Re: [gthomas] Definitions, please (Was: Circumcision, #53)
- Bill Arnal wrote, on 6 Aug. 2000, after my (Isidoros) queries:
> > Why, gentlepeople, think you that "Jesus was a Jew"? Can you, please,So, you cannot justify this categorization on specifics -- while
>> be about such a categorical statement equally specific?
>The lack of specificity was precisely what I was complaining
>about. I *assume* Jesus was a Jew because his followers
>consistently refer his message to that of the Jewish God,
you say you were complaining about the previous lack of specificity?
Your "I *assume* Jesus was a Jew because his followers consistently
refer his message to that of the Jewish God ..." may not be a sufficient
semantic criterion for such an identification, and a supporting reason for
holding such a position. And you were so unequivocally about that! for you
did say was so "most decidedly"! -- a superlative that, coming from you,
brought me out of my cosy pithos in the first place, in hope that I might
Anyway, who was the Jewish God to which his followers refer in the NT
gospels consistently? how are they referring to him? what do they call him?
> I.e., Jesus is never made to say anything like,No, Jesus may not be said to had said "blessed are ... for Zeus", but
> "blessed are the poor, for Zeus will reward them."
then, what did he say? "Who" will reward the poor? and, anyway,
since you did bring up "Zeus", the Hellenes had many gods, too, you know,
that called them by many names. To wit, in what language was that God?s
name and story upheld by ... Jesus followers?
>But I don't think we CAN be more specific, nor do I"More" specific? But, we haven't been, yet, any! And, I didn't think
>think that we can infer from the statement "Jesus was a
>Jew" much of anything substantial about his behavior,
>beliefs, and so on.
the task was to infer from the statement "Jesus was a Jew" about Jesus'
behavior, beliefs, etc., but, on the contrary, to infer from whatever
behavior and beliefs we have that "Jesus was a Jew"! Admittedly,
we cannot infer much of anything to that end. To the asking, is J. a Jew,
by his behavior or beliefs, one needs not go poll those contemporary
Jewish hierarchal authorities. Not to mention (Zeus, you said) that many
a modern scholar see a distinctly different type to emerge from such an
>Lots of different ways of being a Jew, then as now.So many, in fact, that unless one means something specifically, and so
determines in identifying the subject by it, statements such as the one
made above are semantically reduced almost to meaningless platitude.
But, then, I did ask for definitions, didn't I? I am waiting still.
> > Bill, what makes you say that Jesus, the gospel "character", is fictitious?Thank you. It is such studies I thought you might had in mind by that, though
> > Is that an already held position?
>Um, what do you mean by "an already held position"? As for
>what makes me say this, the entirety of form-critical and
>redaction-critical studies since WW1.
I 'd like to admit I was hoping you might have had something other, specific to
propose. I, for example, wrote once on Ioudaios-L about the gospel(s) being
prose versions of cosmic Greek plays, with J. being the "god" protagonist.
> > And, Bill, while I have read numerous of your contributions to the oldThat Jesus is a Jew -- vs, for example, the raised counter-argument of
>> Ioudaios-L and Crosstalk lists, I do not remember ever your accepting,
>> let alone asserting, the first argument. But, excuse me if memory fails,
>> and direct me to where you may have provided analytic evidence for these.
his, you know, being a deified model Cynic.
>William E. Arnal
- 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?