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Re: GThom and double standards

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  • mwgrondin
    Brian: As to Mt12:31-32, I find ambiguity, you do not. So be it. Except that there s another passage in which Matt unequivocally states that Jesus was
    Message 1 of 26 , May 2, 2002
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      Brian:
      As to Mt12:31-32, I find ambiguity, you do not. So be it. Except
      that there's another passage in which Matt unequivocally states
      that Jesus was blasphemed against:

      27.39: "Those, however, passing by [the cross] blasphemed him ..."

      What do you make of that?

      (Also, why do you use 'blaspheme' as the noun-form instead
      of 'blasphemy'? At first, I thought this was inadvertent, but now
      I see that you do it consistently.)
      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      > Th61.3: "I was given some of that which is my father's."
      [Brian]:
      > The Scholars' Translation reads differently in this passage,
      > and the difference is telling:
      >
      > Thomas 61c
      > Jesus said to her, "I am the one who comes from what is whole.
      > I was granted from the things of my Father."
      >
      > In my view at least, this translation does appear awkward, but it
      > does not denote authority coming from the Father. More likely is
      > that Jesus is claiming here to have to have come from the Father
      > (the whole). Which translation do you use, and why would you
      > prefer it to the Scholars (assuming you do, of course)?

      I currently prefer the Patterson-Robinson-Bethge translation, as
      found in _The Fifth Gospel_ (Trinity Press International, 1998), to
      the others, although I strongly disagree with their some of their
      reconstructions of missing material. The chief reason I don't like
      the Scholar's Translation is its gender neutrality; to me, that
      distorts the originators' thought for no good reason.

      As to what 61.3b asserts, I myself don't see any significant
      difference between:
      1. "I was given some of that which is my Father's." (Patterson)
      2. "I was granted from the things of my Father." (Scholars)
      3. "I was given out of the things of my Father." (literal)

      All three clearly imply to my ear that Jesus doesn't possess all
      the attributes of "the Father". And, since he could hardly be
      identified as "the Son" if he were disobedient to "the Father",
      I don't know what more you could ask to establish the relationship
      between son and father that you think is missing from Thomas.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      [Brian]:
      > ... where in John (or any other 1st Century text) do you see Jesus
      > or his followers claiming that "he is all" as we see in Th77?
      [Mike]:
      > Jn1:3: "All things came into being by him, and apart from him
      > nothing came into being that has come into being."
      [Brian]:
      > There is a great difference in having all things come from (or
      > created through) Jesus, and Jesus BEING all things.

      So they got a little over-enthusiastic.<g> Seriously, though, the
      latter portion of Th77 ("Split a timber, I am there; lift the stone,
      and you will discover me there."), may have been moved from its
      location following Th30 in the POxy fragments for the purpose of
      emphasizing that a creative agent (such as the Logos) could be seen
      as being present (in a sense) in all that he created. Nevertheless,
      this Johannine-type stuff seems out of place in Thomas. That plus
      the apparent movement of the two sentences from Th30 to Th77 leads
      me to believe that the original collection was written before GJn
      came along.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      > ... Thomas does not show an awareness of Jesus having entered
      > the world as flesh, nor of dying, nor of rising again from the
      > dead. This is why I called your understanding of the term "living
      > Jesus" anachronistic as you must read this into the text.

      Th28.1: "I stood in the middle of the world, and in flesh I
      appeared to them." (that this is to be understood as merely the
      appearance of flesh seems weak to me - "I appeared to them in
      flesh", not "I appeared to them to be in flesh".)

      "Anachronistic" is a poor choice of words for what you seem to be
      getting at. I think you see me as reading orthodox meaning into the
      text, or of taking much of it metaphorically rather than literally.
      The reverse of such charges could of course be applied to yourself,
      but in any case there's no anachronistic thinking involved, because
      all the concepts I use are anciently attested. Now if you want to
      exchange charges of eisegesis, we could do that. <g>

      [Mike]:
      > I think that the word 'living' in the incipit to GThom has to be
      > taken in the very same sense that 'living' is used thruout GThom
      > and in every other Xian text that contrasts true, eternal
      > spiritual life with false, ephemeral physical life.
      [Brian]:
      > The Canonical Gospels insisted on a very fleshy Jesus. John 1
      > even tells us KAI O LOGON SARX (and the Word made flesh), using
      > the most earthly form of flesh available in the Greek language.
      > Similarly, in Luke 3:6 we see that all flesh (SARX) will "see the
      > salvation of God."

      So what? THIS life is still not the REAL life in Xian (and Platonic)
      thought. C'mon, Brian, surely you find that distinction all over
      the place in Xian writings. The phrase 'the living Jesus' must be
      taken to refer to that believers' Jesus who has always "lived" -
      then, now, and forever. Obviously (to the Xian) he didn't "live"
      only during his human lifetime. Why should we think, then, that the
      compiler of the collection meant to assert or imply that Jesus
      spoke all of those words before his human death? To the Thomists
      (as to other Xians), he continued to be a "living" presence after
      his death.

      > "The things you asked me about in past times, and what I did not
      > tell you in that day, now I am willing to tell you, but you do not
      > seek them." (Th92.2, Patterson tr)
      [Brian]:
      > Once again I think you are reading into the text. All that is
      > indicated in this passage is that at one time Jesus did not tell
      > his disciple a thing, an[d] later he does tell him that thing.

      Oh, pooh. Taken literally like this, it has no importance
      whatsoever - nothing to recommend it for inclusion in the
      collection. The "past times" must be J's human lifetime if this
      logion is to have any significance.

      > No death or resurrection is indicated. Further the context
      > connects this saying with seeking and finding, something that
      > in no way requires a resurrection per se.

      Th92.1 is more of a pretext than a context. Nevertheless, the
      implication is that the object of all that metaphorical seeking and
      finding is Jesus himself. Did the Thomists believe that he suffered
      physical death? They must have, if Th28 is to be taken straight-
      forwardly ("I appeared to them in flesh"). But his death evidently
      had no theological significance for them, hence the lack of interest
      in it. Now I admit that all this could be turned on its head, and
      the lack of mention of his death interpreted as evidence of a
      docetic view, but that strikes me as *really* reading into the text.
      A stronger case could be made that the GThomists didn't believe that
      Jesus had risen in the flesh. But watch out there, cuz then they'd
      be prima facie candidates for the raison d'etre of Jn20:24-29
      (the "doubting Thomas" stuff), thus presumably dating that portion
      of GJn later than GTh.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      > Thomas 30:
      > Jesus said, "Where there are three deities, they are divine.
      > Where there are two or one, I am with that one."
      >
      > The fact that the two or three gathered are deities does suggest
      > that Jesus, too, is divine (or even conveys the divine status on
      > those gathered).

      Oh, alright. But the Coptic version may very well be corrupt, as
      many scholars assert. According to the Greek fragments, "Where there
      are three, they are without God", thus belaying any suggestion that
      the one or two are gods. (Frankly, I can't make much sense of 30.1
      in either version.)

      sumpin to chew on,
      Mike
    • Rick Hubbard
      It seems to me that efforts to date the Gospel of Thomas by citing its gnosticizing proclivities, its non-conformity with emerging Xtn theological
      Message 2 of 26 , May 3, 2002
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        It seems to me that efforts to "date" the Gospel of Thomas by citing its
        gnosticizing proclivities, its non-conformity with emerging Xtn theological
        propositions, or even its putative gender-centricity are doomed to failure.
        Persistent attempts to specify the gospel's "date of composition" ignore the
        near-certainty that the Coptic text of Thomas, as it is preserved in the Nag
        Hammadi library, is a composite document with what is probably a long
        redactional history. Brian Trafford's recent remarks on this matter
        completely ignore the trajectory of contemporary Thomas scholarship. If his
        assertions are read against the backdrop of recent research by responsible
        scholars they quickly fade into irrelevance.

