Monday, October 05, 2009

The men who discovered the Nag Hammadi codices

I have been doing a little reading and research on the discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices and was pleased to come across pictures of the men who made the discovery. I can't reproduce them here because of copyright restrictions, but I can describe them and link to them. When people tell the story of the Nag Hammadi finds, they often neglect to mention of the man who actually, according to James Robinson, uncovered the pot containing the codices, Abū al-Majd, who was fifteen at the time. The picture here, in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library, Nag Hammadi Archive, was taken by Robinson in 1978. If you are familiar with Robinson's original 1979 article on the discoveries, you will recognize the photograph.

Claremont's Digital Library also has a picture of the man usually associated with the discovery, Muhammed Ali. This picture is different from the one that appears in Robinson's classic 1979 article. It dates to 1975 and features Ali in front of a stove, perhaps like the one in which his mother is said to have burnt some of the pages her sons discovered.

Given Robinson's chilling account of the revenge murders back in 1945-6, looking at the faces of the murderers who happened upon the Nag Hammadi codices is a somewhat different experience from looking at the pictures of Grenfell and Hunt, who discovered the Oxyrhynchus papryi half a century earlier.


Wieland Willker said...

You might like to know that I have the Robinson article together with the postscript online at Library Robinson.pdf
(6 MB)
I have the approval of Robinson to do so.

Wieland Willker said...

Oops, that's not Nag Hammadi, but Chester Beatty.
Anyway, perhaps interesting ...