Systematic Appraisal of Codex XI. Codex XI in Relation to the New Testament

Academic Paper, 2022

21 Pages, Grade: A


Systematic Appraisal of codex XI

Charles W. Hedrick writes, Codex XI was among the groups of codices possessed by the antiquities dealer Phocion J. Tano during 1946 to 48. It was kept at the Department of Antiquities in 1949, taken to the Coptic Museum on 9th June 1952, made national property by court action in 1956, and assigned the inventory number 10547 in the year of 1959. Jean Doresse and Togo Mina numbered it IV in 1949, Henri-Charles Puech numbered it VI in 1950, Doresse numbered it VIII in 1958 and Martin Krause numbered it XI in 1962 and James M. Robinson in 1968 (Robinson, "Introduction," and Facsimile Edition: Codices XI, XII, XIII, pp. VI to VII). In May and June 1961 it was preserved in 80 plexiglass containers by Victor Girgis after consulting Pahor Labib and Martin Krause. Pictures were taken in part by R. Herzog for Krause at that time and again by photographers of the Center of Documentation for UNESCO in the year 1965. Fragments were set and photographs done at its four work meetings during 1970 to 72 and at the work meetings funded by the Smithsonian Institution through the sponsorship of the American Research Center in Egypt in 1974 to 75, under the supervision of the Technical Sub Committee of the International Committee for the Nag Hammadi Codices of the Arab Republic of Egypt and UNESCO. Codex XI is one of the most poorly conserved among the Nag Hammadi Codices. No relatively complete leaves survive except for three leaves (59/60, 61/62, 63/64), which are rebuilt from two to four fragments apiece, and mainly, only the lower fourth to three fourths survive intact, meaning that the page numbering to be expected at the top of the pages is lacking, with the exception of one fragment from a first hand with page numbers 19 to 20 at the center of the top margin (Charles 3).

Eirini Artemi in his article,The Heretic Gnostic and the real “Gnostic” in Christ according to the teaching of Ireneaus of Lyon writes saying Gnosticism was a combination of a philosophical and religious movements which emerged in pre Christian times. There are many religious historians who hold that its origins was in the Jewish community of Alexandria and was later bought into by some Christian groups in Judea and the Galilee. The apostle Paul held the belief that the heresy of gnosticism was the religion of angels (cf. Colossians 2:18). The Gnostics acknowledged a divine hierarchy above the angels who were believed to be more significant than Christ. The Gnostics held the belief that matter, whether it be the physical universe or the human body, was evil. It is plain that there was a great hostility between spirit and matter. This impacted many of their beliefs and most importantly the way they understood the world and God’s interactions with it. Gnosis (knowledge, “insight”) was the sole way for studying the universe, humanity, the salvation of mankind and of course Jesus Christ. In gnostic Christianity, spiritual gnosis was not just knowledge of facts or figures or an intellectual perception of theological ideas, instead, it was an actual acquaintance of facts and this knowledge was subjective in its form. The gnostic didn’t just believe in God, he or she had actual acquaintance of God. Spiritual gnosis could not be gained through the intellect. Gnosis was a special initiatory knowledge offered to the few who were ready to accept it. Through devotion and spiritual exercise, the gnostic had a revelatory acquaintance that modified human understanding, and transformed the individual (Eirini 39).

In this Essay is a systematic appraisal of Codex XI to ascertain its perceived reference to New Testament Canonical Bible.

Einar Thomassen writes,

Having been available in the facsimile edition of Codices XI, XII and XIII since 1973, a critical and commented edition of Valentinian Exposition was published in 1985 by J.E. Menard in the Bibliotheque Copte de Nag Hammadi series. This edition also makes good use the advances in the arrangements of the fragments which were made subsequently to 1973 and published in the facsimile edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices: Introduction, Leiden, 1984, p. 125 to 26 (Einar 225).