        Not too many years ago, opinions among scholars about the relative age of
        Thomas generally could be classified as either "early" or "late." This
        "either/or" dichotomy is being displaced by an emerging consensus that
        Thomas contains material that is both "early" and "late" in terms of its
        placement in the text. For example, it is almost certain that the incipit
        and the colophon were comparatively late appendages to the sayings
        collection. Saying 114 has also been identified as a late addition. These
        are the "easy calls" and their validity can be verified by consulting recent
        secondary literature.

        At the other end of the spectrum, "the hard calls" are somewhat more
        difficult to describe with absolute precision. One of the most persuasive
        attempts to identify redactional activity in the Gospel was written by Bill
        Arnal (who regrettably has deferred the opportunity to address the
        assertions raised by Trafford in this forum). Arnal's article "The Rhetoric
        of Marginality: Apocalypticism, Gnosticism, and Sayings Gospels" [_Harvard
        Theological Review_, 88:4 (1995) 471-494] represents one of the most
        persuasive arguments for the presence of multiple editorial strata in
        Thomas. I won't even attempt to summarize the conclusions argued therein ;
        it is sufficient to say that it helps explain the presence of BOTH "gnostic"
        AND sapiential material in the same document. I recommend, moreover, that
        anyone who is disposed to assign a "date" to Thomas should do so only after
        having read and rebutted what Arnal says there. A careful reader will
        conclude that the Gospel of Thomas cannot be "dated" in the same manner that
        a single-author composition can be dated.

        Trafford quite clearly has not only not examined the article cited, but (as
        I already said) has ignored recent Thomas research altogether (the most
        egregious evidence of which is his presumption that Gnosticism is a II CE
        phenomenon, which is absurd on its face and represents nothing more than
        "Sunday School Scholarship").

        Rick Hubbard
        Humble Maine Woodsman
      • Rikk E. Watts
        ... I think one needs to be careful here, Gnosticism itself being a scholarly construct and something of multifaceted phenomenon. I suspect what Brian
        Message 3 of 26 , May 3, 2002
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          on 3/5/02 5:30 AM, Rick Hubbard at rhubbard@... wrote:

          > (the most
          > egregious evidence of which is his presumption that Gnosticism is a II CE
          > phenomenon, which is absurd on its face and represents nothing more than
          > "Sunday School Scholarship").
          >
          I think one needs to be careful here, "Gnosticism" itself being a scholarly
          construct and something of multifaceted phenomenon. I suspect what Brian
          intended was that it is generally agreed that unambiguously Gnostic texts
          date from the second century, the Gnostic character of earlier works, and
          hence the existence of a pre-Christian Gnosticism, being disputed. (I'm not
          sure the ad hominem "Sunday School Scholarship" sheds any light on the
          discussion, not least since it is not uncommon to have such classes taught
          by professors with earned doctorates in their fields; perhaps we could
          confine ourselves to the arguments and leave the characterizations off-list;
          thanks).


          Rikk

          Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab) Ph. (604) 224 3245
          Associate Professor of NT Fax. (604) 224 3097
          Regent College
          5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 2E4
        • Rick Hubbard
          [Rikk E. Watts wrote:] hence the existence of a pre-Christian Gnosticism, being disputed. (I m not sure the ad hominem Sunday School Scholarship sheds any
          Message 4 of 26 , May 3, 2002
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            [Rikk E. Watts wrote:]

            hence the existence of a pre-Christian Gnosticism, being disputed. (I'm not
            sure the ad hominem "Sunday School Scholarship" sheds any light on the
            discussion, not least since it is not uncommon to have such classes taught
            by professors with earned doctorates in their fields; perhaps we could
            confine ourselves to the arguments and leave the characterizations off-list;

            Agreed. "Sunday School Scholarship" was not a judicious choice of words. Let
            me rephrase it so that I do not offend Trafford directly-- **anyone** who
            pursues the line of argument to which I have objected demonstrates no
            familiarity with current Thomas research.


            Rick Hubbard
            Humble Maine Woodsman
          • Jacob Knee
            At first glance there does seem to be a North American/European divide on what exactly is the consensus on the dating of Thomas and the traditions within it.
            Message 5 of 26 , May 3, 2002
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              At first glance there does seem to be a North American/European divide on
              what exactly is the consensus on the dating of Thomas and the traditions
              within it. For the Europeans I think of Baarda, the book edited by Uro and
              pieces by Tuckett.

              If this is the case (and I'd be really interested to hear that it's not) -
              why is this?

              Best wishes,
              Jacob Knee
              (Cam, Gloucestershire)

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Rick Hubbard [mailto:rhubbard@...]
              Sent: 03 May 2002 13:31
              To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [XTalk] GThom and double standards

              [snip]

              Not too many years ago, opinions among scholars about the relative age of
              Thomas generally could be classified as either "early" or "late." This
              "either/or" dichotomy is being displaced by an emerging consensus that
              Thomas contains material that is both "early" and "late" in terms of its
              placement in the text. For example, it is almost certain that the incipit
              and the colophon were comparatively late appendages to the sayings
              collection. Saying 114 has also been identified as a late addition. These
              are the "easy calls" and their validity can be verified by consulting recent
              secondary literature.

              [snip]
            • bjtraff
              As time is limited, and I am headed off for an extended long weekend, and will not return until Monday evening, this will be my last post. I do intend to
              Message 6 of 26 , May 3, 2002
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                As time is limited, and I am headed off for an extended long weekend,
                and will not return until Monday evening, this will be my last post.
                I do intend to return to Frank's comments at that time, and will do
                my best to cover off any other points raised in the meantime.

                --- In crosstalk2@y..., "mwgrondin" <mwgrondin@c...> wrote:

                > 27.39: "Those, however, passing by [the cross] blasphemed him ..."
                >
                > What do you make of that?

                Greek is oftentimes a difficult language to translate, but in this
                verse we see an instance of Matthew carefully following Mark's
                wording. First, the specific word used is EBLASFHMOUN, so the
                conjugation of the verb is different from what we see in Matt 12:31-
                32, but this is not really the central point of contention in
                translating 27:39. Greek words could, and did, have different
                meanings based on context (even as some English words do as well),
                and for both Jews and Christians, BLASFHMAI against God was
                qualitatively different than any kind of blaspheme against others.
                Thus, for example, Paul could speak of BLASFHMOUMAI against himself
                and others, as he does in 1 Corinthians 10:30, and the author of
                Titus could do likewise (BLASHMEIN) in Titus 3:2, modern translators
                have properly understood that these authors were not thinking of the
                specific sin of blasphemy against God, and have traditionally
                translated it as "speak evil of" or "denounced" or "reviled" and the
                like. Thus, for example, even Young's Literal Translation, and the
                RSV, two of the most literal word for word translations do not
                translate EBLASFHMOUN as "blaspheme."

