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8260RE: [GTh] Re: Thomas vs Synoptics

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  • Judy Redman
    Oct 4 4:35 PM

      > RG: Absolutely! I think we can all agree on this. We should
      > simply be looking for the model that best accounts for the
      > data (with the strongest constraints - something typically
      > neglected in New Testament Studies). Why should we 'want' any
      > kind of answer? That is of course completely unscientific.

      JR: Indeed. But if you come from within a theological framework that has
      been built on a particular set of texts and that is likely to be called into
      question if a particular non-canonical text is found to be "more authentic"
      (whatever that means), then you have quite a lot invested in finding that
      the problematic text is "less authentic", whereas if you are researching to
      discredit the prevailing theological framework, you are invested in finding
      the problematic text "more authentic".

      > > > Finding Thomas to be influenced by one or more of the
      > Synoptics also
      > > > does not mean that one considers every parallel between them as a
      > > > sign that Thomas is secondary. It can very well be the case that
      > > > some of the sayings in Thomas are prior to their synoptic
      > parallel.
      > > > Given the popularity of the Synoptic Gospels in the
      > second century
      > > > it would not be at all surprising that some of their sayings were
      > > > then added to the Thomas collection.
      > >
      > > I think it is possible to go back further than this, though, and
      > say that
      > > the fact that there are parallels between Thomas and the synoptics
      > does not
      > > mean that Thomas is necessarily influenced by one or more of the
      > synoptics.
      > > It may be that the influence went in the other direction, or that
      > they
      > > shared a common source for that particular passage. Of the
      > material that I
      > > am studying (ie the parables of the kingdom/reign in Thomas that
      > have
      > > parallels in the synoptics) only one is close to verbatim - the
      > parable of
      > > the mustard seed - and it is an anomally. It is the only one in
      > Thomas that
      > > compares the kingdom/reign to an object rather than to a person.
      > RG: It is not just verbatim agreement that suggests
      > influence, it is finding an evangelists redaction in Thomas.
      > Thus, if there is evidence that in a certain pericope one of
      > the evangelists has redacted one of his sources and that
      > piece of redaction is also found in Thomas then the data can
      > best be accounted by the hypothesis that Thomas has somehow
      > been influenced by that evangelists Gospel. This cannot be
      > explained by a common source.

      JR: Having spent quite a lot of time recently reading psychological
      eyewitness literature, I am no longer convinced that all the differences
      that have been attributed to redaction actually are due to redaction ie a
      deliberate decision by an editor to make additions, subtractions etc..
      Quite a number could as easily be attributed to the sorts of changes that
      can be expected when eyewitnesses retell their stories over time. Then, I
      think, a common source is still a tenable explanation.

      > One further point: you can have influence without having any
      > verbatim agreement. It just becomes harder (if not sometimes virtually
      > impossible) to detect. That is why we start with the
      > strongest cases and look at those instances where there is
      > verbatim agreement and (this is very important) when one
      > author's redaction can be found in the other Gospel.
      > Examples would obviously help here (although the literature
      > is filled with good examples), but I will save these for a
      > later time when my work load is reduced (I am teaching two
      > new courses for a cognitive neuropsychology masters) and I
      > have more time to go into specifics.

      JR: I am in a similar situation - too busy to produce specific examples.

      > > >
      > > > Having said all this I must agree that some (evangelical or
      > > > conservative) scholars are biased against Thomas and will favor
      > > > Thomas'
      > > > dependence on the Synoptics. The positive and uncritical
      > manner in
      > > > which they responded to Nicholas Perrin's work nicely illustrates
      > > > this.
      > > > However, this is to be expected, and should not lead to the
      > > > counter- reaction of assuming independence without good evidence.
      > >
      > > No, indeed. Good evidence is essential, but I think you get good
      > evidence
      > > by asking the right questions in the first place.
      > RG: Agreed, but I'm curious as to what you mean by 'asking
      > the right questions'? What kind of questions do you have in mind?

      JR: Simply the kinds of things you've mentioned - instead of asking "What
      evidence do we have for dependence/independence?" we should ask "What
      differences and similarities do we see in these texts and what is the best
      explanation for the available data?"


      Rev Judy Redman
      Uniting Church Chaplain
      University of New England
      Armidale 2351 Australia
      ph: +61 2 6773 3739
      fax: +61 2 6773 3749
      web: http://www.une.edu.au/chaplaincy/uniting/ and
      email: jredman@...
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