(Daniel C. Scavone)
> > Belated thanks, Paul.
> > Any thoughts from the list on Eusebius' story of the letters of Jesus
> > Abgar of Edessa?
> > Thomas was supposedly commissioned by Jesus to send a missionary
> > (Thaddaeus or Addai) to convert & heal Abgar.
> I think it is much like Thomas Logion 12. The Jesus Seminar thought it
> not original to Jesus but lo and behold, James/Yaqub does appear "out of
> nowhere" to become the leader of the group.
> Eusebius was pretty anal retentive about 4th century Dan Browns. He says
> the correspondence was extant at the time and I believe him.
Hi Daniel and Jack!
Who in the world is Dan Brown? What does anal retentive mean? It sounds
like a slam against the character of Eusebius, but in what sense is his
character being denigrated?
According to Eusebius (History, Part I, Section 13), the letter from Abgar
of Edessa to Jesus thusly began, "Abgar Uchama the Toparch to Jesus, who has
appeared as a gracious savior in the region of Jerusalem--greeting."
What is particularly significant here is that it is apparently assumed that
Jersualem had been the headquarters for Jesus during his ministry period.
This is inconsistent with the Synoptic gospels, where Jesus spends almost
all of his time in Galilee and, outside of his childhood, makes only one
trip to Jerusalem--a trip that ends in death after only about a week there.
This is, though, consistent with the Gospel of John, where most of the
action takes place in Jerusalem and its suburb of Bethany during festivals.
Further, according to this gospel, Jesus, while not in Jerusalem for a
festival, split his time between Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and Perea..
This Johannine perspective appears to be paralleled in Acts--where Luke
portrays Jerusalem as having a large Christian community and as being the
headquaters for the Christian movement, with related much smaller Christian
communities elsewhere in Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
The implication: Jerusalem, at least during festivals, was the headquarters
for Jesus, with him splitting the rest of his time primarily between Judea,
Samaria and Galilee. As a result, after his death and for many years
thereafter, the movement founded by him was centered in Jerusalem, with
scattered outposts elsewhere in Judea and in Samaria and Galilee.
Perhaps significantly, the Gospel of Thomas appears to be more supportive of
the Johannine perspective than the Synoptic perspective. Note these three
1. There is no mention of Galilee anywhere in this gospel
2. In Saying 60, Jesus and his disciples are in Samaria, apparently very
close to its border with Judea
3. In Saying 71, Jesus appears to be in Jerusalem.
Jack, your reference to Saying 12 is relevant to this topic.
In it, Jesus tells his disciples to go to James the Just when he is gone.
Indeed, James the Just, a brother of Jesus, did take over the leadership of
the Jesus movement after the crucifixion.
What is significant is that James was headquartered in Jerusalem. This is
where, according to Paul, he met James. This is where, according to Luke,
James presided over a meeting of the Jesus movement regarding whether
Gentiles need to obey the Law. This is where, according to Josephus, James
was arrested and executed.
If, as suggested in the letter of Agbar and the gospel of John, Jerusalem
was the headquarters for Jesus, at least during festivals, it is
understandable as to why his successor, James, would make Jerusalem his
But if, as suggested in the Synoptic gospels, Galilee was where Jesus
conducted his ministry, then it is not understandable as to why his
successor would make Jerusalem his headquarters.
Footnote: I find it remarkable that most scholars apparently assume the
validity of the Synoptic portrayal Jesus being a peasant/artisan conducting
a Galilean-centered ministry when analyzing and interpreting Thomas despite
Thomas nowhere indicating that Jesus was a peasant/artisan and despite
Galilee never being mentioned in Thomas.
As a result, the normal scholarly procedure seems to be to search for an
allegedly "early" layer of material in Thomas reflecting what a Galilean
peasant/artisan might say, while anything which portrays an urbane, educated
and philosophical Jesus is consigned to postulated later strata.
Many scholars go beyond this, linking such a postulated "early " stratum in
Thomas to a postulated early stratum in the strictly hypothetical Q, and
speaking of this combined allegedly early material as a North Galilean
Is this really the correct way to approach Thomas or is it a fundamentally
flawed approach that engages in wild speculation and grossly misrepresents
history? Whatever happened to the maxim of letting a text speak for itself?
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