Re: [GTh] L65 - Meier's Gnostic Speculation
- To: Mike GrondinReading GT 65-66 together and comparing with the texts of the Synoptics I have a problem seeing anything Gnostic. The intent of the parable is clear once one reads the three Synoptic accounts[Mk 12:1-10, Mt 21:33-42, Lk 20:9-17] all of which reference PS 118 which is about Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Saving Goodness. Reading LT66 in conjunction with LT65 seems to complete the same point in all four texts. Certainly PS:118 is not Gnostic and the Psalmist’s view of God (the vineyard-owner) cannot�be the gnostic view of an inferior (and ignorant) creator-god of the world.�My view is that this is yet another example of an academic reading things into the text that are simply not there.�Tom Reynolds
- Tom -Your argument won't work, because it fails to address the specifics. Thereare in fact differences between L65 and the synoptic versions - especially(as I mentioned) the knowing/not-knowing pair of statements. The questionis whether that's significant or not. Here's what Meier says:> From the first modern publication of Thomas to the present day, commentators> have found the owner's deliberation as he prepares to send the second slave> unintelligible. In the Coptic text as it stands, the owner thinks, 'Perhaps he did> not know [= recognize] them' - the 'he' referring to the first slave and the 'them'> referring to the farmers. Does the owner think that the servant mistakenly went> to the wrong farmers, who vented their annoyance at what seemed an unjust> demand for a share of their crops? This seems so contrived that other commentators> suggest emending what they judge a corrupted text by writing, 'Perhaps they [the> farmers] did not recognize him [as my duly sent slave].' Alternately, one might> hypothesize that Thomas is introducing in a clumsy way the gnostic theme of> the ignorance of the Creator God and/or his minions (but then shouldn't the> ignorance of the owner be stressed?) [fn to Quarles] In the end, one must admit> that none of these solutions is completely satisfying. In any event, what is clear> is that Thomas takes Luke's deliberating soliloquy ('perhaps') and moves it> forward, apparently in an attempt to make the owner's action more plausible.[fn to Quarles: "For the suggestion that the 'slaves of the vineyard owner areeither sinners or archons who keep the free men in subjection,' see Quarles,'Gospel of Thomas,' 530-31. He points to a possibly parallel idea in theCoptic Gospel of Philip (see, e.g., 52:5-15)."]It might seem from the above that Meier is dismissing Quarles' point, butin discussing the killing of the son in L65, he (Meier) writes:> Pointedly, only Thomas uses the verb "know" of the farmers, purposely> contrasting the "knowing" (gnostic?) farmers with the "non-knowing"> slave who was sent first. Thus it may be that Thomas has intentionally> redacted the Synoptic parable to turn it into an allegory of the ignorant> slaves of the owner (= the demiurge, the blind and tyrannical Creator> God?) versus the rebellious free agents who have knowledge. None of> the three Synoptics has the theme of not-knowing/knowing at the two> points where Thomas enunciates the theme. [emphasis mine]... and in conclusion:> Thomas's overall redactional intent is seen (1) in his abbreviations and> complete omissions, thus rendering the parable's meaning completely> "hidden" (cf. Thomas's prologue), and (2) in his insertion of the (gnostic?)> theme of not-knowing/knowing - all to the end of inviting the (gnostic?)> reader to divine the meaning behind the story, now rendered allegorical> in an esoteric (gnostic?) rather than a Synoptic sense.Mike G.p.s.: Any errors in the above are due to my transcription.
