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Apocryphal Works

Thomas, also known as Didymus, from the Hebrew and Greek words both meaning the twin, was one of The Twelve Apostles. Although perhaps not as well known as Peter or John, millions of people are still familiar with him by his popular nickname, "Doubting Thomas." While we may be absolutely certain that Thomas was genuine, most Bible scholars seriously doubt that the same can be said of the "Gospel of Thomas" that is attributed to him.

Ancient Scroll The four actual Gospel books of The Bible are of course Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The "Gospel of Thomas" was discovered in 1945 near Nag Hammadi, between Cairo and Luxor in Egypt. Dated at about 140 AD (long after Thomas was dead - see What Happened To The Apostles?), it is included along with the dozens of other apocryphal (apocryphal meaning not authoritative) gospels, acts and epistles that have turned up in a variety of places over the centuries.

The "Gospel of Thomas" purports to be a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus Christ, and "which Didymus Judas Thomas wrote down." Although about half of them have a very familiar ring to readers of the Bible, others have no equivalent in the 4 actual Gospel books of the New Testament, and some are rather far-fetched. Unlike the true Gospels, the "Gospel of Thomas" consists solely of alleged sayings of Jesus Christ.

It's quite possible that Thomas was the author of an early Christian record (it would seem incredible if he hadn't written something), but there is really no way to know if it was the basis of the "Gospel of Thomas," or to what degree later writers altered or edited the work. Many are of the opinion that it was produced by someone using the apostle's identity, whose writing was a mixture of what he read in one or more of the true Gospels, plus his own imagination.

The sayings may be interesting to read as a matter of curiosity, but it should always be kept in mind that the "Gospel of Thomas" is not a part of the Bible, and that if God had wanted it included, it would have been long ago.

Here are just a few of the numerous other apocryphal works, Old and New Testament -

  • 1 Esdras
  • 2 Esdras
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Esther (additions)
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Ecclesiasticus
  • Baruch
  • Son of the Three Holy Children
  • Susanna
  • Bel and the Dragon
  • Prayer of Manasseh
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • The Gospel of Nicodemus
  • The Gospel of Peter
  • The Gospel of Joseph the Carpenter
  • Acts of Thomas
  • Acts of Paul
  • Acts of Andrew
  • Apocalypse of Peter
  • Letters of Paul to Seneca
  • Nativity of Mary
  • Arabic Gospel of the Childhood
  • Letter of Peter to James
  • Protevangelium of James
  • The Gospel of the Ebionites
  • Gospel of the Egyptians

Fact Finder: Are Christians to "prove all things"?
1 Thessalonians 5:21

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This Week's Bible Quiz

Who said it? (Revised Standard Version)

1. "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men."

2. "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

3. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get."

4. "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

5. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

6. "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

7. "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house."

8. "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

9. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

10. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man."

For the answers to this August 21 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page


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