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Thomas 1-12 (2.5)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG; WSW On: Thomas 1-12 (2.5) From: Bruce I have recently proposed, in a message labeled Thomas 1-12 (2), to which this note is a mere
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2009
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG; WSW
      On: Thomas 1-12 (2.5)
      From: Bruce

      I have recently proposed, in a message labeled Thomas 1-12 (2), to which
      this note is a mere addendum, that the core text of what we now call Thomas
      consisted of sayings 1-12, around which, as part of the next compositional
      stage, there were placed two framing elements, the Prologue (Saying 0 in the
      Puech scheme of counting) and Saying 13. Both of these mention Thomas; they
      are the first and only parts of the text to do so. My suggestion is that
      they were added at a time when the previous nominal mentor of the text
      (Jacob the Righteous, as an authoritative pipeline to Jesus, to whom
      virtually all of sayings 1-12 are otherwise attributed) was no longer
      psychologically viable as such, quite possibly after the death of Jacob in

      Before someone leaps up to demand an example of a growth text using the
      method of head-and-tail framing placement of material, let me point to the
      latest issue of JBL, which in its final canonical form clunked in
      everybody's mailbox approximately yesterday, but during whose editorial
      process there evidently took place a discussion which eventuated in the
      following order of material:

      1. Essay on methodology: the historical vs the literary
      2-9. Articles on various Biblical subjects, mostly OT
      10. Essay on methodology: modern vs postmodern

      The 1st and 10th essays are the head-and-tail framing elements.

      As to the large and ultimate import of these pieces, I would say that they
      further accelerate the break, presently in progress and previously reported,
      between the long-respected "historical-critical method" and the current
      desire of the majority of the field to revert to other approaches, including
      approaches more accommodating of the needs of the faithful in the pews. The
      framing pieces are thus intensely current, and may be construed (as I
      suggest is the case with proto-Thomas) as a response to a sort of aegis
      change, a value shift in the background community to which the journal
      itself constitutes a sort of officially mediated rejoinder.

      That is, this sample of head-and-tail framing is not merely a literary
      design for the sake of making a literary design; it carries commentary value
      by virtue of its position. It distinguishes itself from the mere run of the
      articles proper (items 2-9).

      Head-and-or-tail framing is common also in the Han processed versions of
      pre-Han texts; the headpiece typically gives some sort of anecdotal material
      about the supposed author of the work, and the tailpiece typically gives the
      supposed author a chance to expound things (sometimes previously undiscussed
      things) in terms that a Han audience would welcome and understand, but which
      make no contextual sense if referred to the actual lifetime of the supposed

      How far to divide our mental list of text formation models (what I call text
      typology) is a nice question. Just two categories (static and growth texts)
      lump too much under the "growth" category, whereas dividing things fine
      enough that all examples closely fit the category type results in a large
      number of categories, which irritates the reader. Thus, not all framing
      accretions occur at both ends of the work, sometimes only the head is
      involved, and sometimes only the tail. People do what they do, with the
      ingenuity they command, to the text which are available to them. The
      philologist's job is not to make a neat schema, but simply to report what
      goes on. Here, for example, is a tentative list of examples of what in the
      current edition of the Project web site are called "packaged texts" - texts
      prepared for their readers by some subsequent, nonproprietary addition, here
      mostly at the tail of the work.




      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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