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Re: [GTh] GTh 82 - Fire & Kingdom

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  • FMMCCOY
    ... From: George Brooks To: Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2001 5:07 PM Subject: [GTh] GTh 82 - Fire & Kingdom
    Message 1 of 14 , May 28, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "George Brooks" <george.x.brooks@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2001 5:07 PM
      Subject: [GTh] GTh 82 - Fire & Kingdom


      > You write:
      >
      > "George, how do you interpret GTh 82, "He who is near Me
      > is near the fire, and he who is far from Me is far from the
      > Kingdom."?
      >
      > Would I be too far wrong if I interpreted it to mean
      > that Jesus is representing himself as both the the
      > source or the transmitter of light (the fire), and as
      > the King of The Kingdom?


      Dear George:

      I don't know how wrong or right you are in your intepretation. I just
      wanted to see your interpretation in order to have an example of a
      possible way of interpreting GTh 82.
      Another possible way of interpreting GTh 82 is made by Ray Summers in The
      Secret Sayings of the Living Jesus (p. 75), " The presence of Jesus in the
      world meant that God's kingdom, his rule, had broken into history. Like a
      purging fire it would sweep the world. To be near Jesus meant to be near
      that fire. To be far from him meant to be far from the kingdom and God."
      I interpret it to mean two things: (1) where Jesus is present, the
      Kingdom is present, and (2) the Kingdom is the fire.
      It is interesting that you and Summers think that this passage relates
      the Kingdom to its ruler--with you identifying the ruler as being Jesus and
      he identifying the ruler as being God. Conversely, I don't think it does
      this. It is also interesting that both Summers and I think that the Kingdom
      is the fire, but you make a distinction between the Kingdom and the fire.
      In any event, the basic point I'm trying to make is that my interpretation
      of GTh 82 is highly speculative and individualistic. I prefer it to your
      interpretation and Summer's interpretation, but let the reader beware that,
      when this passage is taken in isolation by itself, it is highly improbable
      that my interpretation is true.
      Next, I propose this hypothesis: In GTh 82, Jesus is the Logos and the
      Kingdom is the Spirit-Sophia.
      In this case, my interpretation of GTh 82 has it meaning two things:
      (1) where the Logos is present, the Spirit-Sophia is present, and (2) the
      Spirit-Sophia is the fire.
      This is in accord with Philonic thought. So, in Philonic thought, the
      Spirit-Sophia fills the Logos and, therefore, is present wherever the Logos
      is present. Thus, in Som ii (245), Philo speaks of "the Divine Logos as
      full of the stream of Sophia". Again, in Philonic thought, the
      Spirit-Sophia is a spiritual fire. So, in Gig. (25), Philo states, "But
      think not that this taking of the Spirit comes to pass as when men cut away
      a piece and sever it. Rather it is, as when they take fire from fire, for
      though the fire should kindle a thousand torches, it is still as it was and
      is diminished not a whit."
      So, if my interpretation of GTh 82 is correct, then this hypothesis is in
      accord with the evidence
      However, if Summer's interpretation of GTh 82 is correct, then this
      hypothesis is contrary to the evidence. This is because while (1) the
      Kingdom = the Spirit-Sophia in the hypothesis, it is the case that (2) the
      Kingdom = God's rule in Summer's interpretation.
      George, your interpretation is this: "Jesus is representing himself as
      both the source or the transmitter of light (the fire), and as the King of
      The Kingdom". In terms of the hypothesis, it becomes this: "The Logos is
      representing himself as both the source or the transmitter of light (the
      fire) and as the King of the Spirit-Sophia".
      Your interpretation, when reworded in terms of this hypothesis, has one
      glaring contradiction to Philonic thought. That is, it makes a distinction
      between (1) the light (fire) for which the Logos
      is the source and the transmitter and (2) the Spirit-Sophia while, in
      Philonic thought, the Spirit-Sophia *is* the light (fire) for which the
      Logos is the source and the transmitter.
      Hence, if your interpretation of GTh 82 is correct, then this hypothesis
      is contrary the evidence.
      The bottom line: Of the three interpretaions, it is only my
      interpretation that supports the hypothesis I have proposed. It is only
      natural that my interpretation supports the hypothesis, since I couldn't be
      expected to propose a hypothesis contrary to how I interpret this passage.
      This means, though, that, while the hypothesis has not been disproven, it
      is the case that, when then passage is studied in isolation by itself alone,
      it is highly improbable that this hypothesis is true.
      I have done this little exercise to point out a weakness in my basic
      methodology. That is, in past posts, I have shown that there are a number
      of passages in GTh in which Jesus could be the Logos and/or in which the
      Spirit-Sophia could be the Kingdom and/or in which there is evidence of a
      Philonic influence. In the future, I plan to do this with
      many more passages from GTh. However, for each individual passage viewed in
      isolation, it is highly impobable that Jesus is the Logos and/or that the
      Kingdom is the Spirit-Sophia and/or that there is a Philonic influence in
      it. As a result, when a passage is taken in isolation, there is little to
      no reason for you and the other readers to think that my interpretation of
      that particular passage is correct.
      Why, then, do I continue with this methodology? I have been giving this
      some thought recently. I have concluded that I continue with this
      methodology for three reasons. First, I believe that many of the
      passages in GTh are based on Philonic thought, and I want you and the other
      list members to see how these passages are "read" through my eyes.
      Second, I want to show you and the other list members that Philonic
      thought might be relevant to understanding at least some elements of early
      Christian thought in order to stimulate you (plural) into reading Philo.
      Third, even though it is highly improbable that Jesus is the Logos and/or
      that the Kingdom in the Spirit Sophia (and/or, in a more generic sense,
      that there is an influence by Philonic thought) in any one passage in GTh
      taken in isolation by itself, the situation is different if there are many
      other passages in GTh that also can be interpreted in terms of Jesus being
      the Logos and/or in terms of the Kingdom being the
      Spirit-Sophia (and/or, in a more generic sense, in terms
      of Philonic thought). In particular, I think, this increases the
      probability that, in the passage being examined, it is correct to interpret
      Jesus to be the Logos and/or to interpret the Kingdom to be the
      Spirit-Sophia (and/or, in a more generic sense, to interpret it in
      terms of Philonic thought).
      I guess the basic thought I have is that if much of the whole can be
      interpreted in terms of X, then this increases the probability that any one
      part of it that can be interpreted in terms of X actually ought to be
      interpreted in terms of X.
      The problem comes in trying to quantify the probability that any one part
      of the whole that can be interpreted in terms of X ought to be interpreted
      in terms of X. For example, if Jesus might be the Logos in 80% of the
      passages he is mentioned in GTH, does this mean that the probablility is 75%
      or 50% or 10% or less than 1% that a single passage in which Jesus might be
      the Logos ought to be interpreted in terms of Jesus being the Logos?
      So, even if (as I hope to do as time progesses) I demonstrate that: (1)
      Jesus might be the Logos in a majority of the passages he is mentioned in
      GTh, and that (2) the Kingdom might be the Spirit-Sophia in a majority of
      the passages it is mentioned in GTh, and that (3) a majority of the passages
      in GTh might be influenced by Philonic thought, I recognize that this is
      unlikely to convince most of you that any particular passage in which one or
      more of these propositions might be true probably ought to be interpreted in
      tems of that proposition or propositions. Still, for those of you who
      are layeople and who find that the Philonic interpretations of GTh passages
      I propose are helpful in getting you understand these passages, particularly
      their mystical aspects, I have hopes that you, once I demonstrate that a
      majority of the sayings in GTh can be interpreted in terms of Philonic
      thought, will be convinced that a passage which can be interpreted in terms
      of Philonic thought probably ought to be interpreted in terms of Philonic
      thought. However, since (1) this whole enterprise is not "scientific" or
      "rigorous" or quantifiable, and since (2) scholars are currently so
      convinced that the idea that Philonic thought influenced early Christianity
      in a major way must be wrong that only an almost literal handful have felt
      it worthwhile to study Philo in depth (even though his works are the most
      comprehensive primary source on first century CE Judaism we possess and even
      though some of the Church Fathers believed Philo's works to be "keys" that
      help us in "unlocking" the meaning of Jesus' teachings as presented the New
      Testament), and since (3) this whole enterprise is being proposed by myself,
      a layman, and, so, has not been proposed by a scholar, much less been
      subject to scholarly peer review, even after I demonstrate that most of the
      passages in GTh can be interpreted in terms of Philonic thought, I do not
      expect even a single scholar who is a list member to be convinced that a
      passage which can be interpreted in terms of Philonic thought probably ought
      to be interpreted in terms of Philonic thought. This is, I think, the
      nature of reality, and I don't like it, but I must learn to accept it..

