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Re: Doubting Thomas 2

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  • Stevan Davies
    ... Recall that while we may disagree on the specifics, we are united in the belief that Patterson s arguments aren t all that they could be. I might be happy
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 1998
      Stephen Carlson wrote:

      > As for Thomas' dependence on the Synoptics, I think we need to take
      > seriously Mahlon's lecture to Ryan about the documentary evidence.
      > The fact is, in the actual, extant, physical, real texts of Thomas
      > (the Coptic version), there are signs of dependence on the Synoptics.
      > Even Patterson admits to such passages [pp.92-3], specifically:

      Recall that while we may disagree on the specifics, we are
      united in the belief that Patterson's arguments aren't all that
      they could be. I might be happy to go along with Patterson and
      admit these instances of scribal harmonization... but I don't
      see that I have to.

      > Thom 32 (nor can it be hidden) from Matt 5:14b. [Also Greek Thomas!]

      Surely we can agree that it is unlikely that Mt has invented this
      saying, it is inappropriate for its context in Mt, if nothing else.
      If Mt did not invent it, it comes from tradition. If it is
      acknowledged that a saying was in oral tradition, and it is
      discovered that it is in Thomas, we cannot assume ipso facto
      that it derives from Matthew. Thomas shows that there were
      two city sayings (banal proverbs typical of early Jesus material)
      "cannot fall" "cannot be hidden" which are combined in Thomas.
      What of this requires a Matthew dependence conclusion?

      > Thom 39:1 (Pharisees and scribes) from Matt 23:13.

      Th 39a, by its structure, requires there to be some identifiable
      party or parties who are criticized. Form-critically, the two sayings
      are rather different, Mt has a "woe" in direct address and Th has
      a declarative indirect statement so literary dependence is dim.
      Thomas' "Pharisees and Scribes" is not identifical to Mt's "Scribes
      and Pharisees," which may be trivial, but perhaps not so in the
      context of argument based on tiny agreements between Th and
      Mt/Lk... Mt has a very decided preference for "Pharisees and

      Still and all, the phrase "scribes and pharisees" or "pharisees
      and scribes" is to be found in all four of the gospels (counting
      John 8:3) and even appears in the Testimony of Truth
      " there has taken hold of them the old leaven of the Pharisees and
      the scribes of the Law. the Pharisees and the scribes,
      it is they who belong to the archons who have authority" where
      the duality replaces both the Markan Pharisees and Herod and
      the Matthean Pharisees and Saducees. In the Gospel
      of Peter we have "VIII. 28 But the scribes and Pharisees and elders
      gathered one with another..." Conclusion -- the pairing of
      scribes and pharisees is not identifiably Matthean but a part of
      general Christian terminology for Jesus' opponents and so, in a
      Thomas saying that demands by its structure an identification of
      opponents by its structure, we should not be surprised to find it.

      > Thom 45:3 (which is in his heart) from Luke 6:45.

      But cf. Mark 7:21, Mt 12:34. There is good/evil brought forth from the
      heart in Mk, Lk, Mt, Th. This does not show a specifically Lukan
      motif. Very weak argument here. "In his heart" was part of the
      original probably in its first and second element, I'd say. Our
      authors variously omit one or the other "in his heart" and switch
      the saying around anyhow. This doesn't lead to a Thomas
      dependent on Luke for the phrase conclusion but rather the
      conclusion that "in his heart" was an oral tradition factor.

      > Thom 104:1,3 (prayer and fasting) from Luke 5:33.

      You must be prepared to argue that Luke would have deliberately
      added a term "prayer" in a manner that implies through
      synechdoche that Jesus' disciples
      did not pray in order for this point to be valid. I.e. if "prayer" is
      specifically Lukan invention, the argument is strong. Otherwise
      one must assume that Luke knows of the Thomas version and
      was influenced by it and, similarly and quite reasonably, Mark
      can be assumed to have known that uncongenial element and
      left it out.

      > Thom 104:3 allusion to Jesus' death from Luke 5:33-35.

      There's no allusion to Jesus' death in Thomas here. And far as I can
      tell Luke 5:33-35 // Mk and Mt anyhow. I don't understand the point.

      > In order, Patterson sees:
      > Thom 32+33:2-3 influenced by Matt 5:14b-15.

      Odd. Since the city saying interrupts the flow of Mt's line
      of thought ("light of the world" 14a then "light a lamp" 15)
      it doesn't seem reasonable to see here that a city saying 14b
      is clearly Matthean redaction.

      > Thom 43:3+44+45:1-4 influenced by Matt 12:31-35.

      Or vice versa. Or just random chance. These are neither
      the same sayings (they are somewhat similar) nor in the
      same order. So Thomas changed the order but kept them
      nearby each other and changed the sayings rather considerably?
      Not much proof of literary dependence in that hypothesis.

      > Thom 65+66 influenced by Mark 12:1-11 et parr.

      Much stronger argument that the opposite is true. See the
      long discussion in my Thomas/Mark article part 1.

      > Thom 92:1+93+94 influenced by Matt 7:6-7.

      Where Thomas has reconstructed elements of a parallel
      structure missing in Matthew, left out the opening phrase
      of Mt. 7:7 and changed the grammatical structure from direct
      to indirect address but all the while keeping the order
      because of Matthew thus showing dependence? I don't think so.

      For order-of-sayings one can also just appeal to simple random
      chance. After all ANY same-sequence between Th and ANY
      gospel will be said to prove Thomas' dependence. So you
      have W sayings in order in Mark
      X in order in Mt
      Y in order in Lk
      Z in order in Th
      I don't think we can say statistically that we are so certain that
      these will never be in the same order that when one or two instances
      of same-order appear we have a strong argument for much of
      anything... and statistically twice as much less if we allow for inversion
      to be probative of something (as in the following example you

      > Now, sure, one could appeal to textual corruption or scribal
      > harmonization.

