Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

review of WATSA booklet on Thomas, part 1 of 3

Expand Messages
  • chaptim45
    Part One of Three-- WATSA: What Are They Saying About The Gospel of Thomas? By Dr. Christopher W. Skinner. A review by Tim Staker, Chaplain, Indianapolis, IN.
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 3, 2012
    • 0 Attachment

      Part One of Three-- WATSA: What Are They Saying About The Gospel of Thomas? By Dr. Christopher W. Skinner. A review by Tim Staker, Chaplain, Indianapolis, IN.

      I really appreciate Christopher Skinner's work in bringing together the many divergent scholarly voices on the Gospel of Thomas.  The wide range of viewpoints in the present-day research on GThomas can be a quagmire for the educated non-specialists (like myself) who jump into the bubbling waters of the current academic dialog about this fascinating rediscovered Gospel.

      Certainly this WATSA booklet will be popular among seminary students and others who are curious and/or knowledgeable about the Gospel of Thomas but do not have access to scholarly resources. Also, the booklet may appeal to those who wonder where the Gospel of Thomas fits in with other early Christian canonical (and non-canonical) documents.

      After a brief introduction on the Gospel of Thomas and the tale of the discovery in Nag Hammadi, Skinner brings up three "crucial" questions which make up the outline of the book:

                      1) What are scholars saying about the dating of the Gospel of Thomas?

                      2) What are they saying about the Gospel of Thomas' relationship to the canonical texts (Skinner includes the Gospels and Paul)?

                      3) What do they say about the Gospel of Thomas' genre and theological outlook?

      Skinner attempts to respond to these questions while trying to keep each specific answer separate, but he has some difficulty as three aspects (dating/dependence/theology-genre) and their theories are very intertwined. So, Skinner presents four basic viewpoints of the Thomas scholars with each question and does his best to keep focused on the question at hand. He often ends up re-presenting the theories as he answers each question, but I personally found this repetition helpful in my learning of the various scholars and their theories.

      1. Four Views of the Date of the Gospel of Thomas' composition

                      A. 2nd century. Nicholas Perrin's dissertation on "Thomas and Tatian" affirms that the second century Syrian setting is the best context for the Gospel of Thomas. He cites Thomas' interest in protology (Genesis creation stories), rejection of the world, asceticism, and Thomas' role in Syrian Christian tradition. He then builds a case for Thomas' dependence upon the Diatessaron. This makes the year 173 CE as the earliest possible date for the Gospel of Thomas.

                      B. Contemporary with the Synoptic gospels. Helmut Koester states that the Gospel of Thomas evolved independently of Synoptics since it is clearly not dependent on any one particular gospel. Koester sees Thomas' Gospel as parallel in development to Q. The Gospel of Thomas' independence can also be seen from the fact that the Gospel Thomas' structure shows no similarity to the canonical gospels. He also contends that Thomas' undeveloped theology points to it being a separate source. Stephen J. Patterson, a pupil of Koester's, develops this theory further and posits a date for Thomas' Gospel "in the vicinity of 70-80 CE".  Skinner states that this is the leading view of North American scholars.

                      C. Prior to Mark. Stevan Davies is the leading proponent of this theory which is found in his book <<The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom>> (1983/2005). Depending on form and redaction criticism, Davies has also built a case for Mark making use of Thomas' Gospel.  Thomas' lack of organization, its sayings being less redacted than Q, and the early Greek Oxyrhynchus fragments all suggest that Thomas is indeed very early, between 50 and 70 CE.

                      D. Various strata in Thomas' Gospel belong to different periods. Uwe-Karsten Plisch, a German scholar born in Wittenburg, presents in his commentary on the Gospel of Thomas the idea that "a sapiential sayings collection is rather timeless" and that because the sayings are so disparate they must come from different time periods from very early to late. April DeConick, who receives high praise from Skinner for her scholarship, argues that the Gospel of Thomas is a "rolling corpus" developing over the first and second centuries of the Common Era. She posits that the initial apocalyptic "kernel" of Thomas dates to 30-50 CE; the second layer comes during Christian leadership struggles between 50 and 60 CE; the third layer is mystical in focus, emerging between 60-100 CE; and a fourth and final layer adds on both hermetic and encratic (extreme asceticism) sayings and the introduction (the incipit and L1), dating 80-120 CE.