      Regards,

      Frank
    • VE4evr19@aol.com
      Dear Group, I found Frank s description of his methodology to be well written and thoughtful. As an educator, I am also convinced that education is a process
      Message 2 of 14 , May 28, 2001
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        Dear Group,
        I found Frank's description of his methodology to be well written and
        thoughtful. As an educator, I am also convinced that education is a process
        unique to each individual's journey. We must beware of 'trappings' that
        prevent learning - wherever we find them. Peer review is an outstanding tool
        to advance this learning when it is available but we must be cautious about
        how it is used. In McCoy's case, we have much to learn from him and from the
        other contributions that have been will continue to be forth coming. I never
        cease to be enthralled with the knowledge and understanding that seems almost
        common place at this site!

        Vicki Edwards
        K-12
        Educator


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • George Brooks
        Frank, Your last post was quite masterful. In general, it s been my impression that Jesus theology was even LESS systematic than Paul s, and that Paul s
        Message 3 of 14 , May 28, 2001
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          Frank,

          Your last post was quite masterful.

          In general, it's been my impression that Jesus'
          theology was even LESS systematic than Paul's, and
          that Paul's theology is not perfectly consistent.

          I think even Jesus would be impressed with your
          ability to tie Philonic thought into his words.

          But the exercise reminds me of the generation
          or two of those who listen to McClean's song,
          "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" to glean from it all
          the hidden meanings that McClean had in mind with
          the song. The song writer has frequently been
          cornered by enthusiastic fans or music journalists
          about this or that interpretation about a specific
          verse. And to everyone's surprise, the songwriter
          sometimes says something like "wow, I never thought
          of that before."

