Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:34 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:21 am
Hope this is relevant. Here are some of my questions about the "gospel" title and genre--

1) What explains the use of the same word for two very different types of writing: bioi (narratives) on the one hand, and wisdom/parenetic discourses on the other (such as gThomas, gPhilip, gTruth)
(I personally dispute that any of the gospels are truly βίοι: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1724.) Once the term "gospel" had been applied to one or more core texts, I think it was very easy for that term to be applied to other texts which, despite belonging to different genres, served similar purposes in the Christian circles in and/or for which they were composed. Compare modern "gospels" as extreme examples of this possibility, such as The Gospel According to André.
2) Can a broad historical argument be made that all these texts were jockeying with each other to inherit and develop the original Pauline gospel, which itself is a riff on themes in both the prophets and in Roman imperial ideology?
I personally think that Paul's influence has been somewhat overblown, and suspect that at least some gospel texts would/could have been written even if Paul had never existed. In some circles, yes, Paul is paramount. In others, not so much.

ETA: I think that Paul made a big splash in the small pond that was Christianity at the time, but the pond was there both before and after Paul.
3) Is there any significance in the textual critical evidence about differences in how the term gospel was deployed in the 2nd c? For example, "euangellion kata __" is the NT formula, whereas the coptic gThomas apparently just has "the gospel of Thomas" written at the end of the scroll.
This is not actually the case. The Coptic manuscript of Thomas has "gospel according to Thomas" (corresponding to εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Θωμᾶ in Greek) just like the others: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1869:

Gospel According to Thomas.png
Gospel According to Thomas.png (21.83 KiB) Viewed 1767 times

The translations do not always make this clear. But all of the gospels, canonical or otherwise, tended to follow the same formula: κατὰ Θωμᾶ, κατὰ Πέτρον, κατὰ Ἑβραίους, κατὰ Αἰγυπτίους, and so on.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:11 pm

gmx wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:40 am

The following is only going to be tangentially relevant to the OP, but the OP got my mind thinking in this direction. ...

Papias refers to two writings, one by Mark, and one by Matthew, but does not call them gospels. Does not use that word "gospel" as far as I know. Papias is writing anywhere from 95-130 AD, depending on your worldview. He doesn't mention any writings of Thomas.

Some random thoughts:
  • Papias apparently wrote Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord in 5 Volumes
  • Papias imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable [..] as what came from the living and abiding voice
  • Papias says that when anyone who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say
The things that strike me about the statements of Papias here are that:
  • he was interested in the living voice but talks apologetically about the writings of Mark and Matthew
  • he has presumably learnt the Sayings of the Lord from the living voice, but seems to have asked minutely after the sayings of the disciples, rather than the sayings of the lord himself
  • he talks about the bowels of Judas and relates stories about the daughters of Philip, resurrection of the dead in his own time, miraculous survival from poisoning, events which do not appear to be immediately relevant to the Sayings of the Lord
And with that, please continue with the on-topic discussion.
I think this is timely and pertinent to considering the early texts and early goings-on.

I think in the early days (of whatever was going on ie. under whatever structure, if at all) that gospel just meant 'good news': euagelion, εὐαγγέλιον, ου, τό.

ie. there developed a 'meme' to announce good news ie. εὐαγγελίζω, euaggelizó -

  • Usage: I bring good news, preach good tidings, with or without an object, expressing either the persons who receive the good news or the good news itself (the good news being sometimes expressed as a person).
  • euaggelízō (from , "good, well" and angellō, "announce, herald") – properly, proclaim "the good message" (good news) ... euaggelízō [...] – literally, "gospelizing" that announces the complete message of "the good news" (the Lord's glad tidings).
https://biblehub.com/str/greek/2097.htm (boldface and italics emphasis mine)
.

(appeals to etymology can be a fallacy but i think the etymology is relevant in this case.)

Perhaps 'exposition of the sayings of the Lord' was a forerunner or an early parallel, concurrent terminology?

.

John2
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by John2 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:38 pm

gmx wrote:
Papias refers to two writings, one by Mark, and one by Matthew, but does not call them gospels. Does not use that word "gospel" as far as I know. Papias is writing anywhere from 95-130 AD, depending on your worldview. He doesn't mention any writings of Thomas.
Ah, good point. I'm a big Papias fan of late, so I place his omission of Thomas with his omission of Luke and John, i.e., that he predates it.

Edit: And I'm with Ben regarding the idea that Papias' reference to Matthew's "logia" could (and probably does) mean a narrative gospel.
Last edited by John2 on Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Irish1975
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by Irish1975 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:09 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:34 am
I personally think that Paul's influence has been somewhat overblown, and suspect that at least some gospel texts would/could have been written even if Paul had never existed. In some circles, yes, Paul is paramount. In others, not so much.

ETA: I think that Paul made a big splash in the small pond that was Christianity at the time, but the pond was there both before and after Paul.
Thanks for your observations, especially about the textual evidence. I disagree with you about Paul and the term "gospel," but the issue is large and worth exploring, so I started a new thread.
"Jesus tricked everyone" ~the gospel of Philip

andrewcriddle
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by andrewcriddle » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:02 am

It may be worth noting, that in gnostic circles, the title Gospel appears to have been applied to a very broad range of material e.g. the Gospel of Truth.

Andrew Criddle

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