One Sunday morning several years ago, a most astonishing thing happened to me. I was attending services at a local church in Claremont, California, where I was a graduate student working on a (then) relatively obscure text known as the Gospel of Thomas. I rose and began to sing the announced hymn with the rest of the congregation. Then, right there in the third stanza of this early-20th-century hymn, I saw: “Lift the stone and you will find me, split the wood and I am there.” I only made it through the first phrase before my jaw dropped wide open. “Oh, my word,” I blurted loudly enough to attract my wife’s puzzled gaze. “It’s the Gospel of Thomas!”
Now, the thing is, this hymn was written in about 1915. But the Gospel of Thomas wasn’t discovered until 1945! I thought that I had witnessed a miracle, a prophecy, a channeling…something!…right there in the Congregational Church on this bright, sunny southern California morning. Naturally, I kept it to myself.