Friday, June 20, 2008

Is there evidence for an Aramaic substratum for the Gospel of Thomas

As many of you know who have read my two books on the Gospel of Thomas (Recovering, and The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation), I have spoken about the fact that over many years several scholars have published references to Semitisms in the Gospel of Thomas. I went about collecting them in my commentary and in the end came up with quite a list. In some cases the Semitisms are explained as references to Syriac, in other cases as references to Aramaic, and in other cases as either. So scholars have been reluctant to accept an Aramaic substratum because linguistics alone is inconclusive, because many times the Semitisms can be explained with reference to either Aramaic or Syriac since Syriac and Aramaic are related.

Is there any way to figure this out? This is the question that I faced as I looked at all the evidence I gathered in my commentary. I had the thought to lay out the Semitisms and compare them with the accretions and the Kernel sayings. So I followed through, not really expecting anything. What I found surprised me. With the exception of two, the sayings in which scholars had identified Aramaisms as possible were all located in the Kernel sayings, including those sayings that may point to a pre-synoptic Aramaic substratum.

Now some people might find this to be coincidence, but I found it compelling, especially when paired with the fact that the content of the Kernel sayings points to a Jerusalem origin. So I concluded based on the big picture that a plausible scenario was that the Kernel was from Jerusalem, written in Aramaic. It was brought to Edessa, Syria, where it moved into Syriac as the Syriac-speaking Christians used it, reperformed it, and added to it. I don't doubt for a minute that in this compositional process sayings in the Gospel of Thomas took on some of the form and vocabulary of Syriac versions of those sayings from other circulating gospel literature. In other words, in the "real" environment of antiquity where orality and memory dominant, what might have begun as an independent version of a saying may not end up that way sixty years later. In fact, we must expect the sayings to take on the character of other circulating materials.

This is the argument that I set forth in both my books.

Unfortunately, this argument seems to have been lost in Nicholas Perrin's recent paper (it is in the poorly edited volume on Thomas that I mentioned in my previous post which also includes my mysticism paper) in which Perrin criticizes me for suggesting a possible Aramaic substratum when Syriac can explain some of these sayings as well and the linguistic evidence is inconclusive. Since he is trying to defend an argument for Thomas being a Diatessaron-dependent gospel, he concludes that the evidence although inconclusive linguistically (the Aramaisms could still be possible he says) points to Syriac.

But I never made the argument that Thomas has an Aramaic substratum because there are possible Aramaisms in Thomas. Professor Quispel and Guillamont were criticized for this back in the 60s. My analysis included much more than linguistic evidence, trying to get us out of this deadlock by looking at the document from a different perspective. For some reason it seems that scholars who try to get out of the box are constantly being shoved back into the box and all the old arguments that they are trying to transcend. This is frustrating to say the least.

My argument was and remains that the vast majority of possible Aramaisms lie in the Kernel sayings, and this suggests to me that it is quite likely from Palestine. This argument is part of a bigger analysis of the Kernel whose content in terms of eschatology and christology also points us to an early form of Jerusalem Christianity.

There are many reasons why Diatessaron-dependence has not been convincing. I am not going to rehearse them all here. The biggest hurdle is our physical manuscript evidence. I am not going to even begin to sort out here the problems of reconstructing the Diatessaron. It is worse than Q. Scholars can't even agree if the original language was Syriac or Greek.

But I can speak briefly to the Greek manuscript evidence for the Gospel of Thomas. P. Oxy. 1 has been determined on paleographic analysis to a date no later than 200 CE. Let's say that this was the autograph, the original manuscript written of Thomas, then that means that it is written as almost as a contemporary to the composition of the Diatessaron (150-170 CE). But remember this copy is in Greek and it is not the original. Perrin says the gospel was composed in Syriac. So this pushes Thomas' composition back even a bit earlier, unless one were to argue that a translation into Greek was almost immediately done in Egypt which is highly unlikely since it takes some time for gospels to become celebrities enough to merit copy and translation and distribution.

