Re: [GTh] Redman's Response to Goodacre's Thomas Book
- JACK] I see. I am convinced that Thomas was translated into Coptic from translational Greek for those logia that are genuine to Jesus based on at least one Aramaism that is identifiable. I may go over Mike’s interlinear when I have time since he has done such a great job.
Jack, I understood Andrew to be asking me at what point I think the two traditions diverged – before or after the vox Iesu was translated from Aramaic into Greek – rather than suggesting that there was a written version of any of the gospels.
I have no Aramaic, so don’t feel competent to make this kind of determination. I am not actually saying that it is impossible for Mark’s theory to be correct, just that the evidence that we have available is does not offer a strong enough support to be categorical about this and other explanations are, IMHO, equally well supported.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Jack Kilmon
Sent: Tuesday, 26 March 2013 2:33 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Redman's Response to Goodacre's Thomas Book
No book of the New Testament had ever been written originally in Aramaic, however, portions of the Gospels, including the vox Iesu, are translations of written and/or oral Judean Aramaic sources. Aramaic interference in the syntax of those areas of New Testament Greek is obvious. It gets more difficult with Thomas to identify Aramaisms in translational Coptic of translational Greek since it requires scholars facile in Greek, Coptic and Judean Aramaic (not Syriac).
Would you agree that Thomas and the Synoptics share a common GREEK synoptic tradition (whether oral or written) ?
Or do you think it possible that the Synoptics and Thomas are ultimately based on independent translations from Palestinian Aramaic into Greek ?
----- Original Message -----
From: Judy Redman
Sent: Monday, March 25, 2013 8:54 PM
Subject: RE: [GTh] Redman's Response to Goodacre's Thomas Book
This is not really a response to anyone’s post, but a further comment on the issue of the nature of the relationship between Thomas and the Synoptics.
One of Mark’s arguments is that we are setting the bar too high when we expect the kind of verbatim correspondence between Thomas and the Synoptics that we find between the Synoptics themselves – that this is not usual in literature of the time. I think this depends on what level of evidence we are looking for. If we want to be able to say that there is very little doubt that the relationship between two texts is a literary one, I think we need either to have a high degree of verbatim or near verbatim correspondence, or to be sure that there is no other way that the author of the later text can be familiar with the material contained in the former than by having seen a copy of the text. If we are prepared to accept that Jesus was a real person who moved around first century Palestine teaching a reformed understanding of the Jewish faith, then we have to accept that there were many people who heard him teach, including quite a few who heard him many times and that he lived in a culture where oral transmission of stories and teachings was the norm, so parallel content without verbatim agreement doesn’t provide a particularly high level of certainty about a literary relationship between two texts. By a high level of verbatim correspondence, I mean long strings of words – too long to be remembered by rote or to have occurred by chance. Without this, all that we can say is that it is clear that the author of the later text was familiar with the content of the earlier one and that this may have been a literary relationship.
I would therefore say that the level of verbatim correspondence that we can demonstrate between Thomas and the Synoptics does not provide strong evidence for the author’s familiarity with the Synoptic texts, merely with the Synoptic tradition. Of course, it doesn’t exclude the possibility that the author of Thomas was familiar with the Synoptic texts because, as Mark argues, the fact that the author had a copy of a text in front of him would not have compelled him to copy it verbatim.
- Thanks, Judy, for your helpful comments. Yes, but this is the key issue -- did the Gospel of Thomas begin as "a setting of sayings which grew over time", in a kind of evolutionary model? My argument is that the diagnostic shards found in the parallel sayings in Thomas are sufficient to place a question mark against that kind of evolutionary model. As you know, I think that one of the difficulties with studies of the Gospel of Thomas is that they tend to think in a kind of bottom-up form-critical way, beginning with primitive traditions and seeing development and accretion until we get to the unique materials. I argue that a redaction-critical approach can look at the unique material and see how far that might help in understanding the selection of the Synoptic parallels. But that, of course, is why the issue of Matthean and Lucan redaction in Thomas is so important, and it sounds like we disagree on that one. Thanks again for engaging. Cheers, Mark
Department of Religion
Gray Building / Box 90964
Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530
- If I may, a quick comment on the use of McIver and Carroll in this context:
On 25 March 2013 16:54, Judy Redman <jredman2@...> wrote:
> McIver and Carroll (McIver, Robert K. and Marie Carroll.
> "Experiments to Develop Criteria for Determining the Existence of Written
> Sources, and Their Potential Implications for the Synoptic Problem." JBL
> 121, no. 4 (2002): 667-687 and McIver, Robert K. and Marie Carroll.
> "Distinguishing Characteristics of Orally Transmitted Material When Compared
> to Material Transmitted by Literary Means." Applied Cognitive Psychology 18,
> no. 9 (2004): 1251-1269) suggest that we need to have at least 15-18 words
> correspondence to be able to be sure that copying has taken place.
