4089Re: [GTh] Of/According to Thomas
- Sep 1, 2001Andrew Smith <smithand44@...> wrote:
--- In gthomas@y..., "Andrew Smith" wrote:
> It seems to me that "The Gospel From Thomas" might be a more
> translation of the title if we want to avoid "according to". I
> suspect that "of" is preferred because it doesn't give the
> of claiming authorship by Thomas, but that's precisely what the
> does claim, isn't it?
What I was implying by this was:
1. Kata Thomas implies authorship by Thomas
2. Modern scholarship indicates that it's very unlikely that the
gospel was writeen by an apostle Thomas.
3. So we get "the Gospel of Thomas" as the title, which softens the
authorship claim of the title.
4. But the title actually does imply authorship, so "according to" is
actually a better translation than a generic "of"
I wasn't intending to suggest that 'KATA' should make us think that
it was actually written by Thomas.
IN REPLY TO ABOVE POST BY ANDREW SMITH
One of the most basic principles of scientific scholarship is not to go beyond the evidence.
The Coptic text of GTh dates from about 350 AD. The Ox. fragments are earlier and suggest the original was not in Coptic, and that some redaction has taken place to produce the Coptic text. Without evidence of a scholarly kind many believe the document originated from the region of Edessa. There are indicators that Thomas was in Edessa; indeed it becomes very hard to explain how it became such a centre of the Thomas "cult" unless this were so. (Indeed there are some interesting ideas being floated that Eusebius did not fabricate the Abgar correspondence at all). Further, the narrative style of GTh indicates it belongs to the most primitive stage of Christian writings, pre-dating probably the narrative style canonical Gospels.
All that being said, how is it possible to say that scholars agree that it was very unlikely that GTh was written "by an Apostle Thomas." It should be clear from what I have summarized above, that what evidence there is in fact seems to incline in the opposite direction.
It is not possible to prove under the rigorous canons of scholarship at present that Thomas the Apostle wrote GTh; but it would be even more difficult to be able to say from a scholarly point of view that he did not write it. There is nowhere near enough evidence to make such a statement if you wish to stick with the rigid canons of scientific scholarship.
Immensely valuable scholarly debate has taken places in these pages over the past year, and such discussion is essential in order to decide on questions such as the authenticity of the text and original structure of GTh, which have such implications for discovering its true meaning. However, beyond those issues lie the more important ones: what was purpose of the text; what was it written to help us achieve? This takes us into the sphere of what I call in a soon to be published book, 'the mechanics of spiritual evolution.' In this area of course the identity of the author assumes even greater importance. From a scholarly point of view it is certainly premature to deny that the author was Thomas. What evidence there is I would suggest points (if anywhere), in the opposite direction.
Humble Washington Schismatic.
Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
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