The Gospel According to Thomas

· Christianity, CHRISTIANITY, Islam
Authors

To high light the importance of this gospel some scholars have labeled it as the fifth Gospel.

The manuscript of the Coptic text, of the Gospel of Thomas was found in 1945, at Nag Hammadi. It was first published in a photographic edition in 1956. Three years later, in 1959, this was followed by the first critical edition (with English translation). In 1977 the James M. Robinson translation was first published, as part of The Nag Hammadi Library in English, containing all of the texts found at Nag Hammadi. The Gospel of Thomas has since then been translated and annotated in many languages.

The Holy Quran states about revelations to Jesus:

“Allah has sent down to thee (Muhammad) the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which precedes it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel.” (Al Quran 3:4)

The Holy Quran also states:

“Say, ‘O People of the Book! you stand on nothing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has now been sent down to you from your Lord.’ And surely, what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will increase many of them in rebellion and disbelief; so grieve not for the disbelieving people.” (Al Quran 5:69)

This Gospel may be the closest survivor of the revelations to Jesus, may peace be on him, which the Holy Quran labels as Injil. Please read this article along with the article about the Q document, as there are several parallels between the two.

This Gospel does not have any stories, especially no mention of trial, passion, crucifixion or resurrection. It is a collection of the sayings of Jesus, may peace be on him. This Gospel does not link salvation to resurrection of Jesus.

Many of its sayings are also present in the synoptic Gospels. The sayings in the Gospel of Thomas are shorter and pithier, so scholars argue that they may be the original sayings and as they were copied and narrated, scribes added to them and we got the longer versions.


According to Prof.  Bart Ehrman, “In a general way, Thomas appears very much like the lost source that scholars have long called ‘Q’ (for Quelle, the German word for ‘source,’ a written account of Jesus’s sayings available to Mathew and Luke).[1]

Elaine Pagels writes that the Gospel of Thomas was written around the same time as Johns’. [2] Unlike the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Thomas does not aim at giving divine status to Jesus.  Elaine Pagels writes:

This is why some historians, having compared the Gospel of Mark (written 68 to 70 C.E.) with the gospels of Matthew and Luke (c. 80 to 90), and then with that of John (c. 90 to 100), have thought that John’s gospel represents a transition from a lower to a higher Christology-an increasingly elevated view of Jesus. These historians point out that such views developed from the first century on and culminated in phrases like those enshrined in the Nicene Creed, which proclaim Jesus to be “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Yet Christian teaching about Jesus does not follow a simple evolutionary pattern. Although John’s formulations have virtu­ally defined orthodox Christian doctrine for nearly two thou­sand years, they were’ not universally accepted in his own time. And while the claims of Jesus’ divinity by Paul and John surpass those of Mark, Luke, and Matthew, Thomas’s gospel, written per­haps around the same time as John’s, takes similar language to mean something quite different. Because the Gospel of Thomas diverges from the more familiar pattern found in John, let us look at it first. … According to Thomas, when Jesus asks, “Who am I?” he receives not one but three re­sponses from various disciples. Peter first gives, in effect, the same answer as he does in the gospels of Mark and Matthew: “You are like a righteous messenger,” a phrase that may interpret the Hebrew term messiah (“anointed one”) for the Greek-speaking au­dience whom Thomas addresses. The disciple Matthew answers next: “You are like a wise philosopher”-a phrase perhaps intended to convey the Hebrew term rabbi (“teacher”) in language any Gentile could understand. (This disciple is the one traditionally believed to have written the Gospel of Matthew, which, more than any other, depicts Jesus as a rabbi.) But when a third disci­ple, Thomas himself, answers Jesus’ question, his response con­founds the other two: “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.” Jesus replies, “I am not your mas­ter, because you have drunk, and have become drunk from the same stream which I measured out.” (verse 13) Jesus does not deny what Peter and Matthew have said but implies that their an­swers represent inferior levels of understanding. Then he takes Thomas aside and reveals to him alone three sayings so secret that they cannot be written down, even in this gospel filled with ‘secret sayings.’[3]

It has been stated that the Gospel of Thomas could have been very popular in Egypt but without the backing of Rome, it could not have succeeded, as later developments showed.  The Gospel of Thomas like other gospels is written in a style of exaggeration and at times to make political points for different followers of Jesus.  For example the verse 12 states, “The disciples said to Jesus, ‘We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?’ Jesus said to them, ‘No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.'”[4]
Encyclopedia Britannica paints an ambiguous picture of the Gospel of Thomas, I am quoting the materials that are helpful, in getting a unified image, looking through the lens of Islamic understanding.  It states:
The Gospel of Thomas, has attracted much attention. A ‘sayings’ gospel (114 sayings attributed to Jesus, without narrative), it is grounded in Gnosticism, the philosophical and religious movement of the 2nd century ad that stressed the redemptive power of esoteric knowledge acquired by divine revelation. For Thomas, salvation consists of self-knowledge, and baptism results in restoration to the primordial state—man and woman in one person, like Adam before the creation of Eve (saying 23). Spiritual reversion to this state meant that nakedness need not result in shame; one passage (saying 37) allows us to suspect that the early Christian followers of the Gospel of Thomas took off their garments and trampled on them as part of their baptismal initiation.[5]
The main highlight of the Gospel of Thomas is that knowledge is what is needed for salvation and not a belief in the resurrection of Jesus, may peace be on him.  The very first two lines of Gospel of Thomas, lead us away from the resurrection myth of present day Christianity and gives a concept of salvation that is very much in keeping with the Islamic ideals and principles.  These read:

These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. And he said, ‘Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.’

Elaine Pagels writes in the introduction section of her book, the Gnostic Gospels:

Orthodox Jews and Christians insist that a chasm separates humanity from its creator: God is wholly other. But some of the gnostics who wrote these gospels contradict this: self knowledge is knowledge of God; the self and the divine are identical.

Second, the ‘living Jesus’ of these texts speaks of illusion and enlightenment, not of sin and repentance, like the Jesus of the New Testament. Instead of coming to save us from sin, he comes as a guide who opens access to spiritual understanding. But when the disciple attains enlightenment, Jesus no longer serves as his spiritual master: the two have become equal–even identical.

Third, orthodox Christians believe that Jesus is Lord and Son of God in a unique way: he remains forever distinct from the rest of humanity whom he came to save. Yet the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas relates that as soon as Thomas recognizes him, Jesus says to Thomas that they have both received their being from the same source:

Jesus said, ‘I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become drunk from the bubbling stream which I have measured out. … He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.’ (the Gospel of Thomas 13 & 108) Does not such teaching-the identity of the divine and human, the concern with illusion and enlightenment, the founder who is presented not as Lord, but as spiritual guide–sound more Eastern than Western? Some scholars have suggested that if the names were changed, the ‘living Buddha’ appropriately could say what the Gospel of Thomas attributes to the living Jesus.[6] [7]

Many of the verses of the Gospel of Thomas rhyme with the teachings of Islam and sufism, for example:
“Jesus said, ‘… I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty.But meanwhile they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they will change their ways.'” (Verse 28)There is no implication for original sin or salvation through faith alone in any suicidal mission of Jesus Christ.  The author of Gospel of Thomas does not mention a single word about resurrection of Jesus but emphasizes salvation in enlightenment by understanding the teachings and sayings of Jesus.

I am self appointed ambassador to all Christians in the West and have a collection of 100 knols on different aspects of Christianity.  Why to those only in the West? The short answer is that those in the East are not free to think for themselves, they will follow the lead from the West:

 

Some of the following description is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, my commentary and highlights are in red:

Scholars generally fall into one of two main camps: an “early camp” favoring a date for the “core” of between the years 50 and 100, before or approximately contemporary with the composition of the canonical gospels and a “late camp” favoring a date in the 2nd century, after composition of the canonical gospels.[30]  

The early camp

Those who argue that Thomas dates from the first century use a variety of arguments.  In my Judgment the early camp has better arguments.

