Ehrman's interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas, (from
pages 59-65 of Lost Christianities) is the (virtually) sole source of this post. It was written with my fellow students
at the Gainesville (FL) Friends Meeting especially in mind:
Thomas is thought to be a gnostic gospel, but Ehrman
wants us to understand that gnostic is a large
category of widely diverse ideas and points of view.
Then he goes on to describe gnosticism as generally
The material world came about "as part of a cosmic
catastrophe" and we spiritual beings, having come from
God, are entrapped and imprisoned here. We are
"like a drunk person who needs to become sober or like
someone sound asleep" or like a blind person.
Awakening we come out of the cave "and return to the
the blessed existence of our eternal home" (p. 59). The
"secret knowledge" is to know that you're in the dark
cave and that you want to come out into the sun.
Thomas "presupposes some such viewpoint and that if
readers read the text with [that] in mind, they can
make sense of almost all of the difficult sayings of
the book" (p. 60).
"Whoever has come to understand the world has found
only a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is
superior to the world" (Saying 56).
This is indeed the common 'Christian' (and Thomasine)
understanding of spirit and world offered here by Bart
Ehrman and the common interpretation of Romans 8.
But it is called into question, especially by my better
half: the Incarnation means that Jesus (and God)
declared the world good. Rather than being dead the world
is the servant of God in developing spiritual children.
The only sense in which Thomas perceives the uniquenss of
Jesus is to the extent that we are all able to be and to do
what he was and did (does).