This now is the fourth of FIVE FAVORITES with which I’m beginning the new launch of our blog site, one from our fourth year of operation 2015. I am trying to pick different kinds of posts and even though I am not saying these are my all-time favorites of all, they certainly are posts (from five from sequential years) that for one reason or another I very much like.
I need to give a more extensive introduction to this one. It is actually one of a series of posts connected with the discovery of the “Nag Hammadi Library” — known more popularly as “the Gnostic Gospels.” These “heretical” books were discovered by accident in 1945, not by archaeologists looking for ancient books but by Egyptian fellahin in a wilderness area near the village of Nag Hammadi Egypt. Scholars have long told the story of their discovery — I have done so roughly 4000 times; but my friend and colleague in NT studies at Duke, Mark Goodacre, has argued that the story itself is an unsubstantiated legend.
This post is not about that issue per se; but if you want to read about it, here are the relevant posts:
Here is my original post on the traditional discovery narrative:
Here is Mark’s guest post in which he responded.
And here is my response to mark’s response!
You can see more posts on similar issues simply by doing a word search for “Nag Hammadi Library” on the blog.
Now, on to the related post that I’ve wanted to repost.:
I have received a number of questions from readers about the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library, arising out of my earlier discussion of it and the beginning of the back and forth I’m having with Mark Goodacre (as we await his reply to my initial response; he is overseas attending an academic conference and has his hands full just now). Here I will deal with two questions, one that’s a zinger and the other that has been asked by several readers.
First the zinger. The reader noted that I indicated that the books of the library were manufactured in the fourth century; we know this because the leather bindings on the books had their spines strengthened with scrap papyrus (and is therefore called cartonnage) and some of these papyri were dated receipts. And so the reader’s question:
Just out of curiosity – what form of dating did the compilers of the books use, that would correspond to our “341 CE” and so on? I’m assuming they weren’t using Roman dates. But were the Romans themselves, in that era, still using dates “ab urbe condita”?
This is a great question, and I have to admit…THE REST OF THIS POST IS FOR MEMBERS ONLY. If you don’t belong yet, JOIN UP!!! It costs very little, you get a whole lot, and every dime goes to charity. Win-Win-Win!!