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Gospel of Thomas: Coptic


AESOP (102 109): Crippled Greek slave of the 6th-century B.C., whose tales were well-known throughout the ancient world--the only non-Israelite other than the Delphic Oracle ("know thyself": Th 3) whom Christ is known to have quoted (as also in Lk 4:23 & Mt 7:15)

BED (61a, as also 61b): See Crum's Coptic Dictionary (Bibliography #4), 408b & 815a; the Coptic text here is: (did-thou[m]-lay) E4M (upon) (my-bed)--this last term emphatically cannot mean "bench" or "sofa" or "dining-couch"

BLEST(7 18 19 49 54 58 68 69a 69b 79 103): Greek  MAKARIOS  --this Greek word means divine, rather than merely human, beatitude (Mt 5:3 etc.)

BRIDAL-SUITE (75 104) Greek NYMFWN =the bedroom where the marriage is consummated (Ps 19:5, S-of-S 1:4, Jn 3:29!, Mt 9:15); see Ph 65, 73, 79

Bridal-Chamber (75 104): Copt (place of-bride; C153a C560b) = Gk NUMFWN = Heb (kheder); the bedroom where the marriage is consummated (Jud 15:1, Ps 19:5 45:13-15!, S-of-S 1:4, Jn 3:29!, Mt 9:15 [OI UIOI TOU NUMFWNOS, the Sons of the Bridal-Chamber] 25:1‑13)— see Sacrament in Ph Notes and Ph 65 71 72 73 82 94 101 108 131 143.

CLERGY (39 102): Hebrew "Pharisee" ("separated")--a religious teacher, non-layperson (but remember Mt 23) EVERYTHING, THE ALL (2,6,67,77): Coptic THP-2--the universal totality

IMAGE, IMAGERY (22 50 83 84): Greek EIKON = Hebrew TSELEM (compare DEMUTH: "likeness"; Gen 1:26)--sensory perceptions and/or mental images, as in Th 19

INSPIRE (114): to blow as the wind or to flow as water, hence to draw or attract

JACOB (12): Hebrew "heeler, supplanter" (Gen 25:26) = Greek "James"--Christ's human brother (Mk 6:3, Ac 12:17, Epistle of James)

JOHN THE BAPTIST (46 78): Hebrew "Yahweh is merciful"--the last Hebrew prophet and the Messianic precursor (Lk 1, 3, 7 etc.), see ORACLE, Ph 73, 81, 133, LOGOI in Tr Notes

LOVE (25 43 101):Greek AGAATE ALLHLOYC ("be-compassionate with-one-another!")--see Jn 13:34-35, 15:9-10 , Ph 12 etc.

MARY (21 114): from Hebrew("exalted", Ex 15:20)--five females named Mary appear in the Gospels: the Virgin, Mary Magdalen, Mary of Bethany, Mary of Cleopas, and Mary the Lord's human sister (Ph 36); Jn 20:16 gives a transliteration of this (Semitic) name into Greek letters: MAPIAM

MATTHEW (13): Hebrew ("gift of YAH[WEH]")--the Apostle/Evangelist, also named "Levi of Alphaeus" (see Ph Notes & Mk 2:14), brother of the Apostle Jacob of Alphaeus; Mt 10:3 etc.

MEANING   ( 1 19 38 79): = Gk  LOGOS = Heb rm) (amr) = Aram )  (memra); English ‘meaning’ derives from Anglo-Saxon ‘mænan’ = ‘to have in mind, mention, conceive + express’, the exact sense of both logos and memra; Jn 1:1 thus reads ‘In (the) Origin was the Meaning’; one Gk term for ‘word’ is RHMA.

NATURAL, KIND, VINTAGE (47 65 90): Greek  CRHSTOS  ("used")

ORACLE, PROPHET (31 52 88): Greek PROFHTHS  a divine spokesperson, not merely predictive (note that there are 24 books in the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament, and also 24 Prophets including John the Baptist; see Rev 4:4)

ORIGIN (18): Greek ARCH-term from the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, meaning not a temporal beginning but rather the primal source or basic substance underlying reality (thus in Gen 1:1 [Septuagint/LXX], Jn 1:1)

PHILOSOPHER (13): Gk FILOSOFOS (fond of wisdom); this word (coined by the pre-Socratic Pythagoras) has no precise Heb/Aram equivalent, and thus Matthew himself may have used the Gk word; but see the parallel term at Job 9:4, bbl Mkx (khakam liba), ‘wise in heart’.

