Hi, Mike -
> Mark asserts that 79a is "out of character" with the rest of Thomas
Thomas is ostensibly a collection of words Jesus *said* as opposed to a collection of things Jesus *did,* a distinction made by Papias in his discussion of Mark's Gospel, which Jack Kilmon has recently emphasized. But Thomas also records some words that were said *to* Jesus as well, sometimes by people who are identified (such as Peter, Matthew, or Thomas in log. 13) and sometimes by people who are anonymous or indefinite ("a man" in log. 72, "a woman" in log. 79, the disciples, "they"). Thomas also records the words of other women addressing Jesus in log. 21 (Mary) and log. 61 (Salome). So, if the fact that Thomas records the words of a woman addressing Jesus is not out of character in Thomas, then just what is out of character in log. 79a?
Mark G. writes that "Thomas refers to gynaecological details only here in 79." Well, that may or may not be (and Mark G. notes a couple possible exceptions in his footnote here of Thomas log. 69 and log. 22), but that type of argument is less meaningful when applied to Thomas, since a relatively brief sayings collection bears less of the author's literary tendencies than a longer, biographical gospel. As Mark G. writes, "Thomas does not lend itself easily to methods honed in synoptic criticism over the last century or so." Consequently, the observation that references to "gynaecological details" are lacking in Thomas other than saying 79, while possibly true, is not particularly meaningful. Thomas is replete with instances where a particular word or phrase appears only once in the text.
What *is* relevant here is that the form of 79a - a blessing with "gynaecological details" - is not uncommon in ancient Judaic literature. Bultmann writes the following (History of the Synoptic Tradition, ET, p. 30):
Lk 11:27-28: The Blessing of Mary. The blessing in v. 27 is a widespread feature of Judaism. In Syr. Bar. 54:10 the seer who dreams the vision cries out: 'Blessing to my mother among those that gave birth, And praised among women be she who bore me.' And so Rachel is praised, who bore Joseph (Gen R. 98 (62d)): 'Blessed be the breasts which have so given suck and the body which has thus brought forth' (Strack-B. II, 187). Jochanan b. Zakkai stirred by the oration of his pupils R. Eleazar b. Arach and Jehoshua b. Homeniah cries out: 'praise to thee, Abraham our father, that Eleazar b. Arach was brought forth from thy loins. Hail to thee, and hail to thy mother! Hail to mine eyes, which have seen such things!' (Hag. 14b in Strack-B. I, 663f.). When Messiah comes, Israel will say: 'Blessed is the hour when Messiah is created; blessed be the body from which he comes forth; blessed be the generation that sees him, blessed be the eye that is privileged to look on him' (Pesiq. 149a in Strack-B. I, 161).
These types of blessings function as high praise for the person who inspires them. When the woman in the crowd is blessing Mary, she is praising Jesus. Logion 79a in Thomas is an ancient Judaic form of high praise. Now we know that Thomas also contains another ancient Judaic expression of high praise in log. 12 - "for whose sake heaven and earth came into being." Consequently, I would have to say that log. 79a is not "out of character" in Thomas.
- Kevin Johnson
Sent: Fri, 2 Feb 2007 10:43 AM
Subject: [GTh] A Summary of Goodacre v. DeConick
I think that much of this summary has been implied by
previous notes, but it's always good to put things as
clearly as possible.
Goodacre's paper has to do with Th79a, that is, 79.1-2.
DeConick's position is that the entirety of Th79 belongs
to an original Thomas "kernel". Had DeConick split Th79
into two parts and asserted that 79b (i.e., 79.3) was part
of the kernel, but that 79a was a later accretion, as she
does with some other sayings, then she and Mark would
have been as ships passing in the night, no collision implied.
Why didn't she do that? After all, her reason for believing
that Th79 is part of the kernel is based on the contents
of 79.3. Why then, did she not separate 79a from 79b?
Short of an answer from her, my guess is that the two
parts were too tightly tied together through the mention
of "belly and breasts" in both.
But now having tied 79a and 79b together, the collision
between her and Mark is this: Mark asserts that 79a is
"out of character" with the rest of Thomas, while April
is essentially forced to the position that it isn't. Either
that or (very improbably) that Thomas has changed so
much with accretion that while 79a was originally "in
character" with the rest of the kernel, it's now "out of
character" in the Coptic version.
It'd be good (IMO) to see arguments on both sides
of this specific issue, but I don't think that's what
we're going to see. DeConick, it seems, will take
the road of generality, as she has so far. That isn't
an illegitimate road, but it leaves Mark's "out of
character" argument without direct and specific
Check out the new AOL. Most comprehensive set of free safety and security tools, free access to millions of high-quality videos from across the web, free AOL Mail and more.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]