Gospel of Thomas?
Much has been written about so-called ‘lost Christianities’ in the last decade or so. The Gospel of Thomas is always among the early books mentioned that supposedly demonstrate a possible variety of understanding and teaching in early Christianity.
First of all, there are a number of sayings contained within the ‘Gospel’ that are comparable to passages in the NT gospels and the collection of scholars that made up the Jesus Seminar actually named a few as authentic. However, there are many other sayings in Thomas which obviously contradict teaching in the canonical gospels. Plus there is no actual narrative or story to provide context.
Then there is the question of dating and authorship. Several of my old professors in seminary (Claremont) supported a late first or early second century dating. Now most scholars opt for an early second century date. Then there is the question of authorship. Few entertain the idea that the doubting apostle had any kind of hand in it.
But the real question is this: Does it really have anything to tell us about the historical Jesus and his actual teaching?
Here’s an excellent article by Dr. Ben Witherington dealing with that question:
The following is a quote from the conclusion of the article:
There were actual boundaries of belief and behavior even in the first century A.D., boundaries beyond which Jesus’ followers knew they should not go, and Thomas and the even later Gnostic documents clearly had long since crossed those boundaries in various ways. As it turns out the lost Christianities so often touted today were not so much lost as abandoned for good reasons. They were not suppressed because they offered an alternative, earlier, and more true version of Christian origins. They were tried and found wanting in the 2nd through fourth centuries because they betrayed the essentially Jewish monotheistic, eschatological character of Jesus and his movement.