Intertextuality with John’s gospel

One of the main arguments for the early date is that there seems to be a strong interplay between the Gospel of John and the logia of Thomas. Numerous parallels between the two suggest that Thomas’ logia preceded John’s work, and the latter is making a point-by-point riposte to Thomas, either in real or mock conflict. This seeming dialectic has been pointed out by several researchers, including Richard Valentasis, and later by the popular writer Elaine Pagels in Beyond Belief The Secret Gospel of Thomas. Several verses in the Gospel of John seem best understood as responses to a Thomasine community and its beliefs. Pagels argues, for example, that John’s gospel makes two references to the inability of the world to recognize the divine light.[36] In contrast, several of Thomas’ sayings refer to the light born ‘within’.[37] John 1:9 (“…Light that lights every man born into the world”) acknowledges Thomas’ idea of the Light within. John also follows Thomas by personifying the Light as Jesus.[38] John 14:16 (“I am the way, the truth, and the life…) and chapter 17, which emphasizes salvation via the logos of Christ, expands on Thomas’ logion 1. Intertextuality and acknowledgment of Thomas’ priority seems to be in play.

John’s gospel is the only canonical one that gives Thomas a dramatic role and spoken part. In the famous story of Doubting Thomas,[39] for example, John seems to denigrate or ridicule a rival text and author; however, this may be entirely tongue-in-cheek, as a sort of inside joke. In another apparent contrast, John’s text matter-of-factly presents a bodily resurrection as if this is a sine qua non of the faith; in contrast, Thomas’ insights about the spirit-and-body are more nuanced.[40] For Thomas, resurrection seems more a cognitive event and spiritual attainment, one even involving a certain discipline or asceticism. Again, an apparently denigrating portrayal in the “Doubting Thomas” story may either be taken literally, or as a kind of mock “comeback” to Thomas’ logia: not as an outright censuring of Thomas, but an improving gloss. After all, Thomas’ thoughts about the spirit and body are really not so different from those which John has presented elsewhere.[41] John portrays Thomas as physically touching the risen Jesus, inserting fingers and hands into his body, and ending with a shout. Pagels interprets this as signifying one-upmanship by John, who is forcing Thomas to acknowledge Jesus’ bodily nature. She writes that “…he shows Thomas giving up his search for experiential truth – his ‘unbelief’ – to confess what John sees as the truth…”.[42] The point of these examples is that the text of Thomas must have existed and have gained a following at the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, and the importance of Thomasine logia was great enough that John felt the necessity of weaving them into his own narrative.

According to Elaine Pagels: 

Those who wrote stories about various apostles–including John, as well as Peter, Matthew, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene-would often promote their groups’ teachings by claiming that Jesus favored their patron apostle, so that, while John acknowledges Peter as a leader, he insists that ‘the beloved disciple’ surpassed Peter in spiritual understanding. He is aware that other groups make similar claims for other disciples. He seems to know, for exam­ple, of Thomas Christians, who claim that their patron apostle, Thomas, understood more than Peter. Though John’s gospel be­gins by seeming to agree with Thomas about God’s presence in Jesus, by the end John tells three anecdotes about Thomas to show how wrong these Thomas Christians are.

 John’s gospel begins by recalling, as Thomas does, the open­ing of the first chapter of Genesis-saying that, since the begin­ning of time, divine light, ‘the light of all people,’ has shone forth: 

In the beginning [Gen. 1 :1] was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. . . what came into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:1-4)

But John’s next lines suggest that he intends not to comple­ment but to reject Thomas’s claim that we have direct access to God through the divine image within us, for John immediately adds-three times!-that the divine light did not penetrate the deep darkness into which the world has plunged. Though he agrees that, since the beginning of time, the divine light ‘shines into the darkness.’[8]

Mark, Matthew, and Luke mention Thomas only as one of ‘the twelve.’ John singles him out as ‘the doubter’-the one who failed to understand who Jesus is, or what he is saying, and rejected the testimony of the other disciples. John then tells how the risen Jesus personally appeared to Thomas in order to re­buke him, and brought him  to his knees. From this we might conclude, as most Christians have for nearly two millennia, that Thomas was a particularly obtuse and faithless disciple-though many of John’s Christian contemporaries revered Thomas as an extraordinary apostle, entrusted with Jesus’ ‘secret words.’ The scholar Gregory Riley suggests that John portrays Thomas this way for the practical-and polemical-purpose of deprecating Thomas Christians and their teaching. According to John, Jesus praises those ‘who have not seen, and yet believed’ with­out demanding proof, and rebukes Thomas as ‘faithless’ be­cause he seeks to verify the truth from his own experience.[9]

 
In the third episode Jesus even returns after his death to rebuke Thomas. Luke specifies that, after the crucifixion, the risen Jesus appeared to ‘the eleven,’ and Matthew agrees that he appeared to ‘the eleven disciples’ all but Judas Iscariot-. and conferred the power of the holy spirit upon ‘the eleven.’  But John’s account differs. John says instead that Thomas, called ‘the twin’ . . . was not with them when Jesus came.[10] 
The Gospel According to Thomas commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical gospel, that was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt in December 1945.[1]

This ancient papyrus codex, written in Coptic[2] [3] around the year 100, [4] is composed of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Almost half of these sayings are equal to or resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels, while the other sayings were previously unknown. Its place of composition may have been Syria, where Thomasine traditions were strong.[5] .

The introduction states: These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down. [6] Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean “twin”. Scholars suspect this reference to the Apostle Thomas to be false and the true writer remains unknown.[7] The document probably originated within a school of early Christians, possibly Gnostics, who claimed Thomas as their founder.

The Gospel of Thomas is very different in tone and structure from other New Testament apocrypha and the four Canonical Gospels. Unlike the canonical Gospels, it is not a narrative account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia (wisdom sayings) attributed to Jesus that are often accompanied by short dialogues.[8] The document lacks references to the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection, or the final judgement; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus.[9][10] The Early Church believed it to be a false gospel. Eusebius wrote that the Gospel of Thomas, is at variance with Apostolic usage, both in the thoughts and the purpose of the things that are related in it. Eusebius also wrote that the Gospel of Thomas “is so completely out of accord with true orthodoxy” that it clearly shows itself to be a “fiction of heretics”. He would not even place it in his category of rejected writings, and said it should be “cast aside” as “absurd” and “impious”.[11]

Finds and publication

The manuscript of the Coptic text, found in 1945, at Nag Hammadi, is dated at around 340. It was first published in a photographic edition in 1956[12]. Three years later, in 1959, this was followed by the first critical edition (with English translation).[13] In 1977 the James M. Robinson translation was first published, as part of The Nag Hammadi Library in English[14], containing all of the texts found at Nag Hammadi. The Gospel of Thomas has since then been translated and annotated in many languages.[15]

The original Coptic manuscript is now the property of the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Department of Manuscripts.[16]

In February, 2010, reproduction of the first hand-written calligraphic manuscript in 1,600 years was completed. This book is derived from a thesis project from California State University at Dominguez Hills.[17] The reproduction is titled “An Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas.” Written in Uncial and Italic letterforms in both English and Coptic, the manuscript, its gold illuminations and watercolor illustrations were completed in the style of a medieval manuscript by artist and calligrapher, Carol W. Nichols, Quincy, IL. The translation is by Dr. Marvin Meyer of Chapman University.[18] The reproduced manuscript is the first of its kind since the discovered text circa 350 CE.

Oxyrhynchus papyri fragments

After the Coptic version of the complete text was discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, scholars soon realized that three different Greek text fragments previously found at Oxyrhynchus, also in Egypt, were part of the Gospel of Thomas.[19][20]These three papyrus fragments of Thomas date to between 130 – 250 CE. Prior to the Nag Hammadi library discovery, the sayings of Jesus found in Oxyrhynchus were known simply as Logia Iesu. The corresponding Koine Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas, found in Oxyrhynchus are:

  • P.Oxy. 1: fragments of logia 26 through 33, and logia 77 (ordered: 26-30, 77, 31-33).
  • P.Oxy. 654: fragments of the beginning through logion 7, logion 24 and logion 36 on the flip side of a papyrus containing surveying data.
  • P.Oxy. 655: fragments of logia 36 through 39. 8 fragments named a through h, whereof f and h have since been lost.

