Re: [GTh] Hellenist Material in Thomas
- Ron McCann asks, "Frank, not to deprecate the detailed work you have
done here- your posts always get me thinking and they seem meticulously
researched and reasoned- but are you not trying to explain-away the
presence in Thomas of Neo-Platonist, Platonic and Philonic thoughts and
concepts buy giving James a Hellenist pedigree and suggesting that this
material arrived in Thomas from the James Hellenistic crowd?"
Ron, whatever my motivations, both conscious and unconscious, for
maintaining that James had been a Hellenist, the bottom line is that I
have presented evidence supporting this thesis and the validity of this
thesis, IMO, can be determined only on the basis of the evidence.
Ron, you continue, "Are you not perhaps giving the James the Righteous
logion more credibility than it deserves- especially when it is a
commonplace that such claims and appeals to authority, provenance and
pedigree were an almost universal tool for trying to add status and
credibility to ones own writings in those times?"
IMO, it is unlikely that I am giving this logion more credibility that
it deserves because the fact that the Thomas group chose James rather
than, say, Peter or John, to be their authority figure is a strong
indication that, they believed, the thought of James was the acorn from
which the tree of their thought arose.
Ron, you next write, "Would it not be a lot simpler and more economical
to just to treat the logion in just that way, and simply posit that an
very early "core" Thomas was redacted and brought into it's final,
expanded and Greek form in some Hellenized centre such as Alexandria,
say about 110 CE? And that some of Philo's and Greek Neo-Platonist
"think", and maybe even some Gnostic notions, got added there and then?
And further, since Thomas is obviously such an eclectic work, that some
of the then-extant Gospels were also THEN raided, adding further
Jesus-sayings to those sayings of Jesus that were originally present and
found in the more ancient Thomas core?"
This scenario might be simpler and more economical, but it flies in the
face of the evidence.
For example, in this scenario, in the latest stage, there is the raiding
of the then-extant Gospels for further Jesus-sayings.
If so, then there should be evidence of a "surge" in additions of
parallels to other gospels in the latest stage of the development of
However, as we shall now see, the opposite appears to be the case.
On July 26th, I wrote post #7794. See:
One section of it regards 17 sayings which appear to show accretory
development. With 14 of these 17 sayings, the accretions (as one would
expect) have apparently been added at the ends of the sayings. So, with
a saying that has two units, the first will be the original unit and the
second will be a later accretion. Again, with a saying that has three
units, the first will be the original unit, the second will be the later
first accretion to it and the third will be the even later second
accretion to it. So, there is a high probability that the later
accretions have been properly identified for these sayings.
The other three appear to have an unconventional mode of accretion,
which greatly increases the likelihood that, with one or more of them,
the later accretions have not been properly identified.
The units within these 17 sayings fall into three categories:
1. the earliest units (which are labelled "Pre-Hellenist")
2. a later group of units (which are labelled "Hellenist")
3. a yet later group of units (which are labelled "Post-Hellenist).
Ron, this is latest group of units--the so-called "Post-Hellenist"
11:3-4 "(3) In the days when you consumed what is dead, you make it what
is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? (4)
One the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two,
what will you do?"
13:6-8, "And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When
Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, 'What did Jesus say
to you?' Thomas said to them, 'If I tell you one of these things which
he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will
come out of the stones and burn you up.'"
14:1-3, "Jesus said to them, 'If you fast, you will give rise to sin for
yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give
alms, you will do harm to your spirits.'"
21:4-5, "(4) They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them
have back their field and to give it back to them. (5) Therefore I say,
if the owner of a house knows that the thief is coming, he will begin
his vigil before he comes and will not let him dig into his house of his
domain to carry away his goods."
22:1,3-6, "(1) Jesus saw little babies nursing.. ..(3) They said to him,
'Will we enter the Kingdom as little babies?' (4) Jesus said to them,
'When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the
outside, and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below.
(5) And when you make the male and the female into a single being, with
the result that the male is not male, nor the female female. (6) When
you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a
foot in place of a foot, and an image in place of an image, (7) then you
will enter the Kingdom.'"
27:2, "If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see
31:2, "No physician heals those who know him.'"
49b, "For you are from it (i.e., the Kingdom), and to it you will
61:5. "<...> Therefore I say, if he is destroyed he will be filled with
light, but if he is divided, he will be filled with darkness."
99:3, "It is they (i.e., those who do the will of my Father) who will
enter the kingdom of my father."
111:3, "Does not Jesus say, 'Whoever finds himself is superior to the
What is noteworthy here is the rarity of parallels to other gospels.
