I have heard this story so much I feel I have been raped “from the window to the wall” mentally. What surprised me recently was that I found this story was not known to 31/33 of the earliest Christian writers. Here is a list of who knew it and who didn’t.
- Irenaeus of Lyon never heard of the doubting Thomas incident and only mentions Thomas once in Against Heresies 1.18.3 where he speaks of Thomas being absent from the resurrection appearance of Jesus. Interestingly this is the original episode in John. Thomas is simply absent.
- Hippolytus of Rome in his Philosophumena 5.2 mentions Hippocrates using a Gospel of Thomas which he quotes in a dishonest way. No doubting Thomas episode here. Keep in mind this is the only mention of Thomas by Hippolytus in all his extant works!
- Clement of Alexandria mentions Thomas in his Stromata 4.9, speaking very highly of him and never mentioning the doubting Thomas episode.
- Tertullian ‘A treatise on the soul’ 17 and 50 seem to be the earliest mention of doubting Thomas and by a heretic whose writings were condemned by Pope Gelasius who was seen as more orthodox than orthodox. ‘Against Praxeas’ 24-25 call Thomas ‘incredulous’ as well.
- Origen ‘Contra Celsus’ 2.61-2.62 and his ‘Commentary on John’ 10.27 both mention the doubting Thomas episode, possibly inspired by Tertullian, although doubtfully.
- Pseudo-Ignatius of Antioch Long recension of Smyrnaeans 3 mentions it
- Papias fragment via Eusebius’ CH mentions Thomas but not as doubting.
- 3Corinthians has the episode included and may be the actual source for the information.
- Jerome and Eusebius make use of the episode
- Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Hermas, Didache, Aristides, Tatian, Minucius Felix, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Quadratus, Aristo, Claudius Apollinaris, Melito, Hegesippus, Dionysus of Corinth, Rhodon, Theophilus of Caesarea, Bardesanes, Maximus, Polycrates, Victor, Pantaenus, Serapion, Apollonius, and Caius never mention it!
The fact remains then, that not one church father before Tertullian mentions the incident. Tertullian is writing as a Montanist when he does mention it. This makes it a post-207AD writing. Origen was teaching at the catechetical school of Alexandria in 203 making it very likely that Tertullian was a teacher there or even his student! Not long after 270AD Christians in Syria were writing about the letter of 3Corinthians. It seems to me that due to the fact that Mani and Hippocrates and other heretics used the Gospel of Thomas, Tertullian and Origen had to rail against it to discredit it. To achieve this, they first had to edit their gospels to conform to a model of belief that ostracizes Thomas as a doubter.
Codex 6 of the Nag Hammadi Library that is. This codex contains eight writings: A poem, a few Gnostic texts, a Gnosticized fragment of Plato’s Republic which reads rather more like Catholic, and three ‘Hermetic’ writings inspired by Hermeticism likely but not part of the famous Corpus Hermetica. It is also a shame these texts were not Hermetically sealed by alchemists, another clue that they aren’t all that Gnostic in truth but rather a compilation book of the dead for a dying monk obsessed with gathering ascension myths on the soul of various philosophical schools.
Keep in mind in the ancient world Christianity was never recognized as a religion but merely as a philosophy which meant it was not ancient. Platonism was just another philosophy but one with more antiquity than Christianity. Hermeticism was the same. The early Gnostics were definitely meeting the savior at Aeslepions outside the walls of Jerusalem and in the cities of Anatolia.
Codex 6 contains the ‘Concept of Our Great Power’ as it’s fourth work. This writing has one extremely bizarre passage (keep in mind the bizarre ordering of the ‘Gospel of Thomas’ and other writings, as these were being copied very fast and very selectively. Not one is an original), it reads, “Yet you are sleeping, dreaming dreams. Wake up and return, taste and eat the true food! Hand out the Word (Logos) and the water of life! (Zoe) Cease from the evil lusts and desires (the teachings of) the Anomeans, evil heresies that have no basis.”