The wording of the Coptic version is not always an exact representation of the earlier Greek Oxyrhynchus texts, and the sayings are ordered differently in one fragment. This fact, along with the quite different wording Hippolytus uses when apparently quoting it (see below), suggests that the Gospel of Thomas “may have circulated in more than one form and passed through several stages of redaction.”[21]

Although it is still generally assumed that the “Gospel of Thomas” was first composed in Greek, there is growing evidence that the Coptic Nag Hammadi text is a translation from Syriac. On comparing the Greeks fragments from Oxyrhynchus with the fuller Coptic version, Nicholas Perrin argues that the differences can be attributed to the reliance of both on a common Syriac source.[22]

Attestation

The earliest surviving written references to the Gospel of Thomas are found in the writings of Hippolytus of Rome (c. 222-235) and Origen of Alexandria (c. 233).[23] Hippolytus wrote in his Refutation of All Heresies 5.7.20:

“[The Naassenes] speak…of a nature which is both hidden and revealed at the same time and which they call the thought-for kingdom of heaven which is in a human being. They transmit a tradition concerning this in the Gospel entitled “According to Thomas,” which states expressly, “The one who seeks me will find me in children of seven years and older, for there, hidden in the fourteenth aeon, I am revealed.”

This appears to be a reference to saying 4 of Thomas, although the wording differs significantly.

Origen listed the “Gospel according to Thomas” as being among the heterodox apocryphal gospels known to him (Hom. in Luc. 1).

In the 4th and 5th centuries, various Church Fathers wrote that the Gospel of Thomas was highly valued by Mani. In the 4th century, Cyril of Jerusalem mentioned a “Gospel of Thomas” twice in his Catechesis: “The Manichæans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort.”[24] and “Let none read the Gospel according to Thomas: for it is the work not of one of the twelve Apostles, but of one of the three wicked disciples of Manes.”[25] The 5th century Decretum Gelasianum includes “A Gospel attributed to Thomas which the Manichaean use” in its list of heretical books.[26]
Richard Valantasis writes:

Assigning a date to the Gospel of Thomas is very complex because it is difficult to know precisely to what a date is being assigned. Scholars have proposed a date as early as AD 60 or as late as AD 140, depending upon whether the Gospel of Thomas is identified with the original core of sayings, or with the author’s published text, or with the Greek or Coptic texts, or with parallels in other literature.[27]

Valantasis and other scholars argue that it is difficult to date Thomas because, as a collection of logia without a narrative framework, individual sayings could have been added to it gradually over time.[28]

Robert E. Van Voorst states:

Most interpreters place its writing in the second century, understanding that many of its oral traditions are much older.[29]

Form of the gospel

Theissen and Merz argue the genre of a collection of sayings was one of the earliest forms in which material about Jesus was handed down.[31] They assert that other collections of sayings, such as the Q document and the collection underlying Mark 4, were absorbed into larger narratives and no longer survive as independent documents, and that no later collections in this form survive.[31] Meyer also asserts that the genre of a “sayings collection” is indicative of the first century,[32] and that in particular the “use of parables without allegorical amplification” seems to antedate the canonical gospels.[32] Maurice Casey has strongly questioned the argument from genre: the “logic of the argument requires that Q and the Gospel of Thomas be also dated at the same time as both the book of Proverbs and the Sayings of Amen-em-Opet!”[33]

Independence from Synoptic Gospels

Stevan L. Davies argues that the apparent independence of the ordering of sayings in Thomas from that of their parallels in the synoptics shows that Thomas was most likely not reliant upon the canonical Gospels and probably predated them.[34] A number of authors argue that when the logia in Thomas do have parallels in the synoptics the version in Thomas often seems closer to the source. Theissen and Merz give sayings 31 and 65 as examples of this.[31] Koester agrees, citing especially the parables contained in sayings 8, 9, 57, 63, 64 and 65.[35] In the few instances where the version in Thomas seems to be dependent on the Synoptics, Koester suggests, this may be due to the influence of the person who translated the text from Greek into Coptic.[35]

Koester also argues that the absence of narrative materials (such as those found in the canonical gospels) in Thomas makes it unlikely that the gospel is “an eclectic excerpt from the gospels of the New Testament”.[35] He also cites the absence of the eschatological sayings characteristic of Q to show the independence of Thomas from that source.[35]

Role of James

Albert Hogeterp argues that the Gospel’s saying 12, which attributes leadership of the community to James the Just rather than to Peter, agrees with the description of the early Jerusalem church by Paul in Galatians|2:1-14,[43] and may reflect a tradition predating AD 70.[44] Meyer also lists “uncertainty about James the righteous, the brother of Jesus” as characteristic of a first century origin.[32]

Depiction of Peter and Matthew

In saying 13, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand the true significance or identity of Jesus. Patterson argues that this can be interpreted as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew, and that “[t]his sort of rivalry seems more at home in the first century than later”, when all the apostles had become revered figures.[45]

Parallel with Paul

According to Meyer, Thomas’s saying 17: “I shall give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard and no hand has touched, and what has not come into the human heart”, is strikingly similar to what Paul told the Corinthians he criticizes in 1 Corinthians 2:9.[32]

Other arguments

Joseph B. Lumpkin makes reference to Thomas’ journey into India. In the books The Tao of Thomas and The Gospel of Thomas Lumpkin states that the flavor of The Gospel of Thomas may not be Gnostic at all but may instead be a list of sayings penned after Thomas was exposed to the Eastern wisdom found in Asia Minor. If exposure to Eastern mysticism influenced Thomas’ understanding of Jesus’ words the result could be interpreted as Gnosticism. Lumpkin believes that the Gospel of Thomas could have been written prior to the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s writings are seen as the seed document to the other gospels found in the New Testament, but the fact that Thomas does not follow Mark’s pattern may suggest it was written prior to or in isolation from Mark.[46]

The late camp

The late camp dates Thomas some time after 100, generally in the mid-2nd century.[47][48] They generally believe that although the text was composed around the mid-second century, it contains earlier sayings such as those originally found in the New Testament gospels of which Thomas was in some sense dependent in addition to inauthentic and possibly authentic independent sayings not found in any other extant text.

Dependence on the New Testament Gospels

A number of scholars have pointed out that the sayings in Thomas reflect conflations and harmonisations dependent on the canonical gospels. For example, saying 10 and 16 appear to contain a redacted harmonisation of Luke 12:49; 51-52 and Matthew 10:34-35. In this case it has been suggested that the dependence is best explained by the author of Thomas making use of an earlier harmonised oral tradition based on Matthew and Luke.[49][50]

Dependency on Luke’s gospel

Another argument for the late dating of Thomas is that Saying 5 in the original Greek (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 654) follows Luke’s redactional vocabulary (Luke 8:17) rather than Mark’s vocabulary (Mark 4:22). Since according to the Two Document Hypothesis, widely held by modern New Testament scholars, Luke used the gospel of Mark and a lost Q document to compose his gospel, Thomas, in following Luke’s rather than Mark’s vocabulary, must be subsequent to both Mark and Luke.

