John Rivals Thomas: From Community Conflict to Gospel Narrative
DeConick, April D.
This article is not the first attempt to discuss the relationship between the Gospels of John and Thomas. There is already a formidable amount of literature on the subject, most of which tries to establish direct literary dependence between the two books or the use of common sources (see DeConick 2001). The present essay, however, will explore the connection between these two texts on the community level rather than the source level. The Fourth Gospel (FG) and the Gospel of Thomas (Gos. Thorn.), like other religious texts, address the particular needs of their respective communities and express special theological and soteriological positions. As community documents, each has its own Sitz im Leben: its own geographical location, its own community history, and its own religious traditions. Moreover, like other religious texts, both were written with the express purposes of polemicizing, persuading, and propagating a particular belief system.