that are common to all synoptic
versions of this parable.
Unlike the texts of Matthew &
Luke, however, Thomas' version cannot be traced directly to any written
text. The rhetorical style of its opening is closest to Mark's.
But Thomas' description of the first two destinations of the scattered seed
and the productivity of the fourth uses phrasing closer to Luke (red
text). Yet Thomas preserves some scattered wording common to Matthew &
Mark that Luke omits (teal text).
The bulk of Thomas' wording,
however, is independent of all the synoptics. There are no echoes of wording
peculiar to Matthew's version. So, if the compiler of the gospel of
Thomas got this parable from the canonical gospels, he had to
- extract it from its synoptic context,
- echo a few words from Mark & a few from
- alter the conclusion &
- paraphrase the rest.
A far simpler & more plausible
explanation is that Thomas, like Mark, recorded this parable from an oral
source. Thomas is clear evidence that the parable of the sower circulated in
early Christian circles without reference to its original setting.
Thus, the synoptic writers were free to report it in any context they thought