Top positive review
“It’s a Gospel, Jim, but not as we know it!”
on 1 June 2013
Nyland’s book is a well presented introduction to this non-canonical gospel with a comparison of the Coptic and Greek versions alongside New Testament logia which cover the same topics, plus an in depth appendix for the justification of her translations of key words and phrases. Apart from notes regarding each lotion there is no overall theological discussion. There has been a renewed interest in this gospel, with a variety of theories being put forward as to its origins, its relationship with the canonical gospels, especially that of John, and this is a good volume to have for instant reference to the logia in Thomas. In her brief introduction Nyland favours early dates for the canonical gospels, which can slew the interpretation accepted by other theologians and biblical scholars. This may be based on her own evangelical beliefs. She also avoids getting into the ‘Gnosticism’ of Thomas, which is not apparent without it being assumed to be, indeed, Gnostic. I liked the book, but award it only 4 stars rather than 5, because of the limitation of the work. This is two-fold. Although Nyland stresses her own lexicographic academic background in Greek, she has had to start from scratch, presumably in Coptic — and there are differences between Indo-European and Hamitic languages. Secondly, I am not convinced totally by the historic interpretations of Koinē Greek through Classical Greek. Words are very flexibly interpreted by each generation and context — the uses of ‘wicked’ and ‘dry‘ in contemporary UK youth idiom are an example of this. The historical development and understanding of such words for ‘poor’ — ‘ptokhos’ and ‘penikhros’ — illuminate but do not necessarily convince, because language usage is interactive as a social and cultural coinage, not just as an inherited conceptualisation. With this proviso, I very much commend the book.