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Rumors obscured the circumstances of this find--perhaps because the discovery was accidental, and its sale on the black market illegal.For years even the identity of the discoverer remained unknown.There is a danger that those who do not may be confused or misled by the popular claims.In this article Christian History Institute seeks to show who the Gnostics were, how we know about them, what were their main writings, what they taught and what, if anything, we can learn from them.In addition, as Craig Evans has pointed out, there is rather clear evidence that Thomas' author knows the final redaction of the four canonical Gospels, not just its source material.Evans writes*: "Quoting or alluding to more than half of the writings of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Col., 1 Thess., 1 Timothy, Hebrews 1, Rev.), Thomas could be little more than a collage of New Testament and apocryphal material that have been interpreted, often allegorically, in such a way as to advance second- and third-century Gnostic ideas." Evans' careful demonstration shows that Thomas is even dependent on documents widely believed to be written in the last decade of the first century--i.e., the Johannine literature, including Revelation.
Its central claims are rooted in events, not just ideas; in people, not just principles; in revelation, not speculation; in incarnation, not abstraction.
Or must we remain in utter agnosticism about the historical Jesus?
Unless we are content to chronicle a cacophony of conflicting views of Jesus based on pure speculation or passionate whimsy, historical investigation is non-negotiable.
From The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels Vintage Books, New York: 1979 pp.
xiii-xxiii In December 1945 an Arab peasant made an astonishing archeological discovery in Upper Egypt.