First Apocalypse of James – Tchacos vs NHL

The Codex Tchacos is famous for having the “Gospel of Judas” but what many seem to forget, it actually contained four Gnostic texts! Besides Judas, there is “The Letter of Peter to Philip”, “Book of Allogenes” and “James”. The “Book of Allogenes” is a newly discovered book, and not to be confused with “Allogenes” from the Nag Hammadi Library. I will make a post about the BoA in the near future. The copy of “James” that appears in Tchacos is an alternate version of the “First Apocalypse of James” that is also found in the Nag Hammadi Library. There is a third version of JAMES, a Greek fragmented version, that was found in the Oxyrhynchus dig, and only identified in 2017. As of posting this blog, the translation has not been published for the public.

So let’s compare the Tchacos version with the Nag Hammadi Library one. I am using the Marvin Meyer & Gregor Wurst translation of the Tchacos version (only available via the “Gospel of Judas: Critical Edition” book), and the William R. Schoedel translation of the NHL version, which is available at Where both copies have existing fragments, they actually match up rather well. Some areas do get expanded upon. At the beginning of the text after Jesus informs James that he is a brother but not a “physical” brother, he goes into a dialogue regarding the ONE. Here is the Tchacos version:

Nothing existed except the One Who Is.  It is unnamable and ineffable among those who are or who will be.  For my part, I am from the One Who Is and is unnamable, and while I have been called by many names that do not belong to me, they are foreign to me.  And I am not first; I am second, from the One Who Is.  Since you have inquired about femaleness, listen.  Femaleness did exist, but it did not preexist.  It created powers and deities for itself.  So the One Who Is preexists, and femaleness also exists, but it does not preexists.
As for me, I have come from the image of the One Who Is to show you the One Who Is.  And I have also come to show you the image of the powers, so that the children of the One Who Is may understand what is theirs and what is not theirs.  Look, I have revealed the mystery to you.  They will arrest me after three days.  A multitude of elders will ---- me, and they will condemn me and curse me, but my deliverance is near.”  

Now compare that with the NHL version:

"Nothing existed except Him-who-is. He is unnameable and ineffable. I myself am also unnameable, from Him-who-is, just as I have been given a number of names - two from Him-who-is. And I, I am before you. Since you have asked concerning femaleness, femaleness existed, but femaleness was not first. And it prepared for itself powers and gods. But it did not exist when I came forth, since I am an image of Him-who-is. But I have brought forth the image of him so that the sons of Him-who-is might know what things are theirs and what things are alien (to them). Behold, I shall reveal to you everything of this mystery. For they will seize me the day after tomorrow. But my redemption will be near."

A bit more detailed in the Tchacos version, but really, both say the same thing. While not a difference in terms of content, the NHL version is more complete in some areas where the Tchacos version is not. Since the NHL version is easily available, I will not cover those sections. Presented below are sections where the Tchacos version fills in gaps of the NHL version.

NHL version:
But this (people) existed as a type of the archons, and it deserved to be destroyed through them. But [...] the archons, [...] who has [...] but since it [...] angry with [...] The just [...] is his servant. Therefore your name is "James the Just".

Tchacos version:
Rather, this was inflicted upon the figure of the rulers, for whom it was fitting to be prepared.  It was the rulers who have prepared him.  Then he came to his end.  But watch out, because the just God is angry, for you have been a servant to him, and that is why you received the name ‘James the Just.’

NHL version:
He will say to you, 'What sort of son are you, and to what father do you belong?' You are to say to him, 'I am from the Pre-existent Father, and a son in the Pre-existent One.' When he says to you, [...], you are to say to him [...] in the [...] that I might [...]."

'[...] of alien things?' You are to say to him, 'They are not entirely alien, but they are from Achamoth, who is the female.

Tchacos version:
And he will say to you, ‘What son and what father?’  You will say to him, ‘The preexistent Father, and the Son who exists in the preexistent One.’  And he will say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’  You shall say to him, ‘From the preexistent One.’  And he will ask me, ‘Why have you come?’  You shall say, ‘I have come to all those who are mine and those who are not mine.’  He will say, ‘So what have you come after --- those who are not yours?’  And you shall say, ‘They are not at all alien to me, but to Achamoth, that is, the female, and she has created these for herself.

