The Gospel of Thomas: Frequently Asked Questions
Discover 'A third century fragment from Gospel of Thomas' on the British Library recognised from an early date as forming together the authoritative gospels. Two pieces of evidence indicate that the Gospel of Thomas dates to ca. – C.E.: the relationship between the parallels in the Gospel of Thomas and in the. with scholars generally falling into two main camps: an early camp favoring a date prior to the gospels of Luke and John.
Gospel of Thomas - Wikipedia
The synoptics make it clear that Saint Peter is to be the central figure of the church after Jesus' death. Thus Jesus gives the keys to the Kingdom of God to Peter and announces "on this rock I will build my church. In Thomas' gospel, the figure of Thomas conveys Jesus' teachings to the reader, but, surprisingly, none of Jesus' 12 original followers is to be the leader of the church after his death. Rather it is "James the Just," the leader of the Jerusalem church in the Book of Actsreferred to as "the Lord's brother.
As verse 12 puts it: Who will be our leader? For his sake heaven and earth came into being. However, the Jesus Seminaran association of noted biblical scholars, includes it as the "Fifth Gospel" in its deliberation on the historical Jesus. Virtually all biblical scholars recognize it as an important work for understanding the theoretical ''Q'' documenta collection of sayings and teachings used by Matthew and Luke but absent from Mark and John.
The fact that Thomas is a "sayings gospel" tends to confirm the theory of Q's existence and has stimulated much discussion on the relationship between Thomas and Q. Philosophy and theology The gospel of Thomas begins, "These are the sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. Tau'ma both mean "Twin" and may be titles rather than names. Some scholars speculate that he is called the "twin" of Jesus to denote a spiritual unity between the disciple and his master, as referenced in Thomas v.
Because you have drank and become drunk from the very same spring from which I draw. The Gospel of Thomas emphasizes salvation through understanding the words of Jesus Some scholars hold that the Gospel of John tells the story of "Doubting Thomas" both to dramatize the physical nature of Jesus' resurrection and to denigrate those who adhered to the attitude presented in the Gospel of Thomas.
A central theme of the Gospel of Thomas is that salvation comes through true understanding of the words of Jesus, rather than through faith in his resurrection or partaking in the sacraments of the church. This, and the fact that it is a "sayings" gospel with very little description of the activities of Jesus and no reference to his crucifixion and resurrection, is what distinguishes this gospel from the four canonical gospels. In the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and LukeJesus is the Messiah who has come to earth to die for our sins that we might be saved through by faith in his resurrection.
The Gospel of John adds that Jesus is a divine heir of the godhead and places particular emphasis on the sacrament of holy communion. In Thomas' gospel, on the other hand, Jesus is primarily a teacher and a spiritual role model.
One is not saved by faith in him, but by understanding his teachings and realizing the potential to attain Christhood, just as Jesus did. While in John Jesus stresses the sacraments and says "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day," in Thomas, Jesus emphasizes his teaching of spiritual truth and says, "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.
Elaine Pagels, one of the pre-eminent scholars of the Gospel of Thomas, argued in her book Beyond Belief that Thomas was widely read in the early church and that portions of both Luke's and John's gospels were designed specifically to refute its viewpoint. John in particular goes out of the way to prove that Jesus' resurrection was physical. It has long been thought by biblical scholars that the story of Doubting Thomas served to refute those Christians who believed the resurrection was spiritual and not physical, but in Pagels' view it is no coincidence that Thomas happens to be the one disciple who adamantly doubts the resurrection and must have it demonstrated to him in graphic, indeed gruesome, detail John She concludes that Thomas gives us a rare glimpse into the diversity of beliefs in the early Christian community, and a check on what many modern Christians take for granted as being "heretical.
When the Coptic version of the complete text of Thomas was found at Nag Hammadischolars realized for the first time that three separate Greek portions of this gospel had already been discovered in OxyrhynchusEgypt, in The manuscripts bearing the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas have been dated to about C. The text of the Gospel of Thomas has been available to the general public since It has been translated, published and annotated in several languages.
The original version is the property of Egypt's Department of Antiquities. The first photographic edition was published inand its first critical analysis appeared in Date of Composition There is much debate about when the text was composed, with scholars generally falling into two main camps: Those who argue that Gos. To assert, for example, that Gos. For any theory of dependence of Gos.
On dating, Ron Cameron states op. Determining a plausible date of composition is speculative and depends on a delicate weighing of critical judgments about the history of the transmission of the sayings-of-Jesus tradition and the process of the formation of the written gospel texts. The earliest possible date would be in the middle of the 1st century, when sayings collections such as the Synoptic Sayings Gospel Q first began to be compiled.
The latest possible date would be toward the end of the 2d century, prior to the copying of P. Ron Cameron states on the provenance of Thomas op. The fact that Judas "the Twin" was the apostolic figure particularly revered in Syriac-speaking churches is important evidence for the date and place of composition of the text.
For as Koester in Layton The occurrence of variants of this distinctive name in the Acts of Thomas is especially striking, not only because the latter evidently shows acquaintance with Gos.
Other documents that invoke the authority of Judas Thomas by name are also of Syriac origin, such as the Teaching of Addai, the Abgar legend Eus. Accordingly, the naming of Judas Thomas as the ostensible author of Gos. Patterson writes on the dating and provenance of Thomas op.
While the cumulative nature of the sayings collection understandably makes the Gospel of Thomas difficult to date with precision, several factors weigh in favor of a date well before the end of the first century: Together these factors suggest a date for Thomas in the vicinity of C. As for its provenance, while it is possible, even likely, that an early version of this collection associated with James circulated in the environs of Jerusalem, the Gospel of Thomas in more or less its present state comes from eastern Syria, where the popularity of the apostle Thomas Judas Didymos Thomas is well attested.
