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Paul and the Gospel of Thomas (Part X)

April 22, 2010

In light of the foregoing considerations, it seems clear that at least some elements of Thomas’s theology developed later and on a much different trajectory than that of Paul. When the authors of the Gospel of Thomas found a given Pauline term, phrase, image, or discussion acceptable for use, they also invariably altered the received Pauline tradition to fit a uniquely Thomasine perspective. The authors of the Gospel of Thomas were familiar with certain Pauline ideas but ultimately rejected them as having legitimacy for explaining the significance of identifying with Jesus through confession. Keeping these different presentations of Jesus in mind, I close with five conclusions that arise from the previous nine posts:

1. There are several discernible parallels in the writings of Paul and the Gospel of Thomas.

2. In each Paul-Thomas parallel, it can be demonstrated that the Thomasine version is later than Paul’s version.

3. In each Paul-Thomas parallel, the Thomasine version shows dependence upon Paul, either directly or as an indirect result of oral transmission.

4. In each Paul-Thomas parallel, Thomas modifies the Pauline tradition to support a theological idea that is uniquely Thomasine and different from the idea represented by Paul.

5. Thus, the adaptation of Pauline traditions (or the characteristic use of Pauline language for Thomasine ends) is evidence of the Gospel of Thomas’s rejection of (at least some) of Paul’s theological ideas.

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