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Re: [gthomas] Gospel of Thomas, Saying 61

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  • Victor Goldini
    ... Interesting that Grondin s Interlinear Translation shows # 61, when he should come to be destroyed, he will be full of light. When, however, he should
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 23, 2000
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      --- James Bean <santmat@...> wrote:
      >
      > This is a saying attributed to Jesus from the Gospel
      > of Thomas, a new
      > translation of Saying 61:
      >
      > Therefore I say: If someone becomes like God, he
      > will become full
      > of light. But if he becomes one, separated from
      > God, he will be
      > full of darkness. ("The Fifth Gospel," Patterson,
      > Robinson, Bethge,
      >
      > Trinity Press International)
      >
      > What kind of "Light" is this Saying talking about?
      > In my view the Gospel
      > of Thomas is in the tradition of contemplative or
      > mystical Christianity
      > and the "Light" of Thomas referred to here is not
      > metaphor but mystical.

      Interesting that Grondin's Interlinear Translation
      shows # 61, "when he should come to be destroyed, he
      will be full of light. When, however, he should come
      to be divided, he will be full of darkness." The
      Scholar's Translation shows, "if one is whole, one
      will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one
      will be filled with darkness." How does one reconcile
      these differences?

      Vic

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    • Jim Bauer
      ... From: James Bean Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 12:27 AM Subject: [gthomas] Gospel of Thomas, Saying 61 ... In _The Cult of the
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 23, 2000
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        -----Original Message-----
        From: James Bean <santmat@...>
        Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 12:27 AM
        Subject: [gthomas] Gospel of Thomas, Saying 61


        >
        >This is a saying attributed to Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas, a new
        >translation of Saying 61:
        >
        > Therefore I say: If someone becomes like God, he will become full
        > of light. But if he becomes one, separated from God, he will be
        > full of darkness. ("The Fifth Gospel," Patterson, Robinson, Bethge,
        >
        > Trinity Press International)
        >
        >What kind of "Light" is this Saying talking about? In my view the Gospel
        >of Thomas is in the tradition of contemplative or mystical Christianity
        >and the "Light" of Thomas referred to here is not metaphor but mystical.
        >Other teachings from the middle east about Light and God as Light.


        In _The Cult of the Seer_, a massive study of the Desert Fathers of ancient
        Egypt, Violett McDermott maintains that these trance-forming states have a
        material basis in altered states of consciousness. The desert fathers, like
        many mystics, used food & sleep deprivation & self-inflicted pain to create
        visions. If it fit the orthodox system, it was selected for; if not, it was
        selected against.

        Indeed, even accepting your mystical ideation, "Light" can still be
        "metaphorical"; it is possible to perceive metaphors as literal statements
        while in altered states. I'm not saying faith is totally meaningless as I
        believe it is hard-wired into the human brain by evolution but the selection
        processes that led to this may simply have been a response to a complex
        environment. If one perceives oneself as immortal it can lead to higher
        levels of altruism & this in turn can be transmitted thru inclusive fitness.
        The latter term simply means the genes shared with kin. Kin altruism exists
        in animals (including man) as it indirectly passes one's genes along.

        In any case I'm not sure if Thomas does belong in "the contemplative
        mystical tradition" of X-ianity. Such schools are usually more organized
        than the almost random enumerations of Thomas.

        Jim Bauer
      • Michael Grondin
        ... Although your interest lies with the divine light aspect, a few corrections to your citation are in order. In the first place, this is not the entirety
        Message 3 of 5 , Oct 23, 2000
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          Victor Goldini wrote:
          >Interesting that Grondin's Interlinear Translation
          >shows # 61, "when he should come to be destroyed, he
          >will be full of light. When, however, he should come
          >to be divided, he will be full of darkness." The
          >Scholar's Translation shows, "if one is whole, one
          >will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one
          >will be filled with darkness." How does one reconcile
          >these differences?

