Harold Bloom on the Gospel of Thomas

 

“The popularity of the Gospel of Thomas among Americans is another indication that there is indeed ‘the American religion’:  creed-less, Orphic, enthusiastic, proto-gnostic, post-Christian.  Unlike the canonical gospels, that of Judas Thomas the Twin spares us the crucifixion, makes the resurrection unnecessary, and does not present us with a God named Jesus.  No dogmas could be founded upon this sequence (if it is a sequence) of apothegms.  If you turn to the Gospel of Thomas, you encounter a Jesus who is unsponsored and free.  No one could be burned or even scorned in the name of this Jesus, and no one has been hurt in any way, except perhaps for those bigots, high church or low, who may have glanced at so permanently surprising a work.”

Bloom captures why the Jesus of Thomas is so alluring to post-moderns:  “The Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas calls us to knowledge and not to belief, for faith need not lead to wisdom; and this Jesus is a wisdom teacher, gnomic and wandering, rather than a proclaimer of finalities.  You cannot be a minister of this gospel, nor found a church upon it.  The Jesus who urges his followers to be passerby is a remarkably Whitmanian Jesus, and there is little in the Gospel of Thomas that would not have been accepted by Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman” (The Gospel of Thomas, 111-112).

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