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The gospel of Thomas & its late dating. Composition & authorship

The Gospel of Thomas, Gnostic Texts

Scholars speculate that the works were buried in response to a letter from Bishop Athanasius declaring a strict canon of Christian scripture. The Coptic-language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of sayings attributed to Jesus. The introduction states: "These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down. The text's authorship by Thomas the Apostle is rejected by modern scholars. It is possible that the document originated within a school of early Christians , possibly proto-Gnostics. While the Gospel of Thomas does not directly point to Jesus' divinity, it also does not directly contradict it.

Thomas also shows likely evidence of having been influenced by second century Syrian Christianity even such Syrian works as the Diatessaron which dates from A. For these reasons among others, the Gospel of Thomas was rightfully rejected by the church for inclusion in the New Testament canon.

It is difficult to know the exact date of the Gospel of Thomas, but one should probably date it to A. Our earliest manuscript fragment from part of the Gospel of Thomas dates to around A. So, the Gosepl of Thomas definitely was written before that time. What is the Gospel of Thomas?

Who wrote the Gospel of Thomas? Messiah Jesus is not the Messiah predicted by the Jewish prophets Jesus is the Messiah of the Old Testament prophets.

By looking outward in faith to Jesus Mark ; Luke ; John The Nature of God Many gods 30 ; possibly even some form of pantheism One God Mk. Incapable of saving himself; must look outward to Jesus Jn. Physical Body The physical body is bad, but the spiritual is good The physical body is not inherently evil since it will be resurrected Lk. Mention of community context and order Mt. Death and Resurrection Not central to message.

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.

Central to message Mt. Old Testament No references; Jesus does not fulfill Scripture Many references Mt.

Dating of the gospel of thomas

Jesus fulfills Scripture. Thomas Receives a special place amongst the disciples by learning secret knowledge. No evidence of Thomas receiving special knowledge compared to the other disciples: Peter, James, and John part of the inner circle Mt.

As verse 12 puts it: "The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will leave us. Who will be our leader?

For his sake heaven and earth came into being. No major Christian church accepts this gospel as canonical or authoritative. 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. 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.

Before the Nag Hammadi discovery, very little was known about the Gospel of Thomas other than three small fragments from Oxyrynchus that date to A.D. First Page of the Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi Codex II | Source 1 and , are paleographically dated to around the year. When was the Gospel of Thomas written? This is a question hotly debated by scholars. Many scholars say that it was written at about the same time, even.

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.

The Gospel of Thomas is thus more mystical than the canonical gospels and emphasizes a direct and unmediated experience of the Divine. 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.

The Gospel of Thomas is a non-canonical sayings gospel. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December The making of the gospel of thomas and its dependence on the canonical gospels. Reasons for a second century dating. with scholars generally falling into two main camps: an early camp favoring a date prior to the gospels of Luke and John.

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 Gospel of Thomas is distinct and not directly related to other apocryphal or pseudepigraphal works that bear Thomas' name, such as the Acts of Thomas or the work called the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which expands on the canonical texts to describe the miraculous childhood of Jesus. In the fourth century, Church Father Cyril of Jerusalem mentioned a "Gospel of Thomas" in his Cathechesis V, saying: "Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples.

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 There is much debate about when the text was composed, with scholars generally falling into two main camps: an early camp favoring a date prior to the gospels of Luke and John, possibly as early as the mids C.

E, and a late camp favoring a time well after the last of the canonical gospels, probably in the mids C. Pagels argues that both John's and Luke's gospels contain passages designed to refute the "Thomas Christians" who believed that true followers of Jesus could attain Christhood equal to that of Jesus himself. Thomas does not mention the physical resurrection and Jesus acknowledges that Thomas, the ideal disciple, no longer needs his teaching.

However, in John's gospel, Thomas physically touches the resurrected Jesus and them humbly acknowledges Jesus as "my Lord and my God. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. Some in the "early camp" claim that the Gospel of Thomas is closely related to the hypothetical Q documenta collection of sayings found in Matthew and Luke, but absent from the Gospel of Mark.

Others in the early camp—those who argue for a date sometime in the 50s—see common themes in Paul 's epistles and Thomas which are absent from the canonical gospels.

According to this theory, Paul drew on sayings widely recognized to have come from Jesus, some which are uniquely preserved in the Gospel of Thomas. The early camp also notes that Thomas reflects very little of the full-blown Valentinian Gnosticism seen in many of the other texts in the cache of manuscripts found at Nag Hammadi.

Gospel of Thomas Prof Gilles Quispel Nag Hammadi earliest found new testament writtings

It thus represents a kind of proto-gnosticism, reflecting a time when the Christian community had not yet divided between the groups who later became known as gnostic and orthodox Christians.

The late camp, on the other hand, dates Thomas sometime after C.

whether the Gospel of Thomas and the diverse traditions that it preserves few alternative methods for dating the Gospel of Thomas, we examine logion The Gospel of Thomas appears far too late in history to. Estimated Range of Dating: A.D. Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus (Harper San Francisco ). John S.

Some argue that Thomas is dependent on the Diatessaronwhich was composed shortly after C. Moreover, the Greek fragments of Thomas found in Egypt are typically dated between and C. Noted biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman, in Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the Millennium, argued that the historical Jesus was a failed apocalyptic preacher, and that his fervent apocalyptic beliefs are recorded in the earliest Christian documents, namely Mark and the authentic Pauline epistles.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Gospel of Thomas

The earliest Christians, still clinging to Jesus' apocalyptic teaching, believed Jesus would soon return, and their beliefs are echoed in the earliest Christian writings. As the Second Coming did not materialize, later gospels, such as Luke and John, deemphasized an imminent end of the world.

Likewise, many sayings in the Gospel of Thomas treat the idea of the imminent end of the world as a profoundly mistaken view, emphasizing that the real Kingdom of God is within the human heart. Such a viewpoint implies a late date. Another argument put forth by the late camp is an argument from redaction.

Under the most commonly accepted solution to the Synoptic problem, Matthew and Luke both used Mark as well as a lost sayings collection called Q to compose their gospels. Sometimes Matthew and Luke modified the wording of their source, Mark or Qand the modified text is known as redaction. Proponents of the late camp argue that some of this secondary redaction created by Matthew and Luke shows up in Thomas, which means that Thomas was written after Matthew and Luke were composed.

Since Matthew and Luke are generally thought to have been composed in the 80s and 90s, Thomas would have to be composed later than that.

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