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Dating Thomas by Paul's usage

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  • Jeff and Rosie Fyffe
    Gentlemen, Paul s teaching about circumcision in no particular order. Since I don t know the proper etiquette concerning verses, I will include the text. Rom
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 27, 2001
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      Gentlemen,
      Paul's teaching about circumcision in no particular order. Since I don't know the proper etiquette concerning verses, I will include the text.
      Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter;
      1 Cor 7:19(a) Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing,
      Gal 6:15 for neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
      Phil 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.
      Col 3:11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.

      Gospel of Thomas 53 His disciples said to him, "is circumcision useful or not?" He said to them, "If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in the spirit has become profitable in every respect.

      What Paul taught mirrors rather closely this particular Thomasine saying.

      In Corinth, a dispute over food laws, Jewish food laws, was an issue. 1 Cor 10:27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience sake. Chapter 8 of 1 Cor is devoted entirely to food sacrificed to idols.

      Thomas 14:2 "When you go into any region and walk about the countryside, when people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them. After all, what goes into you mouth will not defile you." Interestingly enough Mark 7:15-16 says; there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

      Metaphysical food? 1 Cor 10:3-4 and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
      Thomas 13 Jesus said, " I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended.

      To me at least the trajectory of both sayings is too similar to ignore.

      Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
      Thomas 22 Jesus said to them, "When you make two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in the place of one eye, and hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, and image in place of an image, then you will enter (the kingdom)."
      The radical ideal of there being no distinguishing characteristic in believers before God is easily read in both Thomas and Paul. Paul's casual use of the part of the saying that buttresses his argument, and dismissal of the rest is typically Pauline.
      Gal 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
      Thomas 25 Jesus said, "Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye.
      The similarities are broad, even though what Paul has written resembles more closely Matt 19:19. I tend to believe all three sayings are interpretations from the Common Sayings Tradition influenced by Lev 19:18.
      The entire Gospel of Thomas presents Jesus as "Wisdom", 1 Cor 1:24 does so as well.

      The above is a compelling argument for a mid first century document very similar to what we know as the Gospel of Thomas.

      Jeffrey Fyffe


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    • Michael Grondin
      ... Or - Thomas mirrors rather closely (some of) what Paul taught (assuming for the sake of argument that they re as close as you say). There s the rub. Which
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 27, 2001
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        Jeffrey Fyffe wrote:
        >What Paul taught mirrors rather closely this particular Thomasine saying.

        Or - Thomas mirrors rather closely (some of) what Paul taught (assuming for
        the sake of argument that they're as close as you say). There's the rub.
        Which was prior to which? (I say this not becuz I'm a late-dater - I'm not
        - but becuz even if the passages were identical, we couldn't say which came
        first. I suspect you may be falling prey to the same tendency found in
        late-daters, namely that of subtly assuming what's to be proven.)

        >To me at least the trajectory of both sayings [13 & 14:2] is too similar
        to ignore.

        I myself see some similarities, some differences, and no clear trajectory,
        in your examples. Since, IMO, the passages don't really speak for
        themselves, I'd like to see more detailed analysis (as in Dave Hindley's
        post).

        > The radical ideal of there being no distinguishing characteristic in
        believers
        > before God is easily read in both Thomas and Paul. Paul's casual use of the
        > part of the saying that buttresses his argument, and dismissal of the
        rest is
        > typically Pauline.

        But wasn't this "radical ideal" part and parcel of orthodox practice from
        the beginning? What need to postulate a written source? And if Paul's
        tendency is as you say (which I think it is, BTW), how can we can we ever
        hope to distinguish what's under his "casual use" of sources?

        > The entire Gospel of Thomas presents Jesus as "Wisdom", 1 Cor 1:24 does
        so as well.

        I think I disagree with both parts of this. As to the first part, in spite
        of Steve Davies having written a fine book with that as thesis ("The Gospel
        of Thomas and Christan Wisdom"), the word 'wisdom' ('sophia') appears not
        once in GTh, and Steve's own later views seem to have changed. As to the
        second part, Paul seems to be trying to redefine 'wisdom' more than
        anything else. In fact, he favorably contrasts what he calls 'foolishness'
        with 'human wisdom'. What I think he was doing in that passage was very
        similar to what Clement did with 'gnosis' - embrace it, but only on his own
        terms - a sort of intellectual bear-hug that squeezed the life out of the
        thing. As a result, 'gnosis' and 'wisdom' come out quite differently than
        they went in.

