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Questions on the Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library

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:   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. [...]

My New Discussion of Gnosticism: Introduction

One other major change that I have made in my textbook on the New Testament is that I have completely rewritten my description of early Christian Gnosticism.   I’ll be presenting in a few posts what the section now looks like, and will explain why I made the changes.   To make sense of the new portion, I first need to give the introductory discussion (dealing with our sources of information, including the Nag Hammadi Library), which I did not change drastically from the earlier version.  Here it is: ********************************************************** The Problems of Definitions, Sources, and Dating Over the past fifty years scholars have engaged in heated debates over how to define Gnosticism. These debates are intimately related to the problems that we have with the ancient sources that describe Gnostics or were written by Gnostics. Until about a hundred years ago, our only sources for understanding Gnosticism were the writings of its most vocal opponents, the proto-orthodox church fathers of the second, third, and fourth centuries. In our discussion of the Johannine epistles, we have already [...]

A Gnostic View of Jesus’ Resurrection

The Gnostic view of Jesus' resurrection. Yesterday, in response to a question, I discussed Paul’s view of the resurrection of Jesus. In response to several questions I was asked, let me say emphatically that YES, in my view Paul believed that Jesus' corpse itself was transformed into a spiritual body. If asked, he would have said that the grave was empty. That’s how I read 1 Corinthians 15. The body that comes out of the tomb is the same body that went into the tomb, but it is a transformed (not a different) body, made immortal. (And let me stress – again in response to a couple of questions I’ve asked: this is not *my* view of what happened to Jesus’ body. I’m just explaining what *Paul’s* view was). Paul’s view was not the only one found among the early Christians. I explain that view further in this excerpt from my forthcoming book How Jesus Became God: The Raising of the Spirit - the Gnostic View of Jesus' Resurrection Some ancient Christians – taking a [...]

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