RABBI (12): Hebrew "my great" = Coptic NO5--a spiritual authority

RECOGNITION  (3 5 39 43 51 56 67 69a 78 80 91 105): Gk  GNWSIS  (gnosis); this important term means direct personal acquaintance rather than mere intellectual knowledge, as in Jn 17:25 and I-Jn 4:7; see (Th 5, Ph 116 122 134, Tr 1 4 6 etc.,) Incarnate and Gnostic; NB Bertrand Russell's justly celebrated Theory of Descriptions, wherein the essential distinction is drawn between Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description— made necessary in English by its use of ‘know’ for both meanings; other languages utilize two separate terms, e.g. Spanish ‘conocer’ (fromGNWSIS), ‘to be acquainted with’, versus ‘saber’ (from Latin SAPERE, to be wise), ‘to know about’.

RETHINK (28): Greek METANOEW--"reconsider, be wholeminded" (Mt 3:2 etc.); the important term metanoia ("with-mind") thus contrasts with paranoia ("beside-mind"); it does not signify a mere feeling of remorse, which is METAMELOC (see METANOIA in Tr Notes)

SABBATH (27): Heb tb# (shabat: repose); the (7th) day of rest; Ex 21:8-11, Lk 6:1-11, Tr 7 33— see the pericope Lk 6:4+ in Codex D (05) [Bezae]: ‘That same day, he saw someone working on the Sabbath,¹ he said to him: Man, if indeed you understand what you are doing, you are blest; if indeed you do not understand, you are accursed and a transgressor of the Torah’; Nestle-Aland, Biblio.23, textual notes (¹asyndeton).

SACRED SPIRIT (44): Heb (ruakh ha-qodesh, Spirit the-Holy; feminine gender) ¹  Gk PNEUMA TO AGION (neuter gender) ¹ (P080, masculine gender; as also Latin SPIRITUS SANCTUS); see Spirit and ‘The Maternal Spirit’, Commentary 2.

SALOME (61b): Hebrew "peaceful"--an early female disciple (Mk 15:40-41, 16:1)

SAMARITAN (60): Those Hebrews not deported to Babylon and hence lacking the later OT scriptures (I-Ki 16:24, II-Ki 17), therefore in post-Exilic times considered heretics (as in Lk 10:25-37, Jn 4:1-42)

SAYING, MEANING (Prolog,1 19 38 79): Greek LOGOS  = Hebrew --"meaning" derives from Anglo-Saxon M’NAN = "thought + expression", the exact sense of "logos"; Jn 1:1 thus reads "In (the) Origin was [or: I was!] the Meaning...." [as HN means both "he/she/it was" and "I was"]; the Greek term for "word" is PHMA

SPIRIT (14 29 44 53 60 101 114): Heb xwr (rúakh: feminine gender!) = Aram )xwr (rúkha) ¹ Gk PNEUMA(neuter gender!) ¹ Latin SPIRITUS (masculine gender!); in all these languages the word for ‘spirit’ derives from ‘breath’ or ‘wind’ (Isa 57:16, Jn 3:5-8); see Sacred Spirit 

SKY, HEAVEN (3 6 9 11 12 20 44 54 91 111 114):  Greek OYPANOC--note that "sky" and "heaven" are the same within each language: Hebrew, Greek, and Coptic

THEOLOGIAN (39): Greek GPAMMATEYC ("scribe")--an expert on the scriptures (but Mt 23)

THOMAS (Prolog,13, Colophon): Aramaic/Hebrew TAOM = Greek DIDYMOC--"duplicate, twin" (see ARAMAIC in Ph Notes); the Apostle Thomas, author of this text (Jn 11:16, 20:24-29, 21:2); also note that Hebrew "Judas" = "praised" = Arabic "hammad" as in "Nag Hammadi" ("Village of Praise") and "Mohammad" ("Great Praise")

TREES (19): the "five trees" might refer to the five books of Moses (Gen-¯Dt) and/or the five Gospels (including Thomas), but most especially to the five senses (note that all emotions can be included in the realm of feeling)

WICKEDNESS, OPPRESSION (45): Gk PONEROS; this term has a root meaning of hard work or laborious drudgery, thus oppressive or exploitative; Christ's specific listing of 12 evils, at Mk 7:22-23   (1) PORNEIA: prostitution (see Ph Notes); (2) KLOPH: theft; (3) FONOS:homicide; (4) MOICEIA: adultery; (5) PLEONEXIA: selfishness; (6) PONHRIA: malice; (7) DOLOS: deceit; (8) ASELGEIA: lechery [literally: un-moon-leading!]; (9) OFQALMOS PONHROS: envious/jealous/selfish eye [Dt 15:9, Mt 20:15]; (10) BLASFHMIA: derision; (11) UPERHFANIA: pride; (12) AFROSUNH: foolishness [literally: divided mind, ambivalence; thus Rev/Ap 3:15-16!].

