Gospel of Thomas

Stephen J. Patterson

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:
Gospel of Thomas


The Gospel of Thomas is an early Christian gospel comprising 114 sayings and parables of Jesus organized into a simple list. It has no narrative structure and says virtually nothing about Jesus’ life, his death, or his resurrection. It is often referred to as a “sayings gospel” and compared to “Q,” the lost sayings collection that is thought to have been used by the authors of Matthew and Luke. The opening sayings of the Gospel of Thomas instruct the reader to strive for greater self-understanding by contemplating the sayings contained in the gospel, and they promise that in so doing one will gain immortality. Roughly half of the sayings in Thomas are also found in the synoptic gospels—Mark, Matthew, and Luke—often in forms that are very simple and unburdened with explicit interpretation. Other sayings in the gospel, however, assert a strong interpretive framework holding much affinity with other early Jewish wisdom theologians, especially those oriented to Plato, such as Philo of Alexandria. There is only one complete manuscript of this gospel: a Coptic translation found in Codex II of the Nag Hammadi Library, a cache of early Christian texts discovered in 1945 near the modern town of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. However, three Greek fragments also survive from the famous papyrological discoveries of Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus.

Article.  9265 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »