Re: Context is Everything
Y'all have certainly raised some interesting points here lately. I like the idea of an "equality" being expressed in the "three Marys" passage, but I'm not sure that I necessarily get that from either "partner" or "companion." For instance, while "partner" can indeed convey that implication, there are also lesser degrees of partnership (such as where one has a controlling interest), just as they may involve lesser degrees of intimacy. I have known some business partners who can't stand the sight of one another. Similarly, while I have a personal predilection for "companion" (the whole notion of breaking bread with someone, as in the origin of the word, seems to carry all the more symbolism), I concede that the relationship implied by this word can also range from very intimate companions (life partners) to service animals and paid escorts.
Words can connote all sorts of things to us. If you'll remember the discussion we had last year on the Trimorphic Protennoia, I commented that I preferred Turner's word choice when it came to representing the path of revelation in that text:
Voice >> Speech >> Word
HROOU >> SMÊ >> LOGOS
While Layton's translation (Sound, Voice, Word) differed somewhat from Turner's, his own word choice was no less precise (merely harder for me to relate to personally when I first read it). In fact, I think it is that sort of consistency with regards to the original context that truly makes for a diligent translation. Where words in an original source can have multiple meanings in the target language, the goal of the translator should be to capture what the original author's sought to convey, not what they think sounds nice in a given passagehaphazardly varying their diction. In this case, Layton indeed maintained the structure created in the original text by consistently representing those Coptic and Greek terms with the same words (respectively) in his translation.
Regarding what we've been examining here, my concern with what the numerous experts were saying didn't hinge so much on the choice of words they employed in their preferred translations of that passage from GPh, but rather that so many of them appeared to be in agreement in their criticism:
1) That the error in other people's speculative translations was founded upon erroneous information.
2) That the term used in the Coptic text was actually a Greek word, the meaning of which was being misrepresented by those with "bloodline" agenda.
Well, part of that is certainly true, but whether these authorities have merely simplified their case to an extreme or they are actually unaware of how the surviving text is worded, their argument is somewhat misleading, and this can undermine their credibility when it comes to speaking about the accuracy of other people's assertions. Again, here's how Layton phrases it:
"Three women always used to walk with the lordMary his mother, his sister, and the Magdalene, who is called his companion. For 'Mary' is the name of his sister and his mother, and it is the name of his partner."
Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures (pg. 335)
As you'll note, Prof. Layton uses two different translations for terms in that passage that others have traditionally represented as the same wordregardless of the word to which they have gravitated:
"There were three who always walked with the lord: Mary his mother and her sister and the Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary."
"There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother and her sister and Magdalene, whom they call his lover. A Mary is his sister and his mother and his lover."
(Cartlidge and Dungan)
IOW, I don't think that Layton is waffling at all in the way he presents his translation (using both "companion" and "partner"). In fact, it was his precision that I had in mind when I previously offered this clue:
By examining how "koinônos" is aptly translated as "companion" though, we've really only jumped halfway into this confusing mix.
Despite the contention of those other authorities that the word in question is Greek (koinônos), there are actually TWO words in the "three Marys" passage that refer to the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene: the first one is indeed a Greek loanword, but the second one is a native Coptic term (hôtr; ter; tre). By offering two English words, both of which could reasonably represent either foreign term, Layton has provided us with a modern translation in which we can still see that the second portion of that passage was an attempt to clarify the first part, and not simply to repeat it. If the original scribes felt it necessary to go to that trouble, then perhaps it's worth our consideration as well. Perhaps we can find additional meaning for this Coptic word, and see exactly how that significance is borne out within the context of the Gospel of Philip. It may be a bit of a wedding crasher for the alternative history crowd, but critically thinking Gnostic sympathizers should be able to relate to it.
--- In email@example.com, "janahooks" <janahooks@...> wrote:
> [. . .]
> Gerry and Lady C.,thanks for all of the info and links.
Thank you, Jana, for noticing them.
> Gerry, after looking at the National Geographic link, I was
> reminded of some suggestions I gave you on faded writing. I'm feeling
> really good about watery sepia ink and sandpaper...and sand
> horizontally and vertically...with the gray sandpaper...
And ya know, that was the one suggestion you wrote me that I was the most hesitant to attempt. There's something about the dual-layered papyrus and its almost glossy sheen that made me wonder if such coarse measures would destroy the whole thing, but the more I've thought about it (along with your renewed convictions), the more I believe it would indeed yield a desirable finish. I imagine the weathered results would be akin to repeatedly wadding up a sheet of paper to the point that it becomes more like a thin piece of cloth rather than a crisp piece of paper. Only this way, you avoid the wrinkles!