So what the heck is an Anomean right?
Even Irenaeus in his tirade against Gnostics never once comes out and says, “Hey, these Gnostic pests hate the flesh”. His problem with them was not that they despised or hated the flesh but that they denied it’s salvation. To support the salvation of the flesh is not to love the flesh anymore than to deny the salvation of the flesh is the hate it. The truth is, modern scholars are lazy sometimes, so they stick with this tag line: “Gnostics hated the flesh”, so they can sell really poorly written books their peers wouldn’t even dare read. This is because they have run out of good material most likely.
The early Gnostics were said to despise (not care for) the flesh. This means the last priority of theirs was to keep their body in perfect shape. This is very much opposed to Greco-Roman athletic culture in which the body was obsessed over. In fact, in Paul, we find both stances. It is possible that when referring to the body and conditioning it, he is referring to the church, or one’s not authentically Paul and the other is. I have read convincing arguments for both sides and even thought of my own.
The Stoics taught to despise the flesh as can be found in the Encheiridion of Epictetus transmitted by his pupil. There are several other platitudes that get thrown around on the internet and in books regarding Gnostic beliefs but the hatred for the flesh is by far and away the most common. It is lauded as fact but it’s merely tons of people copying one or two people who read early sources and had poor reading comprehension.
(Also note that it was not a common thing in antiquity to think someone wrote a work simply because their name was attached to it! It is common practice now to dismiss anything with a name affixed as not being by that author. In fact, this is done with virtually every single religious writing in Christianity and Gnosticism but hardly ever with any other religion or secular writers. There is no real set of pre-requisites or criteria for disproving authorship.)
It is not hard to see that Augustine was the flesh hater who used Plotinus and Pseudo-Dionysus.
“To live is to die” -Cliff Burton ‘Metallica’ ‘To live is to die’.
Very much so! To live day to day is to question, ponder, or obsess over mortality and what comes next. The Gnostics were no strangers to afterlife speculation. They were no different than Greek Pagans, Roman Pagans, or Egyptians, or even early Christians. For the Egyptians there were tales of Osiris, Ma’at, and Thoth judging the recently departed in a very Beetlejuise-esque fashion. Repeating 42 negative confessions, weighing a heart on a scale, and fighting a giant serpent, then being purified by flames are all common themes.
The Greeks had angry Gods who appeared to be humans like Zeus, Titans locked under the earth, and the dreaded Sirens and Fates. The Fates (or Moirai) were Clotho the spinner, Lachesis the allotter, and Atropos the unturnable. They were governed by necessity. Necessity being this void or kenoma that needed to be fulfilled. Clotho was Nona in Rome, meaning the ‘ninth’ in reference to the ninth month of pregnancy in which a child is born supposedly. Lachesis was Decima or the ‘tenth’ putting much doubt on the names referring to childbirth even though pregnancy is actually around ten months. I think it corresponds more to the number of hells or heavens. Atropos was Morta in Roman, she cut each person’s life thread. The Fates sing with the Sirens of the things were, are, and are to be. Sound like the book of Revelation? One of the archons most well done works!
“Hermaeus Mora is the Daedric prince of fate, knowledge, and memory. In his rare dealings with mortals, he often chooses to appear as a grotesque mass of tentacles.” -Skyrim loading screen.
What’s that? Fate, Gnosis, and Mentalism? That is correct. He is the Simon Magus incarnation in the realm of Tamriel, in an alternate world with different physics where they really had magic in the middle ages and they never ended because let’s face it, technology sucks ass compared to magic!
Hermaeus Mora even loves Apocrypha and lives in Oblivion, a place from Greek mythology that influenced Hell in some ways but referred to the world how it really is. The world we cannot see but through a glass dimly. Time and Astrology are associated with him showing an affinity to the concepts of the daimon and fate. He is the lord over forbidden gnosis.
He’s even a vampire with an international taste for every race.
She’s that temptress, that wild Gnostic vixen, that heavy metal stripper. But she’s so much more…