Re: [XTalk] Why Use the Gospel of Thomas?
I am new at this, so I ask your forgiveness for any gaffes -- I'm a little
more comfortable in early modern Europe than 1st century Palestine.
I found Professor Schact's and Mr. Watts' comments on narrative quite
interesting, and I was reminded of one of the central critiques that has
been levelled at the J.S. in recent years -- particularly that of L.T.
Johnson from Emory. Johnson argues (in his, _The Real Jesus..._) that
abandoning the Gospel narratives opens the "door for any number of
combinations. Once the narrative control is gone, the pieces can be (and
have been) put together in multiple ways...." (125). I believe that what
Johnson argues is that by discarding the traditional narrative (even in
places where the narrative does seem historically plausible) the J.S. must
put some other "foundation" in its place; typically an anthopological model.
Johnson argues, and I think I agree, that the placement and the meaning of
an event are given by the narrative, and if we remove the narrative we have
no real rationale on which to judge the meaning of an event or statement.
Using the GTh of course facilitates this, since it contains no real
narrative. The first time I read GTh on my own it felt like the little
"daily bread" my mother used to make me read before going to school
(remember those anyone?) -- wierd statements totally out of context.
I wonder if there has been any response to this particular critique, or if
Dr. Johnson would care to elaborate (if he participates with this listserv)?
For those of you who are unfamiliar, his argument makes up the 5th chapter
of his little book.
Corey W. Liknes
Department of Arts and Sciences
Prairie Bible College
Three Hills, Alberta, CANADA