          Since I do not believe the N.T. is inerrant, it would
          not be surprising to me if GThomas or other books
          (that are actually in the cannon) are INCONSISTENT
          with a rigorous systematic approach to gnosticism or
          any other form of theology of the period (or any period).

          Since I don't see the N.T. as the window or door to all
          truth, I am quite willing to see certain flaws, or deal
          with fuzzy concepts, or even gaps in theology.... due to
          the limits of the human mind in trying to figure out every
          problem.

          So perhaps because of my intrinsic bias, I am not able
          to provide adequate feedback to your thoughts on Philo
          and its connection to GThomas. Though you have convinced
          me that Philo probably would have chuckled at a GThomas
          community member trying to explain GThomas theology to
          Philo!

          Sincerely,

          George
        • Michael Grondin
          ... ISTM quite extraordinary that anyone would equate light with fire. Even assuming that 1st century folks like Philo and the GThomists believed what we now
          Message 4 of 14 , May 29, 2001
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            Frank McCoy wrote to George:

            > Your interpretation, when reworded in terms of this hypothesis, has one
            >glaring contradiction to Philonic thought. That is, it makes a distinction
            >between (1) the light (fire) for which the Logos is the source and the
            >transmitter and (2) the Spirit-Sophia while, in Philonic thought, the
            >Spirit-Sophia *is* the light (fire) for which the Logos is the source
            >and the transmitter.

            ISTM quite extraordinary that anyone would equate light with fire. Even
            assuming that 1st century folks like Philo and the GThomists believed what
            we now know to be true, namely that (1) the sun is a ball of fire, and (2)
            the moon reflects the sun's light, rather than being a source of light of
            its own, and (3) other stars are either also suns or also reflect the sun's
            light, it's still easy to distinguish light from fire - the one is hot, the
            other's not. True enough, they might have believed what we now know to be
            false, namely that fire was the one and only SOURCE of light, but they
            could hardly have equated the two, ISTM. Once conceptually separated, it's
            easy enough to compare the Logos to fire, and Sophia to the light that both
            permeates and emanates from it. By equating light with fire, however, you
            seem to rule out this natural interpretation (in addition to ignoring a
            fact that could hardly have been unknown to the ancients, namely that heat
            as well as light emanates from fire, hence neither by itself could be
            equated to it).

            As I understand it, you want Jesus to be the Logos, and the kingdom to be
            the Sophia. Yet you don't equate Logos and Sophia, so I guess Philo doesn't
            do so either. Yet the two are intimately connected in Philonic thought, so
            there's no contradiction in saying, as John (and George?) does, that Jesus
            is both the Logos and the "king" of the kingdom. In your terms, the Logos
            is "king" of the Sophia, as fire is the source of (but not identical to)
            light. The analogy in Th82 may be this: to be "close to Jesus" is to feel
            the heat of a fire; as one travels further and further away from a fire,
            the heat first dissipates, then the light grows progressively smaller until
            it too disappears altogether. In like manner, wisdom (the little Sophia)
            cannot be sustained (so the thinking may have gone) when one removes
            oneself from the Logos that both implanted it and nutures it.

            Regards,
            Mike
          • Rick Hubbard
            Some notes about Fire and Kingdom. Elsewhere in the Thomas tradition, namely in the Book of Thomas the Contender (ThCont, CG II,7), fire (KW2T) plays a central
            Message 5 of 14 , May 31, 2001
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              Some notes about Fire and Kingdom.

              Elsewhere in the Thomas tradition, namely in the Book of Thomas the
              Contender (ThCont, CG II,7), fire (KW2T) plays a central role. In ThCont
              fire represents the passions of the body (SOMA) that enslave the soul
              (PsYXH). This is entirely consistent with “classic” gnostic cosmogony where
              the soul and spirit (PNEUMA) are dominated by the powers (DYNAMIS) and
              authorities (EKsOUSIA) of the world (KOSMOS).

              The fire image in logion 82 does not seem to align with that of ThCont or
              with any other GThom logia where fire is mentioned (e.g., 10, 13, 16). It is
              especially puzzling that here alone fire seems to juxtapose with “the
              kingdom.” Even more perplexing (perhaps) is that the Coptic word for fire in
              saying 82 is different than the word for fire in #’s 10, 13 and 16. In 82,
              fire is SATE, while in the other logia it is KW2T. The former word does not
              appear at all in ThCont, only the latter form is used. In fact, as far as I
              can determine, SATE occurs nowhere in any of the writings contained in Codex
              II.

              It seems to me that there are two prerequisites for untangling GThom 82.
              First, first we need to come to grips with the difference between SATE fire
              and KW2T fire in GThom. Second, we need to investigate more closely what
              “kingdom” means in logion 82 and elsewhere in GThom. With respect to the
              “kingdom” mentioned in this saying, it is interesting (although perhaps not
              significant) that among the 15 GThom sayings that mention “kingdom” and that
              have parallels in the synoptics, this saying is the only one that is
              paralleled by Mark alone. I’m not sure what to make of that.

