Accordingly, any thesis that would pose Q and Thomasover against the New Testament tradition in favor of the death and resurrection of Jesus would have to argue from a tradition which is somewhat problematic from the outset. This is especially the case with regard to Thomas. The many obstacles caused Farmer to comment concerning the Robinson-Koester proposal: “We can only conclude that a hypothesis is being set forth for which there is very little evidence.” So when Q theology is combined with Thomasand other Gnostic theses, Farmer responds that such is only “a grand vision. . . a romance”!^36
(3) The issue of whether Q includes or presupposes the knowledge of Jesus’ death and resurrection is debated by scholars. Because of the nonexistence of this document, it is rather difficult to argue conclusively as to its content. Regardless, Fuller argues that, even without mentioning the resurrection, Q “presupposes it all the way through.”^37 But the purported sayings of Jesus contained in Thomasdo acknowledge Jesus’ death (34:25–27; 45:1–16), as well as encouraging believers to follow him in bearing their own crosses (42:27–28). Jesus’ exaltation is depicted in the post-death illustration that asserts that the builders’ rejected stone is the cornerstone (45:17– 19). While the resurrection is not directly described, “the living Jesus” identified in the opening line of Thomas as the speaker who is imparting this information, is most likely the risen Jesus, causing Robert Grant to explain that this is why so little attention is given to Jesus’ life and death.^38
34 Brown, “The Christians Who Lost Out,” p. 3.
35 Fitzmyer, pp. 122–123.
36 Farmer, “The Church’s Stake,” pp. 12, 14.
37 Fuller, Foundations, p. 143.
38 The Gospel of Thomas32:1; 42:13–18; 43:9–12; cf. Revelation 1:17–18. See Robert M. Grant, Gnosticism and Early Christianity, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), pp. 183–184; cf. Blomberg, Historical Reliability, pp. 209, 212. Even the Jesus Seminar views this as a possible identification of “the living Jesus” in Thomas. (Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus[New York: Macmillan/Polebridge, 1993], p. 398.)
(4) Last, the earliest creedal formulas in Christianity frequently recount the death and resurrection of Jesus. These confessions depict Christian doctrine in its earliest stages as it was transmitted orally, often recounting various details concerning these events and their importance. Although we cannot provide detailed arguments here, two examples that demand notice are 1 Corinthians 11:23–25 and 15:3ff.
The initial text depicts the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His disciples, explaining the significance of his death. Jeremias asserts that the tradition here comes from the earliest time in the early church, even going back to Jesus.^39 Additionally, 1 Corinthians 15:3ff. recounts the gospel facts of the death, burial, resurrection and appearances of Jesus Christ and is probably even earlier in its formulation. There are numerous other creedal statements in the New Testament that also report the subject of the death and resurrection of Jesus.^40 We will return to a detailed treatment of this topic in Part Two below.