Early Christianity and Greek Philosophy in Dialogue: The Gospel of Thomas

Discovered in 1945 near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, the Gospel of Thomas is one of the most puzzling and profound “sayings sources” of early Christianity, studied by scholars as an indispensable clue to the earliest sayings of Jesus, to visionary Jewish mysticism, or to later ‘Gnostic’ heresy and magic.

In this course, we explore the Gospel of Thomas from the standpoint of Greek philosophy: its alleged portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth as a Cynic or Stoic sage challenging the social norms of his day; its rich Platonist metaphysics, encoding some of the scientific insights of the first centuries of our era; and its clues to contemplative practices and disciplines in the early Roman Empire.

Through this course, students become familiar with the intersections of philosophy, science, and contemplation in the first century Mediterranean and Middle East; no prior experience with the subject-matter is assumed.

Dr. MICHAEL GRIFFIN, D.Phil., is head of the department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies and an associate professor of Greek Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia and his master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Oxford. Dr. Griffin is co-editor of the Ancient Commentators series in ancient philosophy, and a recipient of the Killam Teaching Prize awarded to faculty in recognition of excellence in teaching.

Course Format

This course is offered in-person at the UBC Vancouver campus.

Available Sessions

Course currently not available for registration.