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Re: [GTh] McCoy on GTh97 & 98

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  • FMMCCOY
    ... From: Michael Grondin To: Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 12:49 PM Subject: [GTh] McCoy on GTh97 & 98 ... is
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 6, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Michael Grondin" <mgrondin@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 12:49 PM
      Subject: [GTh] McCoy on GTh97 & 98


      > Frank McCoy wrote:
      > > The woman is a soul.
      >
      > Having thus far delineated two types of soul, you now say that the woman
      is
      > "a soul", without qualification. She must be of the type that doesn't hold
      > epistemes, right? So epistemes(=pneuma=sophia) is like a soul that doesn't
      > hold epistemes. Very nice.
      >
      Mister Grondin:
      A soul without qualification is the whole soul of mind and
      sense-perception.. What I say is that the Kingdom in this passage is the
      meal not the woman. Your third sentence, thus, is a gross
      misrepresentation of what I said. Also, as respects the tone of what you
      say here, see my final remarks in this post.

      > > This occurs while the soul is on "the road". As she loses the
      > >words/virtues that are of the very self of the Spirit-Sophia, this is, I
      > >suggest, the wrong road, i.e., the road of of vice and passion.
      >
      > Well, make up your mind. Either this soul loses the epistemes because it's
      > the kind of soul that can't hold it, or because it's on the wrong road.
      > Which is it?
      >
      Mister Grondin, a soul that is losing her words/virtues is on the wrong road
      and a
      soul on the wrong road is losing her words/virtues. Conversely, a soul that
      is not losing her words/virtues is on the right road and a soul on the right
      road is not losing her words/virtues. Got the picture now?

      > > At the end of her trip on this road, the soul reaches her house.
      Because
      > >the passions reside in the body, this road of vice and the passions leads
      > >the soul to the body: which body, hence, is this soul's house.
      >
      > How did this soul get out of its body in the first place? And wherein lay
      > her mistake? That she didn't notice the leaky jar, or that she was trying
      > to bring the flour back to her "house" at all? Also, it's really quite
      > absurd to say that "this road of vice and passions leads the soul to the
      > body", since the soul must already be subservient to the body in order to
      > even venture out on that road. You're tripping up all over the place on
      > your own equivalences.

      Mr Grondin: Who knows how the soul got out of its body? It's not discussed
      in
      the parable, but is simply presumed to have happened. In any event, the
      parable is not to be taken literally. It's point is that a soul who chooses
      the road of the vice and passions ends up imprisoned in the house of the
      body and also ends up in total spiritual ignorance because it has forgotten
      all the words/virtues it has been taught. Got it now?

      > > The slaying of the "powerful man", i.e., the body, by "the man", i.e.,
      > >the mind, is the mind severing itself from this body. So, in Ebr 70,
      Philo
      > >declares, "Therefore we shall kill our 'brother'--not a man, but the
      soul's
      > >brother the body; that is, we shall dissever the passion-loving and
      mortal
      > >element (i.e., the body) from the Virtue-loving and divine (i.e., the
      mind).
      >
      > I suppose we may now look forward to your equating every occurrence of the
      > words 'house' and 'brother' to the body. Such has been your invariable
      > method of reasoning: first find a passage in Philo that compares X with Y,
      > then every time you see the word 'Y', interpret it as an X. Do you really
      > not see the fallacy of this approach? Even considering Philo alone, did he
      > never use the word 'house', for example, OTHER than with respect to the
      > body? But you've found ONE passage where he did so use it, and now, if
      > you're true to form, every house (and probably every brother, too) will
      > become a body.

