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Continuing on this theme

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  • Tom Reynolds
    Continuing on this theme. The scribe will either be a first century Christian c.40- 70 who is recording of the speakers oration of what Thomas said or a 2nd
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 30, 2012
      Continuing on this theme.
      The scribe will either be a first century Christian c.40- 70 who is recording of the speakers oration of what Thomas said or a 2nd century gnostic who is recording a later orator who is recounting the tradition of Thomas said. There is, of course, a mid-solution where a scribe records what an orator says he heard Thomas say which would place the text in the late Transition Era (AD 65-100).
      The first question to ask is simply why not assign GT as one of the “many” accounts that LK indicates exists when he wrote Lk-Acts? On the face of it GT looks like an orators notes, one of the many traveling orators of the Proclamation Period (AD 33-64). The standard answer is that GT is a Gnostic work and there is no evidence that gnostic ideas existed or would be tolerated during this period when Christianity is largely Jewish.
      However is that assignment true? Specifically, upon hearing an oration by someone using GT as notes, would the audience recognize the Greek thought supposedly embedded in it OR are later commentators reading into the text the thought of the school of Valentinus?
      As most scholars suggest, quite a few of the sayings appear gnostic while quite a few have an obvious parallel in a New Testament text. I am suggesting a reverse approach to what is typical in analyzing GT. Go through the likely gnostic sayings and try to resolve them to a non-gnostic, Jewish oriented Christianity. Further, treat the text as speaking notes and assume that the orator would expand on each saying as every preacher and every political candidate currently does.
      At this point in my study I don’t believe that one can completely resolve GT in the way I propose. Far more likely this is a work of the transition period and subsequent revelation is part and parcel of GT. However, I think this is the place to start and then see what is left.
      Gt (1-3) [Possible Amplification]
      These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. They were spoken only to the 12 and the multitude remained ignorant as it does today. However, the Spirit has revealed all to the elect, both to the Jew and to the Greek.
      Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death." "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. 2When they find, they will be disturbed. 3When they are disturbed, they will marvel, 4 and will rule over all.
      For the mystery, which was hidden in the Scriptures was not what the scribes and Pharisees taught in their ignorance, but as prophesied by the Prophet Joel, the Grace of God has been poured out on all men, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Oh the indescribable wisdom of God who has foreordained those He foreknew to rule and reign with Him. We are now more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.

      [Tom Reynolds]


      ��

    • Mike Grondin
      ... Seems to me that this overview plays fast and loose with the facts. My understanding is that the Jewish people were far advanced over their Mediterranean
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 30, 2012
        
        [Tom Reynolds to Adrian Millar]:
        > I think that
        there is a lot we don’t know about 1st century culture and the issue of hearing/reading
        > is just one of them. If we study the written text we are doing something they would never do. A few
        > high-class Greeks might and it is possible that Herodian Jews might emulate the Greek upper classes
        > but they would be reading the Greek Classics (Homer, Plato) not any of the texts written in common
        > (Konia) Greek. It is important to understand that our in-depth analysis of the text may very well yield
        > an understanding that neither the orator nor the hearer would envision.
         
        Seems to me that this overview plays fast and loose with the facts. My understanding is that
        the Jewish people were far advanced over their Mediterranean neighbors in the matter of
        education in and knowledge of the written word. Not only did educated Judaeans study the
        Hebrew scriptures (including portions in Aramaic), but diaspora Jews (notably those of Egypt)
        were responsible for the Pentateuch, which was of course Greek - though I don't know whether
        it was Koine (that is the word, BTW). One would assume that Jewish Christians thus influenced
        Gentile Christians in this matter as well, so that speakers/orators shouldn't be the only players
        in view. There were readers/lectors as well - publicly reading from written texts in the churches,
        as was done in the synagogues. Missionary speechifying wasn't all there was, and shouldn't
        be used to minimize textual study, either then or now. In particular, while it is true that a text
        can be over-analyzed, it's also true that it might contain features that a listener would miss,
        and those features are no less present for not being easily discernible upon hearing.
         
