Koester appears to have steadily moved his dating for Thomasin a backwards direction. In his introduction to Thomasin The Nag Hammadi Library, Koester identifies the composition as dating from before AD 200, but possibly being as early as the first century.^12 Pagels, who was also involved in the project, recalls Koester’s position on this subject.^13
A few years later, Koester stated his view that Thomaswas probably written during the first century in either Palestine or Syria. His reasons for this early dating are the similarities to Q, that the Thomastradition is independent of and earlier than that of the canonical Gospels, the location of the Thomastradition in Syria, and the Thomas-James (the brother of Jesus) contrast in sayings 12 and 13.^14
That such conclusions may present a challenge to the orthodox understanding of Jesus might be indicated from several considerations. Besides the question of dating, it is also asserted that Thomasincludes a number of new teachings of Jesus not available in the canonical Gospel tradition, and that there is “no trace of the kerygma of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus” in Thomas, perhaps manifesting a different tradition from that of orthodox Christian theology.^15 This last claim, in particular, demands a more detailed response.
To be sure, a considerable number of influential critical scholars have reacted strongly to theses such as those by Pagels, Robinson, and Koester. It is generally
11 Robinson’s essay in Hedrick and Hodgson, Nag Hammadi, is a more recent statement of his continuing emphasis on this subject.
12 Helmut Koester in Robinson, Nag Hammadi in English, Vol. II, p. 117.
13 Pagels, Gnostic Gospels, pp. xv-xvi.
14 Koester in Robinson, Nag Hammadi in English, vol. II, pp. 150–154. On Thomasas a sayings source, see vol. II, pp. 4, 47, 68, 180.