Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc
The "Scholars' Translation" of the Gospel of Thomas


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Source Documents: The "Scholars' Translation" of the Gospel of Thomas

 

(by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer)

 

The Gospel of Thomas is a New Testament-era gospel preserved in a papyrus Coptic manuscript discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. The text is in the form of a codex. It was written for a school of early Christians who claimed the Apostle Thomas as their founder. Unlike the four canonical gospels, which are structured as narrative accounts of the life of Jesus, it does not have a narrative framework, nor is it worked into any overt philosophical or rhetorical context. Thomas is a "logia" or sayings Gospel with short dialogues and sayings attributed to Jesus. The writer is credited in the incipit as "Didymus Judas Thomas". The words "Didymus" (Greek) and "Thomas" (Hebrew) both mean "twin" and the name Judas (or Jude) is a derivative of Judah. According to some Gnostic thought this Jude is the Jude identified in the canonical gospels as one of Jesus' brothers.

The work comprises 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Some of these sayings resemble those found in the four canonical Gospels. Others were unknown until its discovery.

When this Coptic version of the complete text of Thomas was found, scholars realised that three separate Greek portions of it had already been discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, in 1898. The manuscripts bearing the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas (P. Oxy. I 1; IV 654; IV 655) have been dated to about AD 200, and the manuscript of the Coptic version to about 340. Although the Coptic version is not quite identical to any of the Greek fragments, it is believed that the Coptic version was translated from an earlier Greek version, itself recorded from an earlier oral version. The original probably dates from the first century and may have been used by the authors of the canonical gospels.

The original manuscript is the property of Egypt's Department of Antiquities. Here is one of several English translations:

These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.

   
  • 1 And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste deat
   
  • 2 Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]"
   
  • 3 Jesus said, "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.

    When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."
   
  • 4 Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live. For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one.
   
  • 5 Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.

    For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised."]
   
  • 6 His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?"

    Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed."
   
  • 7 Jesus said, "Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human."
   
  • 8 And he said, The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!
   
  • 9 Jesus said, Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they didn't take root in the soil and didn't produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.
  A familiar parable
  • 10 Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and look, I'm guarding it until it blazes."
   
  • 11 Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away.

    The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. During the days when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"
   
  • 12 The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?"

    Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
  James the Just, Jesus' brother and successor - James the Great.
  • 13 Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."

    Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger."

    Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."

    Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."

    Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended."

    And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"

    Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you."
   
  • 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 to charity, you will harm your spirits.

    When you go into any region and walk about in the countryside, when people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them.

    After all, what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it's what comes out of your mouth that will defile you.
   
  • 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 upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war.

    For there will be five in a house: there'll be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone.
  Similar ideas are expressed in the synoptic gospels
  • 17 Jesus said, "I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart."
   
  • 18 The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?"

    Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end?You see, the end will be where the beginning is.

    Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."
   
  • 19 Jesus said, "Congratulations to the one who came into being before coming into being.

    If you become my disciples and pay attention to my sayings, 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 Heaven's kingdom is like."

    He said to them, It's like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, but when it falls on prepared soil, it produces a large plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.
   
  • 21 Mary said to Jesus, "What are your disciples like?"

    He said, They are like little children living in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, "Give us back our field." They take off their clothes in front of them in order to give it back to them, and they return their field to them.

    For this reason I say, if the owners of a house know that a thief is coming, they will be on guard before the thief arrives and will not let the thief break into their house (their domain) and steal their possessions.

    As for you, then, be on guard against the world. Prepare yourselves with great strength, so the robbers can't find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come.

    Let there be among you a person who understands.

    When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!
   
  • 22 Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the (father's) kingdom."

    They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (father's) kingdom as babies?"

    Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."
   
  • 23 Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one."
   
  • 24 His disciples said, "Show us the place where you are, for we must seek it."

    He said to them, "Anyone here with two ears had better listen! There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark."
   
  • 25 Jesus said, "Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye."
   
  • 26 Jesus said, "You see the sliver in your friend's eye, but you don't see the timber in your own eye. When you take the timber out of your own eye, then you will see well enough to remove the sliver from your friend's eye."
  Traditionally mote and beam
  • 27 "If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the (father's) kingdom. If you do not observe the sabbath as a Sabbath you will not see the Father."
   
