The Gospel of Thomas is an Interesting Document

As Christians enter into the Christmas season many of us read a little more about the Bible and its origins.  Growing up as a young child, Christmas was wrapped up with shopping and Santa Claus.  My anticipation then was waking up with toys under the tree.  My understanding of Christ being born in a manger was solidified by the manger that my Mom would put up in mid-December every year.  I was Catholic at the time and had no reason to question the origins of the writers of the King James version of the Holy Bible.

Many Biblical scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas is one of the first gospels written about the life of Christ.  These writings were discovered in the Egyptian desert in the mid 1940's.  They are sometimes attribute to Judas Thomas and one quote says, Whoever finds the meaning of these words will not taste death.  Christians, as well as many other religions, have a belief in eternal life.  We can repent, change our ways and be assured of entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.  I hope I am not sounding like a cliché but many of us have gone onto rest believing that our souls will be taken care of.

I found a new term while researching information of the Gospel of Thomas.  The word is called Pseudepigrapha.  This word refers to falsely attributed works or texts whose claimed authors are not the true authors.   It also reflects a work whose real author is attributed to a figure of the past.  I wanted to do more study because of a sermon I heard referencing the Book of Revelations.  The book was written supposedly by the Apostle John but it references things that occurred many years before he lived.  It also prophesies how end times will occur.  The author is debated because it was written years after John's death.  How many existing Biblical authors fall into this category?

I was amazed to actually read some of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas.  I don't know if Jesus was concerned about how he was presently perceived, but he asked his apostles what they thought of him.  A translation of what Thomas wrote follows:

13. Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended."
And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you."

There is a reference to the 'Parable of the Wicked Tenants' that could be interpreted in a number of ways.  Some scholars refer to the fact that a vineyard was supposedly planted and that the owner wanted to distribute the wine to those who needed it.  The growers/workers were killed and not able to enjoy the fruits of their labors.  Some scholars relate the parable to the struggles of Israel at the time.  Others point out that it could refer to the life of Christ himself as he could have been referencing his own death and resurrection.

Image result for Judas Thomas
I know from reading that Jesus' public ministry began after his baptism by John the Baptist.  It was referenced on some material that I read on Wikipedia that John had a greater following than Jesus at the time.  Jesus also inherited many of the followers of John after John was executed.  Those were really trying times for individuals who did not believe as the Romans did.  I have another quote and then I will continue my studies and writings in the New Year:

29. Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels.
Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."

I am amazed at the books that were not chosen to be part of the Bible.  I am saddened by the plight of present day Christians in Jerusalem and Syria.  It is really tough to profess your faith when the consequences could be death by beheading.  The war for our spiritual beliefs is never ending.  I take solace in the fact that I can read and post my thoughts without having to face persecution.


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