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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: The Gospel Of Thomas Unscrambled In Full  (Read 4191 times)
OrangeCandle
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xx Re: The Gospel Of Thomas Unscrambled In Full
« Reply #30 on: Aug 27th, 2008, 2:03pm »

The Gospel of Thomas is a manuscript containing a collection of sayings of Jesus that was discovered among a hoard of ancient manuscripts at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. There are references to the work in early Christian writings, but historians assumed it had been lost. The writing is not a "gospel" in the strictest sense, because there is no connecting narrative about the life of Jesus, no summaries of his teachings, and no theological interpretations and commentary, as for example in the Gospel of John. Thomas is simply a list of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus (called logoi, "words") not arranged in any chronological or topical order. Some of the sayings closely parallel sayings that appear in the Gospels, some are similar, and nearly half appear nowhere in Scripture.

The writing is attributed to Didymos Judas Thomas or "Thomas the Twin." In the Gospel accounts, Didymos Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus, better know as "Doubting Thomas" (Jn 20:24-25).

Some scholars place the actual date of composition of Thomas somewhere between AD 70 and 150, which would make it nearly contemporary with the canonical Gospels. In this case, the sayings of Jesus could be from the same tradition that was used to compile the Gospels. Because of the close relationship between the Gospels, especially the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) many New Testament scholars have posited some common sources for the materials that are shared among the gospels (see The Synoptic Problem). If accurate, this suggests that there was a Jesus tradition in either oral or written form, or perhaps both, that circulated among followers of Jesus before the Gospels were actually written in the last half of the first century. Among these sources, scholars supposed that there was a collection of sayings of Jesus preserved from which the New Testament writers drew in writing the Gospels. They gave this posited "sayings source" the designation Q, an abbreviation for the German word Quelle, "source" (see A Proposed Reconstruction of "Q").

Because of the close parallel between many of the sayings in Thomas and the Gospels, some scholars have suggested that Thomas is also based on the Q source or is actually Q itself. Of course, these remain only hypotheses since there is no conclusive proof that a Q source ever existed. Still, the existence of a collection of sayings of Jesus as early as the dates proposed for Thomas suggests that there did exist such a collection in the early church. That gives the hypotheses more credibility.

We simply do not know the answers to the questions of date and origin. It is entirely possible that Thomas represents a very early authentic tradition of the sayings of Jesus, although processed through the concerns of a particular community.

The manuscript itself is written in Coptic, a form of writing used in Egypt in which the Egyptian language was written with modified Greek characters, just as ancient Hebrew had come to be written in Aramaic characters. Thomas actually exists in two versions, the complete Egyptian Coptic version and a fragmentary Greek version. The Greek version is among a group of manuscripts and fragments know as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. These date to about the beginning of the third century AD. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri were discovered in the 1800ís, but since Thomas was only in fragments scholars were not aware of what it was until after the discovery of the Coptic version. The Greek version contains about 16 of the 114 sayings in the Coptic version, plus one not found there. There are some minor variations in the sayings but they are essentially the same.

The cache of Coptic manuscripts discovered at Nag Hammadi represented a particular version of Christianity known as Gnosticism, derived from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge." Gnosticism blended Christianity with a form of philosophically based mysticism in which followers sought internal enlightenment or gnosis. This was secret knowledge imparted only to those who had sought to purify themselves to receive this enlightenment. It became little more than a religious philosophy based on platonic dualism in which there was a distinction between the physical and spiritual planes of existence. The goal in Gnosticism was to shed the limits of the physical plane of existence, and try to reach the spiritual level through gnosis.

There is debate whether Thomas was actually a gnostic writing, or was simply valued by the Gnostics and adapted into their belief system. While most of Thomas presents little that most early Christians would find objectionable, there are some parts that reflect a more clearly gnostic perspective (e.g., the Preamble and saying 114). Yet, scholars who see the writing as an authentic Jesus tradition understand those places to be later additions by the gnostic community in Egypt to adapt the writing to their own views. That is entirely possible, although there is no direct evidence either way. However, the basic perspective of Jesus as presented in Thomas, that the Kingdom of God is not a future expectation but something that can be achieved in the present time, could easily be accepted by the Gnostics. That view is also presented in the canonical Gospels, although there it is much more directly tied to ethics than to the spiritual and esoteric quest for enlightenment that the Gnostics promoted.
« Last Edit: Aug 27th, 2008, 2:04pm by OrangeCandle » User IP Logged

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xx Re: The Gospel Of Thomas Unscrambled In Full
« Reply #31 on: Aug 28th, 2008, 3:50pm »

Human history has allowed precious few ancient religious writings to survive the onslaught of the more aggressive and powerful religious forces, which seek only to gain territory and wealth. Genocide and cultural eradication always go hand in hand with missionary zeal. In many cases every trace of the conquered society's religious writings, practices, icons, and even buildings were destroyed, in the name of conversion from worship of gods considered evil, and religious customs labeled as heresies. What generally results from past crusades is the conqueror's religion replacing or predominantly blending with the conquered culture's former religious practice, making its religion almost unrecognizable. Christianity falls into the latter category, having been the victim of the Roman Empire, under the Emperor Constantine, who blended the Christian Church with the institutionalized "pagan" practices of Rome and eliminated any semblance of either the Jewish religious influence or the first church Jesus established during his ministry.

