Peter Kirby wrote:
Leucius Charinus wrote:the Nag Hammadi Codices - the biggest single manuscript discovery in this area - are dated more than two decades after the establishment of the Christian State
Is that a fact? All of them? Could none of these codices be earlier "than two decades after the establishment of the Christian State"?
All the physical codices were manufactured c.348 CE. The codices are Coptic translations of Greek originals. It could be reasonably postulated that the people who manufactured this cache of codices had in their possession either the original Greek texts, or copies of these. You are most likely asking what was the date of authorship of the original Greek texts. This is the $64,000 question.
The mainstream hypothesis is that the original Greek for most of these NHC texts was authored in earlier centuries prior to the revolutionary appearance of the Christian State. The evidence upon which this hypothesis is based are a small series of literary references in the ante Nicene "church fathers" attesting to existence of the following Greek texts:
The Gospel of Thomas: Eusebius cites Hippolytus (155-235), Refutation of all Heresies, v. 1-6., as mentioning something similar to the received text, and cites Origen as mentioning some text of Thomas. Eusebius cites saying (No. 2 in the gThomas) as quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Miscellenies ii. 45. 5; v. 96.3), as coming from the Gospel according to the Hebrews. There is certainly some ambiguity here.
The Gospel of Truth: some consider it to be mentioned by Irenaeus ?
The Apocyphon of John: Mentioned by Irenaeus ?
The Sentences of Sextus: appears to have been a Pythagorean. Some think it is quoted by Origen, Contra Celsum, viii. 30; Commentary on Matthew, xv. 3)
The mainstream theory for the production of the NHC (and indeed a wide range of other Coptic manuscripts and codices) sees them being manufactured in the cenobitic monastic system which was founded by Pachomius_the_Great
in the decades which immediately followed c.325 CE.
These codices were expensive to manufacture. The settlement that manufactured them was established immediately following c.325 CE, some 400 miles up the Nile from Alexandria. The Greek originals were being burnt by order of Constantine in Alexandria. Certain parties - we may view them as the resistance - decided to try and translate them to Coptic in order to preserve them for posterity.
There could be no greater political event in the history of the Christian cult than its sponsorship by Constantine. This sponsorship included a lavish and widespread publication of the NT Bible, imperial legislation that "Religious privileges are reserved for Christians", prohibition of pagan worship and temple practices, the destruction of ancient and highly revered pagan temples, example execution of chief pagan priests, the burning of so-called "anti-Christian" literature (Porphyry and Arius of Alexandria), the use of the army for support (such as search and destroy missions for "prohibited books", execution of those caught preserving these books, etc)
So were the Greek originals centuries old? Or were they less than decades old, and authored in response to these momentous political events under the rule of Constantine once he became the supreme commander of the East?
I think these are reasonable questions. But I don't see any academics asking questions like this.
What am I doing wrong?
Peter Kirby wrote:
Leucius Charinus wrote:do you agree that there are only twelve literary references to the existence of gnostic (more generally non canonical) texts in the "Church Fathers"? I would be happy to find more if they exist.
This all sounds like more work than I want to do right now. Good luck with your search.
Thanks. I appreciate that.