It saddens me that Paul Miller has decided to quit the list. Hopefully, he
will return in the not too distant future to give us the benefit of his
insights. He has transferred list-owner authority to Steve Davies, but
Steve (as well as several others) is unavailable during the holiday period,
so we will have to wait until after the first of the year to further
clarify the situation. In the meantime, I don't intend to reimpose
moderated status on anyone, so we all start with a clean slate.
This is a time for self-examination. Steve Davies once compared a forum
such as this to a graduate student-teacher lounge, where teachers and grad
students exchanged ideas. This is my ideal also - a place for lively and
informed discussion between professional (i.e., academically affiliated)
scholars and amateur scholars like myself. If the uncertainty over the last
several days has been unfortunate, it can also have a positive side if it
serves to direct our attention toward ways to improve the list. One of the
questions that has been raised is whether the recent "dry spell" was the
result of some unpleasantness that took place on the list around that time,
or whether such dry spells arise from something in the nature of the list
I've done a quick survey. In the 18-day period from 12/07 thru 12/24, there
were only 2 posts. This may be the worst dry spell we've ever had, but it's
not the first. There was, for example, an 8-day period from 9/24 thru 10/01
in which there were no posts. Or again, in the 14 days between and
including 6/18 thru 6/31, there were only 2 posts. So it doesn't seem to me
that the latest dry spell can be attributed to events which took place on
this list around that time. Rather, I would attribute these dry spells
partially to vacations, and partially to a lack of (a) informed regular
contributors, and (b) subject matter.
(a) Lack of informed regular contributors: although our membership is
relatively large, the percentage of regular contributors is small. As I see
it, the reason for this is that a relatively large proportion of our
membership signs up to lurk and learn, compared to other lists. There's
nothing wrong with this at all, except that we need a certain number of
informed members to contribute on a fairly regular basis.
(b) Lack of subject matter: Our concentration on a single text is in itself
very limiting. As I recall, Steve Davies questioned early on whether such a
narrowly focused list could survive. But in which direction should we
broaden our focus, assuming that we even wanted to? We could go in the
direction of NT-studies by bringing in Q, the other purported source of
Jesus-sayings. Or we could go in the direction of gnostic-studies by
allowing discussion of other texts in Codex II. Either of these options
raises the question of whether GThom would remain the centerpiece of the
discussion, or whether it would become just one among several.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no consensus on how - or even if - to
broaden our focus.
Of course, one can always increase traffic by adopting an anything-goes
policy, but nobody really wants that. Somewhere between here and there must
be a happy medium.
p.s.- Tord raises a good question about why no one has commented on Mark
G's paper. I must confess for my own part that I haven't made the time to
read it yet.
The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying