Challenges presented to me from Cultural Apologetics?
There were not so many challenges to my approach of apologetics, just some interesting points that have made me change up my approach to apologetics. Not everyone’s starting points contain philosophical objections and historical objections to Christianity. Paul was a cultural apologist since he dwelt with the Jews and the Greeks on Mars hill from their starting points and not a particular apologetic method. Paul meets them at their starting points without compromising the Gospel. Many people’s rejections or objections to Christianity are not always in the epistemological realm. Rather, they have to do with culture and how some Christians have painted a hostile approach to modern day culture. “Christians tend to give Jesus moral and spiritual authority in their lives, but when it comes to gaining other kinds of knowledge, Christians tend to follow the rest of the culture looking to scientists or Hollywood instead (33).”
An example of this would be how some Christians condemn secular music because it is not Christ centered. What history shows is that the arts, like music, is due to many Christians during the Renaissance. The Christians who condemn secular music attack the music for its genre rather than its content. Someone’s starting point may come from a musical background, and so illuminating for them the ideas of Christians during the Renaissance and the Medieval church music presents the idea of the beatific vision. The beatific vision is a representation of stain glass photos and music to present the presence of God or for the non-believer a moment of transcendence.
The duty of the cultural apologist is to show the desirability of Christianity from a musical starting point or any starting point for that matter. The task can become difficult to not give up essentials of Christianity because someone’s rejection might be an essential to Christianity. A challenge for me is meeting some from cultural starting points because I’m not well equipped in culture. It’s also difficult to deal with objections to core points because the task of showing desirability is next to impossible until you get them to accept the core claims of Christianity they reject. Cultural Apologetics also emphasizes on the point that apologetics must be done biblically, with Gentleness and Respect (1 Peter 3:15). As a fallen person, this is a very difficult thing to do when someone comes from a hostile methodology in expressing their objections and rejections to Christianity. This is the task of Cultural Apologetics, to present the desirability and truthfulness of Christianity to each person’s starting point in a gentle and respectful manner, even if they come from a hostile attitude.
Most compelling points from the Cultural Apologetics?
“As John reports, ‘Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him’ (John 12:37) (40).” Gould points out here the Jews starting points were not looking for miracles. One could argue that the Pharisees were very egoistic in their practices of the Scriptures and wanted to be praised instead of being belittled and humbled like the tax collector. The point being, the starting point of miracles is not for everyone, but is still for some. Even pointing to the case for the resurrection will not convince everyone even if they see it as true. They have a starting point that is a barrier to them from believing in Christ.
A fairly interesting point Gould makes on the next page describes the necessity of the Gospel and how it’s related to everyone. “In the Bible we find not only the greatest story ever told but the greatest possible story ever told (41).” The idea of the God who is the greatest conceivable being, wanting to redeem those who need to be saved and are broken, dies the worse death in human history, and allows for atonement to everyone, is the greatest possible story to conceive. This is relatable to anyone who goes through pain (which is everyone), because they can relate to Christ since he went through the worst pain when he didn’t deserve it. This is a message that relates to all and everyone’s starting points can implement the Gospel when you approached it in the right cultural apologetical manner.
“The materialism, reductionism, scientism, naturalism, Darwinism, and nihilism of our day find their roots in the changing philosophical and cultural scene of the late medieval and early modern period (51).” All these worldviews are emphasized in our culture and pollute the minds of young thinkers and produces harmful starting points for the cultural apologist to approach. Cultural apologetics does not neglect refutations to these worldviews, but rather offers a gentle and respectful argument against these worldviews which show the desirability of Christianity. A positive case for Christianity from a cultural apologetic approach shows the desirability of the Gospel over these cultural worldviews.
Points of Curiosity; new changes to my apologetics method and an example of a cultural apologetic approach:
I use to consider myself just a cumulative case apologist, but this book has changed my perspective to endorse a combination of both cumulative case apologetics and cultural apologetics as my new methodology. Cumulative case apologetic says that there are multiple pieces of evidence for Christianity that makes an overall case for its truthfulness. By adding a cultural approach, we add the approach that we draw a specific piece of evidence for Christianity relating to someone’s starting point. Using that piece of evidence (cultural, historical, scientific or philosophical), you show the truthfulness and desirability to that person’s starting point.
