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The Gospel of Thomas: The
Enlightenment Teachings of Jesus, by Robert Wolfe
Review by Paula Marvelly
In 1945, a peasant boy called Mohammad Ali
unearthed a clay jar, near the town of Nag Hammadi in Upper
Egypt, in which were thirteen papyrus leather-bound books,
containing in total 52 texts. Written in Coptic (an ancient
Egyptian language) about fifteen hundred years ago, the texts are
translations from earlier works written in Greek. Focusing on a
diverse range of subject matter creation mythology,
discussions on the nature of the soul and reality, hagiography of
the apostles and the teachings of Jesus they are now
collectively known as the Nag Hammadi Library. More specifically,
they belong to a branch of theological doctrine, which scholars
term Gnosticism; taken from the Greek work, gnostikoi (meaning
insightful or intuitive), their wisdom is
drawn from the contemporaneous mystical traditions of
It is believed that these texts were widely known in their day but the Roman Emperor Constantine (known for boiling his wife alive as well as murdering his own son) had other ideas about their future. In 325 CE, he convened the Council of Nicaea where the official texts of the Bible were decided upon: those texts that were deemed acceptable we now know as the New Testament; those texts that supported the Gnostic position were burned (and those who disagreed with the Emperors decision were exiled).
Of all the Gnostic texts, the one which encompasses the enlightenment teachings of Jesus the most profoundly is The Gospel of Thomas. At the very beginning of the tract, the writer announces the immortal phrase, Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death (p.155). (Indeed, such a statement could suffice as an introduction to the entire canon of Gnostic scripture.)
The Gospel of Thomas: The Enlightenment Teachings is essentially composed of two main sections: a general critique, entitled The Fifth Gospel; and a commentary on the verses of the gospel themselves, entitled Nondual Perspective.
Without doubt ... the suppression of the Gnostic gospels irrevocably changed the course of history and the way in which Jesus message has been interpreted over the centuries, something that is only being acknowledged in recent years.
Robert Wolfe is an accomplished writer [advaita-academy..org hosts many of his articles]. In this particular offering, he has made use of exhaustive research, which does him much credit. In the world of academe, a thesis of such magnitude (challenging the bedrock beliefs of Christendom no less) cannot be taken lightly on board.
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Read the entire review by Paula Marvelly at
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