      But one doesn't have to (see above).

      Since you do not believe that textual
      corruption or scribal harmonization took place in the Thomas
      textual tradition, against all evidence and the opinion of every
      text critical scholar, I have tried to show that you do not have
      to do so to account for the similarities you adduced above.

      > But let's recognize this for what it is: it
      > is a plea to believe evidence that does not exist for Thomas
      > in opposition to evidence that actually does exist.

      That is correct if we assume that no textual
      corruption or scribal harmonization took place in the Thomas
      textual tradition and so this is "evidence that does not exist."
      But more than just this is needed, we need also to write
      off "oral tradition" as "evidence that does not exist" as well.

      This leaves us with only two possibilities,
      Thomas is dependent on the synoptics or the synoptics
      are dependent on Thomas. If this is what we are left with,
      having discarded the possibility of oral-tradition influence
      on our authors and the possibility of scribal harmonization,
      I'll choose the latter of the two, Thomas' influence on the

      > These are just the examples where Patterson was forced to give up
      > his special pleading. There are many many more in which he does
      > manage to concoct some explanation, but it appears very lame. Take,
      > for example, Th47:3-5. Th47:3 (nobody drinks old wine and immediately
      > wants to drink new wine) echoes Lk5:39, which Luke added to Mk2:22,
      > the context of Th47:4-5. Luke's redactorial activity in Lk5:39 is
      > evident: it is new material added to Mark, it forms an inclusio,
      > and it uses a Lukan gnomic OUDEIS. Therefore, inclusion of this
      > saying in this context is a prima facie case of Lukan redaction of
      > Mark known to Thomas. Patterson's retort assumes that Luke did not
      > make up the saying, but knew it from tradition, from which Thomas
      > "independently recognized the sense of including it here." [p.42]
      > In other words, coincidence. Multiply this reasoning by the seventy
      > or so examples, and you can see why I eventually ran out of patience
      > with his independence argument.

      You have a typical traditional banal proverb about wine. It occurs in
      Thomas and Luke in conjunction with another saying having to do with
      wine although against Thomas' supposed tendency to keep synoptic
      sayings in order (see your previous arguments) the order is
      reversed. Luke's saying is definitely Lukan, but Thomas, recognizing
      Lukan redaction, alters the saying to appear proverbial rather than
      Lukan. I don't think this will convince very many objective

      I agree with Stephen C. that if we accept his premises that there was
      no such thing as scribal harmonization or textual corruption,
      and no such thing as oral tradition so that it is nonsense to say
      "Thomas knew it from tradition" then he has a point. Otherwise
      he doesn't. To say, as Patterson does, that two authors took the
      same saying from oral tradition is not, in my opinion, "special

      > Finally, last fall Antonio and I presented a literary analysis that
      > showed that secondary synoptic tradition (Luke and Matthew) is
      > consistently the mediating link between Thomas and Mark. Since
      > Markan priority is affirmed by almost all (pace the neo-Griesbachians),
      > this literary feature indicates that Thomas's affinities to the
      > Triple Tradition is not with Mark (expected if Thomas were early)
      > but with Matthew and Luke (expected if Thomas is late).

      What we found, in considering this so called "literary analysis"
      the last (second) time was that the supposed Lk or Mt agreements
      with Thomas against Mark were
      A. So diverse in nature that no general statement could be made
      regarding them. Some had to do with a word, some with sayings
      nearby each other, some to do with a phrase (but a different
      phrase entirely!) added by Thomas and another evangelist, and so
      B. Most of the ones presented by Antonio were spurious even upon
      his own admission.
      C. One had to rule out coincidence, oral tradition influence, scribal
      harmonization by hypothesis in order to draw any conclusion at all.

      If you'd like to go again a third time I'm game. But the last of it
      I remember was the thesis that "Antonio and I agree" should be
      in and of itself probative of an argument LACKING specific
      significant instances presented in writing. I hope this is wrong and
      that some detailed evidence was transmitted that I didn't respond
      to and I can now look into.... but nonesuch that I can recall.

      I don't mean to sound dismissive of you, Stephen, (and the extent
      of my two letters should be a compliment) because I think
      you could make as good an argument from evidence that
      a) Thomas could not have been Mark's source or
      b) Thomas is dependent upon the synoptics
      as any other person alive. But you haven't done so. I wish you
      would. I'd enjoy that greatly. But I cannot and do not take your
      word for it that you could do so in light of the fact that you
      haven't. Nor can I accept the idea that Patterson is thoroughly
      mistaken simply because you say so.

      I hope you can recall letters of mine about Patterson generally
      where I pointed out strongly that poor Patterson is constantly
      forced into argument against the air, not against anyone. He is
      arguing the negative against a non-existent postive case. And we
      find it said that since "Patterson has not proven Thomas to be
      independent therefore we know Thomas is dependent" is a
      reasonable conclusion. It is not. The burden of proof is on the
      affirmative and the affirmative cannot be that Patterson has failed
      to prove a non-presented case to be in error.

      > Unlike Patterson's special pleading (coincidence, textual corruption,
      > could have been in oral tradition), these arguments have cumulative
      > force: they all point in the direction of a second century text.

      Correct. If we rule out the possibility of coincidence, textual
      corruption, oral tradition, that's the conclusion we are drawn to.
      But that's the price you pay to reach it... the denial of factors
      that all others in scholarship know exist and take for granted.

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