Furthermore, P. Oxy. 1's composition was dated by Grenfell and Hunt to no later than 140 CE because the internal evidence for such a dating is compelling. I know that Perrin does not like this argument having said in his first book that most scholars haven't bothered to probe this issue. This is a false statement. Grenfell and Hunt's dating has been generally accepted by scholars because it is compelling based on comparison with other early Christian literature which puts the form and content of this text in the early second century.


Richard James said...


Thanks for an interesting post! I often wonder about how much we can really conclude from these alleged Aramaisms/Syriacisms.

Didn't Sanders demonstrate (in "The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition") that there was no clear tendency for the Christian tradition to become less Semitic. Sometimes it became more Semitic, sometimes less. Maybe this has more to do with the environment in which the manuscript is being written or copied (even if it is in Greek). Sanders himself proposes "It is not intrinsically improbable that many of the Christians who handed down traditions in such churches as the one in Syrian Antioch were bilingual and may have introduced Aramaisms into the Greek tradition." (Tendencies, p. 204).

Thus, for example, finding an Aramaism in a saying like Thomas 79 (which is in your kernel) might not preclude the possibility that this saying is in fact dependent on Luke (as proposed by Mark Goodacre).

April DeConick said...

Richard James,

Yes, what you are saying is that the situation of language is very complex as is the situation of composition as is the situation of transmission.

So much of our scholarship, however, does not honor this principle. I guess we are happier as human beings with either-or scenarios, although we know that life is much more complicated than this.

When I operate as a scholar, I try to understand the details in a bigger perspective, and not shove things into this-or-that categories. If a Thomas saying shares a word or a word cluster with a canonical gospel version, what CAN this mean? We need to lay out all the options. Then we need to understand those options in relationship to the bigger picture in order to determine what we reason to be more likely than not.

So my thinking on a single Aramaism - well it doesn't tell us much. How can we know if indeed it is an Aramaism and not from Syriac, it is "original" or comes in during year 1 of transmission or year 40, before or after knowledge of the Lukan version or the Matthean version becomes well known to the tradent?

My discussion of Aramaisms in Thomas is trying to get beyond this impossible loop of arguments, to see the bigger picture, and to suggest a scenario that I find more plausible than others.

Richard James said...

Thanks for the clarification April. Your approach to Thomas makes a lot of sense. I think it makes quite a difference whether any particular saying belongs to the kernel or is dependent on the Synoptic tradition. Much of this depends of course on your solution to the synoptic problem. Somebody who supports the Farrer hypothesis will no doubt see more traces of Lukan redaction in Thomas than somebody who supports the two source theory, simply because much more of the Lukan text is considered Lukan redaction in the Farrer hypothesis than in the two source theory.

Frank McCoy said...

Dr. DeConick:

In Thomas the Other Gospel, Nicholas Perrin writes (pp. 95-96):
"Given the fact that my reconstructed Syriac Gospel of Thomas shows no isolated sayings, we find it unlikely that sayings were added to the collection in stages. Just as if we were to find an intricately woven tapestry and rightly suppose that it was created on one loom, so too we are best served by thinking of Thomas being wrought on a single verbal loom: Thomas shows every sign of being a compositional unity. Thus if Thomas is a compositional unity and reflects the order of the Diatessaron at nine places (eight of which also follow the sequence of Matthew and/or Luke), this Diatessaronic order could not have been the product of a later scribe. Since it is extremely unlikely that Tatian's order was inspired by Thomas, I am of the conviction that Thomas in fact had access to a copy of the Diatessaron or drew on his memory of hearing it directly."

This is a radically different proposed scenario for the history of Thomas than the scenario you propose.

As a layperson, I have great difficulty trying to decide which scenario is more plausible because of the highly technical nature of the arguments, particularly as respects Semetic languages.

I would be deeply appreciative if you could expand a tad on the two scenarios as respects Thomas 44.2-3 and 45, especially as respects the possible Semeticims in them.

