The Bible and Beyond Podcast Episode

We’re All Invited to Discover the Meaning in Nag Hammadi Texts

An Interview with Dr. Celene Lillie

Dr. Celene Lillie

Dr. Celene Lillie (photo by Renee Monrose)

Dr. Celene Lillie dug deep enough into the books in the Nag Hammadi collection that she can talk about them as easily as close friends. In our conversation, she first introduces us to what these special books are all about and what drew her to them in the first place. Then she explains the difference between the better-known Dead Sea Scrolls and this Nag Hammadi library of codices.

Talking to Celene about these texts helps us understand how these ancient writers made such important connections with their own readers, and then why that makes them so valuable for us today. We’re not just reading about ancient history; we’re being invited to be creative with our own reading of them. They inspire us to ask similar questions of them now: What does it mean to be community today? How do we deal with unjust rulers today?

Celene reads these texts in the Coptic language. But even if we don’t know Coptic, she encourages us to read different translations side by side, and to think fearlessly for ourselves about what they might mean. Scholars are just scratching the surface of the possibilities of their meaning. So, she encourages all of us to join in the discovery.