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Re: [XTalk] Re:GThomas Response to Brian Trafford--I

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  • Frank McCoy
    ... (snip) ... understanding ... the prophets ... is gospelized, ... Brian: I should warn you that I take a very minimalist view of Q, and even if your
    Message 1 of 36 , May 2, 2002
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      --- bjtraff <bj_traff@...> wrote:
      > --- In crosstalk2@y..., Frank McCoy
      > <silvanus55109@y...> wrote:
      >


      (snip)

      Frank:
      >A Q tradition saying might be helpful in
      understanding
      >this situation in GTh--see Luke 16:16, "The Law and
      the prophets
      >[were] until John. Since then, the Kingdom of God
      is gospelized,
      >and every one forces into it."

      Brian:
      I should warn you that I take a very minimalist view
      of Q, and even
      if your preference for Luke's version of it were valid
      (something I
      am not prepared to grant, given Matt's alternative in
      11:11-12), it's
      potential connection to Thomas is virtually
      non-existent. Your
      translation of Luke 16:16 is also suspect in my view,
      as I would
      render KAI PAS EIV AUTHN BIAZETAI as "and everyone
      enters it
      violently" as opposed to your own "and everyone forces
      into it." Your
      translation of EUAGGELIZETAI (to preach, especially of
      good news,
      indicating a verb), as "gospelized" is also
      idiosyncratic. You
      translate it as a noun, changing the meaning of the
      entire passage
      rather significantly. In fact, I cannot find an
      English translation
      that agrees with your own reading of this verse.

      Dear Brian Trafford:

      Please note that I refer to the Q tradition rather
      than to Q. That is an
      important distinction that you overlook.

      In any event, I wave the white flag of surrender on
      :Luke 16:16. What you
      say above and in what follows in your post convinces
      me that my position is
      weak, to say the least, and it doesn't help that my
      translation is,
      admittedly, rather freely rendered to give what I
      think is the meaning of
      this passage in its context. In retrospect, I realize
      that I should have translated it literally. Also, I
      need to study and re-evaluate this passage and its
      Matthean parallel for a while before making any more
      comments on it.

      (snip)

      Brian:
      As I see no evidence of 1st Century Christian
      advocating the
      abandonment of observance of the Law (even by Paul),
      this serves to
      strengthen the argument for a later dating for
      GThomas.

      Frank:

      Weren't there, though, some in the Corinthian Church
      who were criticized by
      Paul because, under the slogan of "all things are
      lawful", they abandoned
      the observance the Law of Moses?

      Also, some Jews were abandoning the observance of the
      Law in Alexandria
      even at the time of Jesus and the reason for this
      appears to be the
      Therapeutic conceptualization of the Law.

      Philo thusly gives us the basic Therapeutic belief
      regarding the Law in
      Cont. (78), "The exposition of the sacred scriptures
      treats the inner
      meaning conveyed in allegory. For to these people the
      whole law book seems
      to resemble a living creature with the literal
      ordinances for its body and
      for its soul the invisible mind (noun) laid up in its
      wording. It is in
      this mind especially that the rational (logike) soul
      begins to contemplate
      the things akin to itself and looking through the
      words as through a mirror
      beholds the marvellous beauties of the concepts,
      unfolds and removes the
      symbolic coverings and brings forth the thoughts and
      sets them bare to the
      light of day for those who need but a little reminding
      to enable them to
      discern the inward and hidden through the outward and
      visible."

      Here, the "invisible mind", which is "akin" to the
      rational soul is the
      Logos: whom Philo, in Heres (134), declares to be the
      pattern for human
      minds.

      In particular, it is the Logos as the "thoughts". That
      is to say, it is the
      Logos, as the speech of God, as broken-down into its
      individual "thoughts"
      that are the individual "logoi (words)" uttered by
      God. So, in Mig (80),
      Philo declares that "'thoughts' are nothing else than
      God's 'words (logon)'
      or speech (hrematon)."

      Therefore, what Philo is saying is that, the
      Therapeutae believe, there are
      two levels of meaning to the laws of the Torah: (1)
      the outer literal level
      of meaning, and (2) the inner symbolic level of
      meaning. The outer literal
      level is like a human body, while the inner symbolic
      level is like the human
      soul. Further, the inner symbolic level consists of
      the Word (Logos) of
      God, as speech, and as broken-down into its component
      thoughts that are the
      words (logoi).

      In this conceptualization of the Law, the outer
      literal level of meaning of
      the laws are down-graded in importance. Compared to
      the inner symbolic
      level of meaning, they are like the body in comparison
      to the soul.

      Even more importantly, on the outer literal level of
      meaning, one does not
      find the words (logoi) of God that, as a totality, are
      personified in the
      Word (Logos) of God. Rather, these are found only on
      the inner symbolic
      level of meaning.

