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Some people today refer to 5 Gospel accounts:

Matthew,

Mark,

Luke,

John, and

Thomas

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   What’s all this about?

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   First of all, this 5th book is not part of the “regular” Bibles that have been around for centuries.

   Second, there are other “Thomases,” and in particular we’re not referring to a 3rd century apocryphal work often called the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

   These words refer to the Coptic Gospel of Thomas¹ that many modern Biblical scholars–the Jesus Seminar, Elaine Pagels, and others–have begun to popularize. And, in particular, a branch of Christendom called the “Unity School” often uses also with the other Gospels for weekly lessons.

   [We now closely follow the source cited in Note 1 below.]

   The Coptic Thomas forms part of the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of scrolls found at a site by that name near Chenoboskion, Egypt, just after World War II. This “library” contains primarily, though not exclusively, Gnostic works written in Coptic, the language of ancient Egypt and parts of Ethiopia.

   Gnosticism [in short] is a hybrid religion or philosophy that began with Plato’s radical dualism, sharply differentiating between the material and immaterial worlds and finding only the latter redeemable. It mixed in a few Jewish concepts, quite a few Christian ones, and a pinch of additional Greek philosophy.

   The result was a world view, represented by a variety of sects with varying beliefs, centered on the conviction that the creation of this universe was an act of rebellion by a lesser “god” (more technically, an “emanation” from the original Godhead). Redemption involves recognizing the spark of divinity that lies (or may lie) within one and fanning it into flame through secret “knowledge” (Greek, gnosis). Because matter was inherently evil, most Gnostics became ascetics, but a few opted for hedonism. Almost all readily accepted  deity of Jesus (though they understood his deity in terms of their Greek philosophy), but balked at the notion of his humanity….Jesus redeemed people, therefore, not by dying a substitutionary death as a fully human being but by appearing to be human and revealing the truth about the nature of humanity and the universe that enables the elite who accept the truth to transcend this evil world.

   This certainly not in step with the message of the New Testament taken as a whole…This calls for a deeper look that what’s presented here.

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   ¹ This information is taken from Chapter 48 “What Should We Think About the Coptic Gospel of Thomas?” in Evidence for God: Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science, edited by William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona (Baker, 2010). We have added boldface to help in skimming. We recommend this book. The Gospel of Thomas, as described above, is (allegedly) main up of 114 consecutive sayings of Jesus, more than half of them introduced with nothing more than “Jesus said…” This writing is 4th or 5th century in origin though fragments of text surfaced in a Greek document discovered in the late 1800s said to have a 2nd century date.