I think it's safe to say that rarely, if ever, has a text with so few
witnesses been subject to such prolonged intense interest as Gos.Thom.
the occasional Gospel of Judas will rise up from time to time, and the
will be intense for awhile, but then it'll fade away. That hasn't happened
our subject text, and gives no sign of doing so. I think that's because of
unusual nature of the text - half canonical, half something else. It
and we can't leave it alone until we figure it out. Scholars with differing
have come at it from all directions, each giving their own idea of what
"something else" is. But let us take a moment to assess what we have.
The Greek fragments are indubitably important, yet they are, well,
No saying beyond #39 is represented, and the fragments are not all from
same manuscript; in fact, they come from three separate manuscripts, two
which were rolls, not codices. As to the Coptic version, it's virtually
but it was prepared under the eye of folks who were at least sympathetic
the Apocryphon of John, apparently the signature work of a group
the Barbeloites. How do we know this? Because Apoc.Jn.
was the first
treatise in Codex II (followed by Gos.Thom.) as well as
two other tractates.
We may have Gos.Thom. uppermost in mind, but the folks
who gave us the
Nag Hammadi codices evidently did not.
What difference does it make who prepared the Coptic version of
Well, it might tell us something about what they did with it -
which might in turn
tell us something about what it looked like before they got their hands on
can, of course, compare the Coptic version with the Greek fragments, and we
some differences there, but can we go beyond that? I believe that we can. I
that by combining internal evidence from the Coptic ms. with evidence
Apoc.Jn., we can determine something about what was done in Coptic
As to internal evidence, I won't repeat what I've written here the last
about the structure of the prologue of Coptic Thomas, and about
the use of Greek
words and names in it. These features indicate that the folks who gave us
were interested in numbers. But why? I suggest it was because, even if they
Barbeloites themselves, they were influenced by the Apocryphon of
like Revelation, is chock-full of numbers. Indeed, the monad
corresponds to the number one, represented in Greek by an overstroked
is a connecting link with Thomas, which stresses again and again
the idea of two
(or several) things becoming one.
Consider the numbers 105 and 210, both well-known in antiquity. The former
the product of the first three odd prime numbers other than one (i.e.,
the latter is the product of the first four prime numbers other than one
These numbers figure into our text in the following ways (among
1. 210 is the numeric value of IS, the nomen sacrum most
used in CGTh.
2. The name 'Thomas' has a Greek numerical value of 1050, i.e.,
3. Sacred abbreviations for 'Jesus' occur 105 times in CGTh.
Is it seriously to be considered that folks whose attention to numbers
been piqued by Apoc.Jn. would have been unaware of #1 and #2 - did
actually bring about #3 themselves? If we ignore such number evidence
dealing with it is tricky business?), we'll almost certainly miss
and probably unique about Coptic Thomas, and in missing
that, we miss the
opportunity to get a little better idea about how CGTh might have differed