George Duffy wrote:
> --- In gthomas@y..., odell mcguire <omcguire@w... wrote:
> this logion, insofar as 'SOM' and the animals go, is based on the 8th
> Psalm. If we admit this, then I think, from the context of that psalm, Jesus
> the speaker not only refers to himself, but to himself as one who receives
> 'visitations' (EPISK--etc) from the Lord, ie *a prophet*, who is obligated
> to broadcast the the Word of the HS as it has been revealed to him. So the
> entire saying as found in GThom plays ironically, and humorously, to be
> sure, on the lot of the prophet (the Lord's spokesman) as opposed to the
> animals the Lord is supposed to have put 'under his (man's) feet'
> Odell, To say that GTh 86 is "based" on Psalm 8, seems to me a bit
> strong. The most you can say about the connection is that the saying
> might be *loosely* based on the psalm. Psalm 8 refers to the full range of
> animals, but doesn't specifically mention foxes.
But it does mention ''birds' specifically and, as you say, other animals in
general. Also it specifically orders these animals, in the heirarchy of Gods
regard, as inferior to men; an ordering which GThom implies when reversing it
with humorous (and, I think, self-deprecating) irony insofar as the 'son of man'
goes. All in all, I think it is far and away the most likely candidate for an
allusive scriptural reference in GThom86. But there is, of course, the general
reference of (all?) SOM sayings, subsequent to the exile, to Ezekiel, wherein
God addresses the prophet as SOM some 70 or 80 times during visitations of the
former to the latter. This Psalm is generally admitted to be very old, pre
exilic. Ezekiel's visions, insofar as he heard Gods voice address him as SOM,
might well have been based on a recollection of it. Why not HJ likewise?
> Its (Psm8's) use of
> the phrase, "son of man" is used in the sense of mankind.
So say most of the recent, preposter-- 'er prepostmodernist translators of the
Psalm, eg RSV, NIV, JBS. I think it is possible but I have strong doubt
that it is the case.
In what follows you should be aware that I have only a Strong's' knowledge (ie
anything BUT *strong*) of Hebrew, but I read Greek well enough.
The key verb in the Psalm is translated 'visitest' in the KJV and something else
such as 'take care of' or 'are mindful of' in the other versions mentioned. The
Hbrew verb is PAwQAD (Strong's 6485) and its LXX counterpart, EPISKEPTOMAI,
which is most generally taken as a deponent form of EPISKOPEW. The root meaning
of the Hebrew verb is given as 'visit'. A survey of the range of meanings of
both verbs lights up the senses of 'oversee (or look upon)' and 'visit' as the
brightest overlaps. LSJ cites within this overlap, especially, 'visit' as
doctor to patient, general to a unit of his troops, tutelary god to put an idea
in someone's head, or, of course, bishop to a parish. I think the LXX
translators chose this Greek verb because they took PAwQAD in the sense:
'overseer' *visits*' (a particular element within his oversght.) So the KJV is
a better translation
If the LXX translators had thought "PAQAD the son of man' meant ''to take care
of mankind', they surely overlooked a lot of Greek words that would have
expressed the thought a damnsight better. To my way of thinking, these modern
English translations of the 8th Psalm either: -disregard LXX, which is our *our
best non-adhocritic control*
-are anxious, from consideration of their own theology, to exclude anything
which appears to give the Markan SOM sayings any credulity.
However the verbs both can easily take on the much broader sense of 'regard' and
I have seen some translations escape the sense of 'visit' this way. Altogether
possible-- but I don't believe it.
> reading of GTh 86 has SOM referring to Jesus, specifically. Although
> I gather that you see it not as a title in this case, but as meaning
> something like "this son of man." I can understand how 86 can be
> interpreted as an ironic reference to this psalm. But IMHO, it seems
> a little too *easy* to take one saying,
I sent you two--
> compare it to an OT psalm that
> only loosely uses similar words, that has an opposite tone or meaning,
> and say that the one is an ironic reference to the other. Yes, there is irony
> within the saying, by itself, but there's no evidence that iis necessarily
> reaching out beyond itself for meaning.
This is the nub. Its partly my faulf. I have assumed, without saying so, that
all the dominical SOM sayings in the canonical gospels, before they are anything
else, are self-referential. For 2 reasons:1) I was led to believe on XTalk by
people who should know that 'the SOM' *could be* and sometimes *was* used in
Aramaic as a circumlocutory self-reference.
2) There can be no doubt that the Jesus of the canonical gospels, did
exclusively and often so use it. But you are quite right, I had insufficient
cause to assume that it was so used in GThom. But I did make a comparison of
GThom86 with Q7.31-35 where self referentiality is unquestioned. I also pointed
out several other similarities, chiefly their self-deprecating, or at least
deferential, ironic humor, and their contrarian claim to authenticuty. And I
should have pointed out that it is implicit in both that Jesus considered
himself (as 'son of man') a prophet and not a messianic demigod. (ie The very
even handed treatment of Jesus and John in Lk7.-- has been remarked by Crossan
> If you suggest that by "son of man" Jesus meant "this son of man,"
> without any intention of suggesting that he was the SOM in the Daniel
> 7 sense,
I was trying to make just that point.
> then you are having him refer to himself as an ordinary man,
> nothing special, just a man. This seems to me an inappropriate choice
> of words if he was trying to convey the extreme irony of this
> "prophet" or "Lord's spokesman" not having what the lowly birds and
> foxes have.
Not a bit. By adopting the SOM designation found in the Psalm and Ezekiel, he
was putting himself on a level with the prophet Ezekiel (and John and the
other OT prophets) who were also voices of the HS. The SOM of Mark's docudrama
is something else.
I copy the rest of your very thoughtful letter without comment (except my thanks
for taking the time to answer my reply). I find little here to agree with, but
believe I have adequately set forth my views already.
> Your interpretation isn't impossible. I only think that the
> interpretation I proposed has more evidence in its favor, especially
> within the context of GTh, itself. It sees the SOM phrase as
> symbolizing one side of man's nature, which is the lesser,
> obstructing, and ultimately unreal side. It certainly doesn't
> reflect the age old understanding of that expression. If we accept
> this interpretation of mine and additionally accept that GTh predated
> the 4G or derived from an earlier source, then that might even force
> us to question whether the NT gospel writers really understood what
> Jesus meant by SOM.
> The saying says, I believe, that if one sees himself as lacking, he
> will have nothing but trouble. If he sees himself as earthbound,
> limited and alone, that belief in itself will deny him any rest in
> this world. He won't be plugged in to what he really is. The
> connection with God will be severed, by his own choice. I'm also
> suggesting that the alternative way of looking at oneself, as a "son
> of God" may have been Jesus' answer to this predicament.
> This interpretation has three things going for it, in my view. First,
> it reveals GTh 86 to be pithy and powerful, two characteristics
> generally attributed to Jesus' aphorisms. It doesn't see the saying
> as a vague ironic reference to Jesus' difficulties or lifestyle.
> Second, it echoes a common theme in Thomas, that of conflicting
> internal natures, the pre-Fall identity vs. the post-Fall identity.
> Third, if indeed Jesus was a mystic/teacher, you would expect that he
> would teach what for mystics everywhere is almost a truism: To find
> peace or "rest" you must identify with what is most divine in yourself
> and disconnect from everything that is not. So I see the Jesus of
> Thomas as more interested in this kind of "rest" than in the comfort
> of having a home or shelter.
> George Duffy
Best wishes, Odell
Prof. Geology Em., W&L