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Re: [GTh] Thomas as Half-and-Half

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  • Ian Brown
    Quoting Stephen: I don t quite understand the criticism of chapter 10 that it assumes rather than argues for synoptic familiarity.  Didn t chapters 1-9
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 6, 2012
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      Quoting Stephen: "I don't quite understand the criticism of chapter 10 that it assumes rather than argues for synoptic familiarity.  Didn't chapters 1-9 already do that???"

      Well, kinda. While Mark does argue throughout his book for Thomas' dependence, he is doing so from source and redactional critical points of view. In this way each case can be addressed on its own merits. I may not agree with, say, his argument that there is Matthean redaction in Thomas, but this does not prevent me from acknowledging possible Lukan redaction (I actually disagree with both Goodacre's chapters, but this is just for the sake of argument), or the relevance of the verbatim agreements. Thus the arguments in the other chapters, regardless of what I think about them, can stand alone. Chapter 9 doesn't actually argue FOR Thomas' dependence, but merely assumes it and therefore, unlike most of the other chapters, cannot stand alone. Again, I realize that's the purpose of the rest of the book, but were Goodacre's argument regarding Thomas' rhetoric of secrecy to be more helpful, it should be able to help argue for the main thesis of the book, not assume it.

      Ian Brown
    • Stephen Carlson
      ... Maybe it depends on what you mean by helpful, but I don t have a problem with an author s teasing out the implications of what he established in earlier
      Message 2 of 12 , Nov 7, 2012
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        On Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM, Ian Brown <ianbrown6796@...> wrote:
        >Again, I realize that's the purpose of the rest of the book, but
        >were Goodacre's argument regarding Thomas' rhetoric of secrecy to be more helpful,
        >it should be able to help argue for the main thesis of the book, not assume it.

        Maybe it depends on what you mean by "helpful," but I don't have a problem with
        an author's teasing out the implications of what he established in
        earlier chapters.
        --
        Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
        Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala
      • Mike Grondin
        Hi Stephen, I also find the complaint about Mark s chapter 10 hard to fathom. One of the many passages in it that I found interesting was this: The incident
        Message 3 of 12 , Nov 7, 2012
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          Hi Stephen,
           
          I also find the complaint about Mark's chapter 10 hard to fathom.
          One of the many passages in it that I found interesting was this:
           
          "The incident [in L13] remains intriguing because of the forbidden 'three
          words' spoken to Thomas, and while guessing at what is implied may be
          irresistible [fn.16], the point is, of course, that the reader of the Gospel
          cannot know what was said without extra revelation. It is here that the
          Gospel of Thomas points most clearly beyond itself to an interpreter
          who will unlock the secrets of the book." (p.179)
           
          In an earlier note, I mentioned a couple sayings that could have been
          used to bolster some of Mark's observations, and here, too, it would
          seem to have been natural to cite L21.9 ("Let there be a man of under-
          standing among you!"), but Mark doesn't do so. In fact, I don't see
          any reference at all in the text to 21.9. Mark is too careful for this to
          be an oversight, so it was probably a policy decision. I could guess
          at the reason for it, but maybe this note will prod Mark into unlocking
          this secret of his book (hint, hint).
           
          Mike Grondin
        • Bob Schacht
          Don t these passages show that GTh belongs to the Christian Gnostic genre? Or is that a dead horse? Bob Schacht Northern Arizona University
          Message 4 of 12 , Nov 8, 2012
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            Don't these passages show that GTh belongs to the Christian Gnostic genre? Or is that a dead  horse?

            Bob Schacht
            Northern Arizona University

            At 12:51 AM 11/8/2012, Mike Grondin wrote:


            Hi Stephen,
             
            I also find the complaint about Mark's chapter 10 hard to fathom.
            One of the many passages in it that I found interesting was this:
             
            "The incident [in L13] remains intriguing because of the forbidden 'three
            words' spoken to Thomas, and while guessing at what is implied may be
            irresistible [fn.16], the point is, of course, that the reader of the Gospel
            cannot know what was said without extra revelation. It is here that the
            Gospel of Thomas points most clearly beyond itself to an interpreter
            who will unlock the secrets of the book." (p.179)
             
            In an earlier note, I mentioned a couple sayings that could have been
            used to bolster some of Mark's observations, and here, too, it would
            seem to have been natural to cite L21.9 ("Let there be a man of under-
            standing among you!"), but Mark doesn't do so. In fact, I don't see
            any reference at all in the text to 21.9. Mark is too careful for this to
            be an oversight, so it was probably a policy decision. I could guess
            at the reason for it, but maybe this note will prod Mark into unlocking
            this secret of his book (hint, hint).
             