      Well, if the outer literal meanings of the laws are of
      lesser importance
      than their inner symbolic meanings and aren't even the
      words of God, then
      why should we observe them? Perhaps, then, they are
      not meant to be
      observed!

      Thus, this Therapeutic conceptualization of the Law
      lays the foundation for the enunciation of a doctrine
      that the laws of the
      Law are not meant to be literally obeyed. Rather, what
      one needs to do is
      to obey their inner meanings--for it is only in this
      fashion that one will
      truly be following the speech of God.

      Indeed, Philo provides us with evidence that there
      were people who had
      ceased observing the Law on its literal level of
      meaning, insisting that
      what one ought to observe is only its inner level of
      meaning.

      See, in particular, Mig (91-92), where Philo states,
      "It is quite true that
      the Seventh Day is meant to teach the power of the
      Unoriginate and the
      non-action of created beings. But let us not for this
      reason abrogate the
      laws laid down for its observance, and light fires or
      till the ground or
      carry loads or institute proceedings in court or act
      as jurors or demand the
      restoration of deposits or recover loans, or do all
      else that we are
      permitted to do as well on days that are not festival
      seasons. It is also
      true that the Feast (or: the keeping of festivals) is
      a symbol of the
      gladness of soul and of thankfulness to God, but we
      should not for this
      reason turn our backs on the general gatherings of the
      year's seasons. It
      is true that receiving circumcision does indeed
      portray the excision of
      pleasure and all passions, and the putting away of
      impious conceit, under
      which the mind supposed that it was capable of
      begetting by its own power:
      but let us not on this account repeal the law laid
      down for circumcising.
      Why, we shall be ingnoring the sanctity of the Temple
      and a thousand other
      things, if we are going to pay heed to nothing except
      what is
      shewn us by the inner meaning of things."

      Philo doesn't identify the people he is criticising.
      However, they are
      clearly those who espouse the Therapeutic doctrine
      that there is both an
      outer literal level of meaning to the laws of Moses
      and an inner symbolic
      level of meaning to the laws of Moses. Further, they
      claim that one ought
      not to observe the laws of the Law on their outer
      literal level of meaning.
      Rather, they claim, one ought to observe the laws of
      the Law only on their
      inner symbolic level of meaning.

      These people were not necessarily Therapeutae--for
      there undoubtedly
      were many in Alexandria, Philo's home town and the
      place where most of the
      Therapeutae resided, who were familiar with this
      Therapeutic doctrine and
      accepted it without becoming formal members of the
      sect.

      This is a very serious matter. The four things
      explicitly mentioned by
      Philo (i.e., the observance of the Sabbath, the
      practice of circumcision,
      the observance of Jewish festivals, and the observance
      of the temple
      sacrificial system) were fundamental to Judaism in the
      first part of the
      first century CE.. The "thousand" other things include
      many other
      fundamental Jewish practices as well, e.g., the
      dietary laws. As a result,
      the radical attitude towards the Law criticised by
      Philo was well-nigh a
      rejection of Judaism in any traditional sense of this
      term.

      Note that we have, in this radical attitude towards
      the
      Law, the idea that the laws of the Law are not valid
      on their literal
      level of meaning. Indeed, they never were valid.
      Rather, all along, all
      that one needed and (indeed!) ought to observe, is
      their inner symbolic
      level of meaning--the level of meaning that consists
      of the thoughts of God
      that are the words (logoi) of God and that are, as a
      totality, personified
      in the Word (Logos) of God.

      Now the key point is that, in GTh, we not only have an
      abandonment of the
      observance of Mosaic Law, but, also, no indication
      that Mosaic Law ever had
      any validity. Since this was the attitude of some
      Alexandrian Jews even at
      the time of Jesus, this means that the attitude
      towards the Law in GTh is
      consistent with its dating to the first century CE.

      Further, there are some indications that, like these
      Alexandrian Jews, the
      members of the GTh community deemed there to be an
      inner symbolic meaning to
      the laws of the Law that are valid and ought to be
      observed.

      See, for example, GTh 53, "His disciples said to him,
      'Is circumcision
      beneficial or not?' He said to them, 'If it were
      beneficial, their father
      would beget them already circumcised from their
      mother. Rather, the true
      circumcision in spirit has become completely
      profitable.'"

      Here, we have the concept of two circumcisions. First,
      there is bodily
      circumcision This type of circumcision is of no
      benefit..

      Second, there is the circumcision of the spirit. This
      type of circumcision
      is of great benefit.

      I suggest that this is based on the idea that there
      are two levels of
      meaning to the ordinances of the Law regarding
      circumcision. Further, on
      the literal level of meaning, they regard an outer and
      bodily circumcision,
      while, on the symbolic level of meaning, they regard
      an inner and spiritual
      circumcision. On their literal level of meaning, they
      are worthless. On
      their symbolic level of meaning, though, they are of
      great benefit to one.