There is a serious flaw in McIver and Carroll's experiments. They
compared results from experiments in contemporary English with data
from the Gospels in Koine Greek. This is important because it takes
many more words to say something in contemporary English than it takes
to say the same thing in Koine Greek, so the 16/18 criterion is pretty
useless. I have blogged about this on a couple of occasions and I am
in the process of writing this up more fully:
Department of Religion
Gray Building / Box 90964
Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530
- Mark-This could be flawed the other way. Quite a few scholars see oral societies as having virtually photographic memories with the ability to recite entire passages verbatum. They cite current oral societies as having this ability.Tom
Thank you for engaging, too. The reading I have been doing about eyewitness testimony and human memory suggests to me that there is a somewhat different way of looking at how Thomas and the Synoptics may have formed. I have found the points you have made in analysing the issues raised by the texts really helpful, but I think that there may be another way of explaining them. I’ve also read recent papers by Paul Foster and Robert McIver which have added some other ideas. I have been trying for several months to find the mental space to pull everything together but it’s a very busy time of year for me because our academic year is only four weeks old, and I haven’t been able to do so. I am hoping that I will get it done after Easter. I don’t think that the bottom-up form-critical thinking works all that well, either, but the redactional model that you present doesn’t quite seem to work either.
One issue I have with redactional models is that they imply that a later author takes someone else’s work and makes deliberate, calculated decisions to change it to fit the later author’s particular theological perspective. This doesn’t sit particularly well with me because I would like to think that the authors of the gospels were faithful people of good will who were recording the good news about Jesus as they understood it rather than deliberately trying to shape their audiences’ understanding by altering the tradition that was handed down by others. Another issue I have is that I think it relies too heavily on written text and while I agree that there has been a swing too far the other way, with orality being over emphasised, I would like to look more at the intersection between human memory and the oral phase of transmission. Thus, a model that allows for the development of variations over time and out of communities of faith and with some emphasis on oral transmission seems to me to be more in line with what would/should/could have happened.
So at the moment I am saying that the general idea of a rolling corpus fits better with my understanding than something that produces a version at one point in time. In a month’s time, I might be saying something different. J I think, incidentally, that Funk is wrong to say that simpler = earlier. Human memory studies on the handing down of stories suggest that it works the other way – as time goes on, the story gets simpler and simpler. Other forces, however, come into play, so I don’t think we can be dogmatic about it either way.
- On Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 11:25 AM, Judy Redman <jredman2@...> wrote:
One issue I have with redactional models is that they imply that a later author takes someone else’s work and makes deliberate, calculated decisions to change it to fit the later author’s particular theological perspective.I thought that was basically the intent behind Goodacre's use of the term "knowledge of" rather than "literarily dependent upon." I realize that Tony Burke's review basically conflates the two concepts, but I think it should be underscored that Mark's approach is more nuanced than that.Stephen--Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala
Hopefully the image used can show what is wrong with this reasoning, and why fewer and fewer scholars adopt the stance if they have kept up to date on the study of orality and memory. "Photographic" memory is the ability to recall what was seen or read. But the more one is dealing with an oral society, the more on has to talk about memory functioning in the absence of a written text which makes words available pictorially.
With such a text available, in a society with literacy, one can read and repeat the same words over and over again and commit them to memory that way. But that requires writing as a means to memorization. Without such a visual or other verbatim transcript, the very notion of repeating the exact same words becomes meaningless and at best impossible to verify.
Dr. James F. McGrath
Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature
--- In email@example.com, Tom Reynolds <tomreynolds_ilan@...> wrote:
> This could be flawed the other way. Quite a few scholars see oral societies as having virtually photographic memories with the ability to recite entire passages verbatum. They cite current oral societies as having this ability.
In Response To: Judy Redman
On: Redactional Models
Judy: One issue I have with redactional models is that they imply that a later author takes someone else’s work and makes deliberate, calculated decisions to change it to fit the later author’s particular theological perspective.
Bruce: That’s a rather pejorative way of putting it; it equates growth with corruption. Such things undoubtedly do happen (I have had editors either subtract my thoughts, or add their own, in a piece of mine which they are preparing for a collective volume, and I resent it enormously). But text growth can also occur if the author remains the same (or a series of text proprietors remains consecutive). An author (or proprietor; say the leader of a church) who still retains control of his original can at any time make changes in it, or add explanations to it, or supplement it with additional illustrations (just as I earlier today posted a revised version of my abstract for the SBL/EGL meeting next week). When (as frequently in Mark) we see a clearly interpolated passage, which nevertheless is present in all the manuscripts and thus does not come under suspicion of being a scribal change or other kind of subsequent alteration, we may well be in the presence of an authorial augmentation.
I don’t see a narrative mainthread in gThos, and I also don’t see a systematic plan of exposition. If these are lacking, there is no easy test of interpolated material. The only suggestive points, as far as I can see, would be the ones DeConick is pointing to: doctrinal inconsistency. I would still like to see someone either confirm or refute her list of inconsistent passages, or at the other end of the scale, deal with her too-consistent doublets.
If this list should not be thought a proper venue for those exercises, I would be glad to hear from any analytically-minded persons off-list.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst