The Gospel of Thomas is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945. It was in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. The manuscript is written in Coptic - which was spoken in Egypt before the spread of Islam and Arabic - and is dated at around 340 CE. It was first published in a photographic edition in 1956. In 1977, James M. Robinson edited the first complete collection of English translations of the Nag Hammadi texts. The common range of accepted dates of the original text is from 50 - 140 CE - which is roughly the same time frame that many scholars have considered to be the general timeframe that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written as well.
Scholars suspect the claim of authorship to the Apostle Thomas on the first line to be false, and the true writer remains unknown. The document probably originated within a school of early Christians. Even the description of Thomas as a "gnostic" gospel is based upon little other than the fact that it was found along with gnostic texts within the seven codices at Nag Hammadi.
The Gospel of Thomas is very different in tone and structure from other New Testament apocrypha and the four Canonical Gospels. Unlike the canonical Gospels, it 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. Almost half of these sayings more or less resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels, while the other sayings were previously unknown. The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus, but doesn't mention crucifixion, resurrection, or final judgement; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus. The Early Church believed it to be a false gospel.
Several translations exist. The text I'm using today is adapted from the translation by W. R. Schoedel, which in turn is based on prior work done by other translators. I have replaced archaic words like Thee, Thine, Thou, Ye, shall and hast. I also updated some sentence structures and grammar constructions. If there is any interest, I will post this version online somewhere to satisfy your curiosity.
Episode 8 closes the Jefferson Bible podcast project. The next podcast will feature the Gospel of Thomas, so stay subscribed! For more information, please visit thereadingdesk.com.
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Episode 5 continues with chapters 9 and 10 of the modernized text from the Jefferson Bible. For more information, or to leave ratings or comments, please visit http://thereadingdesk.com. Share a link with your friends!