Newsweek reports that fragments of a rare Christian text dating to the fifth or sixth century have been found in the Nag Hammadi Library, which was discovered in Egypt in 1945 and is now housed at Oxford University.
A collection of 13 Gnostic books, or codices, the documents in the Nag Hammadi Library purported to record “secret knowledge” imparted by Jesus to his followers. Most of the documents are translations in the Coptic language, but the newly discovered fragments, from the First Apocalypse of James, were written in Greek, the text’s original language.
The copy is thought to have been used as a teaching tool because the neatly written words had been broken down into individual syllables with mid-dots, according to Brent Landau of the University of Texas at Austin. “This new discovery is significant in part because it demonstrates that Christians were still reading and studying extra-canonical writings long after Christian leaders deemed them heretical,” explained colleague Geoffrey Smith.