  • 28 Jesus said, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty.

    But meanwhile they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they will change their ways."
   
  • 29 Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels.

    Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."
   
  • 30 Jesus said, "Where there are three deities, they are divine. Where there are two or one, I am with that one."
  The text predates the doctrine of the Trinity
  • 31 Jesus said, "No prophet is welcome on his home turf; doctors don't cure those who know them."
  Another familiar saying
  • 32 Jesus said, "A city built on a high hill and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."
   
  • 33 Jesus said, "What you will hear in your ear, in the other ear proclaim from your rooftops.

    After all, no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, nor does one put it in a hidden place. Rather, one puts it on a lampstand so that all who come and go will see its light."
  Traditionally hiding one's light under a bushel
  • 34 Jesus said, "If a blind person leads a bind person, both of them will fall into a hole."
  The blind leading the blind
  • 35 Jesus said, "One can't enter a strong person's house and take it by force without tying his hands. Then one can loot his house."
   
  • 36 Jesus said, "Do not fret, from morning to evening and from evening to morning, [about your food - what you're going to eat, or about your clothing--] what you are going to wear. [You're much better than the lilies, which neither card nor spin.

    As for you, when you have no garment, what will you put on? Who might add to your stature? That very one will give you your garment.]"
  c/f the birds of the air and the lilies of the field
  • 37 His disciples said, "When will you appear to us, and when will we see you?"

    Jesus said, "When you strip without being ashamed, and you take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and trample then, then [you] will see the son of the living one and you will not be afraid."
   
  • 38 Jesus said, "Often you have desired to hear these sayings that I am speaking to you, and you have no one else from whom to hear them. There will be days when you will seek me and you will not find me."
   
  • 39 Jesus said, "The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so.
  Characteristically Gnostic ideas
  • 40 Jesus said, "A grapevine has been planted apart from the Father. Since it is not strong, it will be pulled up by its root and will perish."
   
  • 41 Jesus said, "Whoever has something in hand will be given more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little they have."
   
  • 42 Jesus said, "Be passers-by."
   
  • 43 His disciples said to him, "Who are you to say these things to us?"

    "You don't understand who I am from what I say to you.

    Rather, you have become like the Judeans, for they love the tree but hate its fruit, or they love the fruit but hate the tree."
   
  • 44 Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven.
  Also found in canonical texts
  • 45 Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit.

    Good persons produce good from what they've stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they've stored up in their hearts, and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil."
  There are hints here and in the canonical gospels that Jesus and John were rival leaders of similar religious groups.
  • 46 Jesus said, "From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted

    But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognise the (father's) kingdom and will become greater than John."
   
  • 47 Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows.

    And a slave cannot serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honour the one and offend the other.

    "Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil.

    An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 48 Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 49 Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again."
   
  • 50 Jesus said,

    "If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established [itself], and appeared in their image.'

    If they say to you, 'Is it you?' say, 'We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.'

    If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'"
   
  • 51 His disciples said to him, "When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?"

    He said to them, "What you are looking forward to has come, but you don't know it."
   
  • 52 His disciples said to him, "Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you."

    He said to them, "You have disregarded the living one who is in your presence, and have spoken of the dead."
   
  • 53 His disciples said to him, "is circumcision useful or not?"

    He said to them, "If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect."
   
  • 54 Jesus said, "Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs Heaven's kingdom."
   
  • 55 Jesus said, "Whoever does not hate father and mother cannot be my disciple, and whoever does not hate brothers and sisters, and carry the cross as I do, will not be worthy of me."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 56 Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy."
   
  • 57 Jesus said, The Father's kingdom is like a person who has [good] seed. His enemy came during the night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The person did not let the workers pull up the weeds, but said to them, "No, otherwise you might go to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them." For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be conspicuous, and will be pulled up and burned.
   
  • 58 Jesus said, "Congratulations to the person who has toiled and has found life."
   
  • 59 Jesus said, "Look to the living one as long as you live, otherwise you might die and then try to see the living one, and you will be unable to see."
   
