Re: [GTh] Q & Thomas: Teaser Tracts?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirby" <kirby@...>
Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2002 5:44 AM
Subject: [GTh] Q & Thomas: Teaser Tracts?
> This note was originally posted to XTalk and has been posted to GThomas as
> well at the request of Mike Grondin. Please feel free to respond in
I responded on XTalk and will also here.
> I have just finished reading Philip Jenkins's _Hidden Gospels_. Most of
> book is dedicated to delineating the mythic fascination with the quest for
> uncovering previously unknown gospels and exterminated heresies. This is
> interesting in its own right, even though it constitutes a sort of
> meta-scholarship rather than a discussion of the evidence proper
> early Christian history. However, there is one extract in which Jenkins
> proposes a theory that would have consequences for our understanding of
> sources concerning Jesus and the early church, the stated subject of this
> list. So I thought it would be appropriate to reproduce this passage for
> the comments of the knowledgeable participants in this discussion group.
> It has often been noted that the reconstructed Q and the Gospel of Thomas
> not have anything to say about the atoning nature of the death of Jesus
> his subsequent resurrection. Rather, the focus is on the sayings of Jesus
> in these works. Assuming the existence of Q and an early date for Thomas,
> which is certainly an issue itself, this has led some to theorize that the
> earliest Jesus movement did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus but
> rather remembered him as a wisdom sage and that the idea of a saving death
> and resurrection developed as the church attracted Hellenistic
> This is the basic theory presented by Burton Mack and others.
> Against this conclusion, Jenkins proposes a different theory to explain
> silence of Q & Thomas on the death or resurrection of Jesus. I would like
> to know what the list members think of his proposal, and so I will quote
> although I hope I have not gone too far beyond fair use.
I want to take time to read your post before commenting further but there is
one small detail about "sayings" anthologies like putative Q and Thomas
regarding the "atoning death" and "resurrection" material. Wisdom sayings
are not normally expressed after death. There is a possibility that the
"Jesus saids..." that were written down, perhaps by Matthew if Papias is to
be believed, may have been written down when Jesus was STILL ALIVE and was
the stemma for later translated versions reconstructed in "Q" and in the
GoT. In short, Q and Thomas have no resurrection stuff simply because Jesus
had not yet died.
- Peter Kirby wrote:
> This note was originally posted to XTalk and has been posted to GThomas asThe Jenkins thesis is relevant to our list, hence my request to Peter that
> well at the request of Mike Grondin.
his note be posted here, but I admit to not knowiing much about the book at
the time, and I would certainly join Rick and Bill (who responded on the
XTalk list in the same vein as Rick) in asserting that the Jenkins thesis is
wholly implausible, and derives from the desire of a conservative Xian to
co-opt Thomas (and Q), rather than from any attempt at serious scholarship.
Predictably, it gets a positive notice from N.T. Wright, the anti-Q bastion
of Xian orthodoxy. From what I read in the reviews, the book exhibits a
curiously schizophrenic attitude.You've heard of "If you can't beat 'em,
join 'em" (one meaning being: if you can't argue successfully against a
position, then try to co-opt it by showing that it's no different from your
own)? Well, Jenkins evidently tries to do both. In one place he writes:
"There never was a "Q community" or a group of "Thomas people" distinct from
mainstream Jesus Way, that is, the incipient Christian Church."
Thus making the Alexandrian Archbishop Athanasius and other church fathers
who specifically excluded the Gospel of Thomas from approved readings out to
be simpletons - for they evidently didn't realize what Jenkins does, namely
that the GTh was merely an introductory volume to orthodox Xianity, and had
no ideas of its own distinct from that. How could those early church writers
have been so mistaken about the nature of Thomas? Or is it rather that
Jenkins is mistaken, and that his co-opting ploy is just, well, a ploy?
Mt. Clemens, MI