Belief in the priority of Thomas over the Synoptic Gospels is incompatible with the consensus of New Testament scholarship concerning the priority of Mark’s gospel and its redactional modification by Luke. Another saying that employs Luke’s redactional vocabulary rather than following Mark’s vocabulary is Saying 31 in the original Greek (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1), where Luke 4:23’s term dektos (acceptable) is employed rather than Mark 6:4’s atimos (without honor). The word dektos (in all its cases and genders) is clearly typical of Luke since it is only employed by him (Luke 4:19; Luke 4:24; Acts 10:35), and never by Mark or the other canonical gospel writers. Thus the Greek Thomas has clearly been at least influenced by Luke’s characteristic vocabulary.[51]

John P. Meier summarizes scholarly opinion arguing Thomas’ dependence on or harmonizing of the Synoptics.[52]

Syriac origin

A number of scholars argue that Thomas is dependent on Syriac writings, including unique versions of the canonical gospels. They contend that many sayings of the Gospel of Thomas are more similar to Syriac translations of the canonical gospels than their record in the original Greek. Craig A. Evans states that saying 54 in Thomas, which speaks of the poor and the kingdom of heaven, is more similar to the Syriac version of Matthew 5:3 than the Greek version of that passage or the parallel in Luke 6:20.[53]

Klyne Snodgrass notes that saying 65-66 of Thomas containing the Parable of the Wicked Tenants appears to be dependent on the early harmonisation of Mark and Luke found in the old Syriac gospels. He concludes that, “Thomas, rather than representing the earliest form, has been shaped by this harmonizing tendency in Syria. If the Gospel of Thomas were the earliest, we would have to imagine that each of the evangelists or the traditions behind them expanded the parable in different directions and then that in the process of transmission the text was trimmed back to the form it has in the Syriac Gospels. It is much more likely that Thomas, which has a Syrian provenance, is dependent on the tradition of the canonical Gospels that has been abbreviated and harmonized by oral transmission.”[54]

Nicholas Perrin argues that Thomas is dependent on the Diatessaron, which was composed shortly after 172 by Tatian in Syria.[55] Perrin explains the order of the sayings by translating the extant Coptic translation into what he believes to be the original language, Syriac, in which, according to Perrin, catchwords connect almost every saying together.[clarification needed] In Coptic or Greek, catchwords only connect a few of the sayings.[56] Peter J. Williams analyzed Perrin’s alleged Syriac catchwords and found them implausible. [57] Robert Shedinger wrote that since Perrin attempts to reconstruct an Old Syriac version of Thomas without first establishing Thomas’ reliance on the Diatessaron, Perrin’s logic seems circular.[58]

Lack of apocalyptic themes

Bart Ehrman argues that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, and that his apocalyptic beliefs are recorded in the earliest Christian documents: Mark and the authentic Pauline epistles. The earliest Christians believed Jesus would soon return, and their beliefs are echoed in the earliest Christian writings. The Gospel of Thomas proclaims that the Kingdom of God is already present for those who understand the secret message of Jesus, and lacks apocalyptic themes. Because of this, Ehrman argues, The Gospel of Thomas is secondary likely composed by a Gnostic some time in the early second century.[59]

The Gospel of Thomas and the New Testament Canon

The harsh and widespread reaction to Marcion‘s canon, the first New Testament canon known to have been created, may demonstrate that, by 140, it had become widely accepted that other texts formed parts of the records of the life and ministry of Jesus. Although arguments about some potential New Testament books, such as the Shepherd of Hermas and Book of Revelation, continued well into the 4th century, four canonical gospels, attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were accepted among orthodox Christians at least as early as the mid-2nd century. Tatian’s widely used Diatessaron, compiled between 160 and 175, utilized the four gospels without any consideration of others. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote in the late 2nd century that since there are four quarters of the earth … it is fitting that the church should have four pillars … the four Gospels (Against Heresies, 3.11.8), and then shortly thereafter made the first known quotation from a fourth gospel—the canonical version of the Gospel of John. The late 2nd-century Muratorian fragment also recognizes only the three synoptic gospels and John. Bible scholar Bruce Metzger wrote regarding the formation of the New Testament canon, “Although the fringes of the emerging canon remained unsettled for generations, a high degree of unanimity concerning the greater part of the New Testament was attained among the very diverse and scattered congregations of believers not only throughout the Mediterranean world, but also over an area extending from Britain to Mesopotamia.”[60]

It should be noted that information about the historical Jesus itself was not a singular criterion for inclusion into the New Testament Canon. Not all of the books that ended up in the New Testament contain information about the historical Jesus nor teachings from the historical Jesus, as evidenced by the Epistles and the book of Revelation.

The Gospel of Thomas may have been excluded from the canon of the New Testament because it was believed:

  • not to have been written close to the time of Jesus
  • not to have been written by apostolic authority or was forged in Thomas’ name
  • not to have been used by multiple churches over a wide geographic range
  • to be heretical or unorthodox[61]
  • not to have been useful or comprehensible
  • to be secret – or for adepts – as the first sentence of the gospel declares

The philosophy of the Gospel of Thomas

In the Thomas gospel, Jesus is a spiritual teacher, and he is offering everyone the opportunity to live (Saying 4) a life that goes beyond death (Saying 1), to become the ruler of their own lives (Saying 2) and thus to know themselves (Saying 3) and their legacy of being the children of “the living Father” (Saying 3). These goals are presented in the image of “entering the Kingdom” by the methodology of insight that goes beyond duality. (Saying 22). The Gospel of Thomas shows no concern for doctrines such as “God”, “original sin”, “Christ”, “divinity,” etc.

The Gospel of Thomas is mystical and emphasizes a direct and unmediated experience of the truth of life. In Thomas v.108, Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him.” Furthermore, salvation is personal and found through spiritual (psychological) introspection. In Thomas v.70, Jesus says, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not bring it forth, what you do not have within you will kill you.” As such, this form of salvation is idiosyncratic and without literal explanation unless read from a psychological perspective related to Self vs. ego. In Thomas v.3, Jesus says,

…the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.

In the other four gospels, Jesus is frequently called upon to explain the meanings of parables or the correct procedure for prayer. In Thomas v.6, his disciples asked him, “Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?” For reasons unknown, Jesus’ answer is found in v. 14 and he emphasizes that what is encountered in the world will not defile a person but what comes out from the mouth will. This is just one example in Thomas in which the hearer’s attention is directed away from objectified judgements of the world to knowing oneself in direct and straighforward manner, which is sometimes called being “as a child” or “a little one” through the unification of our dualistic thinking and modes of objectification. (For example, Sayings 22 and 37) To portray the breaking down of the dualistic perspective Jesus uses the image of fire which consumes all. (See, Sayings 10 and 82).

The teaching of salvation (i.e., entering the Kingdom of Heaven) that is found in The Gospel of Thomas is neither that of “works” nor of “grace” as the dichotomy is found in the canonical gospels, but what might be called a third way, that of insight. The overriding concern of The Gospel of Thomas is to find the light within in order to be a light unto the world. (See for example, Sayings 24, 26

In contrast to the Gospel of John, where Jesus is likened to a (divine and beloved) Lord as in ruler, the Thomas gospel portrays Jesus as more the ubiquitous vehicle of mystical inspiration and enlightenment. In Thomas v. 77 where Jesus said,

I am the light that shines over all things. I am everywhere. From me all came forth, and to me all return.
Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there,

In many other respects, the Thomas gospel offers terse yet familiar if not identical accounts of the sayings of Jesus as seen in the synoptic gospels.[62]

Elaine Pagels, in her book Beyond Belief, argues that the Thomas gospel at first fell victim to the needs of the early Christian community for solidarity in the face of persecution, then to the will of the Emperor Constantine, who at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, wanted an end to the sectarian squabbling and a universal Christian creed. She goes on to point out that in spite of it being left out of the Catholic canon, being banned and sentenced to burn, many of the mystical elements have proven to reappear perennially in the works of mystics like Jacob Boehme, Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross. She concludes that the Thomas gospel gives us a rare glimpse into the diversity of beliefs in the early Christian community, an alternative perspective to the Johannine gospel.

Importance and author

The Gospel of Thomas is regarded by some scholars as one of the most important texts in understanding early Christianity outside the New Testament. It is one of the earliest accounts of the teaching of Jesus outside of the canonical gospels, according to a few scholars, and so is considered a valuable text.[63] It is further unique in that the gospel is no more than a collection of Jesus’ sayings and parables, and contains no narrative account of his life, which is something that all four canonical gospels include.

