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The Nag Hammadi ‘Library’ Of Coptic Papyrus Codices

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Chapter Summary

One day in December 1945, eight fellahin rode out on camel-back from their village in the Nag Hammadi region of Upper Egypt, el-Kasr, and stopped at the base of the Gebel et-Tarif some four kilometers away. The Nag Hammadi manuscripts date from the fourth century and are inscribed in Coptic. The first Western scholar to study the Nag Hammadi manuscripts was a Frenchman, Jean Doresse, and his impression was that they constituted "nothing less than the sacred library of an ancient sect, to all appearances complete." The Nag Hammadi Codices constitute one of the most important manuscript finds of the twentieth century, comparable in importance to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Study of these Coptic manuscripts has opened up new vistas for scholarship in the fields of biblical studies, early Christian history, and the general history of religions.

Keywords: Christian; Coptic manuscripts; el-Kasr; Gebel et-Tarif; Nag Hammadi; Upper Egypt



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