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The Prayer of Thanksgiving

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Estimated Range of Dating: 200-300 A.D.

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Information on the Prayer of Thanksgiving

Jean-Pierre Mahé writes, "The Prayer of Thanksgiving, which appears in Codex VI of the Nag Hammadi library as an epilogue to the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, was originally an independent writing destined to be recycled in different contexts. It also serves as the conclusion to both a Greek magical collection of texts (in the so-called Papyrus Mimaut) and Asclepius, a Latin adaptation of the Greek Perfect Discourse of Hermes Trismegistus. In the latter dialogue (Asclepius 41), the prayer is flanked by two liturgical rubrics containing instructions for the use of the prayer. Thus, before the text of the prayer, we read, 'When someone wants to entreat God at the sunset, he should direct his gaze to that quarter, and likewise at sunrise toward the direction they call east.' A similar instruction (Corpus Hermeticum XIII, 16) is also given in the Secret Hymn (XIII, 17-20) contained in another Hermetic writing. Similarly, the following words of recommendation bring the prayer to a conclusion: 'with such hope we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing.' Although the second rubric for the use of the prayer has been preserved in Nag Hammadi Codex VI (65,2-7), the first has been replaced with a narrative introduction, 'This is the prayer they offered' (63,33), which obviously echoes a previous sentence in the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth: 'When he finished praising, he called out' (59,23-24)." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 419)

Birger A. Pearson writes, "While some scholars think that the prayer was originally the concluding part of the Asclepius, it is more likely that it constituted a Hermetic prayer that circulated independently. It was editorially tacked on to the end of the Asclepius to give concrete expression to the closing prayers with which that tractate ends. It was also tacked on to the end of the aforementioned magical spell in the Papyrus Mimaut, for reasons that are not at all clear. The scribe of Codex VI thought it appropriate to add it as a closing prayer to the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth. ... The original Greek version of the prayer was probably composed sometime in the third century, somewhere in Egypt. It may have been composed by a leader of a Hermetic fraternity." (Ancient Gnosticism, p. 291)

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Kirby, Peter. "The Prayer of Thanksgiving." Early Christian Writings. <>.