Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas is referred to as a “lost” gospel. This means that it is not considered canon in the new testament, although it was written around the same time and involves similar themes and historical characters in it.

These books, as well as the others that make up the new testament, underwent a considerable amount of scrutiny before the church would decide which ones belonged, or did not belong in the bible.

The Gospel of Thomas did not make the cut. However, that does not dispute the fact that there are many lessons that may be taken from the Gospel of Thomas, which we will be exploring. But first, let’s examine the book’s history.

History of the Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas was discovered in Egypt in 1945, among a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. The precise time when they were written is often disputed, although most credible sources will put it somewhere in the range of 60-180 AD.

They were written in Coptic, which was the language of the Copts, the final stage of ancient Egyptian. The beliefs of the Book of Thomas, as well as the other books in the Nag Hammadi library, are said to be Gnostic, which is why there are often conflicting ideas between the Book of Thomas and the Bible today as we know it.

Gnostic beliefs were considered to be aligned with early Jewish and Christian beliefs before they were denounced by the fathers of the early church as heresy.

One example of how their beliefs differ from a modern-day Christian’s beliefs is their belief in creation; and that a perfect God could not create an imperfect world such as this one.

Many other mystic elements are present, and much of their writings were based on the ideas and work of Plato.

Some of Paul’s teachings may have also had a strong influence on the material, and though I do not believe in the allegations that Paul himself was a Gnostic, I can see him putting extra effort into helping his ideas become accepted into the lives of the people of Greece at the time, perhaps adapting some of their customs and traditions.

The Gospel of Thomas: Outline and Structure

The introduction of the Gospel of Thomas says: “These are the hidden words which the living Jesus spoke and Dydymos Judas Thomas wrote them down.” The definitions of Dydymus (which is Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean twin, implying that the writer is the twin of Jesus.

It is made up of 114 consecutive hidden sayings of Jesus. There is no narrative and no specific order, as the verses are independent of each other.

The Gospel of Thomas: What is the significance?

This book is thought to be the most significant book of the Nag Hammadi. Although it does not have the same roots, revision, or perhaps even divinity as the canonical gospel books of the New Testament, there are many valuable lessons to be learned from it.

I would consider its significance similar to the significance of many other works of Gnostic gospel and philosophers from that time period. They had great significance and influence on the ideals and pillars that make up many of our societal beliefs today, relevant and strong against the test of time.

The power of the word of God is evidenced by the fact that this society took such a large influence from it that they amalgamated it into their own beliefs of the time, and this is seen through the overlap of ideas that occurs through the non canonical Gospel of Thomas and the canonical gospel of the New Testament.

However, that being said, there are many notable differences between the book of Thomas and the canonical that are significant to the fundamental Christian beliefs, including:

  1. Jesus was a twin: There was no evidence that Jesus had a twin, therefore the idea that his twin wrote this book should be taken as either allegorical or blasphemous
  2. Jesus was not necessarily human: This belief was in line with the Gnostic belief that no perfect God could create an imperfect world, and since they believed that human (material) flesh was also imperfect, they believed that God was a divine being and not a human. The Bible implicitly states that Jesus came down to earth in the form of a man.
  3. As did previous Gnostic beliefs, the book of Thomas implies that there are many gods as was common in ancient Greece; the Bible states that there is only one.
  4. Jesus was anti-feminine in the book of Thomas: this is probably one of the more disturbing quotes in the book of Thomas, and it says: “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life” Jesus said: “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.” There is no evidence of this extreme level of misogyny in the Bible. In fact, Jesus helps women such as Mary Magdelene and the Bible mentions many of the women that were in his inner circle (Mark 15: 40-41).

The Gospel of Thomas is significant to us as Christians in both its similarities and differences to the canonical books. In its similarities, we can find affirmative evidence that Jesus truly did exist and that even if different beliefs existed about the essence of who he was at the time, there was no disputing the fact that he existed.

In its differences, we can see the work and care for the one truly divine book which holds no discrepancies and has been put together through God by people who were in fact 100% real and who did not need to go by pseudonyms, such as, Dydymos Judas Thomas.

I would not recommend someone who is younger or less knowledgeable in the truth to read these texts as they have some dangerous and twisted ideas; ones that could be interpreted and twisted even further due to its often complex wording.

The bible warns against false prophets that may be teaching based upon the current culture of the time.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says: “For the time will come when people do not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” With this in mind, if you are reading the Gospel of Thomas for scholarly value or to gain insight into the times, make sure you have a bible with you, and shield yourself with the word of God.

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