In support of his proposed scenario, Perrin states shortly beforehand (p. 95)
If Thomas were imitating the sequence of Matthew 12 this would explain Gos. Thom. 44 and 45.2-4, but would not explain the insertion of 45.1 (= Matt. 7.16). Luke as a source would explain the wording of Gos. Thom. 45, but would not explain the collation of Gos. Thom. 44 and 45, as Matthew 12 does. The case for Thomas’s dependence on Matthew or on Luke has its merits as well as its problems. The best explanation is that the hand behind Gos. Thom. 44-45 drew on a harmonization of Matthew and Luke as reflected in the Diatessaron, where judging by the witness of Ephraim and the western witness of the Middle Dutch harmony, the words of Matthew 12.32-35 seem to have attached themselves precisely at this point of the Sermon on the Mount.

Your position is much different as respects Thomas 44.2-3 and 45, with them being a part of the theorized Kernel Gospel.

Now, in The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation, your chart of possible Semeticisms in the Kernel Gospel includes these two (p. 14):
1. 44 "'in heaven is Semetic phrase phrase meaning 'by God'" (Note: in 44.3)
2. 45.1-4 "'which is in your heart' is Semetic expression."

With each of these two possible Semetic phrase/expressions, which of these three alternatives is the most plausible?:
1. The proposed Semetic phrase/expression was originally written in Syriac
2. The proposed Semetic phrase/expression was originally written in Aramaic
3. It is unclear as to whether the proposed Semetic phrase/expression was originally written in Syriac or Aramaic.

Jim Deardorff said...

For what it's worth, there are several verses in Thomas that are essentially the same as those in the much lengthier Talmud of Jmmanuel (TJ). They are verses I would judge that you place in the kernel category. This TJ was written in Aramaic.

But as I think I've mentioned to you before, this TJ receives no mainstream scholarly study because its autograph was destroyed in 1974, and only a translation (first into German, later into English, et al.) has survived and is available.

Unknown said...

I do not subscribe to an Edessan or Syriac origin for the GoT. I believe the kernal logia were in Judean Aramaic, subsequently translated to Greek and then to Coptic. I agree that the kernal GoT was Palestinian in origin so who wrote the autograph?
Papias' account says that Mark was Peter's translator (suggesting Peter spoke only Aramaic and Mark translated his words to Greek). It also says he wrote down as much as Peter TOLD of the SAYINGS and deeds..etc and that Mark was not a hearer of Jesus but was a hearer of Peter. Notes of "sayings and deeds," taken down from Peter were used LATER for the composition of his gospel albeit "adapted" in another order. This clearly speaks of a dictation in my mind..If Mark uses his "sayings" notes from Peter (albeit not in the order of his notes) and Mark contains an inventory of core
sayings in Thomas, its appropriate to speculate that the first stratum Thomas stuff is Mark's "sayings" notes. hence, Mark's Aramaic "Jesus said.." notes taken from Peter/Kefa is the "proto-Thomas" and Mark expands them when he includes them in the Gospel. The "pre-Gospel" notes somehow go on to become "proto-Thomas" as closer related to Greek Thomas. Just as Q1 was later layered with Q2, Q3 (See Kloppenberg), Coptic Thomas has several layers so that only about 30% of the logia are attributable to the Historical Jesus.

Thomas Parallels in Mark:

In order of appearance in Mark:
104, 47, 35, 44, 99, 9, 62, 33, 6, 21, 41, 20, 31, 14, 45, 48, 64, 66, 100.

Also the first sentence of 2, the first half of 3, "For many of the first will be last" of Logion 4 (the rest is gnostic reformulation), 5, only one sentence of 8 ("Anyone with two ears had better listen"), 10, 12, 21:9-10, one sentence of 22 (The nursing babies), one sentence of 24 (the ears), the first half of 25, 26, 32, 34, 36, 39:3, 40, 46, 54, 55, 57, 62:2, 63, 65, 68, 69:2, 76, 78, 79:2, 81:2, 82, 86, 89, 92:1, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 103,106:2, 107, 109, 113.

