"Become passersby." - The Gospel of Thomas
What a controversial figure Christ has become! To some, he is Messiah, Savior, Lord. To others, he is Prophet, Teacher, Rabbi. And still to others, he remains an enigmatic mystery; his real identity shrouded in myth and parable. Perhaps, however, to discover more of Christ's true persona, the seeker must look not to the Christian canonized versions of his story, but rather to texts that display his wisdom and his teachings in a more Gnostic association.
The Gospel of Thomas is such a read. It begins, first and foremost, by declaring that it contains the secret sayings of Jesus. A bold proclamation this may seem, but one glance inside its richly unfolded landscape of personal parables and quotes, the reader will find herself captivated by the Christ depicted therein. Whereas the traditional Gospels, as read in the New Testament canon, seek to bring the reader toward an expected end and the promise of a heavenly hereafter, The Gospel of Thomas takes the opposite approach, rather instructing the seeker that the paradise to be obtained can be found only by revisiting the beginning!
The text serves as a manual of sorts, or a handbook, to instruct and guide the student-seeker on a path toward enlightenment, and that path to enlightenment - the Christ therein proclaims - is the method unto salvation. This manuscript is a complete departure from the four canonical gospels, and portrays Christ as a sage, the very embodiment of wisdom, cast more in the tradition of the Buddha than in the heretofore understood role of Savior. Its controversial but worthwhile substance signifies not only its importance, but also provides understanding of why its text has not been canonized, and why it remains highly controversial.
This book, quite simply, is a must-read, regardless of personal faith or spiritual persuasion. It is sure to provide an intimate glance into one of history's most controversial figures, and will simultaneously enlighten and uplift with its richly developed rhetoric and sharp, poignant truths.
The Gospel of Thomas - Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus
an annotated translation by John Dark and Ray Reigert
Seaston, an imprint of Ulysses Press, copyright 1998
~ Christina Dudley
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