The Kernel Thomas is a name that I use to indicate the earliest material in the Gospel of Thomas. I suggest that this early material was an early collection of sayings in a speech format and that it was used by the Thomasine Christians as a storage cite [sic] for Jesus' sayings. Preachers and teachers used it as a platform for their orations.One of the questions that this raises for me is: In what way is "Kernel Thomas" appropriately labelled Kernel Thomas? In other words, what is it about this hypothetical collection of sayings that makes it Thomasine? The character Thomas appears in the Incipit and Logion 13, but both of these are among DeConick's accretions. Looking at the character of the accretions, it is also clear that Kernel Thomas is a different kind of entity from the Gospel of Thomas, which focuses the question further. How do we know that the author or community producing the Gospel of Thomas was directly continuous with the author or community who used Kernel Thomas as their storage site for Jesus' sayings? Could it be that the Gospel of Thomas author or community had no direct relationship with the author or community behind Kernel Thomas? Is Kernel Thomas the core of the Gospel of Thomas in the same way that the Gospel of Mark is the core of the Gospel of Matthew? Or to put it another way, would we be content with thinking of the Gospel of Mark as "Kernel Matthew"? (These are intended as open, exploratory questions and not as rhetorical questions).
Thursday, May 10, 2007
On her ever stimulating Forbidden Gospels blog, April DeConick reflects briefly on a key element in her research on the Gospel of Thomas, asking What is the Kernel Thomas?. It is a post that reminds me of some interesting discussion we had on DeConick's work in our graduate course on the Gospel of Thomas here at Duke this semester. Here is the summary from the current post: