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Ron Cameron comments on the textual integrity of Thomas (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 535): Substantial differences do exist between the Greek fragments and the Coptic text. The existence of three different copies of the Greek text of Gos. does give evidence of rather frequent copying of this gospel in the 3d century. The presence of inner-Coptic errors in the sole surviving translation, moreover, suggests that our present Gos. is not the first Coptic transcription made from the Greek. Together these factors suggest a date for Thomas in the vicinity of 70-80 C. As for its provenance, while it is possible, even likely, that an early version of this collection associated with James circulated in the environs of Jerusalem, the Gospel of Thomas in more or less its present state comes from eastern Syria, where the popularity of the apostle Thomas (Judas Didymos Thomas) is well attested. It celebrated his memory by preserving sayings in his name that sanctioned the formation of a distinctive community.
These are best explained as variants resulting from the circulation of more than one Greek edition of Gos. According to the critical edition of the Greek text by Attridge (in Layton 1989: 99), however, even though these copies do not come from a single ms, the fragmentary state of the papyri does not permit one to determine whether any of the mss "was copied from one another, whether they derive independently from a single archetype, or whether they represent distinct recensions." It is clear, nevertheless, that Gos. The ms tradition indicates that this gospel was appropriated again and again in the generations following its composition. The gospel locates its group's position within the Christian tradition as an independent Jesus movement, which persisted over the course of several generations of social history without becoming an apocalyptic or kerygmatic sect.
Like many other gospels in the first three centuries, the text of Gos. Authorized by interpreting the written legacy of Jesus, Gos. maintained its autonomy and distinct identity by acts of creative attribution. defines the role of its community in constructing the fabric of society as a process of sapiental insight and research.
Thom.'s identification of this author as Jesus' brother Judas does not presuppose a knowledge of the NT, but "rests upon an independent tradition." In addition, the peculiar, redundant name Didymus Judas Thomas seems to be attested only in the East, where the shadowy disciple named Thomas (Mark par.; John 14:5) or Thomas Didymus (John ; ; 21:2) was identified with Judas in the Syriac NT and called Judas Thomas (John ).