- Mike-�I think my point is that the sayings as reported in the Synoptics are not Gnostic and it is easy to read the redactions in Thomas without adding any Gnostic intent. I do not see the redacted text as unusual. I see it as the vinyard-owner making a second attempt without assigning malice to the vinyard-renters.�There is much in this parable that doesn't make sense including the vinyard-renters killing the slaves, then the heir, and expecting to gain from these actions. The entire parable seems contrived, not just the GT redaction. My understanding is that a parable is designed to make a point, not reflect reality. Parables are contrived to make their point. In the Synoptics the message is clear to the hearers and adding the lines from GT to the Synoptic text would not change the theme or cloud the hearers understanding�at all. Further, I don't see the theme in Thomas as knowing/not knowing. The theme appears identical to the Synoptics theme.�I see this as Meier, having decided that Gt is Gnostic, is trying to find hidden Gnostic meaning in the text. This, to me, is the theory driving the facts.� I find this tendency common and disturbing. (We have a 2nd century of a Commentary on Jn and a 21st century of Jn intrepreting Jn as Gnostic when many other scholars see Jn as a refutation of Gnosticism and most orthodox scholars not seeing Gnosticism as significent in intrepreting Jn.)�If I am to accept that this is a later redaction of the Synoptic story or, alternatively, a redaction of an earlier Thomas, then I need to assign the last redactor of GT as someone other than Thomas. However, as the GT text says Thomas is the author, I am unwilling to do this based on the flimsy evidence Meier presents here.�Tom Reynolds
- [Tom Reynolds]:
story or,> If I am to accept that this is a later redaction of the Synoptic
need to assign> alternatively, a redaction of an earlier Thomas, then I
However, as> the last redactor of GT as someone other than Thomas.
this based> the GT text says Thomas is the author, I am unwilling to do> on the flimsy evidence Meier presents here.Well, I think there are two errors of reasoning here. The first is to place too greata reliance on the authorship claim within the text, and the other is to infer that ifthe text had been redacted by anyone other than the original author, it would havesaid so. As to the first, note that there are NT texts which claim to have beenwritten by someone, when in fact they probably weren't. This is basic stuff, butthe following is from Harper's Bible Dictionary, the article on Paul:> Thirteen Letters in the NT are ascribed to Paul, but modern scholarship> believes some of these were written by later followers of the apostle> (especially Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).Now I myself very much doubt whether the apostle Thomas wrote the originalGThom, but let's suppose he did. It doesn't follow that it couldn't have beenredacted later by someone else, especially when it was translated into anotherlanguage. And the redactor(s) certainly wouldn't have said so - they never did.So that is the second error that I see in the reasoning quoted at top. That wasn'tthe whole of your note, of course, nor, I hope, what you considered an essentialpart. Which is not to say that I agree with Meier's hypothetical Gnostic inter-pretation, but there are valid ways of objecting to it, and others not so good.Cheers,Mike G.
- Mike-�My reliance on an internal authorship of a 1st century work is more based on my analysis of the evidence behind other scholarly refutations of internal authorship claims such as the one you referenced.�Some scholars believe that Ephesians and the Pastoral letters were not written by Paul because the office of Bishop is mentioned. These scholars believe that this office did not develop in Christianity until after Pauls death. However, upon investigation, one finds that their "evidence" is that none of the other letters of Paul are addressed to a Bishop. Notice here an argument from silence overriding the obvious evidence that the office of Bishop DID develop during Paul's life precisely because of the evidence contained in these letters.�Another example that may be more relevant to GT is the dating of the book of JN. In the mid-20th century Jn was dated about AD 120 because it was a refutation of Gnosticism which did not develop until that time. /span>�A third is the J, D, E and P theory about the construction of Genesis. Some modern scholars argue quite convincingly that there is an internal consistancy in Genesis and a parallel relationship between sections of Genesis that are attributed to different authorship groups that negate this theory.�Obviously reasonable��men disagree on the weighting of various pieces of evidence. My experience is that this "basic stuff" which one finds in a Bible Dictonary (or even a Bible Commentary) is, unfortunately,�not something to take at face value. When we move to the 2nd century yes, we have false internal claims of authorship. However, the evidence is�thin�that this existed in the 1st century.�Why do I think the dating of GT is so importent? If GT is a 1st century Palestinian Jew's work, then the overall intent and original intrepretation of the first hearers of the text is likely to be very different than if it is an early 2nd century work to a Greek audiance.�Regards,�Tom Reynolds�PS: I am in Indonesia scuba diving until February you get the last word on this subject.