WORLD, SYSTEM (10 16 21 24 27 28 51 56 80 110 111): Greek KOCMOC-- "arrangement" (originally the philosopher Pythagoras had used this term to designate the entire natural universe, as in "cosmos"; but in the Gospel koin‚ it had also come to signify the conventionality or artificiality of the human social system, as in "cosmetic"--see Lk 2:1, 4:5-6, 12:30-31)

YESHUA (Prologue et passim): Aram (w#y (Yeshúa) = Heb (w#why (Yehóshua); from (#y-hwhy (YHWH ysha: He-Is Savior); Josh 1:1, Ezra 5:2 (Aram form), Mt 1:21, Ph 20a; this name could not be accurately transcribed in Gk, which lacks the SH sound; in the Gk and Copt uncial manuscripts it was generally abbreviated i\s\- or i\h\s\-; see also the second commandment as written exclusively on synagogue tablets of the Decalogue: hyhy (the grammatically correct form of ‘He Is’ .

YOGA (90): Coptic --"yoke", here meaning a spiritual discipline (the cognate Sansskrit term "yoga" conveys this sense quite well)

Nag Hammadi Library

The Nag Hammadi library (popularly known as The Gnostic Gospels) is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the town of Nag Hammâdi in 1945. That year, twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local peasant named Mohammed Ali. The writings in these codices comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic tractates (treatises), but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation / alteration of Plato's Republic. In his "Introduction" to The Nag Hammadi Library in English, James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and were buried after Bishop Athanasius condemned the uncritical use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 AD.

The contents of the codices were written in Coptic, though the works were probably all translations from Greek. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings of Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898, and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas has been proposed, though this is disputed by many if not the majority of biblical matter researchers. The once buried manuscripts themselves date from the 3rd and 4th centuries. 

The Nag Hammadi codices are housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. To read about their significance to modern scholarship into early Christianity, see theGnosticism article.


The first edition of a text found at Nag Hammadi was from the Jung Codex, a partial translation of which appeared in Cairo in 1956, and a single extensive facsimile edition was planned. Due to the difficult political circumstances in Egypt, individual tracts followed from the Cairo and Zurich collections only slowly.

This state of affairs changed only in 1966, with the holding of the Messina Congress in Italy. At this conference, intended to allow scholars to arrive at a group consensus concerning the definition of gnosticism, James M. Robinson, an expert on religion, assembled a group of editors and translators whose express task was to publish a bilingual edition of the Nag Hammadi codices in English, in collaboration with the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. Robinson had been elected secretary of the International Committee for the Nag Hammadi Codices, which had been formed in 1970 by UNESCO and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture; it was in this capacity that he oversaw the project. In the meantime, a facsimile edition in twelve volumes did appear between 1972 and 1977, with subsequent additions in 1979 and 1984 from publisher E.J. Brill in Leiden, called The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices, making the whole find available for all interested parties to study in some form. 

At the same time, in the former German Democratic Republic a group of scholars - including Alexander Bohlig, Martin Krause and New Testament scholars Gesine Schenke, Hans-Martin Schenke and Hans-Gebhard Bethge - were preparing the first German translation of the find. The last three scholars prepared a complete scholarly translation under the auspices of the Berlin Humboldt University, which was published in 2001. 

The James M. Robinson translation was first published in 1977, with the name The Nag Hammadi Library in English, in collaboration between E.J. Brill and Harper & Row. The single-volume publication, according to Robinson, 'marked the end of one stage of Nag Hammadi scholarship and the beginning of another' (from the Preface to the third revised edition). Paperback editions followed in 1981 and 1984, from E.J. Brill and Harper respectively.  

Gospel of Thomas

The author of the Gospel of Thomas is recorded as Thomas the Apostle, one of the Twelve. The text is a collection of over one hundred sayings and short dialogues of the Savior, without any connecting narrative. A few Christian authors in antiquity quoted one or another of its logia as Scripture— for example Sayings 2 22 27 37 by Clement of Alexandria (circa 150-211 AD) in hisStromata (Patches)— but without explicit attribution to Thomas.

Gospel of Philip

The Gospel of Philip— as can be inferred from its entries 51 82 98 101 137— was composed at least in part after 70 AD by Philip called the Evangelist (not the Apostle), who appears in the Book of Acts at 6:1-6 8:4-40 21:8-14. There is no known previous reference to or citation of this complex scripture, which is an elegant series of reflections on the Abrahamic tradition, on Israel and the (incarnate) Messiah, whilst elaborating a metaphysic of Spiritual Idealism.

Gospel of Truth

The Gospel of Truth was composed in about 150 AD by Valentine, the famous saint of Alexandria (born circa 100 AD). A continuous interwoven meditation on the Logos, it was scarcely mentioned in antiquity— and until the Nag Hammadi discovery not even a phrase from this noble composition was known to have survived.