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[XTalk] Re: the name of the thief

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  • Robert M Schacht
    ... with ... The easiest and most obvious answer is that they represent two independent traditions. There is a venerable category of Jewish commentary that I
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 30, 1999
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      On Thu, 30 Sep 1999 11:56:23 -0400 Jim West <jwest@...> writes:
      > At 04:30 PM 9/30/99 +0000, you wrote:
      > >On 30 Sep 99, at 10:06, Jack Kilmon wrote:
      > >
      > >> Dismas, as the "good thief" and Gestas as the other thief crucified
      with
      > >> Jesus is a tradition from the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy. ...
      > >
      > >This is fascinating -- thanks Jack. It's on the Wesley noncanonical
      page at:
      > >
      > >http://wesley.nnc.edu/noncanon/gospels/infarab.htm
      > >
      > >There they are called "Titus" and "Dumachus":
      >
      > Now this is getting really interesting...
      > WHY the name differences?????
      > ...

      The easiest and most obvious answer is that they represent two
      independent traditions.

      There is a venerable category of Jewish commentary that I think is
      attested in the Tanakh, and even in the Torah, whereby stories were
      seemingly invented to answer just such questions as "Who were the thieves
      who were crucified with Jesus?"

      To quote a summary by Lew Reich in January 1997 that may be relevant,

      "Traditional Jewish sources talk about four progressively deeper
      levels of exegesis of a text: pshat, drash, remez, and sode (plain
      meaning, inquiry, hint and secret). (Note that the "house" of Hillel
      was a "Beit midrash" - literally a "House of Inquiry" and that term is
      still used today to describe the large hall in a traditional Yeshiva
      where studying takes place, usually in small groups.)"

      "Pshat has to do with ascertaining the plain literal meaning of the
      text, not always a straightforward task.

      Drash generally involves
      asking questions about apparent difficulties in the plain meaning of
      the text, and the midrash that results is (in the context most
      relevant to our situation) usually an effort to resolve that
      difficulty by telling a story that provides both an answer and a
      faith-strengthening lesson. (We are talking here of "midrash
      aggadah" - lit. the midrash of stories, which is what is usually
      referred to when the word midrash is used alone. The method is also
      applied to deduce halakhic rulings from the text according to rules
      of exegesis, and this effort is referred to as "midrash halakhah",
      "inquiry of halakhah".)

      Remez, or hint, involves veiled allusions such as numerical values
      ("gematria")
      and abbreviations ("notarikon").

      Sode, secret or mystery, involves esoteric interpretation."

      I believe that Islam has similar levels of exegesis.

      Bob
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