The Lost Gospel of Thomas.

“The Gospel of Thomas” is a non-canonical sayings gospel. Discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, the text was part of a cache of documents known as the Nag Hammadi library.

Unlike the canonical Gospels of the New Testament, the Gospel of Thomas is not a narrative account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia (sayings) attributed to Jesus, sometimes stand-alone, sometimes embedded in short dialogues or parables. The text contains a possible reference to almost every teaching found in the canonical Gospels, making it a valuable study tool for scholars to research the early Christian communities.

The Gospel of Thomas is viewed by some scholars as one of the earliest of the gospels. Some critical scholars suspect that this collection of 114 sayings, ostensibly written by Thomas, were compiled in the 2nd century CE. However, the date and place of composition remain speculative.

The introduction states: “These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke, and that Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.” Didymos is Greek for twin, and Thomas is Aramaic for twin. Therefore, the author’s name might have actually been Judas Twin.

Its authenticity and its correlation with the synoptic gospels is a matter of ongoing debate in scholarly circles. However, it has had a profound impact on the study of the historical Jesus and early Christian origins.

Nag Hammadi Library

The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of 13 ancient books containing over 50 texts. The library was discovered in 1945 near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. The books in the library were written in Coptic, though they likely had earlier forms in Greek.

The texts contained in the Nag Hammadi library are largely Gnostic in nature. Gnosticism was a religious movement in the early centuries of Christianity that emphasized esoteric knowledge, or gnosis, as the path to salvation. Many of the texts in the Nag Hammadi library contain stories and teachings that differ significantly from those found in the canonical books of the New Testament.

Some of the most famous texts in the library include:

The Gospel of Thomas: This is a sayings gospel, meaning it’s a collection of the sayings of Jesus rather than a narrative of his life and death. Some scholars consider it one of the earliest Christian texts.

The Gospel of Philip: This text is more of a reflection or commentary on Christian themes than a traditional gospel. It speaks extensively about sacraments and the nature of the divine.

The Apocryphon (Secret Book) of John: This text presents a Gnostic version of the creation and fall of humanity.

The discovery of the Nag Hammadi library greatly enhanced our understanding of early Christian and Gnostic beliefs and practices. These texts show the great diversity of beliefs in the early Christian period and have been the subject of intense study and debate among scholars. They continue to provide valuable insight into the complex history of Christianity and the religious milieu of the time.

The Apocryphon (Secret Book) of John

The Apocryphon of John, also known as the Secret Book of John, is a significant text from the Nag Hammadi library. This set of texts was discovered in Egypt in 1945 and has since been recognized for its importance to our understanding of Gnosticism and early Christian thought.

The Apocryphon of John presents a Gnostic version of creation and redemption. It takes the form of a revelation by the resurrected Christ to John, the son of Zebedee, who is traditionally associated with the Gospel and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

In the text, Christ imparts a complex cosmological narrative. This includes the description of a supreme, transcendent God who is beyond human comprehension, and the emergence from this God of a series of divine attributes or emanations, sometimes personified in female form. One of these divine beings, Sophia (Wisdom), causes a disruption in the divine realm leading to the creation of a flawed entity, the demiurge, who is identified with the God of the Old Testament. The demiurge creates the material world, which is seen as imperfect and corrupt in comparison to the spiritual realm.

Human beings, according to this narrative, are divine sparks trapped in physical bodies by the demiurge and his helpers, the archons. The Christ figure is presented as a messenger from the higher divine realms, whose purpose is to reveal the true nature of humanity’s situation and to help liberate the divine spark within humans from the material world.

The Apocryphon of John provides a detailed and systematic account of Gnostic mythology. Its vision of a flawed creation and a flawed creator differs significantly from the accounts of creation found in the canonical books of the Bible, which depict a purposeful and good creation by a just and loving God.

This text, along with the other texts in the Nag Hammadi library, offers important insights into the diversity of beliefs that existed among early Christians and other religious thinkers in the first few centuries CE. It is a complex and fascinating document that continues to be studied by scholars of religion, theology, and ancient history.