The notes of "Jesus saids..." may have taken on a life of their own to become the Gospel of Thomas apart from the "Jesus saids..." of putative "Q" and Matthew's
"Logia." This sayings gospel may have became attached to Thomas' name rather than Mark since Thomas may have used it in Syria and India. Since Mark used
these notes of "Jesus saids..." in the composition of his gospel, that is why we find the above GoT Logia material in Mark. It is reasonable, therefore to explore whether Mark used Thomas or Mark wrote Thomas.

I am the "follow the Aramaic" guy and see that as a viable tool to test the hypothesis. Retroversion from the Coptic back through the Greek reveals an Aramaic syntactic and lexical interference that is very Markan....See Casey's "Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel."

I am one who believes "Secret Mark" (Clement's letter to Theodore) is authentic. The letter claims Mark took his notes to Alexandria.

I don't know how much space we are allowed here and this is lengthy "back-up" so here goes...
I'll do the Thomas logia first and then Markan parallels (to demonstrate how Mark expanded his own notes) with notes on structures, orthography and Aramaic substratum:

THOMAS 104 They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast."

Mar 2:18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to
fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?

Mar 2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the
bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

Mar 2:20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken
away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

It is important to remember for this logion, others in the GoT and in the canonical Gospels the Aramaic idiom Jesus used for "drinking, eating, thirsting, fasting, bread and wine." Once translated into Greek and then into Coptic the idiom was lost.

Just as Jewish literary styles and genres, such as midrash and pesher, are misunderstood in gentile also is the Aramaic idiom. Idiom is a cultural nuance to language which rarely crosses culrural barriers. In 1st century Aramaic "lachma" (bread) and "hamara" (wine) are idioms for teaching. Drinking and eating, in Aramaic, are idioms for learning from a teacher whose teachings are "bread and wine." Hence"fasting" in logion 104 is being denied the "bridegroom's" teaching. This imagery abounds in Jesus' sayings with such phrases as:

Feed my sheep

I am the bread of life

What goes in the mouth (what you are taught) does not defile but what comes out of the mouth (what you teach) can defile you.

Give us the bread (instruction) we need day to day (the Lord's Prayer)

It is not meet to take the children's (Jews) bread (teachings) and cast it
to the dogs (gentiles).

In Matthew 16:11 the "leaven" of the Pharisees and Sadducees pollutes the "bread" (teaching).

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

And, of course, the imagery of the Last Supper where his blood is like his teachings, spilled out (like the new wine in the old skins).

Of course as in Thomas 104:
The disciples will "fast" from the "bridegroom's" teachings when Jesus is gone and those teachings (wine) cannot be drunk from the "old wineskins"

The Aramaic word used for wine in this case is hamara, a still "foaming
wine." "new" is also expressed, like the Greek and Coptic, by two words, hadatha (new) and hadathatha (fresh).

Jesus' body/bread and blood/wine is his teachings. Drinking and eating islearning. Drinking "poison" is learning bad stuff and fasting is not

Now back to the logia and Markan parallels.

THOMAS 47 Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows.

And a slave cannot serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honor the one and offend the other.

"Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is
not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil.

Mar 2:22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will
be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

Thomas47e An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear."

Mar 2:21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

Peter's Aramaic copied by Mark shows up in the syntax here.

Asyndeton. Omission of article from sxisma. (Swete; Gospel acc. To St. Mark) Greek rendering Of Aramaic status emphaticus wrongly understood as indefinite noun. Anarthrous in Aramaic yet definite (Black p95-95).

Asyndeton is contrary to Greek spirit and usage. Most greek sentences connected by particle. Asyndeton is highly characteristic of Aramaic. One of the striking features of Gospel of John (E. A. Abbott Johannine Grammar) attributed By C. F. Burney to an Aramaic original (Aramaic Orgin.)p49.

THOMAS 35 Jesus said, "One can't enter a strong person's house and take it by force without tying his hands. Then one can loot his house."

Mar 3:27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his
goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

By now you realize these parallels are not coincidence and are explained by most Markan and Thomas scholars as Mark USING Thomas. I claim that Mark
WROTE Thomas.