            Mike Grondin


          • Stephen Carlson
            ... Hi, Bob. With the work of Karen King and Michael Williams, I have become uncomfortable with the use and helpfulness of the word gnostic as a broad cover
            Message 5 of 12 , Nov 8, 2012
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              On Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 1:30 PM, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@...> wrote:
              > Don't these passages show that GTh belongs to the Christian Gnostic genre?
              > Or is that a dead horse?

              Hi, Bob. With the work of Karen King and Michael Williams, I have
              become uncomfortable with the use and helpfulness of the word
              "gnostic" as a broad cover term. There were a lot of groups of
              diverse thinkings that all got lumped together under the rubric of
              "gnostic" and it is not clear how coherent the category is.

              I would be more comfortable with characterizations along the lines of
              "employing the motif of secret knowledge and its restricted access
              thereto." And I do think that comparisons can be drawn between Thomas
              and those groups formerly known as gnostic.

              Stephen
              --
              Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
              Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: GThos On: Three Things From: Bruce Mike Grondin (quoting Mark Goodacre): The incident [in L13] remains intriguing because of the forbidden three words
              Message 6 of 12 , Nov 8, 2012
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                To: GThos

                On: Three Things

                From: Bruce

                 

                Mike Grondin (quoting Mark Goodacre): "The incident [in L13] remains intriguing because of the forbidden 'three words' spoken to Thomas, and while guessing at what is implied may be irresistible [fn.16], the point is, of course, that the reader of the Gospel cannot know what was said without extra revelation. It is here that the
                Gospel of Thomas points most clearly beyond itself to an interpreter who will unlock the secrets of the book." (p.179)

                 

                Bruce: Another seemingly secret “three words” are the missing answers to the three questions in Th 6 (on fasting, praying, and almsgiving). It has long been observed that the exact answers seem to be supplied in Th 14. DeConick puts both sayings into her second layer, but separated, as in the present text. For her discussion of why they are separated (she relies on “oral transmission”), see Original p87. Other opinions which she quotes conclude rather than there has been some sort of disturbance of the original order of the sayings. Th 14 does begin as though in answer to a question asked elsewhere, and of course the first part of Th 6 would be a very plausible candidate for that “elsewhere.” But a simple separation solution will not work, since in Th 6, the Three Questions are provided with an answer (if perhaps a somewhat indirect one). What then?

                 

                One general possibility is that Th 6 was, if not an esoteric, at least a cryptic saying, and that at some later point, the person in charge of the text thought that a more direct answer was called for, and gave that direct answer in a new saying, Th 14. If so, and if the current order of Th sayings is relevant, then it would seem that the purpose and thus the nature of the text, at least as far as this particular issue goes, changed between Th 6 and Th 14.

                 

                Bruce
                 

              • Mike Grondin
                ... There s actually four questions in L6A, and the answer provided in L6B ( don t do what you hate ) is suspiciously not preceded by the indirect object to
                Message 7 of 12 , Nov 8, 2012
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                  [Bruce]:
                  > Th 14 does begin as though in answer to a question asked
                  elsewhere,
                  > and of course the first part of Th 6 would be a very plausible
                  candidate
                  > for that “elsewhere.” But a simple separation solution will not
                  work,
                  > since in Th 6, the Three Questions are provided with an answer
                  (if
                  > perhaps a somewhat indirect one). What then?
                   
