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-10-

THE NAG HAMMADI CODICES EDI TING

PRO.JECT:

 

A

FINAL

REPORT

by

Stephen

Emmel

Institute

for

Antiquity

and Christianity

Claremont

Graduate

School

The Nag Hanmadi

 

Codices

Egypt

has

marked

a

crucial

ancient

manuscripts.I

apparently

of

discovered

Editing

Project

of

the

Anerican

Research

chapter

in

Ehe history

of

a

remarkable

and part

of

of

the

Upper

Center

lection

rhirteenth,

tian

in

col-

a

Egyp-

of

These

twelve

papyrus

codices

by

a

farmer

in

the

vicinity

city

Nag Haurmadi near

the

end

of

Lg452

and

now kept

date

roughly

to

the

latter

half

of

the

fourth

oldest

well-preserved

exarnples

of

the

papyrus

specimens

to

the

from

as

codex

fifty-one

of

the

the

very

heart

standard

Greek

textsrs

of

form

the

for

at

the

Copric

Museum

century

 

CE.3

They

codex

to

have

sur-

transi-

They

con-

rere

in

are

vived

tion

tain

old

Cairo,

among the

the

centuries,

the

scroll

epoch-making

a book.{

of

which

from

Copti.c

translations

thirty-six

* Please note that the bibliographical

author

Ehe end of

and date

appear at

details

for

this

report.

works

referred

to

below by

i-

A

fu1l

and authorlcative

account

of

thls

rather

coqlicated

history

ls

belng prepared by Jernes M. Roblnson for publication Ln The Faesütile Edition of

the

L979).

latioa

A more popular

Ndg Hawnadt

See also

of

this

Codices:

Inttpdtrction

Doresse

(1958-1959)

rrork,

accormt

Doreaae (1960),

Ls glven

(Leiden:

(L976).

Brlll,

scheduled

to

appear

ln

revtsed

an expanded

English

trans-

(L97Zb) and (1977a).

and the

Bobinson (1967/68),

by Dart

2 Fot

son (1976).

the

most

recent

l-nfornatlon

on the

site

and the

discovery

see Robin-

3 See especlally

4 For

the

Barns (1975,

context

12),

to

historLcal

the

tno

(see

lletden:

with

rdhlch the

by

developnent

(1954)

of

the

codex forn

by

is

relevant

Skeat (1959).

5

lrents

n'

yet

therefore represent a fl-fty-second

tive line narking

may be the beglnning of a fifty-third

as

of

see

least

stlrrulating

further

study

Roberls

and the

artlcle

At

text6

may be

The largest unplaced frag-

Edttion of the Nag Hantmdt. codieee: co&Leee

represented,

t0t/102,

of

codex xrr

dld

XIII

The Faesiftile

Bri]-l,

elther

fiI

f9731 pt.

fragnenra

Iractate

I

and 2)

have nor

been ldentlfied

the

two knorrn texts

text.

Falnt

traces

The Tripant4te

in

that.

codex

and nay

of

ink

beneath

the

decora-

Ln

codex

I

(p.

f3g)

che preauned

codex

end. of

text,

which

could

have extended

ae far

lIgTTal).

That

at

least

the

l@diate

sourcea

not

serlously

dlsputed

by scholars.

That

p.

the

142 of

Coptlc

the

(see EmeL

in

of

texts

nere

Greek is

-t

i-

previously

unknor^m in

any

form,

änd

represent

a

different

tines

across

the

first

three

or

four

ous

parts

of

the

Hellenistic

world.

(See

fig.

selection

cenEuries

L-2,)

of

of

works

our

era

tlhy

and by

whom these

Eexts

\^rere collected

together

in

coryosed

and in

Coptic

at

vari-

is

far

from

clear.

