Thursday, December 01, 2005

An Apocalyptic Gospel of Thomas?

Jim Davila mentions coverage on Axcess News of April DeConick's new book, Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas.

This caught my eye, regarding oral tradition:

"'I think previous problems with examining the Gospel of Thomas are based on misunderstanding the oral tradition,' said DeConick. 'Oral studies show that a singer, or somebody who is transmitting the tradition, does not remember things verbatim but will remember the key point and a few phrases or words. Then, they will use their own words, change the subject, even alter the meaning to meet the needs of the audience.'"

And then, of all things, this:

"In fact, the 'Kernel' sayings all have a clear apocalyptic message. These earliest preachers believed that the end was very near, and all of the sayings in the 'Kernel' underscore that belief, according to DeConick.

"'They were very certain that they were living in the very end times,' DeConick said. 'The ethic of how they were living was end-time living: don't worry about raising a family, don't worry about food and clothes, just get out and convert as many people as possible so that when God's judgment comes as many will be saved as can be. I think that was the mentality that is shown in these original sayings.'"

If her apocalyptic reading of Thomas ends up "supporting our traditional picture of Christianity," as suggested in the article, then this is going to be one interesting book. I've placed my order.


Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Loren. Hoped you ordered it at 50% scholars discount. I am reading it at the moment and hope to comment in due course.

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

I get a discount through the library where I work, but it's not quite 50%. Usually between 30-40%. But yes, it's quite pricey. I hope her ideas are as valuable.

Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

I think Koester said that Thomas presupposes an apocalyptic version of Christianity and attempts to subvert it with it's own gnostic trajectory.


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