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My Response To Mark Goodacre on the Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library

A couple of days ago we enjoyed a guest post on the blog by Mark Goodacre, Professor of New Testament at Duke University.  In this post Mark provided five reasons for doubting if the story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library – as that story has been recounted by scholars for many years – is in fact accurate.  Mark’s post was a summary of a longer, more detailed, and scholarly article that he has published on the subject. I asked Mark’s permission to respond to his five points, and he gladly agreed; I in turn have agreed to let him respond to my responses.   Rather than asking you to reread his post, I have reproduced each of his five reasons here, and then dealt with them one at a time.   Mark will later post a response to each of my responses. Let me say that I really don’t have a horse in this race, and my sense is that Mark doesn’t either.  We would both love to be able to keep telling the [...]

Mark Goodacre: Questioning the Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library

A few days ago I posted about the Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library, giving the remarkable story that scholars -- for as long as I myself have been a scholar -- have been telling about how it happened.  I also mentioned that my New Testament colleague at Duke, Mark Goodacre – who is on this blog and who has an important blog of his own, as well as the most important website on the New Testament on the entire Internet – has written an article calling this story into question. I asked Mark if he would be willing to summarize his objections to the story as it is typically recited, and he has done so in the following post.   In my next post I will respond to his objections, and then Mark will respond to my response.  Isn’t scholarship great? Here’s Mark’s post on the matter: - Mark Goodacre is the author of several books, including The Case Against Q, and Thomas and the Gospels.   **************************************************************************   Five Reasons to Question the Story [...]

2021-01-29T02:33:30-05:00June 20th, 2015|History of Christianity (100-300CE), Public Forum|

The Contents of the Nag Hammadi Library

In my last post I gave the story typically recited by NT scholars for the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library.   As I pointed out, some scholars have doubted the story, most recently Mark Goodacre.  He has agreed to do a guest post on the blog in which he shows why this story – which  has been told by probably every NT scholar to every Introduction to NT class for undergraduates for the past thirty years! – is problematic and, well, possibly not true.   That post will come by way of tomorrow’s blog. For today’s post, first, I want to say something about the contents of the Nag Hammadi library.  This, at least, is not in dispute.  Here is what I say in my undergraduate textbook on the matter.  **************************************************************  What was this ancient collection of books?  The short answer is that it is the most significant collection of lost Christian writings to turn up in modern times.  It included several Gospels about Jesus that had never before been seen by any Western scholar, books [...]

The Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library

In this thread on the discovery of ancient Christian texts, I have mentioned the serendipitous discovery of both the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt and the Dead Sea Scrolls in what is now Israel.   It might be useful for me to say something about both of these discoveries.  In this post and the next I will talk about the Nag Hammadi Library.  I have taken this discussion from my New Testament textbook. But let me reproduce the discussion with a warning.  Caveat lector!   My friend Mark Goodacre, NT scholar at Duke and inveterate destroyer of New Testament scholarly myths, has called this account (which is the standard account found among NT scholars) into question.  Mark is on the blog.  Maybe he will be inspired to respond! In any event, here is the tale of the discovery from my undergraduate textbook: ************************************************ It is an intriguing story, this chance discovery of a cache of ancient Christian documents in 1945, in a remote part of Upper Egypt, a story of serendipity, ineptitude, secrecy, ignorance, scholarly brilliance, murder, [...]

How Are Manuscripts Discovered

PLEASE NOTE: I am incommunicado for a few days on a gulet in the Aegean Sea on the west coast of Turkey. I have asked Steven, our blog support, to add some posts for me in my absence; I prepared these in advance knowing I would be out of reach. Here is one of them. I’m afraid I will not be able to respond to comments on the next few posts until I return to some form of civilization that supports Internet and all things electronic. So sorry! **************************************************** In this thread I have been discussing documents from early Christianity that I would very much like to have discovered. In my last post I mentioned the fact that documents that *do* tend to be discovered are either texts that we already have copies of (the Gospel of John, the book of Revelation, etc.) or of books that we did not previously know existed (the Letter of Diognetus, or most of the writings in the Nag Hammadi library). Here is a related question from a reader [...]

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