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Old 02-21-2007, 01:09 PM   #1
Malachi151
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Default Dating the The Gospel of Thomas

A lot of people try to put GThomas pretty early, but it seems to me to be a later document.

One thing stands out pretty obviously to me and that is the reference to "James the Just".

This name, "James the Just" never appears in any canonical writings, and seems to me to be a later used title and idea. But by the same token, it also doesn't call James his brother, so I don't know.

What are the thoughts on the dating of GThomas?
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Old 02-21-2007, 01:49 PM   #2
mountainman
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The carbon dating citation (360 CE) for the binding
of a ms of the gThomas is one of only two known
C14 citations related to NT literature.
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Old 02-21-2007, 02:29 PM   #3
Niall Armstrong
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Have been waiting for this thread!

I recognize that all dates prior to 4th c are necessarily tentative (though the Oxyrhynchus fragments are dated to early and mid 3rd c paleographically); based on interpretations. There is also the difficulty that it probably has been exposed to interpolations galore. If I remember a Doherty comment correctly, he says that the "Jesus says..." might have been added on, like he postulates for Q.

Personally I found Stevan Davies article, claiming that the Gospel of Mark must have been based on GT pretty convincing. http://www.misericordia.edu/users/da...as/tomark1.htm
But I've thought this was due to my own naivete:redface:
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Old 02-21-2007, 02:40 PM   #4
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Hippolytus, Ref. 5.7.20-21, in the early third century (d. c. 235) names and quotes a form of logion 4 of the Gospel of Thomas.

My sense is that Thomas in the form we have it is second century, though individual logia may be earlier.
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Old 02-21-2007, 04:15 PM   #5
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Elaine Pagels in her "Beyond Belief" considers that GJohn was written (in part) as a response to GThomas. That would put it 1st century.
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Old 02-21-2007, 07:42 PM   #6
neilgodfrey
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Default Perrin's 'Thomas and Tatian', and reviews

I understand that Perrin re-opened up the argument for a late date for Thomas with his "Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron".

There's an RBL review here. No doubt the net is full of others.

Neil Godfrey
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S.C.Carlson View Post
My sense is that Thomas in the form we have it is second century, though individual logia may be earlier.
IIRC, Meier says the same.

Care to offer any speculation why this collection of sayings wasn't given narrative context?
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:39 PM   #8
S.C.Carlson
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Originally Posted by Amaleq13 View Post
Care to offer any speculation why this collection of sayings wasn't given narrative context?
Here's what I recently wrote to the gthomas list, and I think it answers your question just as well:
Thomas 100 has a bit of a narrative context ("They showed Jesus a gold coin, ..."), but that is otherwise rare in Thomas. I suppose the effect of removing a narrative context for a saying is to de-particularize it and extend its applicability or meaning. (Conversely, the effect of putting a saying into a narrative context is to particularize it and control its interpretation.) Thus, because the absence (or presence) of narrative contextualizing a saying has a foreseeable effect on its interpretation, the inclusion or omission of narrative can be connected with a particular literary strategy. For example, if the author of Thomas was aware of a narrative context for a saying, then removing that context would be a mechanism for liberating the interpretation of that saying.
Stephen
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:24 AM   #9
Niall Armstrong
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Quote:
Thomas 100 has a bit of a narrative context ("They showed Jesus a gold coin, ..."), but that is otherwise rare in Thomas. I suppose the effect of removing a narrative context for a saying is to de-particularize it and extend its applicability or meaning. (Conversely, the effect of putting a saying into a narrative context is to particularize it and control its interpretation.) Thus, because the absence (or presence) of narrative contextualizing a saying has a foreseeable effect on its interpretation, the inclusion or omission of narrative can be connected with a particular literary strategy. For example, if the author of Thomas was aware of a narrative context for a saying, then removing that context would be a mechanism for liberating the interpretation of that saying.
I do have a quibble against this de-particularizing argument. It might be unjustified, but there’s something there that doesn’t make sense to me. I can understand it in the sense of a “Collected Quotes”; that someone extracts quotes from a narrative, or perhaps several sources, so as to have these readily at hand. But GThomas does unmistakeably have a different theological bias to the supposed sources (and some unique fragments, but then these may, for the sake of the argument, have had an unknown origin). What one would expect then is that after de-particularizing the quotes, the supposed compiler would wish to particularize them again, according to his own theological bias, by integrating them into a narrative that gets across his points. This wouldn’t be a difficult feat, and seems to be what Luke and Matt did very well with Q. Why should Thomas have done differently?
But then maybe there are examples of ancient de-particularizing with bias in ancient literature. That would probably make me shut up.
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Old 02-22-2007, 08:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niall Armstrong View Post
I do have a quibble against this de-particularizing argument. It might be unjustified, but there’s something there that doesn’t make sense to me. I can understand it in the sense of a “Collected Quotes”; that someone extracts quotes from a narrative, or perhaps several sources, so as to have these readily at hand. But GThomas does unmistakeably have a different theological bias to the supposed sources (and some unique fragments, but then these may, for the sake of the argument, have had an unknown origin). What one would expect then is that after de-particularizing the quotes, the supposed compiler would wish to particularize them again, according to his own theological bias, by integrating them into a narrative that gets across his points. This wouldn’t be a difficult feat, and seems to be what Luke and Matt did very well with Q. Why should Thomas have done differently?
This gets to how Thomas was used. Even though Thomas announces itself as a cache of secret sayings (Prologue), the very next part of Thomas ("he who finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death") states that the value of the text is not so much in knowing the sayings but knowing their (correct) interpretation. Yet, unlike a narrative gospel, the text does almost nothing by itself to frame or otherwise provide an interpretative context for the sayings.

Moreover, if you looks at Goodacre's observation about the missing middles in Thomas, I think what we can learn from that the author of Thomas is not particularly concerned about the reader's inability to fill in the blanks.

These factors suggest to me that Thomas was not merely lent out to a curious seeker for solitary study, but it was presented by a teacher who was there with the text to explain orally what the proper interpretation is. In other words, it looks like the Thomas sayings were transmitted, not in a narrative context, but within an oral interpretative context provided by the teacher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Niall Armstrong View Post
But then maybe there are examples of ancient de-particularizing with bias in ancient literature. That would probably make me shut up.
Anytime a text is taken out of context, it is departicularized and available for subsequent reappropriation. One example is the use of Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23. Critics contend that Isa 7:14 doesn't mean in its original context what Matt uses it to mean, but that, I think, is precisely the point of Matt's behavior. Granted, Matt reparticularized it into a narrative context, but that is because its hermeneutic is literary, not oral. The literary strategy for Matt is not to need a lot of oral supplementation to make its point. On the other hand, for examples of texts whose hermeneutic is oral, you'd have to look at sayings collections and other oral genres, and there were a lot of them in antiquity (Proverbs, Epitectus, etc.).

The gnostics in particular seemed to enjoy oral genres for their teachings. I suspect that is because they liked to model themselves after Greek philosophical schools, and creating texts whose interpretation requires an accompanying oral instruction to make sense of them keeps them in business as philosophical tutors.

Stephen
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