The Gospel of Matthias is a lost text from the New Testament apocrypha , ascribed to Matthias , the apostle chosen by lots to replace Judas Iscariot Acts — The content has been surmised from various descriptions of it in ancient works by church fathers. There is too little evidence to decide whether a Traditions of Matthias is the same work, according to J. This Gospel is lost, but Clement of Alexandria [2] while describing the Nicolaitanes , quotes a sentence ascribed to Matthias urging asceticism : "we must combat our flesh, set no value upon it, and concede to it nothing that can flatter it, but rather increase the growth of our soul by faith and knowledge".

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Scholars speculate that the works were buried in response to a letter from Bishop Athanasius declaring a strict canon of Christian scripture. Scholars have proposed dates of composition as early as AD 60 and as late as AD The Coptic-language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of sayings attributed to Jesus.

Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the canonical gospels , while it is speculated that the other sayings were added from Gnostic tradition. The introduction states: "These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down. The text's authorship by Thomas the Apostle is rejected by modern scholars. It is possible that the document originated within a school of early Christians , possibly proto-Gnostics.

While the Gospel of Thomas does not directly point to Jesus' divinity, it also does not directly contradict it. When asked his identity in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus usually deflects, ambiguously asking the disciples why they do not see what is right in front of them, similar to some passages in the canonical gospels like John and Luke The Gospel of Thomas is very different in tone and structure from other New Testament apocrypha and the four Canonical Gospels.

Unlike the canonical Gospels, it is not a narrative account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia sayings attributed to Jesus, sometimes stand-alone, sometimes embedded in short dialogues or parables. The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus in logion 65 [8] Parable of the Wicked Tenants , paralleled in the Synoptic Gospels , but does not mention his crucifixion , his resurrection , or the final judgement ; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus.

Bishop Eusebius included it among a group of books that he believed to be not only spurious, but "the fictions of heretics". However, it is not clear whether he was referring to this Gospel of Thomas or one of the other texts attributed to Thomas. It was first published in a photographic edition in Robinson edited the first complete collection of English translations of the Nag Hammadi texts.

After the Coptic version of the complete text was discovered in at Nag Hammadi, scholars soon realized that three different Greek text fragments previously found at Oxyrhynchus the Oxyrhynchus Papyri , also in Egypt, were part of the Gospel of Thomas. Prior to the Nag Hammadi library discovery, the sayings of Jesus found in Oxyrhynchus were known simply as Logia Iesu. The wording of the Coptic sometimes differs markedly from the earlier Greek Oxyrhynchus texts, the extreme case being that the last portion of logion 30 in the Greek is found at the end of logion 77 in the Coptic.

This fact, along with the quite different wording Hippolytus uses when apparently quoting it see below , suggests that the Gospel of Thomas "may have circulated in more than one form and passed through several stages of redaction.

Although it is generally thought that the Gospel of Thomas was first composed in Greek, there is evidence that the Coptic Nag Hammadi text is a translation from Syriac see Syriac origin. The earliest surviving written references to the Gospel of Thomas are found in the writings of Hippolytus of Rome c. They transmit a tradition concerning this in the Gospel entitled "According to Thomas," which states expressly, "The one who seeks me will find me in children of seven years and older, for there, hidden in the fourteenth aeon , I am revealed.

This appears to be a reference to saying 4 of Thomas, although the wording differs significantly. As translated by Thomas O.

Lambdin, saying 4 reads: "Jesus said, 'the man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live. For many who are first will become last, and they will become one and the same'". Origen listed the "Gospel according to Thomas" as being among the heterodox apocryphal gospels known to him Hom. In the 4th and 5th centuries, various Church Fathers wrote that the Gospel of Thomas was highly valued by Mani.

Assigning a date to the Gospel of Thomas is very complex because it is difficult to know precisely to what a date is being assigned. Scholars have proposed a date as early as 60 AD or as late as AD, depending upon whether the Gospel of Thomas is identified with the original core of sayings, or with the author's published text, or with the Greek or Coptic texts, or with parallels in other literature.

Valantasis and other scholars argue that it is difficult to date Thomas because, as a collection of logia without a narrative framework, individual sayings could have been added to it gradually over time. Porter dates the Gospel of Thomas much later, to AD. Robert E. Van Voorst states:. Most interpreters place its writing in the second century, understanding that many of its oral traditions are much older.

