From: Self </S Davies>
Subject: Bruce Brooks' Hypotheses
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 18:47:55
> From: "E. Bruce Brooks"
> NOTE 1: Despite presumably being preselected for the purpose, 20 or 35%
> of the 57 passages proved irrelevant for the stated purpose. This is a
> rather high number to fail expectations, and would seem to suggest that the
> presumptions behind the experiment might need another look.
The list Stephen submitted is standard. It is flawed in two ways,
none his fault, and they are
1. Q theorists tend (increasingly, I believe) to find singly attested
"Q" sayings in either Mt or Lk. Whether or not their discovery of
such sayings is valid at all, it renders them unusable for the
purpose of the experiment.
2. Listers of parallels often include "similar sayings" in addition
to "versions of the same saying." Example I recall best is the
"old man will ask a child of seven days" similar to "revealed to
babes." Clearly, I think, the same general idea but also clearly,
I think, never "the same saying" and so not a "parallel."
There was nothing wrong with the list, it just needed cleaning-up,
which it received!
> Without attempting to recalibrate people's results,
Mark, where is your recalibration? I await it eagerly.
> I think that one way of
> interpreting the already high number of Option 4 reports is: "Thomas is
> frequently eclectic with respect to Matthew and Luke." This, as far as it
> goes, would be consistent with the possibility that Thomas is later than,
> not a source for, Matthew/Luke. Given the known behavior of Matthew and
> Luke themselves with respect to the source Mark (at least for those who
> accept this sequence), where the last of the three (Luke) will sometimes
> prefer the immediate precedessor Matthew and sometimes go back to the more
> remote predecessor Mark, an oscillation between sources must be
> acknowledged to be as much an option for the latest text as is a balanced
> mixing of the two. In view of the comments of critics of, say, Lukan
> tertiority - please use this word, and notify the OED scanning committee -
> on the authorial strategies proposed for Luke, perhaps it is even a *more*
> plausible option. I don't think there is anything in the numbers for
> Options 2, 3, and 4 that would preclude an inference that Thomas has drawn
> on Matthew and Luke. That possibility might then deserve separate study.
See Mahlon's recent letter on this subject.
However, I believe you confuse two things. An "oscillation" which is
the use of two sources at various times, is not the same as an
"eclecticism" where materials in two sources are combined into a new
original. Where Thomas has a tertium quid, with elements of Mt here
and of Lk there, it is eclectic. Where Thomas has a saying in its Mt
form and there a saying in its Lk form it demonstrates oscillation. It is the
eclecticism that Mahlon correctly argues is an absurdity if thought
to be the redactional technique of a dependent Thomas author.
Oscillation is not an absurdity, but requires some sort of imputed
rationale. Neither Thomas' supposed methods of textual eclectism
or the supposed methods of oscillation ever receive any explanation
by authors who assume these are Thomasine methods... except
to announce, falsely, that these are traits "typical of gnostics."
Oscillation presuppposes textual dependence, however, and the idea
that Thomas derives from oral tradition regards "oscillation" as
begging the question... oral tradition is not a source where
"oscillation" is possible.
> NOTE 3: There are a number of cases where Mt/Lk are virtually identical,
> and only Thos diverges. Mark Goodacre (18 June, ap #34 and 36) has noted
> instances, and others are easy to discover. These, if gathered into a
> subcorpus, might make a good second project. What is the implied
> directionality between Mt/Lk and Thos, for these cases where the red
> herring of Mt/Lk disagreement is eliminated, and where simple copying
> ("redaction") is not available as a frame assumption?
There is no implied directionality here. Three options are open.
Th ---> Lk and Mt (via Q or Mt-Farrer)
Lk or Mt ----> Th
Lk or Mt independent of Th
But there is a caveat I occasionally feel called upon to mention, that all
of the above, and their cognates, MUST be seen to be shorthand for
the more complicated
Oral Tradition ----> Th -----> Lk or Mt
OT -----> Lk or Mt
and so forth. Thomasine similarities to Mt or Lk do not prima facie
require a textual-dependence theory. Nor does the fact that Lk e.g.
used textual sources mean to anybody I know of that Lk was not
informed by oral traditions as well.
> Inference 1: The Gospel of Thomas was popular enough as of somewhat before
> c200 that three scribally distinct copies of it (Oxy #1, 654, 655, no two
> written by the same person) were made in close enough proximity to turn up
> in the same rubbish heap. Whatever its origins, the text was thus "live" as
> of c200.