According to Charles Hedrick in his book The Coptic Gnostic Library, Codices XI, XII, XIII states that the Valentinian Exposition, has no extant title, but only a series of decorations, usually found between treatise, on pp. 39 to 44. The treatise itself (22,1 to 39,39) describes a Valentinian cosmogony, the fall and liberation of Sophia, and the recovery of the psychic seed by spliting (as Demiurge) their passions taken from Sophia. The treatise ends with the eschatological vision of the reunion within the Pleroma. The treatise A Valentinian Exposition is followed by five untitled supplements, and these five supplements may be meaningfully connected. One may perceive the long interpretation of Xl, 2 as catechism preceding XI, 2a to e, which are short liturgical interpretations of the Valentinian liberation sacraments of anointing, baptism and eucharist (Charles 19). Stephen Emmel in his Bulletin on the Restoration of Two Passages in A Valentinian Exposition he states that with the recent publication of John D. Turner's edition and version of A Valentinian Exposition from Nag Hammadi Codex XI, study of this provocative religious work has assumed a major step forward. Owing to the manuscript's fragmentary state, the text of Valentinian Exposition desperately need extensive conjectural reconstruction, and Turner has answered this call boldly. His edition showcase many elaborate hypotheses concerning the ancient author's initial meaning and Coptic translator's rendering of it. These hypotheses should now be examined in other philological laboratories with the intention of ascertaining which parts of Valentinian Exposition can be established with adequate certainty to warrant utilizing them as authentic evidence for Valentinianism, and for the sparsely attested Coptic dialect in which Valentinian Exposition survives (dialect L6). Many of Turner's reconstructions are very convincing, or at least likely. However, as was an unavoidable in such a venture, others are only possible at best (Stephen 5). Turner's and Pagels' record states that he is explaining the creation by Jesus of "the material realm as a dwelling place for the psychic seed. . ., in which they are raised to a 'believing' knowledge of Jesus through the Demiurge who wrote the scriptures as a shadow of the truth" (p.166). Jesus here is "the joint fruit of the Pleroma," as he is called in the heresiological records, where the most suitable parallels explaining this Jesus' activity are: Iren. haer.1.2.6, 7.4.5 (Massuet); Clem. exc. Thdot. 23.71, 35.1 to 2, 44 to 47 (Casey) ; Hipp. haer. 6.32.1 to 6 (Wendland) (Stephen 6). According to Charles Hedrick, A Valentinian Exposition expounds the source of the creation and the process of redemption regarding Valentinian theology, to be specific, in terms of the myth of Sophia. The treatise thus gives the only original Valentinian record of that myth: The Tripartite Tractate (1,5) narrates another edition that has the Logos instead of Sophia. The author starts by promising to expose “ my mystery,” and follows the story with baptismal and Eucharistic prayers and benedictions. This indicates that A Valentinian Exposition gives a form of secret catechism for candidates being initiated into gnosis. Following the exposure of the mystery, the candidate is requested to take part in anointing, baptism, and the eucharist, as Gnostic Christians perceive these sacraments. Other than relating the Sophia myth and referring to sacramental rituals, A Valentinian Exposition has a third noteworthy characteristic: it offers firsthand proof of theological contentions among different groups of Valentinian theologians. The heresiologists testifies that gnostic teachers differs among themselves on the exposition of key doctrines; thus A Valentinian Exposition prove the truth of Tertullian’s statement that Valentinian Christians “ differ on many defined issues, even with their own founders” (Praescr. 42). Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and others reports several such matters involving the story of Sophia: the description of the primordial origin (in what sense is it monadic or dyadic), of Limit (what are his roles) and the passion of Sophia (what motivated it). While the church fathers outline various stances taken on these matters, the author of A Valentinian Exposition engages each matter, challenging certain perceptions and advocating others. Valentinian theologians differed, first of all, on the issue of whether the primordial source of all is a monad or a dyad. In accordance to Irenaeus, Valentinus himself and the followers of his student Ptolemy said that the primal root is a dyad, a combination of the Father of the All and his feminine counterpart, Silence, the Mother of all things (Haer. 1.11.1) (Charles 481). On the contrary, this author insists that the Father is one, singular, a monad; and that the Silence, far from being the Father’s dyadic syzygy, was merely the condition of tranquility in which the Father reclined in his original solitude. Second, this author discusses the role of Limit: he himself asserts categorically that Limit has four powers, while other Valentinians ascribe to Limit only two of those four powers. As this author expounds the story, Limit first set apart Sophia’s passion from the pleroma, and so shielded and confirmed the aeons against the violation her transgression incurred. Still Limit also withheld Sophia from being absorbed into the Father, and, finally, he set apart her passions from her and confirmed her as well. A third matter of contention among Valentinian theologians involved the exposition of Sophia’s suffering. According to Irenaeus’ record, some Valentinians said that Sophia, in transgressing her function in the pleroma, only signified the involuntary desire of all the aeons for closer communion with the Father (Haer. 1.2.2); others said that she willfully and daringly tried to rise above the state of interdependence she had in common with all the other aeons, and dared to imitate the Father himself (Haer. 1.2.3). The author of A Valentinian Exposition apparently takes a stance closer to the latter position, which assumes that Sophia willfully violated the pleromic structure, and later regret the actions as she returned to the Father. This tractate goes on to explain how Sophia, after suffering in isolation, regretted the actions and received Christ, who came down to become her divine counterpart. Their divine reunion is evidence of the Father’s will that “ nothing ... takes place in the pleroma apart from a syzygy” (i.e., that all beings apart from himself are interdependent); and displays how all things “ will be united and reconciled.” Finally, this discourse gives what seems to be liturgical fragments of a Valentinian celebration of baptism and the eucharist: in this regard, as in others mentioned above, the discourse gives a unique and valuable chance to examine various types of Valentinian thought and ritual practice (Charles 482).