          As I wrote to James offlist:
          ---------------------------
          Although your interest lies with the "divine light" aspect, a few
          corrections to your citation are in order. In the first place, this
          is not the entirety of #61, but rather only the last part (61.5 in
          standard numbering). More importantly, you've left out the very
          important symbols in the original that indicate translator
          insertions. Th61.5 actually appears as follows:

          "Therefore, I say: If someone becomes <like>* (God), he will become
          full of light. But if he becomes one, separated (from God), he will
          become full of darkness."

          *The manuscript reads, "If someone is destroyed..."
          (translator's footnote)

          The insertion by the translators of the phrases '(God)' and '(from
          God)' is unjustified, IMO. In any case, it's interpretation, and not
          part of the translation proper. ...
          -----------------------------------

          The following exchange then occurred:
          ------------------------------------
          [James B]:
          > It sounds like you might not care for the Fifth Gospels
          > translation, what they've done with certain sayings.

          Unfortunately for me, what I care for doesn't always prevail. The
          Patterson/Robinson/Bethge translation is a modification of that of
          the Berlin Working Group for Coptic Studies, which appears in the
          highly-respected SQE (Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum). The SQE
          contains translations of the gospels, and is sponsored by a religious
          organization, so my guess is that there would be a bias toward making
          Thomas sound orthodox wherever possible. Like Paterson Brown's
          translation, I like it because it generally adheres very closely to
          the literal meaning, but where it deviates, it does so rather badly.
          One has to pay close attention to the material in parentheses (not
          only in this translation, but others as well), cuz that's where the
          translator has inserted his own material. In most cases I've looked
          at in various translations, the inserted material reveals translator
          bias more than anything else. I guess we should count our blessings
          that the scholars are at least conscientious enough to use some
          device to indicate where strict translation ends and interpretation
          comes into play (altho there is still, of course, some element of
          interpretation involved in the choice of words, e.g., 'suffered' in
          #58 instead of 'troubled').
          ------------------------------

          As to your (Vic's) question about the word 'whole' in the "Scholar's
          Translation", instead of 'destroyed', note that the word 'whole' is
          enclosed in pointed brackets, i.e. '<whole>'. This device is sometimes used
          when the translator feels that the copyist has made an error, or when some
          material is, or appears to be, missing. The explanation in "The Five
          Gospels" is this:

          "Pointed brackets enclose a subject, object, or other element implied by
          the original language and supplied by the translator." (pg.XX)

          The Coptic word in question looks rather like this: 'WHy'. At 61.3, J is
          made to say (in the SVT): "I am the one who comes from what is whole",
          where the Coptic word for 'whole' looks something like this: 'WHW'.
          Apparently, the SVT translators felt that the copyist made a mistake in
          61.5. The very next letter is 'y' and the copyist may have been thinking
          ahead and inadvertantly wrote that letter after 'WH' at that point in the
          manuscript instead of properly completing the word as 'WHW'. Personally, I
          hold out the possibility that the mistake was intentional, and that the
          reader may have been intended to "destroy him" by changing the 'y' (which
          is the prototypical masculine grammatical element in Coptic) to 'W'. But
          whether regarded as intentional or not, the assumption that a mistake was
          made favors the SVT reading. <whole> The sense and symmetry of the saying
          seems to be lost otherwise.

          Mike

          The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
          http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
        • Lorna Wilson
          LLW rely to James questions on light in GT (61): My studies to GT are limited so ... I assume GT influenced by 4G and wisdom literature..if so, I would like to
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 1, 2000
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            LLW rely to James questions on light in GT (61):
            My studies to GT are limited so ... I assume GT influenced by 4G and wisdom
            literature..if so, I would like to make the following observations regarding
            use of "light" in 61.

            Compare Jn. 1:4, "in him was life and the life was the light of men" and
            Prov. 20:27, "the human spirit is the lamp of the Lord."
            These two vv. establish a link between "life and light", light in 4G implies
            the revelation which reveals the "life" that is in Jesus.
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