Sterling notes:

>We do read Farmer's stuff; we just find it unconvincing and full
>of special pleading (I don't think that he reads OUR stuff).

Could you be a little more specific about what "special pleading" you find 
in Farmer's materials?  It could be argued that there is quite a bit of 
"special pleading" going on in Q studies as well (i.e., the GosThomas as an 
example of Q--see Larry Swain's post for good questions here).  Sure 
Matthew and Luke agree against Mark, but that doesn't mean much except that 
they agree against Mark.  Isn't it just as possible that Luke used Matthew 
as a source and just disagreed with Matt on certain things?  Why not?  
After all, Luke is the only document that admits to reading other accounts.  
(I have my asbestos suit on for those of you who will see the need to flame 
my naivete).  Of course this answer is simplistic, but that alone doesn't make
it wrong or bad!  Complex isn't necessarily better!

Sterling continues:

>And the comments on the Gospel of Thomas MIGHT have worked
>twenty years ago, but are clearly out of date today.  It's a
>moving target, Ken.

This is exactly the point, Sterling.  It IS a moving target.  Statements of 
certainty like those that often are found in Q studies miss the point.  We 
are talking about an entity (whether oral or written we cannot prove) whose 
very existence can be questioned (please note that I am not saying that it 
doesn't exist or never existed--but the certainty of its existence has been 
and can be questioned).  As Larry points out, maybe we should speak of 
Quellen rather than Quelle (and, I'll admit, Sterling, that my Q studies 
are not much up to date either).  Maybe the Q seminar folks have already 
concluded this!  Side note--what IS the current state of Q studies and who 
should we read to find out (both pro and con)?

Finally, with regards to the statement--
>The only realist alternative is, I think, to take William
>Peterson's suggestion (on another list, if memory serves me
>right) that the text of the NT was so fluid before the 4th century
>that what we have before us is basically a 4th century NT, and
>we can know next to nothing about Christian history before
>that time.

If we genuinely hold this view, then what good is GosThomas?  All the 
theories I have heard about it say that it is 2nd century--how do we know?  
If so, then I assume that we are giving it priority over the Greek Gospels 
in the NT.  Is this a reasonable approach?  Which came first--NT Gospels or 
GosThomas?  And if we can genuinely "know next to nothing about Christian 
history before" the 4th century, then what do we do with GosThomas and 
other similar works (Shephard of Hermes, etc) that are often dated _before_ 
the 4th century?  Indeed, why study early Christian history at all?
I assume that Peterson is saying that our Greek text is 4th century, but 
why does that mean that "we can know next to nothing about Christian 
history before that time?"  Doesn't that statement make Q studies irrelevant?  
Just because documents may date to the 4th century doesn't mean that they 
do not throw light on the previous centuries (maybe I misunderstood here, but 
that is what the statement seemed to say--it sure is difficult analyzing 
texts, isn't it?).  Let's recognize that we are all basically discussing 
_theories_ of development for these texts.  None of us can be real certain 
that we have it figured out!

Leo Percer