A matter of unusual interest at the moment of writing is the publication of the text and translation of the Gospel According to Thomas. This “Gospel” is the most important of the documents discovered by chance in Upper Egypt in 1946 in a jar which was standing in one of the tombs of an ancient cemetery in the neighborhood of the town, Nag Hamadi. The 49 works which these papyrus books, 13 in number, contain had evidently belonged to the library of a community whose views were tainted Gnostic teachings. The text is in the Sahidic dialect of the Coptic language, and the documents are believed to date back to the end of the fourth century or possibly a little later.
The name Gospel According to Thomas (which is found only at the end of the work) is in fact misleading, for there is no correspondence in form to any of the canonical (or, for that matter, apocryphal) Gospels. The work consists simply of 114 logia or sayings of Jesus, without narrative or connecting links.
The question which most people will be asking is this: Can we accept these sayings as authentic utterances of Jesus himself? On examining them, we find that many, at least half of the total, correspond in whole or in part so closely with sayings in the New Testament that they are plainly derived either from the New Testament or from some common source. Here are some examples: No. 26. “The mote that is in thy brother’s eye thou seest, but the beam that is in thine eye thou seest not. When thou cast the beam out of thine eye, then thou wilt see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (cf. Matt. 7:3–5). No. 41. “Whoever has in his hand, to him shall be given; and whoever does not have, from him shall be taken ...1
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