[ed note: I've changed the title of this note, as it's going off in a different direction from the original thread. - MWG]
- Since Tom Reynolds isn't immediately available, I won't engage him directly atthis time, but I don't think that his assertions should be left uncountered. I don'trecall that we ever discussed this before, but it doesn't seem off-topic to discusswhether there are questions about the authorship of some NT texts analogousto questions about the authorship of GThom. After all, some readers may believe(along with Tom) that the titular authorship of 1st century NT texts is unquestioned,so that if one does question the authorship of GThom, one is virtually denying thatit's a 1st century text. But Tom's assertion that "the evidence is thin that [false internalclaims of authorship] existed in the 1st century" is simply not true, IMO - or at leastthe evidence is no thinner than that for a lot of conclusions on which NTscholarsagree. I'm not expert in this area, so the best I can do is to quote material fromreputable sources - in this case, the New Oxford Annotated Bible (RSV Edition)- that indicate what evidence has led NT scholars to question the authorship ofhalf a dozen NT letters (all of which say in their titles that they're from so-and-so):1. The Pastorals:> The two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus, commonly called the> Pastorals, are similar in character and in the problems they raise concerning> authorship. It is difficult to ascribe them in their present form to the apostle> Paul. The vocabulary and style of the letters differ widely from the acknow-> ledged letters of Paul; some of his leading theological ideas are entirely absent> ... and some expressions bear a different meaning from that in his customary> usage ...[note that there is no mention of the word 'bishop', which Tom represents asbeing the sole basis for questioning Pauline authorship of these letters]> A few scholars, attempting to maintain Pauline authorship, account for the> differences by assuming changes in his environment as well as modifications> in his vocabulary, style, and thought. But in view of the widespread custom> of pseudonymous authorship in antiquity it is easier to assume that a loyal> disciple of Paul used several previously unpublished messages of the apostle> and expanded them to deal with conditions confronting the church a generation> after Paul's death. [emphasis mine; both quotes from p.1440, intro to 1 Tim]Assuming a generation = 20 years, "a generation after Paul's death" would beabout mid-80's, comfortably 1st century. Since the author of the above refersto his intro to 2 Peter on pseudonymous authorship, we'll go there next:2. 2 Peter> The tradition that this letter is the work of the apostle Peter was questioned> in early times, and internal indications are almost decisive against it. ... Most> scholars therefore regard the letter as the work of one who was deeply> indebted to Peter and who published it under his master's name early in the> second century. ... In antiquity pseudonymous authorship was a widely> accepted literary convention. Therefore the use of an apostle's name in> reasserting his teaching was not regarded as dishonest but merely a way of> reminding the church of what it had received from ... that apostle.comment: Although 2 Peter is dated here to early 2nd century, there's noindication that the comment about pseudonymous authorship relates to thatdate. To confirm that, we turn to the same author's comments on James:3. Letter of James> Of authorship and date not much is known. The tradition that it was> written by James the brother of the Lord has little support from ancient> times. The indications of the letter itself - its excellent Greek with vivid> metaphor and facile use of idiom, its apparent knowledge of 1 Peter ...> and of certain letters of Paul - suggest a Hellenistic Christian as its> author and a date toward the end of the first century. [emphasis mine]Here again (as in item #2), I've stressed that it's not just modern-dayscholars who doubt the authorship of these NT items. Nor is there anysharp dividing line between 1st and 2nd centuries with respect to authorialconventions. So if one argues, e.g., that the third-person references toThomas in L13 indicate that he didn't write it, one is not necessarilyimplying anything about the date of the original work or its redaction(s).Cheers,Mike Grondin
