Some Highlights from Participants’ Responses to Assignment 1

PCS 505 – Some Highlights from Participants’ Responses to Assignment 1:

In the New New Testament, read the Gospel of Thomas (pp.11-23) and Gospel of Matthew (pp. 24-60). Compare/contrast major themes.

Ginger Allen

 The group discussion last week was particularly helpful for me in considering these writings. Two things elevated for me. First, the Gospel of Thomas reads like a script for a stage production, whereas the Gospel of Matthew is more like a novel. Thomas primarily gives us the dialogue. Just “the lines,” leaving the decisions and interpretations regarding the essence of the space (wardrobe, lighting, props), the nuances of body language, and other physical clues to the essence of meaning to the actors and the director. In contrast, Matthew tells us more, creating the scene and leaving less to interpretation in the literal sense. Even so, Thomas is so much richer, dealing more readily with the heart. It’s as if Thomas assumes a more spiritually present reader, already steeped in the essence of Christ, or at least open to and aware of Spirit…


Mary Coffey

 Comparing and contrasting Matthew and Thomas There are many similar parables contained in both gospels, though experts believe that the Logia in Thomas appear to be more primitive and without redaction, and thus probably written earlier than Matthew. Matthew had many arguments/dialogues with Jewish leaders that are not in Thomas, as well as sections on the birth, death, and resurrection the Jesus. Matthew was, as Dr. Pagels explained, more focused on outward facing teachings (conflict resolution, shortcomings of the religious leaders), while Thomas’s logia were inward facing teachings concerning issues of self-knowledge (identity, realm of heaven is within, release of egoic grasping to things of the world). The most significant difference that resonated with me are about letting go of one’s earthly egoic identity and embracing the oneness of the cosmos and seeing the divine energy or light in all things.

Suzanne De Froy

 The image of suckling children in Thomas 22 further illustrates action and the loving innocence from our beginnings, before being indoctrinated, as well as the Divine’s connection. This passage goes on to illustrate the paradox of ‘duality within oneness’, the Divine essence inseparable from the physical realm. Matthew’s Sower is in three consecutive parables (13:1-30). Ultimately the Sower is revealed as the Divine Jesus, when the reapers are told to “Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” Here is future reward and punishment of our life-time actions and the image of ‘Last Judgment’ by the Flemish Renaissance painter Hans Memling creeped back into my mind. Can the Sower in both Thomas and Matthew be viewed as a co-creator with the loving essence of the Divine, the connective energy in all things? This would challenge dogma on many levels that separates the material world from the Divine, from outside authority to inside responsibility.

Dianne Willman

 Both Gospels reveal aspects of who Jesus was. Prima facie, they are remarkably different in terms of understanding who Jesus was and each emphasises different aspects. What is most striking is that Matthew shares stories about Jesus, events in his life and re-iterates such things as Jesus’ commitment to his religion or more specifically to the Torah…

Thomas in contrast does not relate events in the life of Jesus that gives one a sense of his person nor is there any attention given to descriptions such as messiah as Matthew indicates. A seemingly different picture of Jesus arises…

Thomas is a text that is located in the journey of inner transformation...

Thomas appears to be a text aimed at the more mature follower. Significantly, the sayings are all addressed to disciples and not people as a whole as is done in Matthew. Matthew has a different audience and adapts accordingly without sacrificing the entire transformative nature of the gospel of liberation…

Donna Marie Mazzola

… the Gospel of Thomas starts off in logion 2: Jesus said: “Let the one who seeks continue seeking until he finds. And when that one finds s/he will be disturbed, and once that one is disturbed he will become awed, and will rule as a king/queen over the all.” And again in logion 24: He said them: 2 “Whoever has ears to hear, hear. 3 There is light within a person of light, and that one lights up the entire world. If that one does not shine, there is darkness. Laying these three less mysterious sayings of Jesus side by side, one from the Gospel of Matthew and the other two from the Gospel of Thomas, reveals some of the “obscure or hidden” quality of the sayings in the later. These sayings are somewhat like Zen koans. One must abandon reason and mind and move to the heart and intuition. I find it helpful that logion 2 is solely a teaching. Remove the fulfillment of a prophecy and it can be alive for me now. He’s describing the journey of enlightenment: seek – find – be disturbed – be awed – be part of the kin-dom (maybe today we’d call it the Beloved Community) – become a person of light to light the world. The whole thing about “whoever has ears to hear, hear” is as relevant now, as then.

Complete and Continue