Biblical scholars have discovered the first-known original Greek copy of an ancient forbidden Christian text that purportedly describes Jesus’ secret teachings to his “brother” James, an early leader of the Church.
Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau, religious studies scholars at The University of Texas at Austin, located the rare text in Oxford University archives earlier this year. The experts found several fifth- or sixth-century A.D. Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, one of the books from an ancient collection known as the Nag Hammadi library. Previously, the text was thought to be preserved only via translations in the Egyptian Coptic language.
Only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in Egypt in 1945, have been found in Greek, their original language of composition. Also known as the “Gnostic Gospels,” the books are seen as key documents for understanding Gnosticism, an ancient belief system.
The First Apocalypse of James, like the other books in the Nag Hammadi library, was deemed heretical or forbidden by the church because it fell outside of the fourth-century religious boundaries that defined the 27-book New Testament.
Experts were thrilled by the discovery of the ancient fragments, which are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society. (Read more from “Ancient Forbidden Christian Text of Jesus’ ‘Secret Teachings’ to His ‘Brother’ Found” HERE)