Greek Gospel of the Egyptians (lost manuscript of Gnostic gospel; 120-150 A.D.)

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An example of a Gnostic manuscript.

Status: Lost

Greek Gospel of the Egyptians was a Gnostic gospel from around the period of 120-150 A.D. that has only been mentioned three times as existing. With the eight lines that were written down by Clement of Alexandria, many theologians and historians draw similarities between the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians and the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. Some common themes of the Gospel are the advocacy of sexual asceticism, the question of how long death shall last, and the overcoming of sinful differences between males and females. With the early church trying to stop heretical doctrine and teachings from spreading, all Gnostic gospels were deemed heretical and were ordered to be destroyed. Despite the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945, no manuscripts of the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians have been discovered.


The early Christian church faced a number of challenges and heresies. Many of these heresies stemmed from a philosophical and religious series of groups often referred to as Gnostics. While no official time frame is given as to when Gnosticism started, it is generally accepted that they pre-date Christianity by several centuries. A common belief held by Gnostic sects was that Jesus never died and these sects would often write their own Gospels that went against what the church taught.[1]


In the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians, the question of long will people have to endure death and if childbearing is a good thing is brought up by Salome to Jesus. Jesus dissuades Salome from having children and goes on to talk about the sin of sexuality and the elimination of sexual differences between males and females. The promotion of "sexual asceticism" is also touched upon in the Gospel. The sexual themes in the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians are common theme found in various Gnostic manuscripts from Egyptian Gnostic sects.[2]


All of what is know about the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians comes from the writings of three theologians. Clement of Alexandria in his book Stromata writes the eight known passages down and refutes them. Theologian Hippolytus of Rome makes mention of the Gospel in his book Against Heresies and points to the Naassenes as the sect that used it. Epiphanius of Salamis is the third and last theologian to make mention of the Gospel in the third century A.D. when he alludes to it being from a Gnostic sect.[3]


Due to the early church, Roman and Byzantine Empires suppressing, killing, and burning heretical groups and their Gospels, it is likely that the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians was most likely lost to time. While loads of Gnostic gospels from various Gnostic sects are still being found, the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians has yet to be discovered.