- To: Mike and allFrom: Tom in Bali.It is certainly true that the authorship of NT works are questioned and are potential forgeries. I simply assert that the evidence is thin. Observe the evidence presented by Mike and see the assumptions contained within.The analysis assumes that a verbal author does not change his ideas or the words he uses over time. I suggest that this is simply untrue. You, I, everyone does this. If you have ever written a book, go back and reread it. You’ll see what I mean. If not read Plato and see how his ideas evolve. Or read Karl Bart.In addition the letters were written by probably different scribes who had different linguistic styles and abilities. If one is old enough to have watched a secretary trained to�take dictation you know that the substance of the verbal author is captured, not the exact words. After the secretary typed the letter the verbal author proof read it. Typically, if the intent was captured he signed it. it was too a lot of work to retype a letter. Does anyone really think a scribe using 1st century writing instruments is more accurate that these mid-20th century scribes were?In addition, scholars take the letters of Paul far too seriously in comparison to the author himself. Paul was writing letters, not Scripture. These letters were dictated and read orally, not poured over and over-analyzed by scholars looking for some fresh scholarly insight from them to impress their colleagues.And the evidence of “But in view of the widespread custom of pseudonymous authorship in antiquity” is where? Why their own flawed analysis of course.My advice is to not accept the analysis of those using their chosen specialty to analyze NT or any works. They are like a hammer seeing everything like a nail. My advice is to do one’s own analysis trying to ascertain the author’s purpose and the original hearers of the text in order to date it.The pastoralsThe internal evidence in the Pastorals indicates that Timothy and Titus have the office known as Bishop or Pastor. They appoint elders and are advised to not lay hands of ordination on quickly.JamesThe internal argument of James is anti-Pauline and typical of that period. It is often seen as a very early letter, not late.2 PeterI have not analyzed this letter in detail so I won’t comment on it.�Tom ReynoldsPS: Leaving Bali for Southeast Salawesi tomorrow
- I've just perused the NIV Study Bible, and zowie, is their take different!Though acknowledging authorship questions, in each and every case(even those doubted in early Christian writings) they plunk for authenticity.But when I look at the NIV pedigree, I think I know why. After all,one of the two originating sponsors of the NIV translation was the NationalAssociation of Evangelicals, and, although (as stated in the intro) " ... the NIVStudy Bible is the work of a transdenominational team of Biblical scholars,"this is immediately followed by "All confess the authority of the Bible as God'sinfallible word to humanity." (emphasis mine). There are no doubt different waysto understand this statement, but if it's taken to mean 'infallible in every detail',then it seems that no NT letter that says it was written by X can fail to have beenwritten by X.Mike G.
- Mike, that's one reason I tend not to use the "NIV Study Bible!" :-)
On 1/19/13, Mike Grondin wrote:
> I've just perused the NIV Study Bible, and zowie, is their take
> different! Though acknowledging authorship questions, in each and
> every case (even those doubted in early Christian writings) they
> plunk for authenticity. But when I look at the NIV pedigree, I think
> I know why. After all, one of the two originating sponsors of the
> NIV translation was the National Association of Evangelicals, and,
> although (as stated in the intro) " ... the NIV Study Bible is the
> work of a transdenominational team of Biblical scholars," this is
> immediately followed by "All confess the authority of the Bible as
> God's infallible word to humanity." (emphasis mine). There are no
> doubt different ways to understand this statement, but if it's
> taken to mean 'infallible in every detail', then it seems that
> no NT letter that says it was written by X can fail to have been
> written by X.
> Mike G.
- To: Mike and allFrom: Tom from Bali�A great deal of NT scholarship is based on the scholar's particular brand of faith.� "Literally, absolutely true and inerrant" is only one way to view the NT. There are others like Ehrdman who are agnostic and lean the other way, almost seeing the entire history as a fairy tale. Then those who are in between. One must understand the faith of the scholars to intrepret their conclusions. Understanding the value and limitations of hermeneutics and lingusitic study is critical to developing a personal perspective on what is true.�I personally do not view the NT as inerrant and many would call me a heretic.�In general, however, scholarship has shifted to an earlier dating of NT works based on solid evidence. Today the consensus is that the Pastorals are likely Pauline, Hebrews is NOT and James is old. 2 Peter is at least suspicious. It only seems reasonable to treat GT in the same way.�Mark, Mike- [this is a 2nd note combined with above by editor]�The NIV is a dynamic equivilent which lends itself to significent intrepretation by the translators/authors. However, when it comes to authorship/date there is massive disagreement about certain texts. The process that I learned (and sent the coursepack to Mike) argued that one should simply read the text repeatedly and get an overview of the authors purpose, then evaluate each paragraph in light of your overview adjusting your overview as necessary to develop an understanding of the authors purpose. It is a long process called text mapping and one should not use a dynamic equivilent for this execise.�Even having done this exercise, reasonable minds still differ but at least your view is your own, not somebody elses.