                All of that said, you do raise a good point. In researching your
                question, I think it is important to consider the view of Raymond
                Brownin his book _Death of the Messiah, Vol. 2_. In it, Brown is
                careful to translate EBLASPHMOUN as blaspheme, and comments
                extensively on the point (see pgs. 982, 986-989). In his view, Mark
                deliberately chooses the word "blaspheme" as it "is a significant
                word for Mark, supplying interesting inclusions with previous
                usages." (BDM, pg. 986). In effect Mark is deliberately using the
                strongest language possible to describe the action of the passersby,
                and Matt echoes this theme. For both, Jesus is the Son of God, and
                as such, speaking evil against him, especially while he is dying on
                the cross, is a sin. This would reflect the view of the evangelists
                as they would be thinking of their current (c. 50-70+ CE) enemies
                who, no doubt, continued to see Jesus' death as a scandal, and proof
                that he was not the Messiah. The deliberate choice of the word
                EBLASFHMOUN is therefore a theological statement indicating high
                Christology. Yet, the usage of blasphemy here, even as it was
                deliberately NOT used in the earlier triple tradition of Mark 3:28-
                30/Matt 12:31-32/Luke 12:10 is then made doubly significant. Once
                again we can contrast how Jesus is viewed in the Synoptics prior to
                his death and resurrection (and possibly even by Jesus himself, as
                the words in this triple tradition may well go back to Jesus
                himself), with how he is viewed afterwards by his early followers.
                On this basis, Thomas' saying in verse 44 represents a much higher
                Christology than we see in Matt 12/Mark 3, and is more along the
                lines of Matthew 28:19. Thus, the later the probable date for
                Canonical Matt (or Luke, as they are connected) is pushed back, the
                later Thomas becomes as well. Since I see Thomas' presentation of
                this saying as a later understanding of Mark 3/Matt 12/Luke 12, I
                likewise date it later than any of them. On this basis, if Matt and
                Luke are dated to 80-90 (my personal opinion), and did not feel free
                to change Jesus' saying to reflect a later Christology, while Thomas
                did change it, then Thomas would be, at a minimum, very late 1st
                Century, but more probably early to mid 2nd Century. Additional
                arguments I have already offered in favour of a late date add to that
                opinion.

                > (Also, why do you use 'blaspheme' as the noun-form instead
                > of 'blasphemy'? At first, I thought this was inadvertent, but now
                > I see that you do it consistently.)

                My mistake. Call it a personal idiosyncrasy. I will try to be less
                careless in the future.

                > As to what 61.3b asserts, I myself don't see any significant
                > difference between:
                > 1. "I was given some of that which is my Father's." (Patterson)
                > 2. "I was granted from the things of my Father." (Scholars)
                > 3. "I was given out of the things of my Father." (literal)
                >
                > All three clearly imply to my ear that Jesus doesn't possess all
                > the attributes of "the Father". And, since he could hardly be
                > identified as "the Son" if he were disobedient to "the Father",
                > I don't know what more you could ask to establish the relationship
                > between son and father that you think is missing from Thomas.

                I am not talking about Jesus possessing the attributes of the Father,
                but rather, whether or not Thomas sees Jesus' authority as coming
                from the Father. Th61 does not suggest anything like what we see in
                the Synoptics or John on this point.

                > Seriously, though, the
                > latter portion of Th77 ("Split a timber, I am there; lift the
                stone,
                > and you will discover me there."), may have been moved from its
                > location following Th30 in the POxy fragments for the purpose of
                > emphasizing that a creative agent (such as the Logos) could be seen
                > as being present (in a sense) in all that he created. Nevertheless,
                > this Johannine-type stuff seems out of place in Thomas. That plus
                > the apparent movement of the two sentences from Th30 to Th77 leads
                > me to believe that the original collection was written before GJn
                > came along.

                Once again, I am dating GThomas as we have it today. Some of the
                traditions and sayings may be earlier than this final redacted form,
                but then, so is much of the Canonical Gospels earlier than their
                final redacted form.

                > Th28.1: "I stood in the middle of the world, and in flesh I
                > appeared to them." (that this is to be understood as merely the
                > appearance of flesh seems weak to me - "I appeared to them in
                > flesh", not "I appeared to them to be in flesh".)

                Your comment is interesting, as, given the wider context of contempt
                for things of this world, and flesh in particular reflected in
                GThomas as a whole, I would say that this statement is one of
                Jesus "appearing" to be in the flesh, but not really being flesh.

                > "Anachronistic" is a poor choice of words for what you seem to be
                > getting at. I think you see me as reading orthodox meaning into the
                > text, or of taking much of it metaphorically rather than literally.

                I chose the term "anachronistic" because if we did not have the
                Canonical Gospels and Paul to draw from, there would be no way, from
                GThomas alone, to know that Jesus lived here on earth, died, and rose
                again. You have projected that knowledge into the text from other
                sources.