For

although

they

display

an

overall

interest

in

the

esoteric

aspect

of

the

religious

fement

that

washed

across

the

Roman Empire

in

the

early

centuries

of

this

era,

no

one

doctrinal

position

unifies

their

content

and no

single

there

clearly

underlies

their

presentation.6

Rather,

they

cast

a

diffuse

and

welcorn

light

into

several

of

the

darker

corners

of

the

religious

specula-

tion

out

of

which

Christianity

emerged

as

a potent

cultural

force.

(See Appen-

dix I:

Table

of

Texts

in

the

Nag Hammadi Codices.)

 
 

It

is

to

the

difficult

investigation

of

gnosticisrn

that

codices

make

their

largest

contribution.

Prerriously

known

from

the

the

gnostics

reports

I

of

views

early

Christian

on

Ehe creaEion

theologians

of

the

of

nan

can now be

studied

at

first

hand

The

texts

display

the

rather

bewildering

characteristic

of

gnosticism

and

several

are

catholic

represented.

One text,

and

has

more

T

Christianity

of

primary

sources

of

gnosticisrn

and,

though

againsE

reopened

the

who sought

to

the

Nag

en-

Hamnadi

tirely

them,

destiny

Hannadi.

itself

thought

against

new

and

tion

ahoost

refute

world

and

on

the

nature

and

in

most

of

the

texts

frour

Nag

diversity

of

ideas

that

is

different

 

types

of

gnostic

gnostic,

polemi-cizes

both

groups

as well!

about

This

the

origin

interac-

reflect

clearly

other

gnostic

wealth

nature

important

questions

its

gnostic.

from

from

importantly,

about

are

evolutionary

A

the

few

with

early

Christianity.

 

But

not

all

of

or

less

orthodox

early

One has

been

Nag Haurmadi texts

as

views.

a

short

more

tradition.

Christian

Some derive

section

Hernetic

RepubLie.

identified

PlaEors

SeEl-tlc sources 1ay behind sone of those Greek cexts remains a possibllity'

cially

nont [1958]. Nagel [1969a] atteqls

nazsby supposing that it lras t.ranslated directly fron Aramai-c lnto Coprlc.)

espe-

Gulllau-

ln

the

case of

Thz Goepel AcardLng

to

to

Tl@mas.

(See'

for

exaryle,

illuro:inate

sone obscure

passages Ln fho-

5 The apparent

the

general

no firrn

lack

of

uniLy

of

among Ehe texts

coöces

the

has

a

led

souE scholars

to

There

question

is,

antiquity.

Codices.) Neverthelesg, this diversity

acceptance

evidence

to

as

group or

"library."

as such

the Nag Hannadi

as yet,

prove

II:

thaE they

The Scribes

were ever

considered

only

Varlous

esp.

in

(See further

for

thls

and (1975)

and Early

text6

Appendix

Who Copied

exists

not

codex.

(1967,

esp.

pp.

of

content

aDng

PP.

the

codlces but even anong the texts wi.thin an individual

to

aad 559-560)

ItGnostlcisn

fut Aow Jonas (Gä*ingen

atteqts

552-553

account

have been nade by

and by Frederik

in

by

Säve-Söderbergh

i{isse

Egypt"

to

(1971'

2L9-222)

arrd

Monastlclsn

are

in

aPpear Lo,Gnoei.s: Fests ehri- ft

in

and zürlch:

unlfied

Vandenhoek und RuPrecht '

a strlct

of

studles

ascetlc

on gnosticisn

has been Prepared

press).

l{isse

general

and on

(197f).

The

argues

the

the

7 A comprehensive Nag llarnnadl texts

that

tendency.

in

by Scholer

bibliography

partlcular

blbliography is suppleDented annually

beginning rrith vol. 13 (1971). thought see Jonas (1953).

For

io

the

auturm

issue

of Nooün Iestamentwn

a stirnulating

introduclion

to

gnostic

\', t'fis.

-L2-

se\+

:*'

$\Y

-ra$.!