THOMAS 44 Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will not be forgiven, either on
earth or in heaven."

Mar 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

Mar 3:29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:

Here the Greek AMARTHMATA in another sense of OFEILHMATA for the Aramaic xwbh Hobeh.

Mar 3:30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

THOMAS 99 The disciples said to him, "Your brothers and your mother are standing outside."

He said to them, "Those here who do what my Father wants are my brothers and my mother. They are the ones who will enter my Father's kingdom."

Mar 3:31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

Mar 3:32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him,
Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

Mar 3:33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my

Mar 3:34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and
said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

Mar 3:35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my
brother, and my sister, and mother.

I think Thomas 99 is a Markan signature that shows Mark wrote Thomas and then incorporated it in his Gospel. The autograph Mark was pro-Petrine while the Jesus family group was initially hostile to was the Gospel of John. The Gospel of Mark is anti-family in support of Peter.

THOMAS 9 Jesus said, Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they didn't take root in the soil and didn't
produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.

Mar 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

Mar 4:4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way
side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

Mar 4:5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

Mar 4:6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it
had no root, it withered away.

Mar 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

Mar 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that
sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and
some an hundred.

Mar 4:9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him

Not one incidence of hypotactic aorist participle. In Greek aorist participle describing events Anterior to action of verb is regular. In Lk xv 11-32 (prodigal son) the subordinating aorist Participle occurs 11 times.
Its absense in parable of sower (mk 4:3-9) is characteristic of translation Greek.. Literally translated Greek version of an Aramaic story by Jesus.
Wellhausen Einl. P13.

THOMAS 62 Jesus said, "I disclose my mysteries to those [who are worthy] of [my] mysteries.

Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

Mar 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the
mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables:

In 4:11, 12 the saying is not a simple translation of the Aramaic but the author's greek literary Interpretation of material from an Aramaic source, his own notes.

THOMAS 33 Jesus said, "What you will hear in your ear, in the other ear proclaim from your rooftops.

After all, no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, nor does one put it in a hidden place. Rather, one puts it on a lampstand so that all who come and go will see its light."

Mar 4:21 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?

THOMAS 6 His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast?
How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?"

Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be
revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed."

Mar 4:22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.

THOMAS 21f When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!

Mar 4:23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Again the food metaphor/idiom. The CROP is Jesus' teachings.

THOMAS 41 Jesus said, "Whoever has something in hand will be given more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little they have."

Mar 4:25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

In logia like this what little difference between the Markan version and the Thomas version is simply translational, Mark translating, and sometimes expanding his own Aramaic to Greek when composing the Gospel and the Coptic scribe translating from a later Greek copy to Coptic.

21e When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!

Mar 4:26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should
cast seed into the ground;

This is an example of Aramaic paronomasia. Paronomasia is a play on words that sound alike which were often used in Jesus' Aramaic aphorisms.

W'amar hawa haKAna hee malKOOtha d'aLAha ayk aNASH d'NARmeh za'RA b'aRA

zara is seed , aRA is ground.

Mar 4:27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed
should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

Mar 4:28 For the earth ['ar`a] bringeth forth fruit [par`a] of
herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

Mar 4:29 But when the fruit is brought forth,

Kadh yehibha 'ibbah

... immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

Shallah magla dah'sadha 'abbibh

As you can see this is one of the clear examples of Aramaic rhetorical word play.

THOMAS 20 The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what Heaven's kingdom is like."

He said to them, It's like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, but when it falls on prepared soil, it produces a large plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.

Mar 4:30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?
or with what comparison shall we compare it?

Mar 4:31 [It is] like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is
sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

Mar 4:32 But when it is sown zera , it groweth rabhi up,

The Key sounds here are layrygal and sonant resh form the paronomasia. No paranomasia is more certain in the gospels and it is recoverable only from Mark.

....and becometh greater [rabba] than all herbs, [zeroin] and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

THOMAS 31 Jesus said, "No prophet is welcome on his home turf; doctors don't cure those who know them."

Mar 6:1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.