And the almost universally held opinion is that Thomas is Syrian in
origin, requiring some period of transmission before copyists in
Oxyrhynchus got to work on it.
> Inference 3: The fragments of GThos do not validate the existence of *all*
> of CThos as of the earlier date, c200. They contain only (in terms of the
> CThos order) sayings 1-7 (preceded by a heading, so we know they were the
> first 7 sayings), 24, 26-33, and 36-39, plus 77 attached to 30. The extent
> of CThos is 114 sayings. That three partial copies should all be confined
> to the first third (34.2%) of the text is at least somewhat unlikely.
There is a 10% chance for any combination of Thomas thirds to have
been found, as I figure it.
> In other words, there seem to be two zones in the text: (1) an early one,
> extending at least as far as saying 48, where the affinities are quite
> evenly balanced between Matthew and Luke, and (2) a late one, beginning
> possibly as early as saying 54, where the affinities are exclusively Lukan.
Alas for the theory, James Covey has shown that the latter part is
filled with special Matthew material.
57 - Mt 13.24-30
62.2 - Mt 6.3
76.1-2 - Mt 13:44-46
90 - Mt 11:28-30
93 - Mt 7.6
109 - Mt 13.44
> SUGGESTION. Not to seem to be delegating all the work to others, I will
> hazard the first guess that the end of GThos may have been at sayings
> 49-50, both of which speak of a return to the Kingdom (49) or the Light
> (50). The immediately following 51-52 also speak of an End, but a more
> Messianic and general one than that which it seems to me is envisioned in
> 49-50. I can see 51-52 as a later anthologist picking up the thread
> thematically at this point, with 51-52, but in the process rather spoiling
> a rather magical ending.
Everybody gets a shot at this one. It's not altogether unlike my own
theory that Thomas was divided into four parts and had a vague but
discernable similar structure within each part.
for further information about this, and the rationale, see
> Notice, in support, that the "rest" in [CThos] 50 picks up the theme of
> "rest" at the literary beginning of GThos, in saying 2 [as amended]. The
> so-called saying 1 is really, or so it seems to my eye, a promise about the
> following sayings ("whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings")
> than a saying itself. In that case the conjectured GThos might have
> contained 49 rather than 50 sayings. Assuming GThos correctly amended, it
> is worth noting that the CThos counterpart saying does not end in (or even
> contain) "rest," but rather ends in "rule." The end of CThos, sayings
> 113-114, echoes this same motif of "rule" and "dominion." It may be, then,
> that GThos had its framing theme, emphasized at the beginning and end of
> that text, and that CThos broke down that pattern, rearranged and extended
> the material, and imposed a quite different framing pattern on the new
I'm quite sure that Thomas was framed with 3 - 113. John Dart found
my arguments to that effect so striking that it led him off to
discover his own internal system of organization within Thomas.
(See his *Laughing Savior*).
The order of Thomas has mystified everyone pretty much ever since
the thing was discovered. John Dart thought he'd figured it out, so
did some Dutchman (Dehandschutter?)... neither of whose constructions
could I comprehend at all. Nor they mine, in full, nor has anybody
else ever thought much of it. Ahh well.
Every time I tried to sort it out, I'd come up with something
signficant (as you did with later Luke material) only to discover
something contradictory (here, later special Matthew material).
If Thomas once had two, or four, parts.... these do not show signs of
having been composed at different times, or in different ways, or for
different reasons. My fourfold Thomas theory still left me thinking
that the four had been composed at the same time by the same folks.
One might wonder, though, if one doesn't like the sheer 10% chance
that only the first third would thrice be recovered, that if Thomas came
in sections perhaps only the first half existed in Oxyrhynchus.
Unlike a narrative gospel, there is no compelling reason to plunk
down the denarii for a scribe to copy the whole thing, when for
perhaps only a single denarius one could have a good chunk of it.
Now, using the list of parallels (and similarities) in the rear
of my textbook *New Testament Fundamentals*, if we
divide the thing in half, at saying 57, we find the number of
synoptic parallels to be
or by quarters
This is the sort of thing that tends one not to think that Thomas
has been added to in a different way by people post-Oxyrhynchus.
[Bear in mind:
1. The numbering of sayings is a twentieth century notion
and isn't carried through consistently anyhow.
2. Several "sayings" are several sayings. E.g. #21 is
at least five "sayings" four with parallels.
3. My list is surely flawed... but randomly so vis a vis this
Professor of Religious Studies
College Misericordia, Dallas, Pennsylvania, USA
The Gospel of Thomas Homepage