Gospel of Thomas
A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice
The Gospel of Thomas--a book of sayings and wisdom of Jesus compiled as early or earlier than the New Testament gospels--can transform your spiritual life.
To the many subcategories of Christianity, we can now add the "Thomas Believer." That's what Miller, chair of the Lake Forest College religion department, calls himself and devotees of the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of Jesus' sayings that had been circulating since the 19th century in fragmentary form but were found as a complete Coptic text at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. This guidebook, using Stevan Davies's translation, introduces the gospel and encourages readers to "become Jesus' twin," an image based on the name Thomas, which means "twin." Each chapter includes commentary on five to six sayings, along with a section on practice and questions for reflection. The concept of practice is essential for Miller, who rather controversially writes that Jesus "did not want our praise but our practice." Some of the practices are concrete spiritual exercises described in a "how to" fashion, while others feel more like additional commentary. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter would be more useful if they were more open-ended and less rhetorical ("Does it make sense to chain smoke while discussing consciousness expansion?"). The heart of this guidebook is the commentary; Miller is a captivating storyteller as well as a scholar. Anyone drawn to a universalistic spirituality will find much to savor and pass along here.