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The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) Paperback – September 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: SkyLight Illuminations
  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • Publisher: SkyLight Paths; 1 edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893361454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893361454
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The Gospel of Thomas really is, I believe, the clearest guide we have to the vision of the world's supreme mystical revolutionary, the teacher known as Jesus. To those who learn to unpack its sometimes cryptic sayings, the Gospel of Thomas offers a naked and dazzlingly subversive representation of Jesus' defining and most radical discovery: that the living Kingdom of God burns in us and surrounds us at all moments."
--from the Foreword by Andrew Harvey

About the Author

Stevan Davies is professor of religious studies at Misericordia University and has studied the non-canonical gospels and acts for over thirty years. Among his books are The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated and Explained, The Secret Book of John: The Gnostic Gospel—Annotated and Explained (both SkyLight Paths) and The Revolt of the Widows: The Social World of the Apocryphal Acts. He has also published books about the canonical Christian scriptures including New Testament Fundamentals and Jesus the Healer: Possession, Trance and the Origins of Christianity. His website (www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/thomas.htm) is a leading Internet resource on the Gospel of Thomas.


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285 of 292 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kirby on July 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Stevan Davies maintains the online Gospel of Thomas Homepage and is the author of the 1983 book The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, distinguishing himself as one of the leading scholars on the Gospel of Thomas. The chief virtue of Davies is that he stays close to what the Gospel of Thomas is saying rather than attempting to read into the text an over-arching gnostic, ascetic, or mystical motif. The result is a commentary filled with fresh insights, such as the humor of saying 72, the sexual innuendo of saying 22, the vegetarian doctrine of sayings 11&87, and the incompetent sower of saying 9. Davies is concise in his commentary, providing the text of Thomas in large type on the right side, with comments by Davies (and the occasional quote) on the left side. I have read most of the books in English on the Gospel of Thomas, and I can say confidently that this is the best commentary available to date and a must-read for anyone who is interested in this fascinating text.
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190 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Booklister on February 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Prof. Stevan Davies was one of the first scholars to take the Gospel of Thomas seriously as a first century text. An acknowledged expert in his field, he is fascinated by early Christianity, has few preconceptions as to its earliest form, and is always willing to try out new ideas.
This book contains a solid translation of the Gospel of Thomas, a good introduction, plus a new age preface by Andrew Harvey. The great strength of the book is the saying by saying commentary. Davies does not try to give a unified interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas, but to "offer suggestions, share observations, and participate in a reader's seeking..." Prof Davies has a way of wheedling out the system of thought that lurks beneath the text, and he looks at the sayings as clearly as he can, disregarding religious or scholarly commonplaces. This is one of the three or four best books on the Gospel of Thomas.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By NonModo on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I can thoroughly recommend this book for three reasons: 1) its simplicity of text; and 2) its ability to put NT passages into context; and 3) it serves as poignant personal reader for introspection and meditation.

Never mind exegese, dogma and historic church teachings. Make up your own mind with a refreshing text that still speaks to us on a very personal and direct level, unhindered by tradition.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
--Simon Peter said to them: Mary should leave us because women are not worthy of the life. Jesus responded: Look, I'll lead her in order to make her male so that she can become a living spirit as you males are. For each woman who makes herself male will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.--

When I've read this passage to my biblical studies and history classes in seminary, they can usually agree readily that this might not have been the best document to include in the canon of scripture, at least when thinking about it from a `preachability' standpoint, particularly if one tends toward literalist interpretations. But many of the passages in the Gospel of Thomas defy simplistic interpretation and understanding because they really are of a different world and different worldview, and have not had a long history of hermeneutic development as have other, equally difficulty canonical passages.

The Gospel of Thomas gained a significant audience during the first decades after its discovery in the Egyptian desert in 1945. Part of a collection that has come to be called the Nag Hammadi scriptures, they were discovered only a few years prior to the Dead Sea Scrolls, another set of documents that has been pivotal in increasing our understanding of the religious culture of the time two thousand years ago.

One scholar classified the Gospel of Thomas along with most other non-canonical gospels as failing to gain widespread acceptance not primarily because of the content, but because of the style - the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are all narrative in their development; they tell stories and narrate a history in addition to giving the wisdom of Jesus.
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68 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
In 1945, twelve ancient texts were found in a sealed jar at the base of an Egyptian cliff. One of these, The Gospel of Thomas, is presented an expert translation accompanied with extensive interpretation in this impressive edition of The Gospel Of Thomas Annotated & Explained by Stevan Davies (a learned professor who has intensively studied the Gospel of Thomas for over twenty years). This is a seminal work that challenges a great many religious preconceptions within Christian literature and Biblical Studies. The Gospel Of Thomas offers a unique and sometimes contradictory perspective on the Kingdom of God (claiming that it is here and now rather than a future promise or threat), and sheds new light on the perception of Jesus Christ. The Gospel Of Thomas Annotated & Explained is very highly recommended reading for anyone seeking to better understand the these long-hidden aphoristic words attributed as the teachings of Jesus Christ.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By G. Wilson on February 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
While the Gospel of Thomas itself is a great source of quotations to ponder and meditate on, this book offers some insights and direction to understanding what was intended.

The annotations help provide some context of the historical period that the Gospels were written, along with corresponding sayings incorporated into the New Testament Gospels.

The foreword by Andrew Harvey provides an inspiring viewpoint that sets the scene for reading the sayings attributed to Jesus.

The foreword also outlines the importance of saying 22, illustrating how it reveals the order "of the transformations that have to be undergone by every seeker if the 'Kingdom-consciousness' is to be realized."

The annotations offer evidence of the implied meanings to the sayings. The 'Kingdom-consciousness' is often related back to the creation stories of Genesis 1 & 2, with the creation of Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden. Not mentioned in the book, but perhaps apt, is Qabalistic Tree of Life, with Malkuth representing Kingdom. As with the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas that the Kingdom is within, and outside of you, there is a comparison within the Qabala that Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is within Kether. To me, this suggests that by "entering" the Kingdom (or attaining "Kingdom-consciousness") one may reconnect with with the Divine.

Although the title suggests that in part this is the Gospel of Thomas "explained", it certainly isn't a spoiler of the mystery of each of the sayings. While some of the annotations certainly suggest the likely meaning of the saying it is still made clear that the sayings are ambiguous, and open to interpretation by the reader.
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