Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Thomas’

Manuscrito encontrado em Accra

July 18, 2012
Manuscrito encontrado em Accra

Manuscrito encontrado em Accra

Achei na internet, presente de um amigo. Simplesmente genial! — Paulo Coelho

One of the most important archaeological and historical finds in recent times was the Nag Hammadi find. It was a collection of manuscripts that shed important light on early Christianity.

The find contained several early gospels, one of the most important of which was the Gospel of Thomas from which Matthew, Mark and Luke drew. These early gospels were ruled heretical and destroyed, often only fragments remain. That is why the Nag Hammadi find was so important, as these early gospels were believed to be lost forever.

Manuscrito encontrado em Accra is published in Brazil this month. It will be published in the rest of the world from November 2012 onwards.

The Gospels

April 4, 2011
gospel of mark

gospel of mark

Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Four gospels. When were they written, by who were they written, what do they tell us?

John is radically different from the first three and was written much later. The first three seem at first glance to be similar, but if we look carefully there are differences. What do these differences tell us?

Consider the Parable of the Sower. Before reading further, reflect on what you can recall of this parable, then read on.

Mathew 13: 3-9

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Mark 4: 3-9

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Luke 8:4-8

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

All appears to be the same, but look very carefully. Look at the second to last sentence. Note Mathew refers to seeds. But in particular note Luke tells us not only that some seed fell on the path but that they were trampled on.

If we interpret the seed as the word of God that fell on deaf ears, but in some places took root and bore fruit, then what Luke has added implies that some who heard the word of God were persecuted. A different time, a different place.

Mark was the first Gospel. It is shorter than the other gospels. It starts with Jesus as a young man, we learn nothing of his early history.

Mathew incorporates much of Mark, showing that the author of Mathew was aware of Mark and accepted it as an authoritative text. He starts though by giving us the lineage of Jesus. He is establishing his authority. He is also placing it in a Jewish context.

Luke too also incorporates much of Mark, showing that the author of Luke was aware of Mark and accepted it as an authoritative text. Luke is the great story teller. Luke flushes the story out a little, he tells us a great crowd gathered, people from town after town came. Luke was also the author of Acts. Luke is writing within a Greco-Roman context.

Not only do Mathew and Luke incorporate Mark into their gospels in what is little more than a cut and paste operation, they also to a large extent keep the same order.

There are though a couple of lines in Mark that do not make it into either Mathew or Luke. These refer to the author of Mark. Do we assume that as Mathew and Luke are writing their gospels, they do not wish a reference to another gospel writer?

Mathew and Luke also have common text, but not drawn from Mark. Principally the sayings of Jesus. What were they drawing on? In the absence of another gospel, scholars postulated a gospel which they called Q.

In 1945, the Nag Hammadi find was discovered. A cache of books in an earthenware jar. Within that find was the Gospel of Thomas. It was the sayings of Jesus with no narrative.

The Gospel of Thomas is different from the other four gospels. It is a mystical gospel, the sayings are enigmatic, he who understands will achieve immortality, seek and ye shall find, the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us, in the here and now.

The Gospel of Thomas differs in other ways too. The Virgin Birth is not there, nor the Crucifixion, nor the Judgement at the End of Days.

Thomas 9

Jesus said: Look, there was a man who came out to sow seed. He filled his hand with seed and threw it about. Some fell onto the road, and birds ate it. Some fell onto rocks and could not root and produced no grain. Some fell into patches of thorny weeds that kept it from growing, and grubs ate it. Some seed fell upon good soil and grew and produced good grain. It was 60 units per measure and 120 units per measure.

The gospels were written after the death of Jesus. For the authors Jesus was still present, they were inspired by His presence. This begs the question where do we draw the line?

Philip Yancey, when writing of the life of Jesus, draws on Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, who were inspired by God. Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho is inspired by God.

We find the same if we go back in time. Hildegard von Bingen saw herself as a feather on the breath of God. She communicated with God through visions. The music of J S Bach, the writings of Thomas Aquinas. The visionary William Blake had many visions and encounters with angels. Handel’s Messiah was an inspiration from angels and an attempt to capture their voices. On completing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ Handel is reported to have exclaimed ‘I think I did see all Heaven open before me and the great God Himself.’

Why four gospels? Why not three, why not five? Why was the Gospel of Thomas omitted? Around 180 AD, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (now Lyons in France), argued that there should be only four gospels.

The Gospel of Thomas could have been omitted as it did not support the prevailing doctrine, thus had to be destroyed as a heretical book. It could be it was not known to the church in Europe even though it was known in the Middle East.

There are many books and letters missing from the Bible. Although we no longer refer to them as heretical, they tend to be dismissed as lacking authority. This is a mistake. They were once seen as sacred texts, as important as those we are familiar with.

Many thanks to the Rev Robert Cotton, Rector of Holy Trinity in Guildford, on whose excellent talk I have drawn. Any mistakes, omissions, additions, are mine and mine alone. And special thanks to the helpers who prepared and served an excellent dinner.

Synchronicity: I picked up my copy of The Gospel of Thomas by Stevan Davies. It fell open at the Parable of the Sower!

The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Thomas Collection
– Jesus Wars
– Lost Scriptures
The mystery of Melchizedek
Where does religion come from?
Christian Theology and Gaia
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

Gospel of Thomas

November 24, 2009
Fragments of a Codex found by a farmer at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945

Fragments of a Codex found by a farmer at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945

‘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).

Also see

The Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas Collection

How to Know God

God is

Crossing the transition zone

Manual of the Warrior of Light

%d bloggers like this: