One of my seminary classes has a requirement to write a short paper on 1st - 2nd century Gnosticism. This isn't supposed to be a huge effort, but I decided to make it one by going through Irenaeus' Against Heresies one more time. The Librivox recording is just short of 1,500 minutes long. There are a lot of other related works, including a "neo-Platonist" work against the Gnostics as well (Enneads, book II). Recently the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic writings has gotten some press, so I felt it would be good to take a glance at it. Much of it follows what Irenaeus wrote. Then there is the Gospel of Thomas. Since I have been given a rhetorical, "What about the Gospel of Thomas?" from neo-Gnostics, who usually style themselves as "agnostics", I decided to take a look. Here is what you get:
"These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke. And Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down."
Apparently Thomas was the insider, and not Peter, James and John. So what are the hidden words?
'The one who seeks should not cease seeking until he finds.
And when he finds, he will be dismayed.
And when he is dismayed, he will be astonished.
And he will be king over the All.'"
This is the first example. The entire collection has 113 sayings that seem to be more or less garbled versions of what is in the gospels, but divorced from their context. The actions of Jesus are as important as his words. The above quote is a variant of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7
But these in turn appears to be shorthand for Old Testament passages:
"But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul." - Deuteronomy 4:29
And this is one of the key problems: The New Testament and the Old Testament are bound together by their theology and symbols. The Gnostic writings are entirely divorced from the Hebrew Old Testament. The OT and NT together result in a clearer and simpler meaning. The Gnostic writings simply muddle and take things further from anything that might be sensibly understood.