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The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby andrewcriddle » Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:34 pm

I'm currently reading Images of Rebirth by Hugo Lundhaug. (About the Gospel of Philip and the Exegesis of the Soul) I still don't find the post-baptismal chrismation in Philip stromg evidence in itself for a late date, but cumulatively I am convinced that the Gospel of Philip in its present form is a 4th century text related to other 4th century mystagogic texts which combine teaching on the sacraments with teaching on Christian doctrine.

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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby Blood » Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:56 pm

I've always said that the cartonnage from Nag Hammadi was highly significant and must be read alongside the famous codices themselves for proper perspective. Brill has published a volume of the
cartonnage.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp
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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby Roger Pearse » Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:30 am

Interesting, Andrew - thanks. Or possibly the text was reedited in that period. If we think of hagiography, nobody felt any reason to respect the text as such; and apocrypha in the 4th century might get treated as pious literature also.
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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby StephenGoranson » Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:18 am

Hugo Lundhaug posted another relevant paper:
https://www.academia.edu/3351656/Shenou ... i_Codex_II
(HT Paleojudaica)
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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby Secret Alias » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:28 am

Very interesting article. Some thoughts (excuse my bombast but I don't have a filter):

1. people (white northern European Protestant to be precise) have this idiotic notion that everyone in every tradition were of one mind on doctrine etc. For some reason they have no clue that crypto-faith was dominant in all traditions at all times other than wholly ignorant white population that began as barbarians. Just as there was kabbalah among the Jews - even the very Jewish leaders who condemned kabbalah - no surprise that these monks could have been of another mind regarding orthodoxy.
2. when he writes "[o]n the evidence of those texts that have been preserved in multiple copies, like for instance the Apocryphon of John, the textual differences between the exemplars indicate that we are here deal-ing with a form of 'living literature' , i.e., literature that has been con-tinually rewritten to fit changing contexts and circumstances. This again implies that a focus on authorship and on an original text is misguided, and that analyses that are based on our best guesses regarding the individual texts’ Greek originals, or Vorlagen, are, by their very nature, highly speculative. I would therefore instead advocate an approach more in line with “new philology”, where variants are treated as the norm rather than as deviations, with a sharper focus on the Coptic texts and their manuscripts as we have them" - WTF is wrong with people again? Why is it such a shock that there were ur-texts which were continually adapted by later scribes in early Christianity? The canonical gospels are the obvious example (unless you are a pious ignoramus). But consider the Patristic texts too. Tertullian's entire corpus is a recycling of Justin, Irenaeus, Theophilus. With respect to Justin the Against Marcion Book 4 and 5 attributed to Tertullian is CLEARLY and OBVIOUSLY a retread of something originally written by Justin or someone in his circle (the Galatians-first Pauline canon tradition with one gospel harmony) reworked by Irenaeus to redirect the work 'Against Marcion' and finally translated loosely into Latin by Tertullian. Similarly Against Marcion Book 3 was written by Justin against Jews (cf. the parallel sections of Against the Jews by Tertullian). Many have put forward arguments that Book Two was originally written by Theophilus and certainly Against Hermogenes was written by Theophilus (look at the stupid part where Hermogenes being in Antioch). Irenaeus has been noted to recycle Theophilus and Justin. Most suggestive of all is Eusebius and later Rufinus's reworking of Origen. The point is that it is hardly surprising what he is suggesting. It runs up against the stupid people mentality that 'the gospels were written by the gospel writers' (even though the Marcionites denied this in antiquity), 'our Pauline corpus was written by Paul' even though the Marcionites had a different recension and the Pastorals are fake etc. etc. Great point he makes but it is amazing it should be controversial in the first place - only shows the retarded nature of scholarship that we should be shocked by the assertion.
3. I've long noticed interpolations he is suggesting in the Testimony of Truth (not sure what codex that's in). It appears to me that an orthodox scribe has added many glosses. First, notice the interpretation of the parable of Jesus in the manner reported by Hegesippus:

And they show that they are assisting the world; and they turn away from the light, who are unable to pass by the archon of darkness until they pay the last penny.

So the interpretation is ancient. But then this (italics) is a later interpretation:
When the [...], he grasped him, having bound him upon [...], and he was filled with wisdom. He bore witness to the truth [...] the power, and he went into Imperishability, the place whence he came forth, having left the world, which has the appearance of the night, and those that whirl the stars in it. This, therefore, is the true testimony: When man comes to know himself and God, who is over the truth, he will be saved, and he will crown himself with the crown unfading.

John was begotten by the World through a woman, Elizabeth; and Christ was begotten by the world through a virgin, Mary. What is (the meaning of) this mystery? John was begotten by means of a womb worn with age, but Christ passed through a virgin's womb. When she had conceived, she gave birth to the Savior. Furthermore, she was found to be a virgin again. Why, then do you (pl.) err and not seek after these mysteries, which were prefigured for our sake?

