Gospel of Thomas Episode [further reading]

gospel-of-thomasOne of my earliest videos—”What did Gnostic Christians Believe?”—continues to garner the most views out of all of my videos. My other top performers? The videos on the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas. Something about Gnosticism really interests people on YouTube! Check out my Gospel of Thomas video below:

This video coincided well with a new commentary on the Gospel of Thomas by Simon Gathercole published in 2015. It is probably the most exhaustive commentary on the Gospel of Thomas that I’ve seen, and he takes several moderate positions (ie. his dating of Thomas, his thoughts on whether Thomas contains any original sayings of Jesus). I highly recommend this text as the jumping off point for any further research on the Gospel of Thomas. Gathercole’s bibliography is extensive. I also relied on April DeConick’s research on the Gospel of Thomas. She argues that the Gospel of Thomas started as a kernel of Aramaic Jesus Sayings that went through several processes of compilation and re-writing into what we have today.

The question, “Why is it not in the Bible” is a rather silly question for those who know how complicated the process of canonization was…but it is the question I hear ALL THE TIME from people interested in the topic. Some have even crafted complicated conspiracy theories about how the Church stifled certain books, barring them from the Bible. In these situations, I always try to downplay the power of any centralized ecclesiastical authorities during this time. There is not much evidence for a concerted effort by Church authorities to ban the Gospel of Thomas. Sure, some church authorities didn’t like it, but it was obviously being copied and read by some people. However, its popularity apparently wasn’t enough. By the time the canon started to take shape, the 4 Gospel that we are most familiar with already had a huge fan base, and it was hard to break into that exclusive club.

Bibliography:

April DeConick. Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth. 2005.

Simon Gathercole. The Gospel of Thomas: Introduction and Commentary. 2015

 

Andrew Henry is a PhD student in early Christianity at Boston University. His research focuses on the popular and domestic religion of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly the magico-religious rituals deployed to harness and direct ritual power.

Comments

  1. Tyler Foss says:

    What was the early christian concept of Hell? Did they believe it was eternal torture or as I’ve heard some people say, was it actually just describing a physical place where people would put trash?

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