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   There were other ancient writings that appear to imitate, or copy, the “library” of writings that Christians call the Bible.

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   One is the Gospel of Thomas¹.

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How is this different from writings in the Bible?

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For more use the DOOR.

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   [MORE]

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   If you’re deeply concerned about this, you need to go past this brief note. Also, check the footnotes below.

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   1. Most of the Nag Hammadi¹ texts that some call “gospels,” are little more than extensive dialogues supposedly between Jesus and various followers, primarily in secret settings after the resurrection, with language and concepts that bear little resemblance to the New Testament.

   2. But (the Coptic) Thomas is different.

   3. Thomas² is made up of 114 consecutive sayings of Jesus, more than half of them introduced with with nothing more than “Jesus said…” Although the rest of the sayings come with brief indications of a setting, topic, or dialogue partner, only periodically do two or three consecutive passages clearly belong together.

   4. Most of the rest of Thomas includes what seems to be the “best” of the teachings of a famous rabbi or philosopher as recalled by one of his followers.

   5. The existing (Coptic) Thomas is 4th or 5th century in origin, but fragments of a Greek document discovered in the late 1800’s at another Egyptian location called “Oxyrhynchus” date to the 2nd century and turn out to be portions of an older edition of Thomas. Thomas is therefore the oldest known noncanonical “Gospel” that has survived in any ancient language except perhaps for a few tiny fragments of one or two other documents.

   6. Almost 1/2 of the “sayings” in Thomas have at least a partial parallel somewhere in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

   7. Almost 1/3 of the sayings are Gnostic² in origin.

   8. Many of the sayings are ambiguous enough that they can be taken in a variety of ways. (Ex. “Become as passers-by.”)

   9. The final saying in Thomas has Peter telling Jesus and the other disciples, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.” To this Jesus responds, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males.”

   10. “Despite what some may claim, [Thomas] does not open any significant window into first-century Christian history and origins, only into its later corruption.”³

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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 recommend this book, available electronically, for beginning investigation into many topics. See earlier Post 867.

   ² Gnostics, among other controversial issues, emphasize that a “special secret knowledge” about God is available only to a specially selected elite. The Apostle Paul argued against this.

   ³ This is a direct quote from the information in Note 1. (Other comments closely resemble text there, also.)