“Dating” Thomas“: Logion 53 As A Test Case For Dating The” Gospel Of Thomas “Within An Early Christian Trajectory” -- By: Joshua W. Jipp

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 20:2 (NA 2010)
Article: “Dating” Thomas“: Logion 53 As A Test Case For Dating The” Gospel Of Thomas “Within An Early Christian Trajectory”
Author: Joshua W. Jipp


“Dating” Thomas“: Logion 53 As A Test Case For Dating The” Gospel Of Thomas “Within An Early Christian Trajectory”

Joshua W. Jipp

And

Michael J. Thate

Emory University And Durham University

A perennial and seemingly irresolvable conflict affecting the studies of early Christianity, the quest for the historical Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels has been whether the Gospel of Thomas and the diverse traditions that it preserves should be dated before or after the Synoptic Gospels. Scholars have primarily tended to resolve the issue by establishing its independence from or dependence upon the Synoptic Gospels. Recently, however, there have been signs that new methods may be opening up new vistas with respect to the dating issue. To name but a few, the diverse scholarship of Nicholas Perrin, April DeConick, and Risto Uro has been devoted to establishing new and creative methods precisely with respect to this problem. This essay seeks to use an alternative methodology whereby we examine a particular logion, in this case logion 53 on circumcision, and attempt to plot its particular teaching on an early Christian trajectory. After briefly surveying a few alternative methods for dating the Gospel of Thomas, we examine logion 53 within the Gospel of Thomas and suggest that its teaching on circumcision fits well within the larger Thomasine context, and then compare it with other early Christian texts on circumcision. We suggest that this logion fits well within a late first century or early second century context.

Key Words: Gospel of Thomas, circumcision, historical Jesus, early Christianity, Jewish practices

An Alternative Methodology For Dating The Gospel Of Thomas

Since its discovery in 1945, the dating of the Coptic Gos. Thom., its utility in historical Jesus research,1 and its relationship to the Synoptic Gospels have presented scholars with an embarrassment of choice—some might

quip, a paralysis of choice.2 For example, in the early 90s, Stevan Davies, in a show of optimism, declared, “A consensus is emerging in American scholarship that the Gospel of Thomas is a text independent of the Synoptics and that it was compiled in the mid-to-late first century.”3 Perhaps it was precisely this optimism, or the fact that he limited the “consensus” to American scholarship, that precluded Davies from hearing dissenting voices.4

One of these dissentin...

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