NHL version:
"But when you come to these three detainers who take away souls by theft in that place [...] these. You [...] a vessel [...] much more than [...] of the one whom you [...] for [...] her root. You too will be sober [...]. But I shall call upon the imperishable knowledge, which is Sophia who is in the Father (and) who is the mother of Achamoth.

Tchacos version:
But when you come to these three who carry off the soul, there is indeed a great struggle in that place, if you say these things to them: ‘I am a vessel that is more precious than Achamoth, the female who created you.  And if your mother is ignorant of her own root, then when will you become sober?  But I have called upon undefiled Sophia, who is in the Father, the mother of Achamoth

The following is a pretty extensive “gap filler”…..

NHL version:
And when he writes them down [...] and they are to give them [...] he has the [...] he is called Levi. Then he is to bring [...] word [...] from what I said earlier [...] a woman [...] Jerusalem in her [...] and he begets two sons through her. They are to inherit these things and the understanding of him who [...] exalts.

Tchacos version:
And then, when he has written them out, they will be taken from him and given to Manael--this is a holy name, and it has the same meaning as Masphel.  Let this person keep this very book as an inheritance for the children.  And there will come from him a seed, holy and worthy to inherit these things I have said.  And when his little child grows up --- he --- living, he will receive the name ‘Levi.’  Then the land will be at war again.  But Levi, as a little child, will hide there, and not a word from what I have said will pass his lips.  And he will marry a woman from Jerusalem, from his generation, and he will produce two sons from her, and the second (?) will inherit these words.  

NHL version:
 And may these things remain hidden in him until he comes to the age of seventeen years [...] beginning [...] through them. They will pursue him exceedingly, since they are from his [...] companions. He will be proclaimed through them, and they will proclaim this word. Then he will become a seed of [...]."

Tchacos version:
he will keep them hidden until he reaches his seventeenth birthday.  
And then the land will go to war.  But since he is not there, he will be safeguarded in accordance with providence, and he will grow up and rule over many provinces.  Many will be saved through him, and he will make this word become dogma for many provinces.  But he will be severely persecuted by his fellows ----.  And he will be attacked by them, and they will despise this very word.  And these things will happen to restrain the rulers.”

Another big chunk missing from the NHL version. It seems that the NHL version is very fragmented towards the end, more so than you may think.

NHL version:
James said, "I am satisfied [...] and they are [...] my soul. Yet another thing I ask of you: who are the seven women who have been your disciples? And behold all women bless you. I also am amazed how powerless vessels have become strong by a perception which is in them." The Lord said, "You [...] well [...] a spirit of [...], a spirit of thought, a spirit of counsel of a [...], a spirit [...] a spirit of knowledge [...] of their fear.

Tchacos version:
(James:) “Rabbi, I have come to believe all these things, and they are well placed in what is within my soul.  Yet I shall ask you this: who are the seven women who have become your disciples and whom all the generations bless?  And I am amazed that they are in weak vessels and have found powers and perceptions.”  (Jesus:) “James, you do well to be amazed, but the Son of Man has come and has revealed the secrets about the children of light, so that they may possess the secrets when they are revealed.  These seven women are seven spirits who are introduced in this (?) scripture: A spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of understanding and knowledge, a spirit of fear.
NHL version:
[...] when we had passed through the breath of this archon who is named Adonaios [...] him and [...] he was ignorant [...] when I came forth from him, he remembered that I am a son of his. He was gracious to me at that time as his son. And then, before <I> appeared here, <he> cast them among this people. And from the place of heaven the prophets [...]."

Tchacos version:
When I passed through the land of the great ruler, who is called ‘Addon,’ I went in by him.  And he was ignorant.  And when I left him, he thought that I was his son, and he was gracious to me as though to his own son.  And before I appeared in these places, these spirits already were there with this very people, where no prophets spoke without these seven spirits.  And these are the seven spirits who have preached about me through the mouths of people as they were able to speak, because I had not yet spoken with all strength.  But I came and brought it to completion, and I am not yet completed.”  
NHL version:
James said, "Rabbi, [...] I [...] all together [...] in them especially [...]." 

Tchacos version:
(James:) “You have also convinced me of all these things.  Rabbi, because it is the case, then, that after they have received the seven, they leave them with each other, do you have some who are more honored than others?” 
NHL version:
The Lord said, "James, I praise you [...] walk upon the earth [...] the words while he [...] on the [...]. For cast away from you the cup which is bitterness. For some from [...] set themselves against you. For you have begun to understand their roots from beginning to end. Cast away from yourself all lawlessness. And beware lest they envy you. When you speak these words of this perception, encourage these four: Salome and Mariam and Martha and Arsinoe [...] since he takes some [...] to me he is [...] burnt offerings and [...].

