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Daily Catholic Question

What is the Gospel of Thomas?

The Gospel of Thomas is one of 300 Gnostic writings discovered in December 1945, at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. This writing exists completely only in the Coptic language; there are three fragments of it in Greek.

According to Anthony Saldarini in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, of the 114 sayings of this gospel (division made by modern scholars), 79 of them have some parallel in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke which, with the Gospel of John, are called canonical. They belong to the canon or list of New Testament writings.

The Gospel of Thomas is called apocryphal because it is not in the New Testament. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is also in this category.

Gnostics were people who relied on secret knowledge; gnosis is the Greek word for "knowledge." Special teachers enabled Gnostics to hand on secret information not intended for everyone. In that general sense, Gnostics could be pagan, Jewish, or Christian.

Christian Gnostics claimed that Jesus wanted only a few of his followers to have the teachings they possessed. This knowledge was handed on by Gnostic teachers.

The mainstream Christian community answered the Gnostic challenge by saying that Jesus intended bishops, successors of the apostles, as reliable teachers about him. They also said that the Christian community considered as inspired only the canonical books in the New Testament and the Old Testament.

The Scriptures were given to a faith community (Old Testament to the Jews, New Testament to Christians). They should be read with that in mind. If we trust those faith communities enough to tell us which writings are inspired by God, should we not also trust them to interpret them?

These Gnostic gospel texts, as well as more background, are probably available at your public library.

Click here for the rest of today's answer

Sunday, April 21, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 4/20/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 4/22/2013


Cornelius: 
		<p>There was no pope for 14 months after the martyrdom of St. Fabian because of the intensity of the persecution of the Church. During the interval, the Church was governed by a college of priests. St. Cyprian, a friend of Cornelius, writes that Cornelius was elected pope "by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men." </p>
		<p>The greatest problem of Cornelius's two-year term as pope had to do with the Sacrament of Penance and centered on the readmission of Christians who had denied their faith during the time of persecution. Two extremes were finally both condemned. Cyprian, primate of North Africa, appealed to the pope to confirm his stand that the relapsed could be reconciled only by the decision of the bishop. </p>
		<p>In Rome, however, Cornelius met with the opposite view. After his election, a priest named Novatian (one of those who had governed the Church) had himself consecrated a rival bishop of Rome—one of the first antipopes. He denied that the Church had any power to reconcile not only the apostates, but also those guilty of murder, adultery, fornication or second marriage! Cornelius had the support of most of the Church (especially of Cyprian of Africa) in condemning Novatianism, though the sect persisted for several centuries. Cornelius held a synod at Rome in 251 and ordered the "relapsed" to be restored to the Church with the usual "medicines of repentance." </p>
		<p>The friendship of Cornelius and Cyprian was strained for a time when one of Cyprian's rivals made accusations about him. But the problem was cleared up. </p>
		<p>A document from Cornelius shows the extent of organization in the Church of Rome in the mid-third century: 46 priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons. It is estimated that the number of Christians totaled about 50,000. </p>
		<p>Cornelius died as a result of the hardships of his exile in what is now Civitavecchia (near Rome). <br /> </p>
American Catholic Blog For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist. —St. Augustine

 
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