I want to say a few brief words about the end of the ‘Introduction’ chapter in Nicholas Perrin’s Thomas: The Other Gospel (see my a-tad-too-lengthy post on the rest of the chapter here). First, according to Perrin, “the most pressing question” is how the Coptic Gospel of Thomas relates to the canonical gospels. 1 It was assumed early on that Thomas was simply a dependent distortion of the synoptics. This was until James M. Robinson and Helmut Koester.

Robinson noted that Thomas was a “sayings source” like the hypothetical Q (logoi sophon = sayings of the wise). Koester argued that this “sayings source” was free of all the extra narrative baggage of the synoptics and therefore was likely an earlier, purer, more original set of sayings from the historical Jesus. 2

This is part of what Perrin sets out to address in his book. To challenge these presuppositions about Thomas Perrin must wrestle with the writings of three prominent, contemporary Thomas scholars: (1) Stephen Patterson who carries along the “Koester-Robinson thesis”, (2) Elaine Pagels, and (3) April DeConick.

In my next post I will summarize Perrin’s interaction with Patterson.


[1] Nicholas Perrin. Thomas: The Other Gospel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007. 13.

[2] Ibid.