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Psalms of Thomas

Psalms of Thomas

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The Psalms of Thomas - more correctly "Psalms of Thom" - are an enigmatic set of psalms found appended to the end of the Coptic
Coptic language
Coptic or Coptic Egyptian is the current stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century. Egyptian began to be written using the Greek alphabet in the 1st century...

 Manichaean
Manichaeism
Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

 Psalm-book, which was in turn part of the Medinet Madi Coptic Texts uncovered in 1928. Published in 1938 by C. R. C. Allberry
Charles Allberry
Charles Robert Cecil Augustine Allberry was an English Egyptologist and Coptic scholar. A friend of novelist CP Snow, Allberry was the model for Roy Calvert in Snow's novel, The Light and the Dark....

, internet versions only comprise 12 numbered psalms.

The themes and content of the psalms bear a considerable resemblance to the Hymn of the Pearl from the Acts of Thomas
Acts of Thomas
The early 3rd century text called Acts of Thomas is one of the New Testament apocrypha, portraying Christ as the "Heavenly Redeemer", independent of and beyond creation, who can free souls from the darkness of the world. References to the work by Epiphanius of Salamis show that it was in...

. In 1949 Torgny Save-Soderbergh suggested that the psalms were largely based upon canonical Mandaean texts - despite Jesus being mentioned positively in two psalms.

Nevertheless considerable controversy continues as to whether the Thomas or Thom referred to could be the Apostle Thomas, Mani's
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

 disciple, also called Thomas, or the Gnostic concept of the divine twin. This is because the latter is referred to in other parts of the Coptic Manichaean Psalm-book as a distinct person from the Apostle. The enigma has since deepened with the publication of the Cologne Mani Codex in the 1970s, which showed that Mani himself came out of a baptizing Christian sect called the Elkasaites (= Elcesaites).