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5556Re: [GTh] Timelessness

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  • Michael Grondin
    May 13, 2003
      Mark Goodacre writes:
      > Even in 100, is Thomas rather less specific than the canonicals? We
      > have a "gold piece" (NOUB) compared to "tribute money" (KHNSOS).

      No question but that Thomas is less specific than the canonicals - though we
      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 its
      > readers' knowledge of the context within which it was written?

      Primarily, I'd say it was the use of names without any explanation of who
      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.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
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