Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Preparing for Egypt, Part Eleven (Nag Hammadi/Abydos/Osireon)
The Gnostic Gospels, such as the Gospels of James, Thomas, Judas, and Mary, among other writings, were often read aloud and studied during the early Jesus Movement, before Christianity became firmly established as a hierarchical, patriarchal religion. The Gnostics believed, among other things, that a person didn't need a priest or a church to gain divine knowledge, that one could have his or her own direct relationship with God. Well, the early Church, trying to establish itself, didn't like that idea so much, so when the "official Bible" was finally put together at the request of Emperor Constantine, the Gnostic Gospels were left out, deemed heretical, and ordered destroyed. Some scholars now believe that the Gospel of Thomas, which is really just a list of Jesus's sayings, is probably historically the very first Gospel, earlier than Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. In any case, these codices have opened a floodgate of new information about the early Jesus Movement. They're written in Coptic, likely translated from Greek, and since near Nag Hammadi there was a Coptic Christian monastery, it's believed the good monks could not bear to destroy the texts and chose to hide them instead.
These have now all been translated and are online here at the Gnostic Society Library if you ever get curious and want to read them.
Which brings me back to the Osireion. It was built entirely underground when originally constructed. There's a hall filled with water. There are pillars and staircases and something resembling a sarcophagus, and since this was built (or found?) right next to the Temple of Seti I, today's archaeologists are of the opinion that Seti merely duplicated the original tomb--we're looking at an ancient copy of the original, and the original is impossible to date.
I actually found a decent video on Youtube that somebody posted while she was visiting the site with a friend and a single guide; otherwise the place was deserted. She got some great close-up footage. Check it out.