The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices

Hugo Lundhaug, Lance Jenott, Heidelberg: Mohr Siebeck, 2015


Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott offer a sustained argument for the monastic provenance of the Nag Hammadi Codices. They examine the arguments for and against a monastic Sitz imLeben and defend the view that the Codices were produced and read by Christian monks, mostlikely Pachomians, in the fourth- and fifth-century monasteries of Upper Egypt. Eschewing themodern classification of the Nag Hammadi texts as “Gnostic,” the authors approach the codicesand their ancient owners from the perspective of the diverse monastic culture of late antiqueEgypt and situate them in the context of the ongoing controversies over extra-canonicalliterature and the theological legacy of Origen. Through a combination of sources, includingidealized hagiographies, travelogues, monastic rules and exhortations, and the more quotidiandetails revealed in documentary papyri, manuscript collections, and archaeology, monasticismin the Thebaid is brought to life, and the Nag Hammadi codices situated within it. Thecartonnage papyri from the leather covers of the codices, which bear witness to the monasticculture of the region, are closely examined, while scribal and codicological features of thecodices are analyzed and compared with contemporary manuscripts from Egypt. Specialattention is given to the codices’ scribal notes and colophons which offer direct evidence of their producers and users. The study ultimately reveals the Nag Hammadi Codices as acollection of books completely at home in the monastic manuscript culture of late antiqueEgypt.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents

The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics?

The Present Study

Monastic Diversity in Upper Egypt

Archaeological Evidence


Gnostics in Fourth and Fifth Century Egypt?


Urban Literati


The Cartonnage

Official Accounts and Large Quantities

Acquisition of Cartonnage

Book Lists

The Pachomian Federation

The Colophons


The Codices

The Dishna Papers

Origenist Monks?


The Secret Books of the Egyptian Monastics

Index of Ancient Sources

Index of Modern Authors


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