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Excerpts from the Introduction to The Gospel of Thomas: A New Version Based on the Inner Meaning, by Andrew Phillip Smith

The Gospel of Thomas is the most significant and authentic piece of early Christian writing outside of the New Testament. It consists of a list of sayings, parables and dialogues attributed to Jesus, which it claims were written down by Judas Thomas the twin. Unlike the four gospels included in the New Testament, it contains no outline of Jesus’ life, no virgin birth, no miracles, no crucifixion or resurrection, focusing us Jesus’ teaching which, it tells us explicitly, is esoteric… But nothing outside of the New Testament is as early or contains as many authentic traditions of Jesus as the Gospel of Thomas.

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The best modern scholarly opinion dates the Gospel of Thomas, along with the four canonical gospels, to somewhere in the last quarter of the first century CE, with the core of the sayings perhaps formed in an earlier edition... The Gospel of Thomas must have been written around the same time as or a little earlier than the gospels in the New Testament.

* * *

The sayings common both to Thomas and to Mark or Matthew or Luke have as good a claim to being the original teachings of Jesus as anything does. Sayings survived because people found them worth preserving, and people have a tendency to only preserve the things that they value. What that we possess as a saying of Jesus might well have originated from one of Jesus’ students, or from a traditional proverb, or from other literature, yet this need not diminish its importance.

* * *

Perhaps the discovery of fragments at the turn of the twentieth century, and the entire text just after the Second World War were not accidental. Thomas is the gospel for the twentieth century and beyond. Were it not for an illiterate Egyptian murderer we would not possess this important key to the teachings of Jesus and the very earliest Christianity.

The Gospel of Thomas: A New Version Based on the Inner Meaning, by Andrew Phillip Smith, is published by Ulysses Books and is available through



Gospel of Thomas Material:
Sayings and Interpretation
From the Introduction
Intriguing Parallels to Gospel of Thomas Sayings
Short Essays On Difficult and Obscure Sayings
Reviews of the Other Translations of the Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas Online Resources
Gospel of Thomas Home

Esoteric Christianity Material:
Beryl Pogson on the Gospel of Thomas in 1959
P.D. Ouspensky on Christianity and The New Testament

Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, and Many Others:
an Online Anthology of Fourth Way Writings On Esoteric Christianity

Esoteric Christianity Online Resources

About the Author
Contact the Author


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