Nag Hammadi manuscripts
Nag Hammadi manuscripts See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mysteries, myth and legends surrounding the Bible have been a topic of debate forever. Who wrote the Bible? How old is it? What is its authenticity? and the list can go on. The text still holds secrets which are hidden somewhere in the dark.

Fragments of a 1,600-year-old Greek document has been discovered by Biblical scholars which includes Jesus' secret teachings to his brother James. This heretical document apparently contains knowledge of heaven and future events and also speaks of James's inevitable death.

The story 'First Apocalypse of James' is the source of the heretical document and refers to James as Jesus' brother. Adding information and writings that might change the content of the New Testament is considered to be against the law, hence, the story has been deemed 'forbidden'.

The document is kept at the Nag Hammadi Library and is a series of 52 religious manuscripts that were written between 2nd and 6th century AD. The Nag Hammadi manuscripts are mainly written in a traditional Egyptian language, the Coptic. These manuscripts were found well kept in a large jar in the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Biblical scholars the University of Texas at Austin discovered the manuscript in the Nag Hammadi Library at Oxford University.

"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," Geoffrey Smith, assistant professor of religious studies at The University of Texas at Austin and one of the two scholars who made the discovery, told Newsweek.

Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau announced the discovery of the manuscript at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Boston, November.

Nag Hammadi manuscripts
Nag Hammadi manuscripts By Gnostics [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What does the manuscript contain?

The manuscript contains part of the Gnostic story the 'First Apocalypse of James' and describes Jesus' secret teachings to James whom he refers to as his 'brother'. It is further stated that James is not his real sibling but Jesus describes his friend as 'not my brother materially'.

The text is deemed heretical as it does not fall under the Christian Canon set by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in the Third Century AD. Athanasius when speaking of the 27-book New Testament, in his 'Easter Letter of 367', stated, "No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them."

Nag Hammadi manuscript
Nag Hammadi manuscript By Gnostics [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

According to the researchers, the original manuscript was used as a tool to help children read and write Greek. The text was written down in a clean handwriting, and the words were separated into syllables. The format of the text suggests that the text might have been penned down by an academician.

The ambiguity surrounding the stories of Garden of Eden, uncertainty surrounding Adam and Eve being the first human beings on earth, Lucifer and his war with God and the Angels, Jesus, his crucifixion, his resurrection, everything coming from the world of the Bible still seems to be clandestine. Can the mysteries surrounding this controversial text be ever solved? We can only wait till the pages are turned one by one.