                > The reverse of such charges could of course be applied to yourself,
                > but in any case there's no anachronistic thinking involved, because
                > all the concepts I use are anciently attested. Now if you want to
                > exchange charges of eisegesis, we could do that. <g>

                When dating a specific text, it is typical to examine the documents
                that can be reasonably and reliably dated to the 1st Century, then
                compare the features found in less certain documents, and decide
                which are earlier, and which later. In this case, I use Paul and
                Mark, as they are the most clearly 1st Century texts, then compare
                Matt, Luke, John and Thomas to what is found in those texts. In each
                case I see evidence of later development, thought, and Christology.
                Given the general lack of awareness of one another, I have grouped
                the final redacted forms of Matt, Luke and John to a period of time
                of approximately 80-90. In examining Thomas, it shows evidence of
                knowing not only the traditions contained in the Synoptics and John,
                but also of ideas that became more popular in 2nd Century texts. On
                these grounds I continue to believe that Thomas came after the
                Canonical texts, and I do not see my evaluation as being tainted by
                anachronistic thinking.

                > [Mike]:
                > > I think that the word 'living' in the incipit to GThom has to be
                > > taken in the very same sense that 'living' is used thruout GThom
                > > and in every other Xian text that contrasts true, eternal
                > > spiritual life with false, ephemeral physical life.
                > [Brian]:
                > > The Canonical Gospels insisted on a very fleshy Jesus. John 1
                > > even tells us KAI O LOGON SARX (and the Word made flesh), using
                > > the most earthly form of flesh available in the Greek language.
                > > Similarly, in Luke 3:6 we see that all flesh (SARX) will "see the
                > > salvation of God."
                >
                > So what? THIS life is still not the REAL life in Xian (and
                Platonic)
                > thought. C'mon, Brian, surely you find that distinction all over
                > the place in Xian writings. The phrase 'the living Jesus' must be
                > taken to refer to that believers' Jesus who has always "lived" -
                > then, now, and forever. Obviously (to the Xian) he didn't "live"
                > only during his human lifetime. Why should we think, then, that the
                > compiler of the collection meant to assert or imply that Jesus
                > spoke all of those words before his human death? To the Thomists
                > (as to other Xians), he continued to be a "living" presence after
                > his death.

                As I said above, if you did not have the Canonical Gospels to draw
                upon, and could only examine Thomas, neither of us would even be
                having this discussion. In all likelihood, Thomas would simply be
                accepted as presenting a heavenly Jesus that lived in the world of
                the spiritual, and not the physical. As this is a view of Jesus that
                became very popular in 2nd Century and later texts, I think that we
                should date Thomas to this period of time.

                > > "The things you asked me about in past times, and what I did not
                > > tell you in that day, now I am willing to tell you, but you do
                not
                > > seek them." (Th92.2, Patterson tr)
                > [Brian]:
                > > Once again I think you are reading into the text. All that is
                > > indicated in this passage is that at one time Jesus did not tell
                > > his disciple a thing, an[d] later he does tell him that thing.
                >
                > Oh, pooh. Taken literally like this, it has no importance
                > whatsoever - nothing to recommend it for inclusion in the
                > collection. The "past times" must be J's human lifetime if this
                > logion is to have any significance.

                Why? The Gnostics were offended by the idea of an earthly, fleshy
                godman that could live AND die here on planet earth. Thomas seems to
                share this sentiment.

                > Oh, alright. But the Coptic version may very well be corrupt, as
                > many scholars assert. According to the Greek fragments, "Where
                there
                > are three, they are without God", thus belaying any suggestion that
                > the one or two are gods. (Frankly, I can't make much sense of 30.1
                > in either version.)

                Perhaps it is corrupt, but it is the extant copy that we must deal
                with, and until something earlier pops up, we might as well be trying
                to date the Signs Gospel and Passion Narrative, rather than GMark,
                GMatt, GLuke and GJohn.

                Brian Trafford
                Calgary, AB, Canada
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