  • 60 He saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb and going to Judea. He said to his disciples, "that person ... around the lamb." They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it." He said to them, "He will not eat it while it is alive, but only after he has killed it and it has become a carcass."

    They said, "Otherwise he can't do it."

    He said to them, "So also with you, seek for yourselves a place for rest, or you might become a carcass and be eaten."
   
  • 61 Jesus said, "Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live."

    Salome said, "Who are you mister? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table as if you are from someone."

    Jesus said to her, "I am the one who comes from what is whole. I was granted from the things of my Father."

    "I am your disciple."

    "For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness."
  Intriguing hints
  • 62 Jesus said, "I disclose my mysteries to those [who are worthy] of [my] mysteries.

    Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 63 Jesus said, There was a rich person who had a great deal of money. He said, "I shall invest my money so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouses with produce, that I may lack nothing." These were the things he was thinking in his heart, but that very night he died. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!
   
  • 64 Jesus said, A person was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests. The slave went to the first and said to that one, "My master invites you." That one said, "Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner." The slave went to another and said to that one, "My master has invited you." That one said to the slave, "I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time." The slave went to another and said to that one, "My master invites you." That one said to the slave, "My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner." The slave went to another and said to that one, "My master invites you." That one said to the slave, "I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me." The slave returned and said to his master, "Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused." The master said to his slave, "Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner."

    Buyers and merchants [will] not enter the places of my Father.
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels - but with a different ending
  • 65 He said, A [...] person owned a vineyard and rented it to some farmers, so they could work it and he could collect its crop from them. He sent his slave so the farmers would give him the vineyard's crop. They grabbed him, beat him, and almost killed him, and the slave returned and told his master. His master said, "Perhaps he didn't know them." He sent another slave, and the farmers beat that one as well. Then the master sent his son and said, "Perhaps they'll show my son some respect." Because the farmers knew that he was the heir to the vineyard, they grabbed him and killed him. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 66 Jesus said, "Show me the stone that the builders rejected: that is the keystone."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 67 Jesus said, "Those who know all, but are lacking in themselves, are utterly lacking."
   
  • 68 Jesus said, "Congratulations to you when you are hated and persecuted; and no place will be found, wherever you have been persecuted."
   
  • 69 Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who have been persecuted in their hearts: they are the ones who have truly come to know the Father.

    Congratulations to those who go hungry, so the stomach of the one in want may be filled."
  Some of this looks like the raw material for what would later be cleaned up into the Sermon on the Mount.
  • 70 Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you."
   
  • 71 Jesus said, "I will destroy [this] house, and no one will be able to build it [...]."
   
  • 72 A [person said] to him, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me."

    He said to the person, "Mister, who made me a divider?"

    He turned to his disciples and said to them, "I'm not a divider, am I?"
   
  • 73 Jesus said, "The crop is huge but the workers are few, so beg the harvest boss to dispatch workers to the fields."
   
  • 74 He said, "Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the well."
   
  • 75 Jesus said, "There are many standing at the door, but those who are alone will enter the bridal suite."
   
  • 76 Jesus said, The Father's kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself.

    So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys."
   
  • 77 Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.

    Split a piece of wood; I am there.

    Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
   
  • 78 Jesus said, "Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind?And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, [like your] rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth."
   
  • 79 A woman in the crowd said to him, "Lucky are the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you."

    He said to [her], "Lucky are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Lucky are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk.'"
   
  • 80 Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the world has discovered the body, and whoever has discovered the body, of that one the world is not worthy."
   
  • 81 Jesus said, "Let one who has become wealthy reign, and let one who has power renounce ."
   
  • 82 Jesus said, "Whoever is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the (father's) kingdom."
   
  • 83 Jesus said, "Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father's light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light."
   
  • 84 Jesus said, "When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that came into being before you and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will have to bear!"
   
  • 85 Jesus said, "Adam came from great power and great wealth, but he was not worthy of you. For had he been worthy, [he would] not [have tasted] death."
   
  • 86 Jesus said, "[Foxes have] their dens and birds have their nests, but human beings have no place to lay down and rest."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 87 Jesus said, "How miserable is the body that depends on a body, and how miserable is the soul that depends on these two."
   