              Until those two prerequisites are completed, it seems to me to be quite
              useless to speculate about whether there is a connection between “Kingdom”
              and “Sophia” or between Jesus and the Philonic logos. Indeed, I am inclined
              to think efforts to establish such connections may be equally useless even
              then, but I’m always willing to listen.

              Rick Hubbard
              Humble Maine Woodsman
            • Michael Grondin
              ... Agreed - and good catch, Rick. The only fact I ve been able to determine with any surety is that Kw2T is masculine and SATe feminine. Since the Coptic word
              Message 6 of 14 , May 31, 2001
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                Rick Hubbard wrote:
                >The fire image in logion 82 does not seem to align with that of ThCont or
                >with any other GThom logia where fire is mentioned (e.g., 10, 13, 16). It is
                >especially puzzling that here alone fire seems to juxtapose with �the
                >kingdom.� Even more perplexing (perhaps) is that the Coptic word for fire in
                >saying 82 is different than the word for fire in #�s 10, 13 and 16. In 82,
                >fire is SATE, while in the other logia it is KW2T. ... we need to come to
                >grips with the difference between SATE fire and KW2T fire in GThom.

                Agreed - and good catch, Rick. The only fact I've been able to determine
                with any surety is that Kw2T is masculine and SATe feminine. Since the
                Coptic word for 'kingdom' is also feminine (albeit built on a masculine
                root-word), both elements of which Jesus is implied to be the center in
                Th82 are grammatically feminine. (Needless to say, however, grammatical
                categories don't necessarily have any conceptual implications - though they
                might, in some cases.)

                Additionally, the Gospel of Philip distinguishes two types of "fire"
                (though the word 'Kw2T' is used for both):

                "It is from water and fire that the soul and the spirit came into being. It
                is from water and fire and light that the son of the bridal chamber (came
                into being). The fire is the chrism, the light is the fire. I am not
                referring to that fire which has no form, but to the other fire whose form
                is white, which is bright and beautiful, and which gives beauty." (Codex
                II, p.67, Isenberg translation)

                I would hazard a guess that either the moon was seen as an independent
                source of luminous "fire" (as opposed to being a reflection of the sun's
                light), or the sun itself was not understood to be a ball of fire as we now
                know it to be. Alternately, they could have had correct views of the sun
                and moon, but not understood the stars to be other suns. Whatever their
                background beliefs about the universe, the approach here seems to indicate
                that they were wedded to the idea of fire being the source of all light,
                hence, given two sources of light that seemed to be different in kind, they
                had to distinguish two "types" of "fire". Unfortunately, there's no
                evidence I can find that 'SATe' was regarded as a different type of fire
                than 'Kw2T'. One suspects that it might have been, based on general
                linguistic considerations that no two words have exactly the same meaning,
                and it's tantalizing to jump to the conclusion that Kw2T might have been
                regarded as hot, masculine (and literal) fire, and SATe as cool, feminine
                luminosity (which we now see as metaphorical "fire"), but I can't find any
                definite indicators as yet.

                Regards,
                Mike

                The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
                http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
              • FMMCCOY
                ... From: Rick Hubbard To: Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 9:00 AM Subject: RE: [GTh] GTh 82 - Fire & Kingdom
                Message 7 of 14 , May 31, 2001
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                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@...>
                  To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 9:00 AM
                  Subject: RE: [GTh] GTh 82 - Fire & Kingdom


                  Dear Rick Hubbard:

                  Regarding GTh 82, you state:.
                  > With respect to the
                  > "kingdom" mentioned in this saying, it is interesting (although perhaps
                  not
                  > significant) that among the 15 GThom sayings that mention "kingdom" and
                  that
                  > have parallels in the synoptics, this saying is the only one that is
                  > paralleled by Mark alone. I'm not sure what to make of that.

                  You raise an important question. That is, is there a relationship between
                  GTh 82 (He who near Me is near the fire, and he who is far from Me is far
                  from the Kingdom) and Mark 12:34 (You are not far from the Kingdom of God)
                  and, if there is a relationship between them, what is the nature of the
                  relationship?

                  The context of Mark 12:34 is important. Jesus is at the temple. He has
                  answered a question by the Pharisees and the Herodians regarding the payment
                  of tribute to Caesar. He has answered a question by the Sadducees
                  concerning the resurrection of the dead. A scribe, seeing how well Jesus
                  has handled the Pharisees and the Sadducees, asks him what is the most
                  important commandment. After Jesus' responds, the scribe exclaims, "Right,
                  teacher, according to Truth, you have said that God is one, and there is not
                  another besides Him, and to love Him will all the heart and with all the
                  understanding and with all the soul and with all the strength, and to love
                  (one's) neighbor as oneself--(for) this is more than all burnt offerings and
                  the sacrifices." Then, Jesus tells him, "You are not far from the Kingdom
                  of God."

