Certainly an important find, The Gospel of Thomas has intrigued New Testament scholars and ancient historians since it appeared in the Nag Hammadi collection last century. Marvin Meyer’s translation of Thomas is noteworthy, if mainly for the breadth of scholarship contained in the footnotes.
Pastors and preachers need to read The Gospel of Thomas for themselves. With all the hype about the Gnostic gospels (such as Judas and Thomas), a pastor should have a ready answer to give to the person skeptical about the canonical Gospels’ testimony. Marvin Meyer is unabashedly enthusiastic about this gospel and what information it gives us about the historical Jesus. Harold Bloom gives (correctly) a Gnostic interpretation, which serves as a type of sermon for those who (I guess) believe Christian churches should be using The Gospel of Thomas from the pulpit.
Meyer’s enthusiasm for Thomas is groundless, mostly for historical reasons. He claims that certain parables of Jesus are found here in their original form, even when they show blatantly Gnostic tampering. Meyer naively assumes that the earlier, canonical Gospels cannot be fully trusted because of their theological assumptions about Jesus, while Thomas has somehow managed to remain untainted by its author’s theology. Meyer wants a Jesus who is a Greek cynic. Thomas appears to give him what he wants: a talking head that doesn’t do anything but sputter strange witty sayings and advocate a secret knowledge that leads to salvation.
The revolutionary Christians who were turning the world upside down in the first centuries weren’t dying for their faith in the Jesus portrayed by Thomas. They were reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Perhaps that’s why I picked up this book in a sale rack for $3. Is The Gospel of Thomas worth 3 bucks? Yes, because it tells me more about Gnosticism. But it doesn’t tell me hardly anything about the real Jesus.
written by Trevin Wax © 2007 Kingdom People blog