Argument from Desire:
1. Out natural desires have a corresponding object that satisfies them.
2. There exists in us a natural desire, the desire for transcendence, that nothing in the material cosmos can satisfy.
3. There exists some object beyond the material cosmos that can satisfy this desire.
4. The Transcendent object of our longing is God.
5. God exists.
A new argument for God’s existence to me is played out from pages 75- 79 of the text. It has four premises and a conclusion that use desires of the transcendent and roots those desires in God. Premise one is defended by pointing out natural desires for hunger and thirst which is point made by C. S. Lewis when he defended this argument. We have a natural yearning for something higher than the physical things we see around as that is transcendental in nature like the good, the beauty, and the truth. The conclusion ultimately grounds God for the reason why we have these transcendental experiences and desires.
Of course, this does not get you Christianity. From a cultural apologist approach, we can argue that Christianity through general revelation best satisfies as the explanation for these desires. If someone’s starting point are these desires, then the cultural apologist can use this piece of evidence to lead towards Christianity to get the conversation started. The argument from desire is one piece of evidence among many that makes the case for Christianity. This is just one example among many that make the case for Christianity and for showing the desirability of the Gospel to anyone. Cultural Apologetics is a book that every apologist and Christian needs to read up there with books like Reasonable Faith and Evidence That Demands a Verdict.
Cultural Apologetics by Paul Gould: https://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Apologetics-Conscience ImaginationDisenchanted/dp/0310530490/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr
People come at the text from anti-Trinitarian positions.
For some, the Trinity is hard to fathom and use that lack of understanding in their exegesis. Be sure to check out my video to whether the Trinity is Illogical to help clear up misunderstandings about the Trinity.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”
- “I and the father are one”.
- “You being a man make yourself out to be God”.
- Jesus would have corrected them if had meant something else.
- Stoning for Blasphemy (Lev. 24:16).
- Jesus would have known this because of his knowledge of the Jewish scriptures and law.
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason, therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His Own Father, making Himself equal with God.
- “but also said that God was his father, makes himself equal to God”.
- Why would they conclude this?
- Jesus claimed to still be working since his father is during the Sabbath.
- No mere man could claim this, unless he is equal to the father.
- To be equal to the father is to share the same essence.
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Personal Relationships “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you”
- Any time Jesus says “you have heard it said, but I say to you”.
- Reference to the Law and Old Testament Scriptures.
- On what Authority would he have to change, expound upon, or add onto the law revealed to Moses by the Father?
- If only he is equal to the Father and has the same essence”.
Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”
- “You shall have no other God’s or Idols before me” (Exodus 20:3).
- Jesus excepted worship (Matthew 14:33, John 9:38, Matthew 28:9).
- Acts 14:11-15.
“When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
-Revelation 19:10 Angel denies worship from John.
-Jesus only should be worshiped if he has the same nature/essence as the Father, which is the essence of the Godhead.
Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
- Thomas makes clear that he thinks Jesus is God.
- Jesus does not deny this, yet embraces it and excepts this title.
- If he didn’t, then Jesus would have corrected Thomas.
- In the Greek, Θεός means God.
Is the Trinity Logical?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G1FV8dtaLw&t=191s
For further points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02HrIogiIrQ&t=8s
For Further Reading:
Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Pages 172-194
On Guard: 183-218
I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist: 327-354
J. P. Moreland in his forward writes, “In a recent Barna pool… They identified six reasons for the exodus (millennials leaving the church). (1) The church is overprotective and fails to expose people to anti-Christian ideas. (2) The church’s teaching is shallow. (3) The church is antagonistic to science and fails to help believers interact with scientific claims. (4) The church treats sexuality simplistically and judgmentally. (5) The church makes exclusivist claims. (6) The church is dismissive of doubters (13).”
Generation Z will be even worse with leaving the church than millennial's already are. Apologetics usually seen as just give arguments for the resurrection and God’s existence helps with some doubts and the apparent anti-scientific way of thinking in the church, but doesn’t deal with all doubts and reasons for why people leave the church. The shallow teaching of the church just sounds like any other religion and modern day people see Christ as another Zeus or pagan deity. Every person leaving the church may have similar reasons for leaving, but are always coming from different starting points. For example, many people may leave because they see what the church has to offer for the future, but not for the now. If the church mainly focused on the now of the Gospel instead of the future like Christ did, then less people in this area would see what Christianity has to offer for the now.