Fig.

across

evidence

I^rere found

1.

The Gebel

river

from

in

the

a

el-Tarif

the

is

modern

a

section

city

of

the

eastern

wall

of

the

Nag

Hanmadi

in

Upper

Egypt.

Nag

Ilammadi

codices

indicates

at

Nile

All

Valley

the

they

t.he

of

the

concerning

hidden

discovery

ceramic

jar

of

that

somewhere

the

base

of

this

inposing

c1iff,

at

the

Coptic

 

member of

the

lluseum in Old Nag Hamnadi Co-

r

$.

i

:,

'''

*-t

f*

iulost of

Fig.

Cairo

dices

2.

the

Nag Hammadi codices

leather

arrived

No

still

bor:nd into

their

Editing

Project

ever

covers.

sar^/theur thus.

-L2 -

Fig.

across

evidence

1.

The Gebel

river

el-Tarif

Lhe

is

modern

a

the

from

in

the

a

coneerning

hidden

discovery

j

\^Iere

found

ceramic

section

of

Ehe eastern

wall

of

the

Nile

Valley

city

of

Nag

Hannadi

in

Upper

Egypt.

All

the

of

the

Nag

Hammadi codices

indicates

that

they

ar

somewhere

at

the

base

of

this

imposing

cliff.

ffi

Fig .

2 .

Most

of

the

Nag llammadi codiees

arrived

at

the

Coptic

Cairo

still

bor:nd into

their

leather

eovers.

No member of

the

dices

Bditing

Project

ever

saü/ them thus.

Museumin

Nag Ha:nnadi Co-

01d

 

-1J-

As source

material

for

the

early

history

of

Christian

thought

and

literature

the

Nag Haumadi

codices

are

clearly

invaluable.

 

The goal

of

the

Nag Hamrnadi Codices

Editing

Project,

funded

Snithsonian

Institution

from

July

L974

through

January

L975

and

again

in

by

the

July

and August

197518 has

been

to

further

the

study

of

the

manuscripts

in

three

re-

spects: physical reconstruction

of

of

the

entire

collection

for

safe

completion

of

the

project

has

seen

interrelated

by

endeavors

efforts

Ehe diligent

and brings

of

numerous

Ehe f ragrnented papyrus

leaves,

conservation

storage

and

dispLay,

and publication.

The

major

success

in

all

three

of

these

closely

to

a close

a

long

chapter

of

research

authored

scholars.

Reeonstruction

TLre reconstruction

first

of

the

papyri

of

began,

for

the

most

part,

in

the

Pahor

Labib

and Martin

Krause.

A1-

to

be

acquired

by

the

Coptic

Museum,

as

L947,

the

rest

remained

in

the

At

that

tiure

a

French

scholar

work-

inventory

of

into

a

suitcase.

the

collection

The suitcase

was

very

though

had

harrds of

ing

for Egyptian officials then sealed and kept procurement of funds

disorder

the

parently

opened,

Archeological

late

been

in

nineteen-fifties

III,

the

in

with

the

work

codices

as

early

Lg49.s

codex

Cairo,

of

frames

until

the

conserved

antiquities

Jean

glass

dealers

Doresse,

and

papyrus

completed

the

a hurried

codices

packed

in

the

custody

of

the

Departnent

of

Antiquities

pending

the

for

purchasing

its

contents.

Tlrat

there

hTas already

soure

leaves

and

fragnents

is

indicated

by

photographs

of

and

some damage ap-

suitcase

when

Coptic

order

r^ras again

the

German

Museum in

in

which

1959,

they

and

condition

in

among the

taken

in

codices

prior

to

their

storage

in

the

suitcase,

between

this

time

and

the

time

when

the

Lg52

and

f inally

in

1956 . I 0

Ac cordingly,

donated

panes

of

plexiglass

to

the

papyri

the

sequence

^'

in

the

museum.

occurred

b rie

f ly

Institute

Labib,

Krause

and

Victor

Girgis

conserved

the

found

themr l l

thus

preserving

the

fragments

in

which

they

had

cone

into

the

possession

of

the

 

8

I

am personally

indebted

to

the

Smithsonian

Institution

and the ARCE

for

also

providing

funds

for

my return

to

the

United

States

at

Ehe close

of

the project

in

the

auturnnof

L977.

