He grew up as one of eleven children in a family in the Canton of St. Gallen. After theological studies at St. Augustin near Bonn and St. Gabriel in Vienna, he was ordained a priest. At the University of Vienna, he studied Judaism under Kurt Schubert.
As part of his research Thoma undertook a systematic approach to present Rabbinic parables to New Testament scholars, for comparative purposes. In 1994 Thoma received the Buber-Rosenzweig-Medal. Hayim Perelmuter stated that Thoma's work on the Rabbinic parables "adornes the world of scholarship".
- Understanding Scripture by Clemens Thoma and Michael Wyschogrod 1987 ISBN 080912873X
- A Christian Theology of Judaism by Clemens Thoma 1980 ISBN 0-8091-2310-X
- Parable and story in Judaism and Christianity by Clemens Thoma and Michael Wyschogrod 2005 ISBN 0-8091-3087-4
- In Memory of the Rev. Clemens Thoma
- University of Lucerne
- Hans Breitenmoser: Er beseitigt religiöse Barrieren. In: Linth-Zeitung. Nr. 2/2002 (4. Jan 2002)
- The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature by Reimund Bieringer, Florentino Garcia Martinez and Didier Pollefeyt 2009 ISBN 90-04-17588-1 page 102
- Hayim G. Perelmuter "A Response to Clemens Thoma" in Reinterpreting Revelation and Tradition: Jews and Christians in Conversation by John Pawlikowski and Hayim Goren Perelmuter 2000 ISBN 1-58051-042-6 page 63
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