I have recently been comparing saying 3 in the Greek and Coptic. In
one place in the Greek, the text reads: "[if they say t]hat it [is]
beneath the ground." The parallel Coptic has "if they say that it is
in the sea." In his 1969 _Journal of Theological Studies_
article, "Textual Criticism of the Gospel of Thomas," M. Marcovich
"I think all the difficulties disappear if we bear in mind that the
Hebrew word tehom, which implies both 'a bottomless pit' or 'a great
deep,' and 'ocean' or 'floods of water' is usually translated in the
LXX either as abussos or as thalassa. Thus (P.Oxy. 654) translated
tehom as 'underworld, the depth of the earth,' and (the Coptic)
as 'sea.' . . . If this is true, it might suggest to us the
following: (1) that logion 3 (at least) was originally written in
Hebrew; and (2) that (P.Oxy. 654) and (the Coptic) definitely
represent two different recensions."
Both of Marcovich's conclusions seem questionable to me, but I would
be interested if others disagree with me.
1. As I am currently no expert on Hebrew, I wonder if anybody could
help me figure out how plausible Marcovich's explanation is that the
Greek and the Coptic translated the same Hebrew word differently.
First of all, the Greek hasn't used abussos, which Marcovich cites as
one of the two common translations in LXX. It has instead hupo thn
ghn, which I guess might be considered roughly the same thing. The
Coptic, however, does use thalassa, the other word Marcovich says is
a common LXX translation. In any case, upo thn ghn seems a peculiar
translation given the context. thalassas would seems a word much more
closely associated with "fish" ixthues that upo thn ghn.
2. As for the different recensions, I don't doubt that the Coptic and
P.Oxy. 654 might have been from different recensions but not on the
basis of the explanation Marcovich has just given. It seems his
suggestion would require that the whole Gospel of Thomas would have
to have been written originally in Hebrew. If a Hebrew version of
saying 3 had originally circulated independently, it would have had
to be translated twice (in different ways) and then placed into the
Gospel of Thomas twice (but in the exact same place). This doesn't
seem particularly likely to me.
I don't know if I'm articulating myself particularly clearly in this
email. I suppose in essence that what I'm saying is that, although
Marcovich's proposal seems intriguing at first, not all the piece fit
together very neatly in the big picture. Some just seems wrong here.