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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

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.


``Without doubt this is an innovative hypothesis, which carefully reconstructs proposed earlier forms of traditions behind shared Markan and Thomasine parallels. Readers will be grateful for the care displayed in handling both Coptic and Greek sayings, and the technical skills used to recreate the form that is suggested to underlie these parallels. ''

- Paul Foster, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 34(5), 2012

``This is a very learned, thoughtful, meticulous work of scholarship that adds a novel alternative to the various theories on the sources and composition histories of the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Thomas, the latter especially. The N hypothesis will be provocative in the best sense; it will provoke debate, surely criticism, scholarly re-thinking of how to account for the composition of the Gospel of Thomas, still a front of hyper-activity in scholarship on early Christianity and its literature. ''

- Willi Braun, University of Alberta, editor of[ Rhetoric andReality in Early Christianities] (WLU Press, 2005)

``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, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 75, 2013