  • 88 Jesus said, "The messengers and the prophets will come to you and give you what belongs to you. You, in turn, give them what you have, and say to yourselves, 'When will they come and take what belongs to them?'"
   
  • 89 Jesus said, "Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Don't you understand that the one who made the inside is also the one who made the outside?"
   
  • 90 Jesus said, "Come to me, for my yoke is comfortable and My Lordship is gentle, and you will find rest for yourselves."
   
  • 91 They said to him, "Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you."

    He said to them, "You examine the face of heaven and earth, but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment.
   
  • 92 Jesus said, "Seek and you will find.

    In the past, however, I did not tell you the things about which you asked me then. Now I am willing to tell them, but you are not seeking them."
   
  • 93 "Don't give what is holy to dogs, for they might throw them upon the manure pile. Don't throw pearls [to] pigs, or they might ... it [...]."
  Clearly corresponding to the more famiar injunction about pearls before swine
  • 94 Jesus [said], "One who seeks will find, and for [one who knocks] it will be opened."
  Seek and ye shall find, ...
  • 95 [Jesus said], "If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Rather, give [it] to someone from whom you won't get it back."
   
  • 96 Jesus [said], The Father's kingdom is like [a] woman. She took a little leaven, [hid] it in dough, and made it into large loaves of bread. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!
   
  • 97 Jesus said, The [Father's] kingdom is like a woman who was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking along [a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind her [along] the road. She didn't know it; she hadn't noticed a problem. When she reached her house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was empty.
   
  • 98 Jesus said, The Father's kingdom is like a person who wanted to kill someone powerful. While still at home he drew his sword and thrust it into the wall to find out whether his hand would go in. Then he killed the powerful one.
   
  • 99 The disciples said to him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside."

    He said to them, "Those here who do what my Father wants are my brothers and my mother. They are the ones who will enter my Father's kingdom.
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 100 They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "The Roman emperor's people demand taxes from us."

    He said to them, "Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 101 "Whoever does not hate [father] and mother as I do cannot be my [disciple], and whoever does [not] love [father and] mother as I do cannot be my [disciple]. For my mother [...], but my true [mother] gave me life."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 102 Jesus said, "Damn the Pharisees! They are like a dog sleeping in the cattle manger: the dog neither eats nor [lets] the cattle eat."
   
  • 103 Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who know where the rebels are going to attack. [They] can get going, collect their imperial resources, and be prepared before the rebels arrive."
   
  • 104 They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast."

    Jesus said, "What sin have I committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the groom leaves the bridal suite, then let people fast and pray."
   
  • 105 Jesus said, "Whoever knows the father and the mother will be called the child of a whore."
   
  • 106 Jesus said, "When you make the two into one, you will become children of Adam, and when you say, 'Mountain, move from here!' it will move."
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 107 Jesus said, The (father's) kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety- nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, 'I love you more than the ninety- nine.'
  Again,familiar from the canonical gospels
  • 108 Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."
   
  • 109 Jesus said, The (Father's) kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it. And [when] he died he left it to his [son]. The son [did] not know about it either. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, [discovered] the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.
   
  • 110 Jesus said, "Let one who has found the world, and has become wealthy, renounce the world."
   
  • 111 Jesus said, "The heavens and the earth will roll up in your presence, and whoever is living from the living one will not see death."

    Does not Jesus say, "Those who have found themselves, of them the world is not worthy"?
   
  • 112 Jesus said, "Damn the flesh that depends on the soul. Damn the soul that depends on the flesh."
   
  • 113 His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"

    "It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it."
   
  • 114 Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life." Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."
  [Saying added to the original collection at a later date]
     

 

 

Scholars Version English translation of the Gospel of Thomas from The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version. ©1992, 1994 by Polebridge Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Click on the following link for more source documents concerning Cathar Belief

 

http://www.westarinstitute.org/Polebridge/Title/Complete/Thomas/thomas.html

http://www.metalog.org/files/thomas.html

 

 

 

 

For information on the individual sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, please take a look at the Collected Commentary on the Gospel of Thomas web page.

