The beginning and ending of the Gospel of the Savior are lost. The 34 parchment fragments that remain are all from the middle of the book. The language is Coptic, an ancient Egyptian (hieroglyphic) language written in Greek script. When we compare the text to the canonical gospels, the Gospel of the Savior is most like the discourse sections near the center of the Gospel of John (John 13–17), in which there is little dramatic action. These chapters consist principally of speeches by Jesus. In the fragment shown here (107:1–51), the disciples are talking with the savior shortly before the crucifixion and asking him about a future glorified appearance. Many readers will note the parallels between this discussion about seeing, touching and believing and the discussion in John 20, in which Thomas refuses to believe until he has seen and touched Jesus. The savior’s final saying (107:43–48) about those near to the fire is believed to be an original saying of Jesus that did not make it into the canonical gospels.

The fragmentary page reads in part:

“O, Lord, in what form will you reveal yourself to us or in what kind of body will you come? Tell us.”

John replied and said, “Oh, Lord, when you come to reveal yourself to us, do not reveal yourself to us in all your glory, but change your glory into [another] glory that [we] may be able to bear it, [lest] we see [you and despair] from fear […]”

And the savior [replied] “[…] to you this […] before which [you] are afraid, in order that you might see and believe.

“But, indeed, do not touch me, until I go up to [my Father] who [is] your [Father] and [my God, who] is your God, and my Lord, who is your Lord. And if one is [near] to me, he will [burn.] I am the [fire] that blazes; who [is near to me, is] near to [the fire]; who is far from me, is far from life. Now then, gather to me, O my holy members…”

For a complete translation and commentary, see Charles W. Hedrick and Paul A. Mirecki, The Gospel of the Savior: A New Ancient Gospel (Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge, 1999).