        Mike Grondin
      • Tom
        My understand is that the population was 5-10% literate and virtually everything was presented orally. Except for contracts most writings were memory/study
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 30, 2012
          My understand is that the population was 5-10% literate and virtually everything was presented orally. Except for contracts most writings were memory/study aids. The Palistinian Jews studied the Jewish Scripture in Hebrew but the writing of commerce was Greek. The spoken language was Aramaic.

          At the time written none of the 1st century writings, either writings now contained in the NT or GT were considered Scripture by Paleslinian Jews so it was unlikely they were studied like the Jewish Scriptures. The Scriptures of Christians were the Jewish Scripture. In was not till the mid-second century that NT books were analysized as we do so now.

          Multiple works assert that all NT writings should be read, hopefully by a trained orator, in order to capture how the early Christians actually received them. If GT is a first Century work it should be teated the same way.

          [Tom - to me, apparently - MWG]
        • Tom
          I have yet to see evidence of 1st century gnostics before AD 90 at the earliest. The evidence is, as you say, a reading back of 2nd century gnostics as pagels
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 30, 2012
            I have yet to see evidence of 1st century gnostics before AD 90 at the earliest. The evidence is, as you say, a reading back of 2nd century gnostics as pagels with the Gospel of Mary. Have you seen evidence that I haven't? Solid evidence would make a difference.

            [Tom - apparently to Jordan - MWG]
          • Jordan Stratford
            ... According to Pearson we have Sethian Gnostic texts dating from the second century BCE. Pagels puts Gospel of Mary in the first century CE, before Gospel of
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 30, 2012

              On 2012-12-30, at 4:37 PM, Tom wrote:

              I have yet to see evidence of 1st century gnostics before AD 90 at the earliest. The evidence is, as you say, a reading back of 2nd century gnostics as pagels with the Gospel of Mary. Have you seen evidence that I haven't? Solid evidence would make a difference.

              According to Pearson we have Sethian Gnostic texts dating from the second century BCE.  

              Pagels puts Gospel of Mary in the first century CE, before Gospel of Thomas (seeing some Thomas elements as rebuttals of GoM).   

              Again this is not to say that the community of GT authorship belongs to first-century Sethian Gnostics, but rather to point out that there WERE first-century (and earlier) Gnostics.  

              We have to remember that we have no first century archaeology on any of this, and all the dating is conjecture.  We don't have a first century copy of anything, canonical or otherwise.  We have mentions of Markan material (but not the material itself) from around 110 CE.  We have a scrap of John from 140ish.  We have Irenaeus around 190 trying to sort it all out, so that gives us about 80 years to get all these texts in writing, get them translated, circulate them, and argue about them.  While we have Paul before all of that, we don't have him in any kind of circulation even 100 years after he wrote them. I don't think we'll ever have a coherent chronology of who had which texts when unless or until some decent archaeology surfaces.  The best we can say is Thomas _as a written work_ is somewhere in this 110-190 CE textual frenzy.

              Jordan
            • Mike Grondin
              ... What population? My understanding is that the literacy rate in Judaea (and among diaspora Jews, hence among Jewish Christians) was significantly higher.
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 30, 2012
                [Tom Reynolds]:
                > My understand [sic] is that the population was 5-10% literate
                ...
                 
                What population? My understanding is that the literacy rate in Judaea
                (and among diaspora Jews, hence among Jewish Christians) was
                significantly higher.
                 
                > ... and virtually everything was presented orally. Except for
                contracts
                > most writings were memory/study aids.
                 
                I doubt it. There were letters, for example. To say nothing of the works
                of Plato and Aristotle, e.g.. Do you have any examples of memory aids?
                 
                > In [sic] was not till the mid-second century that NT books
                were
                > analysized [sic] as we do so now.
                That kind of analysis isn't much like what we do today.

                > Multiple works assert that all NT writings should be
                read, hopefully by
                > a trained orator, in order to capture how the early Christians
                actually
                > received them.
                 
                What are some of these "multiple works" that assert that NT writings
                should be listened to (in the original language?)? And what interest is
                there in "captur[ing] how the early Christians actually received them",
                even if that were possible? Actually, we do know some of that, from
                the interpretive material added by the evangelists in their gospels. But
                of course they weren't illiterate, so by your standards they weren't
                representative. Then again, who can be, unless they're illiterate, Koine-
                speaking, and live in the first century?
                 
