Jesus' 'secret teachings' to James found in Oxford University archives

The first-known original Greek copy of a Christian text which supposedly detailed Jesus Christ's secret teachings to James was recently found by Biblical scholars from Austin at the archives of Oxford University.

(REUTERS / Paul Hackett)Oxford University police officers (L-R) look on as graduates emerge from the Sheldonian Theatre after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University, Oxford, England, May 28, 2011.

Earlier this year, University of Texas religious studies scholars Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau found several rare texts of the First Apocalypse of James at Oxford. This was part of a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books called the Nag Hammadi library. The Greek fragments were originally thought to have been preserved only though Coptic translations, Fox News detailed.

The books belonging to the Nag Hammadi library were considered heretical by the church because they were beyond the religious boundaries of the 27 books of the New Testament. These so-called "forbidden" books were also seen as the foundation for the understanding of the ancient belief system of Gnosticism.

"To say that we were excited once we realized what we'd found is an understatement," said Smith of their discovery. "We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us."

The First Apocalypse of James reportedly contained details of future events including James' death and of the "heavenly realm." Smith also said the newly discovered fragments include purported "supplements to the biblical account of Jesus' life and ministry."

Last month, Times of Israel ran a story on the discovery of a mosaic in western Galilee which shed light on the role of women in the early Church. The fifth century Greek inscription on the mosaic mentioned a certain "Sausann" as a donor for a local church's construction.

Sausann is believed to have been a prominent woman who allegedly followed the footsteps of Susannah, one of the female disciples acknowledged in Luke 8:3 for efforts to provide for Jesus using their own resources. The discovery of the mosaic strengthened the idea of some scholars that women were instrumental in building the foundation of the early Church.