31 For a handy summary of arguments for and against theses such as the priority of Mark and the existence of Q, see David Barrett Peabody, “In Retrospect and Prospect,” The Perkins School of Theology Journal, Vol. XL, No. 2 (April, 1987), pp. 9–16. For a list of critical scholars who either advocate or lean toward other alternatives, see William R. Farmer, “Preface: Order Out of Chaos,” The Perkins School of Theology Journal, Vol. XL, No. 2 (April, 1987), pp. 1–6.
32 William R. Farmer, “The Church’s Stake in the Question of ‘Q’,” The Perkins School of Theology Journal, Vol. XXXIX, No. 3 (July, 1986), pp. 9–19.
33 See F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1974), s.v. “Thomas, Gospel of,” p. 1370. For a detailed summary, see Craig Blomberg, “Tradition and Redaction in the Parables of the Gospel of Thomas,” Gospel Perspectives, vol. 5 (Sheffield: JSOT, 1985), pp. 177–205; Craig Evans,“Jesus and the Gnostic Literature,” Biblica, vol. 62 (1981), pp. 406–412; France, Evidence for Jesus, pp. 75–78; Farmer, “Church’s Stake,” p. 14.
On this last point, Brown judges that “we learn not a single verifiable new fact about Jesus’ ministry and only a few new sayings that might plausibly have been his.”^34 Fitzmyer agrees, but in even stronger terms: “The Coptic texts of Nag Hammadi tell us little that is new . . . . It has been mystifying, indeed, why serious scholars continue to talk about the pertinence of this material to the study of the New Testament.”^35
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