The “Qarara” Exodus Codex

I’ve recently posted about papyrus fragments of the Psalms in Greek and the book of Job in Coptic from Karanis that I wasn’t able to treat in God’s Library. Another set of ancient Christian manuscripts that I didn’t have the space to treat thoroughly in my book are the so-called “Qarara codices.” They are best known because one of them contained the Gospel of Judas, which was published with a good bit of fanfare in 2006. Three other books were said to have been found together with that codex. One of them was a papyrus codex that contained a copy of the book of Exodus in Greek that has been scattered on the antiquities market. I’ve now written a little article about this codex for Ancient Jew Review. You can check it out here. Also, a side note: I wanted to link to the full set of digital images of the Gospel of Judas that used to be online at the website of National Geographic. I can’t seem to find them now. Am I missing something? Or have they disappeared from the web?

Update 5 September 2018: Thanks to Stephen Goranson for pointing out that the images of the Judas leaves are available here.

Gospel of Judas and Qarara Exodus

The “Tchacos” codex containing the Gospel of Judas and the Exodus codex allegedly from the same find (not to scale); images sources: tertullian.org and The Schøyen Collection

This entry was posted in Antiquities Market, Codices, Schøyen Collection. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The “Qarara” Exodus Codex

  1. Roy Kotansky says:

    Very interesting and excellent work on the Tchacos Exodus manuscript (not Tchachos)! I was actually the very first, as far as I know, to see polaroid photos of the Gospel of Judas, the Exodus manuscript, and the mathematical papyrus when Frieda Tchacos called me from Switzerland early one Saturday morning around 1982, or 1983, when I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago (see Krosney, Gospel of Judas, pp. 166f.). I identified only the LXX text of Exodus at the time, from the large, still rolled over manuscript shot against a patterned table-cloth. Only a narrow “column” of the papyrus scroll was visible of what appeared to be a rather thick, largely intact, manuscript, but there was enough legible to identify the text, which I did. I also felt at the time that it was in the same hand as Sinaiticus, or one of the correctors (if I remember correctly), but this time on papyrus, not vellum, which I found very interesting. But that was 35 years ago! Also, the photo of the Judas gospel showed that it was relatively undamaged at the time. Pity what has happened to both of these treasures!

    • Thanks for the clarification, Roy. I wonder if 1) the photos you saw were same as those that were provided to the Vatican and 2) do these photos survive anywhere?

      • Roy Kotansky says:

        Thanks, Brent. Another problem here, I’m afraid. Before Krosney’s National Geographic Book came out, at which time I had done a phone interview with him, I received an excited call from Marv Meyer down in Orange, CA, where he taught, in which he said, “Everyone’s looking for you! You’re the only one who has documentation (a photo) of what the Gospel of Judas (Codex Tchacos) looked like before it got severely damaged!” That was from mishandling, of course, including freezing the document, we were later to learn. All this was sub rosa at the time, of course, because the sensational identity of the Coptic Judas ms. had not been made public. I had not seen these polaroids for years, by this time, but I managed to find them quickly in a file-box in my garage and told Marv. He drove out right away to Santa Monica, where I lived, we had lunch, and I turned over all the polaroids to him, including my readings and notes on the LXX ms. Little could we know at that time that Marv would shortly pass away unexpectedly from a recurrence of melanoma. Of course, I never saw the photos again, so to answer your question in a rather round-about way, I do not think it possible that they are the same photos (they looked like instant polaroids, without negatives, of course, and I apparently had the only copies), nor do I know their present location. I had known Marv since our days at Claremont grad school together, and I thought getting the photos back would never be a problem. Who would have known? The whole is a sad affair. The last I had heard (years ago) was that the Exodus ms. was in a safe locked away, waiting for someone to meet the $1,000,000 asking price — cheap by today’s standards, considering what I envisioned of the manuscript’s size and length.

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