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5555Re: [GTh] Timelessness

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  • Mark Goodacre
    May 13, 2003
      On 19 Apr 2003 at 12:12, Michael Grondin wrote:

      > I didn't realize you were trying to follow Mark's thought experiment.
      > You seem to have deviated from it at key points, such as when you
      > discussed Caesar's coin. As I understand Mark's "game", it was to
      > pretend that we didn't know who any of the persons were in GTh. That
      > would presumably include Caesar.

      What I was trying to think about was whether we'd be able to work out
      when and where the Gospel was set if we had no reference to
      characters known primarily from early Christian literature, Thomas,
      Peter, Matthew, Mary Magdalene etc. In other words, there is no
      specifically datable "political" figure in Thomas like Pontius
      Pilate, Herod Antipas, Caiaphas, which provides a contrast with the
      canonical Gospels. But as Frank points out, there is Caesar in 100;
      I suppose that's about as specific as Thomas gets with political

      Even in 100, is Thomas rather less specific than the canonicals? We
      have a "gold piece" (NOUB) compared to "tribute money" (KHNSOS).

      > I myself, however, wasn't playing the
      > game, since it seems to me to be seriously flawed. At the very least,
      > it seems to do nothing other than to guarantee its own point. If we
      > cannot know who John the Baptist was - or Jacob the Righteous - then
      > of course we don't know anything at all.

      Good point; I wondered if that was too great a flaw before suggesting
      the thought experiment, not least because we do know of John the B.
      and James from Josephus. Even here, though, they are not major
      leaders / political figures in the same way Antipas, Pilate et al
      are, are they? Or is that too simplistic a way of looking at the

      > If our not knowing anything
      > at all makes the text "timeless", then so be it, but that seems an
      > empty and artificial "timelessness" indeed. GThomas was written in a
      > context and assumes reader's knowledge of that context - whether that
      > context was itself written or oral or both - and that context made
      > sense of it, and without that context there's little sense to be made
      > of it.

      I'm interested in this. How do we know that the the text assumes its
      readers' knowledge of the context within which it was written?

      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
      University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
      Birmingham B15 2TT UK

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