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3058Re: [gthomas] Dating GThom

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  • Rick Hubbard
    Aug 2, 2000
      Jack Kilmon wrote:
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: Andrew Smith <asmith@...>
      > To: <gthomas@egroups.com>
      > 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
      > of
      > > 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.

      Actually, all of the last four (Fitzmyer, Menard, Guillamont and
      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.

      Rick Hubbard
      Humble Maine Woodsman
      > Jack
      > --
      > ______________________________________________
      > taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon
      > Jack Kilmon
      > jkilmon@...
      > http://www.historian.net
      > sharing a meal for free.
      > http://www.thehungersite.com/
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