The Words of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas : The Genesis of a Wisdom Tradition book cover
1st Edition

The Words of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas
The Genesis of a Wisdom Tradition

ISBN 9780367629243
Published January 9, 2023 by Routledge
312 Pages

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Book Description

This book offers a detailed analysis of the Gospel of Thomas in its historic and literary context, providing a new understanding of the genesis of the Jesus tradition. Discovered in the twentieth century, the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas is an important early text whose origins and place in the history of Christianity continue to be subjects of debate. Aiming to relocate the Thomasine community in the wider context of early Christianity, this study considers the Gospel of Thomas as a bridge between the oral and literary phases of the Christian movement. It will therefore, be useful for Religion scholars working on Biblical studies, Coptic codices, gnosticism and early Christianity.

Table of Contents


1 The Transmission of a Thomas Tradition

2 The Thomasine Community

3 Hermeneutical Debates over Mystical Logia: Sapiential versus Gnostic

4 The Parables and Kingdom Language in Thomas

5 The Female Disciples in Thomas


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David W. Kim is a Visiting Fellow at the School of History, Australian National University, Canberra and an Associate Professor of the History of Christianity, Kookmin University, Seoul. His publication includes Sacred Sites and Sacred Stories Across Cultures: Transmission of Oral Tradition, Myth, and Religiosity (2020), Colonial Transformation and Asian Religions in Modern History (2018), Religious Encounters in Transcultural Society: Collison, Alteration, and Transmission (2017), Religious Transformation in Modern Asia: A Transnational Movement (2015), and Intercultural Transmission in the Medieval Mediterranean (2012).


This volume is structured around a reading perspective in which each Logion (114 in all) of the Gospel of Thomas is approached equally and interpreted logically to redefine the genesis of the Jesus tradition in the history of early Christianity. The new hypothesis is demonstrated in the way that the original text, during the time of a generational transition, was creatively written by the ‘one point five (1.5: child eyewitnesses) generations’ of Jesus, out of oral tradition and casual notes once possessed by the historical figure of Didymus Judas Thomas. If the ‘genetic address of Thomas,’ indeed, is in the stream of the written Logia tradition (45-60 CE) before the canonical Gospels, one should not only not deny that the Jewish wisdom (sophia) tradition survived the transitional process, but also recognize that there may be yet more undiscovered Qs. This book, with a pioneering spirit, argues that Thomas does not exactly fit into the traditional Q, but uniquely contains ‘the Thomasine-Q tradition of Jesus.’

Harold W. Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, Harvard University