The Gospel of Thomas

(Sayings 1-20)
(Sayings 21-114)

References: OxyP 1
OxyP 654
OxyP 655
(OxyP = Oxyrhynchus Papyri )
NH II,2 32.10–51.28
(Nag Hammadi Codex II; tractate 2;
page 32, line 10 to page 51 line 28
Languages: Greek Sahidic Coptic
Media: papyrus fragments papyrus codex
Lengths: 1: sayings 26-30,77,30-31
654: sayings 1-7
655: sayings 36-40
114 sayings
Genres: series of sayings Sayings Gospel
Approximate Dates: c. 200 CE c. 350 CE
Locations of Discovery: Oxyrhynchus, Egypt Nag Hammadi, Egypt
Dates of Discovery: 1: 1897
654 & 655: 1903
Current Locations: Bodleian Library, Oxford Univ.
British Library, London
Houghton Library, Harvard Univ.
Coptic Museum; Cairo, Egypt

by K. C. Hanson

incipit These are the secret sayings spoken by Jesus and transcribed by Didymos ("the twin") Judas Thomas.

1 And he said,
"The one who finds the interpretation of these sayings shall not taste death."

John 8:52
2 Jesus said,
"Let the one who seeks not stop seeking until he finds;
and when he finds, he will be agitated.
When he is agitated, he will be amazed,
and he will rule over everything."

Matt 7:7-8
Luke 11:9-10
Thom 92
3 Jesus said,
"If your leaders say to you,
'Look, the 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.
But the Kingdom is inside you and outside you.
When you (truly) know yourselves, then you will be known,
and you will know that you are the sons of the Father.
But if you do not know yourselves,
then you are impoverished—and you are poverty itself!

Luke 17:20-21
Thom 113
4 Jesus said,
"The man old of days will not hesitate to ask the child seven days old concerning the place of life; and that one shall live.

For many who are first shall be last and shall become a single one."
Matt 11:25
Luke 10:21

Matt 19:30; 20:16
Mark 10:31
Luke 13:30

5 Jesus said,
"Recognize what is before your face, and what is hidden from you will be revealed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

Matt 10:26
Mark 4:22
Luke 8:17; 12:2
6 His disciples questioned him and said to him,
"Do you want us to fast?
How shall we pray?
Shall we give alms?
What diet shall we observe?"

Jesus said,
"Do not lie,
and do not do what you hate,
because all things are revealed before heaven.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed,
and there is nothing covered that will remain without being disclosed."

Matt 6:1, 16

Matt 10:26
Mark 4:22
Luke 8:17; 12:2
7 Jesus said,
"How honored is the lion whom the human eats,
so that the lion becomes a human.
And how dishonored is the human whom the lion eats,
and the lion will become a human."

Matt 5:3-12
Luke 6:20-23
Thom 19, 54, 58, 69, 70, 79, 103
8 And he said,
"The one is like a wise fisher who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisher discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea, and without difficulty picked the large fish.

Whoever has ears, listen!"

Matt 13:44, 45-46, 47-50

Matt 11:15;
13:9, 43

9 Jesus said,
"Behold, a sower went out, took a handful [of seeds], and scattered. Some fell on the path, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they did not root in the soil, and they did not produce heads of grain. Others fell among thorns, and they choked the seeds, and worms devoured them. And others fell on good soil, and it brought forth a good crop, yielding sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure."

Matt 13:3-9
Mark 4:3-9
Luke 8:5-8
10 Jesus said,
"I have cast fire upon society;
and behold, I am guarding it until it blazes."

Luke 12:49
11 Jesus said,
"This heaven will pass, and the one above it will pass.
The dead are not alive, and the living will not die.
In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it alive.
When you come to live in the light, what will you do?
On the day you were one you became two.
But when you become two, what will you do?

Matt 24:35
Mark 13:31
Luke 21:33
12 The disciples said to Jesus,
"We know that you will leave us. Who will be our leader?"
Jesus said to them,
Wherever you are, you are to go to James the Just. For his sake heaven and earth came into being."

Matt 18:1
Mark 9:34
Luke 9:46
13 Jesus said to his disciples,
"Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is completely unable to say whom you are like."

Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become drunk from the bubbling spring that I have tended." And he took him, went out, and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things he told me, you will pick up stones and hurl them at me. A fire will emerge from the stones and burn you up."

Matt 16:13
Mark 8:27
Luke 9:18
14 Jesus said to them,
"If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves. And if you pray, you will be condemned. And if you give alms, you will injure your spirits.

When you enter any region and walk about in the countryside, when people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal those who are sick among them.

For what goes into your mouth does not defile you; what comes out of your mouth will."

Matt 6:1-8, 16-18

Matt 10:8
Luke 10:8-9

Matt 15:11, 17-18
Mark 7:15, 18, 20
15 Jesus said,
"When you see one who was not born of woman, fall on your faces and worship. That one is your father."
. . .
16 Jesus said,
"Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace on the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflict upon the earth: fire, sword, war. For there will be five in a house: there will be three against two and two against three, father against son, and son against father, and they will stand alone."