      Also see GTh 27, where Jesus states, "If you do not
      fast as
      regards the world, you will not find the Kingdom. If
      you do not observe the
      Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the Father."

      Here, I suggest, we find the same general approach.

      So, I suggest, it is presumed that there are two
      levels of meaning to the
      ordinances of the Law regarding fasting. First, on
      their literal level of
      meaning, they regard outer and bodily fasting, i.e.,
      fasting from food and
      drink. Second, on their symbolic level of meaning,
      they regard inner and
      spiritual fasting of the soul, i.e., its "fasting" (in
      the sense of
      turning away) from the world and all the things of the
      world that can
      ensnare it and, thereby, prevent it from entering the
      Kingdom.

      So, I suggest, it is presumed that there are two
      levels of meaning to the
      ordinances of the Law regarding the Sabbath. First, on
      their literal level
      of meaning, they regard outer and bodily rest. Second,
      on their symbolic
      level of meaning, they regard inner and spiritual
      rest. Further, it is only
      when the Sabbath is observed as an inner and spiritual
      Sabbath, i.e., when
      one's soul comes to rest or repose, that one can
      spiritually apprehend God.

      Frank:
      > If so, then, as the Q tradition definitely dates to
      > the first century CE, the lack of citations of the
      O.T. in GTh is
      > consistent with it dating to the first century CE.

      Brian:
      I do not accept appeals to an hypothetical Q, stripped
      of its context
      in Matt and Luke, as I see such appeals as theory
      laden and
      speculative. Q does not exist as an extant source,
      and therefore we
      cannot know what all it contained. Based on the early
      extant
      Christian texts we DO have, I would argue that even
      the hypothetical
      Q would have contained such citations. In any event,
      I believe it is
      fallacious to use the hypothetical against evidence
      from the
      concrete. In the case of Paul and the Canonical
      Gospels, we have
      concrete 1st Century documents. In the case of Q, we
      have
      speculation and conjecture.

      Frank::
      Do I not speak of the Q tradition rather than of Q?
      Why, then, do you
      assume that I believe in the hypothesised Q?
      Actually, while I am convinced
      that much of the Q tradition came to Matthew and Luke
      in a written form, I
      am uncertain as to what % of the Q tradition was in
      written form and I am
      uncertain as to the whether the written part of the Q
      tradition came from a
      single document or from several documents.

      In any event, unless you want to argue that both Luke
      and Matthew are second
      century CE documents, the Q tradition definitely goes
      back to the first
      century CE. This is because the Q tradition consists
      of material common to
      Matthew and Luke and not found in Mark. So, if one or
      both of these gospels
      dates to the first century, then so does the Q
      tradition.

      Brian:
      I have appreciated your thoughts and insights Frank.
      If I sound
      harsh, it is only because I typically require a great
      deal of
      convincing before I am willing to change my views on a
      point. The
      potential connection to Philo's thought has proved
      interesting, and
      has opened up lines of inquiry I had not considered
      before, but the
      over all arguments against an early date for GThomas
      do seem quite
      strong. After all, GThomas was clearly familiar with
      the Synoptics,
      and John, and even Paul, all of whom were from the 1st
      Century.
      Adding Philo to the mix strengthens the connection to
      this century,
      but does not remove the elements that point most
      clearly to a 2nd
      Century date. That said, I do look forward to
      examining your future
      posts, and seeing where it takes us.

      Frank:
      And I appreciate your thoughts and insights Brian. I
      am curious on one
      thing, though. That is, what makes you convinced that
      the GTh community was
      familiar with the Synoptics and John? I can perceive
      that that there were
      some complex interactions between the GTh tradition
      and the Synoptic gospel
      traditions and the Johannine tradition. However, this
      is far from saying
      that Gth is later than these canonical gospels and
      even further from saying
      that the GTh community was aware of these other
      gospels.

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109





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    • Antonio Jerez
      An interesting message from Ken Olson ... Some years ago me, Mark Goodacre, Mahlon Smith and a few other participants had a very prolonged discussion where
      Message 36 of 36 , Feb 2, 2003
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        An interesting message from Ken Olson

        > Luke says that "many" (POLLOI) "orderly accounts" or "narratives arranged in
        > order" (ANATAXASQAI DIHGHSIN) have already been written. While the word
        > "undertaken" (EPECEIRHSAN) may suggest that he considers these accounts less
        > than satisfactory for some reason, the fact that he says that he "too"
        > (KAMOI) has written one would seem to indicate that their works were of the
        > same genre as his own.

        Some years ago me, Mark Goodacre, Mahlon Smith and a few other participants had a
        very prolonged discussion where Mark and me argued along exactly these lines. I still believe'
        that Lukes own words in his prologue together with the indications in his text makes it almost certain
        that he knew both GMark and GMatthew.

        Best wishes

        Antonio Jerez
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