Item description for The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus by Marvin W. Meyer...
Overview A new English translation, including the original Coptic text and commentary by the preeminent critic, Harold Bloom, shows a different Jesus than the canonical Gospels--one with much in common with the Greek sophists and the Eastern mystics. $15,000 ad/promo.
Publishers Description The definitive edition of the Gospel of Thomas, revised, updated, and expanded. This is now the most complete, up to date, accurate, and literary version available.A fresh and lively translation. --Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels and Beyo
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Marvin W. Meyer is Professor of Religious Studies at Chapman University. He has written and edited several books, including The Unknown Sayings of Jesus and Ancient Magic and Ritual Power. He is a research project director at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate School, and codirector of the Albert Schweitzer Institute.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus?
3 Stars and a half... Feb 22, 2007
I didn't bother reading the introduction and commentary, I went straight for the juice and read the ghospel. As a deist I didn't find it so much different from other ghospels, a bit shorter maybe, but about the same. Maybe less jolly and honky dory, a bit more down with life, good and evil are the same and all that. A bit closer to some eastern phylosophy sort of meaning, but still the same, jesus is the choosen one, he shows the way, but then will leave and leave us to dwell with the BS. As footnote, did you know that "ghospel" is a wrong word? The original ghospels were written by greeks and they titled them "Evangels", which means "good news". Speaking of greek, I liked a lot the facing text in greek and coptic. I do suggest this edition of the book to curious ones, at the end of it all is a quick read.
Ham on Wonder Bread. May 27, 2006
Meyers sandwiches the 114 sayings of Thomas (in English and Coptic), and his commentary on that text, between two essays: his introduction, and a dozen or so pages from the famous humanist, Harold Bloom.
The middle sections may or may not be worth the price of the book. (I haven't looked over the notes yet.) I find Thomas a bit "hammy," both in the sense that (having read a few Taoist and Buddhist works) Gnostic metaphysics strike me as pretentious, and in the sense that in their lack of historical or moral interest, they are "un-kosher," don't sound like a Jewish prophet. This doesn't sound like Jesus to me; it sounds like an Alexandrian philosopher. But it's worth reading Thomas for his importance in modern Jesus debates.
Surrounding the text one finds two slices of "wonder bread" of doubtful nutritional value.
Meyer properly attempts to put Thomas in context, but offers some dubious arguments in the process. He repeats the standard Jesus Seminar line that Q is very like Thomas. The view that Thomas is an early text is often based on the assumption that both are "sayings Gospels." (A rather oxymoronic concept.) More importantly, as I show in Why the Jesus Seminar can't find Jesus, and Grandma Marshall Could, Q is radically different from Thomas. First, even the Jesus Seminar version of Q contains some stories and miracles, which Thomas does not. More fundamentally, while Q contains some of the most profound moral teaching in all literature, Thomas edits almost all of it out. Q is 37-50% moral teaching; Thomas is about 2%, and even that can be pretty anemic. ("Don't lie, and don't do the things you hate.") Odd that a "sayings Gospel" would edit out the Sermon on the Mount! Even odder that Meyer does not notice! Nor do other Jesus Seminar scholars, Elaine Pagels, or Harold Bloom.
In fact, in my analysis of Thomas and the Gospels, I found that Thomas was less like the canonical Gospels than any other ancient writing I surveyed. The convention of calling it a "Gospel" at all is, in my opinion, highly dubious.
Meyer claims that the "absence of allegorical interpretations" in Thomas' version of the parable of the sower "helps confirm that such elements were added later," and therefore Thomas contains material that predates the Gospels. But scholars like Sanders and Jenkins have rebutted this argument. John Meier, N. T. Wright, and Richard Hays also give reason to believe Thomas depends on the canonical Gospels. Meyer is honest enough to admit that some scholars take this view. The problem is (I argue) "early Thomas" scholars get the worst of the debate. In fact, often they simply ignore opposing arguments. (Pagels admitted to me she had not read Meier or Wright's views on Thomas.)
