the fifth page for Sunday, July 26, 2009
In last Sunday's sermon I made reference to non-canonical texts- documents similar to those we find in the New Testament, that did not “make the cut” when decisions were being made about what would be included in the “official” scriptures of the Christian church. Many of these texts are available in libraries, bookstores, and of course, on-line. This Sunday I read a portion of the “Gospel of Thomas” in the worship service. It roughly paralleled the style and content of the other reading for the day, which I chose from Mark’s Gospel.
Gospel Reading: Mark 8:27-33 (New International Version)
Then Jesus and his disciples went away to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Tell me, who do people say I am?"
"Some say that you are John the Baptist," they answered; "others say that you are Elijah, while others say that you are one of the prophets."
"What about you?" he asked them. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Messiah."
Then Jesus ordered them, "Do not tell anyone about me."
Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: "The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life."
He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter. "Get away from me, Satan," he said. "Your thoughts don't come from God but from human nature!"
Gospel of Thomas 13:1-8 (Patterson/Robinson translation into English)
Jesus said to his disciples: "Compare me, and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him: "You are like a just messenger." Matthew said to him: "You are like an (especially) wise philosopher." Thomas said to him: "Teacher, my mouth will not bear at all to say whom you are like." Jesus said: "I am not your teacher. For you have drunk, you have become intoxicated at the bubbling spring that I have measured out." And he took him, (and) withdrew, (and) he said three words to him. But when Thomas came back to his companions, they asked him: "What did Jesus say to you?" Thomas said to them: "If I tell you one of the words he said to me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me, and fire will come out of the stones (and) burn you up."
The complete text of the Gospel of Thomas, in several different translations, is available at a website offered by the Gnostic Society: http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/