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Many scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas, the famous collection of Jesus' sayings found in Nag Hammadi in 1945, makes all the difference for our understanding of the origins of Christianity. The gospel has been studied closely for the new light it throws on pre-canonical traditions and for the different world of wisdom it seems to represent. Without denying the value of such approaches, the present book takes a different approach. It does not look backward to the earlier sources of the gospel nor to the historical Jesus, but seeks to locate Thomas on the map of early Christian literature and history by comparing the gospel to other related writings and traditions. These include the writings ascribed to the mysterious apostle, Judas Thomas, other documents from Nag Hammadi, Paul and Stoic teachers, and the Gospel of Matthew. No single interpretative key for the understanding of the gospel is proposed. Rather, the book opens up several new readings and historical explanations which can usefully be explored. Uro also argues that the conventional methods scholars have been using in their studies are in need of rethinking and refinement.
Among many conclusions is the author's belief that Thomas is an early second-century work written by people who, like many other first- and second-century Christians, understood Jesus' message in terms of the Hellenistic belief in the divine origin of the self.
Dr Risto Uro is Senior Lecturer in New Testament, University of Helsinkl, and Senior Research Fellow, the Academy of Finland.