our Great Power . 180The Dialogue of the Savior . 185The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth . 192Eugnostos the Blessed. 197The Exegesis on the Soul . 202The Gospel of the Egyptians . 208The Gospel of Philip . 217The Gospel of Thomas. 233The Gospel of Thomas. 246The Gospel of Thomas. 259The Gospel of Thomas. 271The Gospel of Truth. 286The Gospel of Truth. 295The Gospel of Truth. 304The Hypostasis of the Archons (The Reality of the Rulers). 313Hypsiphrone . 319The Interpretation of Knowledge. 3205

The Letter of Peter to Philip . 326Marsanes . 329Melchizedek . 337On the Anointing. 343On the Baptism A. 344On the Baptism B. 345On the Eucharist (A). 346On the Eucharist (B). 347On the Origin of the World ("The Untitled Text"). 348The Paraphrase Of Shem. 362Plato, Republic 588A-589B. 378The Prayer of the Apostle Paul. 380The P