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A Common Written Greek Source for Mark and Thomas

By John Horman
Subjects Religion
Series Studies in Christianity and Judaism Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781554582242, 270 pages, February 2011
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554583430, 270 pages, February 2011
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554582426, 270 pages, February 2011

Table of contents

Table of Contents for A Common Written Greek Source for Mark and Thomas by John Horman
N: A New Greek Source
The Scope of N
The Sayings Common to Mark and Thomas
N 2:19 The Bridegroom and the Bridechamber
N 2:21 Old and New
N 3:27 Bbinding the Strong Person
N 3:28 Speaking against the Holy Spirit
N 3:31 Jesus’s Mother and Brothers
N 4:3 The Sower
N 4:9 Whoever Has Ears
N 4:11 Mystery
N 4:21 A Lamp under a Storage Vessel
N 4:22 What is Hidden Will Be Revealed
N 4:25 Whoever Has Will Receive
N 4:29 When the Fruit Ripens
N 4:30 A Mustard Seed
N 6:4 Prophet Is Not Received
N 7:15 What Goes into the Mouth
N 8:27 What Am I Like?
N 8:34 Carry One’s Cross
N 9:1 Tasting Death
N 10:15 Become as a Child
N 10:31 The First and the Last
N 11:23 Moving a Mountain
N 12:1 The Vineyard Owner and the Sharecroppers
N 12:10 The Stone That the Builders Rejected
N 12:13 Taxes to Caesar
N 13:31 Heaven Will Pass Away
N 14:58 I Will Destroy This House
Other Candidates for N
The Setting of N in Early Christianity
Excursus 1: Sayings of Jesus and Narrative about Jesus in the Early Church
Excursus 2: Esoteric and Exoteric Sayings and Settings in Mark
Excursus 3: Narrative Frameworks for Sayings in Mark
Excursus 4: Structural Markers Indicating the Use of Sources in Thomas
Excursus 5: Thomas and the “Gnostics”
Nag Hammadi


This book uncovers an early collection of sayings, called N, that are ascribed to Jesus and are similar to those found in the Gospel of Thomas and in Q, a document believed to be a common source, with Mark, for Matthew and Luke. In the process, the book sheds light on the literary methods of Mark and Thomas. A literary comparison of the texts of the sayings of Jesus that appear in both Mark and Thomas shows that each adapted an earlier collection for his own purpose. Neither Mark nor Thomas consistently gives the original or earliest form of the shared sayings; hence, Horman states, each used and adapted an earlier source. Close verbal parallels between the versions in Mark and Thomas show that the source was written in Greek. Horman’s conclusion is that this common source is N.
This proposal is new, and has implications for life of Jesus research. Previous research on sayings attributed to Jesus has treated Thomas in one of two ways: either as an independent stream of Jesus sayings written without knowledge of the New Testament Gospels and or as a later piece of pseudo-Scripture that uses the New Testament as source. This book rejects both views.


Systematically working through the evidence, H. makes a strong case for a shared written source behind parts of Mark and Thomas. If he is correct, we have a sayings source as old as Q but with a different viewpoint. More speculative are H.'s ideas about the secondary nature of narrative (includng passion narrative) in early Christian writing and about the lack of interest in a narrative of Jesus' life until the mid-second century. The question of how and where the Gospel of Thomas continued to expand beyond the common written source is left open. The stream of Thomas research shows little sign of abating or reaching a consensus, but H. adds important data and analysis to the ongoing effort.

- Janet Timbie, The Catholic University of America, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 75, 2013, 2013 September