Talk:Gospel of Thomas

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A few thoughts:

  • "...without an overt editorial agenda..." - I'd say Thomas has a pretty clear dualistic/Gnostic agenda. Even right in the incipit: "..the secret words which the living Jesus spoke.."
    • I'd love a better term, but it's fairly well accepted that statements alone are no where near as politically motivated and "edited" as works with the various accounts of Jesus's life, most importantly, perhaps, with his death. Certainly, as an editor, I'm going to choose quotes that reinforce my school of thought, but without the narrative text, I don't get the chance to demonize either the Romans or the Jews; I can't define which holy city is most important to our religion; i can't show that non-jews should be converted, all of which are topics that the writers of the 4 cannoconical gospels take on far after the fact, using Jesus's words not just out of context, but literally in an new context.--WaitingforGodot 14:45, 8 July 2008 (EDT)
  • I'm uncertain what is understood as a "legitimate text" in this context. Obviously any historical source that isn't an outright forgery can be called "legitimate", but that doesn't really tell us anything. Also, the juxtaposition with the following sentence, "No Christian Church accepts it as a legitimate text", seems to imply some sort of conflict between "the scholars" and "the Christians". I suspect what is meant is that no Christian Church accepts it as a canonical text.
  • Looking at note 3, who exactly is it that says "Thomas is a threat to Christians", what is it about Thomas that would make it a threat, and how did the "Conservative Christians" in the main text turn into "Christians" in the note? Regarding the "removes the Church's authority" issue, I would also point out GTh 12 which at least on the surface actually seems like an even more explicit justification for Church authority than e.g. Matt 16:18-19.

--AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:03, 8 July 2008 (EDT)

    • Hum. This comment was "tounge in cheek"-esque, unsupported commentary. As this is not a truly academic or encylpedic entry (hence the reference to Wiki), I didn't really think it needed the "Pronoun treatment" (what we used to term the "they said that then it was said) style of freshmen or people trying to avoid sources.
    • I would love to comment at length with you about the role of the Church in Thomas, but taken as an entire collection of quotes, the emphasis clearly is a Gnostic one that would deny any Church the right to tell followers exactly how to find the Kingdom of Heaven. "Church Authority" as you are looking at it is the "Church of Peter" (which of course was basically rubbed out by Paul's church). Given the fuller context of Jesus from all sources, and in comparison with contemporary political activist and jewish prophets, I think that it would be fair to say Jesus is challenging the Temple as it stood, not of a Church to come. From his words alone, I would not think that this character of Jesus is wanting to make a Church in the form of the Temple (which is to say, I don't think he would be all that thrilled with the Church that came in his name.) Of course, it is also my belief that many of the quotes within the synoptic gospels have the same questioning of the authority of the church, and have the same mystical sense to them. --WaitingforGodot 15:02, 8 July 2008 (EDT)
Well, I think that depends. Of course I agree that the Gnostic texts generally do not support any significant kind of church hierarchy, especially since Gnosticism (generalizing heavily here) tends to be very much an individualistic religion - it is mostly for the single, enlightened believer who has the spiritual strength to realize the true meaning behind the words, rather than for a community of believers worshipping together. Particularly, both Thomas (verse 13) and the later Gospel of Judas (can't find the exact place right now) have this topos of the Master taking the disciple away to teach things that are not for the lesser disciples. Interestingly, as you point out, this is also found to a lesser degree in the recurring theme of "Messianic secrecy" in Mark and in the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1 which only Peter, James and John are allowed to witness.
However, while all this individuality of course gets rid of Church authority and such, it also makes for a very exclusionary religion where the whole communal aspect, which Jesus also emphasizes often (such as the Last Supper, and "Where two or three are gathered together"), would be much weaker. Generally spekaing, it seems to me that this would be a much less appealing religion than orthodox Christianity, and it was certainly not very practical in the environment of the Roman Empire during the first couple of centuries AD when sticking together was an absolute necessity. One could also consider that a Church authority such as the Catholic Magisterium seems to act as a moderating influence on the religion - you don't find as much creationism or other excesses in the Catholic Church as you do in much more ?decetralized Evangelical churches, for instance.
Getting back to Thomas in particular, however, I think that one of the essential points here is the dating of the text. If we assume an early date, Thomas might very well describe one of the early forms of Christian worship. (Hmm. An "early date" describing an "early form". Bit of a tautology there.) Anyway. A later 2nd century date, on the other hand, would suggest that it should perhaps be seen more as a criticism or opposition to a semi-structured church that was already consolidating itself at that time (or at least as much as political circumstances allowed). Hoping to actually find that correct dating is probably a bit too optimistic, though. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 17:34, 11 July 2008 (EDT)

Disputes about Gnosticism[edit]

I have some issues with the claim that this is both a Gnostic gospel and probably the earliest gospel. While there is research supporting both views, they are, by my understanding, mutually exclusive; Gnostic Christianity didn't arise until some time after the synoptic gospels had been written, in the second century. It's spiritualist and dualist leanings, if it is indeed the earliest extant gospel, needn't arise from Gnosticism, as those ideas are relatively common (and sometimes develop independently of one another) in the history of spiritual thought, i.e. Jainism on Karma, or Scientology for that matter. Additionally, 'secret knowledge' was not only relatively common in contemporary religious thought, but is reflected in canonical, synoptic gospels (Luke 8:9-10).WilhelmJunker 13:48, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

The Funspace article[edit]

... would be The Gospel of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Peep, peep! (talk) 16:19, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Mary as a Disciple?[edit]

Okay, I'll bite...which Mary? -- Seth Peck (talk) 17:04, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Nobody knows. But one would guess mary of magdala. Pink mowse.pngGodot Malaka 17:08, 6 December 2011 (UTC)