The Acts of Thomas: Introduction, Text, and Commentary

The Acts of Thomas: Introduction, Text, and Commentary

The Acts of Thomas: Introduction, Text, and Commentary

The Acts of Thomas: Introduction, Text, and Commentary


This is the second edition of a book published as long ago as 1962. The at that time relatively young Dr. A.F.J. Klijn was brought up in the school of W.C. van Unnik and G. Quispel, both in Utrecht. In his book about the Acts of Thomas he tried to demonstrate that this work cannot be reckoned among the Gnostic writings but belongs to the early Syriac or rather Eastern Christian tradition. In the last decades much has been written about Syriac Christianity, which made it necessary to rewrite the original introduction of this book. The commentary has mainly been left as it was, although many additions have been made to its great number of valuable references.


This is the second edition of “The Acts of Thomas… Introduction— Text—Commentary”, in: Supplements to Novum Testamentum V, Leiden 1992. It was about a century prior to that time that a commentary had last appeared on this work For that reason I had to go into a great variety of subjects.

I am grateful that it is possible to edit a second impression of this work the reader will notice that the Commentary can be compared with that in the first impression It may be that some of the references to books and articles are of an early date, but they remind us of a period during which important subjects were intensively dealt with

However, it appeared necessary to change the contents of the Introduction extensively in the earlier text we were supposed to examine a number of subjects which have since become independent fields of study. This means that we are not going into the history of the text. We limit ourselves to the Syriac and Greek versions in so far as it is necessary to understand the commentary. We have to give up the idea of going into the beginnings of Christianity in Edessa in the past

See, for example, Fr. Bovon e.a., “Les actes apocryphes des apôtres. Christianisme et monde païen”, in: Publications de la Faculté de Théologie de I’Université de Genève 4, Genève 1981; J.H. Charlesworth, The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Metuchen, nj., and London 1987; Apocrypha, Revue Internationale des Littératures Apocryphes, Brepols I 1990 etc.; Apocryphes. Collection de poche de l’AELAC, and the Series Corpus Christianorum, Series Apocryphorum, Brepols. the Acts of Thomas were published by M. Erbetta, Gli Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento II: Atti e Leggende, Torino 1966 313–374; L. Moraldi, Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento ii, Torino 1971, 1125–1350; aj. Festugière, Actes Apocryphes de Jean et de Thomas, Genève 1983; hj.W. Drijvers, “Thomasakten”, in: Neutestamentliche Apokryphen ii, Tübingen 1989 (5. Auflage), 289–367, cf. the English Translation of this work by R.Mcl. Wilson Cambridge and Louisville 1991 and 1993, ii, 322–411; J.K. Elliott, The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford 1993, 439–511, and E Bovon and P. Geoltrain, Écrits apocryphes chrétiens I, Paris 1997, 1321–1470.

in the editions of Apocryphal Acts in Corpus Christianorum, Series Apocryphorum the textual history of the various Acts are thoroughly dealt with. We expect the same in the forthcoming volume about the Acts of Thomas.

Especially I want to refer to the contributions of hj.W. Drijvers, of which I mention East of Antioch, London 1984 and the articles “Syrian Christianity and Judaism”, in: The Jews among Pagans and Christians in the Roman empire, ed. by Judith Lieu e.a.,

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