Nag Hammadi library

The Nag Hammadi Library ( also known as the Nag Hammadi library) is a collection of early Christian texts that are mainly attributable to the Gnosis. She was found in December 1945 near the small Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi local farmers. Most of these writings were not at all or only fragmentarily known until then. This includes in particular the Gospel of Thomas.

  • 5.1 editions in English
  • 5.2 Expenditure on German

And sources

The site of the scriptures is located on the right bank of the Nile at the foot of Gebel al- Tarif, 10 km north-east of the Nile bridge of Nag Hammadi. The Fund consists of thirteen papyrus codices bound in leather. These are a collection of 47 different texts. However, some texts are multi- contained, so the collection of a total of 53 individual texts is. The manuscripts date from the first half of the 4th century, the texts were written probably mainly in the 1st or 2nd century. As origin of the texts Egypt is mainly adopted in some texts, there are also indications of an origin from Syria. The language of the texts is Sahidic, a dialect of Coptic, one assumes, however, that these are translations from the Greek.

It is not known who has collected the texts. Maybe it is the one not to be specified Gnostic community library. More likely, however, is due to the proximity of a Pachomian monastery and the material used in the cover that contains letters and receipts of Pachomian monks that the collection was part of the library of the monastery. It is still unclear in this case whether the collection was compiled as a source of information in the fight against gnostic heretic, or whether the texts 39th Easter Letter of Athanasius were discarded as heretical writings from the monastery associated with the (about the same time ).

Fund history

In December 1945, Egyptian farmers dug at the foot of Jabal al - Tarif, a rock overhang about 11 km northeast of Nag Hammadi, after a natural fertilizer, the so-called Sabakh. One of these farmers was Muhammed Ali, a member of the Samman clan, who years later told the story of the find. Under a rock in whom they had tied their camels, the farmers met while digging on a almost a meter high jug of red clay.

First, there was concern to open the jar or smash, since it could indeed accommodate a jinn. That on the other hand the gold content could be overcame concerns. When bruised but it turned out that the contents consisted of thirteen papyrus codices bound in leather, their value was not initially recognized. One of these thirteen codices apparently lost (now counted as Code XIII band was part of the Code VI).

First, they should be divided, after they have been released from the other farmers but Muhammed Ali, who took them to the village of al -Qasr home. There he threw them in the vicinity of the furnace, and some parts of the printed matter were burned suspicious of Muhammed Ali's mother Umm Ahmad (probably the greater part of the Code XII, the cover of the Code X and some loose leaves and fragments now missing ).

As Muhammed Ali was involved in a blood feud for the murder of his father and the police had searched his house this before, he deposited the books at a Coptic priest named Basil Abd al - Masih. Meanwhile, brother- Raghib Andrawus recognized the potential value and took them to Cairo. Here he showed it to a Coptic doctor, George Sobhi who alerted the Office of Antiquities. After some negotiation and an expense allowance of £ 300, the fund went into the possession of the Egyptian state. On October 4, 1946, he was inducted into the holdings of the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

Part of the discovery had previously assessed, but already in the possession of Muhammed Ali's neighbors, where they found their way to Cairo, and fell into the hands of a Cypriot merchant named Phocion Tano. In particular, a band, the current Code I, was acquired by a Belgian antique dealer named Albert Eid and brought out of the country. This Code was purchased on May 10, 1952 by Jung Institute in Zurich, which is why he is also known as the Codex Jung today. After some complications and delays and this landed in the Coptic Museum, as well as remaining in the hands of Tanos volumes, which had been sold to an Italian collector named Dattari.

Meaning and content

Prior to these findings, only three original Gnostic writings were known. Brucianus Codex, Codex and Codex Askewianus Berolinensis Gnosticus 8502 These manuscripts were until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi writings the only direct sources of Gnosticism. Otherwise there was only indirect evidence of the Church Fathers. The discoveries at Nag Hammadi thus contain the most important documents for the study of Gnosticism. The writings come from different directions of the Gnosis, the Valentinians and the sethianischen Gnosis writings are represented. Besides these there are also stronger ( early) Church embossed texts, many of which are associated with the third and early fourth century. This direction has greatly promoted the theological speculation within the church. There are also sealed and in wisdom aligned texts and those who have nothing to do with Gnosticism, such as a fragment of Plato's Republic.

The titles are either taken from the so-called colophon, where it already but represent secondary supplements to the part, or been updated in the course of translation. Most of the texts were unknown before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi writings, but there are also those which are wholly or partially found elsewhere; including about the Gospel of Thomas and the Apocryphon of John. In the early teachers of the church to find mention or short quotations in sentencing pamphlets that might be allusions to the Nag Hammadi writings from the title or content here. However, they are often not accurate enough or designate, as in the Gospel of the Egyptians, other texts.