      Skinner concludes that scholars are nowhere near a consensus as to the dating of the Gospel of Thomas.

      Part One of Three ends here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      Tim Staker

      Chaplain

      Indianapolis, IN

    • Judy Redman
      Thanks, Tim, I have been expecting my copy to arrive, and your review prompted me to check my pre-order to see when I could expect it. The Book Depository
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 3, 2012
      • 0 Attachment

        Thanks, Tim,

         

        I have been expecting my copy to arrive, and your review prompted me to check my pre-order to see when I could expect it. The Book Depository still tells me that the book has not yet been published, so I contacted them to ask why. I am surprised because other books that I’ve pre-ordered from them have arrived before I expected them. Have other list members pre-ordered Chris’ book and if so, have you received your copies yet?

         

        Judy

         

        --

        Judy Redman
        PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
        University of New England
        Armidale 2351 Australia
        ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
        mob: 0437 044 579
        web:  http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
        email:  jredman2@...
         

      • Mark Goodacre
        I have my copy on my desk. It arrived a good three or four weeks ago. Mind you, it came straight from the publisher so it may not have reached the shops yet.
        Message 3 of 6 , Apr 3, 2012
        • 0 Attachment
          I have my copy on my desk.  It arrived a good three or four weeks ago.  Mind you, it came straight from the publisher so it may not have reached the shops yet. 

          By the way, many thanks for your comments on Simon Gathercole's book, Judy.

          All best
          Mark

          --
          Mark Goodacre
          Duke University
          Department of Religion
          Gray Building / Box 90964
          Durham, NC 27708-0964    USA
          Phone: 919-660-3503        Fax: 919-660-3530

          http://www.markgoodacre.org



        • Ian Brown
          Judy, I also have mine which arrived last week via Amazon.com. It was only $6 plus shipping (which was $8, living in Canada has its drawbacks). ian brown
          Message 4 of 6 , Apr 3, 2012
          • 0 Attachment
            Judy,

            I also have mine which arrived last week via Amazon.com. It was only $6 plus shipping (which was $8, living in Canada has its drawbacks).

            ian brown


          • Andrew Bernhard
            For what it’s worth, my copy came from Amazon yesterday. Andrew From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ian Brown Sent:
            Message 5 of 6 , Apr 3, 2012
            • 0 Attachment

              For what it’s worth, my copy came from Amazon yesterday.

               

              Andrew

               

               

              From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ian Brown
              Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 1:49 PM
              To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [GTh] review of WATSA booklet on Thomas, part 1 of 3

               

               

              Judy,

               

              I also have mine which arrived last week via Amazon.com. It was only $6 plus shipping (which was $8, living in Canada has its drawbacks).

               

              ian brown

               

            • Judy Redman
              The Book Depository has just told me that I have ordered the *US* edition of WATSA Thomas which is not due to be published until 1 May!! I was offered a
              Message 6 of 6 , Apr 4, 2012
              • 0 Attachment

                The Book Depository has just told me that I have ordered the *US* edition of WATSA Thomas which is not due to be published until 1 May!! I was offered a refund, so I think I might just take that and order through Amazon or the publisher. L I have bought dozens of books through them in the past and they’ve always been very reliable and prompt, not to mention providing free postage.

                 

                 

                Judy

                 

                --

                Judy Redman
                PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
                University of New England
                Armidale 2351 Australia
                ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
                mob: 0437 044 579
                web:  http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
                email:  jredman2@...
                 

                 

                From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Andrew Bernhard
                Sent: Wednesday, 4 April 2012 2:34 PM
                To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: RE: [GTh] review of WATSA booklet on Thomas, part 1 of 3

                 

                 

                For what it’s worth, my copy came from Amazon yesterday.

                 

                Andrew

                 

                 

                From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ian Brown
                Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 1:49 PM
                To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [GTh] review of WATSA booklet on Thomas, part 1 of 3

                 

                 

                Judy,

                 

                I also have mine which arrived last week via Amazon.com. It was only $6 plus shipping (which was $8, living in Canada has its drawbacks).

                 

                ian brown

                 

              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.