Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas
It’s been awhile since I read this book, published in 2003. Elaine Pagels is a biblical scholar who focuses on the New Testament Greek writings. Her interest has always been on the Gnostic Gospels, of which she wrote in the late 1970’s. Her specialty is the Gospel of Thomas.
I am slightly conflicted here, because I like the poetry of John’s Gospel, but the ‘strict’ adherence to John’s vision makes it hard to swallow his message whole.
Thomas’ gospel is more cryptic, which then lends itself to working out what it means to the individual. In other words, not everyone is going to understand everything, and that’s as it should be. After all, we are different aspects of the same truth.
This passage, from page 57 of Pagels’ book, says it all:
Finally, Jesus reveals to Thomas that “whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am, and I myself will become that person, and the mysteries shall be revealed to him.” This, I believe, is the symbolic meaning of attributing this gospel to Thomas, whose name means “twin.” By encountering the “living Jesus,” as Thomas suggests, one may come to recognize oneself and Jesus as, so to speak, identical twins. In the Book of Thomas the Contender, another ancient book belonging to Syrian Thomas tradition discovered at Nag Hammadi, “the living Jesus” addresses Thomas (and, by implication, the reader) as follows:
Since you are my twin and my true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are. . . . Since you will be called my [twin], . . . although you do not understand it yet . . . you will be called “the one who knows himself.” For whoever has not known himself knows nothing, but whoever has known himself has simultaneously come to know the depth of all things.
Is that clear?
As a Gnostic Christian, I know that these things are true, but it doesn’t make it any easier to explain them to others. You need to do your own research.
Matthew 6:33 King James Version (KJV)
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.