I originally wrote this to another list, but as it develops some new
ideas I hadn't written about here previously, I thought it might be
appropriate to post here as well:
--- Chris wrote:
> The end tag in brackets [in some translations of #5], was found
> on a Christian burial shroud in Oxyryhnchus and is probably a
> theological addendum, not a part of an original saying.
There's actually two things going on here. There is that Christian
burial shroud you mention, but also the Greek fragments contain
that extra line that's not in the Coptic. Or rather, it IS in
the Coptic, but at the end of #6, not at the end of #5. Those
translations that tack it onto the end of #5 are evidently following
the Greek. But this creates a distortion, because they don't
REMOVE it from the end of #6, to accord with the Greek of THAT
saying. So I think the best thing for a translator to do is to
follow the Coptic in both 5 and 6, and not try to get cute.
The two parts of #6 aren't connected in any way - semantically or
syntactically. The standard matching pattern of 'they said to him
... he said to them' is broken. The first part begins with 'they
said to him' alright, but then the second part begins not with the
expected rejoinder 'J said to them', but rather with the simple
common 'J said' (or 'J says') that begins almost every non-dialogue
saying - clearly implying that the second part of #6 is not any
kind of an answer to the three questions posed in the first part,
but rather is an entirely separate saying. This is borne out by the
beginning of #14, where (eureka!) we have the matching "J said to them"
that we expected to find in the second part of #6, but didn't. Needless
to say, no other saying begins with "J said to them" without any mention
of someone first saying something to him. So 6A and 14 were clearly "made
for each other" - literally. And this is what is in front of our face as
we finish reading #5 and start into #6.
OK, so removing 6A, we get the following:
5.1) Know that which is before your (sg) face,
and that which is hidden from you (sg) will be revealed to you (sg).
5.2) For nothing hidden will fail to appear forth.
6.2) Do not tell lies
6.3) and that which you (pl) hate, don't do it.
6.4) Thus they are all revealed in the presence of heaven.
6.5) For nothing hidden will fail to appear forth;
6.6) and nothing covered will remain unrevealed.
5.2 and 6.5 are the same, word for word. This is apparently the
connecting link. But there's a number of contrasts between the two
sayings that almost seem deliberate. For one thing, #5 uses the
singular form of 'you/r' - as if addressing a single person -
whereas #6 uses the plural form - which is invariably the form used
in the vast number of sayings where J is addressing "you, the readers".
So there's a possible contrast being drawn here between addressing
"the one" (singular, #5) versus "the many" (plural, #6).
Two other contrasts I didn't notice before: (1) #5 is positive,
whereas #6 is negative, and (2) #5 seems to be "internal" and #6
"external". What I mean is, #6 clearly is talking about bodily
actions (lying, doing what you hate), while #5 seems to be talking
about internal perceptual knowledge.
Putting these three contrasts into words:
#5 tells ME what I SHOULD PERCEIVE (singular, positive, inner)
#6 tells US what WE SHOULDN'T DO (plural, negative, outer)
Now, of course, these contrasts might be just accidental. I prefer
to think, however, that they reflect several kinds of duality that
the GThomists believed needed harmonizing - this being the reason
for their pairing #5 and #6. We might further speculate whether
one of the above set of contrasts would have been considered "male"
and the other "female" - in which case we might be said to be
performing some kind of a "marriage" by putting these two
The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying