Should Christians Study
the Gospel of Thomas?
Q. What is the official position of the Church towards the Gospel of Thomas? Is it true that you have made a new translation of it? Should we study it?
Many of the logions or sayings of Christ in the Gospel of Thomas harmonise with those found in the four Gospels of the New Testament and must therefore be authentic. Some of the sayings are of dubious origin and show gnostic tendencies. Others, whilst not appearing in the New Testament, are, in the view of the Church, authentic but are not, at present, used by us in the local Colonies. Because of our policy on the scriptural canon they will not be incorporated into the primary canon but, if accepted later, find place in the secondary (or sub-) canon.
Yes, a new translation has been made of some of the logions together with some inspired commentaries. These are no longer used by the local Colonies and are held in reserve for study in the Holy Order. Those which resemble sayings found in the Gospels are sometimes cited by us where these lend clarification to the New Testament text.
As to whether the saints should study Thomas's Gospel, that is entirely a personal decision. There is certainly much of value in it. However, as it does contain sayings of dubious origin and as some of the material is firstborn and hard to understand (easily leading one to false interpretations), then really unless one has a good biblical foundation it would probably be better to put it aside. In the early days of the Church we had members who were absorbed with deutero-canonical materials to such an extent and paid so little attention to the Bible that they were led into dangerous spiritual waters. Some of them were undoubtedly influenced by mischievous spirits and they ended up teaching false doctrines that misled many.
"Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not realise that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside?" (G.Thom.89).
"Woe to the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let the oxen eat" (G.Thom.102).
"I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind" (G.Thom.17).
As a general rule of thumb the saints should immerse themselves in the biblical scriptures, know them, love them, live them, and teach them before going off into an exploration of materials containing, as they often do, the doctrines of Satan. Many of these early works were the products of the Gnostics who tried to get their pseudo-gospels accepted by the Christian community. Like modern New Agers, they tried to downgrade the cross and the atonement by denying that Yah'shua (Jesus) had a real physical body.
They also claimed that the God of the Old Testament was a harsh, partially unredeemed angel called the 'Demiurge' who was later converted to Christ!! The apostle John called such as undermined the core doctrine of the Gospel 'anti-christ' and devoted much of his time combatting these heretics. His Gospel, couched in gnostic language, was, many believe, written to counteract gnostic teachings.
We need to remember that lest we, being seduced by gnostic writings, find ourselves attempting to syncretise (combine) their teachings with the true Gospel and end up being anti-christ also.
This page was created on 8 April 1998
Last updated on 8 April 1998
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