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The Gospel of Thomas

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Question:  I saw a movie recently that sparked an interest for me. I have always known the bible to contain the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. The movie suggested that another gospel was found not to far from the dead sea scrolls. It also stated that the catholic church banned the reading of it. Do you know the name of the gospel. I want to say it is the gospel of Thomas. Not sure. Please help. I am very interested in reading this, but not sure where to start.

Response: There is a "gospel of Thomas", but it is not a canonical work (i.e., it is fiction, and most definitely not an inspired part of the Word of God). The only reference to an English translation I can give you is A. Guillaumont et al., "The Gospel according to Thomas" (1959), which is probably out of print, but there are no doubt more popular versions floating around. I would check a good reference library (you should do so "on-line" before running over somewhere out of the way only to find they don't have it or it's checked out). It was very common in the ancient world to "make up" works by famous people who were otherwise without "corpus" (i.e., a "body" of material written by them). As one of the disciples, Thomas was a perfect candidate for a late work of fiction such as this "gospel" is. Good articles with bibliography can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church and the Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (both sub voce "Thomas"). Again, as interesting as this sort of material is (it's generally called "Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha", consisting mainly of apocalyptic and pseudepigraphical material), it is very important to remember that this sort of thing has nothing to do with Jesus or His Word. I invite your attention to the study at ichthys.com: "Read your Bible: Protection against Cults".

Here are some other links which address the issue of canonicity and apocryphal works:

Is there any value to the Apocrypha?

Issues of Canonicity

The Gospel of Judas

Christians Beware: Internet Frauds and the Need for Spiritual Discernment (part 2).

Christians Beware: Internet Frauds and the Need for Spiritual Discernment.

Hope this helps,

Yours in Christ,

Bob Luginbill

 


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