“The term “cultural apologetics” has been used to refer to systematic efforts to advance the plausibility of Christian claims in light of the messages communicated through dominant cultural institutions, including films, popular music, literature, art, and the mass media (20).” The focus is literally on culture instead of the typical philosophical arguments given for God’s existence. William Lane Craig seems to argue that cultural apologetics focuses on the negative side of apologetics. For example, if God does not exist then objective meaning, value, and purpose do not exist. Francis Schaeffer would take this point in his one step apologetics (aka. Presuppositionalism) and argue that one cannot live life without out belief in Christianity.
I however agree with Paul Gould with how he defines cultural apologetics. “I define cultural apologetics as the work of establishing the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination within a culture so that Christianity is seen as true and satisfying (21).” Christianity is a message for all people and has a timeless message to it. The apologetics aspect of the Gospel comes into play when someone asks you about the hope you have within you. This is what Saint Peter writes in his second epistle, which his cultural context was persecution on Nero. Everyone is coming from a different culture, context starting point that we most likely do not share. Gould gives us some helpful tips as how to do cultural apologetics in these types of conversations.
“In addition, a cultural apologist operates at two levels. First, she/he operates globally by paying attention to how those within a culture perceive, think, and live, and then she/he works to create a world that is more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful and enchanted. Secondly, she/he operates locally, removing obstacles to, and providing positive reasons for, faith so individuals or groups will see Christianity as true and satisfying, plausible and desirable (22-23).”
This will keep be emphasized, that everyone leaving or people you talk to about Christianity are coming from different starting points. Paul’s sermon at mars hill in Acts 17, comes from the starting point of worship. Paul does his homework and studied the Greek culture that he was in at Athens. Paul talks about the unknown God they worship as the Christians God and that he is knowable. Paul then provides the Gospels and points to the resurrections of Jesus to the Athenians.
As Christian Apologists, we need to know our “Athens” as Gould point out in his book. America’s “Athens” contains multiple worldviews like relativism, materialism, egoism, hedonism, secularism, and many other isms. Knowing these “Athens” will help us identify peoples cultural and contextual starting points. Doing this allows us to start the conversation and get to the core of why someone isn’t a Christian and employ the best reasons for why they should be a Christian is context to their starting points.
Gould gives us some more helpful tips and tasks as cultural apologists to help identify our “Athens” and people’s starting points. “First task of the cultural apologist-the task of understanding culture (24).” For our first task, we must listen to what the culture we are living is saying about Christianity and what the culture itself believes. The previous list of “isms” is a good starting point for practicing this first task. “Worldview analysis is necessary but not sufficient for a cultural apologetics (24).” This essential to cultural apologetics because to not understand competing worldviews is not listening and not understanding people’s cultural, contextual starting points.
“The cultural apologist works to resurrect relevance by showing that Christianity offers plausible answers to universal human longings (24).” As Aristotle points out, humans are rational, social beings that seek the transcendentals. The transcendentals are Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, also known as Logos, Pathos, and Ethos. Everyone’s starting points have hidden desires behind them associated with the transcendental in some way. The task here is to show how Christianity best offers relevance to people’s starting points that are associated with the transcendentals. “Cultural apologetics must demonstrate not only the truth of Christianity but also its desirability (25).” This is where cumulative case apologetics comes in by taking pieces of evidence of Christianity that relate to many people desirable starting points. For example, the argument from beauty shows that the aesthetic truths point towards Christianity along with the case of course. Everyone has aesthetic truths they hold dearly, but if their worldview(starting points) can’t satisfy that desire, then this is where cultural apologetics comes in. Cultural apologetics is a necessary component to apologetics that needs to be utilized in modern day apologetics to help spread Christian Truth Through Apologetics.
Cultural Apologetics by Paul Gould: https://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Apologetics-Conscience-Imagination-Disenchanted/dp/0310530490/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
1. Gould, Paul. “Cultural Apologetics”, 13.
2. Gould, 20.
3. Gould, 21.
4. Gould, 22-23.
5. Gould, 24.
6. Gould, 24.
7. Gould, 24.
8. Gould, 25.
There are two views that compete with each other over how one should attain happiness and live their life. Both views accept the premise that everyone’s end goal is happiness, but take different routes to get there. Ethical Egoism says that one ought to act and live according to their self-interests. Ayn Rand is a famous philosopher of the twentieth century that defended ethical egoism. She took the view of extreme individualism and ultimately argued that your being and self-identity is equivalent to your stream of consciousness and experiences. This is a buffed up view of Cartesian ontology of human beings. “Man is a being of volitional consciousness (505).”
