The Gospel of Thomas Collection in the Gnostic Society Library catalogs materials about the Gospel of Thomas available both in our archives and elsewhere on the internet. Included are audio lectures about GTh, links to a wide variety of internet resources including several academic articles and essays, and a bibliography of GTh manuscript sources. Despite the wealth of material available here, the reader should also consult a few important books on the subject. An annotated selection of the best available translations of GTh and publications about GTh is provided in the . We sincerely hope these resources help you in your studies of this most remarkable document.
In early Christianity there existed traditions, often geographical localized, that honored a specific Christian apostolic figure as patron and initiatory source. The Pauline and Johannine traditions are commonly recognized examples of this early division in Christianity, and each left its own textual legacy. Though less well understood, there apparently also existed a Thomas tradition. Geographically, the name of Thomas was associate with the region of Syria, perhaps because Thomas or disciples claiming him as apostolic sponsor once located themselves in the area. Unfortunately, writings associated with the Thomas tradition prominently including the Gospel of Thomas fell out of favor during the formation of orthodoxy, and by the end of the fourth century most had been condemned and destroyed.
There had to be the Law before the Gospel could come. Men had to learn the difference between right and wrong; men had to learn their own human inability to cope with the demands of the law, and to respond to the commands of God; men had to learn a sense of sin and unworthiness and inadequacy. Men blame the past for many things--and often rightly--but it is equally, and even more, necessary to acknowledge our debt to the past. As Jesus saw it, it is man's duty neither to forget nor to attempt to destroy the past, but to build upon the foundation of the past. We have entered into other men's labours, and we must so labour that other men will enter into ours.
In this country we are to this day suffering in the world of industrial relationships from the fact that in the days of the industrial revolution people were treated as things. Sir Arthur Bryant in English Saga tells of some of the things which happened in those days. Children of seven and eight years of age--there is actually a case of a child of three--were employed in the mines. Some of them dragged trucks along galleries on all fours; some of them pumped out water standing knee deep in the water for twelve hours a day; some of them, called trappers, opened and shut the ventilating doors of the shafts, and were shut into little ventilating chambers for as much as sixteen hours a day. In 1815 children were working in the mills from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. without even a Saturday half-holiday, and with half an hour off for breakfast and half an hour off for dinner. In 1833 there were 84,000 children under fourteen in the factories. There is actually a case recorded in which the children whose labour was no longer required were taken to a common and turned adrift. The owners objected to the expression "turned adrift." They said that the children had been set at liberty. They agreed that the children might find things hard. "They would have to beg their way or something of that sort." In 1842 the weavers of Burnley were being paid 7 1/2d. a day, and the miners of Staffordshire 2s. 6d. a day. There were those who saw the criminal folly of all this. Carlyle thundered, "If the cotton industry is founded on the bodies of rickety children, it must go; if the devil gets in your cotton-mill, shut the mill." It was pleaded that cheap labour was necessary to keep costs down. Coleridge answered, "You talk about making this article cheaper by reducing its price in the market from 8d. to 6d. But suppose in so doing you have rendered your country weaker against a foreign foe; suppose you have demoralized thousands of your fellow-countrymen, and have sown discontent between one class of society and another, your article is tolerably dear, I take it, after all."
All kinds of things were classified as work. For instance, to carry a burden on the Sabbath Day is to work. But next a burden has to be defined. So the Scribal Law lays it down that a burden is "food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve, paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen"--and so on endlessly. So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a broach or false hair, even if a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day. These things to them were the essence of religion. Their religion was a legalism of petty rules and regulations.
He may use them malignantly. A man can use his possessions to persuade someone else to do things he has no right to do, or to sell things he has no right to sell. Many a young person has been bribed or dazzled into sin by someone else's money. Wealth gives power, and a corrupt man can use his possessions to corrupt others--and that in the sight of God is a very terrible sin.
(iv) To suffer persecution is to make things easier for those who are to follow. Today we enjoy the blessing of liberty because men in the past were willing to buy it for us at the cost of blood, and sweat, and tears. They made it easier for us, and by a steadfast and immovable witness for Christ we may make it easier for others who are still to come.
On the other hand a man may have all kinds of faults; he may drink, and swear, and gamble, and lose his temper; and yet, if any one is in trouble, he would give him the last penny out of his pocket and the very coat off his back. Again that is a partial goodness.
A man may use his possessions for his own independence and for the happiness of others. It does not need great wealth to do that, for a man can be just as generous with half a crown as with a thousand pounds. A man will not go far wrong, if he uses his possessions to see how much happiness he can bring to others. Paul remembered a saying of Jesus which everyone else had forgotten: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Ac.20:35). It is characteristic of God to give, and, if in our lives giving always ranks above receiving, we will use aright what we possess, however much or however little it may be.
Once Edmund Burke made a great speech in the House of Commons. Afterwards his brother Richard Burke was observed deep in thought. He was asked what he was thinking about, and answered, "I have been wondering how it has come about that Ned has contrived to monopolise all the talents of our family; but then again I remember that, when we were at play, he was always at work." Even when a thing is done with an appearance of ease, that ease is the product of unremitting toil. The skill of the master executant on the piano, or the champion player on the golf course did not come without sweat. There never has been any other way to greatness than the way of toil, and anything else which promises such a way is a delusion and a snare.
But when we look at who these women were, and at what they did, the matter becomes even more amazing. Rachab, or as the Old Testament calls her, Rahab, was a harlot of Jericho (Josh.2:1-7). Ruth was not even a Jewess; she was a Moabitess (Ru.1:4), and does not the law itself lay it down, "No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the Lord for ever"(Deut.23:3)? Ruth belonged to an alien and a hated people. Tamar was a deliberate seducer and an adulteress (Gen.38). Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, was the woman whom David seduced from Uriah, her husband, with an unforgivable cruelty (2Sam.11-12). If Matthew had ransacked the pages of the Old Testament for improbable candidates he could not have discovered four more incredible ancestors for Jesus Christ. But, surely, there is something very lovely in this. Here, at the very beginning, Matthew shows us in symbol the essence of the gospel of God in Jesus Christ, for here he shows us the barriers going down.
He said that the false prophets were like wolves in sheep's clothing. When the shepherd watched his flocks upon the hillside, his garment was a sheepskin, worn with the skin outside and the fleece inside. But a man might wear a shepherd's dress and still not be a shepherd. The prophets had acquired a conventional dress. Elijah had a mantle (1Kgs.19:13,19), and that mantle had been a hairy cloak (2Kgs.1:8). That sheepskin mantle had become the uniform of the prophets, just as the Greek philosophers had worn the philosopher's robe. It was by that mantle that the prophet could be distinguished from other men. But sometimes that garb was worn by those who had no right to wear it, for Zechariah in his picture of the great days to come says, "He will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive" (Zech.13:4). There were those who wore a prophet"s cloak, but who lived anything but a prophet's life.