Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Religion, MA


School of Religion


Early Christianity

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Karen J. Torjesen

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Matthew C. Baldwin

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Andrew S. Jacobs

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Seth A. Clark


Gospel of Thomas, Middle Platonism, Gospel of John, Origen, Historical Jesus, Alexandria

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Ancient Philosophy | Biblical Studies | History of Christianity | History of Philosophy | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus and is primarily composed of rhetorical statements that were used to preserve the teachings of itinerant Greek philosophers. These collections were used to persuade individuals to join the philosophical schools represented, much like the early followers of the Jesus movement would use his teachings to convince others to join them as well. However, the theological background for the text is still debated because it contains esoteric and enigmatic references not fully understood by most scholars. This work argues that the theological and philosophical background for the Gospel of Thomas is the Alexandrian School of Middle Platonism. This background contains an understanding of the divine, the secret nature of the teachings in the text, and the presence of daemons in the cosmos. In short, this is my attempt at supplying the hermeneutical key to the text or at least supplying a valid ideological background on which the Jesus tradition is cast in the Gospel of Thomas.