5556Re: [GTh] Timelessness
- May 13, 2003Mark Goodacre writes:
> Even in 100, is Thomas rather less specific than the canonicals? WeNo question but that Thomas is less specific than the canonicals - though we
> have a "gold piece" (NOUB) compared to "tribute money" (KHNSOS).
couldn't prove it by Th100, wherein it is specified that the gold piece is
intended as "tribute" (or "taxes" - or, as in 64.9, "rent" - the same Coptic
word serving interchangeably).
> How do we know that the the text assumes itsPrimarily, I'd say it was the use of names without any explanation of who
> readers' knowledge of the context within which it was written?
they were. Leaving aside the name 'IS', there's perhaps four or five levels
of name-recognition involved, progressively narrowing the presumed audience.
The title 'Caesar' would have been pretty well known far and wide over an
extended period of time. The name of John the Baptist would have been
familiar to non-Christians from Josephus and other sources (including the
on-going Baptizer cult). James/Jacob is also mentioned by Josephus, as you
note, though his name would most probably have been less well-known
generally than John's. The Christian names - Peter, Mary, Matthew, and
Thomas - further narrow the presumed audience to Christians. Finally, the
mention of Salome seems to narrow it even further to a Christian sub-culture
within which the name 'Salome' would have been more meaningful than it was
in the canonicals.
Getting back to 'IS', this was, of course, a "sacred name" abbreviation the
meaning of which presumably would have been indecipherable to an audience
unfamiliar with that particular Christian naming-convention. ("Sacred names"
of non-persons, such as PNA for PNEUMA, and the abbreviation of 'stavros'
['cross'] in Th55- with its special symbol for combined 'T' and 'R' - also
prima facie assume a Christian knowledge-base.)
"Timelessness" (as perhaps in the Sentences of Sextus) would presumably
entail the eschewing of names entirely, or the addition of identifying
information for each one. Less universally, if one wanted to write for
non-Christians in the time before Christianity became the official religion
of the Roman Empire, one could have added extra identifying material to just
the Christian names. The fact that this wasn't done at any of the various
levels of name-recognition seems to indicate that a sub-culture of
Christianity (perhaps Edessan) was the assumed context and/or knowledge-base
of the audience.
Mt. Clemens, MI
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