More on commentaries – Nordsieck

A while ago, I posted about the commentaries that I had on GosThom. Brandon Wason also has a summary of GosThom commentaries over at Sitz im Leben, but I am now working fairly intensively on some specific texts and thought it might be interesting to provide comment about how I am finding using the various books.  I will do this over the course of several posts, starting with:

Reinhard Nordsieck’s Das Thomas-Evangelium

Reinhard Nordsieck, Das Thomas-Evangelium: Einleitung: Zur Frage des historischen Jesus: Kommentierung aller 114 Logien, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Verlag, 2004, 408 pp, paperback.  I chose this to start with simply because it is on top of the pile on my desk.

Assessment of Thomas

Nordsieck argues that the Gospel is neither Gnostic nor dependent on the Synoptic tradition. He believes that it was initially written early – 40 CE to 70 CE – with several later additions and is one of the oldest examples of the gospel genre, very close to the oral tradition.

Positive Aspects

  • Has a significant amount of detailed comment on each saying, interacting with the various positions stated in the literature.
  • Provides comment on the saying’s likely relationship to Q and to the various canonical and non-canonical parallels and an assessment of its likely authenticity as a saying of Jesus.
  • Traces catchword connections from saying to saying.
  • Provides a good overview of the German-language literature and picks up the most recent scholarship (at the time of writing) on GosThom
  • Consistent methodology for approaching each saying makes his line of reasoning reasonably easy to follow (however, see below re language)
  • In text referencing and author’s names in uppercase makes it easy to see whose arguments are being talked about. (Although Brandon finds the use of uppercase for names irritating it doesn’t bother me and I found it quite useful when I was scanning to find out what I wanted to aquire from the library.)
  • Being a paperback, it is relatively inexpensive

Negative Aspects

  • the layout is not at all reader-friendly – there is very little whitespace which makes finding things on the page quite challenging.  The bibliography is unformatted – no italics for book titles, inverted commas for article/chapter titles or hanging indents for citations longer than one line.  I found the bibliographay so difficult that I actually scanned it and reformated it so I could find things. I am happy to provide readers with a copy of this if they wish. There are also inconsistencies in the referencing methods. My guess is that it was originally formatted differently, but was deemed to be too long and has been redone to take less space. I notice that the cover picture on Amazon is quite different to the one on my copy, so perhaps there is another edition which is nicer to read.
  • the language is quite complex. In the comment on every saying I find one or two sentences that I simply cannot be sure I have understood correctly.  I have two friends who help me when I get stuck.  Both speak German as their first language and both have theological qualifications and they both tell me that they have to read the bits I send them several times to work out what he is saying.


For those doing intensive work on the text of GosThom who are comfortable reading complex theological German, this is a useful book, but not a particularly “nice read” because of its layout.

2 thoughts on “More on commentaries – Nordsieck

  1. Pingback: This and that « Judy’s research blog

  2. Pingback: Recent commentaries on the Gospel of Thomas « Judy’s research blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s