Why should we be concerned with the presence of one design element within
the Coptic GTh? Because (1) it may be the tip of an iceberg, (2) it tells us
something about the thinking behind the CGTh which is unexpected, and (3) it
may have significant impact on our own thinking about the generic GTh. Were
other versions also so designed? Is there stuff in the Coptic version that
wasn't in the others? Have some sayings been modified to fit a design
pattern, and does that explain the differences between the Coptic version
and the POxy fragments, for example? For all these reasons and others, it
seems to me that even folks whose main interest is in dating or
authenticity, for example, should be interested as well in the solution to
this mystery about CGTh.
What's clear from the interconnected design of lines 70 and 280 is that the
Copts were counting syntactical elements - lines, occurrences of 'IS', even
letters. Why not, then, blocks of text? (A "block" being a number of
contiguous lines - possibly only one - that begin a thought at the left-hand
margin and end a thought - usually another one - at the right-hand margin).
Ordinarily, such blocks - which naturally occur in all texts - are of no
importance. But the evidence seems to indicate that in CGTh they are.
CGTh contains 24 blocks. Is it any coincidence that 24 is the number of
prophets of Israel (as mentioned in the text), as well as the number of
letters in saying 42 (line 280)? If so, we might expect the coincidences to
end there. But they don't. Line 280 is block 6 of the text, and 42 = 6x7.
Not only that, but 6 is the first "perfect number" - and known to be so in
A perfect number is a number equal to the sum of its "parts" (i.e., its
factors - including 1). There aren't many of them - in fact only one between
1 and 10, one between 10 and 100, one between 100 and 1000, and one between
1000 and 10,000. The first perfect number (6) is the number of the only
one-line block in CGTh - line 280. The second perfect number is 280/10 = 28.
(As to the third perfect number - 496 - we'll get to that below).
Given that the Copts had a one-line saying that they wanted to put on a line
divisible by 70, there are yet other reasons for choosing to put it on line
280, and these have to do with gematria. The difference between 70 and 280
is 210, which is the gematria value of 'IS'. On the other hand, the sum of
70 and 280 is 10 times the gematria value (in both Greek and Hebrew) of
AGLA, the rabbinical word of power. AGLA was an acronym for 'ateh gibur
loulam Adonai', which is equivalent to Latin 'tu potens in saeculum domine."
(Of course in Greek, adonai/domine is kyrios - Lord. It was of no small
moment when Christians started calling Jesus "the Lord".)
Returning to 210, the gematria value of 'IS', we may now offer a plausible
explanation for an otherwise mysterious difference between CGTh and the
Greek fragments - i.e., that in the Greek fragments, L77B ("Split a piece
of wood, I am there. Lift the stone, and you will find me there") is placed
at the end of saying 30, but in CGTh it occurs on lines 494-496 at the end
of saying 77. The first thing to notice is that 496 is the third perfect
number. But there's something else. By moving this subsaying from L30 to L77
(if that's what happened), the Copts have moved it _outside_ of the range of
the segment of 210 lines from 71 thru 280. Why might that have been
important? Because with 77B outside of the range of those 210 lines, they
can now be understood to represent the "Jesus" to be found by "lift[ing] the
stone" - where "the stone" can be interpreted as the four lines 67-70 to be
"lifted" from the top of block 2. (This wouldn't be so clear if 77B were
_inside_ that hypothetical "textual Jesus", as it is in the POxy fragments.)
L11.1 reinforces this interpretation, for it says that both it and something
above it will "pass away". If the something above it is L10, that confirms
that lines 67-70 are to "pass away" or be "lifted" in some way so as to
reveal the "textual Jesus" composed of lines 71-280.
It will be noticed that this rather strange-sounding explication involves an
interpretation of some sayings as referring to themselves or other segments
of text. The suggestion here is that there is an intertextual level of
meaning _in addition to_ the normal level(s) - not instead of it/them. The
presence of such an additional level of meaning is strongly suggested by the
fact that it accords so well with what the numbering indicates. It need not
have done so, but it evidently does. This in turn suggests that the
intention wasn't merely to imbed secret numbers in the text.
Mt. Clemens, MI