My Favorite of the Five Gospels

Have you ever met a member of the Jesus Seminar, or someone who has read and believes apocryphal texts, that said, “The Gospel of Thomas is my favorite of the five Gospels.” How do you argue for a closed canon?

There are still those who claim that the New Testament canon is still open. Others believe that the New Testament canon includes more than 27 books. There were additional writings circulating after Christ’s death, however, the New Testament canon is closed.

The most important factor used to determine the canonicity of a book is inspiration. In order to determine the inspiration of a book, early church leaders used three criteria: orthodoxy, apostolicity, and universality. It took writings a long time to circulate throughout the ancient world. Scribes would have to travel to write copies of the books and bring them back to their city. Through this process, there were many copies of these books throughout the ancient world. The church had already widely accepted a number of books prior to the official closing of the canon. Books such as the Gospel of Thomas did not ‘make the cut’. The Gospel of Thomas, for example, was not ‘discovered’ until 1945.

In the case of the Gospel of Thomas, the book does not present Jesus as the Messiah. Instead of a narrative detailing the life and work of Jesus, the Gospel of Thomas is a collection of sayings. Many of the verses in the Gospel of Thomas, such as verse 114, which says that a woman must become male to enter the kingdom of heaven, make no sense. Jesus is presented as a sage rather than the Messiah. Thus, it would not have, and does not, pass the tests of orthodoxy, apostolicity and universality. Those who compare the writings of the sub-apostolic period and the New Testament Apocrypha will see clearly that the canonical writings reflect a different quality in their content from the excluded writings. I believe that God has closed the New Testament canon.

I have heard preachers used Jude 1:3 as a defense for a closed canon. It says, ““Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about[b] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about[b] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “My Favorite of the Five Gospels

  1. It is believed that some early Nursery Rhymes were actually political commentary. Someone attempting to read them literally would find them full of nonsense. The Gospel of Thomas has suffered that fate at the hands of literalists. It is a book of riddle which is an sampler of the types of prophetic riddle in the Bible, and is a key to understanding the “… hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 1Co 2:7

    http://sensusplenior.net/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

    It is not a doctrinal book. When read properly as riddle, however, it does not contradict the doctrine of the literal New Testament. When you learn to read the Bible for it’s hidden prophetic riddles, it reveals thing like the hidden picture of the birth of Christ in Genesis 38.

    http://sensusplenior.net/wiki/The_Director%27s_Bible_-_017

    It should be considered a Christian “study aid” for the Bible.

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    • First off, thank you for reading! I loved what you had to say in your comment. The Gospel of Thomas bears a lot of Gnostic influence. Jesus seems to have some sort of mystical wisdom that others must understand in order to understand Jesus. I agree that it is not a doctrinal book and is not useful for right theology. It does, however, serve as a great contrast with the 4 Gospels in the Bible to show the difference in those writings and why four are canonical and the other is not.

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  2. I’m not sure you actually read the references. They show that in fact there is no Gnostic reference and that instead, when read as riddle they agree with NT doctrine, though that is not it’s purpose. They further show that the methods used in Thomas are used in the Bible, they reveal the sensus plenior of the OT… again in agreement with Christian doctrine. Jesus said all the scriptures speak of him, and Paul said that he chose to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. The meaning of both of these can be seen when the methods of Thomas are used on the OT; explaining how the NT authors read the OT.

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