The Gnostic Gospels
According to the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, one day Jesus said to his disciples:
“Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like.”
Peter said to him:
“You are like a righteous angel.”
“You are like a wise philosopher.”
“Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.”
To which Jesus replied:
“I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”
And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. Then, when Thomas returned to his companions, they asked:
“What did Jesus say to you?”
Thomas said to them:
“If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”
The way Thomas tells it, Jesus’ disciples questioned him:
“Do you want us to fast?
How shall we pray?
Shall we give alms?
What diet shall we observe?”
To which Jesus said many things, including this:
“If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath, you will not see the father.”
According to Thomas, Jesus Christ gave sermons about a number of different topics, saying things like this:
“If anyone should become acquainted with the whole of existence and should fall short at all, that person falls short utterly.”
“Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the all.”
“Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.”
“Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“…the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father.”
One time his disciples even asked:
“Is circumcision beneficial or not?”
He said to them:
“If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother.”
So, according to Thomas, Jesus didn’t want Christians to be circumcised. This all seems to paint a different picture from the standard narrative. For instance, in the end, the disciples said to Jesus:
“We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?”
Jesus said to them:
“Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”
Thus, James became the first vicar of the Gnostic church, whereas Peter became the first vicar of the Catholic church. This is important because in the second century the Gnostics were just as powerful as the Catholics, but within a few more centuries time, the Catholics would become orthodox. Granted, there are Gnostic revivals happening all around the world, and I mention this because one time Peter said to Jesus:
“Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.”
To which Jesus replied:
“I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus often used dualistic terms like this, similar to alchemists who spoke in an arcane language. This typically included pairings like that of body/soul, male/female, light/dark, positive/negative, good/evil, etc… This is where the whole “alpha and omega” thing comes in too. Along with that, the disciples once said to Jesus:
“Tell us how our end will be.”
Jesus said the same thing on different occasions:
“Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.”
“Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death.”
“Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you become my disciples and listen to my words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five trees for you in paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience death.”
Was he referring to resurrection? Better yet, is every Christian supposed to perform the miracle? What’s going on here? Is this part of an esoteric code that the first Christians used? What does he mean by the “five trees in paradise”?
There are lots of cryptic sayings like this in the Gospel of Thomas, among other disciples. For instance, Jesus once said:
“Where there are three divine beings they are divine, where there are two or one I myself dwell with that person.”
That’s a bit different from the canonical verse that I learned in Sunday school: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) The point is that much of this is, and has been, lost in translation. Plus, according to the Gnostic Gospels, Jesus said:
“The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge and hidden them. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to. You, however, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”
His disciples once said to him:
“Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it.”
He then said to them:
“Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.”
“If they say to you, ‘Where did you come from?’, say to them, ‘We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.’”
“It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”
Do those kinds of statements refer to the spiritual radiance that produced the shroud of Turin? Is this the same mysterious light from both the transfiguration and the resurrection? Could anyone have seen Christ’s aura even without the use of second sight?
Ultimately, there’s something to be learned from the words of all the disciples, Mary Magdalene included. After all, they were there when it all happened. The trick is in asking the right questions and then knowing the right answers when you see them.
Just as one example, Jesus said:
“Whoever blasphemes against the father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.”
Why would Jesus not be able to or not want to forgive blasphemy of the holy ghost?!??? What are the full restrictions of his salvation? Simply put, if there is no way of knowing all the unforgivable sins then shouldn’t everyone always be good, just in case?
The last thing to keep in mind is that Jesus said:
“Many times have you desired to hear these words which I am saying to you, and you have no one else to hear them from. There will be days when you will look for me and will not find me.”
Such is the Gnostic version of Christ.