No major Christian group accepts this gospel as canonical or authoritative. Nonetheless, it is an important work for scholars working on the Q document, which itself is thought to be a collection of sayings or teachings upon which Matthew and Luke are partly based. Although no copy of Q has ever been discovered, the fact that Thomas is similarly a ‘sayings’ Gospel is taken by some as indication that the early Christians did write collections of the sayings of Jesus, and thus they feel it renders the Q theory more credible.[64]

Most modern scholars do not consider Apostle Thomas the author of this document and the author remains unknown. J. Menard produced a summary of the academic consensus in the mid-1970s which stated that the gospel was likely a very late text written by a Gnostic author, thus having very little relevance to the study of the early development of Christianity. Scholarly views of Gnosticism and the Gospel of Thomas have since become more nuanced and diverse.[65]

In the 4th century Cyril of Jerusalem considered the author a disciple of Mani who was also called Thomas.[66] Cyril stated: [67]

Mani had three disciple: Thomas, Baddas and Hermas. Let no one read the Gospel according to Thomas. For he is not one of the twelve apostles but one of the three wicked disciples of Mani.

Most scholars consider the Gospel of Thomas to be a gnostic text, since it was found in a library among others, it contains Gnostic themes, and perhaps presupposes a Gnostic worldview.[68] Others reject this interpretation, because Thomas lacks the full-blown mythology of Gnosticism as described by Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 185), and because Gnostics frequently appropriated and used a large “range of scripture from Genesis to the Psalms to Homer, from the Synoptics to John to the letters of Paul.”[69]

The Gospel of Thomas and the historical Jesus

Some modern scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas was written independently of the canonical gospels, and therefore, is a useful guide to historical Jesus research.[63][70] Scholars may utilize one of a number of critical tools in biblical scholarship, the criterion of multiple attestation, to help build cases for historical reliability of the sayings of Jesus. By finding those sayings in the Gospel of Thomas that overlap with Q, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and Paul, scholars feel such sayings represent “multiple attestations” and therefore are more likely to come from a historical Jesus than sayings that are only singly attested.[71]

The Gospel of Thomas has been used by Christ myth theory proponents, such as Earl Doherty and Timothy Freke, as evidence that Christianity did not originate with a historical Jesus, but as a Jewish adaptation of the Greek mystery religions.[citation needed] The collection of teachings attributed to Jesus represent part of the initiation to the mysteries of their religion. However, this theory of Christian origins is rejected by contemporary scholarship.[72]

Comparison of The Gospel of Thomas to the New Testament

The Gospel of Thomas does not refer to Jesus as “Christ”, “Lord”, or “Son of Man” as the New Testament does, but simply as “Jesus.”[73] The Gospel of Thomas also lacks any mention of Jesus’ birth, baptism, miracles, travels, death, and resurrection.[74] However, over half of the sayings in Thomas are similar to sayings and parables found in the canonical gospels.[75]

The Gospel of Thomas does not list the canonical twelve apostles and it does not use either this expression or the terms “the twelve” or “the twelve disciples.” It does mention James the Just, who is singled out (“No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being”); Simon Peter; Matthew; Thomas, who is taken aside and receives three points of revelation; Mary; and Salome. Although here Mary (presumably Mary Magdalene) and Salome are mentioned among the disciples, the canonical gospels and Acts make a distinction between an inner group of twelve male disciples, with varying lists of names, and a larger group of disciples, among which there may well have been women. Despite the favorable mention of James the Just, generally considered a “pro-circumcision” Christian, the Gospel of Thomas also dismisses circumcision:

His disciples said to him, “Is circumcision useful or not?” He said to them, “If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect.”

Compare Thomas 8 SV

8. And Jesus said, “The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!”

with Matthew 13:47–50 NIV:

47“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Note that Thomas makes a distinction between large and small fish, whereas Matthew makes a distinction between good and bad fish. Furthermore, Thomas’ version has only one fish remaining, whereas Matthew’s version implies many good fish remaining. The manner in which each Gospel concludes the parable is instructive. Thomas’ version invites the reader to draw their own conclusions as to the interpretation of the saying, whereas Matthew provides an explanation connecting the text to an apocalyptic end of the age.

Another example is the parable of the lost sheep, which is paralleled by Matthew, Luke, John, and Thomas.

This is the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12–14 NIV

12“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

This is the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15: 3-7 NIV

3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

This is the parable of the lost sheep in Thomas 107 SV

107. Jesus said, “The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, I love you more than the ninety-nine.

This is the lost sheep discourse in John 10: 1-18 NIV

1“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. 7Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[1] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Other parallels include

