Lesson 2B Preview: Selections from The Gospel of Thomas: Snapshot of cultist Eliz. Clare Prophet; Prof. Tom Wright “Gnosticism”; Prof. Dale Martin of Yale Univ. Lectures on The Gospel of Thomas
Selections from the Gospel of Thomas
[PLEASE NOTE: All selections below are discussed by Prof. Dale Martin in his Yale University lecture video below.]
These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.
(3) Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, 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. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”
(7) Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.”
(8) And he said, “The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(9) Jesus said, “Now the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered them. Some fell on the road; the birds came and gathered them up. Others fell on the rock, did not take root in the soil, and did not produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked the seed(s) and worms ate them. And others fell on the good soil and it produced good fruit: it bore sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure.”
(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 wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.”
Jesus said, “I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”
And he took him and withdrew 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 which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”
(15) Jesus said, “When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves on your faces and worship him. That one is your father.”
(21) Mary said to Jesus, “Whom are your disciples like?”
He said, “They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, ‘Let us have back our field.’ They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them. Therefore I say, if the owner of a house knows that the thief is coming, he will begin his vigil before he comes and will not let him dig through into his house of his domain to carry away his goods. You, then, be on your guard against the world. Arm yourselves with great strength lest the robbers find a way to come to you, for the difficulty which you expect will (surely) materialize. Let there be among you a man of understanding. When the grain ripened, he came quickly with his sickle in his hand and reaped it. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(24) His disciples said to him, “Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it.”
He said to them, “Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.”
(29) Jesus said, “If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty.”
(30) Jesus said, “Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him.”
(37) His disciples said, “When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?”
Jesus said, “When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid”
(48) Jesus said, “If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, ‘Move Away,’ and it will move away.”
(56) Jesus said, “Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world.”
(61) Jesus said, “Two will rest on a bed: the one will die, and the other will live.”
Salome said, “Who are you, man, that you … have come up on my couch and eaten from my table?”
Jesus said to her, “I am he who exists from the undivided. I was given some of the things of my father.”
<…> “I am your disciple.”
<…> “Therefore I say, if he is destroyed, he will be filled with light, but if he is divided, he will be filled with darkness.”
(67) Jesus said, “If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient.”
(86) Jesus said, “The foxes have their holes and the birds have their nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head and rest.”
(97) Jesus said, “The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on the road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty.”
(98) Jesus said, “The kingdom of the father is like a certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry through. Then he slew the powerful man.”
(105) Jesus said, “He who knows the father and the mother will be called the son of a harlot.”
(106) Jesus said, “When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move away,’ it will move away.”
(113) His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?”
<Jesus said,> “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.”
(114) Simon Peter said to him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.”
Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This concludes selections from the Gospel According to Thomas translated by Thomas O. Lambdin.
Click for more scholarship on the Gospel of Thomas
A modern gnostic in action: Here is Elizabeth Clare Prophet speaking (four minutes) to her church about Christian Mysticism.
You may find it advantageous, in light of Prophet’s considerable abuse of the concept of mysticism in the early church, to consult the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on Mysticism.
For a summary of the history and doctrines of the Church Universal and Triumphant and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, with a biblically-based assessment by the Watchman, click here. For additional information on the Watchman ministry click here.
N.T. Wright briefly offers his perspective on Gnosticism:
Dale B. Martin, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University, delivers a lecture on the Gospel of Thomas:
A Quote for Your Consideration: “In its creeds the Christian church has never developed the Christian doctrine, but only declared the express doctrine of Holy Scripture in its full truth and purity against the errors of heretics and schismatics.” (John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, 75).
Questions for discussion:
1. In a Sunday School class for new Christians, a participant asks “What was a heretic exactly? And why were apologists needed in the Church?” How will you respond?
2. Another student asks “Why is Christian orthodoxy in conflict with heresy such a big deal? Of what value is all this history stuff?” What will you say?
3. “Why do Christians bother labeling others who don’t believe as they do ‘heretics’? How is this consistent with the Christian principle of loving your brother?” What will you say to this potential new Church member?
4. Another participant says, “You know, I’ve read the Gospel of Thomas. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Sounds a lot like the Gospels to me.” Using the comments of N.T. Wright and Prof. Martin, what answer will you be quickly formulating?
5. “How can I ‘defend the faith’ against the modern Thomases? Isn’t that best left to the experts? What can I contribute?” How will you instruct this evidently very sincere believer?
6. Another one of your students notes, “I ran into someone the other day in my community college class who sounds a lot like the cultists we saw on YouTube. She wants me to go to a meeting her group is having. Aren’t they really Christians – maybe a little different but at heart good people who want to know the same Lord we worship?”
7. “Your comments about early Christian apologetics”, says another participant in your class, “seem to be encouraging us to be judgmental. Didn’t Jesus warn us against judging others?” What insights might you share with this member of your class?
8. In light of Prof. Martin’s lecture, how would you use his ideas when you are asked by a person “Was Thomas a true Gnostic – or was he something else and what would that be?”