The Nag Hammadi manuscripts were discovered in southern Egypt.

1945 an important discovery was made by an Egyptian peasant.

35 codices from the discovery from Nag Hammadi library

buried near a cliff

These manuscripts contained forbidden stories, condemned by orthodox sects of the early Christian communities.

Gnostic writings from a minority group of gospels (good tidings).

The heresy of knowledge as opposed to faith

Gospel of Thomas

Gospel of the Egyptians

Gospel of Nicodemus (3rd or 4th century)

Gospel of Phillip

Gospel of Peter

Gospel of Judas

Gospel of Mary Magdalen

Gospel of Truth

Gnostic beliefs:

The world was formed by an evil creator and only the light Ancient of Days daemonof knowledge from within – ascertainable solely by the mind-- that could save people and the world from perdition.

The account of the descent of Jesus into hell, the place of the dead who await resurrection, occurred because Christ is he who establishes justice in the world. This story is related in the Gospel of Nicodemus.

There is here a resemblance to the Orphic Tradition in Greek faith where the hero Orpheus goes into hell, the land of the dead or kingdom of Hades to retrieve his lover Eurydice from the mortal grip of underworld.

Third and fourth centuries (A.D.) are the periods of when the Gospel of Judas and the Nag Hammadi texts were transcribed. Along with about thirty other gospels these stories are depictions of what the many early Christian communities across the eastern Mediterranean thought about Jesus' divine redemption of the creation.

Gospel of Judas was determined to be heretical by Irenaeus who compiled the canon of the three synoptic Gospels and one Gospel of John. Approximately 280 AD is the date ascribed to the papyrus on which the Gospel of Judas was written.

Gospel of Judas reveals that he alone among the disciples was given sacred and hermetical information by Jesus.

Gospel, meaning the good word, is a story to explain what happened, when in 70 AD the Romans destroyed Herod's reconstructed Temple of Solomon. This was done in retribution for the Jewish revolt of 66 AD against the Roman Empire.

Christ is portrayed at times metaphorically as a child in the Judas Gospel. Jesus laughs at false piety. He is given up as a man by Judas so that his divinity may redeem the human race.

A celebration of the sacrifice that redeems the fallen world condemned under the sin of Adam and Eve. The story underscores the diversity of third and fourth century Christianity before Constantine established the church as a state religion.


"The Gospel of Truth was probably written in Greek between 140 and 180 by Valentinian Gnostics (or, as some posit, by Valentinus himself). It was known to Irenaeus of Lyons, who objected to its Gnostic content and declared it heresy. Irenaeus declares it one of the works of the disciples of "Valentinius", and the similarity of the work to others thought to be by Valentinus and his followers has made many scholars agree with Irenaeus on this point.

But the followers of Valentinus, putting away all fear, bring forward their own compositions and boast that they have more Gospels than really exist. Indeed their audacity has gone so far that they entitle their recent composition the Gospel of Truth, though it agrees in nothing with the Gospels of the apostles, and so no Gospel of theirs is free from blasphemy. For if what they produce is the Gospel of Truth, and is different from those the apostles handed down to us, those who care to can learn how it can be show from the Scriptures themselves that [then] what is handed down from the apostles is not the Gospel of Truth. [1]

After its Coptic translations and their burial at Nag Hammadi , the text had been lost until the Nag Hammadi discovery.

The text is written with strong poetic skill (notable even in translation), and includes a heavily cyclical presentation of themes. It is not a "gospel" in the sense of an account of the works of Jesus of Nazareth, but is better understood as a homily. The text is generally considered by scholars one of the best written texts in the whole Nag Hammadi collection, considering its worth highly as both a great literary work and a Gnostic exegesis on several gospels, canonical and otherwise.

Not all scholars, however, agree that the text is to be considered Gnostic. Paterson Brown has argued forcefully that the three Nag Hammadi Coptic Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth are demonstrably not Gnostic in content, since each explicitly affirms the basic reality and sanctity of incarnate life, which Gnosticism by definition considers illusory or evil: 'Are the Coptic Gospels Gnostic?'.[2]

The writing is thought to cite or allude to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew and John, as well as 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, 1 John and the Book of Revelation – John's Gospel the most often. It is also influenced by Thomas; for instance at one point (22:13-19) it cites John 3:8 alongside Thomas 28.

The text describes a theory of the rise of Error in personified form. The ignorance and yearning to see the Father bred fear, which coalesced into a fog by which Error gained power.

It then describes Jesus as having been sent down by God to remove ignorance. Jesus was a teacher confounding the other scribes and teachers, and asserted they were foolish since they tried to understand the world by analyzing the law. But Error grew angry at this, and nailed Jesus to a tree. It also proceeds to describe how it is knowledge that grants salvation, which constitutes eternal rest, describing ignorance as a nightmare.

Having next described the parable of the good shepherd, in an esoteric manner, it then describes how feeding the hungry and giving rest to the weary is to be understood as feeding spiritual hunger, and resting the world weary.

Christ as sheperd

This is followed by a parable about anointing, the meaning of which is obscure, but may be connected with the way in which a sealed amphora meant it was full, a metaphor for knowledge - having the final "seal" in the jigsaw and you understand, but without it, the scraps of understanding you have put together can still be easily undone:

But those whom he has anointed are the ones who have become perfect.

For full jars are the ones that are usually anointed. But when the anointing of one (jar) is dissolved, it is emptied, and the reason for there being a deficiency is the thing by which its ointment goes.

For at that time a breath draws it, a thing in the power of that which is with it. But from him who has no deficiency, no seal is removed, nor is anything emptied, but what he lacks, the perfect Father fills again.

Aside from a final description of achieving rest by gnosis, the remainder of the text concerns a treatise on the connection between the relationship between the Son and the Father. . . ."

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