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Early Christian Heresy: Document Forgery and the Problem of The Gospel of Thomas

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posted on Mar, 9 2011 @ 10:37 AM
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okay i am glad one scripture was posted as a rebuttal because it further establishes whats wrong with people and the bible. Which is taking on sentence a deriving a different meaning than the context of the whole. Well we dont even need the whole we will just look at the folllowing scripture.

Matheew 16:17 JESUS replied, blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah.........18And I tell you the you are peter, and ON this rock I will build my church.......19I will give you the keys to the kingdom......
however i will agree that ultimately the ROCK/foundation is CHRIST but he needed someone to carry the living to the dead so to speak and that was Peter/Simon. In the accepted bible Peter gets Acts and I feel maybe the beginning of Hebrews but thats about it. And Paul gets virtually the rest. So often I hear in the unspoken words or Christians the Peter wasnt that important as Paul but yet alot of the gospel is virtually Jesus and Peter. I hear from Pastors wanting to make a point they will say like Paul said this about Jesus or that. Never saying what Jesus said about Jesus or what Peter said. I just hear Paul Paul Paul said. I smell a conspiracy here.

In Mark 8:27-30 nothing is said about the living god a little different

In Luke 9:18-27 Peters Confession part goes a different route than Mathew or Mark

In John totally different scripture but still in the same argument errr John 21:15-25, JESUS said Simon son of John, do you truly love me.....JESUS said feed my lambs.....(goes on three times)

Honestly I have forgotten what this debate is over so I will stop here. I didnt want to write out the whole scripture so feel free to look it up and read them.

I think the Point i was trying to make about Peter last night had to ultimately lead to the orthodox and generally accepted teachings. I say this because the orthodox says relatively exactly the same thing as the accepted bible only it expands on alot of things that the bible glosses over. I think maybe this can be tied into a debate over the apostles knowledge of Christ and Pauls and their difference that Paul mentions about in his writings. We have to understand that the apostles werent just walking with Christ for say 3 years more like 10-20. (John 21:25). So they would have a much deeper understanding/foundation than say someone who just woke up and decided to take up the Cross. Not to dimish Paul for he did good things. I have just always held the orthodox and accepted bible as ultimately Peters Church and Paul Church. They are both representing the living god though so I wont argue which is correct though I know plenty will. The Chruch doesn't validate gods authority, god does because he is evident.




posted on Mar, 9 2011 @ 11:47 AM
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Originally posted by NOTurTypical
reply to post by AscendAlive
 



A large number of spurious documents emerged during the centuries following the ministries of the Apostles and were universally rejected by the early church. Copies of a group of these were found at Nag Hammadi (in Egypt) dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries, and these are uncritically accepted by Brown as accurate. These include The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Truth, and about four dozen others.


Gnostic Gospels



Again, I must note that any time we get into the historical aspects of when a certain text was discovered, or believed to be written, etc; we are merely playing a guessing game. Unless we were physically there to witness the texts being penned, or even being discovered, we can only guess based upon evidence that we are told exists, as to the authenticity of any writing.



posted on Mar, 9 2011 @ 01:10 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen

Well, it is reasonably easy to compare Thomas to the Biblical Gospels -- we see similarity in parts, great difference in others. If the Bible is divinely inspired, then Thomas, or at least the contradictory parts, cannot be. Again, comes down to what you personally believe -- if you want to accept the Bible, then you have to toss out enough of Thomas to say that it is heretical. If you want to believe the Gnostics (or Marcion, I suppose,) then I doubt that there is anything in Thomas that you're going to vehemently disagree with. Which is a pretty strong argument that it is a Gnostic, not proto-orthodox, text.


I can not see how similarities and/or differences between Thomas and the four canonized gospels should be a strong measuring stick for accepting its authenticity.

For example, there are many things written and said in the gospel of John that do not have any close similarties with the three synoptic gospels. Combine this fact with the fact that there are no story parables in John (as in the other three books), and I would conclude that it's safe to say that if the gospel of John had gone hidden for centuries and only had been discovered in recent times, the church "higher ups" would almost certainly reject it as heretical.

And yet, we today do not reject it as heretical, even though the margins in most bibles have footnotes stating that there are certain parts of the gospel of John that are not believed to have been included in the original text (the story of the woman caught in adultery is the primary example that comes to mind).

Now, I'm not at all saying John does not belong in the bible, but what I'm saying is that it's very easy to take the mindset that "well if it's in the bible, God wanted it there, and if it's not, then He didn't." But that opens up all sorts of other questions such as what we are to do with the apocryphal books that were removed and yet remain in some bibles today. What about those books - does God "want" them in there or does He not?



Originally posted by adjensen
Someone (I want to say that it was Chesterton, but since I just posted a link to one of his books, I might be mistaken) said that "to dismiss tradition is to say that, once you're dead, your vote no longer counts." I don't know, entirely, why the early church fathers dismissed certain texts and kept others, because in many instances, they didn't see the need to document their findings. That's not surprising, but I don't believe that their dismissals or inclusions were arbitrary, and, as they were closer in time to the documents in question, I consider their opinion, whether backed up by tomes of refutation or not, to have value.

Confession time here -- for a while, I seriously was considering becoming a Mormon, and part of that (not a big part, but it was in there) was this text, which appears in the Introduction to my 1981 version of The Book of Mormon:


We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.


Gosh, says I, that sure seems sincere -- they're not telling me to believe it, but they're telling me that the truth will be revealed. After I started having problems with the whole religion, though, I thought it through, and I realized that saying this is an open invitation to find whatever truth you already believe is correct. If you're reading the Book of Mormon, you're not doing so because you think that it's a bunch of hoo-haw (well, not usually
) you're reading it because you want it to be true. Or at least enough people will that a statement like that cited above will produce more favour that discontent.

So, sure, evaluate everything from some internal sense of truth, but you have to recognize that, for a lot of things, our preconceived notions are going to do a whole lot of validation that we're unaware of. Though I present myself as being open to Catholicism, I will also admit that my Protestantism is so deeply engrained that I automatically kick back on a lot of Catholic doctrine, even if I'm accepting of it when I think it through.


Well I don't think it is automatically true that because someone is reading a religious text, they are reading it because they want it to be true. I do agree that many times people have already decided before hand that they want something to be true or already believe it's true before they read it (based upon how they have decided to label themselves beforehand), but on the other hand there are those who read and seek with the genuine intention of being led to any truths that may be contained within, while maintaining the discernment to dismiss anything false or unprofitable.

One of the biggest pitfalls I have ever come to see in the quest for truth is the pitfall of "labeling." In fact, every sect and denomination of every religion falls into this pitfall. Whether we say "I am orthodox," or "gnostic," or "Mormon," or "Protestant," or "Catholic," or "Atheist," or "Christian," or "Muslim," or "Non Denominational," or "New Age," or "conservative" or "liberal" or whatever, what we have automatically and maybe even unkowingly done is confine ourselves to certain ways of thinking, and limit ourselves to only certain perspectives that we are "allowed" to have, while setting up walls that automatically push out anything that could possibly come in to refine our thinking and enhance our spiritual advancement. We have enslaved ourselves. Labels not only divide, but they enslave. And in reality, the two are nearly synonymous - as long as we are divided, we remain enslaved and powerless. In unity there is power to do anything. (See the Tower of Babel account)

To try to get back on topic - if we look at the gospel of Thomas as being "gnostic," we are already more than likely making up our mind as to whether we will accept it or reject it based upon whatever "label" we have chosen for ourselves. And while simply saying "I Am" sounds blasphemous to many, it is in fact the only "label" in which we can leave room for fine tuning ourselves into greater areas of wisdom and advancement towards our divine goal. Christ was not a Christian - He Is. And the overall theme of the gospel of Thomas seems to be just that - Him telling us that we do not belong to any label or restrictions - We Are.



posted on Mar, 23 2011 @ 07:14 PM
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There was an interesting interview about the Bible and forgery on Coast to Coast AM by Bart Ehrman. Here is the video:



I find it interesting that many serious scholars have come to the conclusion that a lot of the Bible writings had a different author than the one claimed but the whole matter has not gone mainstream.
edit on 23/3/2011 by Longdead33 because: Additions.



posted on Mar, 23 2011 @ 08:14 PM
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Originally posted by Longdead33
There was an interesting interview about the Bible and forgery on Coast to Coast AM by Bart Ehrman.


I like Ehrman, generally (and I'm one of the few Christians I know that does :lol
but I think that he makes too much of his textual criticism, and he is a typical non-Christian New Testament scholar who begins with the notion that the Jesus of faith and the Jesus of history are necessarily two different people.

Can you summarize the interview? I don't have two hours to pick through a Coast to Coast AM show for the highlights.



posted on Mar, 23 2011 @ 08:28 PM
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Just because a book is copied, by someone who is unsure of what will become of the original, does not mean anything. And I'm not saying it was either, just pointing out that this could happen with others. An underground sect would be copying some documents secretly, many times over centuries, or would if they were smart. I would.

www.gnosis.org...

Its one of the Nag Hammadi texts.

The ones talking forgery seem primarily fundamental christian sites when I did a quick scan.

www.religionfacts.com...


As to the dating of the Nag Hammadi texts, the manuscripts themselves date from about 350-400 AD. This is based on the datable papyrus used to thicken the leather bindings and the Coptic script. But these codices are believed to be Coptic translations of Greek texts, so the original texts would be significantly earlier.


Ties them in with the gnostics that were persecuted quite well,
edit on 23-3-2011 by Unity_99 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 28 2011 @ 01:18 PM
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And to discuss documents themselves, including what was allowed to be distorted and collected into our Scriptures, by the Council of Constantinople.

This date was in AD 553! Talk about long after the events eh!!!

One of the forefathers and most prominent figures in the Church other than Augustine was Origen!

He was put down by the 553 Council who sought to control consciousness!

www.beyondreligion.com...


In Jer. 1:5, God says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." This is a biblical implication that we existed in some form before we were born. There are numerous non-scriptural references to the pre-existence of our souls. Here is a sampling :

"With the soul of Adam, the souls of all the generations of man were created. B. Chagiga 2B (ancient text).

"Jesus said, 'If they say to you, From where have you originated? say to them, 'We have come from the Light, where the Light has originated through itself.'" The Book of Thomas, Nag Hammadi Texts.

....Origen, "the most prominent of the church fathers with the possible exception of Augustine," taught the pre-existence of the soul. (Encyclopedia Britannica) In AD 553, the Emperor Justinian convinced the pope to convene the Council of Constantinople which condemned the ideas of Origen. Those who continued to believe in pre-existence and rebirth were persecuted, and this campaign of slaughter effectively forced the concept underground. Had it not been for the council, the Christian Church might well have been teaching pre-existence and rebirth as a basic doctrine all these years.



From our own scriptures that were allowed, but distorted to the gnostic text of Thomas.


John 9:
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents....


Since this man, who Jesus then said was without sin, was born blind, they were asking if it was karmic debt from a past lifetime?


There are many many different things that can be looked at here, including the Jewish writings themselves, and what we put in our bible doesn't even allign with much of their meaning of terms in their writings.



posted on Mar, 28 2011 @ 01:28 PM
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To continue with this line of thought


Shall we ask the Rabbi?
judaism.about.com...


Most of the written material is very esoteric, often written in
Aramaic. Some of the prominent works dealing with this subject
are the "Zohar" (1st century) and the Arizal's "Shaar HaGilgulim"
(16th century). In the Bible itself, the idea is intimated in
Deut. 25:5-10, Deut. 33:6 and Isaiah 22:14, 65:6.

Many sources say that a soul has a maximum of three chances in
this world. One example given is that the great Talmudic sage
Hillel was a reincarnation of the Biblical figure Aaron.

The soul only comes into this world in the first place in order
to make a spiritual repair. If that is not fulfilled by the end
of one's lifetime, then the soul will be sent down once again.
The return trip may only be needed for a short time or in a
limited way. This in part explains why people are born with
handicaps or may live a brief life.


This is quite interesting, and apparently that Council was more about controlling consciousness and discouraging seeking within, just a tad anyway!!!


www.reincarnation.ws...


In centuries past the teachings of the Kabbalah were closely guarded but the sacred texts also predicted a time when the teachings could be accessed by anyone. Today the Kabbalah is experiencing a tremendous resurgence of popularity and is being taught by Rabbis in living room study groups or classes offered through local synagogues. Non-Jews are also flocking to Kabbalah classes being held in local libraries and adult education programs. While most mainstream Jews in our modern world do not court reincarnation, Kabbalists are unshakably wedded to it. The three greatest books of Kabbalism are the Sepher Yetzirah, The Book of Formation; the Sepher ha Zohar, The Book of Splendor; and the Apocalypse, The Book of Revelation. The following is a quote from the Sephar ha Zohar.

The souls must re-enter the Absolute, from whence they have emerged. But to accomplish this end they must develop the perfections; the germ of which is planted in them. And if they have not developed these traits in this one life, then they must commence another, a third, and so forth. They must go on like this until they acquire the condition that allows them to associate again with God. The Zohar

The "germ" that is planted in them which leads to the "perfections" is the I AM; it is our oneness in Christ.


It seems this world is a school where we are seeking to turn our weaknesses into strengths.

www.jewfaq.org...

This link describes the variety of thought in Orthodox Judaism, regarding the afterlife.



posted on Mar, 28 2011 @ 01:33 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


The Gospel of Thomas is a treasure trove of mystical writings. Here is one my favorites.


(7) Jesus said, "Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man."


As wierd as that sounds I know what that means. There are other people on this site that know exactly what that means also. It is a small notion of a craft that is long forgotten and supressed in this modern world. The person who inspired the legend of Jesus also knew much (if not everything) about how things worked in this world we live in.



posted on Mar, 28 2011 @ 01:42 PM
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I've often wondered why so many people worry about "which" books are canon and which aren't.

If they are from God, then he has made sure to include the right books in the bible. Currently, there is little dispute as to which books are "canon" and which aren't among Christians.

If they are NOT from God, and are just writings, then they all carry the exact same relevance and meaning, and it really doesn't matter what is canon and what isn't!

Do you really think God would inspire books and then let men determine which books to pick as canon? Of course not. He would have made sure that the proper books got chosen.



posted on Mar, 29 2011 @ 05:38 PM
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Whether forged or not, heretical or not, whoever wrote it knew what there were talking about. There are very high level esoteric teachings in The Gospel of Thomas written in esoteric "code" if you will. I hadn't run across the gospel until later in my life after many years of esoteric study and was therefore better equipped to understand what the underlying messages were, rather that just a literal reading. When such messages synch up with what I already know or have learned, as they do in this book, I consider it to be Truth, regardless of who really wrote it.



posted on Mar, 31 2011 @ 12:19 AM
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There is something contained in saying 46 about John the Baptist, that has convinced me, that this is not a forgery, let alone a heresy. It's the part about "averting' ones eyes. Time will only tell, but Jesus did say a couple things about John, that seem way too important to just outright dismiss.

1. He's more than a prophet.
2. He's the Elijah (Yahveh is my God) to come and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.

One needs to ask themself, exactly where is all this stuff Jesus said is written about John? Obviously I think I kinow or I wouldn't have even mentioned saying 46. I did see a blurb in the news tonight about some ancient books discovered in Jordan that could date back to the first century and possibly be some of the earliest christian writings. There are 70 of them, they are in Israel and Jordan wants them back. The Israeli archeologists say they are forgeries but the British archeologists are all excited. It's a wait and see game until they relase the text. They are saying there are messianic symbols and some form of code. Sounds like a mystery to me.

Adjenson - when you do your thread on gnosticism, I'll come by and we'll compare the sacraments of the Catholics to that of the Gnostics. I'm a baptist but I've experienced the mysteries, and I don't have an allegiance to either of these groups, but the ability to show where things are similiar and where they are not.




edit on 31-3-2011 by Myrtales Instinct because: typo



posted on Apr, 7 2011 @ 03:58 PM
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Groupies:

The original Galilean Aramiac speaking 'disciples' of R. Yehoshua bar Yosef the Galilean Nazir (Gk. Iesous, aka Jesus) could not read or write - they passed their teaching down orally - and even if one or two of them could write, as a rule all of them would have eschewed setting any of the 'Jesus sayings' in writing anyway - more likely than not to keep some of the more politically seditious content ('the Son of Man was not sent to bring peace upon Eretz Yisro'el but a sword....' etc.) away from the prying eyes of the Roman occupiers of Judaea and the Galilee in the 1st century...

Since the '12' were mostly illiterate Aramaic speaking Galilean fishermen, they would have had to memorise the teachings and sayings ('logia') of their Rabbi (R. Yehoshua) just as no doubt R. Yehoshua bar Yosef would have himselff memorised the teachings of his own Rabbi who originally 'baptised' him into the new Messiah Movement in the Jordan (i.e. Yohanon bar Zechariah, aka John the Baptist) - at any rate there was an old saying among them 'we prefer the testimony of living disciples to the written word which hath not life but is dead' - etc.

After the departure of R. Yehudah bar Shimeon ish-Keyriah (aka 'Judas Iscariot') whether by suicide or by falling off a cliff into the field of blood or just by simply leaving the Community of R. Yehoshua on the night of the arrest for armed sedition against Rome in the Cave of the Olive Press (c. Pesach, AD 36, the 100th anniversary of the invasion off the Romans into Judaea in BCE 63) the location also called Gayith-Shemaneh (i.e. Geth-semane), there seems to have been some 'mystical' urgency on the part of R. Yehoshua to fill up the number of his followers back up to the magical number 12 - perhaps the 'naked man who fled away without his loin-cloth' in the 2nd gospel at the arrest was undergoing some kind of naked baptism ceremony to replace 'Judas' - at any rate, Acts chapter 1 suggests that a Mathathiah bar Halfah (aka Matthew son of Alphaeus) was chosen 'by lots' after the execution of R. Yehoshua to fill the gap in the 12 -

Since 'this new Matthew' was apparently not a member of the 12 'disciples' that stuck around to the end - many had comee and gone and hadd to be replaced earlier (see Gospel of 'John' - 'at this point, many of his disciples who had followed him, began to fall away andd followed him no more - at which point Iesous says to Peter : Would you also abandon the Son of Man? etc.

If you will notice by a close reading of the gospel material, the actual name 'Matthew' is quite missing from all the gospels except..in the socalled gospel of Matthew who pre-inserts him into the 1st canonical gospel as a disciple and one of the 12 as if he actually did follow the Rabbi during his lifetime - also compare the 'gospel of Luke' who mentions another chap called Levi instead of naming a disciple - i.e. one of the 12 - specifically called 'Matthew'),

This replacement disciple Matthew was 'chosen after the event' according to Acts andd would have had to take a crash course in the sayings of 'Iesous' - and thus the oracles of R. Yehoshua bar Yosef (Jesus) began to be written down (this Matthew might havee been able to write - maybe they arranged to have him 'chosen' because of that fact that he could write down the Logia...)

Papias stated : 'Matthew wrote down the LOGIA of the 'lord' in the Hebrews' tongue and everyone had to interpret (translate?) them as they were able to...' This could mean that a Matathiah wrote down oracles of fulfillment from the Hebrew scriptures as they pertained to the Messiah ('this was done to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet so and so.') which had to be correctly 'interpreted' by the Pesher method) or perhaps, the LOGIA mentioned by Papias could simply refer to the 'sayings of Iesous' which required translation out of Galilean Aramaic - either way a Compilation of oracles was being undertaken after the crucifixion (we find similar lists of messianic prophecies among the Dead Sea scrolls extracted from the Torah and Psalms and Apocrypha in avery simiar compilation form).

