Something not unlike chronological snobbery
I was listening to a lecture on the Gospel of Thomas (GOT) last night and I got to thinking about something that professor said. There are 114 "sayings", or logia, in the writing and some of them are rather goofy and extremely uncharacteristic of Christ...although given the Apostles penchant for confusion I could see some of the dialogue coming from their mouths. Other sayings are given serious weight as being from the mouth of Christ and more historically accurate than the ones presented in the orthodox gospels. Here is one of them that the professor brought to my attention:
(Logia 9) Jesus said, "Now the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered them. Some fell on the road; the birds came and gathered them up. Others fell on the rock, did not take root in the soil, and did not produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked the seed(s) and worms ate them. And others fell on the good soil and it produced good fruit: it bore sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure."
Of course this sounds a lot like the Parable of the Sower as presented in Matthew and Luke. There are some details and differences in presentation but there is much that is similar between them. I won't go into all of that as it is the conclusions that the professor and others draw from this is what I am chiefly after.
Because the presentation of the parable in the GOT is more primitive and terse some scholars draw the conclusion that this is more in line with what Jesus actually said and that the orthodox Gospel writers just added to the saying as they presented it in their account of his teaching. On the surface this seems like a leap to me. Obviously, just because something is more terse we cannot immediately assume that it is more accurate than something that is a bit more stylized. That just makes logical sense to me. Now I haven't done extensive research on the primitive versus the Biblical sayings of Jesus and why scholars prefer one over the other, but basing a conclusion of authenticity based solely on brevity is a non-starter for me. But it doesn't even end there.
Some scholars will go so far as to say that, as far as we know, Jesus said only what we see in the GOT and did not say what we see in the Biblical Gospels. At first blush that seems like the same thing that they are saying in my preceding paragraph, but it is actually a bit different. Jesus was an itinerant preacher that went from town to town teaching a lot of the same things. It could very well be that the parable as written in the GOT, Matthew, and Luke was presented exactly as it was written by the three authors.
So, all this it say that for someone to claim that Jesus, more than probably, said this and, more than probably, did not say that based solely on the length of the text seems to be flat out silly. I am sure that there is more to it than what was presented by the professor and even what I received from the lecture. The professor himself may have even wanted to get into this but could not based on time.
This just makes me want to make sure all the more I am not so open-minded that my brain falls out. It also makes me want to come up with a term not unlike "chronological snobbery" for the tendency for people to treat the simple and terse as more authentic than the alternative. Maybe primitivistic authenticity? Historical terseness?