Baker Academic

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Skinner's WATSA the Gospel of Thomas? - Le Donne

Sweet fancy Moses, this is a good book! Let's be honest for a moment - just between you and me - shall we?  It's impossible to keep up with everything that's going on in New Testament studies.  It took me three years to become conversant with the world of Acts scholarship.  And I would consider those folks close neighbors to my field.  So when one steps away from the Gospel of Thomas for a decade and then peeks over the fence, the entire landscape looks different.  My goodness, you folks have been busy!

So about a month ago I popped into the Flora Lamson Hewitt Library in Berkeley to check out five or six titles by April DeConick and Petr Pokorný when I stumbled upon this little number by Chris Skinner. I had seen it online, but I hadn't picked it up. I am so grateful that I did! (By the way, this is what the world will miss when our brick and mortar libraries decrease.)  It is a perfect addition to the WATSA series.  Skinner introduces the field in a concise way with emphasis on the latest developments.

Is there merit to DeConick's "rolling corpus" theory? Is Thomas a Gnostic text? And what do we mean by that?  Perhaps we ought to consider Thomas as an ascetic, middle-Platonic, Syrian mystic, or wisdom text... and how do these relate to the Gnostic tendencies of the book's development?  Any simplistic labeling of Thomas as "Gnostic" without qualification will bring shame upon one's household, it seems.

Really, chapter four is worth far more than the pocket change it will take to buy this book. Skinner speaks to the relationship between the biblical Gospels and Thomas.  He concludes with a chapter that relates Thomas scholarship to historical Jesus studies.  The entire book can be read in one sitting (I recommend a heavy dose of De La Soul while you read it) and will bring you up to speed on a quickly developing conversation.


1 comment:

  1. How coincidental. I was just printing out a copy of Thomas to study.

    Less related to the topic at hand: sometimes I get utterly depressed that there is just so much to learn. I try to be brushed up with all Biblical fields on at least a broad level, but like you said, even focusing on one thing for just a year or two seems like I miss out on major developments. And that's just for the subjects I've bothered to pay attention to.