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RE: [GTh] GTh 82 - Fire & Kingdom

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  • 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 1 of 14 , Jun 1, 2001
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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

      [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

      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

      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

      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

      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

      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


      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 2 of 14 , Jun 1, 2001
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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.

        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
      • BitsyCat1@aol.com
        In a message dated 6/2/01 1:54:13 AM, mgrondin@tir.com writes:
        Message 3 of 14 , Jun 2, 2001
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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
        • David C. Hindley
          ... appear. Such as ß,p,Oø,?, if so it is only because it is programming language I believe.
          Message 4 of 14 , Jun 2, 2001
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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.


            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 5 of 14 , Jun 2, 2001
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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?

            • David C. Hindley
              ... transliterations?
              Message 6 of 14 , Jun 2, 2001
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                Rick Hubbard asks:

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

                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?


                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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