Wisdom of Jesus Christ

Sophia Jesu Christi

Other titles: Sophia of Jesus Christ

Standard abbreviation: Wis. Jes. Chr.

Clavis numbers: unassigned

Category: Revelatory Dialogue

Related literature: Eugnostos the Blessed, Apocryphon of John

Compiled by: Chance Bonar, graduate student, Yale Divinity School (chance.bonar@yale.edu or chancebonar@gmail.com)

Citing this resource (using Chicago Manual of Style): Bonar, Chance. “Sophia of Jesus Christ.” e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. http://www.nasscal.com/e-clavis-christian-apocrypha/wisdom-of-jesus-christ/.

Posted 09 April 2017.


This narrative, preserved in both Greek and Coptic, appears to be a Christian expansion upon another “gnostic” text: Eugnostos the Blessed. Douglas Parrott dates Wis. Jes. Chr. to the late first century or early second century, although he recognizes that our earliest MS (P.Oxy. 1081) has been dated to the fourth century. Michel Tardieu, on the other hand, suggests a third-century date. The text opens with the disciples and women after the Savior’s resurrection, as they stand on a mountain in Galilee and raise questions about the universe, the authorities, and the Savior’s role. This opening bears some thematic resemblances to texts like the Apocryphon of John and Gospel of Mary, which also begin with the disciples in a state of aporia and questioning before the Savior’s revelation is given. When the Savior appears among them (with a quotation of John 14:27), the disciples initiate thirteen sets of questions and answers, including topics such as the reality of the universe, how to distinguish the perishable from the imperishable, how immortal beings entered a mortal realm, and the fate of the Savior’s disciples. As a later interpretation of Eugnostos, the author of Wis. Jes. Chr. appears to have inserted an elaborate form of the Sophia myth, shifted attention onto the creator god Yaldabaoth, and introduced the role of Christ in freeing his followers. Some scholars (e.g. Barry; Tardieu) have questioned the utility of the reshaping of Eugnostos into the revelatory dialogue of Wis. Jes. Chr., since the disciples’ roles are so minimal outside of establishing a narrative context.

Named historical figures and characters: Bartholomew (apostle), Jesus Christ (the Savior), Mary (Magdalene?), Matthew (apostle), Philip (apostle), Sophia, Thomas (apostle).

Geographical locations: Galilee, Mount of Olives.


2.1 Web Sites

“The Nag Hammadi Library Codex Index.” The Gnostic Society Library (with links to online translations).

“Sophia of Jesus Christ.” Early Christian Writings (links to online translations and online and print articles).

“The Sophia of Jesus Christ.” Wikipedia.


3.1 Manuscripts and Editions

3.1.1 Greek

Cambridge, University Library, MS. 5894 (P.Oxy. 1081) (4th cent.)

Grenfell, Bernard P., and Arthur S. Hunt. Pages 16–19 in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Volume 8. London: Egypt Exploration Fund, 1911. (editio princeps of the manuscript.)

Wayment, Thomas A. Pages 184–86 (color plates on pages 399-400) in The Text of the New Testament Apocrypha (100–400 CE). London: Bloomsbury, 2013.

3.1.4 Coptic

Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum and Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen, P. 8502 (5th cent.)

Cairo, Coptic Museum, Inv. 4851 (Nag Hammadi Codex III) (4th cent.)

Parrott, Douglas M., ed. Nag Hammadi Codices III,3–4 and V,1 with Papyrus Berolinensis 8502,3 and Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1081: Eugnostos and the Sophia of Jesus Christ. NHS 27. Leiden/New York: Brill, 1991.

3.2. Concordances and Synopses

Charron, Régine. Concordance des textes de Nag Hammadi: Le Codex III. Sainte-Foy, Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1995.

Evans, Craig A., Robert L. Webb, and Richard A. Wiebe, eds. Nag Hammadi Texts and the Bible: A Synopsis and Index. New York: Brill, 1993.

3.3 Modern Translations

3.3.1 English

Scopello, Madeleine and Marvin Meyer. “The Wisdom of Jesus Christ.” Pages 283–96 in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures. Edited by Marvin Meyer. New York: HarperOne, 2007.

Parrott, Douglas M. “The Sophia of Jesus Christ.” Pages 220–43 in The Nag Hammadi Library  in English. Edited by James M. Robinson. Translated by members of the Coptic Gnostic Library project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity. New York: HarperOne, 1990.

3.3.2 French

Barry, Catherine. “La Sagesse de Jésus Christ (NG III, 4; BG 3).” Pages 617–66 in Écrits gnostiques: Bibliothèque de Nag Hammadi. Edited by Jean-Pierre Mahé, and Paul-Hubert Poirier. Collection Library of the Pleiades. Paris: Gallimard, 2007.

3.3.3 German

Hartenstein, Judith. “Die Weisheit Jesu Christ (NHC III,4/BG 3).” Pages 1122–36 in Antike christliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung. Vol. 1: Evangelien und Verwandtes. Edited by Christoph Markschies and Jens Schröter. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.