Matt 10:34-35
Luke 12:51-52
17 Jesus said,
"I will give you what no eye has seen and no ear has heard and no hand has touched and what has never risen in the human heart."

1 Cor 2:9
18 The disciples said to Jesus,
"Tell us what our end will be like."
Jesus said,
"Have you found the beginning, then, so that you are seeking the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. How honorable is the one who stands at the beginning. That one will know the end and not taste death."
. . .
19 Jesus said,
"Honorable is the one who came into being before coming into being. If you become my disciples and hear my words, these stones will serve you. For there are five trees in Paradise for you. They do not change, summer or winter, and their leaves do not fall. Whoever knows them will not taste death."
. . .
20 The disciples said to Jesus,
"Tell us what the Reign of Heaven is like."

He said to them,
It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a large plant and becomes shelter for birds of the sky."

Matt 13:31-32
Mark 4:30-32
Luke 13:18-19

Sayings 1—20
Sayings 21—40
Sayings 41—60
Sayings 61—80
Sayings 81—100
Sayings 101—114

1. Scholars have dated the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas to approximately 200 CE. How does this date compare to the oldest fragment of a canonical gospel?

2. Besides the four gospels in the New Testament and the Gospel of Thomas, how many gospels have been preserved from the early church and what are their titles?

3. Which of its characteristics have led many scholars to assign a first-century date to the Gospel of Thomas—perhaps in an earlier form than we now have it?

4. What characteristics does the Gospel of Thomas share with the Q Sayings Source? How would that affect the dating issue?

5. What elements in the Gospel of Thomas seem most "gnostic"? Do we find evidence of any of these elements in New Testament writings? How does one determine what qualifies as a "gnostic" saying?

6. Which sayings in the Gospel of Thomas seem most unlike the sayings in the canonical gospels? How would these affect one's image of Jesus?

BIBLIOGRAPHY 1: Text & Translations
Cartlidge, David R. and David L. Dungan. "The Coptic Gospel of Thomas." In Documents for the Study of the Gospels, 25-35. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980.

Elliott, J. K. "The Gospel of Thomas." In The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation, 123-47. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993.

Grenfell, B. P., and A. S. Hunt. LOGIA IHSOU: Sayings of Our Lord from an Early Greek Papyrus. London: Frowde, 1898.

Grenfell, B. P., and A. S. Hunt. New Sayings of Jesus and a Fragment of a Lost Gospel from Oxyrhynchus. London: Frowde, 1904.

Guillaumont, A., H.-Ch. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till, and Yassah 'Abd al-Masih. The Gospel according to Thomas. Leiden: Brill, 1959.

Hedrick, Charles W. Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel according to Thomas. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010.
Koester, Helmut and Thomas O. Lambdin. "The Gospel of Thomas (II,2)." In The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James M. Robinson, 124-38. 3rd Rev. ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990.

Lambdin, Thomas O. "The Gospel of Thomas." In The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Gospel Texts, edited by Ron Cameron, 23-37. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.

Layton, Bentley. "The Gospel of Thomas." In The Gnostic Scriptures, 376-99. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1987.

Layton, Bentley. Nag Hammadi Codex II,2-7 together with XIII,2*, Brit. Lib.Or. 4926(1), and P.Oxy. 1, 654, 655. Vol. 1. Nag Hammadi Studies 20. Leiden: Brill, 1989.

Meyer, Marvin W. and Stephen Patterson. "The Gospel of Thomas." In The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version, edited by Robert J. Miller, 301-22. Rev. ed. Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1994.

Robinson, James M. et al., eds. The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices: Codex II. Facsimile Edition vol. 4. Leiden: Brill, 1974.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 2: Interpretations
Cameron, Ron. "Parable and Interpretation in the Gospel of Thomas." Forum 2/2 (1986) 3-39.

Cameron, Ron. "Thomas, Gospel of." In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by D. N. Freedman, 6.535-40. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Davies, Stevan L. The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom. New York: Seabury, 1983.

Montefiore, Hugh and H. E. W. Turner. Thomas and the Evangelists. Studies in Biblical Theology 1/35. Naperville, IL: Alenson, 1962.

Patterson, Stephen. The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus: Thomas Christianity, Social Radicalism, and the Quest of the Historical Jesus. Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1993.

Riley, Gregory. Resurrection Reconsidered: Thomas and John in Controversy. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995.

Robinson, James W. "LOGOI SOPHON." In Trajectories through Early Christianity, James M. Robinson and Helmut Koester, 71-113. 1971. Reprinted, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006.

Wilson, R. McL. "New Testament Apocrypha." In The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters, edited by E. J. Epp and G. W. MacRae, 429-55. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989.

The Gospel of Thomas Resource Center (Michael W. Grondin)

The Gospel of Thomas and Christion Origins by André Gagné (The Montreal Review)

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Last Modified: 10 August 20015