Discovery of Nag Hammadi Library


Discovery of the Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Jesus: MAIN PAGE
Gnostic Gospels: Overview/Intro
     Translation of the Gnostic Gospels
     Discovery of the Gnostic Gospels
As two brothers were digging for fertilizer around limestone caves near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, they found something much more important than what they were originally attempting to find. On the quest, one of the brothers, Mohammad Ali Samman discovered a clay earthen-wear jar approximately three feet tall. He later told scientists that he was afraid to even open the jar, as he thought that there might have been an evil spirit lurking inside. Mohammad Ali Samman also reminded himself that the jar could very well contain something valuable, perhaps money or buried treasure. As curiosity got the better of him, Mohammad opened the jar only to find stacks of leather-bound papers. This was certainly a treasure worth more than gold, but the young boy did not realize this at the time.

The brothers took the papers back to their house and showed the contents of the jar to their mother. Later, she admitted to burning several of the papers as they were merely fuel for their oven. His mother also allegedly burned the papers; believing they contained evil.

As time passed, the papers remained in their jar, unappreciated and unacknowledged. All that the family knew was that their discovery had to have been important, but they did not know who to turn to with the papers. Mohammad and his brothers later found themselves involved in quite the vendetta following the murder of their father. When the boys heard that their father’s murderer was going to be passing through their town, they set out and avenged their father’s death. Of course, the boys feared a backlash from the police forces in the area, so Mohammad took his treasure jar to a trusted priest. Immediately, the priest recognized the historical significance of these texts, and had them sent to an Egyptian historian, who later sent them to Cairo.

The books had now been sold on the black market. As Egyptian authorities began to hear stories of these “secret books”, the codices were quickly found and confiscated. The texts were then placed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo so that they could not be duplicated or taken out of the country. However, there was one codex that the authorities failed to hold hostage in the museum. This codex, now known as the Jung Codex, (named after famed Gnostic psychologist and personality theorist Carl Jung) was purchased by a Dutch historian, who intended it as a gift to the psychologist.

As the historian realized that there were pages missing from the book, he traveled back to Cairo to view the other texts. It was there that the monumental importance of these texts finally dawned on him.
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