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GTh 21b

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  • George Duffy
    Mike, I wonder if you can help me with a word you have translated literally as help. I wonder if a possible alternate meaning might be the word, need?
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 22, 2013
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      Mike,

      I wonder if you can help me with a word you have translated literally as "help."  I wonder if a possible alternate meaning might be the word, "need?"  The word in question appears in GTh 21b in the phrase:

      "... because the help which you look outward for her, they will fall on her."  This is your literal translation of a phrase which concludes 21b ( the parable of the owner who knows a thief is coming).  It has been translated in the following ways:"

      Lambden:  "... for the difficulty which you expect will (surely) materialize."

      Blatz - NTA:  "...for the advantage for which you look, they will find."

      Patterson - Robinson:  "... for the necessities for which you want (with longing) will be found."

      Doresse:  "... for they will find any place you fail to watch."

      You can see the problem, the same word has been rendered as "difficulty," "advantage," "necessities" and "place."  I have an idea how this line might work better if the word in question meant "need" to imply an insufficiency.  The Greek loan word, "xreia," seems to be this word, although I'm way out of my league here.  The following lexicons seem to suggest this possibility.:

       http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=xrei%2Fa&la=greek#lexicon

      http://artflsrv02.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/efts/dicos/woodhouse_test.pl?keyword=^Need,%20subs.

      Any help would be appreciated.

      George Duffy


    • Mike Grondin
      George, Thanks for the question, but I have to say AARGH! As you can see from the disparate translations, there s more than one difficulty with 21.8. For
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 23, 2013
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        George,
         
        Thanks for the question, but I have to say AARGH! As you can see from the
        disparate translations, there's more than one difficulty with 21.8. For starters,
        I think you can rule out both Doresse's 'place' and my own 'help'. They both
        seem to lack support. Speaking for myself, I don't have any idea at this point
        how I came up with 'help'. The small Greek lexicon in Lambdin's intro shows
        'need, necessity'. My Langenscheidt's Classical Greek dictionary shows:
         
        "use, advantage; intercourse[?]; service, business, office; need, necessity;
        want, poverty; desire"
         
        So yes, all other things being equal, a possible translation would be 'need'.
        The thing is, it's not clear what word makes sense in context. Consider:
         
        (1) does the word 'they' in the phrase 'they will find her' refer back to the
        thieves, or is it the Coptic passive for 'will be found'? The translations aren't
        agreed. The relevance of this factor is that if XREIA is something good, we
        would probably go with the passive; if not good, probably a back-reference.
         
        (2) does the phrase 'you look outward for [XREIA]' mean 'you expect (or
        anticipate) it' or 'you hope for it'? Again, both possibililties are apparent in
        the translations. The relevance of this question is that if XREIA is something
        good, it's to be hoped for, but if not, then probably something to be expected
        or anticipated (with some trepidation).
         
        Not much help (:-), I admit, but it's all I can think of at present.
         
        Mike
      • George Duffy
        Thanks Mike, that was helpful. Just to be clear, I think that 21b is a separate saying from 21a. They both have the word owner or owners, and I suspect
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 23, 2013
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          Thanks Mike, that was helpful.  Just to be clear, I think that 21b is a separate saying from 21a.  They both have the word "owner" or "owners," and I suspect that an early editor believed, incorrectly in my opinion, that the second saying was an explanation for the first.

          As for the question at hand, I'm inclined to see the final line of 21b as something like:

           "... for the insufficiency which you anticipate, they will find." 

          Before I even considered the translation of XREIA, it seemed to me that the usual reading of this line made it somewhat redundant.  How many times do you need to hear about the threat?  Rather, I think that the word, "need" or "insufficiency," refers to a sense of loss in the mind of the "owner."  It makes the point that the "thief" is not an external threat, but an internal threat, analogous to the lion in GTh 7.

          To restate the saying:  The threat is real, "from the beginning of the world," so gird your loins, prepare yourself, for unless you do, you will be cleaned out.  But also know this, you cannot really be deficient.  You can only think you are deficient.  That thought of vulnerability therefore becomes the real problem, the real threat.  I suspect that something like that is going on here.  The irony of all this forces the reader/hearer to reconsider his own responsibility for experiencing loss.

          In support of that idea is GTh 67:  "Jesus said, 'If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient.'"

          Also in GTh 3b:  "... if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

          My two cents anyway.

          George Duffy   



        • Mike Grondin
          ... Me too. In fact, there appears to be a third part as well. You may have noticed that I spaced the translations between 21.4 and 21.5, and then again
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 23, 2013
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            [George Duffy]:
            > Just to be clear, I think that 21b is a separate saying from 21a.
             
            Me too. In fact, there appears to be a third part as well. You may have noticed
            that I spaced the translations between 21.4 and 21.5, and then again between
            21.8 and 21.9 (assuming eleven subsayings in L21; my working source had
            ten, so so does mine; fixing that won't be easy.)
             
            > They both have the word "owner" or "owners," and I suspect that an
            early editor
            > believed, incorrectly in my opinion, that the second saying was
            an explanation for the first.
            Interesting observation. Have you also noticed that this second part of L21 is closely
            connected with L103? So much so that the former sounds like a follow-up to the latter.
            (See: http://www.gospel-thomas.net/keywords/21-103.htm) This is one of a number of
            sayings-pairs identified by Plisch and others (including Ian Brown and yrs truly.)
             
            Mike
          • George Duffy
            ... George Duffy
            Message 5 of 5 , Nov 23, 2013
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              On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 7:29 PM, Mike Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
              Have you also noticed that this second part of L21 is closely
              connected with L103? So much so that the former sounds like a follow-up to the latter.
              (See: http://www.gospel-thomas.net/keywords/21-103.htm) This is one of a number of
              sayings-pairs identified by Plisch and others (including Ian Brown and yrs truly.)
               
               
              Have you noticed, Mike, that L103 has the owner mustering his "domain" when he is threatened.  The Coptic word used here is the same one used elsewhere in Thomas for "kingdom."  What this suggests to me is that he calls upon the kingdom of the father when threatened and "arms" himself with that power.  That seems to be the hidden message in that saying.

              George Duffy


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