Coptic Apocalypse of Paul

Estimated Range of Dating: 150-255 A.D.

Chronological List of Early Christian Writings
Online Text for Coptic Apocalypse of Paul

English Translation by George W. MacRae and William R. Murdock
Online Resources for Coptic Apocalypse of Paul

Offline Resources for Coptic Apocalypse of Paul

James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins 1990), pp. 256-259.
Wilhelm Schneemelcher, ed., translation by R. McL. Wilson, New Testament Apocrypha : Writings Relating to the Apostles Apocalypses and Related Subjects (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1992), pp. 695-700.
Recommended Books for the Study of Early Christian Writings
Information on Coptic Apocalypse of Paul

Wolf-Peter Funk writes (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, p. 697): “one of the few significant theological features of this document must be the function assigned to the figure of God the Father from Dan. 7:9f. The ‘old man’ enthroned in the sevent heaven evidently embodies the Creator, downgraded in gnostic eyes, who attempts to prevent any further ascent, but is powerless in the face of the gnostic’s proof of identity (here ‘the sign’). To see here an expression of ‘anti-Jewish tendency’ is probably to go too far; rather this concept seems to be based on a very simple and indeed natural gnostic interpretation of the peaceful handing-over of power from Dan. 7:13f. (understood in Christian terms).”

George W. MacRae and William R. Murdock, edited by Douglas M. Parrott, write (The Nag Hammadi Library in English, p. 257):

The date and provenance of the document cannot be determined with any certainty. That it comes from gnostic circles with a typical anti-Jewish bias seems assured by the negative view of the deity in the seventh heaven. The portrayal of Paul as exalted even above the other apostles is at home in second-century Gnosticism, especially Valentinianism, and, according to Irenaeus (Haer. II.30.7), there was a gnostic tradition of interpreting Paul’s experience in 2 Co 12:2-4. Nothing in Apoc. Paul demands any later date than the second century for its composition.

Wolf-Peter Funk writes (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, pp. 695-696):

Original language, place and time of origin: it is generally assumed that – as with almost all other texts of the oldest Coptic tradition – the version of Apoc. Pl. extant in NHC V is a translation from the Greek; there are however no sure indications of this in the text. We can say just as little in regard to the question whether the text corresponds in extent to the presumed Greek original, or has been more heavily marked by deletions or additions within the Coptic tradition.

With regard to the time of origin, it has been suggested (Murdock/MacRae) that the text should be located in the context of the marked interest in the 2nd century, especially among the Valentinians, in the figure of the apostle Paul (and in the interpretation of 2 Cor. 12:2-4). With greater circumspection, however, we can only suggest the period from the middle of the 2nd century to the beginning of the 4th as the possible time of origin. Nothing can be said about its geographical origin.

George W. MacRae and William R. Murdock, edited by Douglas M. Parrott, write: “For purposes of analysis, the contents of Apoc. Paul may be divided into three distinct episodes: an epiphany scene, a scene of judgment and punishment, and a heavenly journey.” (The Nag Hammadi Library in English, p. 256)

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