                  From the context, it is clear that the scribe is not a Pharisee or a
                  Sadducee. Rather, he appears to be an Essene: for he espouses an Essene
                  doctrine that love of God and love of other men are more important than
                  sacrifices. So, in Prob 84, Philo declares, the Essenes
                  take "for their defining standards these three, love of God, love of virtue,
                  love of men". Again, in their work, The Damascus Document (VI), it is
                  declared that "they shall love each man his brother as himself; they shall
                  succor the poor, the needy and the stranger." Too, in their work, The
                  Thanksgiving Hymns (Hymn 22), it is declared, "I have loved Thee freely and
                  with all my heart and soul." Also, in Prob 75, Philo states, "They have
                  shown themselves especially devout in the service of God, not by offering
                  sacrifices of animals, but by resolving to sanctify their minds."

                  Now, for Philo, the Essenes exemplify what he calls the active life style
                  So, in Cont. 1, he states, "I have discussed the Essenes, who persistently
                  pursued the active life, and excelled in all or, to put it more moderately,
                  in most of its departments. I will now proceed at once in accordance with
                  the sequence required by the subject to what is needed about those
                  (Therapeutae) who embraced the life of contemplation."

                  Further, in his thought, the active life style is the life style of a
                  man of progress, while the contemplative life style is the life style of a
                  wise man. So, in Gen. Book IV, 47, he states, "Thus there are three
                  persons who stand in the middle; the wise man, the progressive man, and the
                  wicked man"....There are three ways of life which are well known: the
                  contemplative, the active, and the pleasurable."

                  Finally, in his thought, the active life-style of the man of progress is a
                  life-style in which one has moved away from the folly embraced by the wicked
                  man, who is spiritually dead, but has not yet reached the Spirit-Sophia
                  embraced by the wise man. who is spiritually alive. So, in Som ii 234, he
                  states, "The man who is in the path of progress is placed by him in the
                  region between the living and the dead, meaning the former those have Sophia
                  for their life-mate and by the latter those who rejoice in folly." As the
                  man of progress has moved toward the Spirit-Sophia, but has not yet embraced
                  her, he is, so to speak, not far from her..

                  Hence, I suggest, in Jesus' statement, "You are not far from the Kingdom of
                  God.". the Kingdom of God is the Spirit-Sophia and, so, Jesus is identifying
                  the scribe as being an Essene--a person who exemplifies the active
                  life-style and, so, is a man of progress who has escaped the folly embraced
                  by the wicked like the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees, and has moved
                  toward the Spirit-Sophia, but does not yet embrace her as does the
                  Therapeutae.

                  This explains why, in the gospels, Jesus nowhere criticises the Essenes. He
                  does not because he thought it better to encourage them to add to their
                  already solid spiritual advancement by completing their movement towards the
                  Kingdom--the Spirit-Sophia.

                  While Mark 12:34 has some verbal similarities to GTh 82, I do not think they
                  are related. This is because the interpretation I suggest for Mark 12:34 is
                  far different than the intepretation I suggest for GTh 82 in an earlier
                  post. Indeed, about all the two interpretations have in common is that, in
                  each, the Kingdom is taken to be the Spirit-Sophia.

                  Does anyone else have any ideas on whether or not Mark 12:34 and GTh 82 are
                  related sayings?

                  Regards,

                  Frank McCoy
                • Rick Hubbard
                  Mike; Thanks for helping shed a little light on the subtleties that exist among the Coptic words for fire. I note, however, that we are each using a different
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jun 1 4:55 AM
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                    Mike;

                    Thanks for helping shed a little light on the subtleties that exist among
                    the Coptic words for fire. I note, however, that we are each using a
                    different transliteration protocol for Coptic words. I'm certain that yours
                    is the correct scheme and I am also pretty sure that there is a website (or
                    some other document) that defines the protocol. For the benefit of all,
                    could you provide the link?

                    Rick
                  • Rick Hubbard
                    NOTE: To facilitate this discussion, I have appended to this post an abbreviated bibliography. Shortened citations in the text may be referenced there. [Frank
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jun 1 10:47 AM
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                      NOTE: To facilitate this discussion, I have appended to this post an
                      abbreviated bibliography. Shortened citations in the text may be referenced
                      there.

                      [Frank Wrote:]
                      You raise an important question. That is, is there a relationship between
                      GTh 82 (He who near Me is near the fire, and he who is far from Me is far
                      from the Kingdom) and Mark 12:34 (You are not far from the Kingdom of God)
                      and, if there is a relationship between them, what is the nature of the
                      relationship?

                      I'm not sure if the question raised here is "important" but it is at least
                      interesting. A casual reading of the two texts does seem to suggest that
                      there is at least an echo of GTh 82 in Mk 12:34. H. Koester, in the
                      introduction to GTh (CGL Vol 1, 1989 46-48) includes a table of "parallels"
                      between the Synoptics and GTh. There, among 99 "parallels" he identifies a
                      probable literary (?) relationship between Mark and Thomas. Interestingly
                      however, a year later Koester (Gospels, 1990) does not mention Mk 12:34 as a
                      parallel to GTh 82 (in fact, GTh 82 is not even indexed in the work cited
                      (Gospels 446).

