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earliest Thomas reference ?

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  • sarban
    In the light of Perrin s claim that the Gospel of Thomas is based on the Diatessaron (composed 172 or slightly later). I have been trying to find our earliest
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 3, 2007
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      In the light of Perrin's claim that the Gospel of Thomas is based on
      the Diatessaron (composed 172 or slightly later). I have been trying to
      find our earliest references to Thomas.

      What may be our earliest evidence is referred to in Origen's
      'Contra Celsum' book 8.

      <QUOTE>
      Celsus goes on to say: "That I may give a true representation of their faith, I will use their own words, as given in what is called A Heavenly Dialogue: 'If the Son is mightier than God, and the Son of man is Lord over Him, who else than the Son can be Lord over that God who is the ruler over all things? How comes it, that while so many go about the well, no one goes down into it? Why art thou afraid when thou hast gone so far on the way? Answer: Thou art mistaken, for I lack neither courage nor weapons.' Is it not evident, then, that their views are precisely such as I have described them to be? They suppose that another God, who is above the heavens, is the Father of him whom with one accord they honour, that they may honour this Son of man alone, whom they exalt under the form and name of the great God, and whom they assert to be stronger than God, who rules the world, and that he rules over Him. And hence that maxim of theirs, `It is impossible to serve two masters, 'is maintained for the purpose of keeping up the party who are on the side of this Lord."
      </QUOTE>

      Celsus quotes "How comes it, that while so many go about the well, no one goes down into it?" from an otherwise unknown work,
      clearly of a full-blown gnostic nature; which is called 'A Heavenly
      Dialogue'

      This has an obvious similarity to Thomas saying 74
      <QUOTE>He said, "O Lord, there are many around
      the well,but there is no-0ne in the well." </QUOTE>

      Unless both are using an unknown common source one must be
      dependant on the other.

      Given the full blown nature of the Gnosticism of 'A Heavenly Dialogue'
      and the much more muted Gnosticism of Thomas, it seems much
      more likely that the Dialogue is borrowing from Thomas thn vice versa.

      (Celsus' main source for Gnostic teaching seems to be the Ophites
      who are quite likely the authors of 'A Heavenly Dialogue'. We know
      from Hippolytus that the closely related Naassenes made vigorous
      use of the Gospel of Thomas).

      The date of Celsus is uncertain (c 180) and the date of 'A Heavenly
      Dialogue even more so. (Anywhere in the 3rd quarter of the 2nd
      century might be defended.) However it would seem likely that if
      Thomas is based on the Diatessaron then it would have been written
      too late for the author of 'A Heavenly Dialogue', to have been able to
      make use of it.

      Andrew Criddle
      ............................................................

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Andrew Bernhard
      Andrew- The earliest mention of the Gospel of Thomas by name is in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies. Saying 2 is quoted twice by Clement of Alexandria in
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 4, 2007
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        Andrew-

        The earliest mention of the Gospel of Thomas by name is in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies.

        Saying 2 is quoted twice by Clement of Alexandria in the Stromateis, but it is ascribed to the Gospel of the Hebrews.

        2 Clement 12.2 (I believe) is parallel to Saying 22 (I believe).

        Both these near verbatim parallels can also be dated to the late second century.

        -Andrew (Bernhard)

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • jmgcormier
        Andrew … you write: In the light of Perrin s claim that the Gospel of Thomas is based on the Diatessaron (composed 172 or slightly later). I have been
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 15, 2007
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          Andrew … you write:

          "In the light of Perrin's claim that the Gospel of Thomas is based on
          the Diatessaron (composed 172 or slightly later). I have been trying
          to find our earliest references to Thomas. What may be our earliest
          evidence is referred to in Origen's' Contra Celsum' book 8."

          (A very interesting quote follows, as does an added reference from
          Andrew
          Bernhard.)

          Your "ancestral dependency" approach to discovering Thomas is very
          interesting, but I have to wonder how one gets around the possible
          mixed bloodline of a text (such as that of Thomas) or parts of it
          which may have been "begged, borrowed or plagiarized" from a
          secondary source and freely used in it. (This, of course, not being
          different from the 4 evangilists). For example, there are scores of
          Rabbinical Sayings, literary peculiarities and even fantasy verses
          used in the NT and Thomas which are not necessarily of Jesus or of
          the attributed author's own pen.

          Notwithstanding all of the "all those who have ears etc etc", note,
          for example,

          Thomas 17 (and say) 1 Corinthians 2:9 "… what no hand has touched
          and what has never occurred to the human mind."

          Thomas 102 (as also used in Matt 23:13 and Luke 11:52) likely
          originated with the Greek fable writer Aesop (mid 6th century BC) …
          as well as (ditto) Thomas #109 / Luke 4:23 ("Physician heal
          thyself" – taken from Aesop's the Quack Frog), and Matt. 7:15 ("The
          wolf in sheep's clothing") etc.

          In fact, the saying "know thyself" (Thomas #3 / # 67) falls in this
          same category of maxims as it is clearly inspired from the Oracle at
          Delphi ... again long before Jesus was even born.

          So, in using such a research method, where do we draw the line on
          text dependency ???? A better case in point (although not used in
          Thomas) … is the Gospel of John. If pushed to extreme, how do we
          come to conclude that it was written c. 100 C.E. when its opening
          lines (Jn 1, 1- etc) are actually taken from the Vedas, a Hindu text
          usually dated at appx 1500 BCE ???? (Vagvisarga TMB,XX,14,2) … "In
          the beginning was Brahman, with whom was Vak or the word … and the
          word is Brahman …"

          Suspecting that you are perhaps more so interested in the references
          to the Gospel of Thomas mentioned in early text (as opposed to
          actual or near quotes found in such texts) I might contribute (if
          useful) that Clement of Alexandria (150 – 211 C.E.) produced a now
          lost book called Hypotyposis which seemingly contained "secret
          teachings" (wow!) taught by Jesus to some of his apostles following
          his resurrection. The details of the secret teachings referred to by
          him in his Hypotyposes, however, are not currently known to us
          (Andrew Bernhard might clarify the detail of this), but depending on
          how young Clement was when he wrote his Hypotyposis, his quotes
          could in fact pre-date Origen's Contra Celsum as your candidate
          for "earliest sourcer" re Thomas … i.e. pre 172 CE

          By the way, in which of his books does Perrin draw his thesis about
          the Diatessaron ??????

          Cheers !

          Maurice Cormier
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