The Forbidden Gospels Blog is April DeConick’s new blog, which looks at a range of texts from early Christianity that fall outside the New Testament canon. April is Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University and author of a number of books on the Gospel of Thomas, the most recent being her commentary, The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation. In the first post in her blog, she says:
What impedes our examination of early Christianity is not the limitations of historical criticism as some in the Academy would like to lead us to believe. The impediment is the fact that the majority of biblical scholars still have not dislodged themselves from their own faith perspectives. As long as this is the case, historical inquiry is impossible because the historical-critical perspective cannot be used uncompromisingly. Although I recognize that there can be no “objective” history recovered or written, this doesn’t mean to me that all subjective inquiries are the same. The theological inquiry is not the same as the historical.
This is certainly something I find challenging in my work on Thomas. I am a Uniting Church minister, trained to exegete Scripture for the benefit of the faithful. I find looking at Thomas in some senses liberating – I don’t need to ask the “how then shall I live?” question of it – but there are times when I find myself “stuck” in orthodox theology. I love doing textual analysis, but sometimes it’s a little difficult, given that I am working with familiar parables, to really concentrate on what the writer is saying, rather than bringing with me the baggage of two millenia of traditional interpretation.
I’m really looking forward to my five weeks at Rice later this year!