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.
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).
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.
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
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?