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The Gospel of Thomas

Discussion in 'Christian Scriptures' started by Yoder777, Dec 29, 2010.

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  1. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    If you'd like to see how the Gospel of Thomas can be read alongside the canonical Gospels to build a comprehensive whole, I recommend this book:

    It ultimately doesn't matter whether the Gospel was actually written by Thomas or even whether it was written in the first century, though there's good reason to believe that it was. What matters is whether or not Thomas preserves a teaching tradition that goes back to Jesus himself. While many would prefer to give a late date to Thomas, is there reason to believe it was written after the first half of the first century?
     
  2. Goinheix

    Goinheix Well-Known Member

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    The Gospel of Thomas is a book. it is a book as millions books in the world. The different with the Gospel of Thomas is that is apocryphal. It is apocryphal not just because is not canonical, it is apocryphal because it claim to be written by a false person. It was not write for Thomas as the book claim.

    What we have is a non canonical book talking about Jesus as millions books do. But not only that, is a book based on a false pretence. I shall said that the author not only do not have the authority of the NT, it has not moral authority at all.
     
  3. CryptoLutheran

    CryptoLutheran Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman

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    One of the key differences here, at least as far as the "Magisterial" Reformers are concerned, is that by and large they weren't intending to reinvent Christianity. While it can be argued that's what they were doing, they weren't primitivists. The Reformers were not interested in starting new churches, but reforming the established one, the point wasn't to abandon Rome, but foster conversation with Rome. Granted, things got out of control when both sides starting hurling anathemas at one another and it resulted in schism and fracturing of the Western Church.

    There are plenty of things that I admire in various denominations, for example, the historic peace churches--I believe--hit the nail on the head as far as separation of Church and State and nonviolence are concerned (as it so happens I own a copy of Yoder's "Politics of Jesus" which you have as your avatar, and have benefited from it); however I regard the Anabaptist rejection of the traditional Christian understanding of the Sacraments to be out of line, it was a radical innovation--though no less radical than Zwingli's Memorialism. I can admire the Stone-Campbell Movement for desiring a unified Christianity, even though it has more-or-less just created a new set of denominations.

    What I don't regard as admirable is this idea that Christianity can be or even that it needs to be "restored". It's not broken. Christianity certainly isn't, and certainly never has been, perfect. But it's not broken.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  4. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    No one knows for certain whether the canonical Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Most scholars are content in saying that the Gospels go back to oral traditions that began with Jesus. Why isn't that also possible for Thomas?
     
  5. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    I agree with the view that the church is reformed and always reforming, always re-examining itself in light of Christ. Semper Reformanda!
     
  6. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    This is interesting:

     
  7. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    That's absolutely true. "There is no evidence of association with Thomas" is only a relevant statement because of posts suggesting it does or might carry Thomist authority.

    Most scholars are content in saying that the Gospels go back to oral traditions that began with Jesus. Why isn't that also possible for Thomas?[/quote]
    Most of the sayings do go back to Jesus because we find many of them in the synoptics as well. It may be that some of the sayings unique to Thomas are also authentic to Jesus - we don't know. The issue is the presentation. By presenting the sayings decontextualised they are being used to do something very different to the function they have in the synoptics. In the synoptiics Jesus life, actions and words function together - they are intricately interwoven so that each can only be understood alongside the other. By ripping the sayings out of context they come to mean something completely different in Thomas; that's where the incompatibility lies. Either the synoptics are authentic to Jesus or Thomas is, but both can't be. Since Thomas ends up being a much more hellenistic book than the synoptics its hardly plausible that the hardly plausible that a more hellenistic tradition would then become massively more Jewish by the addition of narrative than the other way around.

    Like many scholars I'm forced to conclude that, because it is not a gospel and has no narrative context Thomas is (a) later than the synoptics, (b) is incompatible in its theology to the synoptics and (c) is much less radical than the synoptics.

    It only looks radical in the 20th century because it challenges established Christianity, not because its more radical in its challenge to the whole world. In fact its challenge to established Christianity is only more obvious, not greater, but we live in an age that likes the superficial and distrusts the establishment.
     
  8. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    How is Thomas more hellenistic than the canonical Gospels, especially John, which explictly alludes to Greek philosophy in its first chapter? Thomas is within the stream of Jewish wisdom literature. The reason why Thomas doesn't have a passion narrative is because it presupposes Jesus' resurrection, referring to him as "the living Jesus." The very fact that Thomas, like Q, is a sayings Gospel suggests that it might be as early if not older than the canonical Gospels. Furthermore, since when are you a scholar?
     
  9. wayseer

    wayseer Well-Known Member

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    The GoT is nether gnostic nor a gospel. It is a list of sayings.

    In what way?

    While there have been rumblings that such a text existed it was not until the discoveries of the NHL that the GoT was actually found to be a a real text.

    There is really very little 'expansive' material of the GoT - it is nothing more than a list of sayings attributed to Jesus.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  10. wayseer

    wayseer Well-Known Member

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    No necessarily. You cannot draw a conclusion based on another hypothesis.

    The Q document is a hypothesis - it does not exist.

    We now know the GoT does exists but that does not mean it was therefore written at the same time as the hypothetical Q. However enticing such a connection might appear, from a critical analysis you one cannot legitimate that connection.

    And I doffs me hat to Ebia as a scholar and urge more Christian to follow suit.
     
  11. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    The word "gospel" means "good news." Thomas is a Gospel if it proclaims the "good news" of Jesus Christ. There is evidence from the early church, like 2 Clement, that Thomas is early.

     
  12. Kaitlin08

    Kaitlin08 Senior Member

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    What you are talking about is the kerygma. The word gospel in its technical sense is a narrative of the life of Jesus, and for this reason it is misleading to call Thomas a gospel.
     
  13. wayseer

    wayseer Well-Known Member

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    70 to 150 is a wide spread. Most recognized scholars seem to date GoT well into the 2nd century which falls within this time span.

    If Matthew and Luke copied off Mark and something called Q it appears they did not have the GoT available at that time. It would therefore seem these authors, writing about 70 - 80 CE, were unaware of Thomas which seems to indicate a later rather than an early date.
     
  14. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    The word translated "gospel" connotes something more specific than "something good you ought to hear". It connotes the proclamation of a major event of good news - particularly the corination of a new king or emperor (Greco/Roman world) or the return of YHWH to rule (Isaiah). A gospel is inherently narrative and claims the world has changed, it is never simply the delivery of useful timeless wisdom - it is always something world-changing that has happened. Wisdom-literature/sayings-texts can never be a gospel or vice-versa, they are completely different genres. Likewise, Q, if it ever existed and looks anything like its supposed reconstructions is not and is never properly called a gospel.
     
  15. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    Its the narratives that make the canonical gospels firmly Jewish. Take the sayings out of that narrative and they are not all very distinctively Jewish.

    Thomas could have been produced by a Jewish or Greek community, either directly or from the canonical gospels, but no community could have produced the canonical gospels, with their highly Jewish narrative, from Thomas. (Which is also one of the major problems with the Q hypothesis.)


    Without proclaiming the event of crucifixion and resurrection its not a gospel. Not being a gospel does not


    Q is not properly called a gospel. Its hypothetical name is simply 'Q', not 'The Gospel of Q'.
     
  16. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    DaLeKo,
    You have beautifully illustrated by this quote why the Gospel of Thomas is 'another gospel'.

    Nicholas Perrin in his assessment of The Gospel of Thomas, Thomas, the Other Gospel (London: SPCK, 2007), concludes that
    Oz
     
  17. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    What if Thomas was available in a different geographical region, isolated from Matthew and Luke? What if, like John, Thomas was written independently of Matthew and Luke?
     
  18. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    We can argue over semantics but what's important is whether or not Thomas contains actual sayings of Jesus not found in the canonical New Testament.
     
  19. Yoder777

    Yoder777 Senior Veteran

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    I think a major problem with trying to talk about the Gospel of Thomas with others is that many people are dead set on their views before they read scholarly sources in favor of Thomas with an open mind.
     
  20. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    Then, assumming the written texts to be representative of the way the stories are told in those communities, you'd end up with what amounts to two different religions. One with a timeless wisdom approach that is more like hellenised Judaism or Greek philosophy in the Thomist community and one based on what God in Jesus did in the Lukan community.

    Since we have no evidence for such a community and it doesnt explain anything that can't be explained more simply with a later date for Thomas it's speculation, not useful historical hypothesis.
     
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