[XTalk] Re: Gospel Sources
- On Sat, 29 Jan 2000 13:56:22 -0500 "Mahlon H. Smith"
> >Mahlon responded:
> > The type of "ruthless suppression" of non-canonical texts that I
> > talking about did not often entail posses of orthodox book-burners
> > scouring the private libraries of upper Egypt.
> Bob Schacht responded:
> > Well, that *is* kinda what I thought you meant. ...
>Yeah, but I was thrown off by your response to Covey.
> .... I thought I had clarified what I meant by
> "ruthless" in my previous reply to Tom Kopecek. ...
Rather than perpetuate this thread ad nauseum, let me concede several
1. As Elaine Pagels made me aware years ago (The Gnostic Gospels, etc.)
the 3rd to 5th centuries, through the era of the ecumenical councils, saw
a considerable amount of polemic from all sides, and not merely from
whoever held the orthodox flag at the moment (posession of which shifted
from time to time, as you have noted recently in your correspondence with
Tom Kopecek). You provided a good sampling of such polemic.
2. Some Bishops promoted certain works (not always the ones in the
current canon), and banned others (sometimes including books *in* the
3. The bishops sometimes added sanctions to their recommendations,
including in rare circumstances excommunication.
But now notice: None of these affects life and limb. In fact, as you
yourself wrote, you did not even mean squads of book-burners roaming the
bishop's territory. Here is where two different senses of 'ruthlessness'
diverged. *Within the domain of text* the bishops (and their opponents)
sometimes vigorously opposed texts which they didn't like. And since the
inception of the thread had to do with the survival of texts (as opposed
to people), you were technically correct. And since we spend so much time
analyzing texts, the world of the texts often seems to be the 'real
But this opposition, or "ruthlessness," as you termed it, was only
secondarily in the domain of flesh-and-blood ruthlessness, which was
perhaps the main thing that I was reacting to in connection with that
Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
Northern Arizona University