The Manichaean Codices of Medinet Madi

By James M. Robinson

The meticulously researched story of the discovery, acquisition and conservation of the 4th-century Manichaean Codices of Medinet Madi.

ISBN: 9780227175040


In 1929, seven Manichaean papyrus codices of the fourth century were discovered during an illicit excavation in the Egyptian desert. Half were acquired by A. Chester Beatty, for his library, and the other half by Carl Schmidt, for the papyrus collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. With special access to the copious files, inventories and correspondence in Berlin, Robinson provides translations of German and French documents to increase access to information previously unavailable to the scholarly community. He narrates the slow and problem-ridden path of the acquisition, conservation and editing of these important works, including their movements between dealers, collectors, scholars and the military in Egypt, London, Dublin, Berlin, Schondorf, Göttingen, Warsaw, Leningrad, Los Angeles, Claremont and Copenhagen.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

James M. Robinson is Emeritus Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University in California, where he was founder and director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity. As permanent secretary of UNESCO’s International Committee for the Nag Hammadi Codices, he edited The Coptic Gnostic Library, reprinted in five volumes (2000). Among his many publications is The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monastery’s Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin (James Clarke & Co, 2013).



Introduction: The Fate of the Manichaean Codices of Medinet Madi, 1929-1989

Part 1: The Acquisition and Initial Conservation and Editing
1. The Acquisitions of Carl Schmidt
2. The Acquisitions of Chester Beatty
3. The Conservation by Hugo Ibscher
4. Beatty, Ibscher, and Polotsky
5. The Effects of World War II

Part 2: The Conservation by Rolf Ibscher
6. The Conservation of the Material in the State Museums of the Former East Berlin
7. The Conservation of the Material in Schondorf/Göttingen/West Berlin
8. The Conservation of the Material in London/Dublin

Inventories of Individual Codices

Part 3: The Berlin Holdings
9. P15995 Synaxeis
10. P15996 Kephalaia, Volume One
11. P15997 Acts
12. P15998 Letters
13. P15999 Homilies (Berlin Part)

Part 4: The Dublin Holdings
14. The Wooden Covers
15. Codex A: Psalms
16. Codex B: Synaxeis
17. Codex C: Kephalaia, Volume Two
18. Codex D: Homilies (Dublin Part)

Collectors, Dealers, and Scholars
Index of Names


Endorsements and Reviews

The Manichaean Codices of Medinet Madi is about one of the most sensational discoveries of ancient manuscripts made in the twentieth century, and the manifold obstacles their conservation and reading ran into. It contains the results of Robinson’s meticulous research in the fate and inventories of the various parts of this collection, which even historians of religion are often not familiar with. This thoroughly researched survey is a welcome source of information for scholars, not only for those working on the manuscripts but also for the broader range of historically interested people who are going to use these sources.
Wolf-Peter Funk, Editor of the Berlin Coptic Manichaean Manuscripts