- to: JudyRaymond Brown would not be my choice of an unbiased survey taker. However, more importent is the various scholars basis for their view.
tom reynoldsFrom: Judy Redman
Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 1:43 AM
Subject: RE: [GTh] Authorship and Dating���FWIW, Raymond Brown did a survey of the literature and suggests that:— critical scholars have reached a near consensus that Paul wrote: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon and Romans.�— About 90% agree that he did not write 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus— about 80% that he did not write Ephesians— about 60% that he did not write Colossians is— Slightly more than 50% that he did not write 2 ThessaloniansAnd I realise that� I need to go hunting for the source of this because it has become separated from the information that I use on a PowerPoint slide when I am teaching. J Obviously it was done a few years ago, so things may have changed.
- I am frequently surprised by the claims of authorship during the lifetimes of the writers, It seems to me that these people insisted on being the Living witnesses Of the life and times of Jesus Christ,
Paul of course was an exception since he was not a actual witness,but wrote from his experience on the road to Damascus.
However,,,,I would say in that day and time , While the apostles yet lived.Including James who died in ad 62( or 69 (in another source).
What need did they have of written Manuscripts UNTIL the apostles themselves could no longer travel?
Was that not why, the Pauline letters were so treasured? Circular letters, Because they were the rare references
of the time.
So since all these apostles had followers,and the times suggest that the mode of writing of the times was to have others, educated write for you.( Scribes).
Why the surprise,That this or that letter was not actualy penned by the person 'dictating it.Is that really a disqualified for authenticity?
Why the surprise that The Gospel or letter is published after the death in better Greek that the education of the person attributed to actualy had.
Consider from all accounts James was a very busy man.Head of the church of Jerusalem . At prayer in the temple every day. Focused on The new Church , and the spiritual.
So , can you imagine a man like that sitting down,,,,,,and writing a letter, when he himself could actualy go here or there. from all accounts he was still very active when he was murdered.
IM simply making an observation, that in the end,Who wrote down the actual text due to the times and the way things were authored .( Either by scribes or by the schools of the founders of a particular group) .Should not be the way one determines authenticity.I know the great relevance some make on it actualy coming from the pen, of this author or that……..in the new testament….but is this realistic, for that day and time?
Springfield, Tenn 37172
- Judy, that sounds about right to me. I personally would not agree with
Tom's assessment that "Today the consensus is that the Pastorals are
likely Pauline." That may be true among evangelicals, but my sense is
that the consensus among biblical scholars as a whole runs the other
direction. And as I understand it, more scholars are even beginning to
explore the possibility that Luke-Acts is second-century. Of course,
as a late first-century or early second-century text, Thomas isn't
that far removed from the texts of the NT in terms of chronology at
On 1/20/13, Judy Redman wrote:
> FWIW, Raymond Brown did a survey of the literature and suggests that:
> — critical scholars have reached a near consensus that Paul wrote: 1
> Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon and
> — About 90% agree that he did not write 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus
> — about 80% that he did not write Ephesians
> — about 60% that he did not write Colossians is
> — Slightly more than 50% that he did not write 2 Thessalonians
> And I realise that I need to go hunting for the source of this because it
> has become separated from the information that I use on a PowerPoint slide
> when I am teaching. ☺ Obviously it was done a few years ago, so things may
> have changed.
- [Tom Wrote:]
"And the evidence of `But in view of the widespread custom of pseudonymous authorship in antiquity" is where? Why their own flawed analysis of course".