                  There's actually four questions in L6A, and the "answer" provided in
                  L6B ("don't do what you hate") is suspiciously not preceded by the
                  indirect object 'to them' that we find at the outset of L14 (with no
                  interlocutors in sight). Given the carefulness which I see elsewhere in
                  the composition of CGT, my own intuition is that this was a deliberate
                  separation comprising one of the "secrets" of Thomas. But I see no
                  reason (as per Bob) to associate secrecy with Gnosticism (especially
                  not with a capital 'G'). That label seems to hide, rather than help.
                  There were mystery religions around, and we might rather look to
                  them (or something like the Rosicrucians in more modern times).
                   
                  Mike
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... Thanks for your response. The trouble with objecting to gnostic as a broad cover term embracing diverse thinkings that all get lumped together is that by
                  Message 8 of 12 , Nov 8, 2012
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                    At 05:51 AM 11/8/2012, Stephen Carlson wrote:
                    On Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 1:30 PM, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@...> wrote:
                    > Don't these passages show that GTh belongs to the Christian Gnostic genre?
                    > Or is that a dead  horse?

                    Hi, Bob.  With the work of Karen King and Michael Williams, I have
                    become uncomfortable with the use and helpfulness of the word
                    "gnostic" as a broad cover term.  There were a lot of groups of
                    diverse thinkings that all got lumped together under the rubric of
                    "gnostic" and it is not clear how coherent the category is.

                    I would be more comfortable with characterizations along the lines of
                    "employing the motif of secret knowledge and its restricted access
                    thereto."  And I do think that comparisons can be drawn between Thomas
                    and those groups formerly known as gnostic.

                    Thanks for your response. The trouble with objecting to "gnostic" as a broad cover term embracing diverse thinkings that all get lumped together is that by "employing the motif of secret knowledge and its restricted access thereto" would *create* the very apparent diversity that you object to. 

                    Also, another important marker is the contrast between the "Gnostics" and what emerged as normative Christianity: the latter adopted the tactic of being entirely open. No secrets, no hidden books. One of the reasons behind the development of  the canon was  that mainstream Christianity could say "here it is. It's all here. The canonical scriptures contain everything necessary and sufficient for salvation."  Part of the process of definition is identifying what it is *not*.

                    So basically we had the "open book" people vs. the "secrets" people. The very centrality of secrets is enough. Of course, arriving at that dichotomy required identification of "heresy" before the "necessary and sufficient" threshhold could be reached.

                    From this perspective, GTh was a teaser and a hook-- Not the sum and substance, but a door.

                    Bob in AZ
                  • E Bruce Brooks
                    To: GThos In Response To: Stephen Carlson On: The Term Gnostic From: Bruce Stephen: , I have become uncomfortable with the use and helpfulness of the word
                    Message 9 of 12 , Nov 8, 2012
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                      To: GThos

                      In Response To: Stephen Carlson

                      On: The Term Gnostic

                      From: Bruce

                       

                      Stephen: , I have become uncomfortable with the use and helpfulness of the word
                      "gnostic" as a broad cover term.

                       

                      Bruce: I would think that the usefulness of the word “gnostic” is precisely that it IS a broad cover term. It identifies what is common to many things (knowledge rather than virtue as salvific), and contrasts it with at least two other salvation ideas which were also current at the time: that salvation is from faith, or that it is from works.

                       

                      For more precise denotation, more precise terms are available, eg Sethian and Valentinian. Apparently there are also broad categories of Jewish gnosticism and Christian gnosticism. This seems to be a perfectly workable system of nomenclature, as long as we don’t expect our cover term to also denote one specific variety within the broad area. The generality of the term merely means, as far as I can see, that in calling the Thomas people “gnostic” we have not necessarily finished describing them.

                       

                      In Sinology, there is a sort of parallel campaign on to disuse the terms “Confucian” and “Dauist” on the plea that they are not precise, and despite the fact that those terms were used by the people of the time, in arguing with each other.

                       

                      My rejoinder to both proposals is that the term “Christian” does not lose its usefulness because it fails to specify a particular kind of Christian (Mormon, Mennonite, Presbyterian, African Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, etc). Its usefulness is precisely that it includes all of them and others, as against other large groupings (Islamic, Buddhist) which lack that particular commonality.

                       

                      Bruce

                       

                      E Bruce Brooks
                      Warring States Project

                      University of Massachusetts

                       

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