Abstract

In this article, I argue that the Gospel of Thomas and the Book of Thomas were composed in Alexandria, Egypt. For the Gospel of Thomas, I examine the manuscript attestation and quotations of the gospel from known Alexandrian figures (e.g., Julius Cassianus, Basilideans) and texts (the Gospel according to the Egyptians), and from texts that are arguably Alexandrian (e.g., the Testimony of Truth, Excerpts from Theodotus, and the Naassene discourse). With respect to the Book of Thomas, I examine the treatise’s use of the tradent Matthias, the Philonic paradigm of the spiritual athlete, the use of the Alexandrian Apocalypse of Peter, and distinctive overlaps with other Alexandrian figures and texts. Determining the provenance of anonymous ancient texts is hypothetical, but the most reliable and precise evidence for the Gospel and Book of Thomas supports a composition in Alexandria more so than it does the regions of Edessa, Jerusalem, or Antioch.

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