60 Ibid., pp. 109–112; Jonas, Gnostic Religion40, 199–205; Frederick Wisse, “Introduction” in James Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library, p. 98; Walter Baur, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, p. 49.

61 The Apocryphon of John1:5–17.


The Gospel of Thomas

This book describes itself in the opening statement as “the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke.”^62 Grant notes that this collection of teachings thereby purports to be the words of the risen Jesus, thus accounting for the almost complete absence of statements concerning his birth, life and death.^63

The text is usually dated from around AD 140–200, although it reflects thought of even earlier periods.^64 As such it could present some accurate facts concerning Jesus.

In an incident similar to Jesus’ question at Caesarea Philippi,^65 reported in the synoptic Gospels, The Gospel of Thomasalso presents Jesus asking his disciples, “Compare me to someone and tell Me whom I am like.” They respond by describing him as an angel, a philosopher and as an indescribable personage.^66 In a later passage the disciples refer to Jesus as the consummation of the prophets (42:13–18).

Jesus is said to have partially answered his own question on several occasions. He describes himself as the Son of Man (47:34–48:4), which is also the name most commonly reported in the Gospels. On other occasions he speaks of himself in more lofty terms. To Salome, Jesus states “I am He who existed from the Undivided. I was given some of the things of My father.”^67 Elsewhere he speaks of himself as the Son in The Gospel of Thomas.^68 In another instance Jesus speaks in more specifically Gnostic terminology: Jesus said, “It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the All. From Me did the All come forth, and unto Me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find Me there.”^69 In these passages which concern the identity of Jesus, we are told (1)that Jesus asked his disciples for their view. (2)Their responses were varied, with the comparison of Jesus to a philosopher being especially reminiscent of the references by Lucian and Mara Bar-Serapion. Jesus then identified himself as (3)the Son of Man, (4)the Son of His Father and (5)as the All of the Universe.

The Gospel of Thomasalso records a parable concerning the death of Jesus (45:1–16) and relates his subsequent exaltation (45:17–19). Again, Jesus is identified as “living” or as the “Living One,” a reference to his post-resurrection life

62 The Gospel of Thomas32:10–11.

63 See Grant, Gnosticism and Early Christianity, pp. 183–184.

64 Helmut Koester, “Introduction” in James Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library, p. 117; Baur, p. 310; Pagels, Gnostic Gospels, XV-XVI.

65 See Mark 8:27–30; Matt. 16:13–17; Luke 9:18–21.

66 The Gospel of Thomas34:30–35:4.

67 Ibid., 43:82–30.

68 Ibid., 44:34–35; 45:11–15; 49:21–26.

69 Ibid., 46:23–28.

(see Rev. 1:17–18).^70 These references relate (6)the death of Jesus and (7)his exaltation as a result of his resurrection from the dead.