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10528RE: [GTh] Authorship and Dating GTh

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    Mar 7, 2013

      To: GThos (GPG to see)

      In Response To: Tom Reynolds

      On: Inferences

      From: Bruce


      Methodologically, it seems that something might be added to Tom’s recent suggestion to the GThomas group. Here are my suggestions.


      Tom: IF GTh is not similar in thought to the Synoptics then it wasn't the product of the dominant thoroughly Jewish-Christian community that produced Mk, Matt and had a profound effect on LK.



      1. GTh is a second century work of a different community, [or]

      2. A first century work of an alternate community to the dominant Jewish-Christian community that produced the Synoptics, [or]

      3. 2,000 years of the interpretation of GTh is wrong.


      Bruce: I pass by the last. If there are still things to discuss, that is, if the question is still open, then we may gratefully take what seems helpful from previous discourse, and move on.


      Jewish-Christian: Is this actually a term with a definite content? In my own experience, it can be used to cover any community of mixed Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, irrespective of their specific beliefs. We know from Paul’s vituperations that there was a wide range of opinion (and partisan affinity) in the churches to which he writes, which of course include little or nothing of Egypt, Asia, Nabatea, or for that matter Palestine.


      Synoptics. Do the Synoptics completely represent the “communities” in which they arose, and were those “communities” in the same place? Mark would seem to represent Galilean tradition, though perhaps from a Jerusalem viewpoint; Matthew’s take on the law implies at least a partial rejection or reconsideration of Paul’s attitude toward the law, a position that one can easily associate with Jerusalem, whether or not the work was written there. Luke, probably Antioch. but evidently from the poorer environs of Antioch, and Matthew might merely be the richer High Christian Churches of that same city. The opposition of rich vs poor is very dramatically developed in Matthew vs Luke; do we take adequate account of these vertical differences? If we do, are the vertical differences sufficient to explain the doctrinal differences? If so, then the term “Antioch” has become nonexclusive to any one of those doctrinal viewpoints.


      One way or another, it seems that the categories on which Tom here relies may not be tight, and that there are thus other options on offer from the 1c, let alone any later time, then the ones he mentions.


      I would like to see someone comb Paul for signs of spirit enthusiasm leading to a proto-Gnostic position, a position that some have seen further developed in the post-Pauline Colossians and (slightly later) Ephesians. Has such a study been done? If so, I would appreciate a reference.


      Communities, as I think Paul is there to remind us, are not homogeneous in themselves, and even if they were, different ones may overlap (as the migrations of known individuals back and forth between Rome and Ephesus suggest).


      Do the non-Synoptic parts of GThos suggest anything about the material condition, the economic base, of the people for whom those sayings were written?




      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project]

      University of Massachusetts at Amherst


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