Being more or less "bookless" for the time being, I can't drill down to the specific evidence in the primary sources that is used to argue that pseudonymous authorship was common in middle-late antiquity. I can however, just off the top of my head, point to an excellent study by Charles M. Stang (_Apophasis and Pseudonymity in Dionysius the Areopagite_ [Oxford Press, 2012]) in which the author examines how various scholars have identified the phenomenon of Pseudonymous writing in Jewish and Christian contexts. The evidence for pseudonymous writing is hardly "thin" as you assert. It might be helpful, Tom, for you consult Stang's work (at least as a point of departure toward the work of other scholars) before broadly condemning conclusions as you do here:
"My advice is to not accept the analysis of those using their chosen specialty to analyze NT or any works. They are like a hammer seeing everything like a nail. My advice is to do one's own analysis trying to ascertain the author's purpose and the original hearers of the text in order to date it. "
- Hi JudyThis may be relevant to current views of which Pauline letters were actually written by PaulAndrew Criddle----- Original Message -----From: Judy RedmanSent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 9:43 AMSubject: RE: [GTh] Authorship and Dating<SNIP>
FWIW, Raymond Brown did a survey of the literature and suggests that:
— critical scholars have reached a near consensus that Paul wrote: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon and Romans.
— About 90% agree that he did not write 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus
— about 80% that he did not write Ephesians
— about 60% that he did not write Colossians is
— Slightly more than 50% that he did not write 2 Thessalonians
And I realise that I need to go hunting for the source of this because it has become separated from the information that I use on a PowerPoint slide when I am teaching. J Obviously it was done a few years ago, so things may have changed.
- Hi Rick,You're far more charitable than I would have been with Tom's absurdadvice. To repeat it here (leaving out the severely inapt hammer simile):"My advice is to not accept the analysis of those using their chosen specialtyto analyze NT or any works ... [but rather] to do one’s own analysis trying toascertain the author’s purpose and the original hearers of the text in order to date it."The idea that anyone at all can properly date a text just by reading it in acertain way is, as I say, absurd. One needs a lot more knowledge than canpossibly be gained in that way. Broad knowledge about the history of earlyChristianity, among other things. But this is the kind of knowledge thatspecialists have, and Tom advises not accepting their analyses. (Bewareof gaining that kind of knowledge yourself, cuz then you can't accept yourown analyses :-)Another weird aspect of this is that Tom says elsewhere that one shouldn'tconsult a "dynamic equivalence" translation. As I understand it, this is justabout every translation there is, with the sole exception perhaps of a fewword-for-word translations occurring in interlinears. So one has to eitherfind one of those, or read the text in the original language, I suppose. Gosh,isn't the latter what specialists do? But pay no attention to them, saith Tom(except when he thinks that their opinions agree with his own.)Mike Grondin
- John Moon raises several questions relating to what is meant by authenticity,and by what we mean when we ask whether X wrote T. I'll take a crack atanswering those questions, hoping that, although I'm speaking of my ownunderstanding, it also reflects those of others.The most easily answered question is whether the identity of the actual inscriberof an original is relevant. Briefly put, it isn't. If X dictated T to scribe S, thenwe should still say that X "wrote" T, meaning that X was the author of T.It gets a little stickier if T was written in a language (say, L) unknown (orpoorly known) to X, with the result that S was translating X's words fromanother language into L. Even in that case, though, I think it would still be trueto say that X was the author of T. (Hence, in both cases, that T was authentic.)What about the case where the original of a text T is explicitly attributed to X,but actually authored by a follower (or "the school") of X (presumably, after X'sdeath). I think it's clear that in this case T wasn't "written" (meaning, as above,'authored') by X, but I also think one might argue that it's "authentic" in somesense - depending on how closely the ideas in T resemble those of X. Theproblem, of course, is that there's often no way of judging that. If the ghostauthor can be determined to be someone very close to X, the presumptionmight be that T is a reflection of X's thinking. On the other hand, one mightargue that the ghost author was illegitimately using X's name to lend credenceto an of extension of X's thinking to a new situation that X never encountered.Questions about "authenticity" can thus be a can of worms in a case like this,unless we make clear what sense of 'authenticity' is involved. If it's taken tobe equivalent to the question of authorship, the answer is clear, otherwise not.What about redaction? Since redactors never identified themselves, if we findthat a text has been redacted, we can only question whether the original of Twas authored by who T says it was (assuming that T specifies an author).Unfortunately for GThom, it isn't clear what the original looked like or whenit was first written. If one dates it 1st century, it could have been authored byThomas (with L13 presumably being redaction), while later dating quicklyreduces the chance of that to zero, since the apostle would probably havebeen about 85 years old in 100 CE, if he was still alive.Mike Grondin