On July 16, 2002, I sent in a two post argument for the hypothesis that,
within GTh, is an earlier document that can be called Proto-Thomas.
On further review of the evidence, I have found that this is over-simplistic
in that there appears to be yet another document embedded in GTh as well:
which can be called Pre-Thomas.
This other pre-GTh document, like Proto-Thomas, appears to have been written
However, it reveals, the church at Tyre was more heterogeneous than is
indicated in Proto-Thomas and had a complex history.
In terms of document history, this is the scenario is proposed in this
current series of nine posts:
1.c. 60 CE Proto-Thomas was written by one of the Gentile leaders of the
2.c. 75 CE Pre-Thomas was written by a Jewish member of the Tyrian church
3. c. 85 CE Proto-Thomas is expanded into GTh by adding, to it, the material
in Pre-Thomas and some other material available to its author. This was
done by a Gentile member of the Tyrian church.
In this scenario, there are three strata in GTh: (1) the earliest strata,
consisting of the material in Proto-Thomas, (2) the second strata,
consisting of the material in Pre-Thomas, and (3) the latest strata,
consisting of the rest of the material in Gth.
In this post, the procedures by which the postulated Proto-Thomas and
Pre-Thomas documents are determined is given and the order of stratification
in GTh is discussed.. In the second post, the text of Proto-Thomas is
given. In the third post, the text of Pre-Thomas is given. In the fourth
post, the relative dating of the three strata is estimated. It is concluded
that Proto-Thomas is earliest, Pre-Thomas was written next, and the latest
strata lives up to its name. In the fifth post, an attempt is made to
determine the socio-economic perspective of each of the three strata. It is
concluded that the first strata comes from a Gentile upper class
perspective, the second strata comes from a Diaspora Jewish middle to lower
class perspective, and the third strata comes from a Gentile middle to lower
class perspective. It is postulated that the Thomas church was located in
the Diaspora and had a Gentile upper class leadership, with the rest of the
members, who ranged from the middle to lower class, divided into a Jewish
group and a Gentile group. In the sixth post, evidence is presented which
indicates that, to be more precise, the Thomas church was located at Tyre: a
major port city, in the Diaspora, located in Syro-Phoenicia (modern
Lebanon). In the seventh post, an attempt is made to determine the sitz im
leben for each of the three strata. It is concluded that the first strata,
Proto-Thomas, was written c. 60 CE, several years after Paul had visited
Tyre and while there was an on-going communication between the Tyrian church
and the Q community in near-by Galilee; that the second strata, Pre-Thomas,
was written c. 75 CE after the searing events of the Jewish revolt,
including the destruction of the temple and the persecution of the Tyrian
Jewish Christians during the revolt; and the third strata,
the latest strata, dates to c. 85 CE, soon after GMatthew was written. In
the eighth post, Thomas Christianity will be reviewed. There are some
constants in it: a Jesus who is similar in many ways to the Word of Philo's
teaching, a Kingdom that is remarkably similar to the Wisdom of the Jewish
Wisdom tradition, and the revering of Jesus' words for their unique value.
There is also some developments in thought. In the second strata, in the
searing light of the horrors of the Jewish revolt of 66-70 CE, the world
comes to be viewed as an evil realm that needs to be renounced. In both the
second and third strata, there is a stress on family strife and on how the
followers of Jesus are the enlightened few which indicates that most of the
Tyrian population. both Gentile and Jew, had become strongly anti-Christian.
In the third strata, there develops the idea that these enlightened few,
furthermore, have their origin in a place of light and ideal Platonic forms
and it is to there that they return after their brief sojourn on earth. In
the ninth post, some closing comments are made.
THE CONCEPT OF A SECTION
It appears that Proto-Thomas consists of three sections and that Pre-Thomas
consists of a short prologue, a section, and a short postlogue.