        I admit to not previously having seen much comparison of Thomas to Paul, so
        perhaps it's a matter of its unfamiliarity undercutting its intuitive
        plausibility for me at the moment. It certainly gives the late-daters a
        taste of their own medicine, so to speak, but I'm afraid I see as little
        solid evidence for a pre-Paul Thomas as I do for a post-Luke Thomas. And
        just to complicate matters, the likely development of Thomas over time
        would probably have resulted in bringing in elements from all over the
        place. Nevertheless, I hope you'll respond to some of these points,
        particularly the issue of how one would determine in which direction a
        supposed dependency actually worked. To play devil's advocate - why not
        "Dating Thomas by its usage of Paul"?

        Regards,
        Mike
      • Jeff and Rosie Fyffe
        Gentlemen, Michael has posed significant questions. I will attempt to respond as I am able. To answer all may take some time. As to the question concerning
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 28, 2001
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          Gentlemen,
          Michael has posed significant questions. I will attempt to respond as I am able. To answer all may take some time.
          As to the question concerning the radical concept of equality in the church, IMO, the orthodoxy of first century Christianity was Jewish in nature. I would refer you to Alan F. Segal's book Paul the Convert for a more detailed discussion of this matter. Consider also that Paul continually defends himself against the "Judaising" influence in the comminutes that he founded.
          The last question pertained to dating Thomas by its usage of Paul. Very good point. I had failed to take that into consideration. I would presume to date Thomas by Paul's usage upon 1 Cor 2:9-10(a). This statement presupposed a written source for the material that Paul quotes. Since Thomas 17 and the Cor passage are so similar, I discount the possible Isaiah exegesis.
          Respectfully Jeffrey Fyffe


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        • mgrondin@tir.com
          ... True enough, there s a significant difference between the Isaiah passage and 1 Cor 2:9, but there s also a significant difference between Th 17 and 1 Cor
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 28, 2001
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            --- Jeff wrote:
            > I would presume to date Thomas by Paul's usage upon 1 Cor
            > 2:9-10(a). This statement presupposed a written source for the
            > material that Paul quotes. Since Thomas 17 and the Cor passage
            > are so similar, I discount the possible Isaiah exegesis.

            True enough, there's a significant difference between the Isaiah
            passage and 1 Cor 2:9, but there's also a significant difference
            between Th 17 and 1 Cor 2:9. Paul may have been quoting from a
            source not now extant, such as the Apocalypse of Elijah, or some
            such. Certainly, if Paul had been familiar with Th 17, it would
            seem that he would have used the form "I have given you..."
            rather than the impersonal form. Also, of course, he includes
            an ending not found in Th 17. All of this makes for a weak case,
            IMO. (ref: Meyer's notes on Th 17.)

            Mike
          • Rick Hubbard
            It seems to me that the issue of dating GThom was the subject of a very lively discussion a year or so ago. It might be worthwhile to investigate the
            Message 5 of 8 , Mar 28, 2001
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              It seems to me that the issue of "dating" GThom was the subject of a very
              lively discussion a year or so ago. It might be worthwhile to investigate
              the archives to retrieve some of that correspondence.

              Nevertheless, there is no serious dispute that the authentic Pauline
              correspondence was composed in the mid-first century. By contrast, there
              seems to be no serious scholarly consensus about the date of composition for
              GThom. There's no point in rehearsing the entire debate over the GThom
              dating controversy except to say, in a very general fashion, that some
              people argue that GThom should be dated "early" while others favor a "late"
              date. As an alternative there are persuasive arguments that suggest that
              GThom "evolved" over time into the document that we now have at hand (i.e.,
              NHL Codex II,2).

