The Jewish high priest Joseph ben Caiaphas is best known for his central role in the Passion stories. As the root of the anti-Semitic charge of deicide against the people of Israel, the negative portrayal of Caiaphas and the Jews in these critical scenes of the Gospels has proven itself a source of eternal struggle within New Testament scholarship. In order to uncover a more historical understanding of this problematic figure, the Gospel of Thomas presents itself as a source for Caiaphas which is both removed from the Jewish-Christian conflict of the first centuries of this era, but still sharing in the Jesus tradition of the New Testament. Using a historical-textual approach, the sayings of Thomas are 'canvassed for Caiaphas' by applying historically-based search parameters. From this search a distinct anti-Pharisaical polemic, likely preserved from an earlier tradition, is detectable in Thomas. As a text which is theologically indifferent to the death of Jesus, Thomas' unique contribution to the study of Caiaphas gestures towards an early tradition of negatively portaying Jewish authorities, which may be independent of the canonical Gospels.
Ottawa Journal of Religion/la Revue Des Sciences De La Religion D'ottawa, 2009, Issue 1, p. 50-70