These are the rules of composition for a section:
1. Where each of the modern 114 divisions of GTh is called a unit, the
number of units in a section is always a square number, i.e., 1, 4, 9, 16,
2. A section always contains more than one unit, so that the minimum number
of units in a section is four.
3. The first unit and the last unit of a section will either both be saying
units (where a saying unit is a unit that solely consists of a saying of
Jesus) or else dialogue units (where a dialogue unit is a unit in which
Jesus carries on a dialogue with one or more people).
4. After the first unit, next will come x number of saying units (where x =
the number being squared), e.g., for a section composed of nine units, as it
is the square of three, next will come three sayings units.
5. If applicable (i.e., if the section contains more than four units), next
will come a unit that will be a dialogue unit if the first unit is a saying
unit and a saying unit if the first unit is a dialogue unit.
6. If applicable (i.e., if the section contains nine or mere units), steps 4
and 5 are repeated until the end unit of the section is reached.
So, where (1) s = a sayings unit, (2) d = a dialogue unit, and (3) the
first unit, the last unit, and each unit involved in step 5 are capitalized,
a four unit section will be:
SssS or DssD
Again, a nine unit section will be:
SsssDsssS or DsssSsssD
Agaain, a 16 unit section will be:
SssssDssssDssssS or DssssSssssSssssSsssD.
THE COMPOSITION OF PROTO-THOMAS
Proto-Thomas consists of: (1) 2-10, which is a nine unit segment
(SsssDsssS), (2) 31-48 + 61-65 + 89-90, which is a 25 unit segment
(SsssssDsssssDsssssDsssssS) and (3) 91-99, which is a nine unit segment
THE COMPOSITION OF PRE-THOMAS
Pre-Thomas is envisoned to consist of (1) the intro to GTh ("These are the
secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas
wrote down."), and (2) 1 + 25-30 + 53-60 + 66-79 + 105-111, which is a 36
unit section (SssssssDssssssDssssssDssssssDssssssS), whose last unit (i.e.,
111) concludes with a brief postlogue, "Did not Jesus say, 'Whoever finds
himself is superior to the world?'".
THE FINAL STRATA IN GTH
What does not belong in either Proto-Thomas or Pre-Thomas is what belongs to
the latest strata in GTh. This consists of 11-24, 49-52, 80-88, 100-104,
THE STRATA SEQUENCE IN GTHOMAS
This is the sequence of strata elements in GThomas (strata 1 element =
Proto-Thomas, strata 2 element = Pre-Thomas, strata element 3 = late
Strata 2: Intro + unit 1
Strata 1: units 2-10
Strata 3: units 11-24
Strata 2: units 25-30
Strata 1: units 31-48
Strata 3: units 49-52
Strata 2: units 53-60
Strata 1 units 61-65
Strata 2: units 66-79
Strata 3: units 80-88
Strata 1: units 89-99
Strata 3: units 100-104
Strata 2: units 105-111
Strata 3: units 112-114
If one postulates that these strata elements are lumped into strata element
cycles, with each strata 1 element being the second element in a strata
element cycle, then there are four strata element cycles: 1. a 2-1-3 cycle,
2. a.2-1-3 cycle, 3. a 2-1-2 cycle, and 4. a 3-1-3-2-3 cycle.
Note that strata element cycles 1 and 2 are identical and, when added
together, total *6* strata elements. Cycle 3 is a unique strata element
cycle of *3* strata elements. Cycle 4 is a unique strata element cycle of
*5* strata elements.
Perhaps it is pure coincidence that each of the postulated segments
postulated to be incorporated into GTh from pre-exisitng documents either
contains *6* squared (36) units or else *3* squared (9) units or else *5*
squared (25) units.. However, if not, then it is a message, by the author
of GTh, that GTh incorporates some segments from pre-existing documents:
with each such segment either being a *6* squared (36) unit segment or else
a *3* squared (9) unit segment or else a *5* squared (25)
(Continued in Part II of a IX part posting)
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