Scholars generally fall into one of two main camps: an "early camp" favoring a date for the "core" of between the years 50 and , before or approximately contemporary with the composition of the canonical gospels and a "late camp" favoring a date in the 2nd century, after composition of the canonical gospels.

Theissen and Merz argue the genre of a collection of sayings was one of the earliest forms in which material about Jesus was handed down. Stevan L. Davies argues that the apparent independence of the ordering of sayings in Thomas from that of their parallels in the synoptics shows that Thomas was not evidently reliant upon the canonical gospels and probably predated them.

Theissen and Merz give sayings 31 and 65 as examples of this. Koester also argues that the absence of narrative materials such as those found in the canonical gospels in Thomas makes it unlikely that the gospel is "an eclectic excerpt from the gospels of the New Testament". Another argument for an early date is what some scholars have suggested is an interplay between the Gospel of John and the logia of Thomas. Parallels between the two have been taken to suggest that Thomas' logia preceded John's work, and that the latter was making a point-by-point riposte to Thomas, either in real or mock conflict.

This seeming dialectic has been pointed out by several New Testament scholars, notably Gregory J. Pagels, for example, says that John's gospel makes two references to the inability of the world to recognize the divine light.

John's gospel is the only canonical one that gives Thomas the Apostle a dramatic role and spoken part, and Thomas is the only character therein described as being apistos unbelieving , despite the failings of virtually all the Johannine characters to live up to the author's standards of belief.

With respect to the famous story of " Doubting Thomas ", [43] it is suggested [40] that John may have been denigrating or ridiculing a rival school of thought. In another apparent contrast, John's text matter-of-factly presents a bodily resurrection as if this is a sine qua non of the faith; in contrast, Thomas' insights about the spirit-and-body are more nuanced.

Again, an apparently denigrating portrayal in the "Doubting Thomas" story may either be taken literally, or as a kind of mock "comeback" to Thomas' logia: not as an outright censuring of Thomas, but an improving gloss. After all, Thomas' thoughts about the spirit and body are really not so different from those which John has presented elsewhere.

Pagels interprets this as signifying one-upmanship by John, who is forcing Thomas to acknowledge Jesus' bodily nature. She writes that " As this scholarly debate continued, theologian Christopher W. Skinner disagreed with Riley, DeConick, and Pagels over any possible John—Thomas interplay, and concluded that in the book of John, Thomas the disciple "is merely one stitch in a wider literary pattern where uncomprehending characters serve as foils for Jesus's words and deeds". Albert Hogeterp argues that the Gospel's saying 12, which attributes leadership of the community to James the Just rather than to Peter , agrees with the description of the early Jerusalem church by Paul in Galatians —14 and may reflect a tradition predating AD Moreover, there are some sayings, principally log.

In saying 13, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand the true significance or identity of Jesus. Patterson argues that this can be interpreted as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew, and that "[t]his sort of rivalry seems more at home in the first century than later", when all the apostles had become revered figures.

According to Meyer, Thomas's saying "I shall give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard and no hand has touched, and what has not come into the human heart", is strikingly similar to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians [33] which was itself an allusion to Isaiah [51]. The late camp dates Thomas some time after AD, generally in the mid-2nd century.

Porter dates Thomas much later, to the mid-third century. Several scholars have argued that the sayings in Thomas reflect conflations and harmonisations dependent on the canonical gospels. For example, saying 10 and 16 appear to contain a redacted harmonisation of Luke , —52 and Matthew — In this case it has been suggested that the dependence is best explained by the author of Thomas making use of an earlier harmonised oral tradition based on Matthew and Luke.

Evans also subscribes to this view and notes that "Over half of the New Testament writings are quoted, paralleled, or alluded to in Thomas Another argument made for the late dating of Thomas is based upon the fact that Saying 5 in the original Greek Papyrus Oxyrhynchus seems to follow the vocabulary used in the gospel according to Luke Luke , and not the vocabulary used in the gospel according to Mark Mark According to this argument — which presupposes firstly the rectitude of the two-source hypothesis widely held among current New Testament scholars [ citation needed ] , in which the author of Luke is seen as having used the pre-existing gospel according to Mark plus a lost Q source to compose his gospel — if the author of Thomas did, as Saying 5 suggests — refer to a pre-existing gospel according to Luke, rather than Mark's vocabulary, then the gospel of Thomas must have been composed after both Mark and Luke the latter of which is dated to between 60 AD and 90 AD.

