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traditional Christianity appears to want nothing to do with it

Well that sounds like reason enough for me to pick a copy of it. They feel the same way about the BoM. Thanks for the tip, Dave.

Here's another cracking saying, no. 117:

(Simon Peter says to them: "Let Mary go out from our midst, for women are not worthy of life!")

Jesus says: "See, I will draw her so as to make her male so that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who has become male will enter the Kingdom of heaven."

Hmmm...

I don't recall if he addresses the Gospel of Thomas specifically, but Stephen Robinson has an article in BYUS 36:2 (1996-7) on "The Non-Canonical Sayings of Jesus." He speculates on which of them may be genuine.

I've given the Gospel of Thomas a read once or twice, but it has been awhile. Maybe I'll have to pull it out again.

The reading of many of 117 is that this was a controversial doctrine at the time because it entailed giving women rights that the ancient world didn't accord them. (Many at the time even thought women might not have souls) I've heard a few Mormons speculate, especially in connection to the Gospel of Philip, that this is talking about marriage and the old belief that Adam was originally androgynous and was split into Adam and Eve. (Thus the rib story) To become divine again Adam and Eve must reunite and be sealed as a single soul.

The Gospel of Thomas is at the core of a number of academic movements that see it as the core of the sayings of Jesus and use it as a foundation for evaluating other scriptures.

Makes for an interesting read, especially what people read into it. Shepherd of Hermes, the Pearl, Book of Enoch (and boy are there a lot of versions of that -- the Book of Moses being an excellent one, btw) Clementine Recognitions and The Gospel of Thomas give you the core of the books that were once the core of the canon and that are now excluded.

Makes for some interesting reading to think where the Bible would be today with those books added in and some other books excluded.

traditional Christianity appears to want nothing to do with it--it's only religious scholars who seem to take an interest in the text.

Hopefully without offending you, I'd like to take issue with that statement if I may. You've seemingly divided "traditional Christians" and "religious scholars" into two diametrically opposed camps. I would submit that it is the liberal religious scholars who have taken a liking to the Gospel of Thomas. There are many conservative Christians who are intelligent enough to be called scholars and who nonetheless reject the Gospel of Thomas.

I would implore you to make these things more clear in the future.

Joey -- I checked out your site. Intersting point of view. Here's the restatement you seem to be hinting at:

Traditional or conservative Christianity and its scholars appear to want nothing to do with the Gospel of Thomas--only liberal scholars seem to take an interest in the text.

However, in ignoring the Gospel of Thomas and other early texts, my view is that traditional Christians are more intereted in avoiding consideration of any ideas that disturb their traditional notions of first-century Christianity than in arriving at an improved understanding of that diverse formative period. Elaine Pagels has made a career out of popularizing scholarship which does exactly that.

in ignoring the Gospel of Thomas and other early texts, my view is that traditional Christians are more intereted in avoiding consideration of any ideas that disturb their traditional notions of first-century Christianity than in arriving at an improved understanding of that diverse formative period.

Indeed, which is why a restoration is necessary ....

I would also suggest The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. It goes over many of the general ideas of the gnostic gospels found at Nag Hammandi. The two general ideas that I recall are the ideas Jesus and Mary somehow had more than just a, er, professional relationship and that Mary herself was an apostle; and that Jesus emphasized more of a personal relationship with God without an intermediary religious organization to get in the way.

One thing noted in the commentary to this short Gospel of Thomas book was the importance of distinguishing between the Gnostic material found at Nag Hammadi, which dated from the second and third century, and the Gospel of Thomas, which dates (according to many scholars) to the first century, predating the emergence of the Gnostic ideas.

An other very interesting text is the Didache. Not gnostic but very interesting. Some date it very early indeed.

Clark, personally I'd give far more creedance to the didache than the gospel of Thomas.

"in ignoring the Gospel of Thomas and other early texts, my view is that traditional Christians are more intereted in avoiding consideration of any ideas that disturb their traditional notions of first-century Christianity than in arriving at an improved understanding of that diverse formative period."

Dave, as one whom (I presume) you'd describe as a traditional Christian, I cannot deny that this is true. However, I think this is changing. It's not that the literature under consideration is being given a new status, but the Canon is being approached in new ways. E.g. when we think how radical the New Perspective is (for conservatives!) it's amazing how widespread it is in Pauline circles.

Having said all that, I think your comment can probably be applied to most religious groups. Surely we could make similar comments about Mormons. I'd love to be able to say that I've had some great discussions with Mormon missionaries about how new developments in biblical hermeneutics could be applied to the book of Mormon; but some questions just won't be entertained.

I don't see one as particularly that much better than the other, especially since the dating of both is controversial, as I understand. (It's been a while since I had my ancient text fetish - so I've not read either one in about 10 years)

Regarding your comments about missionaries I'm not sure it's too fair. After all most of them are barely out of high school. A more accurate consideration would be in academic consideration of Mormonism. There various sorts of canon consideration certainly can be found. About the only thing out of bounds is stuff the undercuts the essential truth claim of the church. But of course even there one need only turn to Signature Books to find plenty of Mormon authors who are willing to go beyond even that limit. But I think you'd be quite surprised at just how many different approaches to texts there are within Mormon scholarship.

Oh, I was wasn't meaning to be unfair, Clark - or to come across as attacking the missionaries. And you're right, it was a false comparison.

However, I would argue the initial quote I was responding to still needs some tampering. There are liberal & conservative scholars in "mainstream" Christianity, just as there are in the Mormon church.

AFAIK, the didache is considered far more reliable than Thomas. It was used and respected and refered to in the early Church and spoken of with great respect. The same can not be said for Thomas. Neither, ISTM, can Thomas be placed as comfortably alongside the other texts treated like the Didache by the early Christians.

I don't say this out of some kind of knee-jerk reaction or rabid fundamentalism. :-) And I'm sure that the book contains a couple of pointers to things Jesus might have said. And it's fascinating historically; but that's about it.

(Feel free to ignore this: Incidentally, can u recommend any good/helpful "liberal" Mormon approaches to Mormon scripture? And where does Stephen E. Robinson fall on that?)

Graham, for a study of how Mormons use scripture, see Mormons and the Bible (OUP, 1991), by Philip L. Barlow. For the Didache as an early (i.e., 1st-century) and reliable document, see Crossan's The Birth of Christianity (HSF, 1998). Crossan sees both the Didache and the Gospel of Thomas as early and reliable, but my impression is that other scholars are less willing to follow him on the Didache than on Thomas.

Thanks, Dave. (I'm particularly interested in seeing if Mormon scholars are engaging in approaches to hermeneutics similar to reader-response criticism, liberation theology etc.)

We must be reading the opposite scholars! My understanding is that the Didache is generally considered more reliable than Thomas.

And, of course, even if Thomas could be dated (e.g) 68CE an early date is not the decider in whether or not something should be considered sacred scripture. :-)

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