The Codex Brucianus (Bodleian. Bruce 96)

This codex contains a number of Gnostic texts.  The following description may be found on p.35 of the Robbins sale catalogue (1842) of the manuscripts of James Bruce, where it is the only Coptic text.

"Coptic Manuscript. On papyrus.  When Mr. Bruce was at Medînat taboû or Thebes, in Upper Egypt, he purchased a Coptic manuscript which had been found in the ruins near that place, in the former residence of some Egyptian monks."   ... (written in the Sahidic dialect of Thebes) ...  "A description of Mr. Bruce's manuscript may be seen in the introduction to Dr. Woide's Sahidic New Testament (page 139 and page 23, also at the close of the third plate of that work); it contains seventy-six leaves in small folio of papyrus, of a dun colour, and exceedingly brittle; the papyrus had been folded in the form of four sheets and bound; some pieces of boards of papyrus battered together are still preserved, some of the leaves are misplaced, and a considerable number of them are injured by time.  The character is neat, of the uncial kind and consequently all in capitals, without any points or spaces, and very like to that of the ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts; the age of this manuscript is not ascertained, but it is a Gnostic work composed of the second century of Christianity, or in the beginning of the third. It contains small portions of the New Testament.  It consists of two works, The book of the knowledge (       ) of invisible Things,  and the book of the great Word (     ) according to mystery.  It mentions the aeones of the Gnostic sectaries, speaks of the temple of the             or fullness peculiar to their philosophy, of the reign of souls, &c.&c.  This work was brought from Scotland by Mr. Bruce, that it might be inspected by Dr. Woide, whom he also permitted to copy it." ...

The blanks in the text are found in the printed copy.  At the end of the page is a note that the list of books was made by Alexander Murray, editor of "The travels of Mr. Bruce in Abyssinia" at Bruce's home.

Examination of the complete text of Bruce's memoirs reveals very little about his time in Luxor on his way up the Nile, and the town is not even mentioned during the description of his return many years later.  Nothing is said of book purchases there, and indeed even his accounts of books in Ethiopia, from which he brought a great number of manuscripts, are very vague.


James BRUCE, Travels to discover the source of the Nile.  5 volumes, ca. 1790.  [CUL Rare books D.26.54-].  Checked.

G. ROBBINS, A catalogue of a valuable collection of Oriental literature collected by James Bruce of Kinnaird. (1843).  [CUL Rare books 889.b.14].  Checked.  The majority of the books are Ethiopic.

F. LAMPLUGH, The gnosis of the light: a translation of the untitled apocalypse contained in the Codex Brucianus / with introduction and notes by Rev. F. Lamplugh . (1918) Not checked.

Charlotte Augusta BAYNES, A Coptic gnostic treatise contained in the Codex Brucianus <Bruce ms. 96. Bod. lib. Oxford> : A translation from the Coptic / transcript and commentary by Charlotte A. Baynes. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, (1933). xxv, 229p, 61 plates ; 24cm.  Reviewed in A.D.Nock, The American journal of philology 56. (1935)  Not checked.

Violet MACDERMOT, The Books of Jeu and the untitled text in the Bruce codex / text ed. by Carl Schmidt (d.1938) ; translated [from the Coptic]. Nag Hammadi studies 13, Leiden : Brill, 1978. xxvi, 345 p ; 25 cm. ISBN 9004057544. Not checked.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 8th February 2006

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