The Lost Way

The Gospel of Thomas was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. It is one of two non-canonical gospels that Steve Patterson discusses in The Lost Way. Together with “Q,” the lost gospel behind the biblical gospels of Matthew and Luke, it opens a window onto a world of forgotten paths once trod in the earliest years of Christianity. 

Thomas and Q don’t include a story of Jesus’ life. No miracles, no death, no resurrection. Instead, these gospels are collections of sayings attributed to him. According to Patterson, the followers of Jesus who created these gospels had a different conception of him than most modern Christians.

“Instead of thinking about Jesus as God, God’s son, or even a martyr, these early followers of Jesus considered him a great teacher who shared divine wisdom,” Patterson says. “I think that many will be surprised to learn that Jesus’ death and resurrection were not always the focus of Jesus’ followers. For many, it was Jesus’ words that made him significant.” 

Patterson has spent his life considering the question, “Who was Jesus?” from the perspective of lost and forgotten writings not found in the Bible. He’s still intrigued by the pursuit and shares this dramatic story in “The Lost Way.” 


What Others Say

Stephen Patterson’s fascinating and wonderfully readable new book reveals how Jesus’ followers told, wrote, rewrote, and handed down his teachings.
— Elaine Pagels, author of "Revelations"
This accessible but scholarly introduction to the earliest Jesus traditions shares academic discoveries that do not usually reach the pews.
— Karen Armstrong, author of Fields of Blood
In this book Stephen Patterson, a leading scholar in the Jesus Seminar, explores the terrain of primitive Christianity. He explodes popular myths and proposes startling new possibilities.
— John Shelby Spong, author of The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic
The Lost Way is at once a crisp and readable introduction to two ‘lost’ gospels, the Sayings Gospel Q, and the Gospel of Thomas, and an exposé of the unnoticed ways that alternate views about Jesus are present in the books of the New Testament.
— John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, author of Q, the Earliest Gospel