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Re: [gthomas] #9 Purpose of GOT

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  • Michael Grondin
    James- Thanks for pointing out the geometrical significance of the series 3-6-10. As you may know, symbolism - especially mathematical symbolism - is one of my
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 18, 2000

      Thanks for pointing out the geometrical significance of the series 3-6-10.
      As you may know, symbolism - especially mathematical symbolism - is one of
      my own favored tools of interpretation. In fact, I've myself drawn
      attention to the triangular nature of early Xian leadership structures
      evident in the transfiguration scene and the three "pillars" in Jerusalem.
      But you seem to have built the 30-60-100 thingy from Mark up into a general
      theory about the nature of GoT which it simply doesn't seem to support.

      >I intend to demonstrate that the Gospel of Thomas is designed to draw
      >attention to certain features of the synoptic Gospels. The method used
      >with Thomas is that of Intentional Inexactitudes. Which is to say that
      >when one finds a disagreement between the Gospel of Thomas and the
      >synoptic Gospels one should examine the nature of the disagreement in
      >order to determine the exact purpose of the text in question.

      This assumes, of course, that GThom is not only later than those synoptic
      gospels (Mark in this case) the features of which it was intended to draw
      attention to, but also that the GThomists had knowledge of those earlier
      synoptic gospels. That's not necessarily objectionable in itself, but the
      one example you employ (logion 9) doesn't make that case at all. There's no
      indication that Thom's 60-120 was intended to draw attention to Mark's
      30-60-100. At most, they seem simply to have been using different
      symbolism. Mark could have as easily been written after Thom as vice versa.
      A general theory needs at least one clear piece of data to support it, and
      the fact that you haven't got even that minimal amount of evidence is
      demonstrated by the questions you yourself raise about this example at the
      end of your note:

      >Could this in fact be the message, this structure based upon the triangle?

      The message of what? Mark? He's the one that uses the 30-60-100 (Matt
      evidently having gotten it from him). But what makes you think that this
      piece of symbolism is part of some "message"?

      >If so, then what does it reveal? Perhaps it is pointing to the
      >existence of another way to structure perception.

      Ugh. There's no indication at all that Mark might have had such a thought.
      I don't even know what that means myself.

      >A key perhaps to the system employed in the encoding of these secrets
      >into these texts.

      "These texts"? But the only text using the 30-60-100 symbolism is
      Mark/Matt. You haven't established a connection with any other text. "These
      secrets"? What secrets? "The system"? Who says there's any "system"?

      >Might this not [be the] key hidden by the priests, the key to the temple

      No, this might not be any such thing. You're way off base here. GThom does
      mention the "keys of knowledge", but that has no evident connection with
      the Temple. Why would you think that the Temple has a "key" to it? You've
      gone way beyond the data. Stick with Mark. That's where the 30-60-100
      occurs, and if it's connected with anything, it would be something in Mark.
      But bear in mind that it might be just a nice piece of symbolism that
      occurred to "Mark" with respect to the sower parable and nothing else.

      Now here's a theory about what the 60-120 of GThom might mean (with no hint
      of any connection to Mark's 30-60-100, BTW). Scholars have divided GThom
      into 114 sayings, many of which are similar to other sayings, either
      physically separated or contiguous. Furthermore, the number 114 is open to
      question. There are some sayings which are divided into parts that have no
      apparent connection with each other, except that they fall under the scope
      of a single "Jesus said". It has occurred to me, then, that, given my own
      working hypothesis that GThom is a sort of jigsaw puzzle, the underlying
      structure might be one of 120 sayings (some of which will have to be pulled
      out from others), composed of two paired sets of 60 each. Sixty is such a
      nice symbolic number, being the product of 5 (the number of original
      disciples, "five trees in Paradise", "five will come to be in a house") and
      12 ("the Twelve", the "pleroma"[?], and, incidentally, the number of books
      in the jar found at Nag Hammadi). I also note that the sower parable is #9
      according to our reckoning, and that the number 9 was taken by some in
      ancient times to symbolize a beginning. But I'm also aware that symbolism
      is slippery as an eel - both as to meaning and as to intentionality - and
      thus has to be systematically shown to be integral to the meaning of a
      given text or passage, and not just an accidental or incidental feature of
      it. It won't do to just suggest a possibility - possibilities are a dime a
      dozen. The hypothesis suggested has to have some plausibility to it, in
      that it fits with other facts of which we're relatively certain. It's part
      of the scientific method that we not extend hypothesis too far beyond the
      data, i.e., the "known facts". Of course, we can do what we want in the
      privacy of our own minds, but even there, the more closely we adhere to the
      scientific method, the more likely it is that our hypotheses might be true.


      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
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