 
 

9

During

this

period

most of

codex I

r^/asexported

from Egypt

and of-

 

fered

for

sale

in

Europe and the United

States.

It

r^raspurchased for

the

C.G.

Jung Institute

 

in

Zürich,

SwitzerLartd. in

L952 and later

presented

to

the

erni-

nent psyctrologist

as a birthday

present.

 

In

return

for

publication

rights

to

the part

of

the

codex that

remained in

Cairo,

Jungts

heirs

have returned

their

possession to Egypt.

The last

of

these

leaves

and fragments were registered

at

the Coptic

Museumin

October

L975.

The Egyptian

antiquities

dealer

had initial-

ly

conserved

this

part

of

binding

and papyrus

leaves

codex I

in

glass

r^rereexported,

frames.

Tlrese r^tere removed when the

necessitating

a second conservation,

this

time

in

plexiglass,

when the

leaves

r^rereacquired

for

the

Jung Institute.

0nce back in

Cairo

this

part

of

codex I

\^rasreconserved

in

conformity

with

the

rest

of

Ehe collection.

10

See Krause

(L962,

L22-L23) .

 

lt

Krause-Labib

(L962,

2L) .

 

L2

Krause-Labib

(L962,

5

n.

6).

I^iith regard

to

the

smaller

f ragments,

-L4-

 

In

the

case of

the well-preserved

servatlon

for

the

nost

part

sisrply

retaLned

Thus the

initial

reconstructlon

of

codices

I,

manuacrlpts

correct

II,

this

nethod

of

con-

page8.

the

sequence of

,

V,

\,:t, WI

the

III

and XIIIIT

posed few problerls.

two thousand fragnents,

But

codices

only

IV,

a small

V[II,

number of

IX,

XI

X,

which

and XII

could

consisted

be readily

of

about

placed

in

correct

page sequence.

(See fig.

3.)

most of

codex IV

on the basis

of

other

thLs

reconstruction

could

not

be

carrled

disturbing

able

mentary codices, the exact reconstruction

the

draw sore

official

lnvento ry

of

the

the

to

conclusions

about

Krause

coples

and Labib

of

the

succeeded in

lt

reconstructlng

though

two texts

papyrus

Whlle

contains,

through

fragrents,

on-the

r"

nake-up

itself

r.rlthout

frag-

"

Krause waa also

the

quLte

other

fLve

original

of

of

renained

these

problenatlc.

By thls

tine,

ho\rever,

plans

were undertay

for

the

Unlted

Nations

Educational,

lication

of

leaves and fragrents were photographed betneen 1962 and 1966, thus pern:mently

recording

In

and to

tion.

the reupon laltiated

the

Sclentific

and Cultural

facsircile

organlzatlon

editlon

this

of

project

(IJNESCO) to

collection,

in

vlew,

supervise

the

pub-

of

a photographlc

the

a continuatlon

all

of

the

preserve,"

photographs

plöU.ca-

work begun by Pahor Lablb.16

the

evldence

that

the

with

inttlal

nearly

to

conservation

UNESCOto

required

to

Project,

collection.

project

also

had sought

(Clareoont.,

directed

In

prepared

papyrl

1968 Janes M. Roblngon was asked by the

report

on

Ehe work

Institute

for

that

would

AntiquLty

work,

English

the

Coptlc

translatlons

the

scholars

of

the

very

proper

in

the

be

examlne these

prepale

thero for

the

the

and ChrLstlanity

Library

entire

Callfornla)

by

cnostlc

of

the

thls

Roblnson,

to prepare

their

constructions

course

of

re-

task

engaged in

fragnentary

of

absence of

places

hypothetlcal

difflcult

codlces

and contlnued

fragrents

to

the

of

identlfying

the

the

codlces.

