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Nag Hammadi

Nag Hammâdi is a village in the middle of Egypt, called Chenoboskion in classical antiquity, about 225 kilometres north-west of Aswan with some 30.000 citizens. It is mostly a peasant area where goods such as sugar and aluminium are produced.


The Nag Hammadi Library

Nag Hammadi is best known for being the site where in December, 1945 thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by local peasants. The writings in these codices comprised 52 mostly Gnostic tractates (treatises), but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation of Plato's Republic. The codices are believed to be a library, hidden by monks from the nearby monastery of St Pachomius when the possession of such banned writings denounced as heresy was made an offense. The zeal of Athanasius in extirpating non-canonical writings and the Theodosian decrees of the 390s may have motivated the hiding of such dangerous literature.

The contents of the codices were written in Coptic, though the works were probably all translations from Greek. Most famous of these works must be the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete copy. After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings of Jesus appeared in manuscripts that had been discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898, and quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. The 1st or 2nd century date of the lost Greek originals behind the Coptic translations is controverted, but the manuscripts themselves are from the 3rd and 4th centuries.

The Nag Hammadi codices are housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt.

Complete list of codices found in Nag Hammadi

  • Codex I (also known as The Jung Foundation 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 a sayings gospel
    • 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:
  • Codex IV:
  • 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
    • Authorative Teaching
    • The Concept of Our Great Power
    • Republic by Plato - The original is not gnostic, but the Nag Hammadi library version is heavily modified with current gnostic concepts.
    • The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth - a Hermetic treatise
    • The Prayer of Thanksgiving (with a hand-written note) - a Hermetic prayer
    • Asclepius 21-29 - another Hermetic treatise
  • Codex VII:
    • The Paraphrase of Shem
    • The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
    • 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 (A and B) and On the Eucharist (A and B)
    • Allogenes
    • Hypsiphrone
  • Codex XII
    • The Sentences of Sextus
    • The Gospel of Truth
    • Fragments
  • Codex XIII:
    • Trimorphic Protennoia
    • On the Origin of the World

See also: The Sophia of Jesus Christ


  • Layton, Bentley, ed. The Gnostic Scriptures ISBN 0385478437
  • Pagels, Elaine, The Gnostic Gospels
  • Robinson, James M., ed. The Nag Hammadi Library in English ISBN 0060669357
  • Robinson, James M., 1979 "The discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices," in Biblical Archaeology vol. 42, pp206–224. The definitive account of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi cache.

External links

Last updated: 06-01-2005 20:38:14
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13