The foregoing references in The Gospel of Thomasrequire further comment. Initially, they often appear to be dependent on Gospel testimony, especially in the question of Jesus’ identity and in the parable of the vineyard. Additionally, the overly obvious Gnostic tendencies, such as those found in the identification of Jesus with the “Undivided” and with the “All,” including monistic tendencies, certainly cast doubt on the reliability of these reports.^71 The Treatise On Resurrection
This book is addressed to an individual named Rheginos by an unknown author. Some have postulated that Valentinus is the author, but most scholars object to this hypothesis. The ideas are somewhat Valentinian, which could point to the presence of earlier ideas, but it is probably better to date the work itself from the late second century AD.^72
For the author of The Treatise on Resurrection, Jesus became a human being but was still divine: The Lord . . . existed in flesh and . . . revealed himself as Son of God . . . Now the Son of God, Rheginos, was Son of Man. He embraced them both, possessing the humanity and the divinity, so that on the one hand he might vanquish death through his being Son of God, and that on the other through the Son of Man the restoration to the Pleroma might occur; because he was originally from above, a seed of the Truth, before this structure (of the cosmos) had come into being.^73 In this passage we find much Gnostic terminology in addition to the teachings (1) that Jesus became flesh as the Son of Man in spite of (2)his true divinity as the Son of God who conquers death.
So Jesus came to this world in the flesh of a man, died and rose again: For we have known the Son of Man, and we have believed that he rose from among the dead. This is he of whom we say, “He became the destruction of death, as he is a great one in whom they believe.” Great are those who believe.^74 In less esoteric language we are told (3)that Jesus died, (4)rose again and (5) thereby destroyed death for those who believe in him.
We are told of Jesus’ resurrection in other passages as well: The Savior swallowed up death. . . . He transformed [himself] into an imperishable Aeon and raised himself up, having swallowed the visible by the invisible, and he gave us the way of our immortality.^75
70 Ibid., 32:10–11; 43:9–12; cf. 42:13–36.
71 See chapter 5, where such Gnostic tendencies are evaluated in comparison to the canonical Gospels.
72 Malcolm L. Peel, “Introduction” in James Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library, p. 50.
73 The Treatise on Resurrection44:13–36.
74 Ibid., 46:14–21; cf. 44:27–29.
75 Ibid., 45:14–23.
Do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth. Indeed, it is more fitting to say that the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ.^76 These two quotations even present an interesting contrast on the subject of Jesus’ death and resurrection. While the first statement is mixed with Gnostic terminology, the second assures believers that the resurrection was not an illusion, which reminds us of some Gnostic tendencies to deny the actual, physical death of Christ.^77