Tchacos version:
(Jesus:) “I praise you even more, O James, for you ask about the details, and you will not say a single idle word.  Truly, you are worthy of your own root, and you have cast away from yourself the cup of drunkenness.  Not a single ruler can stand against you, for you have begun to recognize those who are yours.  Cast far away from yourself all ignorance, and beware lest they become jealous of you because you have received these words, that is, the knowledge that makes one high-minded.  Let yourself also be persuaded by this other circumstance, which is that of Salome, Mary, and Arsinoe, whom I shall introduce to you, because they are worthy of the One Who Is.
NHL version:
But I [...] not in this way; but [...] first-fruits of the [...] upward [...] so that the power of God might appear. The perishable has gone up to the imperishable and the female element has attained to this male element."

Tchacos version:
For they also have become sober and have been saved from the blindness that was in their hearts, and they have recognized who I am.  This has happened in accordance with the providence of the Father, because he has sent me as a priest.  And everywhere one has to give me the firstfruits and the firstborn.  The priest of this world receives the firstfruits and assigns sacrifices and offerings.  But I am not like this.  Rather, I receive the firstfruits of those who are defiled, so that I may send them up undefiled, that the true power may be revealed.  For the defiled has separated from what is undefiled, and the work of the female (?) has attained to the male.”  
NHL version:
James said, "Rabbi, into these three (things), then, has their [...] been cast. For they have been reviled, and they have been persecuted [...]. Behold [...] everything [...] from anyone [...]. For you have received [...] of knowledge. And [...] that what is the [...] go [...] you will find [...]. But I shall go forth and shall reveal that they believed in you, that they may be content with their blessing and salvation, and this revelation may come to pass."  
And he went at that time immediately and rebuked the twelve and cast out of them contentment concerning the way of knowledge [...].

Tchacos version:

(James:) “Rabbi, the three, then, have perished and have not suffered, if in fact they deserved it and have been persecuted by others and have been told things that do not exist?”  (Jesus:) “James, it is completely unnecessary for anyone to perish.  These very three are separated from a place of faith --- the hidden knowledge.  These are the names of the three: Sapphira and Susanna and Joanna.  Look, I have revealed everything to you, and you are not a stranger to these very words.  For you have received the beginning of knowledge --- from those who are mine

At the very end here, both versions get very fragmented.

NHL version:
[...]. And the majority of them [...] when
they saw, the messenger took in [...]. The
others [...] said, "[...] him from this
earth. For he is not worthy of life."
These, then, were afraid. They arose,
saying, "We have no part in this blood,
for a just man will perish through
injustice" James departed so that [...]
look [...] for we [...] him.
The Apocalypse of James

Tchacos version:
Now go, and you will find the rest of
them. And I shall go to these and
appear to them, for they have ----
--- the twelve
--- he communicated to them
--- and knowledge
--- he persuaded them
--- are from them
---. The rest
---. It happened after
a while (?) that they seized James
instead of another man, against whom
they had brought charges, for he had fled
from ---- . And --- prison, but it was
another man named James who go out of
the prison. They seized this person
instead of him, and they brought him
before the judges. Most of the judges
saw that he was innocent, and they let
him go. But the others and all the
people stood there and said, “Make him
leave the earth; he is not worthy of life.”
But these were afraid, and they rose up
and said, “We are not ---- ---- .”
he remembered ---
he became --- ,
for the men ---
him, but the ---.
And when they were stoning him, he
said, “My Father, you who are in the
heavens, forgive them, for they do not
know what they are doing.”

As you can see, towards the end of the text, the Tchacos version really steps up and fills in a lot of gaps to really give the text a more proper ending. If you are curious to read the full Tchacos version, as far as I know, it is only available in the book pictured below:

The book also features full color scans of the actual papyri. The translation of Judas in this book is an older one, and since then, more fragments have been returned (that in itself is a whole story, as the history of the codex is quite fascinating). I recommend Marvin Meyer’s 2011 translation, pictured below, as it includes the found fragments and goes a more neutral stance on the whole daemon issue (and that too, is quite the story, LOL).

To read the Nag Hammadi version of James, go to:


Published by bP

A gnostic wanderer

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