External Textual Relationships (Again)
Mimesis is a classification of narrative that can be equated with what is commonly known as "direct speech" or "dialogue". One corollary to mimesis is diegesis which arguably embraces all narrative that is not direct speech. Diegesis includes descriptions and interpretations of events but may also include "indirect discourse" or "reported speech" (aka "diegetic dialogue"). With respect to imputed categories of diegetic dialogue, there are certain syntactic (and by extension) lexical markers that may be used as empirical distinctions between mimesis and diegesis in texts.
The Gospel of Thomas is almost exclusively mimetic in that its content is represented to be direct utterances of Jesus or his named associates. Just to state the obvious, in GTh the lexical and syntactical markers most frequently associated with the introduction of direct speech are various forms of â²¡â²Ï«â² (e.g., â²¡â²Ï«â² â²"â²â²¥â²â²©â²¥, â²¡â²Ï«â²â²©).
Similar markers exist in the Greek text of the Synoptics. Inflected forms of ëá½³ãù, á¼ðåñùôá½±ù and á¼ðïêñá½·íïìáé very commonly used to introduce mimetic material, and most frequently what follows are statements attributed to Jesus.
I mention the above because I am once again in pursuit of an answer to questions we have collectively beat to death over the past few years here in this forum; namely, (a) "What constitutes a textual `parallel'?" and (b) "Can distinctions be made about the relative `grade' of proposed textual relationships? ".
As the years pass by, I am ever less certain that "parallels" are really all that relevant to questions of authorship or literary dependence. Nevertheless, similarities between GTH and other texts are inevitably at least part of almost every discussion about Thomas. At the risk of further enabling what may be fruitless discussions, I'd like to offer the following thoughts;
First is the proposition that we should heed the "apples-to-apples" adage. Specifically, what I mean is that when we argue for the existence of literary parallels between an exemplar and an external text, I suggest we should first observe the nature of the narratives we are attempting to associate.
Second, conclusions about intertextual relationships based on similarities between material that is mimetic (i.e., direct discourse) deserves to be more highly privileged than comparisons between heterogeneous narrative material.
Third, observed textual relationships between diegetic narratives is of a higher order than whatever similarities may exist between mimetic material and either indirect discourse or editorial text.
Fourth, intra-textual similarities should not be included in any consideration of what is a parallel. Only external texts should be examined.
Having said the above, perhaps we can discuss the following proposed hierarchy of "Parallel Classification":
Class A: Comparative similarity exists between the mimetic portions of the exemplar and two or more external mimetic texts.
Class A-1: Same as above except that only a single text is similar to the exemplar.
Class B: Comparative similarity exists between the diegetic portions of the exemplar and two or more other diegetic texts, both of which contain INDIRECT DISCOURSE as the basis of comparison
Class B-1: Same as above except only one text is similar to exemplar.
Class C: Comparative similarity exists between the diegetic portions of the exemplar and two or more other diegetic texts, both of which contain EDITORIAL COMMENTARY as the basis of comparison.
Class C-1: Same as above except only one text is similar to exemplar.
Class D: Comparative similarities that do not meet the criteria of Classes A through C.