10531Re: [XTalk] Excavating GThomas--Part II
- Jul 16, 2002INTRODUCTION
This is the second part of a two part posting on
Proto-Thomas--a proposed early version of GTh which
consists of GTh 2-10, 31-48, 61-65, and 89-99.
In this second part, it is suggested that Proto-Thomas
was written at Tyre in the late fifties. Also, text
of Proto-Thomas is given.
THE SITZ EM LEBEN FOR PROTO-THOMAS
For determining the sitz em leben for Proto-Thomas, I
think that unit 61 is a good place to start, "Jesus
said, 'Two will rest on a bed: the one will die and
the other will live.' Salome said, 'Who are You, man,
that You, as though from the One, have come up on my
couch and eaten from my table?' Jesus said to her, 'I
am He who exists from the Undivided. I was given some
of the things of my Father.' 'I am your disciple.'"
Salome is a very important person to the Proto-Thomas
community, for she is, except for Jesus himself, the
only person given a name in Proto-Thomas. Indeed,
such a unique status indicates, to me, that she
is the founder of the Proto-Thomas community.
I suggest that she is the Syro-Phoenician woman, from
the area around Tyre, mentioned in Mark 7:24-30.
For one thing, this woman had a daughter lying on a
bed. Is it a coincidence that lying on a bed/couch
plays an important role in 61a? I think not.
For another thing, the Syro-Phoenician woman tells
Jesus, "Lord, even the doggies under the table eat
from the crumbs of the children." Is it a
coincidence that eating at a table plays an important
role in 61a? I think not.
So, I suggest, Salome is the name of the
Syro-Phoenician woman of Mark 7:24-30 and she was the
founder of the Proto-Thomas community.
If so, then, as she resided in the vicinity of Tyre,
and as she was a Gentile, and as Jews were a small
minority in Tyre, the expectation is that the
Proto-Thomas community was centered at Tyre and
consisted of Gentiles.
In this regard, unit 64 is very important.
64 is a parable which also is found in the Q
tradition. The Q tradition version of this parable,
though, lacks this ending to 64, "Businessmen and
merchants will not enter the Places of My Father."
I take this to mean that the ending of 64 is not
original to the parable, but was added to it because
the Proto-Thomas community lived in an area which was
a major center for trade and commerce. In this
regard, it is significant that Tyre was a major center
for trade and commerce.
Also important is unit 8: where a man is fishing in
the sea and takes the large fish and throws the rest
back. This parable would have been of interest to
people living on the sea-coast--and Tyre was on the
Also, in view of the extensive over-lap between the
Proto-Thomas tradition and the Q tradition, and in
view of both communities focusing on sayings of Jesus
and down-playing the significance of Jesus' death,
there is a likelhood that the Proto-Thomas community
was geographically close to the Q community.
This is consistent with the Proto-Thomas community
being located at Tyre--for Tyre was geographically
close to Galilee: which probably was the location of
the Q community.
Further, there are several indications that the
Proto-Thomas community consisted of Gentiles.
Particularly important is unit 43b, where Jesus tells
his disciples, "You do not realize who I am from what
I say to you, but you have become like the Jews, for
they (either) love the tree and hate its fruit (or)
love the fruit and hate the tree."
To me, this is a clear indication that the
Proto-Thomas community consisted of Gentiles.
Also, the lack of any references to Jewish scriptures
in Proto-Thomas is consistent with the idea that the
Proto-Thomas community was purely Gentile: being
founded by a Gentile (i.e., the Syro-Phoenician woman)
and consisting of Gentiles.
Finally, the harsh attitude towards the brothers of
Jesus in unit 99 is consistent with the idea that the
Proto-Thomas community consisted of Gentiles who were
hostile towards the Jerusalem Church led by James the
Just, one of the brothers of Jesus--presumably because
they were resisting pressure, from the Jerusalem
Church, to start observing the Law of Moses.
Relevant to the discussion is Acts 21:3-5 (RSV), "When
we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left
we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the
ship was to unload cargo (Which underscores the
importance of Tyre as a center of trade and commerce).
And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there
for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not
to go on to Jerusalem. And when our days there were
ended, we departed and went on our journey; and they
all, with wives and children,
brought us on our way till we were outside the city;
and kneeling down on the beach we prayed and bade one
Here, we learn, there was a Christian community at
Tyre in the mid-fifties. It apparently consisted of
Gentiles--for they treat Paul and his followers
as allies and warn him about the dangers he faced
(from Christian Jews zealous for the Law)if he
insisted on going to Jerusalem. This Christian
community at Tyre, apparently composed of Gentiles,
is, I suggest, the Proto-Thomas community.
In line with this idea, it is noteworthy that, in Acts
21:3-6, it is emphasised, the Spirit was important to
the members of the Christian community at Tyre.
