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From the Prayer of the Apostle Paul to the Three Steles of Seth: Codices I, XI and VII from Nag Hammadi Viewed as a Collection

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While the individual texts in the various codices found near Nag Hammadi have been studied and discussed, relatively little attention has been paid to the motives underlying their original selection and organisation. Codices I, XI and VII in particular have been shown on palaeographical and codicological grounds to make up a sub-collection within the larger Nag Hammadi collection. Despite their doctrinal diversity, the texts found in these three codices were intended by their compilers to be read in sequence. The purpose of this article is to examine the logic behind this choice and arrangement of texts, and to advance the hypothesis that this three volume collection is intended to progressively introduce the reader to a heterodox and esoteric doctrine of religious conflict and polemic, in which the reader is invited to identify him- or herself with an embattled minority group within the larger Christian community, a group who nonetheless see themselves as enlightened and as being of the "lineage of the Father."

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