Discovery of Coptic manuscripts at Al-Gurna,Egypt

Al-Ahram Online featured in February a brief report on the newly discovered Coptic codexes by a Polish archeological expedition from the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology.

Leader of the expedition,professor Tomaz Gorecki, said they had found a trove of three ancient codexes in Coptic buried under the remains of a sixth-century monastery located in front of a Middle Kingdom tomb. The Egyptian journalist concluding the article enthusiastically reported that it might parallel or even excel the importance of the Nag Hammadi find, additionally everyone appears to expect that the find will unravel some more information about the practices of the early Christians in Egypt, and that the documents originate from the Gnostics. As both contemporary and later patristic treatment of the Alexandrian school of Christians indicate, there were quite a variation among them. With the Bruce Codex, Berlin Codex , Oxyrhynchus fragments and Nag Hammadi library, certainly, a presedence for “underground”, hidden, secret Christians being Gnostic in orientation seems to be laid. If, however, the Coptic writings recently discovered, do indeed originate from the Seventh century we have an additional advantage; we might get to learn about the type of Christian practices which existed at the time of Mohammed‘s arrival in Egypt, the practices of Christians during the Fatimid dynasty – from their own hand.

However, the description of some page fragments having centered geometrical designs, and the use of the Cross as a matrix for text – reminds me of the Coptic Gnostic scripture The Books of Ieou.I will try to dig up more about this find, and perhaps, the other one which has been dubbed “Dead Sea Scrolls 2”.

It’s also interesting to see such news of major archeological finds of this period of time (70BC-400CE) come so close to eachother. This was the case with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Coptic Gnostic library at Nag Hammadi.

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2 thoughts on “Discovery of Coptic manuscripts at Al-Gurna,Egypt

  1. Terje, thank you for posting about this. I recently discovered your blog (hello!), and am thrilled to hear about the Al-Gurna discovery. How long do you think it will be before we get to see some transcriptions?

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