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The Gospel of Thomas

F. F. Bruce

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This isn't the actual Gospel of Thomas, but a commentary on it by F. F. (Frederick Fyvie) Bruce, a Presidential Address, given May 14, 1960. If you wish to read the Gospel of Thomas, you may access it at the Biblical Archaeology Society. Or you may download the eBook The Nag Hammadi Library which contains the Gospel of Thomas and other lost biblical books.

The Bruce commentary provides a great deal of interesting reading and material to ponder. If you have not read my instructions for downloading the wealth of reading materials at, please see the Non-Traditional Books of the Bible Index Page.

F. F. Bruce was a Scottish biblical scholar who lived from 1910 to 1990. He begins his address by presenting some information on this work, found in a Christian tomb in Upper Egypt in around 1945. A jar contained 13 leather-bound codices of about 50 separate works. One now is housed at the Jung Institute in Zurich, and the rest are in the Coptic Museum in Cairo. They are referred to as the "Nag Hammadi papyri" because that is the town nearest to their place of discovery. Bruce makes the point at the end that this work isn't really a gospel, because it doesn't contain information about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is simply a collection of 114 sayings attributed to him. Many of them are similar to those found in the four traditional gospels.

Bruce considers this text a Gnostic writing. He states that Gnosticism teaches salvation through knowledge, that matter is evil, a product of a demiurge who is inferior to the "Supreme God." It seems that Gnosticism is gaining more popularity these days, and it is no wonder. I have written over and over that we are battling a war of minds. If we are stuck in a simulated reality, which I believe we are, (see my article on The Sim Theory), then all the love in the world will not get us out of here. Bruce makes a point to say that in the Gospel of Thomas, there are not many instances where Jesus speaks of love. Back in the 60s, love was the thing, but it has gotten us nowhere. A simulated reality is mental and technical, not emotional, so we must do battle using the appropriate method for the force which we are opposing. I have repeatedly warned that we must make our minds strong and acquire knowledge. Gnosticism says that knowledge is the way to salvation.

Bruce comments that one Gnostic sect, the Naassenes "held the serpent in honor because he defied the ban which the demiurge had placed on the impartation of knowledge." (See my Old Testament message, Adam, Eve, and the Snake.) Furthermore, he says that, according to this belief, we are "souls imprisoned in material bodies," and through knowledge we can be "liberated from this imprisonment and from the entanglement of the material universe, and thus ascend to the upper world of light where the spiritual nature has its home." Bruce also says that these Gnostics believed Jesus came to communicate the knowledge needed for liberation, and that it is not the sayings that are secret, but their interpretation.

Well, that's what I've been saying, too, and I'm not even Gnostic.

Here are a few of the sayings from the Gospel, beginning with the opening. Please note, I am using the text from the Biblical Archaeology Society linked above because that translation is clearer than the one by Bruce.

These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke. And Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down.
(1) And he said: "Whoever finds the meaning of these words will not taste death."
(2) Jesus says:
(1) "The one who seeks should not cease seeking until he finds.
(2) And when he finds, he will be dismayed.
(3) And when he is dismayed, he will be astonished.
(4) And he will be king over the All."

That seems to be where many of us are at this point.

Another interesting saying is No. 39:
(39) Jesus says:
(1) "The Pharisees and the scribes have received the keys of knowledge, (but) they have hidden them.
(2) Neither have they entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to.
(3) You, however, be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves!"

And that is certainly the case right now. There are those who know how we may liberate ourselves and are doing everything in their power to deliberately block that knowledge from us. I also find it interesting that once again, the serpent is mentioned in connection with wisdom.

And furthermore, Jesus says that those who are keeping us from the information we require will not benefit from it.

(102) Jesus says:
"Woe to them, the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in a cattle trough, for it neither eats nor [lets] the cattle eat."

(49) Jesus says:
(1) "Blessed are the solitary ones, the elect. For you will find the kingdom.
(2) For you come from it (and) will return to it."

On this one, Bruce comments that solitary probably means those who have disowned family ties. (There are a great number of us who have done that now, I suspect.) He also mentions that we were in a previous existence and will return to it. In the first line of No. 19, Jesus says, "Happy is he who existed before he came to birth."

In the Gospel of Thomas, the "Supreme God," not the demiurge of creation, is always referred to as the Father, and the dwelling place as the kingdom, not heaven. When "God" is used, it means the demiurge.

No. 97 is another interesting saying, and this is Bruce's translation:

Jesus said: "The kingdom of the Father is like a woman carrying a jar full of meal and walking along a long road. The handle of the jar broke, and the meal poured out behind her on the road without her knowing it or being able to do anything about it. When she reached home, she set down the jar and found that it was empty.

He comments that this one refers to those who are over confident and think they know it all, but find they have lost the knowledge. I make this comment frequently about those who have become popular "Ascension Gurus" who are more interested in their following than speaking the truth and consequently are not updating their knowledge base.

And last, for the Gnostics, and according to this Gospel, the propagation of children was discouraged. (I strongly agree with that one, too.) No. 22 supports my comments in the Gospel Message, The Virgin Birth.

(1) Jesus saw infants being suckled.
(2) He said to his disciples: "These little ones being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom."
(3) They said to him: "Then will we enter the kingdom as little ones?"
(4) Jesus said to them: "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside and the above like the below—
(5) that is, to make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female will not be female —
(6) and when you make eyes instead of an eye and a hand instead of a hand and a foot instead of a foot, an image instead of an image,
(7) then you will enter [the kingdom]."

This could certainly be considered a controversial work, definitely more esoteric than the four traditional Gospels. It makes one wonder if those were not altered to be less mysterious, (and revealing). One also wonders if this one was purposely kept hidden. In any case, there is a great deal of material to study in these 114 sayings and I plan to do just that, and suggest you do, too. I've supplied several free resources for reading this work, so I hope you check them out.

You may also read more from the Gospel of Thomas in my Gospel Message, Division and Destruction.

The Gospel of Thomas

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