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Bound by a method now called Coptic binding, the text was found in an earthenware jar by a farmer with over fifty other documents, together known as the Nag Hammadi library.
  2. ^ For an interlinear translation in both Coptic and English, see http://www.metalog.org/files/thomas.html
  3. ^ Bound in a method now called Coptic binding
  4. ^ Valantasis, Richard (1997), The Gospel of Thomas London; New York: Routledge ISBN 041511621X page 12
  5. ^ Eerdmans commentary on the Bible by James D. G. Dunn, John William Rogerson, 2003, ISBN 0802837115 page 1574
  6. ^ The fifth Gospel, Patterson, Robinson, Bethge, 1998
  7. ^ April D. De Conick 2006 The original Gospel of Thomas in translation ISBN 0567043827 page 2
  8. ^ Stevan L. Davies, 2004 The Gospel of Thomas ISBN 1590301862 pp xxxix-xlv
  9. ^ Alister E. McGrath, 2006 Christian theology ISBN 1405153601 page 12
  10. ^ James Dunn, John Rogerson 2003 Eerdmans commentary on the Bible ISBN 0802837115 page 1573
  11. ^ Church History (Book III), Chapter 25:7 and Eusebius
  12. ^ For photocopies of the manuscript see: http://www.gospels.net/thomas/
  13. ^ A. Guillaumont, Henri-Charles Puech, Gilles Quispel, Walter Till and Yassah `Abd Al Masih, The Gospel According to Thomas (E. J. Brill and Harper & Brothers, 1959).
  14. ^ Robinson, James M., General Editor, The Nag Hammadi Library in English, 1988, E.J. Brill, Leiden and Harper and Row, San Francisco, ISBN 90-04-08856-3.
  15. ^ The Nag Hammadi Library
  16. ^ Coptic Gnostic Papyri in the Coptic Museum at Old Cairo, vol. I (Cairo, 1956) plates 80, line 10 – 99, line 28.
  17. ^ Nichols, Carol W. “An Illustrated, Illuminated Manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas from the Nag Hammadi Library.” Publication Number: 1437999 School: CAL-SU-DH-M Ann Arbor: ProQuest, 2007 .
  18. ^ Translation courtesy of Dr. Meyer and HarperCollins: Meyer, Marvin. “The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus.” San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2005, pp. 7 -25.
  19. ^ Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, Sayings of Our Lord from an early Greek Papyrus (Egypt Exploration Fund; 1897)
  20. ^ Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman, The Secret Sayings of Jesus according to the Gospel of Thomas (Fontana Books, 1960).
  21. ^ John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (New York, 1990) p. 125.
  22. ^ Nicholas Perrin , HC II,2 and the Oxyrhynchus Fragments (P.Oxy 1, 654, 655): Overlooked Evidence for a Syriac “Gospel of Thomas”, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 58, No. 2 (May, 2004), pp. 138-151
  23. ^ Koester 1990, pp.77ff
  24. ^ Cyril Catechesis 4.36
  25. ^ Cyril Catechesis 6.31
  26. ^ Koester 1990 p. 78
  27. ^ Valantasis, p. 12
  28. ^ Patterson, Robinson, and Bethge (1998), p. 40
  29. ^ Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000). 189.
  30. ^ John P. Meier,A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, v. 1, p. 128.
  31. ^ a b c Theissen, Gerd; Annette Merz (1998). The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN 0800631226. http://books.google.com/books?id=3ZU97DQMH6UC.
  32. ^ a b c d Meyer, Marvin (2001), “Albert Schweitzer and the Image of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas”, in Meyer, Marvin; Hughes, Charles, Jesus Then & Now: Images of Jesus in History and Christology, Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, p. 73, ISBN 1563383446, http://books.google.com/books?id=2jCfFcKm4WUC&pg=PA73&vq=%22three+initial+suggestions%22&source=gbs_search_r&cad=1_1&sig=EB_n1okrIHELThm3N9j8I-HWN40
  33. ^ Maurice Casey, An Aramaic Approach to Q p.33.
  34. ^ Correlation Analysis
  35. ^ a b c d Koester, Helmut; Lambdin (translator), Thomas O. (1996), “The Gospel of Thomas”, in Robinson, James MacConkey, The Nag Hammadi Library in English (Revised ed.), Leiden, New York, Cologne: E. J. Brill, p. 125, ISBN 9004088563, http://books.google.com/books?id=UiSFUJ6al1IC&lpg=PA125&vq=%22it%20may%20well%20date%20from%20the%20first%20century&dq=%22gospel%20of%20thomas%22%20helmut&as_brr=3&pg=PA125
  36. ^ Jn 1:5, 1:10
  37. ^ logia 24, 50, 61, 83
  38. ^ compare John 1:9 to logion 77
  39. ^ (Jn. 20:26-29)
  40. ^ (logia 29, 80, 87)
  41. ^ e.g. Jn. 3:6, 6:52-6 — but pointededly constrasting these with 6:63
  42. ^ Pagels, Elaine. Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. New York: Vintage, 2004. pp. 66-73
  43. ^ Galatians 2:1-14
  44. ^ Hogeterp, Albert L A (2006). Paul and God’s Temple. Leuven, Netherlands; Dudley, MA: Peeters. p. 137. ISBN 9042917229. http://books.google.com/books?id=eXb56k-DWqwC. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  45. ^ Patterson et al. (1998), p. 42
  46. ^ Lumpkin, Joseph (2005), “The Tao of Thomas”, The Tao of Thomas (first ed.), Alabama, USA: Fifth Estate, p. 152, ISBN 0976099268, http://books.google.com/books?id=0mzED5koPUAC&lpg=PP1&dq=tao%20of%20thomas&pg=PP1
  47. ^ Darrell L. Bock, “Response to John Dominic Crossan” in The Historical Jesus ed. James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy. 148-149. “…for most scholars the Gospel of Thomas is seen as an early-second century text.” (148-149).
  48. ^ Darrell L. Bock, The Missing Gospels (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006).61; 63. “Most date the gospel to the second century and place its origin in Syria…Most scholars regard the book as an early second-century work.”(61); “However, for most scholars, the bulk of it is later reflecting a second-century work.”(63)
  49. ^ Klyne R. Snodgrass, “The Gospel of Thomas: A Secondary Gospel” in The Historical Jesus:Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. Volume 4: Lives of Jesus and Jesus outside the Bible. Ed. Craig A. Evans. 299
  50. ^ Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman, The Secret Sayings of Jesus (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1960) 136-137.
  51. ^ For general discussion, see John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, (New York, 1991) pp. 137; p.163-64 n. 133. See also Christopher Tuckett, “Thomas and the Synoptics,” Novum Testamentum 30 (1988) 132-57, esp. p. 146.
  52. ^ See summary in John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (New York, 1991) p. 135-138, especially the footnotes.
  53. ^ Evans, Craig A. Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008.[page needed]
  54. ^ Klyne R. Snodgrass, “The Gospel of Thomas: A Secondary Gospel” in The Historical Jesus:Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. Volume 4: Lives of Jesus and Jesus outside the Bible. Ed. Craig A. Evans. 298
  55. ^ Nicholas Perrin, “Thomas: The Fifth Gospel?,” Journal of The Evangelical Theological Society 49 (March 2006): 66-/80
  56. ^ Perrin, Nicholas. Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship Between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron (Academia Biblica, 5). Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2003.
  57. ^ Williams, P.J., “Alleged Syriac Catchwords in the Gospel of Thomas” Vigiliae Christianae, Volume 63, Number 1, 2009, pp. 71-82(12) BRILL[1]
  58. ^ Robert F. Shedinger, “Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron by Nicholas Perrin” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 122, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 388
  59. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (1999). Jesus, apocalyptic prophet of the new millennium (revised ed.). Oxford; New York. pp. 75–78. ISBN 0195124731.
  60. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament:its origin, development and significance p.75
  61. ^ Ehrman 2003 pp. 242-3
  62. ^ Ehrman 2003 p. 55
  63. ^ a b Funk 1993 p. 15
  64. ^ Ehrman 2003 pp.57-8
  65. ^ April D. De Conick 2006 The original Gospel of Thomas in translation ISBN 0567043827 pages 2-3
  66. ^ Wilhelm Schneemelcher 2006 New Testament Apocrypha ISBN 066422721X page 111
  67. ^ Bentley Layton 1989 Nag Hammadi codex II, 2-7: Gospel according to Thomas ISBN 9004081313 page 106
  68. ^ Ehrman 2003 pp.59ff
  69. ^ Davies, Stevan. “Thomas: The Fourth Synoptic Gospel”, The Biblical Archaeologist 1983 The American Schools of Oriental Research. p. 6-8
  70. ^ Koester 1990 p. 84-6
  71. ^ Funk 1993 p. 16ff
  72. ^ “Anyone who says that [Jesus did not exist] today–in the academic world at least–gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat.” Powell, Mark Allan, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, (Louisvile: Westminster John Knox, 1998) 168.
  73. ^ Koester 1990 pp. 86-7
  74. ^ Ehrman 2003 pp. 55
  75. ^ Ehrman 2003 pp. 55ff

References

  • DeConick, April. Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth (T&T Clark, 2005)
  • Ehrman, Bart (2003). Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make it into the New Testament. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 019-514182-2.
  • Funk, Robert Walter and Roy W. Hoover, The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? the Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, Polebridge Press, 1993
  • Guillaumont, Antoine Jean Baptiste, Henri-Charles Puech, G. Quispel, Walter Curt Till, and Yassah ˁAbd al-Masīh, eds. 1959. Evangelium nach Thomas. Leiden: E. J. Brill Standard edition of the Coptic text
  • Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986. (pp. 530–548.)
  • Koester, Helmut (1990). Ancient Christian Gospels. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. ISBN 0334024501. http://books.google.com/books?id=DGK4sIPk4PYC. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  • Pagels, Elaine, 2003. Beyond Belief : The Secret Gospel of Thomas (New York: Random House)
  • Patterson, Stephen J; James McConkey Robinson; Hans-Gebhard Bethge (1998). The Fifth Gospel: the Gospel of Thomas comes of age. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. ISBN 1563382490. http://books.google.com/books?id=JlZql9JcoBsC. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  • Perrin, Nicholas. Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron (Academia Biblica 5; Atlanta : Society of Biblical Literature; Leiden : Brill, 2002).
  • Perrin, Nicholas. Thomas: The Other Gospel (London, SPCK; Louisville, KY: Westminister John Knox: 2007).
  • Robinson, James McConkey et al., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (4th rev. ed.; Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1996)
  • Plisch, Uwe-Karsten (2007). Das Thomasevangelium. Originaltext mit Kommentar. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. ISBN 3438051281.
  • Valantasis, Richard (1997). The Gospel of Thomas. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 041511621X. http://books.google.com/books?id=bqr7nhiKr9UC. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  • Layton, Bentley (1987). The Gnostic Scriptures. Doubleday. ISBN 0385478437.
  • Meyer, Marvin (2004). The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060655815.

External links

References

  1. Prof. Bart Ehrman. Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication. Course Guide Book. The Teaching Company, 2002. Page 41.
  2. Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Pages 45
  3. Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Pages 45-47.
  4. http://users.misericordia.edu//davies/thomas/Trans.htm
  5. “Jesus Christ.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 21 Feb. 2010 ca.com/EBchecked/topic/303091/Jesus-Christ>.
  6. Elaine Pagels. The Gnostic Gospels. Random House, 1979. Introduction section, page xxii-xxiii.
  7. Elaine Pagels. The Gnostic Gospels. Random House, 1979. Introduction section, page xx-xxi.
  8. Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Page 66.
  9. Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Page 69-70.
  10. Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Page 71.