Aristotle took the view of the telos, that everyone’s goal is happiness and you should get there by living the virtuous life. Virtue can be defined as a habit that serves the higher good. According to Aristotle there are two different types of virtues, moral and intellectual virtues. Moral virtues would be examples like courage or justice. Using justice, rendering one one’s due shows virtue because you punish evil for the future good of maintaining order in the polis. Intellectual virtue includes having wisdom in both practical and theoretical knowledge.
Aristotle would argue that in our ontology we are both rational and social creatures, so to achieve happiness we must fulfill both of these types of desires that we have. “The definition of happiness; for it has been said to be a virtuous activity of soul, of a certain kind (59).” To practice virtue is to be in a state of “soulishenss”, which fulfills are rational and social needs. Doing this satisfies these functions of human ontology and builds the habit of virtue, which achieves our end goal of happiness.
The position that is most impressive with is living the virtuous life to bring about happiness. Firstly, Aristotle’s view of human ontology is correct as describing us as social beings. If this was not the case, then there would not be a strong need for community of each individual. Humans need to be social to fulfill this desire in us and to do this you must make friends. Friendship is a core aspect of the virtuous life, to maintain this requires habits of virtues. Love is one of these virtues that should be between true friends.
The second reason for why the virtuous life is better than an egoistic life is that virtue by definition helps out the greater good. An egoistic life doesn’t do good for the sake of good, but rather does good for self-interest and survival. There’s no real intrinsic good on egoism and it can’t ground intrinsic good. Many people have lived for self-interest and lived very easy lives. The ring of gyres shows that if one gets the ring, then they have power. If someone lives by self-interest, then with the ring can cause serious problems with those that have less capabilities.
The final reason for why one should live the virtuous life is to look at the greatest human to have ever lived. This being Jesus of Nazareth who lived a very virtuous life. Whether he was God is a different question, but clearly he has had the biggest impact on human history. The beatitudes in the sermon on the mount shows the basic virtues that people should live by. Examples like peace-keepers and the merciful are virtues that Christ taught to live by. The second greatest commandment is the key to friendship and the virtuous life, which is to love thy neighbor as you love yourself. Love here is the greatest virtue that brings about friendship and truly serves the highest good. Any Rand’s view of ethical egoism does not fit the need to fit human ontology, our need for community, and love as a server to the highest good. The end goal of happiness is to live the virtuous life and love as the central habit that you live by.
A defense of Ethical Egoism
-Mike Jones (Inspiring Philosophy)
The Gospel of Thomas seems to be the most famous gospel that is not in the Bible. Everyone seems intrigued by this work; what it says and where it came from. Many argue it belongs in the Bible or that it represents an early sect of Christianity that disagreed with what we refer to as mainstream Christianity. They say it teaches a different Jesus than what we find in the canonical Gospels, or that Thomas is from the very early days of Christianity, and this is evidence that Christianity was a wide mix of various views of Jesus, despite what many laymen believed today. The majority of scholars do not place Thomas in the first century or believe any of it can be dated to the days of the first Christian Church. But some do date it early, like John Dominic Crossan or Elaine Pagels. So why was Thomas never considered canonical? Why do most scholars believe it belongs in the mid to late second century? Why do others argue it as earlier? Does any of it contain accurate sayings of Jesus? Does it represent a different sect of Christianity that would have differed from mainstream Christianity? And does it belong with the canonical Gospels? To answer these questions, we need to dive into what the Gospel of Thomas is, what it says, and what evidence scholars used to date it.
First, Thomas is not a narrative like the canonical Gospels are. It is just a list of sayings that Jesus supposedly said to his disciples. The theology also differs greatly from the ideas of the New Testament. In Thomas, Jesus is not the way, the truth, and the light. Jesus is just a teacher who instructs people on how to find enlightenment within them. Fasting and prayer are also considered bad in Thomas, whereas they are praised by Jesus in the canonical Gospels. Jesus also seems to act more like a Greek thinker in Thomas, rather than an early Jewish Rabbi. It also ends in a rather sexist way, claiming that Mary must become a male spirit before she can enter the kingdom of heaven. This seems contradictory to the Jesus portrayed in the canonical Gospels who seems to welcome women followers, and even allows them the high status of receiving divine revelation, to deliver to men which was quite revolutionary for the times Jesus lived in. So Thomas doesn't seem to fit with the theology of the New Testament, which is why most scholars say it represents a different theological view.
