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The Coptic Gnostic Library


The Coptic Gnostic Library is the only authoritative edition of many of the Coptic writings of the Gnostics from the first centuries AD. It was originally published by Brill in fourteen hardback volumes as part of the Nag Hammadi (and Manichaean) Studies series between 1975 and 1995, under the general editorship of James M. Robinson.

The Coptic Gnostic Library contains all the texts of the Nag Hammadi codices, both in the original Coptic and in translation. Each text has its own introduction. The Coptic Gnostic Library is the starting point for all research into ancient Gnosticism. It is the result of decades of dedicated research by the most distinguished international scholars in this field.

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Overview of works

Nr Codex, tractate Pages, lines Title Abbreviation URN
1 NHC I,1 A.[1]–B.8 Prayer of the Apostle Paul Pr. Paul nh.PrPaul
2 NHC I,2 1.1–16.30 Apocryphon of James Ap. Jas. nh.ApJas
3 NHC I,3 16.31–43.24 Gospel of Truth Gos. Truth nh.GosTruth
4 NHC I,4 43.25–50.18 Treatise on the Resurrection Treat. Res. nh.TreatRes
5 NHC I,5 51.1–138.27 Tripartite Tractate Tri. Trac. nh.TriTrac
6 NHC II,1 1.1–32.9 Apocryphon of John Ap. John nh.ApJohn
7 NHC II,2 32.10–51.28 Gospel of Thomas Gos. Thom. nh.GosThom
8 NHC II,3 51.29–86.19 Gospel of Philip Gos. Phil. nh.GosPhil
9 NHC II,4 87.20–97.23 Hypostasis of the Archons Hyp. Arch. nh.HypArch
10 NHC II,5 97.24–127.17 On the Origin of the World Orig. World nh.OrigWorld
11 NHC II,6 127.18–137.27 Exegesis on the Soul Exeg. Soul nh.ExegSoul
12 NHC II,7 138.1–145.23 Book of Thomas the Contender Thom. Cont. nh.ThomCont
6 NHC III,1 1.1–40.11 Apocryphon of John Ap. John nh.ApJohn
13 NHC III,2 40.12–69.20 Gospel of the Egyptians Gos. Eg. nh.GosEg
14 NHC III,3 70.1–90.13 Eugnostos the Blessed Eugnostos nh.Eugnostos
15 NHC III,4 90.14–119.18 Sophia of Jesus Christ Soph. Jes. Chr. nh.SophJesChr
16 NHC III,5 120.1–147.23 Dialogue of the Savior Dial. Sav. nh.DialSav
6 NHC IV,1 1.1–49.28 Apocryphon of John Ap. John nh.ApJohn
13 NHC IV,2 50.1–81.2 Gospel of the Egyptians Gos. Eg. nh.GosEg
14 NHC V,1 1.1–17.18 Eugnostos the Blessed Eugnostos nh.Eugnostos
17 NHC V,2 17.19–24.9 Apocalypse of Paul Apoc. Paul nh.ApocPaul
18 NHC V,3 24.10–44.10 Apocalypse of James (First) 1 Apoc. Jas. nh.1ApocJas
19 NHC V,4 44.11–63.32 Apocalypse of James (Second) 2 Apoc. Jas. nh.2ApocJas
20 NHC V,5 64.1–85.32 Apocalypse of Adam Apoc. Adam nh.ApocAdam
21 NHC VI,1 1.1–12.24 Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles Acts Pet. 12 Apos. nh.ActsPet12Apos
22 NHC VI,2 13.1–21.30 Thunder. Perfect Mind Thund. nh.Thund
23 NHC VI,3 22.[1]–35.24 Authoritative Teaching Auth. Teach. nh.AuthTeach
24 NHC VI,4 36.1–48.15 Concept of Our Great Power Great Pow. nh.GreatPow
25 NHC VI,5 48.16–51.23 Plato, Republic NHC VI.5 nh.NHCVI5
26 NHC VI,6 52.1–63.32 Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth Disc. 8-9 nh.Disc8-9
27 NHC VI,7 63.33–65.7 Prayer of Thanksgiving Pr. Thanks. nh.PrThanks
28 NHC VI,8 65.15–78.43 Asclepius Ascl. nh.Ascl
29 NHC VII,1 1.1–49.9 Paraphrase of Shem Paraph. Shem nh.ParaphShem
30 NHC VII,2 49.0–70.12a Second Treatise of the Great Seth Treat. Seth nh.TreatSeth
31 NHC VII,3 70.12a–84.14a Apocalypse of Peter Apoc. Pet. nh.ApocPet
32 NHC VII,4 84.15–118.9 Teachings of Silvanus Teach. Silv. nh.TeachSilv
33 NHC VII,5 118.15–127.67 Three Steles of Seth Steles Seth nh.StelesSeth
34 NHC VIII,1 1.1–132.9 Zostrianos Zost. nh.Zost
35 NHC VIII,2 132.1–140.27 Letter of Peter to Philip Ep. Pet. Phil. nh.EpPetPhil
36 NHC IX,1 1.1–27.10 Melchizedek Melchizedek nh.Melchizedek
37 NHC IX,2 27.1–29.5 Thought of Norea Norea nh.Norea
38 NHC IX,3 29.6–74.30 Testimony of Truth Tes Truth nh.TesTruth
39 NHC X 1.1–68.18 Marsanes Marsanes nh.Marsanes
40 NHC XI,1 1.1–21.35 Interpretation of Knowledge Interp. Know. nh.InterpKnow
41 NHC XI,2 22.1–44.37 Valentinian Exposition Val. Exp. nh.ValExp
42 NHC XI,3 45.1–69.20 Allogenes Allog nh.Allog
43 NHC XI,4 69.21–72.34 Hypsiphrone Hypsiph. nh.Hypsiph
44 NHC XII,1 15.1–34.28 Sentences of Sextus Sent. Sextus nh.SentSextus
3 NHC XII,2 53.1–60.30 Gospel of Truth Gos. Truth nh.GosTruth
45 NHC XIII,1 35.1–50.24 Trimorphic Protennoia Trim. Prot. nh.TrimProt
10 NHC XIII,2 50.25–34 On the Origin of the World Orig. World nh.OrigWorld
46 BG1 [1?–6] 7.1–19.5 Gospel of Mary Gos. Mary nh.GosMary
6 BG2 19.6–77.7 Apocryphon of John Ap. John nh.ApJohn
15 BG3 77.8–127.12 Sophia of Jesus Christ Soph. Jes. Chr. nh.SophJesChr
47 BG4 128.1–141.32 Acts of Peter Act Pet. nh.ActPet