Similarly, the Spirit was important to the members of
the Proto-Thomas community: see unit 44, "Whoever
blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and
whoever blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven,
but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will
not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven."
As for the dating of Proto-Thomas, I think that it was
most likely written after the Proto-Thomas community
made contact with Paul and/or one or more of his
followers (for, I suspect, some of the units in it,
particularly 7, have been influenced by Pauline
thought), but while James the Just was still
presiding over the Jerusalem Church (for I suspect
that the harsh criticism of the brothers of Jesus in
unit 99 is aimed at him). If the Proto-Thomas
community be the Christian community at Tyre, with
which Paul first made contact in the mid-fifties, this
makes the most likely date for the writing of
Proto-Thomas to be sometime in the late 50s--after
Paul made contact with the Proto-Thomas community in
the mid fifties, but before the death of James the
Just in the early 60s.
So, to conclude, it is suggested that the Sitz em
Leben for Proto-Thomas was Tyre in the late fifties.
In this case, the Proto-Thomas community was founded
even while Jesus was still alive by a Syro-Phoenician
woman named Salome and it consisted of Gentiles. It
had contacts with both the Q community and the
Jerusalem Church. As respects the Jerusalem Church
its leader, James the Just, it appears to have had a
cool to hostile attitude. In this case, it came into
contact with Paul in the mid-fifties and he was
accepted by its members as an ally.
In this case, the Proto-Thomas community differed in
some major respects from the GTh community--which took
Thomas to be its founder and thought that James the
Just was the cat's meow. This indicates that there was
a major passage of time between the writing of
Proto-Thomas and GTh and/or that GTh was written at a
far different location than Proto-Thomas.
THE TEXT OF PROTO-THOMAS
2.Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking
until he finds. When he finds he will become
troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be
astonished, and he will rule over the All."
3. Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you,
'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of
the sky will precede you. If they say to you,
'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you.
Rather the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside
of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you
will become known, and you will realize that is is you
who are the sons of the living Father. But if you
will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it
is you who are that poverty."
4.Jesus said, "The man old in days will not hesitate
to ask a small child seven days old about the place of
life, and he will live. For many who are first will
become last, and they will become one and the same."
5.Jesus said, "Recognize what is in your sight, and
that which is hidden from you will become plain to
you. For there is nothing hidden which will not
6. His disciples questioned Him and said to Him, "Do
You want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give
alms? What diet shall we observe?" Jesus said, "Do not
tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things
are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden
will not become manifest, and nothing covered will
remain without being uncovered."
7.Jesus said, "Blessed is the lion which becomes man
when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the
lion consumes, and the lion becomes man."
8. And he said, "The man is like a wise fisherman who
cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea
full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman
found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish
back into the sea and chose the large fish without
difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
9. Jesus said, "Now the sower went out, took a handful
(of seeds), and scattered them. Some fell on the road;
the birds came and gathered them up. Others fell on
rock, did not take root in the soil, and did not
produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked
the seed(s) and worms ate them. And others fell on
the good soil and produced good fruit: it bore sixty
per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure."
10. Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and
see, I am guarding it until it blazes."
31.Jesus said, "No prophet is accepted in his own
village; no physician heals those who know him."
32. Jesus said, "A city built on a high mountain and
fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."
33. Jesus said, "Preach from your housetops that which
you hear hear in your ear (and) in the other ear. For
no one lights a lamp and upts it under a bushel, nor
does he put it in a hidden place, but rather he sets
it on a lampstand so that everyone who enters and
leaves will see its light."
34.Jesus said, "If a blind man leads a blind man, they
will both fall into a pit."
35.Jesus said, "It is not possible for any one to
enter the house of a strong man and take it by force
unless he binds his hands; then he will (be) able to
ransack his house."
36. Jesus said, "Do not be concerned from morning
until evening and from evening until morning about
what you will wear."
37. His disciples said, "When will you become revealed
to us and when shall we see You?" Jesus said, "When
you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your
garments and place them under your feet like little
children and tread on them, then [will you see] the
Son of the Living One and you will not be afraid."
38.Jesus said, "Many times have you desired to hear
these words which I am saying to you, and you have no
one else to hear them from. There will be days when
you will look for Me and will not find Me."
39. Jesus said, "The Pharisees and the scribes have
taken the keys of Knowledge and hidden them. They
themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to
enter those who wish to. You, however, be as wise as
serpents and as innocent as doves."
40. Jesus said, "A grapevine has been planted outside
of the Father, but being unsound, it will be pulled up
by its roots and destroyed."
41. Jesus said, "Whoever has something in his hand
will receive more, and whoever has nothing will be
deprived of even the little he has."
42. Jesus said, "Become passers-by."
43. His disciples said to him, "Who are You, that You
should say these things to us?" "You do not realize
who I am from what I say to you, but you have become
like the Jews, for they (either) love the tree and
hate its fruit (or) love the fruit and hate the tree."
