Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Friday, December 31, 2010

ULC Gospel of Thomas

Universal Life Church
Lesson 20 - Gospel of Thomas - Final Essay

This student has for several years studied Gnostic texts and researched texts presented on the Ecclisia Gnostica, Gnostic Society Web site. Dr. Hoeller, the Bishop of the Ecclisia Gnostica diocese which encompasses California, Utah and Oregon is responsible for the wealth of information on the Web site.

The Gnostic Catechism is highly recommended to anyone interested in learning more about Gnosticism and its practices. Although Gnosticism offers numerous myths, this writer has only been interested in the basic premises and their practical applications. Although there may be many myth systems the primary "truths" are inherent throughout them all. That is Gnosis, finding the Supreme Substance within oneself rather than seeking God without as espoused by orthodox Christianity. Whereas this Supreme Substance exists within and without all living creatures. Are we dealing with pantheism? Whose "knows"? :)

A while back, several copies of various Gnostic Gospels and other texts relating to Gnosticism, were obtained. Among them was the Gospel of Thomas and it proved to be rather baffling. The syntax was not what was customary for this reader and therefore difficult to understand. Incomplete sentences were a bother, as well as lack of term definition. Yes, there were interpretations presented, and they were about as mysterious as the initial quotations for this student.

The interpretations offered in the course on Gospel of Thomas conducted by Rev. Raymond Thompson presented expanding clarity to the words of wisdom thus making it understandable. Sometimes what seemed to be over emphasis on certain points really was the "covering of all the bases" and presented greater and deeper clarification. In fact, this student found the Thompson text much more lovely than the original quotations which on their own left one "hanging" and not apprehending the meaning . Without Rev. Thompson's insight, which was gained from his study of the Gnostic texts and his years of experience with Gnosticism, frankly this Gospel may have seemed rather pointless.

The Gospel of Thomas is not a gospel in the conventional since. There is no narrative, but rather a collection of "sayings" from Jesus' entire career. One hundred fourteen "sayings" to be exact. Had they been presented in a narrative form there may have been facilitated a greater understanding. Without the context which a narrative would have provided there was omitted the supporting elements necessary for greater understanding for this writer.

The Gospel of Thomas is a good course which many seminary students will appreciate and is highly recommended by this writer.

by Brother Joseph Kovacic 


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