Demiurge And His Helpers, The Archons

In Gnostic belief systems, which flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the demiurge is often depicted as an inferior god or divine being who was responsible for creating the physical universe. This was in contrast to the supreme, transcendent God who was seen as the source of spiritual truth and enlightenment. In Gnostic cosmology, the demiurge is generally portrayed as ignorant, flawed, or even malevolent, often identified with the God of the Old Testament.

The Archons are associated with the demiurge as subordinate rulers, entities, or powers that assist in governing the physical world. The word “archon” is derived from the Greek word ἄρχων (archōn), which means “ruler” or “lord.”

In Gnostic texts such as the Apocryphon of John, found in the Nag Hammadi library, the Archons are depicted as the creators and administrators of the material world. They are often portrayed as antagonistic or hostile to humanity, imprisoning the divine spark found in human beings within the material body and seeking to keep it there. They are the cosmic powers who rule over the earthly realm and maintain the spiritual ignorance of humanity.

The demiurge and the archons play crucial roles in Gnostic soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). The Gnostic path to salvation involves gaining the knowledge (gnosis) of the true nature of reality, understanding the true divine origin of humanity, and escaping the control of the demiurge and the archons to return to the divine realm.

Gnostic Soteriology

Soteriology is the theological study of salvation, the process through which humans are saved or delivered from sin and its consequences. In Gnostic soteriology, salvation is understood quite differently from traditional Christian views.

Gnosticism is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century AD among various Jewish and early Christian sects. Gnostic beliefs hinge upon the idea of “gnosis,” a Greek word that translates to “knowledge.”

In the Gnostic view, humans are divine souls trapped in the physical world, created by an imperfect entity known as the demiurge. The material world is seen as corrupt, and the true God is far removed from it. The goal, then, is to gain knowledge (gnosis) of humanity’s true divine origins, which can lead to the spiritual liberation or salvation of the divine element in humanity.

Gnostic salvation is not based on faith or good works, but on the acquisition of divine knowledge, which allows one to escape the illusions of the material world and return to the divine realm. This knowledge is typically revealed by a divine figure (often Jesus in Christian Gnostic texts), who is seen as a messenger from the higher divine realms.

This revealed knowledge usually consists of insight into the divine origins of the human soul, the false nature of the material world, and the identities of the hostile powers (often represented by the demiurge and the archons) that seek to keep humans ignorant and bound to the physical world.

While the specifics vary across different Gnostic sects, this is the general soteriological framework: salvation as the escape from ignorance and the material world, achieved through revealed knowledge of the divine realm and the soul’s true identity. This concept is substantially different from mainstream Christian soteriology, which tends to emphasize faith in Jesus Christ, repentance from sin, and moral transformation as the path to salvation.

Collection Of 114 Sayings, Ostensibly Written By Thomas, Were Compiled In The 2nd Century CE.

The collection you’re referring to is the Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical text discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. Unlike the canonical Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which contain narratives of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, the Gospel of Thomas consists solely of logia, or sayings, attributed to Jesus.

There are 114 sayings in total in this gospel. Some of them are similar to sayings found in the canonical Gospels, while others are quite different or unique to this text. Some of the sayings are clear and straightforward, but others are enigmatic and cryptic.

The Gospel of Thomas is believed to have been written in Greek and later translated into Coptic, the language in which it was discovered. As for its date of composition, most scholars argue that it was written sometime in the mid to late 2nd century CE, although this is a topic of ongoing debate. Some scholars believe it may include material from the first century, possibly predating the canonical Gospels.

As for its authorship, the text claims to have been written by Thomas, identified as “Didymos Judas Thomas.” Didymos and Thomas both mean “twin” in Greek and Aramaic, respectively, so the author might have been referred to as “Judas the Twin.”

However, as with many ancient texts, it is unlikely that the Gospel of Thomas was written by the historical person it is attributed to. Instead, the name of a well-known figure was often attached to texts to lend them authority. As such, while the Gospel of Thomas provides a fascinating look into early Christian thought and the diversity of early Christian beliefs, it is not considered historically reliable in the same way as the canonical Gospels.

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