Book Review: The Gospel of Thomas - The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus
by James Bean
Copyright June 2005
The Gospel of Thomas - The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus
By Jean-Yves Leloup, Forward by Jacob Needleman
Genres: Gnosticism, Gnostic Christianity, Meditation, Sacred Texts, Lost Scriptures, Mysticism, Metaphysics, Philosophy
I'm very impressed with this new book on the Gospel of Thomas, and even the Forward offers much insight and depth. In his Forward, Jacob Needleman suggests that the proper work of the mind is to
function at two levels: the level of silence and the level of expression, with the former being superior to the latter, and that the wisdom borne out of the depths of contemplative silence is what's dangerously lacking in the world today, what he calls "the tragedy of our modern era." "What our modern world has suffered from most of all is runaway ideology, the agitated attachment to ideas that thereby become the playthings of infrahuman energies. This is the great danger of all ideologies, whether political, religious, or academic." He observes that the energy that must guide us can only come from another, higher level within the human psyche, "a level that is experienced as silence."
The Format: The first section of Jean-Yves Leloup's latest book presents the text of the Gospel of Thomas in the Coptic language on the left-hand pages, and the English translations on the pages to
the right. Even if you have other versions of Thomas, it would be quite useful to also have this one, as there are some important differences. The rest of the book consists of the commentary on each of the one hundred fourteen proverbs and parables of "Yeshua the Living One", many of which seem as terse and enigmatic as Zen koans, the mystic-wisdom of an Eastern Sage. The collection begins with this mysterious statement: "Whoever lives the interpretation of these words will no longer taste death."
At last! someone who is a contemplative soul has published some valuable reflections on this Gnostic Gospel found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. In The Gospel of Thomas, Jean-Yves Leloup presents not so much a commentary on these ancient sayings of Yeshua, but a meditation "that arises from the tilled earth of our silence." He says that "it is from this ground of inner silence, rather than from mental agitation, that these words of Yeshua can bear their fruit of Light." He writes, "Pope Gregory I said that only a prophet could understand the prophets. And it is said that only a poet can understand a poet. Who, then, must we be in order to understand Yeshua?" Perhaps only a lover of Gnosis can truly appreciate the wisdom of a Gnostic Gospel. Leloup is the founder of the Institute of Other Civilization Studies and the International College of Therapists. His other books include the bestselling The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and The Gospel of Philip - Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the Gnosis of Sacred Union. He lives in France.
Publisher: Inner Traditions
Website: Inner Traditions