10 Comments

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  1. Zia H. Shah

    Assurance for the have nots!
    See the verse number 64 in the Gospel of Thomas:

    Jesus said: Someone was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests. The slave went to the first and said, “My master invites you.” The first replied, “Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner.” The slave went to another and said, “My master has invited you.” The second said to the slave, “I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time.” The slave went to another and said, “My master invites you.” The third said to the slave, “My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.” The slave went to another and said, “My master invites you.” The fourth said to the slave, “I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me.” The slave returned and said to his master, “Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused.” The master said to his slave, “Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.”
    Buyers and merchants [will] not enter the places of my Father.

    My interpretation:

    Those who serve a true religion and humanity will be blessed and the rich, selfish and the arrogant will be denied in the Hereafter.

    This verse of the Gospel of Thomas rhymes with the Quranic teachings that the prophets treat humans as equal; it is only their opponents that obsess over race and economic class divisions. As is recorded in the Holy Quran about the Prophet Noah, “They said, ‘Shall we believe thee (Noah), when it is the meanest that follow thee?’” (Al Quran 26:112) Whereas the Prophet Noah was gathering the weak and the have nots those who were more successful in worldly affairs found it to be a reason to shun Noah.

    The assurance for the have nots can also be read in or illustrated by a dialogue between Diogenes and Alexander:

    “The classic Cynic story is that of the encounter between Diogenes and Alexander the Great at Corinth in 336 B.C.E. The latter is just setting out to conquer the world through military power; the former had already done so through disciplined indif­ference. This oft-told tale was already known to Cicero in his Tus­culan Disputations 5.92 from 45 B.C.E.:

    But Diogenes, certainly, was more outspoken, in his quality of Cynic, when Alexander asked him to name anything he wanted: ‘Just now,’ he said, ‘stand a bit away from the sun!’ Alexander apparently had interfered with his basking in the heat.

    We are back, by the way, to the quotation from Burton Mack that headed Chapter 3. The story of Diogenes and Alexander involves a calculated questioning of power, rule, dominion, and kingship. Who is the true ruler: the one who wants everything, or the one who wants nothing; the one who wants all of Asia, or the one who wants only a little sunlight? If kingship is freedom, which of the two is really free, is really king? And just as Cynicism had a first flowering after the conquests of Alexander, so it had another after those of Augustus. Both times were ripe for a fundamental ques­tioning of power, and the Cynics did so not only in abstract theory among the aristocratic elites, but in practical street theater among the ordinary people. They were populist preachers in marketplace and pilgrimage center, and their life and dress spoke as forcibly as their speech and sermons.”

    John Dominic Crossan. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. Harper Collins, 1995. Page 130.

  2. Zia H. Shah

    Overlap between the Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptic Gospels
    Almost 75% of the Gospel of Thomas sayings exist in the Synoptic Gospels in some form.

    Prof. Mark W Muesse. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Great Courses transcript book, 2010. Lecture number 19.

  3. Zia H. Shah

    The message of salvation in the Gospel of Thomas
    Prof. Bart D Ehrman has devoted a chapter to the Gospel of Thomas in his book ‘Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We never Knew.’ Here I quote in his words, my additions are in brackets []:

    This salvation will not, therefore, be salvation that comes to this world; it will be salvation from this world. The world itself, this material existence, is not something that was created good (contrary to the doctrines of the proto-orthodox). It is a cosmic catastrophe, and salvation means escaping it. For that reason, the Kingdom of God is not something coming to this world as a physical entity that can actually be said to be here in this world of matter. The Kingdom is something spiritual, within:

    If those who lead you say to you, “See the kingdom is in the sky,” then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, “It is in the sea,” then the fish will precede you. Rather the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. … When you come to know yourselves. … you will realize it is you who are the sons of the living Father. (Saying 3)

    Notice once again the key: knowing yourself, who you really are.

    Since this world is a place to escape, no one should be tied to material things: “Do not be concerned from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear” (Saying 36). Instead, all that the world has to offer, all the riches it can provide, should be rejected in order to escape this world: “Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world” (Saying 110). And so, one should not be attached to anything in this world; as indicated in the pithiest of the sayings of the Gospel, “Become passersby” (Saying 42). [This is exactly the metaphor used in a Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad also]

    The key to the salvation brought by Jesus is having the proper knowledge,
    gnosis-knowledge of your true identity:

    When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty [i.e., the material world/the body] and you are that poverty. (Saying 3b)

    Jesus himself is the one who can provide this knowledge, knowledge that the human spirit is divine, as divine as Jesus himself and one with Jesus: “He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him” (Saying 108). And so Jesus brings the knowledge necessary for the divine spirits to be reunited with the realm whence they came. That is why Jesus is not a “divider” (Saying 72). He is not a divider but a unifier.
    This stress on becoming “one,” reunified with the divine realm in which there is no conflict and no division, is why the text emphasizes so strongly oneness, singleness, solidarity: “For many who are first will become last, and they will become one and the same” (Saying 4); “Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the Kingdom” (Saying 22). Or as Jesus indicates when the disciples ask, “Shall we then as children enter the Kingdom?”:

    When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness, then you will enter the kingdom. (Saying 22)

    Bart D Ehrman. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We never Knew. Oxford University Press, 2003. Pages 61-63.

  4. Zia H. Shah

    The lost Christianities were much closer to Islam
    Prof. Bart Ehrman concludes his chapter titled, The Discovery of Ancient Forgery: The Coptic Gospel of Thomas in these words:

    This then is the Gospel of Thomas, a valuable collection of 114 sayings of Jesus, many of which may reflect the historical teachings of Jesus, but all of which appear to be framed within the context of later Gnostic reflections on the salvation that Jesus has brought. Unlike the Gospels of the New Testament, in this Gospel Jesus does not talk about the God of Israel, about sin against God and the need for repentance. In this Gospel it is not Jesus’ death and resurrection that bring salvation. In this Gospel there is no anticipation of a coming Kingdom of God on earth.

    Instead, this Gospel assumes that some humans contain the divine spark that has been separated from the realm of God and entrapped in this impoverished world of matter, and that it needs to be delivered by learning the secret teachings from above, which Jesus himself brings. It is by learning the truth of this world and, especially, of one’s one divine character, that one can escape this bodily prison and return to the realm of light whence one came, the Kingdom of God that transcends this material world and all that is in it.

    A remarkable document, an ancient forgery condemned as heretical by early proto-orthodox Christians and lost or destroyed, until the remarkable discovery of the Gnostic library in Upper Egypt, near Nag Hammadi, preserved now for us as the secret sayings of Jesus, which, if rightly understood, can bring eternal life.

    Bart D Ehrman. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We never Knew. Oxford University Press, 2003. Pages 64-65.

  5. Zia H. Shah

    Epiphany regarding the gospels and death of Jesus
    Professor John S Kloppenborg who is an authority on the Gospel of Q, writes:

    “Perhaps the most striking difference between Q and the Synoptic Gospels is its lack of an explicit narration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Before the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas scholars took for granted that Jesus’ death was the one critical datum that every early Christian Gospel writer would narrate and interpret. For that reason, few before the 1950s dared to call Q a ‘gospel,’ since it lacked what was deemed essential to any gospel. Q could only be conceived of as a supplement, intended for those who already knew the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection. This in turn presupposed a hierarchy of Christian beliefs-those beliefs that were essential to Christian belief and others that were derivative or supplementary.”

    (Professor John S Kloppenborg. Q the earliest Gospel: an introduction to the original stories and sayings of Jesus. Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. Page, 73.)

    The discovery of the Gospel of Thomas in the middle of last century in Egypt has changed all that. In this gospel there is no mention of death or resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps there was no consensus about resurrection of Jesus in early Christianity as we are made to believe today. Perhaps there were varied opinions on this and other issues in the early Christianity.

