Forbidden ancient Christian text of the “secret teachings” of Jesus to his “brother” found


  Stock Photo - 13th century mosaic of Jesus Christ in the Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul, Turkey (iStock)

Stock Photo – 13th century mosaic of Jesus Christ in the Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul, Turkey ( iStock)


Biblical scholars have discovered the first known original Greek copy of an ancient forbidden Christian text that supposedly describes the secret teachings of Jesus to his "brother" James, a former leader of the Church.

Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau, religious scholars at the University of Texas at Austin, located the rare text in the archives of the University of Oxford earlier this year. The experts found several Greek fragments of the fifth or sixth century of the first century of the Apocalypse of Santiago, one of the books of an ancient collection known as the Nag Hammadi library. Previously, it was believed that the text was preserved only through translations in the Egyptian Coptic language.

Only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library have been found, a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in Egypt in 1945. Greek, its original language of composition. Also known as the "Gnostic Gospels," books are seen as key documents for understanding Gnosticism, an ancient belief system.


James' First Apocalypse, like the other books in the Nag Hammadi library, was considered heretical or forbidden by the church because It fell outside the religious limits of the fourth century that defined the New Testament of 27 books.


Stock Photo – a page of the Coptic translation of the First Apocalypse of Santiago from the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. Digitized by Claremont College (Nag Hammadi Library, University of Oxford)

The experts were thrilled with the discovery of the ancient fragments, which are property of the Egypt Exploration Society.

"To say that we were excited once we realized what we had found is an understatement," said Smith, an badistant professor of religious studies, in a statement. "We never suspect that the Greek fragments of James' First Apocalypse survived since ancient times, but there they were, right in front of us"


that the ancient text describes the secret teachings of Jesus to his "brother" James "The details of the" celestial kingdom "and future events, such as the inevitable death of James, are revealed, according to the University of Texas at Austin.


Geoffrey Smith (left) and Brent Landau badyze more closely the Greek fragment identified as the First Apocalypse of Santiago.The fragments and rights of the images published of them are property of the Egypt Exploration Society. (Photo provided by Geoffrey Smith, UT Austin)

James, also known as "James the Just" was a leader of the early church. The descriptions of James as the "brother" of Jesus should not be taken literally, however, since they refer to a close relationship, as opposed to a fraternal biological link. The First Apocalypse of Santiago, for example, describes James as Jesus' brother "materially."


"The text complements the biblical account of the life and ministry of Jesus," Smith added.

The manuscript, which uses clean and uniform writing and separate words in syllables, was probably a teacher model used to help students read and write, experts say. "The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using midpoints.Such divisions are very rare in ancient manuscripts, but they often appear in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts," said Landau, a professor in the Department. of Religious Studies from the University of Austin in the statement.

Landau notes that the teacher who produced the manuscript probably "had a particular affinity for the text". The document, he explains, appears to be a complete copy of the forbidden old text.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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