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He stakes his analysis and conclusions about early Christianity on the supposition that the non-canonical "Gospel of Thomas" or its earliest substance, consisting of wisdom sayings from Jesus, predates, like the accepted Q source, the earliest canonical gospels and, along with an early core of the Didache, provides a window into the rural communities of resistance left behind in lower Galilee after Jesus' death.
Rather than treating differences between the four Gospels as potential barriers to the truth (as mistakenly done by Augustine and other Gospel harmonizers, Enlightenment critics, and "historical Jesus" questers), the plural embodiment of the canonical gospel rejects equating truth with a singular and univocal set of empirical "facts." Truth must be sought within the diversity of the canonical voices.
Challenging the conventional account of how, when, and why the four gospels were written, Watson (biblical interpretation, Durham U., England) argues that a single yet diverse reception process unites initial responses to Jesus by his first followers with the articulation of the fourfold canonical gospel, by way of a transmission of tradition in which gospel writing plays a central role.
The four canonical Gospel writers allegorize extensively, but Thomas almost always lets the sayings and parables stand, as Patterson says, "in forms that are more primitive than their synoptic parallels." For instance, Jesus' well-known remark about the impossibility of serving two masters stands alone in both Thomas and in the other sayings gospel, Q.
Jesus' words survived in oral tradition during the forty-odd years between his death and the writing of the earliest canonical Gospel (Mark); the evangelists couldn't check old newspapers or newsreels for what Jesus might have said on any certain day.
By the time the fourth canonical Gospel was completed (circa 90-100), there was no doubt that Jesus was God, the very Word of God made flesh--an insight given voice in the Johannine prologue.
Luke, the Greek physician who's known to have written the second-longest canonical Gospel of the New Testament, risks his life when he visits the ruthless Christian persecutor-turned-devout apostle in prison as he awaits imminent doom at the hands of Emperor Nero who wants to rid Rome of Christian converts!
For Mark, the first of the canonical Gospel writers, geography is theological.
Independent Canadian scholar Horman posits a source written in the Greek language, which he calls N, from which both the canonical gospel of Mark and the uncanonical gospel of Thomas drew.
The five-volume series reviews current scholarship on how the writers of the four canonical Gospels and the extra-canonical gospels used embedded Scripture.
Price uses his novelist's imagination to explore ethical situations that the canonical gospels, for whatever reason, miss.
In an era when various Gnosticizing "gospels" are eagerly marketed, it is important to note the profound coherence of the four canonical gospels from the first century in comparison with the pieties, spiritualities, and politics of second- and third-century "gospels." Yes, those later accounts reflect diverse traditions that are partially disclosed in the canonical gospels.