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traits in the wording of Thomas 14:5. If we accept the view shared by the vast majority of New
Testament scholars, i.e. that Mark was a source of Matthew, then Matt 15:11 appears to be one of
those instances where Matthew used Mark as his source, as there are compelling reasons to think that
this verse is a redactional reformulation of Mark 7:15. Thus, since Matt 15:11 and Thomas 14:5 are
“almost identical,” Thomas in this particular case appears to depend on Matthew.27
While the list of examples of Thomasine borrowings from the Synoptic gospels may be added
to, it seems unlikely at any rate that all Synoptic parallels in Thomas come ipso facto from Synoptic
gospels. While some of the Synoptic-resembling sayings in Thomas clearly exhibit the traits of
Synoptic redaction (as is the case with Thomas 14:5), others do not seem to contain such traits.
To be sure, numerous Thomasine sayings may have no parallels in the Synoptic gospels, but do
have parallels to other texts, e.g. the lion saying in Thomas 7 and Didymus the Blind, Comm. Ps.
315.27–316.4 Gronewald.28 Since in most cases there is no reason to suspect that these latter texts
depend on Thomas, viz. there is no reason to think that Didymus the Blind depends on Thomas 7 or
vice versa, we must surmise that at least some non-Synoptic Thomasine sayings that are attested
outside Thomas did not originate from Thomas.
In other words, Thomas accumulated various traditions, both Synoptic-resembling and
otherwise; these traditions come from various sources, including, but not limited to, the Synoptic
gospels. Since the Synoptic tradition is only one of the many Thomasine sources, and since it is likely
that other sources also contained Synoptic-resembling sayings, it seems plausible that some of the
Synoptic-resembling Thomasine sayings do not come from a Synoptic gospel (or a source dependent
on the Synoptic tradition). Thus, I suggest that in the cases when a Synoptic-resembling Thomasine
saying does not exhibit any Synoptic editorial traits, Thomas deserves to be given the benefit of the
doubt and thus to be treated as an independent witness of a given tradition. While the relation of
Thomas to the Synoptic Gospels is beyond the scope of this dissertation, in the following chapters I
will occasionally discuss the Synoptic-resembling Thomasine sayings that seem to be independent
from the Synoptic tradition.29
Perhaps, the most remarkable example of a saying that can claim independence from the
Synoptics is Thomas 65, the Thomasine version of the Parable of the Tenants. As John S.
Kloppenborg has demonstrated, and indeed in remarkable detail,30 unlike its Synoptic counterparts,
Thomas 65 lacks any secondary allusions to Isa 5:1–7 LXX. Moreover, while the Synoptic versions
of the parable are unrealistic and allegorized, Thomas 65 “reflects accurately the patterns of vineyard
ownership in the first century CE, the economic and agrarian practices associated with viticulture,
and the legal situation of the owner in instances of conflict with tenants.” 31 According to
Kloppenborg, since narrative realism does not seem to be one of Thomas’ strong suits, it is hard to
imagine how the realistic Thomasine version could derive from an unrealistic Synoptic one.
Finally, it is not enough to say that the Synoptic-resembling Thomasine sayings sometimes
appear to be independent from their Synoptic counterparts; occasionally, a case can be made for
Thomasine priority. As early as 1938, before the Nag Hammadi codices were discovered and the text
See Uro 1998b, 23.
I discuss this saying in chapter 10. See also the parallels listed in Pesce 2004, 58–73 and 570–82.
See, e.g., Excursus V.
See Kloppenborg 2006.
Kloppenborg 2014, 220.