                      As I considered Koester's apparent reassessment, and as I read the Markan
                      text a little more closely, I am now inclined to think that there is no
                      literary relationship at all between the two pericopae. This conclusion
                      derives partially from R. Bultmann's analysis of the pericopae (History,
                      1963 39-55) and also from what Frank has written below:

                      [Frank wrote:]
                      The context of Mark 12:34 is important. Jesus is at the temple. He has
                      answered a question by the Pharisees and the Herodians regarding the payment
                      of tribute to Caesar. He has answered a question by the Sadducees
                      concerning the resurrection of the dead. A scribe, seeing how well Jesus
                      has handled the Pharisees and the Sadducees, asks him what is the most
                      important commandment. After Jesus' responds, the scribe exclaims, "Right,
                      teacher, according to Truth, you have said that God is one, and there is not
                      another besides Him, and to love Him will all the heart and with all the
                      understanding and with all the soul and with all the strength, and to love
                      (one's) neighbor as oneself--(for) this is more than all burnt offerings and
                      the sacrifices." Then, Jesus tells him, "You are not far from the Kingdom
                      of God."

                      Your observation is correct. The context of Mk 12:34 *is* important. This
                      Jesus saying is embedded in the configuration of what Form Critics call a
                      "Scholastic Dialogue." Scholastic Dialogues, and their close cousins,
                      Controversy Dialogues, are regularly used throughout the synpotic tradition
                      as a vehicle to illustrate, through "some concrete occasion, a principle
                      which the Church ascribed to Jesus" [History, 1963 42]. Just a few
                      additional examples of these general dialogue forms that may be found in the
                      gospels include:

                      Healing the man with a withered hand
                      [Mk 3:1-6 // Mt 12:9-14 // Lk 6:6-11]
                      (Controversy Dialogue)

                      Healing of the paralytic
                      [Mk 2:1-12 // Mt 9:1-8 // Lk 5:17-26]
                      (Controversy Dialogue)

                      Plucking grain on the Sabbath
                      [Mk 2:23-38 // Mt 12:1-8 // Lk 6:1-5]
                      (Controversy Dialogue)

                      On the coming of the kingdom
                      [Lk 17:20-21]
                      (Scholastic Dialogue)

                      The dialogue form has a consistent and simple structure. It exhibits two
                      components:

                      A. An Event
                      B. A Response

                      Events may consist of either an attack on, or challenge to, Jesus based on
                      some particular action (such as a healing) or an attitude. Events may also
                      be in the form of a question (for Scholastic Dialogues).

                      Responses may take the form of:
                      A metaphor (including a parable): e.g., Mk 2:17, 19, 3:24.
                      A counter question from Jesus: e.g., Mk 3:4, 11:30; Lk 13:15.
                      A quotation from scripture: e.g., Mk 2:25-26, 7:6, 10:6-8.

                      These forms are not exclusive to the gospels. They are also broadly
                      distributed through Rabbinic literature. In fact an alternate name for
                      Scholastic Dialogue is "Rabbinic Style" (history, 1963 46).

                      Having said that, lets examine the pericopae in which Mk 12:34 is embedded
                      (often called the Great Commandment story). As long as we're at it we can
                      also compare the parallel accounts of the same story in Mt 22:34-40 and Lk
                      10:25-28.

                      In Mark's rendering of the story, the Event is framed around a "scribe"
                      (GRAMATEUS). The Lukan version of the story substitutes a lawyer (NOMIKOS)
                      for the scribe, while Matthew manages to bring in both the Pharisees and the
                      Sadducees, one of whom happened to be a lawyer. In the version reported by
                      Mt and Mk, the question asked to Jesus is, "What is the greatest
                      commandment?" The questioner in Lk, on the other hand, wants to know what to
                      do to "inherit eternal life." The topic of the question is unimportant. What
                      is important, is the purpose of the question in this context. The purpose is
                      to create an occasion for Jesus to speak (History, 1963 54).

                      The centerpiece of the Response in all three gospels is not one, but two
                      quotations from scripture. The first is from Deut 6:4-5, "Hear O Israel: The
                      Lord our God, the Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all
                      your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your
                      strength."." All three evangelists insert a quotation from Lev 19:18, "You
                      shall love the Lord your God with all your heart..." (Note that both Mt and
                      Lk omit the Shema, "Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one...").
                      The second quotation derives from Lev 19:18, "You shall love your neighbor
                      as yourself."

                      Luke's version includes another element of the Response: a counter question.
                      There, Jesus responds to the question asked by the lawyer by asking the
                      questioner, "What is written in the Law?" Again, this provides a means by
                      which a saying of Jesus can be worked into the fabric of the story.

                      Mark includes a third Response element: a Metaphor couched in the phrase,
                      "You are not far from the kingdom of God." The origin of this saying of
                      Jesus is unclear. It does not seem to have derived from GTh 82. The
                      dissimilarities are too great.

                      A word or two about the Dialogue form seems appropriate here. Bultmann
                      argues that the function of these Dialogues is to serve the apologetic and
                      polemical interests of the Palestinian Church [History, 1963 40f]. The
                      evangelists regularly adopted sayings attributed to Jesus into these
                      standardized settings. It is clear that sayings of Jesus did circulate in
                      non-contextual formats (i.e., the Gospel of Thomas and Q). Form Critical
                      analysis (by Bultmann and other scholars) demonstrates how those sayings
                      were worked into the teachings of the Church.

