Tuckett on Plisch on the Gospel of Thomas

Over at the Review of Biblical Literature, Christopher Tuckett reviews Uwe-Karsten Plisch’s commentary on the Gospel of Thomas. With regard to Plisch’s views on dating the material in the Gospel of Thomas, Tuckett notes:

Plisch is generally cautious and uncontroversial in relation to Thomas scholarship. For example, he opines that the time of composition is probably unknown, but in any case the “author” (or perhaps editor or compiler) has used a number of different traditions; hence one cannot date each tradition on the basis of its presence in the present text of the Gospel of Thomas. The disparate nature of the present text is the result of individual sayings being put together with various principles in mind, but often in relation to “catchwords” linking various sayings on the basis of a common word used. Thus each saying, or tradition, must be considered on its own merits. The origin of the various sayings may be quite diverse: some may be very old, while others may be the result of later editing.


The book I am currently writing on Thomas (What Are They Saying About the Gospel of Thomas?) includes a chapter where I examine different scholarly approaches to dating. Among the scholars I interact with are those who locate Thomas in the late 2nd century, those who locate Thomas in a period that is rougly contemporaneous with the Synoptic tradition, those who argue that Thomas was composed prior to 70 CE (cf. especially Stevan Davies who argues for a date in the 50’s), and then I include a fourth group that consists of Plisch and April DeConick (both of whom argue that there are different discernible traditions). To be sure, DeConick is more optimistic about discerning the different “stages” (though she objects to the use of that term) than is Plisch, but there are some similarities to their approaches, at least when they are compared to the other three.

Overall, I agree with Tuckett when he writes that Plisch’s commentary “is an important addition to the literature on the Gospel of Thomas and will be very valuable for all those doing any kind of detailed work on the text as well as for those with more general interests in the Gospel of Thomas.”

One thought on “Tuckett on Plisch on the Gospel of Thomas

  1. I bought a copy of this book on the basis of Tobias Nicklas’ earlier review for RBL and have been very glad that I did. I don’t always agree with Plisch’s conclusions, but find the commentary very helpful.

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