44.Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father
will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the
Son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against
the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth
or in heaven."
45. Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorns,
nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not
produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his
storehouse; and evil man brings forth evil things from
his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says
evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he
brings forth evil things."
46. Jesus said, "Among those born of women, from Adam
until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to
John the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered
(before) him. Yet I have said, whichever one of you
comes to be a child, will be acquainted with the
Kingdom and will become superior to John."
47. Jesus said, "It is impossible for a man to mount
two horses or to stretch two bows. And it is
impossible for a servant to serve two masters;
otherwise he will honor the one and treat the other
contemptuously. No man drinks old wine and
immediately desires to drink new wine. And new wine
not put into old wineskins, lest they burst; nor is
old wine put into a new wineskin, let it spoil it. An
old patch is not sewn into a new garment, because a
tear would result."
48. Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in
this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move
away,' and it will move away."
61. Jesus said, "Two will rest on a bed: the one will
die and the other will live." Salome said, "Who are
You, man, that You, as though from the One,have come
up on my couch and eaten from my table?" Jesus said
to her, "I am He who exists from the Undivided. I was
given some of the things of my Father." "I am your
disciple." "Therefore I say, if he is <undivided>, he
will be filled with light, but if he is divided, he
will be filled with darkness."
62.Jesus said, "It is those [who are worthy of My]
mysteries that I tell my mysteries. Do not let your
left hand know what your right hand is doing."
63. Jesus said, "There was a rich man who had much
money. He said, "I shall put my money to use so that
I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with
produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.'
Such were his intentions, but that same night he died.
Let him who has ears hear."
64. Jesus said, "A man had received visitors. And
when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant
to invite the guests. He went to the first one and
said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said, 'I
have claims against some merchants. They are coming
to me this evening. I must go and give them my
orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.' He
went to another and said to him, 'My master has
invited you.' He said to him, 'My friend is going to
get married, and I am to prepare the banquet. I shall
not be able to come. I ask to be excused from the
dinner.' He went to another and said ato him, 'My
master invites you.' He said to him, 'I have just
bought a farm, and I am on my way to collect the rent.
I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.'
The servant returned and said to his master, 'Those
whom you invited to the dinner have asked to be
excused.' The master said to his servant, 'Go outside
to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to
meet, so that they may dine.' Businessmen and
merchants will not enter
the Places of My Father.'"
65. He said, "There was a good man who owned a
vineyard. He leased it to tenant farmers so that they
might work it and he might collect the produce from
them. He sent his servant so that the tenants might
give him the produce of the vineyard. They seized his
servant and beat him, all but killing him. The
servant went back and told his master. The master
said, 'Perhaps <they> did not recognize <him>.' He
sent another servant. The tenants beat this one as
well. Then the owner sent his son and said, 'Perhaps
they will show respect to my son.' Because the
tenants knew that it was he who was the heir to the
vineyard, they seized him and killed him. Let him who
has ears hear."
89.Jesus said, "Why do you wash the outside of the
cup? Do you not realize that he who made the inside
is the same one who made the outside?"
90. Jesus said, "Come unto me, for My yoke is easy and
My lordship is mild, and you will find repose for
91. They said to Him, "Tell us who You are so that we
may believe in You." He said to them, "You read the
face of the sky and of the earth, but you have not
recognized the one who (or: that which) is before you,
and you do not know how to read this moment."
92.Jesus said, "Seek and you will find. Yet, what you
asked Me about in former times and which I did not
tell you then, now I do desire to tell, but you do not
inquire after it."
93. <Jesus said,> "Do not give what is holy to dogs,
lest they throw them on the dung-heap. Do not throw
the pearls to swine, lest they grind it [to bits]."
94. Jesus [said], "He who seeks will find, and [he who
knocks] will be let in."
95. [Jesus said,], "If you have money, do not lend it
at interest, but give [it] to one from whom you will
not get it back."
96. Jesus [said], "The Kingdom of the Father is like a
certain woman. She took a little leaven, [concealed]
it in some dough, and made it into large loaves. Let
him who has ears hear."
97. Jesus said, "The kingdom of the [Father] is like a
certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal.
While she was walking [on] a road, still some
distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and
the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did
not ralize it; she had noticed no accident. When she
reached her house, she set the jar down and found it
98. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of the Father is like a
certain man who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his
own house he drew his sword and stuck it into the wall
in order to find out whether his hand could carry
through. Then he slew the powerful man."
99. The disciples said to Him, "Your brothers and Your
mother are standing outside." He said to them,
"Those here who do the will of My Father are My
brothers and My mother. It is they who will enter the
Kingdom of My Father."
Comments and suggestions are welcomed.
1809 N. English
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
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