How reliable is the story of the Nag Hammadi discovery?

Published

Journal Article

James Robinson's narrative of how the Nag Hammadi codices were discovered is popular and compelling, a piece of fine investigative journalism that includes intrigue and blood vengeance. But there are several different, conflicting versions of the story, including two-person (1977), seven-person (1979) and eight-person (1981) versions. Disagreements include the name of the person who first found the jar. Martin Krause and Rodolphe Kasser both questioned these stories in 1984, and their scepticism is corroborated by the Channel 4 (UK) series, The Gnostics (1987), which features Muhammad 'Ali himself, in his only known appearance in front of camera, offering his account of the discovery. Several major points of divergence from the earlier reports raise questions about the reliability of 'Ali's testimony. It may be safest to conclude that the earlier account of the discovery offered by Jean Doresse in 1958 is more reliable than the later, more detailed, more vivid versions that are so frequently retold. © The Author(s) 2013.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Goodacre, M

Published Date

  • June 1, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 303 - 322

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1745-5294

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0142-064X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0142064X13482243

Citation Source

  • Scopus