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1374[gthomas] Re: Pre or post-Easter Jesus (was Q and Jesus)

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  • Mark Goodacre
    Aug 6, 1999
      Joe Baxter wrote:

      > On what basis do you assume that the Gospel of Thomas refers to a
      > pre-Easter Jesus?

      It seems to me that there are three options:
      (1). that Thomas is depicting a pre-Easter Jesus
      (2). that Thomas is depicting a post-Easter Jesus.
      (3). that Thomas is ambivalent, unclear about or uninterested in the
      distinction between pre and post-Easter Jesus.

      In favour of (1) we have the fact that so many of the sayings attributed
      to Jesus are paralleled in other texts that attribute them to a pre-Easter
      Jesus, i.e locate them in the narrative of a ministry that takes place
      before his crucifixion. Also in favour of this are the occasional hints of
      human relationships and the trappings of the ministry as reported
      elsewhere, e.g. eating at table, a woman popping up in the crowd,
      interaction with disciples like Simon Peter, Mary Magdalene and so

      Against (1) we have the absence of any solid geographical location at
      all, reference to "the living one" and general lack of interest in the
      narrative features that are a part of all our other early texts that depict
      the pre-Easter Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Q, Peter, P. Eg.

      These same features might speak in favour of (2), but against this
      option are the features that speak in favour of (1), as well as the lack
      of reference to resurrection. Jesus is "the living one", not "the
      resurrected one". It is difficult to believe that the author was
      deliberately giving known pre-Easter sayings a post-resurrection
      setting without some statement that he was doing this.

      The most plausible option is thus some form of (3): the author either did not
      care or did not think about it or was deliberately ambiguous. As Koester says,
      Thomas is apparently indifferent to story-time. The fundamental theological
      tendency of the gospel is, as he rightly notes, “the view that the Jesus
      who spoke these words was and is the Living One, and thus gives life
      through his words” (quoted from "Gnomai Diaphorai", p. 139).

      As a relative newcomer to Thomas studies I would be interested to
      hear other opinions. Do the three options above exhaust the
      possibilities? If so, is option 3 the most helpful option?


      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
      University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
      Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

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