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Layton's Translation of CWK

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  • Mike Grondin
    Frustrated by my antiquated system (now over 10 years old), I finally managed today to get through the YouTube video I had mentioned back on July 5th, namely
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 3, 2012
      Frustrated by my antiquated system (now over 10 years old), I finally
      managed today to get through the YouTube video I had mentioned
      back on July 5th, namely an intro Yale lecture on Thomas by Dale B.
      a number of things that caught my attention, and at first I thought I would
      write about all of them in one note, but there was one matter that seemed
      to merit separate attention. As it turns out, Martin was using the Layton
      translation of Thomas as found in The Gnostic Scriptures. Among the
      sayings he (Martin) quoted was L114. What caught my attention was
      the word 'attract' in "I am going to attract her to make her male."
      Curious about that, I went to see how Layton had translated the two
      other occurrences of the Coptic word swk (in L3 and L34).
       
      Layton translates L3.1 in parte as "If those who lead you say to you..."
      but he has the following footnote: "The Greek fragment (P.Oxy. 654)
      instead has 'attract'." Well, OK, but what does he do with that info?
      Nothing in L3.1, but he uses 'attract' in L114.2 when there isn't any
      POxy data to compare! In other words, where there's a POxy word 
      that he thinks means 'attract' (L3.1), he doesn't translate it that way,
      but when there's no POxy evidence (L114.2), he does! There is again
      no POxy evidence for L34, but there he uses the word 'lead' ("If a blind
      person leads a blind person ..."), instead of 'attract'. It would seem, then,
      that consistency would demand that L114.2 be translated as 'lead' as well,
      especially as 'attract' has connotations that might easily be confusing.
       
      Does the Greek word in question actually mean 'attract'? Well, of course
      any word has a range of meanings, but in Andrew Bernhard's interlinear
      of the Greek fragments, the word in question (hELKONTES) is translated
      as 'pulling'. My linguistic sensitivities don't detect much difference
      between 'pull' and 'lead' -- or say 'draw', which is also sometimes used.
      But I do sense that the word 'attract' suggests a somewhat different dynamic
      between the two people involved than these other words do - perhaps a more
      active role for the one person and less active for the other? At any rate, such
      are the considerations that make me less than keen on 'attract' in L114.2
      (If anyone has some thoughts on the Greek word involved, come on in!)
       
      Cheers,
      Mike Grondin
    • Stephen Carlson
      ... You can read a rather full entry for hELKW in the LSJ here: http://stephanus.tlg.uci.edu/lsj/#eid=34812 Generally, it means pull, drag, or draw. But in
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 4, 2012
        On Sat, Aug 4, 2012 at 12:50 AM, Mike Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
        Does the Greek word in question actually mean 'attract'? Well, of course
        any word has a range of meanings, but in Andrew Bernhard's interlinear
        of the Greek fragments, the word in question (hELKONTES) is translated
        as 'pulling'. My linguistic sensitivities don't detect much difference
        between 'pull' and 'lead' -- or say 'draw', which is also sometimes used.
        But I do sense that the word 'attract' suggests a somewhat different dynamic
        between the two people involved than these other words do - perhaps a more
        active role for the one person and less active for the other? At any rate, such
        are the considerations that make me less than keen on 'attract' in L114.2
        (If anyone has some thoughts on the Greek word involved, come on in!)

        You can read a rather full entry for hELKW in the LSJ here:


        Generally, it means pull, drag, or draw.  But in definition II. A. 8, LSJ does suggest "attract" when used of magnets and spells.

        Stephen Carlson 
        --
        Stephen C. Carlson
        Ph.D., Duke University
      • Mike Grondin
        Many thanks, Stephen. My limited familiarity with Greek wasn t enough to determine the root of the word. I m very grateful that we have Greek experts like
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 4, 2012
          Many thanks, Stephen. My limited familiarity with Greek wasn't enough
          to determine the root of the word. I'm very grateful that we have Greek
          experts like yourself on our list. Anyway, now knowing that the root is
          Strong's #1670, it can be ascertained that the word is used in at least
          the following places in the NT (my phrasing of NASB, NIV, and RSV):
           
          James 2.6: "Is it not the rich who ... drag you into court?"
          Jn 6.44:    "No one can come to me unless the Father ... draws him."
          Jn 12.32:  "When I'm lifted up from the earth, I'll draw all men to myself."
          Jn 21.6:  "They weren't able to haul it in because of the large number of fish."
          (The word 'attract' doesn't appear in Strong's.)
           
          Although this survey is necessarily incomplete because of the limitations
          of Strong's, it is supportive of LSJ that 'attract' is a secondary meaning of
          hELKW, hence that Layton's footnote to L3.1 ("The Greek fragment ...
          has 'attract'.") is misleading, to say the least. On the other hand, 'lead'
          doesn't have much support, either, and that's the word one usually sees
          in Thomas translations. (Note that the English word 'lead' used in KJV
          is never listed as corresponding to Strong's #1670.)
           
