BRUCE: For what it may be worth, my own study of the evidence disinclines me
to mix Thomas in with the canonical Gospels. I accept the indications that
Thomas is later than all of them, and has drawn vaguely but detectably on at
least the first three of them, but is not in the same tradition, the same
Trajectory if one will, as any of them. I think Thomas represents Esoteric
Christianity. I thus don't think it tells us anything about Jesus that we
need to factor into any discussion of the Historical Jesus. It does tell us
about receptivity to Jesus in a probably non-Palestinian context, which to
me is an important subject, but still a separate one.
DAVID I: I don't personally know enough about the details of Thomas to
assign a 'trajectory' to it with respect to any of the canonical Gospels.
However, as I think is generally acknowledged, its mere existence does lend
weight to any synoptic theory that posits a sayings source. Like Lk's 'many'
sources, Thomas works against a strict adherence to Occam when trying to
solve the Synoptic problem. Similarly, IMHO, Q theories should take Thomas
into account, in that re-constructions of Q that look more like Thomas
should be preferred to those that look less like Thomas.
Basically, what I think I'm suggesting is that *all* the evidence has to be
taken into account. For example, suppose we posit an authorial process for
the canonical Gospels that doesn't allow for accretion of texts over time,
and then we realize that there is another text (e.g. perhaps the ending of
Romans) that can only be accounted for by an accretion process. If we have
to allow for this other process that created Romans, but deny it's
applicability to the Synoptics, then we have to come up with a good reason
why this process doesn't apply. Unless we can do that, then I suggest that
we should allow that whatever forces (or processes) acted on one canonical
NT text should be considered to have acted on the others as well.
Turning this around, any Synoptic solution that considers the Synoptics in
isolation is simply not taking all the relevant factors into consideration.
Therefore, I believe we have to at least consider John, Thomas, Marcion, the
Western text, Paul, the logia, Mark's notes from Peter, etc. when working
out a Synoptic solution. Of course, we can always discount them after due
consideration, but we do have to go through that process.
Lafayette, CA, USA
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