                      [Frank wrote:]
                      From the context, it is clear that the scribe is not a Pharisee or a
                      Sadducee. Rather, he appears to be an Essene: for he espouses an Essene
                      doctrine that love of God and love of other men are more important than
                      sacrifices.

                      There is no more evidence that the scribe in Mark's story is an Essene than
                      there is that he is a Pharisee or a Sadducee. It is simply not specified.
                      All the text says is that he was a scribe. Moreover, it is inconclusive that
                      he was an Essene based on the content of 12:32-33. Such sentiments as those
                      expressed there, for one thing, were relatively common among Jews subsequent
                      to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, as well as among individuals who
                      were part of Christian communities. It is virtually certain that this story,
                      in the form which it exists in Mark, reflects the attitude of the earliest
                      Palestinian Church, some of whom were Jews as well, not the Essenes.

                      [Frank wrote:]
                      So, in Prob 84, Philo declares, the Essenes
                      take "for their defining standards these three, love of God, love of virtue,
                      love of men". Again, in their work, The Damascus Document (VI), it is
                      declared that "they shall love each man his brother as himself; they shall
                      succor the poor, the needy and the stranger." Too, in their work, The
                      Thanksgiving Hymns (Hymn 22), it is declared, "I have loved Thee freely and
                      with all my heart and soul." Also, in Prob 75, Philo states, "They have
                      shown themselves especially devout in the service of God, not by offering
                      sacrifices of animals, but by resolving to sanctify their minds."

                      Good Grief, Frank! Is there nowhere we can go without stepping in a Pile 'O
                      Philo? I do not dispute that you have an astonishing familiarity with the
                      Philonic corpus, and, as I've mentioned before, you have contributed much to
                      my own understanding of his thought. BUT, there is a limit, it seems to me,
                      to the degree in which his observations are relevant to the religio-cultural
                      environment of the ancient Mediterranean basin. Your assertions here
                      definitely push the envelope of credibility.

                      [much snipped]

                      [Frank wrote:]
                      While Mark 12:34 has some verbal similarities to GTh 82, I do not think they
                      are related. This is because the interpretation I suggest for Mark 12:34 is
                      far different than the intepretation I suggest for GTh 82 in an earlier
                      post.

                      Well, at least we agree that Gth 82 has no literary affinity with Mark
                      12:34, but, as usual, we disagree as to why.

                      [Frank wrote:]
                      Does anyone else have any ideas on whether or not Mark 12:34 and GTh 82 are
                      related sayings?

                      Hopefully, they do.

                      Rick Hubbard
                      Humble Maine Woodsman

                      Bibliography

                      CGL Vol 1, 1989
                      Layton, Bentley. Ed. _Nag Hammadi Codex II,2-7_. The Coptic Gnostic Library.
                      Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989.

                      Gospels, 1990
                      Koester, Helmut. _Ancient Christian Gospels_. Philadelphia: Trinity Press
                      International, 1990.

                      History, 1963
                      Bultmann, Rudolph. _History of the Synoptic Tradition_. Tr John Marsh. New
                      York: Harper & Row, 1963.
                    • Michael Grondin
                      ... For starters: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_fonts.htm, which is a table I developed for my site. The table is probably rather confusing, since I was
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jun 1 11:53 PM
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                        Rick wrote:
                        >Mike; Thanks for helping shed a little light on the subtleties that exist
                        >among the Coptic words for fire. I note, however, that we are each using a
                        >different transliteration protocol for Coptic words. I'm certain that yours
                        >is the correct scheme and I am also pretty sure that there is a website (or
                        >some other document) that defines the protocol. For the benefit of all,
                        >could you provide the link?

                        For starters: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_fonts.htm, which is a
                        table I developed for my site. The table is probably rather confusing,
                        since I was trying to do three things with it: (1) compare two different
                        widely-available freeware Coptic fonts, both as to appearance and as to
                        keyboard mapping of the characters, (2) display the numeric value of the
                        Greek letters, which occasionally enters into textual analysis, and (3)
                        show both a common Greek transliteration scheme (B-Greek) and the translit
                        scheme that I used for my own work, prior to putting it online (and which
                        still seems to me a pretty intuitive scheme, though it breaks the
                        "one-for-one" and "single case" rules of standard schemes).

                        As to the two words in question, I really had no good reason to change your
                        'KW2T' to 'Kw2T' or your 'SATE' to 'SATe', other than that that's the way
                        they're represented in my own scheme. Your representation conforms to the
                        B-Greek and TLG protocols with respect to all the Greek letters, and I
                        should have gone along with that, since any disagreements I might have with
                        other Coptic translit schemes was irrelevant to the issues being discussed
                        in the note.

