The Nag Hammadi Library

The Acts

The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
     Written sometime in the 2nd or 3rd Century CE, the Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles is a composit work. It has been argued that, although found with the other text of the Nag Hammadi Library, the work is not gnostic.

The Act of Peter
     The Act of Peter was written at the end of the 2nd Century CE. The text deals with how the virginity of the daughter of Peter was protected and how Ptolemy's soul was saved. The text is not considered Gnostic.

The Prayers

The Prayer of the Apostle Paul
     The text of The Prayer of the Apostle Paul was originally written in Greek. It is the front flyleaf of Codex 1, the Jung Codex. Considered to possibly have Valentinian connections, it is dated to between the 2nd half of the 2nd Century AD and the end of the 3rd Century AD. The content of the prayer relies heavily on the Psalms and the Pauline letters.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving and Scribal Note
     This text is a short Hermetic prayer expressing thanks for receiving godly knowledge. It is thought to have been written in the 2nd or 3rd Century CE with some scholars dating it even earlier.

The Valentinian Texts

The Treatise on the Resurrection (Codex I)
     This eight page didactic letter gives an unorthodox interpretation about survival after death. The probable time of its composition is the late 2nd Century CE. Its author is unknown, althought it is clear that he is a Christian Gnostic of the Valentinian school. The text often relies on the New Testament as the author's proof for his conclusions. There are no clues as to where the manuscript could have been written.

The Tripartite Tractate (Codex I)
Thought to have been written in the early to mid-third Century CE by an unknown author, The Tripartite Tractate is a Valentianian work on the seperation from and the reintergration into the godhed. The manuscript was originally written in Greek and then translated into Coptic. It consist of three segments, the first being and explanation ofthe emenation of supernatural entities from their source. The second section is a brief interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and the third part focuses on the Savior and salvation.

A Valentinian Exposition (On The Anointing, On Baptism A, On Baptism B, On the Eucharist A, On the Eucharist B)
     The Valentinian Exposition is a remarkable set of text due to the fact that it reveals theological disagreements among many of the various groups of Valentinian theologians. The texts deal with creation, redemption, the Sophia, and other thoughts and rituals of the Valentinians.

Dialogue and Revelatory Texts

The Hypostasis of the Archeons (Codex II)
     Written by an anonymous author, the Hypostasis of the Archons is an interpretation of Genesis Chapers 1-6. The work of a Gnostic teacher, the manuscript is a revelation discussion between an angel and a questioner. It is dated possibly to the 3rd Century CE and the text was translated from Greek.

The Book of Thomas the Contender
     The Book of Thomas the Contender is a dialogue of revelation between the resurrected Jesus and Judas Thomas as told by Mathaias. It was probably written in the 1st half of the 3rd Century CE. The text likely originated in Eastern Syria and was originally written in the Greek.

Eugnostos the Blessed
     Eugnostos is a letter that was written by a teacher to his disciples. The letter addresses religious and philosophical questions. The focus of the letter is to describe the existance of the invisible world. Eugnostos was probably written in Egypt during the last half of the 1st Century CE.

Dialogue of the Savior
     Composed in Greek possibly during the 2nd Century CE by an unknown author, The Dialogue of the Savior is thought to be a compilation of several generations of Christian thought. Although the text is fragmented, one can discern the content and style of the discourse. The manuscript consist of a monologue by the Savior and conversations he had with his disciples, Matthew, Mary, and Judas.

Thunder: Perfect Mind
     Like The Acts of Peter and the 12 Apostles, Thunder: Perfect Mind has been in question as to its gnosticism. It is one of the most unusual works in the Nag Hammadi Library. The manuscript is a revelatory dialogue presented by a female who is never identified.

The Discourse on the Eighth and Nineth
     This Hermetic discourse discusses the 8th and 9th spheres that surround the Earth. It is thought to have been written in Egypt in the 2nd Century CE.

     Originally written in Greek, the only exatant form of Aclepius is a Latin translation. The text consist of a dialogue between Asclepius, a Hermetic initiate, and Trismesgistus. The discussion deals with the mystery, the pious and impious, creation of gods, the apocalypse, and the fate of humans. The text is considered not to be Gnostic in nature.

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth
     This text is a revelatory dialogue of Jesus to Gnostic believers. It tells the story of Christ from his descent to Earth, his work there, his crucifixion, and his return to Heaven. The work is considered to be a combination of Christianity and Gnosticism.

The Three Steles of Seth
     Considered a revelation text, The Three Steles of Seth reveals a Gnostic Sethian worship sect. The revelation was given to Dositheos, who is thought to be the founder of Gnosticism. Journeys to heaven and a Triad are subjects covered in the manuscript. The writing has no Christian influence present.

The Letter of Peter to Philip
     Presented as an epistle from Peter to Philip, the text is a Christian Gnostic work. It consists of questions and answers between Jesus and the Apostles; Jesus answering from a "great light" which appeared to the men. The text is thought to have been written around the last part of the 2nd Century CE or early 3rd Century CE.

     This manuscript deals with the visions of Allogenes. It is supposed to have been written in Alexandria shortly after 300 CE. The original language of its composition was Greek.

Part 3

"The Nag Hammadi Library In English"

Links to On-line Study Resources on the Nag Hammadi Library
The Gnostic Society Library
Nag Hammadi and Berlin Gnostic Library Collection
Nag Hammadi Library

 Books for the Study of the Nag Hammadi Library
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, Vintage, 1989
The Coptic Gnostic Library: A Complete Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices, James M. Robinson,Brill Academic Publishers, 2000
The Secret Teachings of Jesus, Marvin Meyer, Vintage, 1986

Beyond Belief : The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Elaine Pagels, Random House, 2003