‘These are the hidden sayings that the living Jesus spoke and that Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down.’ — Gospel of Thomas
‘The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.’ — Luke 6:40
‘When somebody wants something, the whole Universe conspires in their favour. The warrior of light knows this.’ — Paulo Coelho
The Gospel of Thomas was found as part of the Nag Hammadi find in Egypt in 1945. Fragments had previously been found in monasteries in the Middle East. It had also been postulated that an earlier gospel upon which later gospels drew, codenamed Q, existed. Whilst not necessarily that document, Gospel of Thomas contains much of what was predicted for Q.
For many people, their first awareness of the material known as the Nag Hammadi find was the mention in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
Gospel of Thomas is radically different to the other gospels in that it is mystical, it also differs in that it is stripped of narrative and explanation, merely being the sayings attributed to Jesus, but in this raw form it has more power.
The sayings are closer to koans in Zen Buddhism, similar in form to many of the thoughts of Paulo Coelho or what is found in his Manual of the Warrior of Light. There appears to be a Far Eastern influence, though this is unproven.
As with Zen koans, the reader is to meditate upon the saying. From one person to another the interpretation may differ, there is no one answer, it is the act of meditation that matters.
As we see with
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
There is no ‘correct’ answer, the purpose is to force the mind into different pathways.
There are 114 sayings in the Gospel of Thomas. The first two sayings
And he said: Whoever finds the correct interpretation of these sayings will never die.
Jesus said: The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.
Seek and ye shall find. The sayings are hidden, that is waiting for their hidden meaning to be discovered, he who discovers finds enlightenment, discovers the inner truth.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not something we may attain in the afterlife, it is in the here and now, it is a state of mind, it is all around us and has been since the beginning of time.
Jesus said: If your leaders say to you: ‘Look! The Kingdom is in the sky!’ Then the birds will be there before you. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather, the Kingdom is within you and it is outside of you.
Unlike the Gospels Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, Thomas offers no explanation. It is for the reader to interpret and thus lies the path to immortality.
It is often stated that the Gospel of Thomas is an gnostic text. It is not. The confusion arises because it was found within a cache of gnostic texts.
Thoughts from a weekend conversation with my lovely friend Sian.
Top story The Religion Daily (Wednesday 27 April 2011).