The Nag Hammadi Texts
In 1945, at Nag Hammadi some 500 km (300 mi) south of Cairo, Egyptian peasants unearthed a large jar containing thirteen codices. Most of the texts contained within these volumes were Christian Gnostic texts, and although written in Coptic many had been translated from Greek. One of the most important was The Gospel of Thomas, a collection of the sayings of Jesus perhaps originally compiled as early as the end of the first century CE. Fragments of The Gospel of Thomas had earlier been found among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (see above). Less than half of the sayings attributed to Jesus in this text are paralleled in the New Testament, and the Gospel of Thomas thus provides both an important independent source and an example of how earliest Christian tradition was collected and expanded by a particular writer within a specific community, a process more and more recognized in the study of the canonical Gospels.