              The invocation of evidence that buttresses arguments for some literary or
              conceptual relationship between GThom and the Pauline letters seems to
              presuppose that GThom existed in its present form prior to the time Paul
              wrote his letters. The validity of that presupposition has not been
              established with any certainty, as a survey of recent literature clearly
              demonstrates. Moreover, there seems to be some fundamental problems with the
              identity of the so-called parallels themselves, not the least of which is
              that the literary relationships exist most clearly only in English
              translations. Paul wrote in Greek, while the "textus receptus" of GThom is
              in Coptic. It is very difficult, IMO, to establish direct literary
              dependence of one on the other because of this.

              But let's assume however, that these difficulties are ignored, and that
              there is some actual relationship between the documents under discussion. Is
              it not equally plausible that one could promote the hypothesis that the
              author of GThom used the Pauline letters as a source?

              Rick Hubbard
              Humble Maine Woodsman
            • Jack Kilmon
              ... From: Rick Hubbard To: Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2001 3:06 PM Subject: RE: [gthom] Dating Thomas by
              Message 6 of 8 , Mar 29, 2001
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                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@...>
                To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2001 3:06 PM
                Subject: RE: [gthom] Dating Thomas by Paul's usage



                >
                > But let's assume however, that these difficulties are ignored, and that
                > there is some actual relationship between the documents under discussion.
                Is
                > it not equally plausible that one could promote the hypothesis that the
                > author of GThom used the Pauline letters as a source?

                That Paul may have used source material that is also preserved in GoT is
                likely but the Markan GoT quotes are much more telling. In Mark,
                Thomas logia are redacted and combined and sport Aramaisms not
                as easily discernible in the Coptic rescension which is, after all, a
                translation
                of an earlier Greek text. There are several possibilities. Mark used
                a very early rescension of the GoT as a source (~65-70 CE) or the GoT
                was part of the sayings "notes" of Mark that the patristics claim he took
                to Alexandria to complete his gospel. Mark's "sayings notes" (perhaps
                taken down from Simon/Kefa's reminiscences) may have taken on a life
                its own. The attribution to Thomas, like the attributions of the other NT
                works,
                means nothing.

                Jack
              • kirk wilson
                Mark s sayings notes (perhaps ... -wrote Jack Jack, are you saying that Peter may have been the author of Thomas? Where can I go to learn more about this?
                Message 7 of 8 , Mar 29, 2001
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                  Mark's "sayings notes" (perhaps
                  >taken down from Simon/Kefa's reminiscences) may have taken on a life
                  >its own. The attribution to Thomas, like the attributions of the other NT
                  >works,
                  >means nothing.
                  -wrote Jack

                  Jack, are you saying that Peter may have been the 'author' of Thomas? Where
                  can I go to learn more about this?

                  Kirk Sheldon Wilson
                  aka Timbrewolf
                • Jack Kilmon
                  ... From: kirk wilson To: Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2001 9:58 AM Subject: Re: [gthom] Dating Thomas by
                  Message 8 of 8 , Mar 29, 2001
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                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "kirk wilson" <timbrewolf@...>
                    To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2001 9:58 AM
                    Subject: Re: [gthom] Dating Thomas by Paul's usage


                    > Mark's "sayings notes" (perhaps
                    > >taken down from Simon/Kefa's reminiscences) may have taken on a life
                    > >its own. The attribution to Thomas, like the attributions of the other
                    NT
                    > >works,
                    > >means nothing.
                    > -wrote Jack
                    >
                    > Jack, are you saying that Peter may have been the 'author' of Thomas?
                    Where
                    > can I go to learn more about this?

                    It had long been held by many scholars that the Gospel of Mark constituted
                    the "memoirs" of Peter as cited by some of the patristics. GMark, however,
                    is very
                    polemical to the disciples and family and hence a dichotomy existed. It
                    makes
                    more sense that the "reminiscences" of Peter/Kefa to Mark (whom Peter called
                    his "son) were remembered apophthegms and aphorisms of Jesus which later
                    served
                    as source material for the completed Gospel, not necessarily authored by THE
                    John Mark who took the notes.

                    First you may want to read the references to Mark in Eusebius and also
                    by Clement of Alexandria. and by Origen and Jerome.

                    I do not, however, think you will find references to GoT being authored by
                    Peter. It is only my position that the GoT MIGHT have had its origins in the
                    notes of Mark accounting for the GoT parallels in Mark.


                    Jack
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