After solidifying his position to gain complete control of the western portion of the empire in 312, the Emperor Constantine instituted the Edict of Milan, a "Magna Carta of religious liberty," which eventually changed the Empires religion and put Christianity on an equal footing with paganism. Almost overnight the position of the Christian Church was reversed from persecuted to legal and accepted. Constantine began to rely on the church for support, and it on him for protection. The Church and the Empire formed an alliance, which remains to this day. Very rapidly, the laws and policies of the Empire and the doctrine of the Church became one with Constantine as the interpreter of both law and policy. This was accomplished by eliminating hundreds of books thought to be against "Church" doctrine and watering down what remained by blending Christian beliefs and practice with long established Roman sanctioned pagan worship.

Constantine believed that the Church and the State should be as close as possible. Constantine tolerated pagan practices, keeping pagan gods on coins and retaining his pagan high priest title "Pontifex Maximus" in order to maintain popularity with his former subjects. In 330 he began an assault on paganism but used a clever method of persuasion to force people to follow the laws by combining pagan worship with Christianity. He made December 25th, the birthday of the pagan Unconquered Sun god, the official holiday now celebrated as the birthday of Jesus. He also replaced the weekly day of worship by making rest on Saturday unlawful and forcing the new religion to honor the first, not the seventh day, as a day of rest. As a way of defining his concept of the new universal religion he simply classified everything "Jewish" to be an abomination. Considering almost every aspect of the Bible is "Jewish" by association, every doctrinal biblical principle was changed or eliminated. After 337 Constantine increased his purging of the more obvious aspects of paganism.

Through a series of Universal Councils, he and his successors completely altered doctrine without regard to biblical edict, set up a church hierarchy of his own design, and established a set of beliefs and practices, which are the basis for all mainstream Bible-based churches. The separation of the Protestants and the Roman Church caused a physical split but the beliefs and practices established by Constantine remained almost identical. Very little has changed since the 4th century Councils changed the face of Christianity. An effective practice instituted was the purging of any book in the formerly accepted biblical works, over 80% of the total, that church leaders felt did not fit within their new concept of Christianity. The doctrines and practices remaining in the surviving books were effectively eradicated by simply changing them by replacing clear scripture with Church-sanctioned doctrine.

Constantine began what was to become a centuries long effort to eliminate any book in the original Bible that was considered unacceptable to the new doctrine of the church. At that time, it is believed there were up to 600 books, which comprised the work we now know as the Bible. Through a series of decisions made by the early church leadership, all but 80 of those books, known as the King James Translation of 1611, were purged from the work, with a further reduction by the Protestant Reformation bringing the number to 66 in the "Authorized" King James Bible.

What we now have in Bible-based religion, whether labeled as "Catholic", or Protesting Catholic, known as Protestant", is unrecognizable form either the Hebrew religion, now known as the Jewish religion, or the church established at Jerusalem by the Apostles and disciples of Jesus. The practices of this first church are not practiced by any major religion and they are almost unknown, despite being clearly outlined in the existing New Testament. In its place are doctrines and practices first established in the first "true" Reformation of Christianity begun by Constantine.

There is much controversy over how many books the Bible should actually contain but considering the depth and scope of those few works remaining in the "accepted" Bible, we see but a fragment of incredible wisdom and history. A study of the Lost Books of the Bible is incomplete without a clear understanding that this is not a matter of simple loss, but a campaign by the Roman Catholic Church to purge books variously classified as heretical, dangerous, and corruptive. To the public they are lost; to the Church they are forbidden. Although the exact number of books purged is known only to the Church, and not shared knowledge, some can be determined by the discovery of their presence in the church prior to the reformation resulting in what became known as the Roman "Universal" Church.

One of the more obvious forms of discovery comes from the surviving books themselves, which sight works not present in the existing collection. Also many do not know that the Apocryphal books were actually included in the King James translation until they were officially purged by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1885. Other writings also connect many books to the first church. Whatever the number before the purge by the formation of Catholicism by Constantine; even one lost book is a great loss indeed.
« Last Edit: Sep 3rd, 2008, 4:49pm by OrangeCandle » User IP Logged

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xx Re: The Gospel Of Thomas Unscrambled In Full
« Reply #32 on: Sep 13th, 2008, 01:20am »

In the Catholic Church, the Bible is the Douay Bible consisting of 73 books. In the Protestant church only the 66 books that were approved by the Synod of Dordrecht in 1618 are in what is known as the Authorized King James Bible.

Though there is no specific list or accounting of all the books that made up the complete Bible in scripture, there are over 20 books mentioned in the Bible, but not found there. This is proof that many have been removed and there is evidence that many more fell under the same fate.
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