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The Fifth Gospel

Recovering the Lost Wisdom of Jesus

March 16-17, 2018

Lincoln, Nebraska

In 1945 a new gospel was discovered that would alter the way scholars look at gospels, the origins of Christianity, even Jesus himself. The new gospel was identified as the previously known but never found Gospel of Thomas. This Seminar introduces the Gospel of Thomas, examines its vision of Jesus, and asks how Thomas challenges our understanding of the historical Jesus and the story of Christian beginnings.

Photo of Steven J Patterson

Stephen J. Patterson (Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School) is Geo. H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University. He is the author of many books, most recently The Lost Way: How Two Forgotten Gospels Are Rewriting the Story of Christian Origins(2014).

Photo of Nicola Denzey Lewis

Nicola Denzey Lewis (Ph.D., Princeton University) is the Margo L. Goldsmith Chair in Women's Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. Her research centers on the city of Rome during the Roman Empire and she holds particular expertise on ancient Christian practices.

Program Details

Discovering The Fifth Gospel

Stephen Patterson and Nicola Denzey Lewis

Christian texts, mostly lost, now found, including the remarkable Gospel of Thomas—the “fifth gospel.”  What is the Gospel of Thomas?  How was it discovered?  Why has this discovery sent scholars scrambling for answers ever since?  Nicola Denzey Lewis and Stephen J. Patterson introduce you to the Gospel of Thomas.

Friday evening, 7–8:30 pm

Unlocking the Fifth Gospel

Nicola Denzey Lewis

The surprise discovery of the Gospel of Thomas in 1945 is an event unrivaled in the study of Christian origins. Who wrote it? Where? And why does it sound so different from the canonical gospels? Nicola Denzey Lewis will unlock the secrets of this gospel (some of them!) and this new gospel really tells us about early Christianity.

Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Thomas: Plato's Gospel

Stephen Patterson

The Gospel of Thomas holds themes common to Plato's philosophy such as the mortal body and immortal soul. Knowledge of the true self, not to be confused with the physical self, is part of Thomas's concern. But Thomas combines platonic themes with Jesus sayings and insists that the Empire of God is here and now. Thomas is a good example of how early Christ communities worked creatively with the "science" of their day.

Saturday, 11 am – noon

The Wisdom of Jesus in the Modern World

Nicola Denzey Lewis and Stephen Patterson

Thomas is a “wisdom” gospel in which Jesus appears in the role of sage and prophet. Is this ancient wisdom relevant to anyone living in the modern world? Should Christians take note? What about those who have given up on organized religion? Are there gems worth recovering in the lost wisdom of Jesus?

Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Question & Answer Period

Nicola Denzey Lewis and Stephen Patterson

Saturday, 3–4 pm


First Presbyterian Church

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

First Presbyterian Church
840 South 17th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

For local information, contact:

Sue Coller


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by March 2) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.