Over on his blog, Bart Ehrman is answering questions about the Gospel of Thomas. He has started out by re-telling a version of the traditional find story of the Nag Hammadi codices. This is a topic that I treat in my new book and that I’ve also addressed in a recent article.
The traditional story of the discovery has been a point of contention in the last few years. Mark Goodacre has pointed out a number of inconsistencies in the details of the various versions of the story. In another article, Nicola Denzey Lewis and Justine Ariel Blount have argued that the traditional version of events is not reliable and that the Nag Hammadi books were burial goods not associated with early Christian monks. My own article was a response to the articles by Goodacre and Denzey Lewis pieces (also check out the other response articles on the topic by Tony Burke, Dylan Burns, and Eva Mroczek, as well as Denzey Lewis’s response). And then for the most up-to-date assessment of the Nag Hammadi collection, see the recent book by Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott, The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices.
This would also be a useful time to remind readers that the alleged discoverer of the codices, Muhammad ʿAli al-Samman, was once recorded (a few decades after the fact) giving his version of events in his own words.
The interview was part of a multi-episode series, The Gnostics, that originally aired in 1987 on Channel 4 (UK). The whole series is worth watching, but the segment on the discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices is especially interesting. It is a remarkable video, an interview of Muhammad Ali by the Dutch scholar of ancient Christianity, Gilles Quispel, with periodic narration by James M. Robinson. I’ve excerpted the relevant clip below: