The Gospel of Thomas

It was my very great privilege to hear Elaine Pagels lecture on two separate occasions and to spend time in conversation and discussion with her. Her book, ‘Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas’ is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the Jesus of the gospels and ‘The Gnostic Gospels’ is one of the most accessible and useful ways into the subject of non canonical material about Jesus.

The lecture given in 2013 is something which will change your whole approach to Jesus and the New Testament. It will open your mind and imagination in a wholly new way to what Jesus of Nazareth is about. Understanding that there are gospels outside of the New Testament will not diminish Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in your mind. It will cast essential light on what it is they are saying and doing.

If you have not done so before then I encourage you to listen to the In Our Time episode on the Nicene Creed. It will set the whole question of so called orthodoxy into its historical and ecclesiastical context.


New Reflections on Gospel Traditions: the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Thomas


2 thoughts on “The Gospel of Thomas

  1. Fascinating; on this reading of the Gospel of Thomas, assuming there is some kernel of Thomas’s actual teaching there, it is no surprise it was well received in India.

    I have one of Pagel’s books in my few surviving texts from my New College years, so I guess I looked at some of this years ago and forgot.

    • Thank you and thank you also for your email in response to this post. I am not sure how much of a connection there ever is between the named person in a piece of ancient literature and the work itself but if you read Elaine Pagels on Thomas then she argues very strongly for a Johannine (orthodox) versus Thomas (I want to write Thomist here but that may be misconstrued) (heterodox) line. John’s Gospel becomes a response to the Thomas camp.

      Personally I find the Gospel of Thomas and quite a lot of the Nag Hamadi material helpful in its own right as well as an interpretative aid when it comes to the New Testament canon. Your re-reading of the gospels parallels my re-reading of the Old Testament in the light of some of the mainly anthropological stuff which has made me revisit the whole idea of dream, vision and revelation.

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