Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Did Thomas touch the middle?

Mark Goodacre at NT Gateway Weblog has some fascinating observations about The Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptic Gospels. He lays out a couple of Jesus sayings from Matthew and Luke alongside some similar sayings from the Gospel of Thomas and shows that Thomas, in each instance, appears to have the beginning and end of the saying but lacks the middle part. Goodacre sees this as an indication that the author of Thomas copied from the Synoptics but didn't pull out the entire passage and offers an explanation for why that might have happened, and this is certainly a reasonable conclusion.

The comparisons intrigue me and I plan to post a comment here in the near future that offers an alternative explanation for what happened. I think there is a basis for arguing that Thomas is copying from a pre-Matthean source (and a pre-Q source if you believe in Q) and that Matthew or Q added material to the earlier source. Unfortunately, I don't have time to do it right now and I don't want to rush it. The next couple of weeks may be especially busy for me, both in my day job and with reviewing page proofs for my latest book. Also, over the weekend I'm going to see the new Tom Stoppard theatrical trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, about the intellectual ferment leading up to the Russian revolution. We opted to do all three plays on a single day, running from 11 AM to 11 PM, with a dinner break.

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