Review: The Gospel of Thomas – Jean-Yves Leloup

The Gospel of Thomas: The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus – Jean-Yves Leloup
Inner Traditions. 2005. 228pp. 1594770468.

The Gospel of Thomas has always been my favourite New Testament Apocryphal text, despite or perhaps because of how cryptic and esoteric it can be. I’ve read Leloup’s work before and enjoyed his insight and so when I saw that Leloup had written a commentary on the text I decided to pick it up. Estimates for its dating place it anywhere from 60CE to sometime in the third century CE, potentially making it the earliest surviving Gospel, despite being non-canonical.

Unlike the four canonical Gospels, the Gospel of Thomas isn’t so much of the story of Jesus but a collection of sayings, or logia, attributed to him and as Leloup notes one could compare some of their messages and structures to Zen koans (2). The attitude of Thomas also sets him apart from the other Gospel writers, “Thomas seems to have a less ‘Jewish’ ear than does Matthew; he is less interested in stories of miracles than is Mark; and he does not share Luke’s interest in the annunciation of God’s Mercy, ‘even to the pagans.’ (2)”

The book is divided into two parts. The first section contains the 114 logia with the Coptic text along side, and to me source texts are always appreciated. The first section allows you the space to come to think about the logia on your own. The second section has the logia along with Leloup’s commentary and interpretation of them. His oft insightful and culturally relevant commentaries also include notes directing the reader to similar or related verses elsewhere in the Bible.

If you’re looking for a coherent translation and commentary of The Gospel of Thomas I think this is it.


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