                Mike
              • Tom Reynolds
                To: Mike Groden,   The statement 5-10% is the generally accepted estimate among both historical and religious scholars. To name a few, in addition to a direct
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 31, 2012
                  To: Mike [Grondin],
                  The statement 5-10% is the generally accepted estimate among both historical and religious scholars. To name a few, in addition to a direct seminar of Walt Russel, Phd (Biola University) I have heard it lately from at least�four University Professors in video presentations from the Teaching Company. One Professor, Luke Timothy Johnson, Phd is from Emory University while the another is from Eastern University. A third, Kenneth W. Hart is more of a history Professor as ia a fourth, �William R Cook. These are just a few of the sources I have read or heard. All these Professors make the point that the text was dictated orally to a scribe and then read to the audience.
                  It is true that highly educated Greeks read Plato, Aristotle, Homer and the Gilgamesh epic while highly educated Jews read the Jewish Scriptures but this was a very small percentage of the population. It is very unlikely that any of the 12 Apostles, or Jesus was literate in the sense we have today, save possibly Matthew. In fact the Pharisees were amazed at Jesus’ command of the Scripture because he was not “learnered”. Paul was literate but still used a scribe and Luke was probably literate. Among most Jews, literacy was limited to reading a verse or two of the Scripture. The ability to sit down and study a text as we do today was limited by both the ability and the availability of the text.
                  The answer to one question you ask nay be interesting. “What interest is there in capturing what the early Christians received even if that were possible?” I will send you directly a couple of PDF articles on this subject that you can choose to post or otherwise share if you wish.
                  In summary, there are three methods of interpretation.
                  1-Historical, Author Centered
                  2-Text centered
                  3-Reader centered
                  The secret of the historical, author centered approach is to capture the original purpose of the author of the text. The historical part is understanding the historical setting at the time it was written and the people it was written to. The analysis is top down meaning one must discover the overall purpose before drilling down to specific passages. Another consideration is genre. What is the genre of the text. For example, one would interpret poetry different from a historical narrative.
                  In the case of GT, there is a dispute about who wrote it, where and when. If the text was written relatively early in Judah we know both the historical setting and the culture of the audience. OTOH, if it was written outside Judah, there is the different culture of a mixed Jewish-Greek nature. If it was written around the turn of the century, both the historical setting, culture and audience has changed dramatically. Finally, if it was written in the early-mid second century the culture was largely Greek. Note that in each of these time periods the likely author has changed.
                  In the historical-author centered method the challenge of GT is to determine the purpose of the author. This analysis will change depending on the period postulated for GT’s writing. We assume that the text was used within the historical context, received by the audience in the culture of the time and responded to based on the cultural attitudes of the hearers.
                  It, therefore, seems reasonable to interpret the text as it would have been understood within each cultural-historical setting in order to determine what we can about the author’s purpose.
                  Regards,
                  Tom Reynolds

                  From: Mike Grondin
                  To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2012 10:20 PM
                  Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: Xmas Season Greetings
                  [Tom Reynolds]:
                  > My understand [sic] is that the population was 5-10% literate
                  ...
                  What population? My understanding is that the literacy rate in Judaea
                  (and among diaspora Jews, hence among Jewish Christians) was
                  significantly higher.
                  > ... and virtually everything was presented orally. Except for
                  contracts
                  >�most writings were memory/study aids.
                  I doubt it. There were letters, for example. To say nothing of the works
                  of Plato and Aristotle, e.g.. Do you have any examples of memory aids?
                  >�In [sic] was not till the mid-second century that NT books
                  were
                  >�analysized [sic]�as we do so now.
                  That kind of analysis isn't much like what we do today.

                  > Multiple works assert that all NT writings should be
                  read,�hopefully by
                  >�a trained orator, in order to capture how the early Christians
                  actually
                  >�received them.
                  What are some of these "multiple works"�that assert that NT writings
                  should be listened to (in the original language?)? And what interest is
                  there in "captur[ing] how the early Christians actually received them",
                  even if that were possible? Actually, we do know some of that, from
                  the interpretive material added by the evangelists in their gospels. But
                  of course they weren't illiterate, so by your standards they weren't
                  representative. Then again, who can be, unless they're illiterate, Koine-
                  speaking, and live in the first century?
                  Mike
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