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Sayings GospelsProclaiming the Wisdom of Jesus
The Sayings Gospel GenreCf. Greek gnomologia (e.g., sayings of Epicurus)Cf. Jewish logoi sophon (e.g., Proverbs)A sub-type of the wisdom literature genre
Features of Sayings GospelsSayings are presented sans commentarySimply listed seriatum (e.g., Gospel of Thomas)orCollected into thematic units (e.g., Q)Little to no narrative tissue connects the sayingsImage borrowed from http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q.html
Jesus in the Sayings GospelsUse of this genre betrays understanding of Jesus, above all else, as a wisdom-teacherImage borrowed from Stevan Davies The Gospel of Thomas homepage.
The Sayings GospelsYale Papyrus Fragment from the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Library Codex III, containing The Dialogue of the Savior (Yale Beinecke Library)The Apocryphon of James (or Secret James)
QDate:Ca. C.E. 50Provenance:Judea or GalileeAudience:Itinerant disciples of Jesus and the householders who support themExtant mss.:NoneWitnesses:There are no explicit witnesses; Q is an hypothetical construct derived from the canonical Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke)
The Gospel of Thomas
Date:ca. C.E. 70130Provenance:found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt Extant mss.:Oxyrhynchus papyrus; Coptic translation of the Greek version, in the Nag Hammadi LibrarySee The Gnostic Society Library: The Gospel of Thomas Collection
Q // Thomas Parallels (GThos version)QLk 10:21 // 4a The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live.QLk 12:2 // 6b. For nothing is hidden that shall not be revealed and nothing is covered that shall that shall remain without being revealed. [Also in Mark].QLk 10:8-9 // 14b. When you go into any region and walk about in the countryside, when people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them.2QLk 12:51-53 // 16 Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war. For there will be five in a house: there'll be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone.2QLK 12:39 // 21b If the owner of the house knows that the thief is coming, he will watch before he comes and will not let him break into his house of his Kingdom and carry away his goods.QLk 6:41-42 // 26 You see the sliver in your friend's eye, but you don't see the timber in your own eye. When you take the timber out of your own eye, then you will see well enough to remove the sliver from your friend's eye.QLk 12:3 // 33a What you will hear in your ear, in the other ear proclaim from your rooftops.2QLk 11:33 // 33b No one kindles a lamp and puts it under a basket, nor does he put it in a hidden place, but he sets it on a lamp stand so everyone who comes in and goes out will see its light. [Also in Mark]QLk 6:39 // 34 If a blind person leads a blind person, both of them will fall into a hole.QLk 12:22 // 36 Do not fret, from morning to evening and from evening to morning, [about your food--what you're going to eat, or about your clothing--] what you are going to wear. [You're much better than the lilies, which neither card nor spin. As for you,when you have no garment, what will you put on? Who might add to your stature? That very one will give you your garment.] (inclusions from Oxy. Pap. in Gk, lacking in Coptic)
Q // Thomas Parallels (GThos version)2QLk 11:52 // 39a The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so.2QLk 19:26 // 41 He who has in his hand, it shall be given to him;and he who does not have, even the little he has shall be taken away from him. [Also in Mark]QLk 6:44-45 // 45 Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit. Good persons produce good from what they've stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they've stored up in their hearts,and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil.2QLk 7:28 // 46a From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted.Qlk 16:13 // 47b A slave cannot serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honor the one and offend the other. QLk 6:20 // 54 Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs Heaven's kingdom.QLk 14:26-27 // 55a Whoever does not hate father and mother cannot be my disciple, and whoever does not hate brothers and sisters, and carry the cross as I do, will not be worthy of me.2QLk 14:15-24 // 64a A person was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests.The slave went to the first and said to that one, "My master invites you." That one said, "Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight.I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner."The slave went to another and said to that one, "My master has invited you." That one said to the slave, "I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time."The slave went to another and said to that one, "My master invites you." That one said to the slave, "My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner."The slave went to another and said to that one, "My master invites you." That one said to the slave, "I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me."The slave returned and said to his master, "Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused." The master said to his slave, "Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.QLk 6:22 // 68a Congratulations to you when you are hated and persecuted.
Q // Thomas Parallels (GThos version)QLk 6:6:21 // 69b Congratulations to those who go hungry, so the stomach of the one in want may be filled.QLk 10:2 // 73 The crop is huge but the workers are few, so beg the harvest boss to dispatch workers to the fields.QLk 12:33 // 76b Seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys.2QLk 7:24-25 // 78 Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, [like your] rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth. QLk 9:58 // 86 Foxes have their dens and birds have their nests, but human beings have no place to lay down and rest. 2QLk 11:39-40 // 89 Why do you wash the outside of the cup?Don't you understand that the one who made the inside is also the one who made the outside?2QLk 12:56 // 91 They said to him, "Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you."He said to them, "You examine the face of heaven and earth,but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment." QLk 11:9-10 // 94 One who seeks will find, and for [one who knocks] it will be opened.QLk 6:34-35 // 95 If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Rather, give [it] to someone from whom you won't get it back. QLk 13:20-21 // 96 The Father's kingdom is like a woman. She took a little leaven, [hid] it in dough, and made it into large loaves of bread. Anyone here with two ears had better listen! QLk 15:4-6 // 107 The Kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, 'I love you more than the ninety-nine.'
The Apocryphon of JamesA.k.a. Secret Book of James, Secret Letter of James, Epistula Iacobi ApocryphaDate:ca. C.E. 100150Provenance:found at Nag Hammadi, EgyptExtant mss.:one Coptic translation of a Greek original, in Codex I of the Nag Hammadi Library (the Jung Codex)
The Dialogue of the Savior
Date:ca. C.E. 100150Provenance: found at Nag Hammadi, EgyptExtant mss.:one Coptic translation of a Greek original, in Codex III of the Nag Hammadi Library
The Gospel of MaryDate:ca. C.E. 100150Provenance:Egypt (acquired in Cairo)Extant mss.:two fragmentary textsthe Berlin Papyrus (5th-century Coptic copy of a Greek text)Rylands papyrus 463 (early-third-century Greek fragment of the text, found at Oxyrhynchus )See Jason Jeffreys page on The Gospel of Mary
What is the Wisdom of Jesus?Discerning the message of the Sayings GospelsEvaluating historicityEvaluating the value of their theology
Q (or The Q Gospel)The Gospel of ThomasThe Apocryphon of James (or Secret James)The Dialogue of the SaviorThe Gospel of Mary
Concluding passage of the Dialogue of the Savior (95-96), a Gnostic dialogue between Jesus and his disciples; Yale Beinecke Library papyrus collection p. CtYBR inv. 1784. A Coptic translation of a lost Greek original. This unique fragment joins and completes Nag Hammadi manuscript Codex III (p. 145) in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. The manuscript was copied in the fourth century A.D., but the Dialogue must be much older, reflecting a very early stage of Christian literature and theology. The work's relationship to the canonical gospels and their sources is a matter of keen interest. The ancient Nag Hammadi "library" was a hoard of thirteen heretical manuscripts, buried in a pot for safe keeping in the Egyptian desert perhaps around A.D. 400, when the orthodox Christian establishment was actively rooting out heretics and their writings. The Nag Hammadi hoard-often loosely called the "Gnostic gospels"-has opened up entirely new vistas on early Christian scripture and thought, presenting great challeng