Where do things like the Gospel of Thomas fit into Christianity?

The Bible is made up of sixty-six books, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation. Recent years have seen an increased interest in ancient books like the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas is one of fifty-two books known as the gnostic gospels. The Gnostic gospels were all written sometime between 100-300 A.D. and generally claim to have been written by apostles or other individuals who had close relationships with Jesus. Other well known gnostic writings include The Gospe of Judas, The Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Phillip. The collection of gnostic gospels cannot be summarized easier because have many different themes and purposes. Some claim to reveal information about Jesus’ life not discussed in the New Testament. Some claim to present a different perspective on Jesus’ ministry that the New Testament writers wanted to keep hidden. Some claim to offer a new angle on the events recorded in the New Testament gospels, interpreting the episodes in Jesus’ life according to Gnostic beliefs.

Since many of the gnostic gospels claim to give factual information about Jesus and His disciples that was not included in the New Testament, how does the Christian view these books? They have no legitimate claim to be the Word of God. They make fraudulent claims about their authorship. They make factual statements that contradict the New Testament. They teach doctrines contrary to the doctrines of the Bible. No gnostic gospel was ever recognized as God’s Word by any ancient Christian church.

The gnostic gospels are not Scripture, but do they offer some historical insight like some Apocryphal books? The length of time between the life of Jesus and the writing of the gnostic gospel (at least one hundred years) means the information included is less trustworthy than that found in the New Testament. The unique historical claims of the gnostic gospels have no confirming evidence in other historical records. A number of the gnostic gospels present historical details that are clearly fallacious (like those found in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas). Some of them, like the Gospel of Judas, rewrite history to present an account that supports gnostic theology.

The gnostic gospels are books written by men promoting a body of beliefs contradictory to the New Testament. The books make claims based on the imaginations and theological errors of the gnostic heresy. These books are intentional fabrications. They offer much insight into gnostic theology but they provide no useful information about the early life, the personal life or the secret life of Jesus. A quick comparison between any of the most popular gnostic gospels and any of the New Testament gospels will reveal an obvious difference. The gnostic gospels read like poor imitations of the New Testament or feeble attempts to create epic mythology. The gnostic gospels are unreliable as anything but historical curiosities. They are not Scripture and offer nothing to aid the understanding of the life of Jesus or to promote true, Biblical theology.

Advertisements