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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth
DeConick, April D.

London: T&T Clark, 2005 pp. xvi + 290. $39.95

Series Information
Early Christianity in Context/Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, 286

Description: The Gospel of Thomas is an enigmatic collection of 114 sayings of Jesus. Here, April DeConick explores tough questions that have occupied scholars since the discovery of this gospel in the sands of Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in the 1940's. Where did this gospel come from? When was it written? Who wrote it? Why was it composed? What is its meaning? Rather than taking the conventional approach to answering these questions, DeConick examines these issues anew by proposing that the gospel developed within a climate dominated by oral consciousness as a product of communal memory. She argues that the gospel was a "rolling corpus," a book of sayings that grew over time, beginning as a simple written gospel containing oracles of the prophet Jesus. This suggests that the sayings in the gospel represent different moments in the history of the Thomasine community and can be read as memoirs of practices, beliefs, and conflicts that arose within the community over time. As the community faced various crises and constituency changes, including the delay of the Eschaton and the need to accommodate Gentiles within the group, its traditions were reinterpreted and the sayings in their gospel updated, accommodating the present experiences of the community.

Subjects: Bible, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, New Testament Apocrypha, Gospels, Literature, Methods, Social-Scientific Approaches, The Gospel of Thomas

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Review by Eric Noffke
Published 6/23/2007
Citation: Eric Noffke, review of April D. Deconick, Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2007).


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