The Ascent of the Soul and the Pachomians: Interpreting the Exegesis on the Soul (nhc ii,6) within a Fourth-Century Monastic Context

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The Exegesis on the Soul (nhc ii,6) allegorizes the degradation and re-ascent of the soul. Recently, scholars have reconsidered whether Pachomian monks produced and read the Nag Hammadi Codices, largely based upon codicological evidence. For Pachomians, the soul’s ascent from the body constituted the fulfilment of their ascetic regime. This article offers support for the ‘Pachomian connection’ by analyzing the Exegesis on the Soul alongside Pachomian literature. It argues that shared exegetical tendencies and a common approach to modes of ascetic practice and repentance strengthen the case for monastic readership and ownership of the Nag Hammadi Codices.

The Ascent of the Soul and the Pachomians: Interpreting the Exegesis on the Soul (nhc ii,6) within a Fourth-Century Monastic Context

in Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies

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6

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015chapters 5 and 7.

7

Barns Browne and Shelton et al. 1981.

8

Shelton 19812–3. See Turner addendum to Barns 1975 17–18.

10

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015115–117point out that oil was something of necessity in the monasteries. The Paralipomena 15 claims that the Pachomians needed forty measures of oil per month in one monastery for vegetable preparation. It makes sense then that the monks would have a relationship with oil workers in the local area (Veilleux 1981 37).

11

Shelton 19813.

12

Shelton 19814.

13

Veilleux 198062–63. Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 129.

14

Wipszycka 2000190–91; Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 47 n. 124.

15

Shelton 19817.

16

Wipszycka 2000182–83.

17

See J. M. Robinson 1986.

18

Goehring 199941.

19

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015129.

21

Lundhaug and Jenott 201553.

22

Barns 197513–14; Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 132.

24

Wipszycka 2000188.

25

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015142. J. M. Robinson 1975a 185 notes that the dimensions of the covers of the Nag Hammadi Codices match the quires they contain and so were in all likelihood intended for them.

26

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015143. For a detailed discussion of each of the colophons in relation to monastic culture see 178–206.

28

Pearson 1996421.

29

Khosroyev 199594–97. Khosroyev points out that “fatherhood” is used in the Disc. Seth nhc vii2 (54.15; 61.29 34–35; 66.29; 67.2–3; Pearson 1996 161 179 191) and so the colophon might be referring to this implied group.

30

See Lundhaug and Jenott 2015181n. 15 for numerous examples.

31

See J. M. Robinson 1975b71–86; 1975a. See also Williams 1996 242–43 who grouped the codices into three sub-groups (A: Codices ivii and xi; B: Codices ivvviviii and ix; C: Codices ii and xiii). Michael Williams and David Coblentz have since suggested that Codex ii and xiii were not the work of the same scribe forthcoming (cited in Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 209 n. 11).

32

Wipszycka 2000187; Khosroyev 1995 3 67.

33

Scholten 1988163 n. 160. Palladius mentions that the Pachomian monastery at Panopolis had calligraphers (Lausiac History 32.12: Veilleux 1982 129).

34

Denzey Lewis and Blount 2014. For a discussion of these inconsistencies see also Goodacre 2013.

35

See Doresse 1960131–134; Krause 1978.

36

Lundhaug and Jenott 201517 n. 49.

38

Rousseau 198547.

39

Veilleux 1981141.

40

Veilleux 1981197.

41

Rousseau 198549.

45

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015166.

48

F. Williams 2013136.

49

Rubenson 200446; Goehring 1993 75–76; Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 167–168.

50

Lundhaug 2013.

52

Layton 1989a161163. See Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 168. Epiphanius Panarion 40.5.3–7 6.5–9 tells us that this was also taught by the so-called Archontics (F. Williams 2009 265–67).

53

Veilleux 1980232.

54

Säve Söderbergh 19758–10.

55

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015169; J. M. Robinson 1977 2; Barnard 1997 9. Goehring 1999 137–161 has illustrated the growing desire to present the Pachomian movement as “orthodox” as time went on by analyzing the redaction of a pericope about heresy in various sources which narrate a vision of Pachomius where he sees monks led astray from the true light of the gospel (SBo 103; G1 102; Letter of Ammon 11–12; Paralipomena 17: Veilleux 1980 142–45; 367–68; 79–80; 1981 38–39).

56

Iricinschi 2013. See also Iricinschi 2009. I have argued similarly that Codex ii can be read meaningfully from beginning to end as a collection of texts that would have been instructive to the Pachomian community. The spiritual outlook of the movement as evidenced by the rich collection of surviving writings harmonizes significantly with the tractates of Codex ii on the issues of asceticism spiritual knowledge and communal ethic. See Fowler 2013.

57

Pagels and Jenott 2010.

60

Lundhaug 201067 n. 6.

62

Rousseau 1985120.

67

See Layton 200755–58for anecdotes referring to each monastic type in Shenoute’s Canons.

68

Veilleux 1980147–48.

69

Veilleux 1980110360–61.

70

Veilleux 1980105–10.

73

E.g. Roukema 199926–29.

74

Justin MarytrFirst Apology 1.26 (Roberts Donaldson and Coxe 2007 171); Irenaeus Haer. 1.23.4 (Roberts Donaldson and Coxe 2007 348).

75

Roukema 199928.

78

For instance Wisse 197578.

79

Lundhaug 201075.

81

Lundhaug 201077.

83

Lundhaug 201085–86. In the same line Roig Lanzillotta 2010a and b.

84

Lundhaug 201085. See also Exeg. Soul nhc ii6 130.28–131.2 (Lundhaug 2010 453 455).

85

Veilleux 198143–44.

86

Krause 197049n. 23 and Lundhaug 2010 90 note that Philo of Alexandria also speaks of the soul having a womb that acts as a vessel in which God places virtues (Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis 2 3 3.180: Colson and Whitaker 1929 422–43).

88

Lundhaug 201093.

89

Lundhaug 201094–99.

90

Wisse 197573.

93

Lundhaug 2010100.

97

Wisse 197575Sevrin 1983 72.

98

Lundhaug 2010110.

100

Lundhaug 2010111.

104

See EpiphaniusPanarion 64.4.5–6 for the denouncement of Origen’s view that the soul was pre-existent and became trapped in the human body as a punishment for sin (F. Williams 2013 137). Allegorical interpretations of the early chapters of Genesis are also found in Ap. John nhc iv1 Nat. Rulers nhc ii4 Orig. World nhc xiii2 the Tri. Trac. nhc i5 Gos. Phil. nhc ii3 Apoc. Adam nhc v5 and Testim. Truth nhc ix3. Cyril of Alexandria claims that Origen believed the soul to be within the body as a punishment for sins which it had committed prior to the existence of the body (Epistle 81.2 5: McEnerney 1987 105–6). See Lundhaug and Jenott 2015 242–243 who following Rubenson 2004 48 note that a similar understanding of the soul’s fate also appears in the Letters of Antony specifically letters 5 and 6.

106

F. Williams 2013137.

107

Jacobsen 2008213.

110

Lundhaug and Jenott 2015254–255.

113

Lundhaug 201079.

114

Pagels 1988414.

115

Veilleux 198265.

117

See Lundhaug and Jenott 2013258 n. 133.

118

Veilleux 1982144. On the similarity between Exeg. Soul and the Pachomian writings regarding repentance renunciation and prayer see also Lundhaug 2010 142–145.

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