Second, we need to realize that dating Thomas is harder than other documents because of the internal and external evidence we have for it. We simply do not have a lot of manuscripts of Thomas. Our main source for Thomas as a Coptic manuscript discovered in 1945, and is part of the NAG Hammadi collection. The specific manuscript dates to around 340 AD. We also have three Greek fragments of Thomas that date to around 200 AD and contain about 20% of Thomas. However, scholars have noted remarkable differences between the complete Coptic version, and the Greek fragments. So Thomas seems to have changed remarkably over the course of 140 years, unlike the slight variation we see with the New Testament manuscripts. John Meyer says the Gospel of Thomas may have circulated in more than one form, and passed through several stages of redaction. Darrell Bock and Dan Wallace say the fact that the Greek papaiah of Thomas contains some significant differences from the Coptic forma Stelling it, suggests that this gospel may have gone through several uncontrolled editions by the time the NAG Hammadi volume was penned. So the textual evidence suggests Thomas may have been a document for an uncontrolled tradition that was meant to be fluid over time and meant to be adapted to each generations needs. We find the opposite when we look at the traditions of the other four Gospels in the rest of the New Testament. Other than that, the first writer to mention the existence of Thomas was Hippolytus of Rome, who speaks harshly of it. He says it was transmitted by a group called in the scenes, and even quotes a line from it which also varies from the line he seems to be quoting from in our manuscript of Thomas later. Origen also mentions its existence and says it was heretical. However, there were other works attributed to Thomas, so it is possible he and later authors could be referring to a different work that bore the name of Thomas in the 4th century. Cyril of Jerusalem mentions Thomas and says an early heretical group known as the main qian's wrote it.
Finally, a fifth century work mentions it in a list of heretical books.
So as you can see, our evidence for Thomas is rather scarce, negative, and varies and how it was read. The external evidence tells us Thomas would have to predate it to manuscripts and external mentions, so that it could have circulated enough to have caught the attention of critics, which means it would have to have been written prior to the 3rd century. Some argue that a lack of it being mentioned in the second century means it has to post date this time. But to be fair, that might be arguing from silence unless we can come up with a good reason 2nd century authors should have mentioned it. Scholars mainly need to rely on internal evidence to date Thomas. This is a harder test than dating other Gospels because Thomas is just a list of alleged sayings of Jesus. It contains no stories or a stork or reference in order to date it. Well on top of this, it contains little coherence outside of its use of catch words or catch phrases. In other words, the text itself has to be understood in terms of specific catch phrases to be translated properly into English.
Another interesting aspect of Thomas, is it seems familiar with several documents of the New Testament. It contains quotes or paraphrases from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, acts, Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, first Thessalonians, first Timothy, Hebrews, first John, and Revelation. Now this is rather telling, because either all of these works from the New Testament relied on Thomas, or Thomas was simply aware of the New Testament documents and made use of them. The second option is more likely because some of these documents are quite early and Thomas would have to have been written in the 40s, and be unbelievably popular early on, for multiple authors to make use of it. It is also far more probable a later author simply made use of multiple works that were popular by the second century. Also a lot of these New Testament books are alluded to by later authors and do not make mention or allude to Thomas, which also makes it more likely Thomas postdates these documents. Balkan Wallace says the silence of all second century writers regarding Thomas would be extremely peculiar if this gospel had existed for 50 or 60 years before AD 100. And all the more so if thomas was used extensively by many New Testament authors.
Again, as I said earlier, this is not proof Thomas post dates the New Testament. But it does lend credence to the theory Thomas did come after the New Testament, since these works were quoted and attested by early authors, and Thomas isn't. Richard Baulkham also notes Thomas seems to be comparing itself to other Gospels already in existence, specifically Matthew and Mark. Section 13 of Thomas has Simon Peter in Matthew guessing who Jesus was. Peter says he was a messenger or a righteous angel in Matthew guesses a wise philosopher before Thomas speaks. Baucom argues using Matthew and Peter who the early church says was Mark’s source for his gospel, meaning that Thomas is acknowledging that at least these two Gospels already existed by the time Thomas was written. Matthew would be one of the most obscure of the twelve had not a gospel been attributed to him. The saying in the Gospel of Thomas must presuppose the existence of Matthew's Gospel, and its attribution to Matthew if Matthew in this passage represents Matthew's Gospel, then it becomes highly likely that Peter represents Mark's Gospel.
