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. This is volume 286 in the "Library of New Testament Studies" series and is part of the "Early Christianity in Context" series.
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Author Biography - April D. DeConick
April D. DeConick is an Associate Professor of Religion at Illinois Wesleyan University. She is the author of Voices of the Mystics: Early Christian Discourse in the Gospels of John and Thomas and Other Ancient Christian Literature.