Photo: The Coptic Museum, in 1945 a farmer discovered 13 codices (books) near the town of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. They were sealed in a large terracotta jar and wrapped in leather bindings. These invaluable documents are written in Coptic and serve as the primary source of gnosticism, a religious movement in the early years of Christianity. The Gnostics (gnosis meaning “knowledge” in Greek) believed that divine experience could be achieved directly without a mediator like Jesus Christ who was needed to gain knowledge of the divine truth. Gnosticism was hindered by the official church from spreading its “heretical” ideas. The Nag Hammadi Library provides interesting information on religion, the Coptic language, philosophy and bookbinding techniques. The left page of the papyrus bears the end of the apocryphon (“secret teachings”) of John and the beginning of the gospel of Thomas. The right page of the papyrus is an excerpt from “On the Origin of the World”. The originals of the Nag Hammadi Library are kept in the manuscript archive at the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo.

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