From: Andrew Smith <asmith@...
Date: Thursday, November 02, 2000 10:07 PM
Subject: Re: [gthomas] What's Early, What's Late
>Well, it was basically a bright idea that I hoped someone would take up.
>essence of it is: why should we assume that the the
>non-synoptically-paralleled and non-Yeshuine material is late? If we can't
>find any reasons to late-date it then why shouldn't we think that it
>precedes the "Jesus" material? The parallels in Philo and Wisdom literature
>fit with that. I don't really know where to go from here. What do I need to
You raise an interesting point with this question, "why should we assume
that the the
>non-synoptically-paralleled and non-Yeshuine material is late?"
There does seem to be a tendency among some people to assume that what is
not "authentic Jesus" material must be later than than the material that
*is* "authentic Jesus" material. The proper question that should be posed,
in my opinion, is what elements of the text may be linked to the core Jesus
traditions? Conversely, what material is independent of the Jesus traditions
*and* should that material be attributed to the individual creativity of the
author *or* is there evidence that the author was influenced by other
The point of departure, if one is to pursue this line of investigation,
should be to first to identify those portions of GThom which seem to have no
external "parallels." That by itself is an interesting exercise because what
you will find is that where evidently independent material is present in
GThom, it exists in rather large blocks of material. In other words, when
there is one logion that exhibits independent characteristics, almosst
always there are several other logia before and after it that are also
You can make of that what you will, but if you wish to know "what to do
next," it might be worthwhile to examine that seemingly idependent material
very closely. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to look elsewhere in the Nag
Hammadi corpus for evidence of influence. Philo of course would also be a
good place to look.
I'd be interested in seeing what conclusions you can reach.
Humble Maine Woodsman
>> At 11:02 AM 09/27/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>>> I'm reading Meier's A Marginal Jew Vol. 1 at the moment. He has a
>>> there which infamously dismisses all of the agrapha and apocryphal
>>> as being useless in the quest for the historical Jesus. We discussed
>>> his arguments earlier this year. He argues individually for each
>>> case, but basically it comes down to this: if a non-canonical source has
>>> parallel to the synoptics then it doesn't tell us anything about HJ that
>>> don't know already; if a saying is unparalleled then it probably doesn't
>>> come from HJ.
>>> Anyway, I found his synoptic bias irritating and this got me on to
>>> of what is early and what is late in GoT. We spend a lot of time
>>> the synoptically paralleled core of material in GoT and judge this
>>> The more unusual material becomes late, even from the second century in
>>> some opinions. Yet if a saying originally came from Jesus this doesn't
>>> necessarily make it earlier than a saying from another source;
>>> alternatively, the synoptic sayings may be earlier, but not very much
>>> So, what if we reverse this? Then the unparalleled material precedes the
>>> Jesus material. What sort of picture would that give us? Well, some of
>>> strangest logia are the Five Trees, and the Image and Light sayings.
>>> could these have come from? We find these ideas coming up in Philo, a
>>> contemporary of Jesus. Philo was also popular with some of the church
>>> fathers such as Origen, but GoT shows no sign of quoting directly from
>>> Philo--merely some of the ideas are similar. I don't see any reason to
>>> assume that all of Philo's ideas originated with him, and they may well
>>> been discussed or even have originated in Jewish Hellenistic circles who
>>> were interested in Wisdom ideas.
>>> So, what sort of community might fit this picture? A group of
>>> Jews who discuss Philonic ideas, perhaps working in the wisdom
>>> Then an itinerant Christian comes around and converts them. They acquire
>>> Jesus sayings but of course don't completely abandon their previous
>>> interests, and the Jewish Christianity is grafted onto the Jewish Wisdom
>>> tradition. At some point they write down what they can remember and the
>>> Philonic/Wisdom sayings are put into the mouth of Jesus.
>>> This helped me to understand what Steve Davies was getting at with his
>>> argument that the Odes of Solomon was originally pre-Christian.
>>> Unfortunately he didn't really take time to argue this thoroughly, but
>>> was more interested in the historical implications of it, so it was
>>> difficult to take it seriously.
>>> Whaddaya think?
>>> Best Wishes
>>> Andrew Smith
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>> Steve Allison
>> Knoxville, TN
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