Przemysław Piwowarczyk writes,

The fourth text from Codex Tchacos, conventionally labelled as ‘(The Book of) the Stranger’ (Allogenes), bearing traces of Judeo Christian influences, probably of Syrian origin. Its relationship to the Gnostic traditions is less certain. Although preserved in a deplorable state, it still features a few discernible narratives. The most interesting of them is a variation about Jesus being tempted by Satan on the mountain, the topic only rarely present in the early Christian literature (Przemysław 23).

Charles Hedrick in the Introduction to Codex XI writes, just as Allogenes bears a striking likeliness to Three Ste/es of Seth (VII, 5) and to Zostrianos (VIII, 1) in metaphysical nomenclature and in the portraying of ontological composition, so also the language of these treatises is strikingly the same. While the orthography, phonology and most of the morphology of these three tractates is standard Sahidic with some slight marks of Subachmimic characteristics (Charles 14), their syntax has strong resemblance with Bohairic. This indicates that these tractates were interpreted from Greek near the northern border of the Sahidic dialectal domain. Some practice of Allogenes and Zostrianos most likely in Greek apparel, was known to Plotinus' circle in Rome in the period 244 to 265 C.E. The current translation of Allogenes was written by the same hand as that of Codex VII; documents bearing a date in the cartonnage of that codex yield a terminus a quo of circa 350 C.E., which is in agreement with the date of the uncial hand in which these tractates were recorded. These comments indicate that these tractates may witness either to: an early semblance of Bohairic whose orthography is much the same as Sahidic, or a Sahidic version of a Bohairic text, or possibly a Coptic dialect underlying the later standard representation of these two dialects (Charles 15).

According to Charles Hedrick states that in this text "Allogenes" is the name given to the one who receives divine revelations and writes them for "my son Messos." Allogenes' pursuit of self-knowledge is not declared directly in a dialogue with the revealers Youel and the Luminaries of the Aeon of Barbelo, rather the pursuit is evident within the revelations which inspire and teach Allogenes and in Allogenes' intervening accounts on his experience to Messos. The revelations themselves are the essence of the text, but its composition is the broader one of the revelation tractate in which a revelation is narrated as an edifying tractate for a patron or disciple (Festugiere, La. revelation, 1.309-54). Features of this genre are the speaker's self-introduction, citation to the person meant, a story of events including the appearance of a divine being, an account of the divine pronouncements, a record of the speaker's reaction, and ending remarks on the preservation of the document, and the first eight lines of Allogenes that possibly contained the self introduction, addressee and the appearance of a divine being are largely lacking, still all the features of this genre can be documented elsewhere in the text. The revelation tractate is complicated by its pseudonymous form. The fact would be more clear in this case if the authorship were ascribed to James or Thomas or Zoroaster, but Allogenes, which means "stranger, foreigner," or "one of another race," is a general name in texts of this era for legendary, semi-divine characters. It is utilized as a title for Seth and for Seth's seven sons (Pan. XL. 7.2 to 5), for the Great Invisible Spirit (Gos. Eg. IV, 2:50, 21), and in the Second tractate of the Great Seth for its nameless descending revealer (Treat. Seth VIl, 2:52, 8 to 10).


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Systematic Appraisal of Codex XI. Codex XI in Relation to the New Testament
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Lovewell Mwansa (Author), 2022, Systematic Appraisal of Codex XI. Codex XI in Relation to the New Testament, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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