The Gospel of Thomas : newly presented to bring out the meaning, with an introduction, paraphrases and notes

by McGregor Ross (Presenter)

Other authorsColin Maclaurin-Jones (Calligrapher)
Paperback, 1987



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York : Sessions, 1987.

User reviews

LibraryThing member paradoxosalpha
I think this is the third translation of the Gospel of Thomas I've read, and possibly the most recently published (1992). Translator Marvin Meyer's introduction conspicuously suspends judgment about the "gnostic" character of the text, and thus side-steps the terminological morass surrounding "Gnosticism." Instead, he emphasizes a shared culture with the Cynic philosophers of antiquity.

This "gospel" is one of the most significant components of the Nag Hammadi Library discovered in Egypt in the mid-20th century. It differs from the canonical gospels by entirely lacking a narrative spine, and consisting solely of purported teachings of Jesus. It thus provides another point of reference for the text-critical approach that postulates a Q (Ger. Quelle, "source") text to serve as a prior reference common to the synoptics, as well as demonstrating that a document of this form did exist among Christians of the first centuries. The text in this edition is printed with a typeset Coptic original on facing pages, and there are endnotes for each logion ("saying"). The notes supply alternate readings of the Coptic, along with parallels in canonical and extra-canonical Christian scriptures, ancient theological writings, and other literature of the period.

Appended to this edition is "A Reading" of the gospel by literary critic and academic Harold Bloom. I found myself fairly sympathetic to most of this "sermon" from Bloom, although it does repeatedly advert to his idiosyncratic identification of American Protestantisms and Mormonism as "gnostic." The one point at which he lost me altogether was when he wrote, "What is surely peculiar is the modern habit of employing 'gnosis' or 'gnosticism' as a conservative or institutionalized Christian term of abuse" (120). Bloom overlooked Irenaeus and Hippolytus somehow, along with the many centuries of theologians who took them as authorities, I guess.

Both Meyer and Bloom drew my attention to logion 13, which had not arrested me in previous readings of this gospel. Jesus rewards Thomas with three secret "sayings" or "words," not themselves reproduced in the text. Meyer's notes about other references to three secret words are intriguing (75); they include "IAO IAO IAO" from Pistis Sophia 136, and other non-canonical gospels intimate identities with divine father, mother, and son. Hippolytus offered what seem to be corrupted forms of the three instructions "precept upon precept," "line upon line,"and "here a little, there a little" from Isaiah 28. Bloom's highly speculative and metaphysical explication did not persuade me, but there are Thelemic doctrines which I think can be curiously enhanced by reference to this logion.
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LibraryThing member Kushana
This is a good translation of the Gospel of Thomas. (It is not the same as Q, the lost list of the sayings spoken by Jesus. It is the same type of ancient book, and that matters a lot to scholars. To read a reconstruction of Q side by side with Thomas, see [The Q/Thomas Reader] which makes a good companion to this book.)

This translation has a helpful introduction, notes, and has the Coptic (in a handsome typeface) on each page facing the translation. (Coptic is Egyptian written in the Greek alphabet rather than hieroglyphs.)

Dr. Meyer, now better known as one of the translators of the [Gospel of Judas] also translated much of the ancient collection of Gnostic texts the [Gospel of Thomas] came from (the Nag Hammadi Library, named for its place of discovery in Egypt). You can read his translations (along with a newer translation of Thomas, in [The Nag Hammadi Scriptures]

There are several good stand-alone translations of the Gospel of Thomas with explanatory notes; this is still one of the better ones by a scholar who has specialized in translation work.


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1850720193 / 9781850720195

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