Seek to See Him
Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas
Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 33; Leiden: Brill, 1996
This monograph represents a critical juncture in Thomasine studies since it dispenses with the belief that the Gospel of Thomas originates from Gnostic traditions. Rather, in order to explain the esotericism in this Gospel, Jewish mystical and Hermetic origins are proposed and examined. April DeConick discussed these traditions in relationship to the anthropology and soteriology found in the Gospel of Thomas. The Christians who wrote the Gospel of Thomas believed that they were the elect children from the Father, that they originally were made in God's Image as luminous beings. Humans were separated from these glorious images as a result of Adam's sin. Now human beings must purify themselves by leading an encratic life. Once done, the separated human can ascend into heaven, where he or she will meet their lost images and see God. This experience, the visio dei, will transform the person into the original Image and his or her citizenship in the Kingdom will be secured.
"DeConick's argument is impressive. Her distancing of Thomas from known written sources is carefully developed. Her inclusion of early Jewish mysticism into the mix of sources is enlightening, as is her exposition of the visio Dei motif."
D. Jeffrey Bingham, Dallas Theological Seminary, from Review in Journal of Early Christian Studies 5:4 (1997) 584
"The real value of Seek to See Him lies in the fact that DeConick introduces into the discussion of the Gospel of Thomas a set of texts and traditions that has been neglected but should be taken seriously in the interpretation of Thomas. DeConick does not rehearse the familiar themes of Thomas and the historical Jesus, Thomas and Wisdom, Thomas and the Synoptics and John. Nor does she allow herself to fall into an easy association of Thomas with Gnosticism…Rather, DeConick points students of the Gospel of Thomas to other texts, especially Jewish mystical texts, that should be considered in the scholarly discussion of Thomas."
Marvin Meyer, Chapman University, from Review in Journal of Biblical Literature 117:4 (1998) page 760
Marvin Meyer, Journal of Biblical Literature 117:4 (1998) pages 758-760.
D. Jeffrey Bingham, Journal of Early Christian Studies 5:4 (1997) pages 583-584.