Gospel of Thomas and Gnosticism

Just in case there are people who read this blog who do not also read April DeConick’s Forbidden Gospels blog, today she has posted a review of Alistair Logan’s book The Gnostics. This book is on my “to read” list, but unfortunately, that also means it has to be on my “to buy, probably from outside Australia” list, so it won’t happen in the next week or two. 😦 It is a response to the North American critique and rejection of the category “Gnostics” and I am really looking forward to reading what he has to say.

I find characterising Thomas with respect to gnosticism challenging. On the one hand, knowing and understanding are important for salvation in Thomas, so it fulfils the characterisation of ‘gnostic’ that I was taught in my theological education (which, of course, would not have been simplistic, would it????). On the other hand, there is no evidence of a worldview where demiurges and other divine or semi-divine beings are involved in the creation and ruling of the earth and the heavens which I only learned about post-theological education.

I thus find Michael Williams’ and Karen King’s critiques of the use of the term helpful, because when people use it, especially in relation to Thomas, I wonder exactly what they mean by “Gnostic” (and usually make myself unpopular by asking). Thomas certainly doesn’t fit into Williams’ “biblical demiurgy” category, but it does place more emphasis on knowing and understanding than do the canonical gospels or orthodox modern characterisations of Christianity.

I am hoping that Logan will shed more light on the issue.

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