                        Translit protocols for the Greek alphabet are pretty well established, as
                        you well know. (The English characters in the "TLG" ['Thesaurus Lingae
                        Graecae'], for example, differ from B-Greek in only a single instance: 'C'
                        for 'X' and vice versa.) But Coptic is a poor-cousin-come-lately to
                        biblical scholarship, so the additional Coptic letters are typically
                        handled as add-ons to the basic Greek scheme - with some pretty horrific
                        results, if you ask me. Take for example the translit scheme developed for
                        the electronic journal TC (Textual Criticism), as at
                        http://rosetta.atla-certr.org/TC/TC-translit-main.html. The additional
                        seven Coptic letters (six in Sahidic) are all represented by special
                        characters, so that 'KW2T', which resembles the Coptic, comes out as
                        'KW^T', which doesn't. It'd be a losing battle to insist on my own scheme,
                        but I must say that my own transliteration of the Coptic letters looks a
                        heck of a lot more like them, and conflicts with the standard all-caps
                        Greek protocols in only one place (I used 'w' for omega, and 'W' for 'shai'
                        (or 'shay'), the Coptic letter that looks like a 'W' with a long tail on
                        it), so it's clearly possible to do much better for the Coptic letters than
                        TC does. Unfortunately, as you know, trying to change a standard, once set,
                        no matter how carelessly or by whom put together, requires the marshalling
                        of a rather large army of angry scholars. Where're you gonna find that many
                        that care enough about Coptic to oppose standards adopted by a
                        Greek-oriented majority?

                        If Mark Goodacre or Jeffrey Gibson are listening in, they may be able to
                        provide the latest information about Greek/Coptic translit schemes. I'd
                        like to know whether the SBL Style Manual has something in it, for example.
                        In fact, you yourself have probably by now developed much more complete
                        information than I've been able to present here. In any case, I'm
                        personally pretty happy with any conscientious representation, as long as
                        it's not too hard to figure out what word is being represented.

                        Regards,
                        Mike
                        p.s. Any thoughts about embedding fonts in these messages? I believe our
                        current group option is set to "Text only", not "HTML allowed".

                        The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
                        http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
                      • BitsyCat1@aol.com
                        In a message dated 6/2/01 1:54:13 AM, mgrondin@tir.com writes:
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jun 2 5:42 AM
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                          In a message dated 6/2/01 1:54:13 AM, mgrondin@... writes:

                          << p.s. Any thoughts about embedding fonts in these messages? I believe our
                          current group option is set to "Text only", not "HTML allowed".
                          >>

                          I believe you will find that you can only transmit typed messages now. Yahoo
                          has put a general stop on most sites using anything but typed messages.
                          Anything that resembles an image such as Greek or Latin does not appear (it
                          will say image not displayed) However if you have the Greek and or Coptic in
                          the Type it may well appear.
                          Such as ß,π,Oø,∆, if so it is only because it is programming language I
                          believe. Apparentlythe cut down after some images carried virus attacks to
                          the Groups (Bad trans 2 virus), I have on several sites tried to use the
                          Greek and It simply does not appear anylonger.
                          You Can upload files into the Images section of a main site. I believe
                          you"ll probably have to experiment with what will make it through. regards
                          jpohnmoon3717@...
                        • David C. Hindley
                          ... appear. Such as ß,p,Oø,?, if so it is only because it is programming language I believe.
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jun 2 1:53 PM
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                            John Moon said:

                            >>However if you have the Greek and or Coptic in the Type it may well
                            appear. Such as �,p,O�,?, if so it is only because it is programming
                            language I believe.<<

                            It is all just plain ol' ASCII. I think that if you specify a font in
                            an HTML message sent to the list, the character's numeric value will
                            be converted to its standard ASCII equivalent. Each computer has
                            standard font(s), and I think some web browsers and e-mail programs
                            let you specify different fonts for display within their enviroment.

                            Perhaps if the font specified in an HTML message uses some sort of
                            special combination of ASCII characters for each letter, then the
                            computer does not know what to show on the screen. That's my guess,
                            anyhow. The "�,�" type characters may work as upper ASCII characters
                            in some "standard" Western/Latin font sets like Windows standard.

                            Respectfully,

                            Dave Hindley
                            Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                          • Rick Hubbard
                            In view of what John and David say, which is essentially correct, and since Coptic or Greek are not *regularly* used on this list, do you not think it would be
                            Message 13 of 14 , Jun 2 6:38 PM
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                              In view of what John and David say, which is essentially correct, and
                              since Coptic or Greek are not *regularly* used on this list, do you
                              not think it would be just as well to stick with transliterations?

                              Rick
                            • David C. Hindley
                              ... transliterations?
                              Message 14 of 14 , Jun 2 9:06 PM
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                                Rick Hubbard asks:

                                >>do you not think it would be just as well to stick with
                                transliterations?<<

                                I have to agree. Unless everyone has HTML capable e-mail software
                                *and* the same fonts loaded on their computers, there will always be
                                conflicts displaying messages containing sections of a foreign
                                language font. The internet was designed to send ASCII text messages
                                only, and I'm afraid that transliterations using ASCII characters is
                                the only common solution for the time being.

                                However, I do agree with Mike that some transliteration schemes are
                                harder to intuitively grasp than others. Too many characters like
                                @#$%^&*()<>|\/ (especially for some of the Semitic languages) in a
                                scheme make it hard for me to easily sound out the word in my head.
                                However, Haven't I seen a scheme much like Mike's Coptic scheme used
                                in printed books?

                                Respectfully,

                                Dave Hindley
                                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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