It is written in the Law concerning this, when God gave a command to Adam, "From every tree you may eat, but from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise do not eat, for on the day that you eat from it, you will surely die." But the serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise, and he persuaded Eve, saying, "On the day when you eat from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, the eyes of your mind will be opened." And Eve obeyed, and she stretched forth her hand; she took from the tree and ate; she also gave to her husband with her. And immediately they knew that they were naked, and they took some fig-leaves (and) put them on as girdles.


I would argue that the italicized material disturbs the flow from the argument which precedes it (i.e. knowing oneself) and eating of the fruit (cf. 'it is written in the Law concerning this" = knowledge). Have to go.
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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby Secret Alias » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:40 am

FWIW I tend to view the Testimony of Truth as the text behind Hegesippus's Marcellinians (later Marcionites). I think it is a very old text. The very name 'Testimony of Truth' was one of two names given to the text by scholars because of concepts repeated in it. The other - the True Word - I think was the original name of the text. It is very, very old.
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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby andrewcriddle » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:34 am

I've been reading Lundhaug and Jenott The monastic origins of the Nag Hammadi codices and I'm not sure what to make of it.

First a clarification: the book is about who wrote the physical codices found at Nag Hammadi. The authors accept that the texts themselves are older, generally much older.

The authors argue plausibly that the codices were written by a group in the vicinity who regarded them as spiritually profitable. They then argue, also plausibly, that any such group at that time (late 4th century CE) would have regarded themselves as Christian monks even if their opponents might have regarded them as heretics pretending to be Christian monks.

They then go on to argue that the codices were probably written by Pachomian monks. Who were the main monastic group in the area and whom we know had issues over the use of apocryphal non-canonical texts. The Pachomian monks certainly had the resources to write the codices and the early Pachomians were probably less orthodox than the later histories represent them as being. I'm doubtful about this, the sort of people who would have collected together the texts in the codices for their spiritual edification seem IMO to be more individualistic and syncretistic than is plausible for cenobitic monks such as the Pachomians.

This does probably amount to postulating a hypothetical group of anchorites of unusual theology as the writers of the codices, but this is not IMO implausible.

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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby DCHindley » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:53 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:I've been reading Lundhaug and Jenott The monastic origins of the Nag Hammadi codices and I'm not sure what to make of it.

They ... argue that the codices were probably written by Pachomian monks. Who were the main monastic group in the area and whom we know had issues over the use of apocryphal non-canonical texts. The Pachomian monks certainly had the resources to write the codices and the early Pachomians were probably less orthodox than the later histories represent them as being.

I'm doubtful about this, the sort of people who would have collected together the texts in the codices for their spiritual edification seem IMO to be more individualistic and syncretistic than is plausible for cenobitic monks such as the Pachomians.

This does probably amount to postulating a hypothetical group of anchorites of unusual theology as the writers of the codices, but this is not IMO implausible.


My apologies in advance if this response seems a bit disjointed, as I am trying to use my mouse left handed and type with my usual leading arm in a sling. Yes, I had that rotator cuff surgery again, this time to the opposite shoulder. Fun fun ...

Anyways, history has a way to make the rough edges of our pasts disappear in the retelling, so it is not impossible for the established histories (those approved by the prevailing religious authorities) to have understated or completely omitted instances of then merely-heterodox but later heretic-for sure writings being valued for whatever reason by some monks at some monasteries.

From what I understand, although I am no expert on this, a rather large number of small groups of desert monks were scattered throughout the eastern Mediterranean for several hundred years, petering-out significantly, I think, around a century after Constantine bestowed his blessing upon the faith, and authorized members of the proto-orthodox establishment (bishops, presbyters and deacons) began to standardize their divergent rites and dogmatic beliefs.

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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby andrewcriddle » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:44 am

DCHindley wrote:My apologies in advance if this response seems a bit disjointed, as I am trying to use my mouse left handed and type with my usual leading arm in a sling. Yes, I had that rotator cuff surgery again, this time to the opposite shoulder. Fun fun ...

Anyways, history has a way to make the rough edges of our pasts disappear in the retelling, so it is not impossible for the established histories (those approved by the prevailing religious authorities) to have understated or completely omitted instances of then merely-heterodox but later heretic-for sure writings being valued for whatever reason by some monks at some monasteries.

From what I understand, although I am no expert on this, a rather large number of small groups of desert monks were scattered throughout the eastern Mediterranean for several hundred years, petering-out significantly, I think, around a century after Constantine bestowed his blessing upon the faith, and authorized members of the proto-orthodox establishment (bishops, presbyters and deacons) began to standardize their divergent rites and dogmatic beliefs.

DCH


I hope your arm feels better soon.

I quite agree that a lot of early Egyptian monasticism was unorthodox by later standards.
They followed Origen, Evagrius and Didymus the blind and developed the ideas of these thinkers in extreme directions.

They would have read texts such as the tura papyri

My problem is that (a large fraction of) the Nag Hammadi material seems much further from later orthodoxy than the tura papyri are.

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Re: The Nag Hammadi Library Belonged to Monks

Postby rakovsky » Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:46 pm

Yeah, it looks like some Coptoc monks were keeping these texts "off the books" so to speak.
Do you think the Vatican could be holding on to some texts like g. Hebrews and is not showing it to people?


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