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Mark and Thomas

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Jack Kilmon On: Mark and Thomas From: Bruce Speaking of Mark s transcripts of Peter s preaching, Jack suggested: JACK: I think
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 3, 2009
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      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Jack Kilmon
      On: Mark and Thomas
      From: Bruce

      Speaking of Mark's transcripts of Peter's preaching, Jack suggested:

      JACK: I think there were two "notebooks," one of "Jesus saids..." and one of
      "Jesus dids..."

      BRUCE: Why? As a convenience to the present theory? Or as a reasonable
      procedure at the time? If the latter, I need to have the nature of the
      convenience explained to me. Granting for a moment that Mark was the
      interpreter of Peter, it seems to me highly unlikely that Mark would
      originally separate, and later recombine, his directly received Peter
      material. On the other hand, it seems to me very likely that a composer of a
      new Christian mystical text would build it out of the material in his Gospel
      sources which seemed not only most nearly mysterious, but also carried the
      greatest intrinsic authority. Both of these desiderata would tend to single
      out the Jesus *sayings* amid the larger Jesus *narratives* of Mark and his
      successors. The scenario for a derivative Thomas thus seems very natural and
      persuasive, quite apart from directionality arguments for specific passages
      (on which however see further below).

      Jack at some points suggests that Luke may have had his Markan material from
      Matthew, and at other points cites strong evidence that Luke used both Mark
      and Matthew. I venture, without specific argument, to agree with the latter
      of these positions. There is much in Luke that Luke can only have gotten
      from Mark. That is the general situation. The Vorlage for any one Lukan
      passage might be solely the one or the other.

      JACK (at the end of his examples and comments, for which thanks; I plan to
      keep them as a reference for future study): My position is that Mark didn't
      USE Thomas...Mark WROTE Thomas (proto-Thomas, that is).

      BRUCE: Ingeniously put. But might one not, with equal stylistic flair, say
      that Matthew and Luke also wrote Thomas? And then there is John. I am
      looking at Kloppenborg et al, Q Thomas Reader 109 and its list of
      Thomas-John parallels. Neither here nor in the larger case can I get rid of
      the sense that Thomas has seized on passages in all the Gospels which
      contain the word "know," or which can be given what I may as well call a
      Gnostic turn, and culled them out, sometimes with enhancements. Is there a
      strong argument that any of the Kloppenborg parallels, which for those who
      don't have the book on their desk are

      Th 13:5 ~ Jn 4:14, 7:37-38
      Th 24:1-3 ~ Jn 11:9-12
      Th 92:1-2 ~ Jn 16:23-24, 30
      Th 38:1-2 ~ Jn 7:33-34, 8:21, 13:33

      . . . is there a strong argument that any of these have the directionality
      Th > Jn? I note the "intoxication" in the first, as a sign of the sort of
      thing that I see Thomas adding to his Gospel sources. That is, I see a case
      here for Jn > Th.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic Cc: WSW On: Mark and Thomas From: Bruce I guess I found my own earlier question on this subject a little bit interesting, and I have looked into
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 4, 2009
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        To: Synoptic
        Cc: WSW
        On: Mark and Thomas
        From: Bruce

        I guess I found my own earlier question on this subject a little bit
        interesting, and I have looked into it a little more. I have yet to find a
        satisfactory treatment of Thomas, but here would be some of my working
        guesses drawn from what little IS available to me, at this hour of the
        morning, in the local working library.

        1. Thomas exists in two forms, a Greek logia collection, explicitly
        identified as Sayings of Jesus, and a Coptic Gospel, explicitly claimed as
        the Gospel of Thomas - but only in the title at the end of the book; the
        intro, like that of Gk Thomas, specifies a logia collection, which is what
        both versions actually deliver. We may take the final Coptic title as a bit
        of hype. Ignoring the hype, which in any case is part of a later version, we
        are dealing with a Logia collection in two versions, a short Gk one and a
        longer Coptic one.

        2. The Coptic one includes the Gk one within its first 39 sayings, with a
        few lacunae, some of which are readily explained as literal physical gaps or
        frayings in the Gk MSS. The Coptic one runs on past this point, and
        comprises in all 114 sayings. That is, Coptic Thomas is about three times as
        large as Greek Thomas, and Greek Thomas seems to occupy (with some
        physically intelligible lacunae) the first third of Coptic Thomas. In terms
        of saying count, the fraction of Coptic Thomas which is not overlapped by
        Greek Thomas is 75/115 = 0.6522. The order of sayings In Gk Thomas, so far
        as the preserved fragments are witness, is the same as that in Coptic
        Thomas. There is then no rearrangement (though there is a little rewording)
        of Greek Thomas in Coptic Thomas.