3.4 General Works

Attridge, Harold W. “P. Oxy. 1081 and the Sophia Jesu Christi.” Enchoria 5 (1975): 1–8.

Barry, Catherine. “Le rôle de l’Esprit dans La Sagesse de Jésus-Christ.” Pages 355–64 in Actes de IVe Congrès Copte, Louvain-la-Neuve, 5-10 septembre 1988. Edited by Marguerte Rassart, Debergh Ries, and Julien Ries. Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut Orientaliste de     l’Université Catholique de Louvain; Louvain: Peeters, 1992.

Barry, Catherine. “Une interprétation gnostique de rôle de l’Envoyé de Dieu.” Pages 31–42 in Figures du Nouveau Testament chez les Pères. Cahiers de Biblia patristica 3. Strasbourg: Centre d’Analyse et de Documentation Patristiques, 1991.

Chryssavgis, John. “Sophia, the Wisdom of God: Sophiology, Theology, and Ecology.” Diakonia 34.1 (2001): 5–19.

Colpe, Carsten. “Heidnische, jüdische und christliche Uberlieferung in den Schriften aus Nag Hammadi V.” JAC 19 (1976): 120–38.

Doresse, Jean. “Trois livres gnostiques inédits: Evangile de Egyptiens – Epître d’Eugnoste – Sagesse de Jésus Christ.” VC 2.3 (1948): 137–60.

Emmel, Stephen. “Unique Photographic Evidence for Nag Hammadi Texts: CG II 1, III 1–4, and IV 1–2.” BASP 15 (1978): 195–205.

__________. “Unique Photographic Evidence for Nag Hammadi Texts: CG V–VII.” BASP 16 (1979): 179–91.

Falkenberg, René. “Matthew 28:16–20 and the Nag Hammadi Library: Reception of the Great Commission in the Sophia of Jesus Christ.” Pages 93–104 in Mark and Matthew: Comparative Readings. Edited by Eve-Marie Becker and Anders Runesson. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.

__________. “‘Se, jeg har lært jer den fuldkomnes navn’: Mattæusevangeliets missionsbefaling og dåbsformel i Nag Hammadi-biblioteket.” Dansk teologisk tidsskrift 67.2 (2004): 96–108.

Ferreira, Johan. “The Non-canonical Gospels.” Pages 209–30 in The Content and Setting of the Gospel Tradition. Edited by Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

FitzGerald, Constance. “Transformation in Wisdom: The Subversive Character and Educative Power of Sophia in Contemplation.” Pages 281–358 in Carmel and Contemplation: Transforming Human Consciousness. Edited by Kevin Culligan and Regis Jordan. Washington, DC: ICS, 2000.

Good, Deirdre Joy. “Sophia in Eugnosots the Blessed and the Sophia of Jesus Christ (NHC III, 3 and V, 1; NHC III, 4 and BG 8502,3).” Pages 139–44 in Coptic Studies: Acts of the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies, 20–25 August,1984. Warsaw: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1990.

Hartenstein, Judith. “Anmerkungen zu den vier koptischen Versionen von ‘Eugnostos’ und der ‘Sophia Jesu Christi.’” Pages 749–58 in Coptic Studies on the Threshold of a New Millennium: Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Coptic Studies, Leiden, August 27–September 2, 2000. Edited by Mat Immerzeel and Jacques van der  Vliet with the assistance of Maarten Kerston and Carolien van Koest. Leuven: Peeters, 2004.

__________. “Geschichten von der Erscheinung des Auferstandenen in nichtkanonischen Schriften und die Entwicklung der Ostertradition.” Pages 123–42 in Gelitten – gestorben – auferstanden: Passions- und Ostertraditionen im antiken Christentum. Edited by Tobias Nicklas. WUNT 273. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.

__________. “Spekulationen über ein altes Philippusevangelium.” ZAC 13.1 (2009): 62–75.

Helderman, Jan. “Zur gnostischen Gottesschau: ‘antopos’ im Eugnostosbrief und in der Sophia Jesu Christi.” Pages 245–62 in Gnosticisme et monde hellenistque: actes du colloque de Louvain-la-Neuve, 11–14 mars 1980. Edited by Julien Ries. Publications de l’Institut orientalist de Louvain 27. Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain, Institut orientaliste, 1982.

Hyldahl, Jesper. “Har gnosticismen en filosofik oprindelse?—det litterære forhold mellem Eugnostos’ brev og Sophia Jesu Christi belyst.” Dansk teologisk tidsskrift 62.3 (1999): 203–15.

Horsley, Richard A. “Spiritual Marriage with Sophia.” VC 33.1 (1979): 30–54.

Krause, Martin. “Das literarische Verhältnis des Eugnostosbriefes zur Sophia Jesu Christi: Zur Auseinandersetzung der Gnosis mit dem Christentum.” Pages 215–23 in Mullus: Festschrift Theodor Klauser. Edited by Alfred Stuiber and Alfred Hermann. JAC 1. Münster Westfalen: Aschendorff, 1964.

