Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Gospel of Thomas

"These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down."

The Gospel of Thomas contain 114 purported sayings of Jesus. There is no narrative, no mention of the death of Jesus. The focus is on what Jesus said, not what he did.

The interest for Christians is how many of these non-canonical sayings might actually come from the historical Jesus. For a brief look at Thomas from two well know scholars (Elaine Pagels and Helmut Koester) and a link to the text of Thomas, click here.

The Gospel of Thomas comes to us primarily through a Coptic manuscript from the Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945 and dated to the mid-fourth century. Yet portions of the gospel in Greek also survive, with scholars dating these papyri to circa 200 C.E. or later. The question then arises: What is the dating of the earliest edition of this work? Scholars are here much divided, with some opting for a mid-first century date and others arguing for late second century origin.

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