        3. Gk Thomas is attested by a total of three Oxyrhynchus papyri: P Oxy 654
        (Prologue, sayings 1-7, ending in the middle of saying 7), 655d (a fragment
        of saying 24; see further below), 1 verso (the latter part of saying 26,
        and continuous through saying 28, whose ending is lost), 1 recto (the latter
        part of saying 30, continuing to the first part of saying 33, whose ending
        is lost), and then resuming with 655 (a few words missing from saying 36,
        and then continuous to the end of saying 39, of which the last few words
        seem uncertain, but which apparently ends that page).

        4. Here then is one of those nifty multiplication problems that continually
        recur in philology. How likely is it that three physical samples of a
        114-saying text should all fall within the first 39 sayings of that text? Or
        to reduce it to simpler but mathematically equivalent terms: Three raindrops
        fall on a brick marked off into areas of 35% and 65%. How likely is it that
        all three raindrops will fall in the smaller half of the brick?

        (I ask this not in any spirit of frivolity, but as a severely practical
        matter: I am currently compiling a slim and easy guide to numerical
        calculations in the humanistic sciences, and this is one of the illustrative
        problems in that book. If everybody in the NT field already knows how to
        work the problem, then my labor on the book is entirely wasted, and I would
        be glad to scrap that project in favor of other chores. If not, then not. It
        matters to me which is correct. Answers to the problem may be sent to me
        personally, so as not to jam the common Synoptic desk with a lot of
        elementary homework papers).

        4. The Gk text is then fragmentary, but as we have seen, fragmentary in a
        way that still invites the inference that the Gk version actually ended
        where P Oxy 655 leaves it, namely at saying 39. We have just examined the
        statistical support for this hypothesis. Is there literary support? That is,
        does the end of Gk Thomas suggest that it was the end of that whole text? I
        would say so. Saying 38 (damaged in the MS, but originally concluding "There
        will come days when you will seek me and not find me") can easily be taken
        as a valediction by Jesus, and in that light, saying 39 would be a plausible
        last word of advice for a gnosis mystic embarking on an unguided journey in
        a largely dark world: "As for you, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as
        doves." This concluding remark within saying 39 is drawn from Matthew's
        10:16 charge to the disciples he is sending out into a partly hostile world.
        It would have made a very suitable ending for a logia collection meant to
        have some sort of overall coherence.

        5. Does the beginning of Gk Thos support this thought? Not unambiguously,
        but it doesn't unseat it either. We have the Prologue, identifying what
        follows as sayings that Jesus spoke during his lifetime [a guarantee against
        any later Church material, the Church being a development from which the
        author or anthologist wants to distance himself entirely], and then follows
        saying 1: "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not
        taste death." That too is a promise and a prologue; it is not yet the
        content of the teaching. That begins rather with saying 2: "Those who seek
        should not stop until they find. . . ." It counsels persistence, and the
        quest in which it counsels persistence is an individual quest for
        understanding; there is not a shred of social concern. When in saying 6 the
        disciples (bound by the conventions that in fact weighed with the early
        Christians) ask about fasting, or prayer, or alms, or dietary niceties,
        Jesus simply answers: Don't lie. The life of the gnosis mystic is entirely
        taken up with truth vs lie, and his salvation is in seeking out the truth.
        With other people's social welfare, or with his own physical self as
        something to be preserved from defilement, he is not concerned. Poverty, in
        these sayings, is a metaphor for inner spiritual lack, it has nothing to do
        with anybody's Engels Quotient.

        Anyway, it stands, if not demonstrated, then at least unrefuted, that the
        Greek Logia were meant as guides for an individual seeker after hidden
        truth, and that they end by wishing that seeker well in a dangerous and
        uncomprehending world.

        6. If then we have at least an outline of the Gk Logia of Jesus, and if it
        is at least plausible that the Gk Logia of Jesus are an earlier state of the
        later and much expanded Coptic Logia of Jesus [the fraudulently labeled
        "Gospel of Thomas"], of what is this Gk Logia itself a later state? What, in
        short, may be its sources? I have already mentioned Matthew. Here again are
        Kloppenborg's suggestions as to Thos ~ John contacts, copied from mine of 3
        June:

        Th 13:5 ~ Jn 4:14, 7:37-38
        Th 24:1-3 ~ Jn 11:9-12
        Th 92:1-2 ~ Jn 16:23-24, 30
        Th 38:1-2 ~ Jn 7:33-34, 8:21, 13:33

        We cannot personally verify Th 13 because it is not in the portion of Gk Th
        for which we have an extant papyrus leaf. But we *can* directly spectate Th
        24:1-3 (with counterpart at Jn 11:9-12) and also Th 38:1-2 (with counterpart
        at Jn 7:33-34, not to mention 8:21 and 13:33, evidently a big deal with Jn,
        and as we have seen, very sensitively placed in Gk Thos also). Given the one
        unverifiable but probable directionality Th 13 < Jn 4:14, 7:37-38 (note
        again the emphasis in Jn of a saying that is taken up in Gk Th), for which I
        earlier argued, I take it that not only Coptic Thomas, but already Greek
        Thomas, was indebted to sources as late as Jn, and a fortiori, the Matthean
        and other Synoptic parallels also represent the use of Gospel sources by the
        compiler of Gk Thomas.

        gJn was probably finished by the end of the 1c. The text of Gk Thos is
        placed by the experts about a century after that. The chronology, so far as
        present evidence permits elements of chronology to be pinned down at all, is
        thus favorable to the idea that Gk Thos follows, and draws on, all four of
        what later became the canonical Gospels.