The Nag Hammadi discovery is not only important for the Coptic dialect customer and is an asset to the Gnosis represents the writings unfold in very different ways descriptions of the heavenly world and the cosmogonic, soteriological and eschatological issues involved. These is also the enkratitische and ethical orientation of many texts. Some texts offer a unique insight into the Gnostic polemic against the Church Christianity, and others such as Paul's prayer, the Hermetic prayer and the Three Steles of Seth, and numerous hymn traditions give an insight into living Gnostic piety.

The writings are often attributed to the apostles, so that they are as pseudapostolische writings on the New Testament Apocrypha.

A common motif is that of special revelation: Between resurrection and ascension of Jesus appears some or all disciples and instructs them in esoteric teachings that are to the rest of Christendom remain secret. A special role to play to even the disciple Mary Magdalene. The starting point of special revelation is the appearance of the Risen ( Mk 16.9 - 20LUT; Matthew 28:16 - 20LUT, Lk 24:36 - 53LUT and Acts 1:1 - 14LUT ). According to the Acts of the Risen Christ speaks forty days with his disciples about the kingdom of God. These discussions of the Risen want to play some Nag Hammadi texts. Separate discussions of the Risen Christ with Mary Magdalene and two unnamed disciples are in the secondary circuit of Mark ( Mk 16,9 ff LUT) mentioned.

Gospel of Thomas

Of special importance is the Gospel of Thomas, a well-known early as the 2nd century collection of Jesus sayings. The 114 utterances have partly parallels in the Synoptic Gospels, others could from the first century and from Jesus come. Therefore, the Gospel of Thomas has a high priority, especially in the North American research for the question of the historical Jesus.

In a broader public the Gospel of Thomas by the movie Stigmata with the (freely translated ) set has become known:

" Jesus said, 'I am the light that is over all. I am the All; the universe emerged from me, and the All has come to me. Cancels a stone, and you will find me, cleaves a wood, and I 'm there. ' "

List of Nag Hammadi texts

The following list follows the arrangement of the numbering of the codes in use today and writings, a reference to NHC I, 5 so says the Scripture The three-part treatise. The titles of the headings and abbreviations follow from tavern et al. published edition Nag Hammadi German. If different, the German translation of Lüdemann and Janssen are given in parentheses abbreviations. Multiple handed in Codes writings such as the Apocryphon of John (II, 1; III, 1; IV, 1 ) appear in italics after the first occurrence.


Editions in English

The original texts along with translations into English and apparatus have been edited as part of the series Nag Hammadi Studies (NHS ). The following table shows the Code and Specification number to the appropriate NHS band:

  • Vol I. Introductions, Texts, Translations, Indices. NHS XXII. Brill, Leiden, inter alia, In 1985.
  • Vol II Notes. NHS XXIII. Brill, Leiden, inter alia, In 1985.


  • Vol I. Gospel According to Thomas, Gospel According to Philip, Hypostasis of the Archons, and Indexes. NHS XX. ( The Coptic Gnostic Library, ed J.M.Robinson ). Brill, Leiden, inter alia, In 1989.
  • Vol II On the Origin of the World, Expository Treatise on the Soul, Book of Thomas the Contender. NHS XXI. Brill, Leiden, inter alia, In 1989.

V, 1




English translation of the Nag Hammadi texts:

Spending on German

The sometimes heavily damaged texts were first published after their reconstruction as single fonts. They were published in two competing projects by Martin Krause and Pahor Lahib and Johannes Leipoldt and Hans -Martin Schenke. Only since 1977 have become known by an English translation overall a wider public.

A complete German translation is the work of Nag Hammadi German of the Berlin Working Group for Coptic Gnostic writings, a long-term research project, originally under the direction of Hans -Martin Schenke:

  • Volume 1: NHC I, 1 - V, 1 The Greek Christian writers of the first centuries. N.F. 8 Coptic Gnostic writings. Bd 2 Berlin 2001. ISBN 3-11-017234-8
  • Volume 2: NHC V, 2 - XIII, 1, BG 1 and 4 The Greek Christian writers of the first centuries. N.F. 12 Coptic Gnostic writings. Bd 3 Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-11-017656-4
  • Single-volume study edition 3, revised. and ext. Ed, Berlin / Boston, 2013. ISBN 978-3-11-031234-8.

The first translation of the entire text stock with introductions by Gerd Lüdemann and Martina Janssen was published under the title Bible of heretics 1997:

Some of the texts appeared translated in:

For the popular use those are the Nag Hammadi texts, the text matter is largely maintained, reformulated and commented by Konrad Dietzfelbinger in four separate volumes according Dietzfelbingers classification of the texts published in the edition Argo:

  • Apocryphal Gospels. Königendorfer, Koenigsdorf 2004. ISBN 978-3-9807847-3-3
  • Creation accounts. Dingfelder, Andechs 1989. ISBN 978-3-938156-00-1
  • Redeemer and redemption. Königendorfer, Koenigsdorf 2005. ISBN 978-3-9807847-4-0
  • Enlightenment. Dingfelder, Andechs 1994. ISBN 978-3-938156-02-5