A new critical edition of ‘The Books of Jeu’

With its descriptions of celestial topography, mysterious sigils and diagrams, and a baptism of fire, the so-called ‘Books of Jeu’ in the Bruce Codex (itself a misnomer, as the ‘codex’ consists of multiple manuscripts) is one of the most fascinating and mysterious slices of ancient Gnostic literature. Initially published in the nineteenth century, it is also among the ancient Coptic works (together with Pistis Sophia, in Codex Askewensis) which had so much influence on early scholarly notions about ancient ‘Gnosticism’ prior to the Nag Hammadi discovery in 1945.

The classic translation of Carl Schmidt (it’s old enough you can find it at archive.org ; Schmidt’s Coptic and German were used for MacDermot’s widely-quoted 1978 translation for Brill) was superseded by Dr. Eric Crégheur‘s 2013 Université Laval dissertation, which revised Schmidt’s codicological analysis, lent much-needed clarification to the division of texts within the Books of Jeu, and offered an enlightening reading of the work’s contents. Crégheur’s work is finally being published in revised form in the BCNH (Bibliothèque copte de Nag Hammadi). This is the most important publication regarding Coptic Gnostic primary sources since the Tchacos Codex. Details can be found at the Peeters website, here.