Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas's Familiarity with the Synoptics

Mark Goodacre

The Gospel of Thomas is the noncanonical Gospel par excellence, the "fifth Gospel" that promises scholars new sayings of Jesus and the hope of new insight into Christian origins. But scholars remain divided over whether or not Thomas represents an early, independent witness to the Jesus tradition or whether it is secondary, showing knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels. Goodacre makes a detailed and compelling case that the author of the Gospel of Thomas is familiar with the Synoptic Gospels.

He shows that the arguments for independence are inadequate and that the degree of agreement between Thomas and the Synoptics is far too great to be mediated by oral tradition. He points out that Thomas features tell-tale signs of Matthew's and Luke's redaction and that the Gospel should be dated in the early to middle second century, when its author sought to lend an authoritative Synoptic-sounding legitimacy to the voice of his enigmatic Jesus.