Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

This is the last episode of a three part series on the Gospel of Thomas. This week, André Gagné discusses how recent research on the Nag Hammadi codices can shed light on the possible context of the Thomasine gospel. In this episode, Gagné notes important questions have been raised by Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott in their book, The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices (Mohr Siebeck, 2015), which can also be helpful in gaining a better understanding on the prodiction milieu of Thomas. In paying attention to the codicological features of the tractates, for example, one might gain insight into who owned the codices and what purpose they might have served.

*Please note that this is our 100th episode! We wish to thank all of our listerners throughtout the years. This episode is the last one of the season. We will resume our podcast around mid-September. Have a great summer and we hope you can take this time to re-listen or catch up on past episodes!

 

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In this week's episode, André Gagné will be giving a basic introduction to the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus attributed to a certain Didymus Judas Thomas. This enigmatic text is part of a series of tractates called the Nag Hammadi Codices and was found in Egypt in 1945. Since its discovery, scholars have endeavoured to uncover the place of writing and the sources of these sayings, which in many cases are similar to those found in the Synoptic gospels and other New Testament writings, as well as in several early Christian texts.

 

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In this week’s episode, Calogero Miceli discusses his recent contribution to the online Christian Apocrypha resource on the Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (http://www.nasscal.com/e-clavis-christian-apocrypha/). He explores the little-known account of Peter and the apostles’ journey in which they meet with a pearl merchant named Lithargoel and a physician accompanied by a young man. Near the end of the story the figures turn out to be Jesus which prompts questions about shapeshifting as a literary trope and also what the figure of Jesus’ appearance may have been.  

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Are there stories about Jesus outside of the New Testament? Definitely! This week, Calogero Miceli will discuss such stories found in what is commonly known as Apocryphal Christian Literature. In particular, he will look at an apocryphal text entitled "The Epistle of Christ from Heaven". He recently published an article on this story of Jesus in a book edited by Tony Burke and Brent Landau, New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures: Volume 1. (Eerdmans, 2016).

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Dr. André Gagné of Concordia University has extensively studied the Gospel of Thomas. He shares his views on "Talk Gnosis" concerning this enigmatic document’s origins and how it might have been used by early Christians. You can listen to the interview at:

http://gnosticwisdom.net/reflections-on-the-gospel-of-thomas/

This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast (episode 12), we are concluding our discussion on Gnosticism. In this podcast, we will see how scholars have been defining Gnosticism, to the point where some would argue for dismantling the entire category. Should scholars still use the term and category of "Gnosticism"? If not, is there another way to conceptualize such an idea? Is it time to revisit and refine how scholars have defined Gnosis in the past? Can Gnosis be understood as a mood or worldview espoused by different religious and / or philosophical groups in Antiquity? 

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In the past few years, scholars of early Christian history have sharply disagreed on whether or not Gnosticism is a valid category to describe the diversity of early Christian beliefs and practices. As we now know, early Christianity was not a monolithic religion. This is why many scholars prefer to use the expression "Early Christianities". Believers had many divergent perspectives on the person of Jesus, the creation of the world, the identity of the "true" god, the means of salvation, and the value of the Jewish tradition - just to name a few. These differences caused many tensions and rivalries between the various Christian groups in Late Antiquity, and this is where Gnosticism comes into play. This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we will examine how scholars explain "Gnosticism" and the related idea of "Gnosis" (knowledge or insight). If Gnosticism is not a viable category as some scholars argue, should we not simply drop the expression? Is there any evidence of Gnosticism at the the turn of the first century CE or prior to that time period? Which ancient religious texts can be considered as Gnostic? How was Gnosis understood by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle? These are some of the questions we will explore on this Monday's episode.

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