21:5 has a parallel in Mt 24:3-4/Lk 12:39-40 and 31:2 has a parallel in
Even more startling, 21:5 is a part of 21, which is one of the three
sayings with an unconventional accretory process, meaning that my
reconstruction of the accretory process for 21 is likely to be
incorrect. Indeed, April DeConick, in Recovering the Original Gospel of
Thomas (p. 101), lists 21:5 as being a part of the Kernel. This
increases the likelihood that I made a judgment error in deeming 21:5 to
be among the group of the very latest units. Indeed, it suggests that
it actually belongs in the group of earliest units.
The bottom line: In the group of latest units, there are only two
parallels to other gospels and one of them has, most likely, been
incorrectly added to the group of latest units by myself due to a
judgment error on my part. So, there is only one small phrase from this
entire group of units (i.e., "No physician heals those who know him.")
that appears to have a parallel in another gospel.
This is just the opposite of what one would expect if the latest stage
in the development of Thomas involved a "raid" on then-extant Gospels to
garner more Jesus-sayings.
Indeed, quite the opposite is suggested. That is, it would appear, if
there was any raiding going on, it was that of one or more of the other
gospel writers raiding Thomas--and this not the Thomas as we know it
but, rather, an earlier version of Thomas lacking the so called
Thus, this evidence supports a modified version of the Farrer Theory, in
which Matthew not only uses Mark as a source, but (an early version of)
Thomas as well, and in which Luke not only uses Mark and Matthew as
sources, but (an early version of) Thomas as well.
Ron, you close, "I am at least half-convinced that Jack Kilmon and James
Tabor have correctly "pegged" the belief-system of the Jesus-Family
(Prophecy, Messianism, End of Days etc) and since Thomas is so bereft of
these themes that the material in it could not possibly have originated
with or be tracked-back to James. I think it's fatal to any Jamesian
provenance for Thomas and that the James logion must be considered
spurious- at least in as much as it is intended to persuade us that all
these sayings are guaranteed by James himself."
The Hellenists, such as James, as they were a part of a generic Essene
movement, would not have been immune to the Qumran package of Prophecy,
Messianism, End of Days etc.. However, since the main influence on them
was from the Therapeutic wing of the Essene movement, it wouldn't have
been their primary focus. So, while one can see some influence of this
Qumran package in the Epistle of James, it is not the main focus of
Also, we need to take into account that Thomas is not totally bereft of
this type of thinking. Indeed, as pointed out in the above mentioned
post #7794, it appears that the earliest group of units (i.e., the
so-called "Pre-Thomas" group of units) does display a surprisingly
strong influence from Qumran. So, it appears, this Qumran package had
some influence on the first Hellenists and on the initial Thomas group,
but was later completely dropped by the Thomas group.
I agree that the James logion is probably an invention rather than an
actual saying of Jesus.
Ron, I hope this helps to answer your concerns.
2036 E. Magnolia Ave
St Paul, MN USA 55119
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- Thanks, Frank.
Clearly, I totally misunderstood you and the point you were making in your post, and further confused the references to James the son of Alphaeus and James the son of Zebedee. Can't keep track of so many durned Jameses! Creeping Alzheimers, no doubt.. (grin). My apologies.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:47 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Hellenist Material in Thomas
Ron McCann writes, "In closing, Frank. Just one more point on the
Jerusalem Council, the leadership of James and your suggestions that it
was James sons of Zebbedee, not James the Just that lead it. I remember
now reading something you posted about that and recall shaking my head
at the time. How do you square that with the fact that Acts 12 tells us
that James Zebedee was killed by Herod at about the same time that Peter
was arrested by him and made his miraculous escape from Prison-
something that occurs much much earlier and earlier in the account than
the Jerusalem Council events?"
Ron, if you re-read what I said, you will realize that what I maintain
is that, Luke wants us to believe, the James of the Jerusalem Council is
James *the son of Alphaeus*. Luke nowhere, in either Luke or Acts, ever
states that Jesus had a brother named James. He names two James in
Acts--one the son of Zebedee and the other the son of Alphaeus. Since
the son of Zebedee was dead by the time of this Council, Luke implies
that the James of this Council is the son of Alphaeus. It is only by
illegitimate importation of ideas from outside the conceptual universe
of Luke-Acts that anyone can conclude that the James of this Council
meeting is a brother of Jesus. In any event, IMO, Luke's account of the
Council meeting, including the edict, is bogus. IMO, if such an edict
had ever been issued, Paul would have said something about it because it
directly impacted on the Gentiles under his jurisdiction.
Ron, you have an interesting line of argumentation in the rest of your
post. I will be responding to it, but only after giving it much
2036 E. Magnolia Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55119
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