  6. Zia H. Shah

    Contrasting the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of John
    Elaine Pagels writes:

    “Now we can see how John’s message contrasts with that of Thomas. Thomas’s Jesus directs each disciple to discover the light within (“within a person of light there is light”); (Gospel of Thomas 22) but John’s Jesus declares instead that “I am the light of the world” and that “whoever does not come to me walks in darkness.” (John 8:12) In Thomas, Jesus reveals to the disciples that “you are from the kingdom, and to it you shall return” and teaches them to say for them¬selves that “we come from the light”; but John’s Jesus speaks as the only one who comes “from above” and so has rightful priority over everyone else: “You are from below; I am from above. . . . The one who comes from above is above all.” (John 8:25) Only Jesus is from God, and he alone offers access to God. John never tires of repeating that one must believe in Jesus, follow Jesus, obey Jesus, and confess him alone as God’s only son.”

    (Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Pages 68-69.)

    Now Islamic position is much closer to the Gospel of Thomas than the Gospel of John. If light dwells in all people of light than there is no such thing as ‘original sin.’

    Elaine Pagels writes further:

    “The discovery of Thomas’s gospel shows us that other early Christians held quite different understandings of ‘the gospel’ For what John rejects as religiously inadequate-the conviction that the divine dwells as ‘light’ within all beings–is much like the hidden ‘good news’ that Thomas’s gospel proclaims. Many Christians today who read the Gospel of Thomas assume at first that it is simply wrong, and deservedly called heretical. Yet what Christians have disparagingly called gnostic and heretical sometimes turn out to be forms of Christian teaching that are merely unfamiliar to us–unfamiliar precisely because of the active and successful opposition of Christians such as John.”

    (Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Pages 68-73.)

    The Thomas Jesus tells his disciples that not only he comes forth from divine light but so do we all and are deserving of the kingdom of God:

    Jesus said, “Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again.” Jesus said,”If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’ say to them, ‘We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established [itself], and appeared in their image.’ If they say to you, ‘Is it you?’ say, ‘We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.’ (Thomas 49-50)

    Elaine Pagels writes:

    The Gospel of Thomas interprets the kingdom of God as Tolstoy and Merton would do nearly two thousand years later. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, also discovered in Egypt, but in 1896, about fifty years before the Nag Hammadi find, echoes this theme: Jesus tells his disciples, “Let no one lead you astray, saying, ‘Lo, here!’ or ‘Lo, there!’ For the Son of Man is within you. Follow after him!” Yet after including his version of this saying at one point in his gospel, Luke retreats from this position.

    (Elaine Pagels. Beyond belief: the secret Gospel of Thomas. Vintage Books, 1998. Page 51)

  7. Zia H. Shah

    The genuine attributes of the Transcendent God are known through the Quran
    The message of the Gospels is ambiguous at best. Let me here quote first 18 verses from John from New International Version. This is how the Gospel of John starts:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only,who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

    Now let me quote from the Gospel of Thomas:

    Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.” (Verse 77)

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%201&version=NIV

    The concept of Transcendent God that is now equally used by the Jews, Christians, Muslims and agnostics comes from the Holy Quran. Let me quote a few verses, there are many that I will not be able to quote here:

    Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware. (6:104)

    Allah — there is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that will intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them; and they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He pleases. His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth; and the care of them burdens Him not; and He is the High, the Great. (2:256)

    He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (59:25)

    Have they taken gods from the earth who raise the dead? If there had been in them (the heavens and the earth) other gods beside Allah, then surely both would have gone to ruin. Glorified then be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, above what they attribute. (21:22-23)

    All praise belongs to Allah Who created the heavens and the earth and brought into being every kind of darkness and light; yet those who disbelieve set up equals to their Lord. (6:2)

    Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a lustrous niche, wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a glittering star. It is lit from a blessed tree — an olive — neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would well-nigh glow forth even though fire touched it not. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whomsoever He will. And Allah sets forth parables to men, and Allah knows all things full well. This light is now lit in houses with regard to which Allah has ordained that they be exalted and that His name be remembered in them. Therein is He glorified in the mornings and the evenings By men, whom neither merchandise nor traffic diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the observance of Prayer, and the giving of the Zakat. They fear a day in which hearts and eyes will be agitated, So that Allah may give them the best reward of their deeds, and give them increase out of His bounty. And Allah does provide for whomsoever He pleases without measure. (24:36-39)

    The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a son when He has no consort, and when He has created everything and has knowledge of all things? Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no God but He, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Guardian over everything. Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware. (6:102-104)

  8. Zia H. Shah

    Views of different scholars about the Gospel of Thomas
    Burton L Mack writes:

    “As the comparative study of the Gospels unfolded, the nature of Jesus’ teaching eventually became a critical question. Ways to reconstruct the text of Q were developed. Another example of the genre was found, the sayings gospel known as the Gospel of Thomas.”

    (Burton L Mack. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. HarperOne, 1993. Page 16.)

    “Q required explanation. It was the largest collection of the sayings of Jesus at hand. It therefore had to be taken much more seriously than the selection of parables scholars had been using as their data base. Q was a collection of sayings made by first-century followers of Jesus, not a modern selection of sayings by type that twentieth-century scholars had put together from different synoptic texts and traditions. A first-century collection must have had its own rationale. What if the question of wisdom and apocalyptic in the sayings of Jesus was asked by focusing on Q instead of the parables? What if the imagined historical Jesus as portrayed in the narrative gospels was not allowed to prejudice the study? What if those who made the collection of sayings in Q left some clues to help us understand what they thought about Jesus’ wisdom and prophetic speech?

    A stunning manuscript discovery in 1945 made it possible to get started with such a project. Among the Coptic-Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi was, of all things, a collection of the sayings of Jesus called the Gospel According to Thomas (see the new English translation by Marvin Meyer, 1992). The Gospel of Thomas looked very much like Q, and approximately 35 percent of the sayings in Thomas had parallels in Q. Here, then, was a text closely related to Q that proved the existence of the genre in early Christian circles. It also provided yet another text of the sayings of Jesus for comparative study. Since some sayings appeared in both collections. the two texts were somehow related. Surely a study of Thomas would help with the question of Q.”

    (Burton L Mack. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. HarperOne, 1993. Page 34.)

    “The Gospel of Thomas was was thoroughly nonapocalyptic in tenor and that it contained sayings from the very earliest period of the Jesus movements. So Kloppenborg’s solution to the presence of wisdom and apocalyptic sayings in Q fit perfectly the growing consensus that Jesus was first remembered for his wisdom.”

    (Burton L Mack. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. HarperOne, 1993. Page 37-38.)

  9. Zia H. Shah

    Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas
    This book by Elaine Pagels is a worth reading.

    Elaine Pagels,(born February 13, 1943), is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she is best known for her studies and writing on the Gnostic Gospels. Her popular books include, The Gnostic Gospels (1979), Adam, Eve and the Serpent (1988), The Origin of Satan (1995), Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003), and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (2007).

    Several verses in the Gospel of John seem best understood as responses to a Thomasine community and its beliefs. Pagels argues, for example, that John’s gospel makes two references to the inability of the world to recognize the divine light. In contrast, several of Thomas’ sayings refer to the light born ‘within’. John 1:9 (“…Light that lights every man born into the world”) acknowledges Thomas’ idea of the Light within. John also follows Thomas by personifying the Light as Jesus. John 14:16 (“I am the way, the truth, and the life…) and chapter 17, which emphasizes salvation via the logos of Christ, expands on Thomas’ logion 1. Intertextuality and acknowledgment of Thomas’ priority seems to be in play.

    For references see the actual text of the article.

    • Rafiq A. Tschannen

      How can we suggest to some Universities in USA that our brother Zia Shah should be given an honorary PHD for his untiring efforts in comparative religions? I would appeal to our academic brothers and sisters in the USA with relevant good connections to make a submission to relevant universities.

      Failing that we need to come up with an award ourselves…. Personally I have not met anyone else providing such untiring efforts in research and presentation of Islam and Christianity. May Allah grant him reward in this life and the next.

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