Re: [GTh] On the Net: The Dick Harfield Story, pt.2
- Further developments on this front:At YahooAnswers, my answer to the question of whether GTh has anythingapocalyptic in it has been chosen best answer by a landslide - 100% to 0%.(OK, there were only three votes, one of which was mine, but hey, a win's a win.)Over at Answers.com, I decided to try to give myself a "trust point". It worked:"We're writing to let you know that your contributions on Answers.com are appreciated.A fellow contributor has recommended you with a trust point, thanking you for yourcontribution to Why is the gospel of thomas not in the new testament.""Fellow contributor" indeed. Something's wrong with the system, I'd say.But hey, I now have one "trust point". Only 953 to go to match Harfield.Seriously, though, I've had a few exchanges the last couple days with Harfield.I mentioned our group, so he may be browsing these messages at some point.The latest disagreement I have with him is over his answer to the question"Why is the Gospel of St. Thomas dismissed by the Vatican as heresy?"Harfield's answer was this:"It is an accident of history that the Gospel of Thomas was not included inthe New Testament. It was originally written in the Gnostic milieu, but wasmodified and widely adopted in the proto-Catholic-Orthodox branch of Christianity.Thomas initially had much support for inclusion in the Bible, but Ireneus insisted thatthere must be only four gospels and that those were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.Thomas is not in the New Testament and is therefore heresy."Having already swapped a few introductory messages on our Answers.com messageboards, I wrote him a short response to each claim in the above answer, as follows:(1) "It is an accident of history that the Gospel of Thomas was not included in the New Testament."
Your basis for this claim seems to be what Ireneus said, but I think you've misinterpreted that. See below.
(2) "It was originally written in the Gnostic milieu, but was modified and widely adopted in theproto-Catholic-Orthodox branch of Christianity."
As far as I know, it was not "widely adopted" and was not de-gnosticized.
(3) "Thomas initially had much support for inclusion in the Bible ..."
I'm unaware of any evidence for this claim. GTh seems to have been little-known, and those writers who knew of it didn't like it.
(4)" ... but Ireneus insisted that there must be only four gospels ..."
I think this is generally understood among scholars as Ireneus making a virtue of necessity. He didn't in fact "insist" that there only be four gospels. There were generally agreed to be four and he presented the fait accompli as being divinely fore-ordained. If there had been general agreement on five, he would have come up with some other rationalization why THAT was divinely inspired.
(5) "Thomas is not in the New Testament and is therefore heresy."
Not true. There are other books (e.g., Shepherd of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas) not included in the canon, but not considered to be heretical, either. It's the other way 'round - it was considered heretical and therefore isn't in the NT.For the full context of this and other messages, see:I'm interested in what you all honestly think about Harfield's answer above, and my responseto it. Were my responses historically and/or interpretationally correct? Are there a better ones?Or was Harfield right about some of these five points? How should the original question beanswered?Best,Mike