Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gospel of Thomas

On one of the email groups I subscribe to there was a question concerning the direction of dependence between GThomas and the synoptics. Here is a copy of my response:

GThomas has two characteristics which immediately come to my mind:
(1) the sort of content seems to overlap quite a lot with the Mt-Lk 'Q' material,
(2) there is some indication of redactional elements from Mt & Lk present in Thomas.

I guess the combination of these two points is why the final version of Thomas is often believed to also have existed in an earlier (pre Mt Mk LK?) form (hence I suppose the whole directionality debate). There appears to be two camps if I recall:

(1) Thomas is early (say 50s)
(2) Thomas is late (say 150s)

I guess I was influenced by Christopher Tuckett, "Thomas and the Synoptics," NovT XXX, 2 (1988), 132-157, who demonstrated knowledge of Lukan redaction, e.g.:

Th 5 "there is nothing hidden that will not be manifest" which Tuckett argues agrees with Lk's redaction of Mk's version of the saying.
Th 16 "divisions" = Lukan redaction
Th 55 "not worthy of me" = Mathean redaction
Th 20 Markan elements of mustard seed parable in Mk (as against 'Q' version) (i.e. "smaller than all the seeds"; "earth"; "branch"; "shelter")
Th 9 Markan feature of duality (double "on account of not having").

Recently Mark Goodacre has mentioned his arguement that Thomas 79 must be dependent on Lk 11:27-28 given that Lk has composed this passage.

UPDATE: For some reason blogger is displaying an incorrect date. The above post should be dated 10:15 am April 7, 2007.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think there are few other plausible options worth noting on this matter:

1) That there was an early, independent stratum of Thomas (or perhaps more than one) and that only later were its redactors familiar with the canonical traditions. (I think Kloppenborg has said he's open to this, but has not committed to anything)

2) That the Gospel of Thomas was composed entirely independently of the canonical traditions, but later copyists harmonized portions of it with the canonical traditions. (Arnal holds this)

I suppose one last option would be that scholars need to reassess the way they think about evangelistic redactional activity, though I can't imagine anyone would suggest such.

Chris

Anonymous said...

You are correct that there are two camps of thought concerning Thomas' dating and relationship to the canonical Gospels. I am currently working on my Masters Thesis concerning these very issues. While there are certainly plausible and indeed persuasive arguments from both camps neither camp can comprehensively account for the material in the Gospel of Thomas. For this view also see April DeConick’s blog (the Forbidden Gospels) and books (Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas and her Original Gospel of Thomas). Furthermore, I believe that this debate is heading towards a potential stalemate with the two camps simply restating what has been said before and not taking the necessary steps forward. Scholars must reexamine Thomas in terms of the historical realities in which it came into existence (particularly orality) for if they do not then this debate will truly become a stalemate with nothing gained and only lose any potential understanding that Thomas could bring.

stewdaybrew said...

You are correct that there are two camps of thought concerning Thomas' dating and relationship to the canonical Gospels. I am currently working on my Masters Thesis concerning these very issues. While there are certainly plausible and indeed persuasive arguments from both camps neither camp can comprehensively account for the material in the Gospel of Thomas. For this view also see April DeConick’s blog (the Forbidden Gospels) and books (Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas and her Original Gospel of Thomas). Furthermore, I believe that this debate is heading towards a potential stalemate with the two camps simply restating what has been said before and not taking the necessary steps forward. Scholars must reexamine Thomas in terms of the historical realities in which it came into existence (particularly orality) for if they do not then this debate will truly become a stalemate with nothing gained and only lose any potential understanding that Thomas could bring.

stewdaybrew said...

You are correct that there are two camps of thought concerning Thomas' dating and relationship to the canonical Gospels. I am currently working on my Masters Thesis concerning these very issues. While there are certainly plausible and indeed persuasive arguments from both camps neither camp can comprehensively account for the material in the Gospel of Thomas. For this view also see April DeConick’s blog (the Forbidden Gospels) and books (Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas and her Original Gospel of Thomas). Furthermore, I believe that this debate is heading towards a potential stalemate with the two camps simply restating what has been said before and not taking the necessary steps forward. Scholars must reexamine Thomas in terms of the historical realities in which it came into existence (particularly orality) for if they do not then this debate will truly become a stalemate with nothing gained and only lose any potential understanding that Thomas could bring.

Frank McCoy said...

Dear Tim Lewis:

Perhaps you should consider the possibility that Matthew used Mark and Thomas as sources and that Luke used Mark, Matthew and Thomas as sources. I think the evidence for this theory is strong, although I am only a layperson and, as far as I am aware, no scholar has ever advanced it.

Even what Dr. Goodacre deems to be the strongest evidence for Thomasine dependence on Luke is, IMO, hardly decisive in the matter. Indeed I suggest, this evidence actually tilts towards Lukan dependence on Thomas.

See:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/7415

Also see:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/7432

Frank McCoy
St. Paul MN 55109

frank mccoy said...

Dear Tim Lewis:

In the previous post, the website addresses got truncated.

The first one should not end with 741 but, rather, with 7413 and the second should not end with 743 but, rather with 7432.

Frank McCoy
St. Paul, MN