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Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas's Familiarity with the Synoptics

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2012 / Paperback

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The Gospel of Thomas -- found in 1945 -- has been described as "without question the most significant Christian book discovered in modern times." Often Thomas is seen as a special independent witness to the earliest phase of Christianity and as evidence for the now-popular view that this earliest phase was a dynamic time of great variety and diversity.

In contrast, Mark Goodacre makes the case that, instead of being an early, independent source, Thomas actually draws on the Synoptic Gospels as source material--not to provide a clear narrative, but to assemble an enigmatic collection of mysterious, pithy sayings to unnerve and affect the reader. Goodacre supports his argument with illuminating analyses and careful comparisons of Thomas with Matthew and Luke.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0802867480
ISBN-13: 9780802867483
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

The Gospel of Thomas -- found in 1945 -- has been described as "without question the most significant Christian book discovered in modern times." Often Thomas is seen as a special independent witness to the earliest phase of Christianity and as evidence for the now-popular view that this earliest phase was a dynamic time of great variety and diversity.

In contrast, Mark Goodacre makes the case that, instead of being an early, independent source, Thomas actually draws on the Synoptic Gospels as source material -- not to provide a clear narrative, but to assemble an enigmatic collection of mysterious, pithy sayings to unnerve and affect the reader. Goodacre supports his argument with illuminating analyses and careful comparisons of Thomas with Matthew and Luke.

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Author Bio

Mark Goodacre is associate professor in New Testament at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. His other books include The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem. He is well known for NTGateway.com, an award-winning web directory of internet New Testament resources.

Endorsements

Mark Goodacre's Thomas and the Gospels contributes significantly to the ongoing, sometimes vexatious debate about the relationship of the mysterious Gospel of Thomas and the well known New Testament Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Goodacre takes a whole new approach, carefully examining the Synoptic Gospels, as well as Thomas, asking important questions about how they developed and how they may have influenced one another. The author has given all of us a lot to think about, whatever position we may prefer.
-Craig A. Evans
Payzant Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia, Canada

With firm and vigorous (but never shrill) argumentation, incisive critique of other views, and full and clearheaded handling of the data, Mark Goodacre mounts a cogent, persuasive case that the Gospel of Thomas reflects acquaintance with the Synoptic Gospels. This is not a rehash of earlier arguments but a creative treatment that introduces new analysis of this important early Christian text.
-Larry W. Hurtado
University of Edinburgh

Meticulous, adroit, and closely reasoned, this work will immediately become the definitive presentation of the case that Thomas draws on the Synoptics. Those who take the contrary position truly have their work cut out for them.
-Dale C. Allison Jr.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Written with both verve and calm intelligence, this book is head and shoulders above most of the rest of scholarship on Thomas and the Synoptics. It grapples skilfully with both the nitty-gritty of the Greek and Coptic texts and the various scholarly minefields. Read it!
-Simon Gathercole
Cambridge University

Goodacre engages the secondary literature carefully, challenges exaggerated claims and unjust assumptions, and offers valuable insight...Anyone who cares at all about the Gospel of Thomas cannot afford to neglect this book.
-Klyne Snodgrass
North Park Theological Seminary

Mark Goodacre offers a bold and distinctive approach to the ongoing debate about the relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptic Gospels. Rightly rejecting the tendency to label and thereby dismiss opposing views as either 'liberal' or 'conservative,' he focuses instead on the textual evidence on which any responsible historical conclusion must be reached.
-Andrew Gregory
University College, Oxford

This book is quietly revolutionary, turning on its head sixty years of scholarship...Those on both sides of the divide have much to learn from Goodacre's meticulous scholarship.
-Nicola Denzey Lewis
Brown University

Among those works that argue for Thomas's dependence on the Synoptic Gospels, this one by Mark Goodacre is rare for taking Thomas seriously as a literary work rather than merely dismissing it as a secondary compilation. Though not an exhaustive or definitive treatment of Thomas, this book merits serious consideration. Goodacre's arguments, always incisive and well considered, invite an equally serious response.
-John S. Kloppenborg
University of Toronto

Editorial Reviews

Religious Studies Review
"This book is the first monograph ever published that explores the case that Thomas knew the Synoptic Gospels. . . . A very important book, and I find it hard to resist the force of Goodacre's argument."

