New Book on the Gospel of Thomas

Nicholas Perrin has authored a new study on the Gospel of Thomas, entitled Thomas, the Other Gospel, that "tells the story of the gospel from its discovery to its current reception among academics and in more popular circles. It provides a clear, comprehensive, non-technical guide through the scholarly maze of issues surrounding the Coptic text." Michael Bird has helpfully posted some excerpts of Perrin's conclusions on his blog. From Bird's post and the description on Amazon (U.K.), here are the highlights:

First, the Gospel of Thomas was not even written in Greek, but is a Syriac document.

Second, the Gospel of Thomas is not particularly early, having been written in the latter part of the second century.

Third, the primary source of material used by the author of the Gospel of Thomas was Tatian's Diatessaron (a mid-to-late second century document), but "also undoubtedly drew on his memory of a number of oral and written traditions."

Fourth, although it cannot be ruled out, it is unlikely that the Gospel of Thomas, with its 140-year distance from Jesus, preserves any unique sayings of Jesus.


Jason Pratt said…
Huh. The dependence on Taitian is something I hadn't heard of before. Makes a bit of prima facie sense, though, since I _have_ heard that Tatian has a tendency toward Gnosticising (big 'G') in his own work. Doubtless, insofar as he establishes a dependency connection there, that would primarily contribute to a later-than-usual (nowadays) dating. Though seeing how often that sort of argument gets abused against us, I'm habitually a little leery of it without having seen the actual attempt yet. {g}

Anyway, thanks for the ref. Hope a Cadrist will do a review of this eventually!

Anonymous said…
You should check out the blog of April DeConick. Apparently she's a big fan of the 'Gnostics weren't bad, just misunderstood' line, and she accuses Perrin of misunderstanding and distorting her position at just about every turn. I don't know whether she's right or not (personally methinks she protesteth too much), but it might be worth a look if you're going to endorse this book.
Layman said…
Whoa Nelly, there JD!

I am not endorsing the book, just letting people know about a notable new contribution to the topic. I do not generally endorse what I have not read and I have not read this one. I do not think it has even been published in the U.S.

That being said, I expect to check it out once life settles back down.

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