A codex containing the greater part of Codex I of the NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY. Purchased from an antiquities dealer in Belgium by the Jung Institute of Zurich on 10 May 1952, it contains pages 1-32, 37-48, 51-58, 91-136, and some fragments of the codex. The rest of the manuscript was among the Nag Hammadi texts acquired by the Coptic Museum in Cairo. The editio princeps was published between 1956 and 1975. The folios from Cairo were also used for this edition.
Codex I is composed of three quires, containing pages 1-84, 85- 118, and 119-138, respectively. The pages are about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 5.5 inches (14 cm) wide. The average number of lines per page is thirty-seven or thirty-eight, with a maximum of forty- two. The two pages of the front flyleaf were inscribed when the main tractates were finished (pages A/B). Nearly the entire codex was written by one and the same hand, except the treatise on pages 43,25-50,18, which was copied by the scribe of Codex XI, tractates 3 and 4. After the completion of the editio princeps, the Codex Jung was returned to Cairo, and in the period 1975-1976 it was united with the rest of Codex I. Along with the other Nag Hammadi texts, the manuscript of Codex I can be dated to about the middle of the fourth century. It is written in the Subakhmimic Coptic dialect.
The following is a brief survey of the contents.
The PRAYER OF THE APOSTLE PAUL formally resembles the biblical psalms, but is actually the expression of the longing of a (Valentinian) Gnostic to be united with the Preexistent One, the Pleroma, from which he originated.
The APOCRYPHON OF JAMES (Nag Hammadi Codex I.1- 16,30) is a modern title derived from the fact that the apostle James is addressing his readers and designates his writing as an “apocryphon” (I.10). James and Peter receive a special revelation from Christ after His resurrection. In a Gnostic way Christ tells His disciples that they are in emptiness and diminution, in sleep and drunkenness, which means that they are ignorant; but he promises that they will become “full” in the attainment of true knowledge. At the end Peter and James experience an ecstatic elevation to heaven.
James is the leader of the disciples, whom he sends to different places (16,7-8).
The GOSPEL OF TRUTH (Nag Hammadi Codex I, 16,31- 43,24) is named for the opening lines, which can be taken for an extended title. “Error” has taken possession of men and, spreading as a fog, has fostered ignorance of the Father. Jesus came and underwent the Passion in order to reveal the Father as true guide. The reception of gnosis also means that man rediscovers his real self (30,13). It is a matter of discussion whether this tractate is identical with the writing of the same name mentioned by Irenaeus (Adversus omnes haereses, III.11.9), or with the “occult Gospel” alluded to by Tertullian in De praescriptione haereticorum.
The TREATISE ON THE RESURRECTION (43,25-50,18) is the title occurring at the end of the codex. The form is a letter from a teacher of wisdom to his “son” Rheginos. He who has come to knowledge has already received the spiritual resurrection (45,40; 49,15-16). This point of view was already condemned as heretical in 2 Timothy 2:18.
The TRIPARTITE TRACTATE (51,1-138,27) is a modern designation for a tractate without title that is divided into three parts by a series of diple partition marks after lines 104,3 and 108,12. I 1,1-104,3: The subject is the transcendent world of the Pleroma. The Father is described by negative predication as incomprehensible, immeasurable, and so on. The Trinity consists of Father, Son, and Church, as it is found with the Western Valentinian Heracleon. The fall of the aeon Sophia is a characteristic Valentinian theme. In this particular tractate, however, she is male and called Logos. The aeons do not yet possess the full knowledge of the Father, but will receive it through the intermediation of the Son and the Spirit. In this respect, the aeons are the prototypes of the pneumatics. The fallen Logos prepares the creation of the psychosomatic world through his progeniture of the II 4,4-108,12: This part is concerned with the creation of man. Unknown to the Demiurge, the Logos inflates the spiritual element in man, which enables him to receive knowledge.
The third part of the tractate (III.108,13-138,27) deals with the three races of men and their destiny: spiritual men (the pneumatics), psychics, and material men (the hylics), a tripartition connected with contemporary philosophic anthropology, which distinguishes a noetic, a psychic, and a material element in man. The psychics are called “those belonging to the right” (for instance, the Hebrew prophets), and the hylics are designated as “those belonging to the left” (for instance, the Greek philosophers). These two lower classes originate from the passions of the fallen aeon, the Logos (Sophia). All the pneumatics will necessarily be saved through the revelation of Christ. The psychics dispose of a free will, since they are linked with the good intention, the conversion, of the fallen Logos. If they make the right choice and perform good works, they will attain a destiny not far from the Pleroma of the Father. The hylics necessarily go to perdition.
The tractate concludes with a liturgical doxology on the Father. The Tripartite Tractate can to a great extent be compared with the description of Valentinian gnosticism by Irenaeus (Adversus omnes haereses I,1-8). It is a characteristic document of gnostic interpretation of biblical data.
- Attridge, H. W., ed. Nag Hammadi Codex I (The Jung Codex): Introductions, Texts, Translations, Indices, 2 vols. Nag Hammadi Studies 22-23. Leiden, 1985.
- Cross, F. L., ed. The Jung Codex: A Newly Recovered Gnostic Papyrus. Three Studies by H. C. Puech, G. Quispel and W. C. van Unnik. London, 1955.