The Nag Hammadi Library





      The collection of books contains religious and hermetic texts, works of moral maxims, Apocryphal texts, and more curiously, a rewriting of Plato's Republic.


      In addition to the importance of the manuscripts for the history of books (they are the oldest known books to date) and Coptic palaeography, they represent a key source of evidence for the history of philosophy and primitive Christianity.


      Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to analyse them, because we know nothing of their authors, circumstances or place where they were written.


      On the other hand, they can currently be considered as a decisive element in the research of the beginnings of gnosticism.



      The Gnostic texts of Nag Hammadi



      These religious (or Gnostic) texts propose interpretations and Christian rituals that are different from those officialised in 325 AC and which were immediately rejected as heretical at the time. That is why they were gathered together, protected and hidden by the so-called deviant communities.


      Gnosis means knowledge. In this respect, Gnostics differed from Christians in their relation to the sacred texts, given that they attached importance to the esoteric, and not the historical sense. Gnostics consequently considered the divine to include aspects like interior and secret knowledge, which is passed on by tradition and initiation.


      The Nag Hammadi library offers a wealth of evidence of such trends in Gnosticism that claim to contain a secret teaching whilst sometimes drawing inspiration from the Old Testament.



      Nag Hammadi and Hermetisme




      The corpus of the collection contains so-called hermetic books in line with the tradition of the Corpus Hermeticum.


      Codex VI actually comprises an untitled treatise, known as The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, a prayer of thanksgiving and a long fragment of the Perfect Discourse. These last two texts are partly included in the Asclepius, whereas the first one is a completely original work.


      These texts can be sidelined, as they digress from the Gnostic theories widely spread in the rest of the collection. Their main interest, however, lies in their highly pronounced Egyptian inspiration, compared to the Greek and Latin texts currently known. Furthermore, they do not reject the Egyptian religion, but offer to spiritualise it. Hermetism is more than a Christian-like religious system, is it a way.


      These three texts provide a complementary and sufficient overview of the entire hermetic doctrine, the initiatory path supposed to lead to divine enlightenment. It represents one of the fundamental differences between Christians and Gnostics (or Hermetics). Whereas Christianity is based on the historical truth, the Gnostic and hermetic trends attach great importance to symbolism and even the allegorical






      Apocryphal:
      refers to texts that bear a resemblance to canonical books and present figures from Christianity, but do not belong to the New Testament.



      Coptic:
      refers to the Christians originating from Egypt.



      Esotericism:
      a doctrine according to which some types of knowledge must not be disclosed to the general public, but reserved for a closed group of disciples.



      Gnosticism:
      Gnosticism encompasses the various forms of religious thought in the Roman empire between the 1st century BC and the 4th century AC, and was mainly based in Alexandria. All these forms are strongly characterised by the duality between the material, which was rejected, and the spiritual. Gnostic thought was declared heretical by the Church.



      Heresy:
      all the religious trends running parallel to Catholicism, but condemned by the Church as corrupting the dogma.



      Hermetism:
      a doctrine resulting from a series of texts traditionally attributed to Hermes.



      Source Q:
      this term comes from the German Quelle, meaning source, and refers to the passages common to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, also known as the double tradition.



      Content of the Nag Hammadi Library




      The library comprises 13 books, known as codices according to the scientific name given to any collection of sheets folded in two and sown together. These books represent the oldest known specimens to date.








      Codex I (Jung Codex)



      1. The Prayer of the Apostle Paul (english)
      2. The Apocryphon of James (english)
      3. The Gospel of Truth (english)

      4. The Treatise on the Resurrection (english)
      5. The Tripartite Tractate (english)



      Codex II



      5. The Apocryphon of James (english)
      6. The Gospel According to Thomas (english)

      6. Thomas Evangeliet (dansk)

      8. The Gospel of Philip (english)

      9. The Hypostasis of the Archons (english)
      10. On the Origin of the World (english)
      11. The Exegesis on the Soul (english)
      12. The Book of Thomas the Contender (english)


      Codex III



      13. The Apocryphon of John (english)
      14. The Gospel of the Egyptians (english)
      15. Eugnostos the Blessed (english)
      16. The Sophia of Jesus Christ (english)
      17. The Dialogue of the Savior (english)


      Codex IV



      18. The Apocryphon of John (english)
      19. The Gospel of the Egyptians (english)


      Codex V



      20. Eugnostos the Blessed (english)
      21. The Apocalypse of Paul (english)
      The (First) Apocalypse of James (english)
      The (First) Apocalypse of James (english)
      24. The Apocalypse of Adam (english)

      32. Fragment of the Perfect Discourse (?)



      Codex VII



      33. The Paraphrase of Shem(?)

      34. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (english)


      Codex VI



      25. The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (english)
      26. The Thunder, Perfect Mind (english)
      27. Authoritative Teaching (english)
      28. The Concept of the Great Power(english)
      29. Plato, Republic 588A-589B (english)
      30. The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (english)
      31. The Prayer of Thanksgiving (english)
      35. The Apocalypse of Peter (english)
      36. The Teachings of Silvanus (english)
      The Three Steles of Seth (english)


      Codex VIII



      38. Zostrianos(english)

      39. The Letter of Peter to Philip (english)


      Codex IX



      40. Melchizedek (english)
      41. The Thought of Norea (english)
      42. The Testimony of Truth (english)


      Codex X



      43. Marsanes (english)


      Codex XI



      44. The Interpretation of Knowledge (english)
      45. A Valentinian Exposition (english)
      46. Allogenes (english)
      47. Hypsiphrone (english)
      Codex XII



      48. The Sentences of Sextus (english)
      49. The Gospel of Truth (english)

      50. Unidentified fragments (?)





      Codex XIII



      51. Trimorphic Protennoia (english)
      52. On the Origin of the World (english)