On May 15, 2009 9:35 PM, jmgcormier <cobby@...
>Could you please clarify a bit of a puzzle (for me, at least)
>re Origen, his Homily on Luke, and the dating of Nag Hammadi
>Origen lived from c.185 C.E. to c. 254 C.E. As I recall (from
>memory ... so please bear with me) ... his Homily on Luke was
>written c. 233 C.E. (... so far,so good ...)
>Having said the above, Nag Hammadi Thomas is usually pegged
>(paleographically) at somewhere close to c. 333 CE.
>Clearly, then, if Origen wrote his Homily in 233 C.E. how could
>he comment on a gospel (Nag Hammadi Thomas) which is essentially
>dated 100 years later ? (i.e. in c.333) Is it not more likely
>that Origen was commenting on an earlier (or a largely very
>different) version of Thomas' gospel than the Nag Hammadi one
>... such as the c. 200 C.E. - 250 C.E. "Greek" version often
>advocated by Marvin Meyer ... and which is clearly different
>than the Nag Hammadi version.
The Nag Hammadi Thomas is not the Gospel of Thomas per se, but
a witness to a Coptic translation of it. Yes, the Nag Hammadi
manuscript was penned a century after Origen, but the date of a
manuscript is not necessarily the date of the text's composition.
Origen was indeed commenting on a Greek copy of Thomas earlier
than the Nag Hammadi Coptic manuscript. As to whether it was
"very different," we have no way of knowing. True, there are
some differences (in order and to some extent in content) between
the Greek fragments of Thomas found at Oxyrhynchus and the Coptic
version found at Nag Hammadi, but all ancient works feature some
differences among their various copies. All we can say is that,
for purposes of this analysis, Origen's Greek copy of Thomas does
not seem to differ from the Nag Hammadi copy in any material respect
(aside from language), though one must always keep that possibility
Stephen C. Carlson
Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)