  • NHC = Nag Hammadi Codex. There are twelve codices in total. Codex 13 is only preserved as eight leaves tucked inside the front cover of the sixth codex.
  • BG = Berolensis Gnosticus = Codex Berolinensis 8502 = P. Berol. 8502. This codex contains four works.
  • There are 46 works in the Nag Hammadi codices, preserved in 55 versions (51 in NHC and 4 in BG). The Gospel of Truth, for example, is one work that exists in three versions, to wit I.3 (i.e., the third text in codex 1), IX.3 and XII.2.
  • These are citable works, existing in individual versions, such as NHC XII.3. The URNs reflect this, giving the logical structure in the work identifier, and the physical one in the version identifier.
  • For the names of the works, see this table
  • Besides complete texts, Coptic and Greek fragments have been preserved in the codices as well. These have been included as if they were works (as are the prefaces from the printed volumes).
  • The works in the The Coptic Gnostic Library are by no means the only extant Gnostic works, nor do they preserve the only versions of their texts. The Codex Tchacos, for example, is not a Nag Hammadi codex. It contains, besides the Gospel of Judas (for which we have other versions) and the Book of Allogenes (a unique fragment, not to be confused with Allogenes from Nag Hammadi), the Letter of Peter to Philip (which is NHC VIII.2) and the First Apocalypse of James (NHC V.3).


The Coptic Gnostic Library uses CTS URNs to identify works. CTS URNs are unique and persistent identifiers of textgroups, works, and passages. They are used by important resources in the field, such as the Coptic Scriptorium,

Here is how they work:

Unit URN
Textgroup urn:cts:copticLit:nh
Work urn:cts:copticLit:nh.GosTruth
Work version (edition) urn:cts:copticLit:nh.GosTruth.cgl-cop1
Work version (translation) urn:cts:copticLit:nh.GosTruth.cgl-eng1
Work version (commentary) urn:cts:copticLit:nh.GosTruth.cgl-eng2
Passage urn:cts:copticLit:nh.GosTruth.cgl-cop1:

Please note the following.

  • The passage identifier contains redundant information: we already know that work 2 on codex 12 is the “Gospel of Truth”. However, it seemed preferable to a) keep human recognizable names in the work identifiers and b) have a completely numerical and unambiguous string as the passage identifier.
  • The passage identifier given is WORK - COLUMN - LINE. "Work" is a combination of codex number and text number.
  • We write work 2 on codex 12 as XII_2 rather than XII.2 as full stops are not allowed in this position in the URN.