Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"How reliable is the Story of the Nag Hammadi Discovery?" New article in JSNT

I have an article in the latest Journal for the Study of the New Testament:

How Reliable is the Story of the Nag Hammadi Discovery?
Mark Goodacre
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.
Full citation: Mark Goodacre, "How reliable is the story of the Nag Hammadi discovery?", JSNT 35/4 (2013): 303-22


Stephen Goranson said...

Thanks, Mark. I was aware of doubts about the Nag Hammadi find accounts, but not all of the reasons you record. You mention (p. 304 and n. 2) the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery story and simplifications of it. The book you refer to also (perhaps because of space limits) may have simplified the story of initial discovery, or differing accounts of it. According to Weston Fields, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Full History, vol. 1 (2009) there is at least some reason to consider the possibility that there were *two* scroll-bearing caves, later conflated to Cave One. And some texts assigned to various caves may be mistakenly assigned.

Mark Goodacre said...

Many thanks, Stephen. Interesting.