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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).

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.


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Program Details

Discovering The Fifth Gospel

Stephen Patterson and Nicola Denzey Lewis

In 1945 an Egyptian farmer made a startling discovery: a collection of ancient 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, 7:30–9 pm

Plato and the Gospel of Thomas

Stephen Patterson

The Gospel of Thomas has been called a “Gnostic” gospel, a “wisdom” gospel, the “original” gospel, and “heresy.” In this workshop Stephen Patterson clarifies what the Gospel of Thomas is and is not, how it works, and why it has caused so much controversy through the years.

Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

The Fifth Gospel and Its Cousins

Nicola Denzey Lewis

The Gospel of Thomas was discovered with more than 50 other texts, the Nag Hammadi Library. But was it a library? What are these other texts and what are they about? And how, really, were they discovered? Nicola Denzey Lewis will introduce you to the latest discussion of this famous discovery.

Saturday, 11 am–noon

Question and Answers

Nicola Denzey Lewis and Stephen Patterson

Patterson and Denzey Lewis answer your collected questions and lead a discussion of the significance of what you have heard so far.

Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

The Wisdom of Jesus Now

Stephen Patterson

What difference has the Gospel of Thomas made to the way scholars understand Jesus? To the way they understand Christian origins? Or Christianity in its first four centuries? Can this collection of sayings make any difference today?

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
[email protected]


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.


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