3058Re: [gthomas] Dating GThom
- Aug 2, 2000Jack Kilmon wrote:
>Actually, all of the last four (Fitzmyer, Menard, Guillamont and
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Andrew Smith <asmith@...>
> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2000 2:10 PM
> Subject: Re: [gthomas] Dating GThom
> > on 7/30/00 9:41 AM, Rick Hubbard at rhubbard@... wrote:
> > > For the sake of illustrating the general trajectories in the discussions
> > > about the date of GThom, it may be helpful to identify some of the
> > > participants in the debate and the dating they suggest.
> > >
> > > H. Koester: 70-100 CE
> > > R. Cameron: 50-100 CE
> > > W. Davies: 50-70 CE
> > > J. Fitzmyer: C. 200 CE (End of 2nd c.)
> > > J. Menard: C. 200 CE (End of 2nd c.)
> > > A. Guillamont C. (End of 2nd c.)
> > > B. Dehandschutter C. (End of 2nd c.)
> > What are these last four based on? Are they dates for the Coptic version
> > Thomas? Or are they based on the old argument of Thomas being Gnostic, and
> > therefore late?
> The last 4 cannot be dates estimated for the composition of GoT but
> termini ad quem for the scribing of POxy 1 (200 CE), POxy 654 (250-300 CE)
> and POxy 655 (200-250 CE). Surely these scholars do nor believe that
> the Oxyrhynchus GoT's are autographs. The first three are estimates on
> the composition of GoT. I agree with Davies.
Dehandschutter) *are* using these dates to refer to the entirety of
GThom, not the Greek (P Oxy) fragments. The methods and assumptions by
which they reach their respective conclusions are described by J.
Robinson in C. Hedrick & R. Hodgson, Jr. _Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and
Early Christianity_, Hemdrickson, (1986), pp 142-166.
Menard's conclusions derive from a conjectured relationship between
GThom and Syriac NT wherein Menard sees a connection between, "instances
where the Syriac canonical gospels and the Gospel of Thomas share a
variant from the Greek NT or where the Syriac canonical gospels present
an ambiguous term with one of its meanings found in the GNT and the
other in GThom." (_Nag Hammadi_, p 159). In the work cited, Robinson
there disputes that conclusion as well as Menard's inference that
ActsThom (3rd c.) is dependent on GThom so GThom 'could hence date from
the end of the second century.' ((Menard, L'Evangile selon Thomas, p
156) in _Nag Hammdi_, p 160).
Dehandschutter's conclusions proceed from the premise that the genre of
the synoptics is sufficiently different from GThom that the application
of the same techniques of literary criticism to both documents yield
skewed results. His view seems to reflect a bias in which GThom and the
synoptics bear a different "value" in terms of their relevance to early
Christianity. The problems with that premise seem to me to be
Fitzmyer's position is perhaps the most perplexing. Robinson cites this
remark of Fitzmyer, "'The Greek copies are dated roughly to the first
half of the third century AD, but the Gospel itself may well have been
composed toward the end of the second century.'" ((Fitzmyer, _The Gospel
According to Luke_, Doubleday, (1981), p 85) _Nag Hammadi_, p 158).
Fitzmyer's bias toward so-called gnostic gospels in general is
illustrated by Robinson (in the same place) by quoting the remark from
Fitzmyer which characterizes these gospels as, "..schlock that is
supposed to pass for 'literature'... It has been mystifying, indeed, why
serious scholars continue to talk about the pertinence of this material
to the study of the New Testment.'" (Proper attribution of this remark
may be read in _Nag Hammadi_, p 158 n 85).
In any case, the views of Koester, Cameron and Davies seem to represent
the majority position so it would seem that one runs little risk in
positing an early date for GThom.
On the other hand, these two groups of scholars, who argue for
contradicting conclusions about the date of GThom, share the assumption
that GThom can be subjected to the same methods of compositional dating
as other texts from the same period. Perhaps that assumption needs to be
Stephan Patterson has raised an interesting suggestion about this matter
in _The Fifth Gospel_, Trinity (1998). He recognizes that while, "...
some form of the gospel existed aalready before the end of the first
century... This does not mean however that everything we now see in this
gospel derives from this early period." (p 43). He says further, "The
genesis of the Gospel of Thomas probably lies in the last decades of the
first century...But this collection grew and changed." He concludes by
saying that, "The interpreter of Thomas must always hold open the
possibility of various time frames for individual logia." He thereafter
cites two additonal scholars, H. Schenke and R. Valantasis, who argue
for late dating of GThom (Schenke: after 135; Valantasis: "just after
the turn of the first century).
Patterson's suggestion, when seen in the context of the ongoing debate
about the "date" of GThom, suggests that perhaps it is indeed *not*
possible to date GThom in the traditonal way in which other pieces of
literature from late antiquity is dated. The fluidity of the text is
such that it may have been a work in progress for many decades and so it
contains multiple strata of material that entered the text at different
Or, maybe not.
Humble Maine Woodsman
> taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon
> Jack Kilmon
> sharing a meal for free.
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