Monday, August 15, 2011

A New (And Quite Reasonable) Theory About How the Gnostic Library Ended Up at Nag Hammadi

Roger Pearse attend the Oxford Patristics conference this past week and heard a most interesting presentation regarding the possible connection of the assembly of the books of the Nag Hammadi library with a purging of "Origenists" in the fifth century. Here is the description from the official website:

Hugo Lundhaug - Origenism in Fifth-Century Upper Egypt: Shenoute of Atripe and the Nag Hammadi Codices

The presence of "Origenists" in and around the monasteries of Upper Egypt in the second quarter of the Fifth Century is vividly attested by a letter sent by the archbishop Dioscorus of Alexandria to the great archimandrite Shenoute of Atripe sometime in the 440-ies, as well as by several of the writings of Shenoute himself. Most prominent among the latter is the substantial anti-heretical writing known as I Am Amazed, a text which also transmits archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria's anti-Origenist festal letter of 401 in Coptic translation. Both Dioscorus' letter and Shenoute's writings connect their charges against the followers of Origen with the use of heretical books. Arguing that the Nag Hammadi Codices represent likely candidates for the kind of illicit books utilised by Shenoute's opponents, this short communication looks into how certain topics of contention, such as the pre-existence and fall of souls and the resurrection of the flesh, are treated in some of the Nag Hammadi texts and in the writings of Shenoute, aiming to shed some light on the nature of the differences between the illustrious archimandrite and his "Origenist" opponents, as well as the possible identity of the latter.

Roger has graciously posted the letter referenced in the paper here.

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