Bibliotheca Sacra
"Goodacre's analysis of the evidence is excellent and he does not lose sight of the larger question of Christian origins. As a result, he is able to investigate the small and seemingly inconsequential details that specialists will require and also engage students new to the topic. Through the book readers of both sorts will find Goodacre's sustained argument that Thomas is dependent on the Synoptic Gospels. Scholars who argue that Thomas reflects an independent and early strand of Christianity will have to contend with this volume."

Southwestern Journal of Theology
"This is an important work both for Gospel of Thomas studies as well as Synoptic studies from which both scholars and Bible students can benefit."

The Bible Today
"This is an excellent example of careful scholarship. . . . Goodacre makes the effective and patient case that in fact Thomas was familiar with the Synoptics and was written after 135 C.E."

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
"Thomas and the Gospels is meticulous in its argumentation and clear in its presentation. The result is a compelling case for the knowledge and use of the Synoptic Gospels in the Gospel of Thomas. Those who hope to make the case for the independence of the Gospel of Thomas from the Synoptics will now have a very hard row to hoe indeed."

Journal of Theological Studies
"A fresh and balanced study. . . . Goodacre's argument is convincing and a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stale debate. In the very least, Goodacre has demonstrably shifted the burden of proof upon scholars who would argue for an early, independent Thomas."

Review & Expositor
"The importance of this book's contribution to the field of early Christian historical research cannot be overstated. . . . In this fine piece of scholarship, Goodacre suggests that we might lay down our wild theories and return Thomas to its place on the shelf with the rest of the Nag Hammadi library."

Choice (American Library Association)
"Goodacre argues cogently that the Gospel of Thomas postdates and shows familiarity with all three Synoptic Gospels. . . . Future scholars who want to argue for the independence of the Gospel of Thomas or its predating the Synoptics will have an uphill battle after Goodacre's work. Highly recommended."

Journal for the Study of the New Testament
"With characteristic lucidity in detail and in overall structure, and in careful conversation with other scholars, Goodacre presents a case that should persuade, or at least stimulate the unpersuaded to respond as cogently."

Biblica
"An imposing front in the newest wave of Thomasine scholarship."

Larry W. Hurtado
-- University of Edinburgh
"With firm and vigorous (but never shrill) argumentation, incisive critique of other views, and full and clearheaded handling of the data, Mark Goodacre mounts a cogent, persuasive case that the Gospel of Thomas reflects acquaintance with the Synoptic Gospels. This is not a rehash of earlier arguments but a creative treatment that introduces new analysis of this important early Christian text."

Dale C. Allison Jr.
-- Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
"Meticulous, adroit, and closely reasoned, this work will immediately become the definitive presentation of the case that Thomas draws on the Synoptics. Those who take the contrary position truly have their work cut out for them."

Simon Gathercole
-- Cambridge University
"Written with both verve and calm intelligence, this book is head and shoulders above most of the rest of scholarship on Thomas and the Synoptics. It grapples skilfully with both the nitty-gritty of the Greek and Coptic texts and the various scholarly minefields. Read it!"

Klyne Snodgrass
-- North Park Theological Seminary
"Goodacre engages the secondary literature carefully, challenges exaggerated claims and unjust assumptions, and offers valuable insight. . . . Anyone who cares at all about the Gospel of Thomas cannot afford to neglect this book."

Andrew Gregory
-- University College, Oxford
"Mark Goodacre offers a bold and distinctive approach to the ongoing debate about the relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptic Gospels. Rightly rejecting the tendency to label and thereby dismiss opposing views as either 'liberal' or 'conservative,' he focuses instead on the textual evidence on which any responsible historical conclusion must be reached."

Nicola Denzey Lewis
-- Brown University
"This book is quietly revolutionary, turning on its head sixty years of scholarship. . . . Those on both sides of the divide have much to learn from Goodacre's meticulous scholarship."

John S. Kloppenborg
-- University of Toronto
"Among those works that argue for Thomas's dependence on the Synoptic Gospels, this one by Mark Goodacre is rare for taking Thomas seriously as a literary work rather than merely dismissing it as a secondary compilation. Though not an exhaustive or definitive treatment of Thomas, this book merits serious consideration. Goodacre's arguments, always incisive and well considered, invite an equally serious response."

Trinity Journal
"Thomas and the Gospels is a clear, concise, and compelling argument for Thomas’s familiarity with the Synoptic tradition and will serve well as an entry into the growing world of Thomas studies."
 

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