The Gospel of Thomas is extant in three Greek fragments and one Coptic manuscript. The Greek fragments are P. Oxy. 654, which corresponds to the prologue and sayings 1-7 of the Gospel of Thomas; P. Oxy. 1, which correponds to the Gospel of Thomas 26-30, 77.2, 31-33; and P. Oxy. 655, which corresponds to the Gospel of Thomas 24 and 36-39. P. Oxy 1 is dated shortly after 200 CE for paleographical reasons, and the other two Greek fragments are estimated to have been written in the mid third century. The Coptic text was written shortly before the year 350 CE.

Ron Cameron comments on the textual integrity of Thomas (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 6, p. 535):

Substantial differences do exist between the Greek fragments and the Coptic text. These are best explained as variants resulting from the circulation of more than one Greek edition of Gos. Thom. in antiquity. The existence of three different copies of the Greek text of Gos. Thom. does give evidence of rather frequent copying of this gospel in the 3d century. According to the critical edition of the Greek text by Attridge (in Layton 1989: 99), however, even though these copies do not come from a single ms, the fragmentary state of the papyri does not permit one to determine whether any of the mss "was copied from one another, whether they derive independently from a single archetype, or whether they represent distinct recensions." It is clear, nevertheless, that Gos. Thom. was subject to redaction as it was transmitted. The presence of inner-Coptic errors in the sole surviving translation, moreover, suggests that our present Gos. Thom. is not the first Coptic transcription made from the Greek. The ms tradition indicates that this gospel was appropriated again and again in the generations following its composition. Like many other gospels in the first three centuries, the text of Gos. Thom. must be regarded as unstable.

Ron Cameron comments on the attestation to Thomas (op. cit., p. 535):

The one incontrovertible testimonium to Gos. Thom. is found in Hippolytus of Rome (Haer. 5.7.20). Writing between the years 222-235 C.E., Hippolytus quotes a variant of saying 4 expressly stated to be taken from a text entitled Gos. Thom. Possible references to this gospel by its title alone abound in early Christianity (e.g. Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.25.6). But such indirect attestations must be treated with care, since they might refer to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Parallels to certain sayings in Gos. Thom. are also abundant; some are found, according to Clement of Alexandria, in the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Egyptians. However, a direct dependence of Gos. Thom. upon another noncanonical gospel is problematic and extremely unlikely. The relationship of Gos. Thom. to the Diatessaron of Tatian is even more vexed, exacerbated by untold difficulties in reconstructing the textual basis of Tatian's tradition, and has not yet been resolved.

In Statistical Correlation Analysis of Thomas and the Synoptics, Stevan Davies argues that the Gospel of Thomas is independent of the canonical gospels on account of differences in order of the sayings.

In his book, Stephen J. Patterson compares the wording of each saying in Thomas to its synoptic counterpart with the conclusion that Thomas represents an autonomous stream of tradition (The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, p. 18):

If Thomas were dependent upon the synoptic gospels, it would be possible to detect in the case of every Thomas-synoptic parallel the same tradition-historical development behind both the Thomas version of the saying and one or more of the synoptic versions. That is, Thomas' author/editor, in taking up the synoptic version, would have inherited all of the accumulated tradition-historical baggage owned by the synoptic text, and then added to it his or her own redactional twist. In the following texts this is not the case. Rather than reflecting the same tradition-historical development that stands behind their synoptic counterparts, these Thomas sayings seem to be the product of a tradition-history which, though exhibiting the same tendencies operative within the synoptic tradition, is in its own specific details quite unique. This means, of course, that these sayings are not dependent upon their synoptic counterparts, but rather derive from a parallel and separate tradition.

Ron Cameron argues for the independence of Thomas (op. cit., p. 537):

Those who argue that Gos. Thom. is dependent on the Synoptics not only must explain the differences in wording and order, but also give a reason for Gos. Thom.'s choice of genre and the absence of the gospels' narrative material in the text. To assert, for example, that Gos. Thom. erased the passion narratives because Gnosticism was concerned solely with a redeeming message contained in words of revelation (Haenchen 1961: 11) is simply not convincing, since the Apocryphon of James (NHC I, 2), the Second treatise of the Great Seth (NHC VII, 2), and the Apocalypse of Peter (NHC VII, 3) all indicate that sayings of and stories about the death and resurrection of Jesus were reinterpreted by various gnostic groups. For any theory of dependence of Gos. Thom. on the NT to be made plausible, one must show that the variations in form and content of their individual sayings, together with the differences in genre and structure of their entire texts, are intential modifications of their respective parallels, designed to serve a particular purpose.

