Friday, January 08, 2016

Is the Gospel of Thomas as Reliable as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

In Lee Strobel's handy book The Case of for Christianity he explains why the Gospel of Thomas is not as reliable as the traditional four gospels.

Strobel writes:

"The Gospel of Thomas is, by far, the most prominent of the gnostic gospels...and its proponents claim it is as reliable as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament.

However, the biblical gospels were written in the first century, whereas the Gospel of Thomas was written, at the earliest, about a hundred years later-in the second century.  So it was much further removed from Jesus' life.

Worse, its teachings run the gamut from unbiblical to illogical.  For example, Thomas proclaims that salvation comes from understanding oneself authentically-a message diametrically opposed to the biblical gospel.  It also claims Jesus said, 'If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits.'

It gets worse, Thomas quotes Jesus as saying, 'Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human.  And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.' Huh?

In addition, Thomas portrays Jesus as anti-women.  At one point, Simon Peter says to him, 'Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life.'  Jesus allegedly responds, 'Look, I will guide her to make her male, so she too may become a living spirit resembling you males.  For every female who makes herself male will enter the domain of Heaven.'

This is obviously in sharp contrast to the teachings of the real Jesus, who elevated women in a very counter-cultural way.

For these reasons and more, I'm a doubting Thomas regarding the Gospel of Thomas-and I'm confident the real Thomas, the authentic one in the New Testament gospels, would have doubted and rejected it as well!"1

For more on the non-canonical gospels attributed to Thomas, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Lee Strobel, The Case for Christianity, p 61-63.

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