While a good writer, Harold Bloom is in even further over his head. He uncritically accepts the view that Thomas offers an "earlier Jesus." Both Meyer and Bloom repeatedly cite Burton Mack, whose gifts, in my opinion, are more those of a myth-maker than a historian. Bloom also glibly repeats Meyer's error about Thomas being similiar to "Q."
Bloom expresses amazement that the Gospels contain only a few Aramaic sayings of Jesus: "If you believed in the divinity of Jesus, would you not wish to have preserved the actual Aramaic sentences he uttered?" The answer is, first of all, Jesus may have spoken mostly in Greek. But also, Bloom seems to have a less sophisticated and more magical notion of language than the early Christians. In the Christian Scriptures, Jesus is the "Logos," the translation into humanity of the nature of God. By speaking in different languages in Acts, the Holy Spirit in effect blessed all languages, and the act of translation.
Bloom asks, "Is it not an extraordinary scandal that all the crucial texts of Christianity are so suprisingly belated?" He should know better. The earliest extant Buddhist text is from 600 years after the Buddha. The earliest account of the resurrection, by contrast, was written a mere 20 years after the fact, and the first extant text is a mere 90-100 years later. Nor is 40 years (to Mark) so long; I could transcribe 1st hand accounts of the bombing of Nagasaki (where I once lived) tomorrow, from eyewitnesses, 61 years after the fact.
Misleading To Scientific Researchers Feb 24, 2006
If you buy this book seeking futher knowledge of the man Jesus, you will discover the writing to be based on unbelievable script. It is totally unlike any other writings found regarding the person, the man, that lived two thousand years ago. Christ would have been appalled at events attributed to him and this book is unacceptable to any Christian. The gnostics were a sect of people who believed themselves to be enlightened and had a following just as many false teachers throughout the centuries have influenced the easily suggestible person.
This book was attributed to Thomas! This alone would defy belief in the script of this book as being written by the disciple. Although Thomas tended towards skepticism at Christ's ressurection, he stood in awe as he realized it was the man he had followed and believed to be the Son of God. Thomas undoubtedly would have condemned this book. To say a false teacher named Thomas may have written the book is possible, but the person who wrote the script appears to be having sport with the true follower of Christ.
I have just finished watching a rather informed history of the gnostics on the "History Channel", and the saga of their lives and travels were nothing new or wise, just as we find today in so-called scholars who endeavor to establish a scientific path of Christ's life. Men of yesterday were given to forgeries just as we find in our generation, so if you are in quest of the truth of the times and life of Jesus, forget it, you won't find it here.
Focus on the actual text...avoid the commentary Jan 29, 2006
For any true believer and follower of Christ and his teachings, this book will most definitely be a rare and invaluable jewel. The mysteries, admonishments, knowledge, wisdom and understanding reflected by Christ in these sayings will speak to the very heart and spirit of the individual who is truly seeking. There is most definitely a direct correlation with the teachings, and sayings of Christ that are most familiar and recognized in the canonized four gospels.For the believer, my suggestion is to search and study these sayings as you would any other scripture, recognizing the living spirit behind all scripture that speaks to the spirit within. My suggestion would be to purchase the book for its actual text, and not the unnecessary insertion of Harold Blooms dissertation found in the back of the book. His essay tries to separate the consistent unity behind the scriptures of the old and new testament; and to as well separate the Christ that is found in cannoned scripture from the Christ reflected in the writings of Thomas. However I suggest that the individual judge for themselves of how much benefit they will receive from the added insight.
a 'must read' for Christians and non-Christians alike Dec 31, 2005
this book is still on my shelf after many years. my mother is Catholic and i asked her to read it .. what got me to read the book was the movie Stigmata. the book opened my eyes more than the movie. perhaps it could do the same for you.. i hope most readers will realize there is a difference between 'the Christ' and Jesus .. we created the former out of own insecurities :) in any case, use your own judgment! :) ps - the words in the text seem attributable to Jesus :)