On dating, Ron Cameron states (op. cit., p. 536):

Determining a plausible date of composition is speculative and depends on a delicate weighing of critical judgments about the history of the transmission of the sayings-of-Jesus tradition and the process of the formation of the written gospel texts. The earliest possible date would be in the middle of the 1st century, when sayings collections such as the Synoptic Sayings Gospel Q first began to be compiled. The latest possible date would be toward the end of the 2d century, prior to the copying of P. Oxy. 1 and the first reference to the text by Hippolytus. If Gos. Thom. is a sayings collection based on an autonomous tradition, and not a gospel harmony conflated from the NT, then a date of composition in, say, the last decades of the 1st century would be more likely than a mid-to-late-2d-century date.

Ron Cameron states on the provenance of Thomas (op. cit., p. 536):

The fact that Judas "the Twin" was the apostolic figure particularly revered in Syriac-speaking churches is important evidence for the date and place of composition of the text. For as Koester (in Layton 1989: 39) has shown, Gos. Thom.'s identification of this author as Jesus' brother Judas does not presuppose a knowledge of the NT, but "rests upon an independent tradition." In addition, the peculiar, redundant name Didymus Judas Thomas seems to be attested only in the East, where the shadowy disciple named Thomas (Mark 3:18 par.; John 14:5) or Thomas Didymus (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2) was identified with Judas in the Syriac NT and called Judas Thomas (John 14:22). The occurrence of variants of this distinctive name in the Acts of Thomas is especially striking, not only because the latter evidently shows acquaintance with Gos. Thom. 2, 13, 22, and 52, but also because it is widely held that the Acts of Thomas was composed in Syriac in the early 3d century. Other documents that invoke the authority of Judas Thomas by name are also of Syriac origin, such as the Teaching of Addai, the Abgar legend (Eus. Histl. Eccl. 1.13.1-22), and the Book of Thomas the Contender (NHC II, 7).

Accordingly, the naming of Judas Thomas as the ostensible author of Gos. Thom. serves to locate the likely composition of the text in a bilingual environment in E. Syria.

Patterson writes on the dating and provenance of Thomas (op. cit., p. 120):

While the cumulative nature of the sayings collection understandably makes the Gospel of Thomas difficult to date with precision, several factors weigh in favor of a date well before the end of the first century: the way in which Thomas appeals to the authority of particular prominent figures (Thomas, James) against the competing claims of others (Peter, Matthew); in genre, the sayings collection, which seems to have declined in importance after the emergence of the more biographical and dialogical forms near the end of the first century; and its primitive christology, which seems to presuppose a theological climate even more primitive than the later stages of the synoptic sayings gospel, Q. Together these factors suggest a date for Thomas in the vicinity of 70-80 C.E. As for its provenance, while it is possible, even likely, that an early version of this collection associated with James circulated in the environs of Jerusalem, the Gospel of Thomas in more or less its present state comes from eastern Syria, where the popularity of the apostle Thomas (Judas Didymos Thomas) is well attested.

Ron Cameron comments (op. cit., p. 540):

Gos. Thom. took Jesus seriously as a teacher who spoke with authority. It celebrated his memory by preserving sayings in his name that sanctioned the formation of a distinctive community. The gospel locates its group's position within the Christian tradition as an independent Jesus movement, which persisted over the course of several generations of social history without becoming an apocalyptic or kerygmatic sect. Authorized by interpreting the written legacy of Jesus, Gos. Thom. maintained its autonomy and distinct identity by acts of creative attribution. Jesus was characterized as the embodiment of Wisdom; his words, which could harness the very power of the universe, offered her path of 'knowing' as an investment of the imagination. Gos. Thom. defines the role of its community in constructing the fabric of society as a process of sapiental insight and research. The gospel, therefore, charts the course of salvation as a study in interpretation, providing the elixir of life to those for whom the secret of the kingdom is disclosed in the interpretation of Jesus' words.

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

 

NOTES

 

 

   

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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