          Turning to Lambdin's glossary, we find the following for CWK:
          "to pull, draw; to beguile, attract; to protract, draw out; to bring,
          take, lead." Here, both 'attract' and 'lead' are secondary meanings.
          The problem, however, is that neither of the primary meanings
          ('pull', 'draw') fits very well with the three Thomas sayings that use
          CWK. If we wanted to find one English word that might fit all three
          contexts, is there any plausible candidate other than 'lead'? Mulling
          over the image of someone leading a horse (but not pulling or dragging it),
          the verb 'guide' occurs to me. Plugging that into the contexts in question,
          we get the following:
           
          L3.1:  "If those who guide you say to you ..."
          L34:   "If a blind man guides a blind man ..."
          L114.2: "I will guide her so as to make her male ..."
           
          ISTM that this pretty much captures what we imagine were the intended
          meanings. But is it better than 'lead'? To my mind, there does seem to be a
          slight improvement in L114.2, but other than that, the only thing that seems
          clear is that 'lead' or 'guide' fit best, but aren't primary meanings of the
          Coptic CWK or the Greek hELKW.
           
          Mike Grondin
        • Mike Grondin
          ... Obviously, the Greek fragment has a Greek word, not the English word attract . The latter is simply the meaning that Layton attaches to the Greek word.
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 10, 2012
            In an earlier note on this thread, I wrote:
            > Layton translates L3.1 in parte as "If those who lead
            you
            > say to you..." but he has the following footnote: "The
            Greek
            > fragment (P.Oxy. 654) instead has 'attract'."
             
            Obviously, the Greek fragment has a Greek word, not the English
            word 'attract'. The latter is simply the meaning that Layton attaches
            to the Greek word. We've discussed the fact that this isn't the
            primary meaning of the word, and anyway that Layton uses it
            inconsistently, but now Tim Staker has drawn my attention to a 
            self-proclaimed mongrel translation that shows the consequences
            of Layton's mistaken footnote:
             
            There are actually two translations of L3 on this webpage. The first
            is simply Lambdin's NHL translation, so we'll ignore that one. The
            second (of the Greek fragments) is said to be "... a combination of
            thranslations [sic] by B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt and Bentley Layton."
            Interestingly, however, the word used in 3.1 is 'attract', which isn't used
            by either Grenfell/Hunt or Layton! It appears in Layton's footnote,
            but not in his translation (see above). As for Grenfell/Hunt, they use
            the word 'draw'. (See below, p.15):
            (Thanks to Mark Goodacre for this link.)
             
            Indeed, the Grenfell/Hunt translation is so different from what's on the
            sacred.texts site, that it's fairly obvious that Craig Schenk (whoever he is)
            must have taken the bulk of his translation from Layton, with little if
            anything from Grenfell/Hunt.
             
            Cheers,
            Mike Grondin
          • Bob Schacht
            ... I m interested in the semantic range of the words involved, and what the author is trying to express. I think that perhaps attract is on target, but too
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 10, 2012
              At 09:50 PM 8/3/2012, Mike Grondin wrote:


              ... Among the sayings he (Martin) quoted was L114. What caught my attention was
              the word 'attract' in "I am going to attract her to make her male."
              Curious about that, I went to see how Layton had translated the two
              other occurrences of the Coptic word swk
              (in L3 and L34).
              (see http://www.gospel-thomas.net/keywords/lead.htm)
               
              Layton translates L3.1 in parte as "If those who lead you say to you..."
              but he has the following footnote: "The Greek fragment (P.Oxy. 654)
              instead has 'attract'." Well, OK, but what does he do with that info?
              Nothing in L3.1, but he uses 'attract' in L114.2 when there isn't any
              POxy data to compare! In other words, where there's a POxy word
              that he thinks means 'attract' (L3.1), he doesn't translate it that way,
              but when there's no POxy evidence (L114.2), he does! There is again
              no POxy evidence for L34, but there he uses the word 'lead' ("If a blind
              person leads a blind person ..."), instead of 'attract'. It would seem, then,
              that consistency would demand that L114.2 be translated as 'lead' as well,
              especially as 'attract' has connotations that might easily be confusing.
               
              Does the Greek word in question actually mean 'attract'? Well, of course
              any word has a range of meanings, but in Andrew Bernhard's interlinear
              of the Greek fragments, the word in question (hELKONTES) is translated
              as 'pulling'. My linguistic sensitivities don't detect much difference
              between 'pull' and 'lead' -- or say 'draw', which is also sometimes used.
              But I do sense that the word 'attract' suggests a somewhat different dynamic
              between the two people involved than these other words do - perhaps a more
              active role for the one person and less active for the other? At any rate, such
              are the considerations that make me less than keen on 'attract' in L114.2
              (If anyone has some thoughts on the Greek word involved, come on in!)
               
              I'm interested in the semantic range of the words involved, and what the author is trying to express. I think that perhaps "attract" is on target, but too weak for what the author intends, which may be that the "attraction" is more compelling, persuasive, or seductive? Or is there another Greek word for those things? The sense of your quote sounds to me like an attempt to persuade or seduce, and "to make her male" does not sound like a voluntary association.

              Part of the issue here is agency. For example, "pull" implies that the object of attraction is not inert, but exerting some force on the follower. "Lead" is somewhat balanced in this regard, involving interaction by leader and follower. I might find an advertisement "attractive," but that doesn't mean that I'm going to buy what they're selling.

              Another example: Decades ago, my parents were considering joining a Baptist church with a preacher who some family members knew. But during the service, there was an altar call. The preacher was obviously trying to "lead," and some members found the call "attractive," because they answered it. However, my parents didn't like it, and never went back to that church.

              Bob Schacht
              Northern Arizona University
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