Mar 6:2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the
synagogue: and many hearing [him] were astonished, saying, From whence hath this [man] these things? and what wisdom [is] this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

Mar 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of
James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Mar 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour,
but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

Again this is Mark's blatant anti-family redaction which is preserved somewhat in Thomas

Mar 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his
hands upon a few sick folk, and healed [them].

Mar 6:6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went
round about the villages, teaching.

THOMAS 14c After all, what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it's what comes out of your mouth that will defile you."

Mar 7:14 And when he had called all the people [unto him], he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one [of you], and understand:

Mar 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

Again idiomatic for hearing and teaching since nothing you hear can hurt you but what you SAY can.

THOMAS 45b 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."

Notice that this is another form of Thomas 14 and Mark 7:15.

......If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Something Jesus said often ...[man dith laych idneh d'yishMA yishMA] short, "listen up!"

Mar 7:17 And when he was entered into the house from the people,
his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

Mar 7:18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding
also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it]
cannot defile him;

Mar 7:19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the
belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

Mar 7:20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that
defileth the man.

Mar 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil
thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

Mar 7:22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

Mar 7:23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the

THOMAS 48 Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move."

Mar 11:19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

Mar 11:20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

Mar 11:21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

Mar 11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Mar 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Mar 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].

THOMAS 64 Jesus said, 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 thestreets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner."

Buyers and merchants [will] not enter the places of my Father.

Mar 12:1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A [certain] man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about [it], and digged [a place for] the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

Mar 12:2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.

Mar 12:3 And they caught [him], and beat him, and sent [him] away empty.

Mar 12:4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded [him] in the head, and sent [him] away shamefully handled.

Mar 12:5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

Mar 12:6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.

Mar 12:7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.

Mar 12:8 And they took him, and killed [him], and cast [him] out of the vineyard.

Mar 12:9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

THOMAS 66 Jesus said, "Show me the stone that the builders rejected: that is the keystone."

Mar 12:10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:

Mar 12:11 This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Since Mark was pro-Petrine, I think this KEFA/PETROS that is the "keystone" is Kefa/Petros..Peter...another Markan signature in Thomas

Thomas 100 They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "The Roman emperor's people demand taxes from us."

He said to them, "Give the emperor what belongs to the emperor, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."

Mar 12:13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in [his] words.

Mar 12:14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the
person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

Mar 12:15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see [it].

Mar 12:16 And they brought [it]. And he saith unto them, Whose [is] this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.

Mar 12:17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

Clement to Theodore states:
As for Mark then, during the time when Peter was in Rome,
16 he wrote up the deeds of the Lord, not actually recording everything, nor
17 hinting at the mysteries, but instead picking out the things he thought would
18 increase the faith of those being taught. Then, when Peter was martyred, Mark went
19 to Alexandria, bringing both his knowledge and the things he remembered hearing from Peter.
20 From what he brought, he supplemented his first book with the appropriate items
21 about knowledge for those who are making progress

This conforms to Papias as quoted by Eusebius in HE 2, 3 and 6. HE 3.39 states:

"Mark, who had been Peter's interpreter, wrote down carefully, but notin order, all that he remembered of the Lord's sayings and doings..."

Eusebius confirms that Mark went to Alexandria HE 2.16 and it was here that I think Mark used these Aramaic notes to compose his Gospel. Mark did not have to "use Thomas" (a secondary source) since he had Peter as a primary source. It makes sense, therefore that the Thomas parallels in Mark originated from his own primary source Aramaic notes.

I know this is a lot but when you claim something that some might consider radical...that the GoT had its origin in the notes of have to back
it up. There is still more to do but I think that the demonstrations of the Markan signatures and the Aramaic substratum make it worth I have for years.


Jack Kilmon
San Antonio, TX

Leon said...

I am glad that Jack Kilmon and Jim Deardoff brought up rabbinic literature. I think that Aramaic underlying both Thomas and the Synoptics is most likely. I cannot speak to the technical arguments, but obviously one place to go is rabbinic literature. One might look for the same sayings, parables, themes, manner of expression. Whenever traditions about Jesus got translated into other languages, it ought to be fairly obvious that the original tradition began in Aramaic and/or Hebrew. So it is to be expected that there would be a lot of Semitisms in the ultimate Gospels.