Logia-Sayings Gospels apparently widely circulated in Aramaic and in Greek (and Coptic) among the earlieers followers off the new Messiah movement - probably as soon as they began to see the original 12 disciples dying off one by one with no Second Comig in sight (especially after the failed 1st Jewish War against Rome, AD 66-72 when 2/3 of the Jews in Judaea including the Messianic followers of the Rabbi himself were killed by Rome) - the so-called Coptic Gospel of Thomas (114 sayings attributed to 'the Living Iesous') represents a 3rd century compilation translated out of a Greek version (various grammatical errors in the Coptic version show that the mistakes were from Greek to Coptic not Aramaic to Coptic directly - we also have a fragment of the Gospel of Thomas in Greek which shows a more 'primitive' form of the text, the Greek having been taken from Aramaic more directly ... and today getting any coherence out of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas (to quote C.K. Barrett) is 'a bit like trying to re-construct the PIG from the SAUSAGE...'

Reading some of the sayings shows gross mistranslations of both nouns and verbs so that scholars have to work twice as hard at cutting through nonsensical Coptic and getting at the original Aramaic idiom,

e.g." It has been said of old that If a Ghost should appear 'in the Flesh', it is called a 'A Wonder'; and if a Corpse should come back to life and walk around it is called 'A Wonder of Wonders' - but the greatest Wonder of all is how such great Wealth has chosen to live in such grinding Poverty !"

When any of the 114 sayings (some of the numbered sayings in Thomas contain up to 3 sayings smashed together) are painstakingly re-translated back into Aramaic - they start to sound like Synoptic Gospel material....which I could post for any of you who might want to get closer to what was actually spoken...(not all of it is pretty though !!)
edit on 7-4-2011 by Sigismundus because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 8 2011 @ 09:08 PM
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Great thread.
Thought i'd add my own two cents.
A 'Gnostic' is one who seeks 'Gnosis' and is not necessarily a group that shares a particular view. As you can see through out the Nag Hammadi, there is a diversity of views and for those who seek Gnosis, this is a treasure trove rather than a handicap because those who seek Gnosis see that the Gnosis is like a rainbow that expresses itself in diverse colours within and without.

The idea of the 'elect' isn't in the inclusive sense of we're special and you're not type stuff...but rather in the sense of those who have come to an Intelligence of the Heart, a path open to all who will recieve that calling and who heed that calling not just for their own sakes alone but for the sake of all as well. Much like in Buddhism.

I should also like to point out that the writters of texts like that found in the Nag Hammadi may have been operating in a tradition like is seen with the Corpus Hermeticum. The Corpus is attributed to Hermes because the writters wern't trying to create lies or forgeries but because they believed they were all writting under the same inspiration, Hermes Thrice Greatest.



posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 09:18 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen
reply to post by Myrtales Instinct
 


Given that Thomas is not a part of scriptural canon, and there are people today who wonder about it, or who think it might have been included at one time, and was removed, and my intent is to demonstrate, not the "right" or "wrong" of Thomas, but the problems that the orthodox church had with it, and still has to this day. It was not excluded from canon arbitrarily (most likely -- if it was relatively unknown at the time, it might have been,)


I apologize. I'm coming in late, and would like to address this specifically before I move on to page 2.

The nature of Thomas, as a document, was rejected as scripture by the church, in my understanding, partly because of it's proto-gnostic view (depending on whether you believe the text is dated to 70ce, like some) or it's gnostic views (if you're into the school that believes its date to be second century, rather than first). The bishops of the time felt overwhelmingly that the birth of Jesus as a man, his life, and his crucifixion were real events. To suggest that the physical suffering of Christ was something less than real was heretical. In addition, to suggest that it was possible for everyone to attain that level of gnosis was even more so.

An especially damaging verse was in Thomas 3, with, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.”

It's pretty obvious why such a line wouldn't be a great one to have in canonized scripture. It''s pretty much suggesting that the church is not needed, and that every individual can find the kingdom of heaven without the church's assistance. They rely on the authority of Christ, through apostolic teaching, to provide people with the correct method to gain entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven. In his writing, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, Cyprian wrote, at least a century, and possibly several centuries after the The Gospel of Thomas,”You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the church for your mother”

Anyway, I'll continue reading now.
Thanks,



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