In conclusion, these two later aforementioned writings would certainly clear the way for James to be for the disciples the pre-assigned Jesus' successor in GThomas! No 1st century texts we know of call him that way. However in the 2nd century, the 2nd Apocalypse of James and Hegesippus' description of James' death qualify James as 'the just'.The Gospel of Thomas - Its Meaning, Secrets, and Power
And all the disciples that would includes Thomas are also writing their own book, "remembering what the Savior had said to each one of them, whether secretly or openly"! That would open the way for "secret sayings" written by Thomas! And why would Thomas himself write the sayings without the intention to publish them right away and making sure of it? But if known then duringthey could not be qualified as secret hidden!
However these same sayings could be easily said 'hidden' if published way later, with the understanding they were allegedly! These Christian writings and many others from the same century refute the following main argument for a 1st cent. As Patterson noted, "the collection must come from a period in which particular communities were still appealing to the authoritative position of particular apostles as a way of guaranteeing the reliability of its traditions.
The insipid and the title certainly function in this way. But one might also point to Thom 12, which appeals to James, and to Thom 13, which appeals to the authority of Thomas, to illustrate the feature.
All of these texts derive from the last decades of the first century C. Other 2nd century books: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us? And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?
It is known that he arrived in Antioch and deluded many by magical trickery. He even persuaded his followers that they would not die: Likely so, but he changed his mind later see here about the progressive making of the gospel.
But more so the writer s of GThomas: Here, 'death' means real death as in the secular meaning: CoGTh 85 "Jesus said, "Adam came into being from a great power and a great wealth, but he did not become worthy of you. For had he been worthy, [he would] not [have experienced] death. For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death. And one who lives from the Living One will not see death.
CoGTh 19 "Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you become My disciples and listen to My words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and whose leaves do not fall.
Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience death. And the second coming had happened already, sort of: Raise the stone, and there you will find me; cleave the wood, and there I am. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father [in heaven! If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also Then, why would "Thomas" bother to spell out a question, to which he obviously has no answer, if not in order to counteract Jn There is light within a man of light, and he or "it" lights up the whole world.
If he or "it" does not shine, he or "it" is darkness. And in this part of GJohn written aroundwhen the author was dropping the notion of "NOT dying""John" had Thomas himself not afraid, even willing, to die we are far away from the expectation of avoiding death!
His enemy came by night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The man did not allow them to pull up the weeds; he said to them, 'I am afraid that you will go intending to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.
But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the weeds also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?
When was the Gospel of Thomas written?
As long as you spend a lot more money to pay the harvesters and you are happy with a drastically reduced crop. The author of this parable could not have been familiar with farm work, or cared more about theological implications than facts]" We notice the GThomas version is more streamlined, with less superfluous details and better written.
In "Parables and gospels", I took great pain to explain that the parable of the weeds is assuredly a "Matthew" creation. I reproduce my arguments below: The field is the [known] world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, ["kingdom": The Son of Man will send out His angels, ["son of man": Compare this phraseology with the explanation of the sower and the soils parable in Mk4: It is very different! But what can be said about the parable itself?
First, let's examine its location within the gospel and compare it with the corresponding layout in GMark: And Matthew's parable of the weeds is at the corresponding location of Mark's parable of the growing seed. Now, let's search for any common element in the two parables: The whole growing seed parable: For the earth yields crops by itself: But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.
But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop,"" It seems that "Matthew" incorporated most of Mark's parable into his own. However, "Matthew", like "Luke" who did not include ithad little use for Mark's parable of the growing seed, mainly because of its redundancy with the sower and the soils parable: Therefore, "Matthew" added on the "negative" element of the weeds, and from that point on, it becomes the focus of the expanded parable.
And then "Matthew" could have been inspired by the following "Q" material: So it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus' parables are not his, and the "genre" was started by "Mark". That puts me in a small minority but I do not expect all my readers to follow me on that. However, if agreed, then fourteen logions in GThomas would be "inspired" wholly or in part, by previously existing gospels with "Q": For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be plainly visible, and they will be pulled up and burned.
That goes against the notion of 'the Kingdom is already here' and does not seem to belong in GThomas. Then why would "Thomas" include this parable in his logions? Likely to emphasize that the others the weedsnot the members of his sect, are NOT the elects and "Thomas" overlooked the eschatological implication of the parable! CoGTh 47 "Jesus said, "It is impossible for a man to mount two horses or to stretch two bows [no parallel].
And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters; otherwise he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously [Mt6: No man drinks old wine and immediately desires to drink new wine [Lk5: And new wine is not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is old wine put into a new wineskin, lest it spoil it [Mk2: An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, because a tear would result [Mk2: Let's do some visual comparison with the corresponding synoptic gospel sayings: GTh "And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters; otherwise he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously" "Q" Mt6: You cannot serve God and mammon.
That allows the elimination of the "one" and "other" clauses.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Gospel of Thomas
The overall result is excellent rewriting, allowing to express the same idea concisely! But one can wonder why the "Q" author would have been so wordy, if a shorter and more concise version was known then. GTh "And new wine is not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is old wine put into a new wineskin, lest it spoil it" Mk2: But new wine must be put into new wineskins.
But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. Once again, we note the economy of words in GThomas. Also let's notice the rewriting from Markan material of both "Matthew" and "Luke". And then, none of the synoptic writers seems to have known about the GThomas version. GTh "An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, because a tear would result" Mk2: No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.