Luttikhuizen, Gerard P. “The Evaluation of the Teaching of Jesus in Christian Gnostic Revelation Dialogues.” NovT 30.2 (1988): 158–68.

Ménard, Jacques E. “Normative Self-Definition in Gnosticism.” Pages 134–50 in Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, Vol. 1: The Shaping of Christianity in the Second and Third Centuries. Edited by E.P. Sanders. London: SCM, 1980.

Parrott, Douglas M. “Evidence of Religious Syncretism in Gnostic Texts from Nag Hammadi.” Pages 173–89 in Religious Syncretism in Antiquity: Essays in Conversation with Geo Widengren. Edited by Birger A. Pearson. Series on Formative Contemporary Thinkers 1. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1975.

__________. “Gnostic and Orthodox Disciples in the Second and Third Centuries.” Pages 193–219 in Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, & Early Christianity. Edited by Charles W. Hedrick and Robert Hodgson, Jr. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1986.

__________. “Gnosticism and Egyptian Religion.” NovT 29.1 (1987): 73–93.

__________. “The Significance of the Letter of Eugnostos and the Sophia of Jesus Christ for Understanding the Relation between Gnosticism & Christianity.” Pages 397–416 in volume 1 of The Society of Biblical Literature One Hundred Seventh Annual Meeting Seminar Papers, 28–31 October 1971, Regency Hyatt House, Atlanta, Ga. 2 vols. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1971

Pasquier, Anne. “Imposition des noms aux ‘âmes vivantes’ et manifestation d’Ève dans les traités d’Eugnoste et de la Sagesse de Jésus-Christ.” Pages 103–16 in Études Coptes IV: Quatrième Journée d’Études Strasbourg 26–27 mai 1988. Paris; Louvain: Peeters, 1995.

Perkins, Pheme. “The Soteriology of Sophia of Jesus Christ.” Pages 165–81 in volume 1 of The Society of Biblical Literature One Hundred Seventh Annual Meeting Seminar Papers, 28–31 October 1971, Regency Hyatt House, Atlanta, Ga. 2 vols..Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1971.

__________. The Gnostic Dialogue: The Early Church and the Crisis of Gnosticism. New York: Paulist, 1980.

Peuch, Henri-Charles. “Les nouveaux écrits gnostiques découverts en Haute-Egypte.” Pages 91–154 in Coptic Studies in honor of Walter Ewing Crum. Boston: The Byzantine Institute of America, 1950.

Rasimus, Tuomas. “Ophite Myth of Adam and the Corinthian Situation.” Pages 391–414 in Lux Humana, Lux Aeterna: Essays on Biblical and Related Themes in Honor of Lars Aejmelaeus. Edited by Antti Mustakallio. Publications of the Finnish Exegetical Society 89. Helsinki: Finnish Exegetical Society; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005.

Robinson, James M. “Codicological Analysis of Nag Hammadi Codices V and VI and Papyrus Berolinensis 8502.” Pages 9–45 in Nag Hammadi Codices V, 2–5 and VI with Papyrus Berolinensis 8502, 1 and 4. Edited by Douglas M. Parrott. NHS 11. Leiden: Brill, 1979.

Schenke, Hans-Martin. “Nag-Hamadi Studien II: Das System der Sophia Jesu Christi.” BZRGG 14.3 (1962): 263–78.

__________. “Nag-Hamadi Studien III: Die Spitze des dem Apokryphon Johannis und der Sophia Jesu Christi zugrundeliegenden gnostischen Systems.” BZRGG 14.4 (1962): 352–61.

Scopello, Madeleine. Femme, gnose et manichéisme: de l’espace mythique au territoire du réel. NHS 53. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005.

Sumney, Jerry L. “The Letter of Eugnostos and the Origins of Gnosticism.” NovT 31.2 (1989): 172–81.

Tardieu, Michel. Écrits gnostiques: Codex de Berlin. Sources gnostiques et manichéennes 1. Paris: Cerf, 1984.

Tataryn, Myroslaw. “Sergius Bulgakov (1871–1944): Time for a New Look.” SVTQ 42 (1998): 315–38.

Till, Walter C., ed. Die gnostischen Schriften des koptischen Papyrus Berolinensis 8502. TU 60. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1955.

Till, Walter C., and Hans-Martin Schenke. eds. Die gnostischen Schriften des koptischen Papyrus Berolinensis 8502. TU 60. 2nd ed. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1972.

Wilson, Robert McL. Gnosis and the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968.

Wurst, Gregor. “Das Problem der Datierung der Sophia Jesu Christi und des Eugnostosbriefes.” Pages 373–86 in Evangelienüberlieferungen: Beiträge zu außerkanonischen Jesus-überlieferungen aus verschiedenen Sprach- und Kulturtraditionen. Edited by Jörg Frey and Jens Schröter. WUNT 254. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.