Another saying that employs similar vocabulary to that used in Luke rather than Mark is Saying 31 in the original Greek Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1 , where Luke 's term dektos acceptable is employed rather than Mark 's atimos without honor. The word dektos in all its cases and genders is clearly typical of Luke, since it is only employed by him in the canonical gospels Luke ; ; Acts Thus, the argument runs, the Greek Thomas has clearly been at least influenced by Luke's characteristic vocabulary.

Porter states that, because around half of the sayings in Thomas have parallels in the synoptic gospels, it is "possible that the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas were selected directly from the canonical gospels and were either reproduced more or less exactly or amended to fit the author's distinctive theological outlook. Meier, scholars predominantly conclude that Thomas depends on or harmonizes the Synoptics.

Several scholars argue that Thomas is dependent on Syriac writings, including unique versions of the canonical gospels. They contend that many sayings of the Gospel of Thomas are more similar to Syriac translations of the canonical gospels than their record in the original Greek.

Craig A. Evans states that saying 54 in Thomas , which speaks of the poor and the kingdom of heaven, is more similar to the Syriac version of Matthew than the Greek version of that passage or the parallel in Luke Klyne Snodgrass notes that saying 65—66 of Thomas containing the Parable of the Wicked Tenants appears to be dependent on the early harmonisation of Mark and Luke found in the old Syriac gospels.

He concludes that, " Thomas , rather than representing the earliest form, has been shaped by this harmonizing tendency in Syria. If the Gospel of Thomas were the earliest, we would have to imagine that each of the evangelists or the traditions behind them expanded the parable in different directions and then that in the process of transmission the text was trimmed back to the form it has in the Syriac Gospels. It is much more likely that Thomas, which has a Syrian provenance, is dependent on the tradition of the canonical Gospels that has been abbreviated and harmonized by oral transmission.

Nicholas Perrin argues that Thomas is dependent on the Diatessaron , which was composed shortly after by Tatian in Syria. Williams analyzed Perrin's alleged Syriac catchwords and found them implausible. Shedinger wrote that since Perrin attempts to reconstruct an Old Syriac version of Thomas without first establishing Thomas' reliance on the Diatessaron , Perrin's logic seems circular. Bart Ehrman argues that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, and that his apocalyptic beliefs are recorded in the earliest Christian documents: Mark and the authentic Pauline epistles.

The earliest Christians believed Jesus would soon return, and their beliefs are echoed in the earliest Christian writings. The Gospel of Thomas proclaims that the Kingdom of God is already present for those who understand the secret message of Jesus Saying , and lacks apocalyptic themes.

Because of this, Ehrman argues, the Gospel of Thomas was probably composed by a Gnostic some time in the early 2nd century. Wright , former Anglican bishop and professor of New Testament history, also sees the dating of Thomas in the 2nd or 3rd century. Wright's reasoning for this dating is that the "narrative framework" of 1st-century Judaism and the New Testament is radically different from the worldview expressed in the sayings collected in the Gospel of Thomas.

Wright concludes his section on the Gospel of Thomas in his book The New Testament and the People of God in this way: "[Thomas'] implicit story has to do with a figure who imparts a secret, hidden wisdom to those close to him, so that they can perceive a new truth and be saved by it. It is simply the case that, on good historical grounds, it is far more likely that the book represents a radical translation, and indeed subversion, of first-century Christianity into a quite different sort of religion, than that it represents the original of which the longer gospels are distortions Thomas reflects a symbolic universe, and a worldview, which are radically different from those of the early Judaism and Christianity.

The harsh and widespread reaction to Marcion 's canon , the first New Testament canon known to have been created, may demonstrate that, by AD, it had become widely accepted that other texts formed parts of the records of the life and ministry of Jesus. Tatian's widely used Diatessaron , compiled between and AD, utilized the four gospels without any consideration of others. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote in the late 2nd century that since there are four quarters of the earth The late 2nd-century Muratorian fragment also recognizes only the three synoptic gospels and John.

Bible scholar Bruce Metzger wrote regarding the formation of the New Testament canon, "Although the fringes of the emerging canon remained unsettled for generations, a high degree of unanimity concerning the greater part of the New Testament was attained among the very diverse and scattered congregations of believers not only throughout the Mediterranean world, but also over an area extending from Britain to Mesopotamia.

The question also arises as to various sects' usage of other works attributed to Thomas and their relation to this work.


Gospel of Thomas

Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Gill Guide. Michael Berghof. Ben Alex.


Gospel of Matthias






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