Peter Tsimikalis, an undergraduate student in the DSR, was awarded best paper in the category of religion at the North American Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Philosophy. His paper, titled “The Group: A Subtle Yet Central Component of The Gospel of Thomas” investigates the role of the communal in the gospel’s production.
Tsimikalis was advised by Ian Brown, a DSR Instructor and PhD Candidate.
The abstract of Tsimikalis’s paper is below:
The Gospel of Thomas has polarized scholars with regard to its social history as well as the social setting in which it was authored, transmitted, and engaged with. The two main schools of thought are as follows. Firstly, Thomas was authored by and for the individual. Secondly, Thomas was authored by and for the group. In this paper, collective/cultural memory theory will be used to examine Thomas’ content in light of the Hellenistic educational system. By reading Thomas through the collective memory framework, it is evident that Thomas created and conveyed a particular cultural memory where the Jesus group is central. This shift to an emphasis on the group also makes Thomas more at home in the world of Hellenistic text production. The Hellenistic educational system functioned predominately in the context of the group, rather the individual, and therefore examining textual practices in Hellenistic schools sheds helpful light on similar practices in Thomas. Ergo, this paper will argue that Thomas, although appearing to depict individualistic approaches to the attainment of the “proper” interpretation of its sayings, actually promoted a group setting for its consumption, engagement, and transmission.