Jack Kilmon's points about the use of words like bread, wine, and fasting in rabbinic literature are apt. I would just add that another reason why fasting was used for not learning is because they understood that you cannot pour teachings, especially the strong teachings of God or Torah, into a body weakened by fasting. Immerse yourself in rabbinic thinking and so much in all of the Gospels lights up. It is an incredible shame that more scholars refuse to do this. I have been trying to tell people for years that Jesus talks a lot about chutzpah towards God as a valuable thing, and you can see it so clearly by comparing his words to what is found in rabbinic lit. But does anyone listen? The first obligation in any genuine scientific scholarshsip is to pay close attention to the prejudices that ruin objective study. The fear that Jesus will become too Jewish is still the elephant in the room that no one will talk about.

Leon Zitzer

Jim Deardorff said...


I need to correct a misunderstanding. The Talmud of Jmmanuel (= Immanuel), though its original was in Aramaic, is not rabinnic literature. I should perhaps not have abbreviated it as TJ, which is the better known abbreviation for the Talmud of Jerusalem. said...

In Mark 6.1, I suggest that the prophet did not leave to go anywhere, but was already in, and stayed in the temple teaching the priests. So I will have none of Mark's "synagogue" nonsense. Thus of course the prophet was not in his own house (more of Mark's nonsense), he was in God's house, the temple. And the prophet wasn't talking about the lack honour given to himself in his own house, but the lack of honour given by the priests to God as their Lord (Mark 6.4), i.e. they refused to obey the Spirit of God.

GoT 31 has a more original direct negative statement: "A prophet is not accepted in his fatherland", (paralleled by the idea of the Spirit of God not being accepted by the priests). Mark is indirect and less original: "A prophet is not without honour except in his own house". Mark was more interested in a human Jesus, so to prove it he gave him his own house and relatives(Mark 6:3), and he had Jesus unable to do any miracles.

The author of GoT is not interested in what Jesus did, but what Jesus said. This of is closer to the concept of the Spirit of God speaking, and a tacit recognition by the author that 'Jesus' was not a real human being.

Peter M. Head said...


Just a little point. Re "P. Oxy. 1 has been determined on paleographic analysis to a date no later than 200 CE."
This cannot be right. There is no such palaeographical cut-off as 200 CE. There is no such palaeographical analysis with one-sided precision. It might be 'late second century', or '150-200' or some such; but descriptions such as these can never mean 'no later than ...' said...

If the earliest 'Christianity' was a form of prophetic Judaism in which obedience of the Spirit was the central feature, then gnostic 'Christianity' with is ethereal Jesus could be seen as closer to the original than non-gnostic 'Christianity with its human Jesus. The Jesus saids of GoT stem from words the Spirit spoke.

Both gnostic and non-gnostic 'Christianities' can be seen as developments from the original Jewish prophetic religion of the Spirit. In that respect, the two developments appear as equally valid. That leaves the issue as to who the real human prophet of the Jewish prophetic Christianity was. The writings attributed to Josephus point to the name of Judas, including most of the garbled Judas name variants splattered about the text by the Flavian editors.

Leon said...


Thanks for the clarification. I suspected that you did not mean the Jerusalem Talmud, but I wanted to believe otherwise. Rabbinic literature is so much ignored that I wanted to see another reference to it. I can dream, can't I?

What gets me about historical Jesus studies is that scholars in general seem to be completely uninterested in evidence, which should be the driving force in any genuine scientific scholarship. What historical Jesus scholars love most are their own ideas about Jesus and not evidence. Evidence that contradicts their ideas is considered especially abhorrent. Hence, you get a lot of theological terminology used in a field that is supposedly about history.

Anyway, I hope you would agree that rabbinic literature might be our most important source for Aramaic, especially for all the same parables and sayings that you can find in the Gospels.

Leon Zitzer