The gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom
I'd like to announce a new edition of The Gospel of Thomas and
Christian Wisdom by Stevan Davies. (Incidentally, Steve is the
list-owner though he doesn't post here any more.) This second edition
contains the complete text of the 1983 GTCW, along with an additional
essay on the possibility of Thomas having been used as an oracles
text. Steve has also contributed a riveting new forty-two page
introduction. The new intro contains an extensive examination of
Thomas' independence from the synoptics, including a devastating
attack on Meier's dependency arguments.
It is available from Amazon,
[who are listing it as slow availability at the moment]
Barnes and Nobles.com
[who will ship within 2-3 days]
or through amazon.co.uk and most of the international amazons.
Here's the blurb:
Discovered in Egypt in 1945 as part of the Nag Hammadi Library, the
Gospel of Thomas was long considered irrelevant to the study of Jesus'
teachings. Stevan Davies' influential The Gospel of Thomas and
Christian Wisdom overturned this view, and enabled the Gospel of
Thomas to be taken seriously as a source for the earliest
Christianity. This Bardic Press edition brings a classic work of
accessible scholarshp back into print. A entirely new forty page
introduction discusses recent developments in scholarship, looks at
Thomas' independence from the New Testament gospels, discusses the
role of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Thomas, and offers a variety
of valuable insights. A fascinating additional essay speculates that
Thomas may have been used as an oracle text in a similar way to the I
Published January 2005 by Bardic Press. Softcover, 256 pages, ISBN
"... may well be the best yet written on the theology of Thomas..."
"... nobody has done it better than he has."
John Dominic Crossan, author of The Historical Jesus and The Birth of
"The most original, challenging, and persuasive book about the Gospel
of Thomas that I have ever seen."
Morton Smith, author of Jesus the Magician and The Secret Gospel
"The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom... first raised my interest
in this debated writing."
Risto Uro, author of Thomas: Seeking the Historical Context of the
Gospel of Thomas
- Andrew Smith of Bardic Press offered the publisher's blurb for a 2nd edition
of S. Davies' book:
| A fascinating additional essay speculates that Thomas
| may have been used as an oracle text in a similar way
| to the I Ching.
...but T. Saunders wrote:
| If Davies is correct about the link of Thomas to the
| I-Ching, and I think he is more than he knows, ...
("Response to Karl"); and:
| If the Gthom has some relationship to the concepts
| of Oriental thought, like the I-Ching...
("112 in Thomas").
Don't these represent a willful misreading of what seems to be a simple
reference to the possibility that an individual GTh saying may have been
randomly chosen, by some users at some times, to shed light on a given
question or problem? I see no implication that Davies "links" GTh to the
structure or tradition of the Yi Jing, or that anyone has.
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> Andrew Smith of Bardic Press offered the publisher's blurb for a 2ndedition
> of S. Davies' book:been
> | [...]
> | A fascinating additional essay speculates that Thomas
> | may have been used as an oracle text in a similar way
> | to the I Ching.
> ...but T. Saunders wrote:
> | If Davies is correct about the link of Thomas to the
> | I-Ching, and I think he is more than he knows, ...
> ("Response to Karl"); and:
> | If the Gthom has some relationship to the concepts
> | of Oriental thought, like the I-Ching...
> ("112 in Thomas").
> Don't these represent a willful misreading of what seems to be a simple
> reference to the possibility that an individual GTh saying may have
> randomly chosen, by some users at some times, to shed light on a giventhe
> question or problem? I see no implication that Davies "links" GTh to
> structure or tradition of the Yi Jing, or that anyone has.Steve's argument in this essay is that Thomas' lack of order and lack
of coherence allows him to compare it to oracle texts *such as* the I
Ching. He compares it more specifically to the Homer Oracle, an
oracular text that was extracted from the Iliad and Odyssey. "Although
the dating of magical papyri is uncertain, it is likely that PGM VII
was in circulation in Egypt during a period roughly comparable to the
period of circulation of the Oxyrhynchus Thomas papyri, i.e. in the
third century C.E.. If nothing else the Homer Oracle guarantees that
oracle lists for random divination circulated in Egypt in manuscript
form and that they contained enigmatic sentences.... To make use of
the oracle a client would throw three dice, or one die three times,
each die containing six numbers."
In the new intro, Steve writes "In addition to this new introduction,
the Bardic Press edition of The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom
contains an essay entitled "Does the Gospel of Thomas Have Meaning?"
that I wrote for the annual convention of the Society of Biblical
Literature. In it I suggest that Thomas may have been used as a
divination text in ancient times. I continue to think that's a
possibility, but it is a long way from a certainty."
Although Steve doesn't mention it in this essay, I seem to recall that
Metzger mentioned that some early Christian MSs showed signs of being
used for divination. Does anyone recall this?