The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (Maybe Pt. 1)

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Hi religion section people. I realize getting folks to discuss apocrypha is like herding cats (the believers don’t like discussing religion at all with a nonbeliever, especially not on specific terms they get to dictate, the nonbelievers often seem to think there’s nothing to discuss beyond saying ‘but it’s not real’.) Yet I decide to keep trying this Sisyphean task because it’s fun to discuss these things and I want to.

Gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic gospel dated to second century AD and seems contemporary with most written records of the new testament, though historians point to those written records of the canonical new testament being present via the oral tradition in the first century before the gnostic set.

Gospel of Thomas is unique compared to most biblical books because it is a “sayings gospel”. Rather than retell the story or legend, it just has quoted philosophies attributed by Thomas to Jesus. It contains roughly 114 verses, so about 114 “sayings”. I plan to do twenty at a post. If this actually results in engagement and involvement, I’ll keep the series going. If not, I’ll see whatever else catches my limited attention span. So let’s dive into the first twenty “sayings”.

Gospel of Thomas
(Translated by Thomas O. Lambdin)

These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas
Thomas wrote down.
(1) And he said, “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience
(2) Jesus said, “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will
become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over
the All.”
(3) Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the
birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will
precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you
come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you
who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in
poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”
(4) Jesus said, “The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old
about the place of life, and he will live. For many who are first will become last, and they
will become one and the same.”
(5) Jesus said, “Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will
become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.”
(6) His disciples questioned him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How shall we
pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?”
Jesus said, “Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the
sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will
remain without being uncovered.”
(7) Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and
cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.”
(8) And he said, “The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew
it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large
fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without
difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(9) Jesus said, “Now the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered them.
Some fell on the road; the birds came and gathered them up. Others fell on the rock, did
not take root in the soil, and did not produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked
the seed(s) and worms ate them. And others fell on the good soil and it produced good
fruit: it bore sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure.”
(10) Jesus said, “I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.”
(11) Jesus said, “This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The
dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is
dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do?
On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will
you do?”
(12) The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our
Jesus said to them, “Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose
sake heaven and earth came into being.”
(13) Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like.”
Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a righteous angel.”
Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are
Jesus said, “I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated
from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”
And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his
companions, they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?”
Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up
stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”
(14) Jesus said to them, “If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you
pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits.
When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what
they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth
will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth – it is that which will defile
(15) Jesus said, “When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on
your faces and worship him. That one is your father.”
(16) Jesus said, “Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the
world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth:
fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two
against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will
stand solitary.”
(17) Jesus said, “I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and
what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind.”
(18) The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us how our end will be.”
Jesus said, “Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For
where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the
beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death.”
(19) Jesus said, “Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you
become my disciples and listen to my words, these stones will minister to you. For there
are five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and
whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience
(20) The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.”
He said to them, “It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls
on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.”

Now let’s do some questions:

  1. Any sayings of the twenty above you specifically like? Why?
  2. Any sayings of the twenty above you specifically don’t like? Why?
  3. Any sayings you find in direct contrast to how modern christianity is traditionally taught?
  4. Any sayings you find that directly support how modern christianity is traditionally taught?
  5. Do you have any incentive to read the remaining sayings regardless of whether this OP gets enough engagement that I’m likely to continue the threads for group discussion?
  6. How’s your day going?
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