        7. This is too bad, in a way. It would have been neat if, say, Gk Thos knew
        only the Synoptics, and Coptic Thos extended that range to include John.
        That would give us a much earlier (though still post-Matthean) composition
        date for the Greek Logia. But it happens that this is not what we have come
        out with. So it goes. In the kingdom of the conjectural, evidence is king.

        8. I mention this to help get rid of the idea that "the Gospel of Thomas" or
        even its precursor of some centuries earlier, the Antiochene Greek Logia of
        Thomas, is a valid way of getting around the priority of Mark. The evidence
        of Mark is at least several generations earlier than John, and the evidence
        of Gk Thomas is in turn a century later than John. And Coptic Thomas is two
        centuries further down the pike.

        9. But, it may be objected, is not the saying form intrinsically earlier
        than the narrative form? As a literature emerges from no literature, for the
        first and only time in a given culture, it is very likely that its first
        efforts will be in the direction of writing down short things. And expand
        only later to long things. However, the power of short things remains
        powerful even in the later period. The Works of Mao Tse-tung (to use the
        spelling of that time) fill many volumes, and widely were they distributed,
        but what was really influential was a culling from those Works called the
        Little Red Book, a shirt-pocket matter consisting of sentences for daily
        use. A parallel that will be recognized for those conversant with the
        classical Chinese case is the Dzwo Jwan, where a lot of exciting stories are
        fastened to a chronological framework, the resulting text being simply too
        heavy to lift (don't risk your wrist; get your back and thighs into it).
        That text's successor, the Gwo Yw (which I have elsewhere called the comic
        book version of the Dzwo Jwan), coming only a decade after the Dzwo Jwan,
        dropped the chronological framework and simply assembled a string of
        exciting stories, most of them based on Dzwo Jwan stories, with a few wilder
        ones, some of them cosmical and mystical, which were made up de novo. This
        cutting loose from a source text's chronological organization (and pushing
        the tendency of that source text further into the ineffable) is exactly what
        the Little Red Book does, and as I see it, it is also exactly what Greek
        Thomas does, vis-a-vis even its most nearly gnostic predecessor, the Gospel
        of John.

        So no, short does not always mean early. It DOES tend to mean effective, and
        for that reason gnomic form and shirt-pocket format are continually adopted
        by the Hallmark Greeting Card Company and by many another packaging and
        propaganda engine of our time. That the cryptic form of gnomic sayings is
        especially well suited to the esoteric teaching of Gnostic wisdom will be
        evident to all literary workers.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      • Dave Gentile
        ... I now take up a slightly more advanced version. I agree it is somewhat unlikely that if the Greek text was over 110 sayings long, our 3 fragments would all
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 5, 2009
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          Bruce wrote in small part:

          > 4. Here then is one of those nifty multiplication problems that continually
          > recur in philology. How likely is it that three physical samples of a
          > 114-saying text should all fall within the first 39 sayings of that text? Or
          > to reduce it to simpler but mathematically equivalent terms: Three raindrops
          > fall on a brick marked off into areas of 35% and 65%. How likely is it that
          > all three raindrops will fall in the smaller half of the brick?
          >
          > (I ask this not in any spirit of frivolity, but as a severely practical
          > matter:

          I now take up a slightly more advanced version. I agree it is somewhat unlikely that if the Greek text was over 110 sayings long, our 3 fragments would all be from the first 39 verses. On the other hand, if the Greek text was exactly 39 verses, it is coincidental if we happen to have the final verse. Given these competing factors, what is the most probable length of the Greek text. Without detail of calculation, I find the most likely length to have been 48 sayings. This is over 7 times more likely than the hypothesis that the Greek text was the same length as the Coptic text.

          Dave Gentile
          Riverside, IL
        • Dave Gentile
          Additional to the previous post: If I had to pick a saying around #48 which could have once served as an ending, #49 looks to be a good candidate. 49. Jesus
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 5, 2009
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            Additional to the previous post:

            If I had to pick a saying around #48 which could have once served as an ending, #49 looks to be a good candidate.

            49. Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the kingdom. For you have come from it, and you will return there again."

            Dave Gentile
            Riverside, IL
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