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Re: [XTalk] Re: Jesus the Mathematician

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  • Jan Sammer
    From: Wieland Willker ... understood ... Hello Wieland, I have looked for such evidence but have not found it (yet). I plan to
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 2, 2002
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      From: "Wieland Willker" <willker@...-bremen.de>

      > Jan,
      >
      > is there any evidence from the first centuries that the story is
      understood
      > "correctly", that is in the way you proposed?
      >
      Hello Wieland,

      I have looked for such evidence but have not found it (yet). I plan to do
      another session this week with the CD-ROM version of J.P. Migne's
      Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina, which has some fairly
      sophisticated search tools for its 220 digitized volumes. My preliminary
      search last month did not reveal anything noteworthy on this topic. The most
      common interpretation seems to be that the 12 kophinoi stand for the 12
      apostles. But I need to do a more systematic search. I will report on the
      results.

      Regards,

      Jan

      Jan Sammer
      sammer@...
      Prague, Czech Republic
    • Jan Sammer
      ... most ... I have now had the opportunity of doing more thorough research with the electronic version of J.P. Migne s Patrologiae Cursus Completus, courtesy
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 15, 2002
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        Wieland Willker asked:

        > > Jan,
        > >
        > > is there any evidence from the first centuries that the story is
        > > understood "correctly", that is in the way you proposed?
        > >
        I responded:
        > I have looked for such evidence but have not found it (yet). I plan to do
        > another session this week with the CD-ROM version of J.P. Migne's
        > Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina, which has some fairly
        > sophisticated search tools for its 220 digitized volumes. My preliminary
        > search last month did not reveal anything noteworthy on this topic. The
        most
        > common interpretation seems to be that the 12 kophinoi stand for the 12
        > apostles. But I need to do a more systematic search. I will report on the
        > results.
        >
        I have now had the opportunity of doing more thorough research with the
        electronic version of J.P. Migne's Patrologiae Cursus Completus, courtesy of
        the Theological Faculty of Charles University here in Prague. For someone
        used to consulting the venerable folio tomes of the PL and PG, its
        versatility more than makes up for the nostalgic feeling of handling the
        physical volumes. One can only hope that the PG will also become available
        in electronic format before too long.

        This time I did searches on cophinus, cophini, cophinorum and cophines; in a
        single day I was thus able to consult literally hundreds of authors. The
        most frequent interpretation is the one that still prevails, namely, that
        the twelve cophini refer to the twelve disciples, or the twelve tribes, or
        both. The seven spyrides (sportae in Latin) are most commonly linked with
        the seven churches.

        Numerous commentators state that cophini were used to carry earth and manure
        and that gathering anything in cophini was a demeaning and humiliating task.

        An interesting suggestion is made in a 12th century Commentary on the Gospel
        according to St. John by Rupertus Tuitiensis (PL. volume 169), who suggests
        that the twelve cophini of fragments were left over in order that each of
        the disciples who distributed the food should have a cophinus for himself to
        take away. ("duodecim fragmentorum cophini superfuerunt, ut unusquisque
        discipulorum qui ministraverant, suum reportaret cophinum.") I find this
        idea intriguing. After all, a cophinus was a small wicker basket used by
        Jews to carry their daily bread ration; if the disciples, after feeding the
        multitude, had to make do with the leftovers, that would be an extreme form
        of humiliation for them. This would tie in the narrative very neatly with
        the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who begs Jesus for figurative
        leftovers. The idea does not work quite so well for the feeding of the 4000,
        but there one should notice that after 8:8 ("they gathered of the leftover
        pieces seven spyrides") 8:9 states: "There were about four thousand of
        them." The grammatical structure of the Greek is consistent with the reading
        that those who gathered the leftovers in the spyrides were the four
        thousand. Thus in the first instance, the disciples would have taken up the
        pieces for themselves and in the second instance would have left the crowds
        to carry away the fragments. In any event, Rupertus' suggestion is certainly
        an original one and worth further consideration.

        I will continue this survey in a separate email, but before closing let me
        cite a sensational curiosity that made me shake my head in disbelief when I
        came across it: The "authentic" twelve cophini, with the original fragments
        of bread still in them, were among the relics kept in Constantinople as
        late as 1095 A.D.! This is made clear in a letter from the Emperor of
        Constantinople to Robert of Flanders, published in Vol. 155 of the PL. The
        Emperor tells Robert that it is better that you (presumable the Latins)
        should have Constantinople than the pagans, "because the city houses some
        of the most preciouse relics of the Lord, that is, the post to which he was
        tied, the whip with which he was whipped, the scarlet robe in which he was
        dressed, the crown of thorns with which he was crowned, the reed with which
        he held in his hands instead of a sceptre, the clothes that were taken off
        him before he was crucified, the greater part of the wood of the cross on
        which he was crucified, the nails with which he was attached, the linen that
        was found in the tomb after the resurrection, the twelve cophini of
        fragments of the five loaves and two fish, the head complete with hair and
        beard of St. John the Baptist..." An impressive list indeed. Here is the
        original citation:

        IMPERATORIS CONSTANTINOPOLITANI EPISTOLA AD ROBERTUM FLANDRIAE COMITEM ET
        OMNES CHRISTIANOS Ut sibi contra paganos opem ferant. (Anno 1095.) [MARTENE
        Thes. Anecd. I, 267, ex mss. duobus, uno monasterii S. Albini, altero
        monasterii S. Ebrulfi.]

        Nam melius est ut vos habeatis Constantinopolim quam pagani, quia in ea
        habentur pretiosissimae reliquiae Domini, id est statua ad quam fuit
        ligatus, flagellum unde fuit flagellatus, chlamys coccinea qua fuit indutus,
        corona spinea qua fuit coronatus, arundo quam vice sceptri manibus tulit,
        vestimenta quibus ante crucem spoliatus fuit, pars maxima ligni crucis in
        qua crucifixus fuit, clavi quibus affixus fuit, linteamina post
        resurrectionem in sepulcro inventa, duodecim cophini fragmentorum de quinque
        panibus et duobus piscibus, caput cum capillis integrum et barba sancti
        Joannis Baptistae, reliquiae vel corpora multorum innocentium, quorumdam
        prophetarum, et apostolorum, et martyrum, et maxime sancti Stephani
        protomartyris, et confessorum et virginum, quae ob nimium incrementum
        singulariter scribere intermisimus.


        To be continued...

        Jan

        Jan Sammer
        sammer@...
        Prague, Czech Republic
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