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Bishop Eusebius (AD 260/265 – 339/340) included it among a group of books that he believed to be not only spurious, but "the fictions of heretics".

However, it is not clear whether he was referring to this Gospel of Thomas or one of the other texts attributed to Thomas.

After the Coptic version of the complete text was discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, scholars soon realized that three different Greek text fragments previously found at Oxyrhynchus (the Oxyrhynchus Papyri), also in Egypt, were part of the Gospel of Thomas.

The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus in logion 65 (Parable of the Wicked Tenants, paralleled in the Synoptic Gospels), but doesn't mention his crucifixion, his resurrection, or the final judgment; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus.

Since its discovery, many scholars have seen it as evidence in support of the existence of the so-called Q source, which might have been very similar in its form as a collection of sayings of Jesus without any accounts of his deeds or his life and death, a so-called "sayings gospel".

While the Gospel of Thomas does not directly point to Jesus' divinity, it also does not directly contradict it, and therefore neither supports nor contradicts gnostic beliefs.

When asked his identity in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus usually deflects, ambiguously asking the disciples why they do not see what is right in front of them, similar to some passages in the canonical gospels like John and Luke .

Scholars speculate that the works were buried in response to a letter from Bishop Athanasius declaring a strict canon of Christian scripture.

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The name of Thomas was also attached to the Book of Thomas the Contender, which was also in Nag Hammadi Codex II, and the Acts of Thomas.

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