Re: [gthomas] Re: Circumcision, #53
- Andrew Smith on Thu, 27 Jul 2000 18:31:57 quoted
Stevan Davies from Mon, 11 Oct 1999 22:26:53 :
> 5. The Gospel of Thomas quotes Jesus as having spoken againstThat the Matthean mythos of Jesus is adopted today for political-historical-social reasons is not a matter of "I think". It is undeniable. As I have said before on this list, the fact that Christianity has survived so long and is still today so powerful is due to the gospel of 'Mathew'. This masterfully addresses the political, historical and social needs of a religion.
> fundamentals of Judean Law. Circumcision. Fasting. Praying.
> Almsgiving. Kosher. It seems to me that these sayings (6/14 also
> to be found in the Sermon on the Mount (albeit radically different
> there)) fit the evidence for "Jesus said them." Jesus the Jew
> is, I think, just the Matthean mythos adopted today for political-
> historical reasons.
> Steve Davies
Andrew's quote does not reveal what Stevan Davies thinks the political-historical reasons are. I shall set down, in part, my view of why
Jesus' (reported) attitude to Jewish practices is effective politically:
Jesus speaks against traditional Jewish practices because they are hard to keep up. Christianity could only have become a mass religion by dropping these. Jesus (paradoxically) also speaks in favour of keeping the traditional Jewish practices. Even in GOT there is saying #27 which supports fasting and keeping the Sabbath. This support of traditional Jewish practices was effective in the early years of Christianity in keeping Jews attached to the faith. Today it reinforces the power of Jesus. His exact practical requirements are lost in confusion. The outstanding requirement that is not confused is that people should worship Jesus as a god. His association with traditional Jewish practices helps bring the entire messianic tradition of ancient Judaism to focus on him. This focus on an individual is very effective for a mass movement.
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- Apologies for the lateness to respond, to several posts and this, Mike G's of
Aug. 12, but for being away from my e-desk, as, too, for some rather large
chunks of M's message I am about to unload on you, for the lapsed time and
>For the immediately following 53.3, Isidoros proposes:Granted, most all lexicographers compile word lists to subsequently form
>"... it is through (my own) true (kind of) "spiritual"
> circumcision (that one) realizes life thoroughly".
>in lieu of something like Lambdin's (NHLe):
>"... the true circumcision in spirit has become completely profitable."
>In defense of his reading, Isidoros says:
>>... thinking conditioned by patterns already established by previous
>> translations may not so readily agree with a novel reading, and so
>> not be so willing to support it.
>But it was not to such "conditioning" that I made appeal when I called
>Isidoros' reading "insupportable", to the point of not being translation at
>all. It was by appeal to the (Coptic) words themselves, as defined by many
>translators over many years of translating many different kinds of Coptic
>texts. It's true, for example, that the translator has become "conditioned"
>to reading the Coptic word 'sebbe' as 'circumcision', but that's because
>that's the meaning that has been found to best fit its usage in at least
>hundreds of different contexts in hundreds of different texts.
dictionaries on the bases of the perceived semantic "correspondences".
A necessary but insufficient method for rendering texts of many layered
semasiae, such as GThomas, or of the gospels, intended to be generally
inaccessible but, maybe, eventually to the catechumens. The often intended
obscurity or double play involved is precisely designed to withstand a
surface level "decoding", though even ordinarily subtle nuances are very
often lost, and not only on fast tracking assistants and graduate students.
Not to forget the textual rarity of certain words, which hardly allow for
Let us, indeed, take the word that you use as an example, Mike, 'sebbe',
'circumcision', you say, associating it with the verb ?sebi', to circumcise.
And you give this straight out, as if it is the only meaning, as if this is an
exact, one-to-one, objective semantic correspondence always. You
evidently are not aware that in several lexicons 'sebe', or more precisely,
as is the #53 reference, 'sbbe' has an 'unknown' meaning -- and it is
on this "basis" that I, in fact, had alluded to Joe L. of a
"difference", as, too,
I spoke later of a "play in words, the double meaning played upon the
I had written about this very point to Joe:
< "circumcision", very unfortunately, is one of the many
and terribly misunderstood, and (won't exaggerate by adding)
tragically mis-taken, terms in the whole of the misbegotten
biblical tradition as has come down to most all of us >
>In addition,"... a Greek word that has been independently translated as 'circumcision'"
>in those many cases where we have in view the same text in another language
>(typically Greek), the Coptic word 'sebbe' has been found in precisely
>those places where the Greek text contains a Greek word that has been
>independently translated as 'circumcision'.
you say, from what language, Mike? Would you please be specific about it?
>And this same is true also ofNo. It is not the said 'find beneficial' that I translate as you say
>the verbal phrase in question, namely 'find beneficial', which Isidoros
>renders as 'realize life'.
It is the 'find beneficial', Lambdin's (NHLe)"profitable", or the said literal
'has found profit' that I render as "realize", in the (intended)
double sense of
"gain" and of "realization" (as in what we sometimes say to "realize profit".)
"Life" was meant there to be within a parenthesis or brackets, to explicate
the meaning intended; it is not on the logion text. I was eager to let Joe see
some of what lays there below the surface of the text, so I used it,
This is one benefit "realized" out of this exchange. So, #53c should read:
"... it is through (my own) true (kind of) "spiritual"
circumcision (that one) realizes (life) thoroughly".
[A couple of paragraphs about the sentence's sense and clarity of translation
snipped. Think enough has been said on the matter].
>A literal rendering of 53.3 would be something like the following [...]In noting the gender "discrepancy", you hit the, so to speak, "nail" on the
>(a) "true circumcision in(the)spirit, he(it) has found profit, all of it"
>The 'he' in (a) evidently refers back to the (masculine) noun
>'circumcision', rather than to "their father" mentioned in 53.2. What is
>evidently going on, then, is that 'circumcision' is being personified in
>53.3, i.e., treated as a person instead of a thing (compare the
>personification of 'sophia' ['wisdom'] elsewhere). The result is an
>immediate lack of sensibility, since we expect that only persons can "find
>profit". We can get around this awkwardness only by avoiding the
>personification of 'sebbe', and rendering it more freely as:
"head", Mike. Even if you (it is evident to me) have no idea what is meant
there. It again has to do with your previous "objective" taking of 'sbbe'.
And, no, your "more freely" rendering this as
>(b) "true circumcision in(the)spirit has become completely profitable"won't do the trick. Not only the "awkwardness" remains, but you ought,
in any case, not make away with the "personification of 'sebbe'". After all,
it?s in the text isn't it?