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 tied up 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 the 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,

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