But

work

had

to

reEaln

the

direct

many snall

access

remalni.ng frorn all

ln

Cairo

their

unconfirroed.

This

clrcunstance

changed ln

Decenber 1970 when the

UNESCOInterna-

tlonal

0n December 15 the

and a techD.lcal

CoEnittee

for

the

Nag liamadl

Codices held

its

to

first

plenary

neetlng

in

Cairo,

couoit tee was granted

of

four

per:nlsalon

open the

plexiglass

f rares

sub-corunl-ttee

nenbers

(Sdren Giversen,

Rodolphe Kasser,

however, this nethod was apparently not. rigorously applied. Instead these r.rere

often conserved in clusters in a few plexigldss

general idea of their original

which

small fragnents r^tere left

the bindings had been stored,

frames,

from which

only

a very

location

in

can sometimes be gained.

bindings

or

in

the

consewed in

Many other

boxes in

lying

Ehe leather

These r^rerenot

plexiglass

until

1970.

plete

13 I^ILratis

codex.

called

it

Rather

codex XIII

did

not

survive

into

modern tiues

as

a com-

consists

of

S leaves

that

were removed from the

niddle

of

a codex and placed

inside

the binding

of

son

(L972a) .

codex VI

in

antiquity.

See Robin-

L4 Krause-Labib (L962, 40).

15 See Krause

16 Labib

L7 Tlris photographic

record

(L962,

L27-L29).

(1956).

has proved

the

conservation

procedure

by providing

significant

many of

the

fragmengs.

value

clues

of

to

Labib

and Krausers

the

original

order

of

-15-

Krause

cal reconstructlon

ile

technicaL sub-comittee,

ject,

proposed, rearranged those fragnents accordingly, and contlnued to identify and

place

and Robinson)

In

of

the

was charged

the

papyrL

of

course

wlth

responslbll-lty

further

carrylng

photography

for

out

for

the

the

Physi-

facsln-

and guLding

brl-ef

edition.

tested

further

flve

sessiona

the

betlüeen 1970 and 1973 the

Coptic

GnostLc Llbrary

that

assisted

various

by mernbersof

hypothetical

Pro-

and lnproved

fragnents,

reconstructions

had been

 

Codlces

Edltlng

Project

contlnued

this

work

intensive-

ly

froo

The Nag Ilannadi Jul-y 1974 through

August

1975.

Under the

direction

of

Jarnes M. Roblnson,

Ptlnclpal

Aneri-can InvestLgator

for

the

project,

Charles

1'I. Iledrick

and

I

de-

Fig.

4

(at

right).

Charles

I^I. Hedrick

at r^rork on reconst^ructing

the

papyrus

rolls

from

which

Nag Hammadi

codex

IV

r^/as manufactured.

This

procedure

can

sometimes provide

the

decisive

crite-

ria

for

establishing

the

original

se-

quence

of

pages

in

a papyrus

codex.

It

must

be

used

in

any

case

in

order

to

confim

a

sequence

established

by

other

ureans.

 

Fig.

in

3

the

(at

left).

This

photograph,

taken

mid-sixties,

shows

22

papyrus

frag-

ments

conserved

with

Nag Hammadi codex

 

VIII.

Ten

of

these

f ragne.nts

have

been

placed

in

that

codex,

one

in

codex

IV,

and

one

fragrnents,

in

codex

XI.

though

Three

as

yet

of

the

remaining

have

unplaeed,

been

assigned

to

other

codi.ces

because

the

handwriting

on

them

is

clearly

not

the

same as

that

in

codex

VIII.

-15-

Krauee

facsln-

lle

technlcaL