Peter states that Jesus is like a righteous angel. It's presumably a deliberate substitute for Peter's confession in Mark 8:29, “You are the Messiah.” Since many external sources seem to attribute Mark's Gospel of Peter's preaching, it fits with this idea that Thomas will compare himself to two well-known disciples, from which two of the canonical Gospels allegedly came from; or at least that is what the church argued was the case in the second century. The idea of Thomas relying on many of the books of the traditional Canon, also correlates to the opening line of Thomas, which reads, “these are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymus, Judas, and Thomas wrote them down.” Thomas says these are the hidden words of Jesus, implying there was a public ministry of Jesus that was more well known. The author, knowing his teachings, would contradict the public ministry of Jesus, seeming to have thought he had to disguise his words as secret teachings. This implies the acknowledgement of more well-known teachings of Jesus and implies Thomas would post-date them. So it is more probable Thomas postdates the New Testament books, which were more well known and attested in the ancient world.Thomas is trying to go against the New Testament theology by disguising his theology as secret teachings of Jesus, which implies the author knew other Gospels existed before he wrote his.
However, one of the biggest reasons most scholars date the Gospel of Thomas to the mid to late second century, is this connection to late Syrian. Christian scholar Nicholas Peron, analyzed the Gospel of Thomas and translated it into Syriac and Greek. What he found was Thomas was most likely originally written in Syria, not Greece or Coptic. I mentioned earlier Thomas contains a lot of catch words or catch phrases, and unless we understand this, the gospel really doesn't make sense. Well parent identified more than 500 Syria catch words, which implies it makes most sense in Syria not Greek or Coptic. Scholar Craig Evans says Thomas has extensive coherence with late 2nd century Syrian tradition in a lack of coherence with pre 70 Jewish Palestine. It is also recognized by virtually all scholars that Thomas contains a lot of Syrian elements, like how it were first at Thomas is Judas Thomas. This was a common name for Thomas and Syrian traditions, or as Craig Evans has noted, most of the time Thomas follows Matthew, it seems to be following a Syriac version of Matthew. This is also interesting because Paran noticed something else about Thomas; it seems to follow the order of a mid-second century work called the Diet Tessarin. The Diet Tessarin was put together by a man named Tation who wanted to harmonize the four Gospels, so he wrote a Syrian translation which goes through all four, and tries to harmonize the time-line.
Thomas seems to be copying from the Diet Tessarin and follows the same order in Syriac style, meaning it would post date the completion of the Diet Tessarin, which was between 160 AD and 175 AD. Some try to suggest Thomas has to be early because it is just a simple list of sayings and the traditional gospels are more developed because they contain narratives. But just being a simple list of sayings doesn't at all mean it is early. Craig Evans notes that other collections of sayings emerge from around this time, long after the canonical Gospels. Rabbinic works, like the chapter of the fathers and the sentences of sexes, are simple lists of sayings and were written around the same time. The sentences of sexist is specifically interesting because it also seems to have originated in Syria in the second century correlating to the most likely area and time frame for the emergence of Thomas. N. T. Wright in The New Testament and The People of God, also points out that Thomas lacks the early Jewish identity of the first church. The traditional four Gospels seem to be telling the story of Israel, with the climax being in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in the form of greco-roman biographies, that contain deep Jewish elements and themes.
Thomas seems to have been shortening, smoothed out for a later Gentile audience unfamiliar with the Jewish context. If Thomas was first and Jesus was originally more like a Greek philosopher, it is unlikely that a later Gentile audience would want to add in more Jewish elements to the story of Jesus, in creating the canonical Gospels. Considering the early church was slowly moving towards being filled with a majority of Gentiles, why would you make Jesus more Jewish if that was not how he was originally? As NT Wright says, “if the earliest form of the controversy stories is therefore likely to have been that of the Jewish stories of the struggle and vindication of the little remnant or renewal movement, it is not difficult to see how these stories could have become smooth down over time into something more like Hellenistic kriya, especially as the news of Jesus passed beyond the area where Jewish style controversy and vindication stories would be an expected form. This, I suggest, is the most likely explanation for works like the Gospel of Thomas.”
So these are the main reasons we date Thomas to the late second century. The fact that it is just a simple list of sayings doesn't mean it is early, let alone earlier than our canonical Gospels. The fact that it resembles later Syria and Christianity follows the Diet Tessarin paints Jesus more like a Greek philosopher and says it contains the secret teachings of Jesus, all seems to point to a tradition much later than what we see in the New Testament. There is also not a plausible reason Thomas should be included in the Canon of Scripture or that it could be considered to contain authentic words of Jesus. It is simply too late to be considered reliable.