Camden Theological Library

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The Fifth Gospel : The Gospel of Thomas Comes of Age

Posted on 28 November 2012 Gavin Glenn

Reviewed by Linda Turton.

The Nag Hammadi Library ranks among the major manuscript discoveries of the twentieth century, and this gospel from that collection, known to have existed in antiquity but long lost, was a truly important find. This gospel has introduced us to a set of ideas and practices very different to that known from the canonical four and has reshaped the discussion of Christian origins. This revised edition of The Fifth Gospel offers scholars and laypersons alike a tool for approaching the Gospel of Thomas that reflects the best work of The Berlin Working Group. The translation is clearly set out, Patterson gives a succinct introduction and a fulsome essay to assist our understanding, and there is an updated version of Robinson’s account of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library.


As a “sayings” gospel, with no expressed concern over Jesus’ death, and lacking in any apocalyptic world view, it may represent a tradition that was quite early, even within the first century. Read it considering how it sharpens your sense of what you have learned of Jesus from your New Testament reading; let the sayings promote in you a sense of inquiry; let this ancient text freshen your appreciation of our traditions about Jesus.

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