      Mike, what links the parables in GTh 97 and 98 is that, in each, the house
      symbolizes the body. That's why they are in GTh together.
      You misrepresent my exegetical methodology. For example, I take a house
      to mean the soul rather than the body in Luke 6:47-49 (Q tradition), "Every
      one who is
      coming to me and hearing my words and doing them, I will show you to whom he
      is like. He is like a man building a house who dug and deepened, and laid a
      foundation in the rock. And a flood, having come, the stream burst upon
      that house, and could not shake it, for it had been founded upon the rock.
      But he who heard and did not is like to a man having built a house on the
      earth without a foundation, on which burst the stream, and immediately it
      fell. And the ruin of that house was great."
      In Philonic thought, a house can sometimes symbolize a human soul. So,
      in Cher 101, he states, "Justly and rightly then shall we say that in the
      invisible soul the invisible God has His earthly dwelling place. And that
      the house may have both strength and loveliness, let its foundation be laid
      in natural excellence and good teachings." The best teachings of all, i.e.,
      the best foundation of all, is the Logos (Word) as the speach of God. This
      Logos is a Rock. So, in Det 118, Philo declares, "In another place he uses
      a synonym for this rock, and calls it 'manna.' Manna is the divine Logos."
      Hence, for such a house, the best foundation is the Rock, the Logos, as the
      speech of God..
      In Philonic thought, a flood can symbolize the onrush of wickedness and
      the passions. So, in Conf. 23, Philo states, "We have a symbol of this dire
      happening in the great deluge described in the words of the lawgiver, when
      the 'cataracts of heaven' poured forth the torrents of absolute wickedness
      in impetuous downfall and the 'fountains from the earth,' that is from the
      body (Gen. vii. 11), spouted forth the streams of each passion, streams many
      and great, and these, unitiing with the rainpour, in wild commotion eddied
      and swirled continually through the whole region of the soul".
      So, in terms of Philonic thought, what Jesus states in Luke 6:47-49 is
      that (1) a person who listens to and does his logoi (words) has a soul that
      is founded on God's speech and, so, when this soul is confronted by an
      onrush of passions and wickedness, it will not suscumb to them and that (2)
      a person who hears the logoi (words) of Jesus, but fails to do them, has no
      foundation upon which to withstand an onrush of wickedness and the passions
      and, so, does evil and loses its chance for immortality.
      The bottom line: you misrepresent my exegetical methodology, for I do not
      consistently take a house to mean a body. Also, see my final comments for
      the tone of what you say above.

      Mike, you say, "Nothing is as it seems in this McCoy-in-Wonderland world."
      See my final comments in this post.

      > Which is not to say that it's all bad, just that it's pretty much all
      > subjective - and ever-changing. (I wonder if you're aware of the irony of
      > your applying not only Philonic concepts, but Philonic methodology as
      > well.)

      Thank you. I read Philo for many years for the express purpose of
      learning to think like him. I assumed that one cannot understand the real
      Jesus of history unless one learns how to think like a Jewish contemporary
      of him. I know that, for you, this idea is another stupid layman thing that
      no biblical scholar like yourself would deem worthy of a second thought,
      for its not
      "scientific" or "rigorous". Well, my opinion, for what its worth, is that
      history is a humanities subject rather than a science and that being able to
      think like an early first century CE Jew is of greater help in enabling one
      to successfully complete the quest for the real Jesus of history than are
      all of the allegedly "scienific" techniques of modern biblical scholarship
      combined.
      By the way, I have a BA in history and it was some history professors who
      taught me that history is a humanities rather than a science.

      .
      And in spite of your professed willingness to discuss objections to
      > your analyses, you typically haven't done so. Instead, every three days or
      > so, we get a Philonic-type interpretation of yet another saying, without
      > adequate response to specific criticisms of prior ones. Tenacity is
      > certainly admirable up to a point, but you seem to be largely sweeping
      > aside, ignoring, and/or minimizing objections to your work, instead of
      > meeting them head-on.
      >
      I'm discussing your objections here point by point.

      > BTW, when are you going to work 'pistis' (faith) into the picture? One
      > could equally well argue that the woman is losing her faith. Are you going
      > to equate that with pneuma and sophia? Or do we have to await your
      > discovery of some passage in Philo before you commit yourself?

      Mike, the last sentence is dripping with sarcasm of me as a person. Your
      whole tone in your post is full of sarcasm for my views and sarcasm of me as
      a person. I cannot carry on a rational discussion of ideas with someone who
      acts this way towards my ideas and towards myself as a person, so this is my
      last post addressed to you.

      Sincerely,

      Framk McCoy
    • Michael Grondin
      Since the end of Frank McCoy s previous note is a controlling factor, I ll ... I m sorry to hear that. I m not aware of having expressed any sarcasm toward you
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 6, 2001
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        Since the end of Frank McCoy's previous note is a controlling factor, I'll
        start with that:

        >Your whole tone ... is full of sarcasm for my views and sarcasm of me as
        >a person. I cannot carry on a rational discussion of ideas with someone who
        >acts this way towards my ideas and towards myself as a person, so this is my
        >last post addressed to you.

        I'm sorry to hear that. I'm not aware of having expressed any sarcasm
        toward you as a person. If I did, I apologize. That having been said, I
        take you at your word, and will address myself to the remainder of your
        note with no expectation that you will respond.

        [Mike]:
        > ... epistemes(=pneuma=sophia) is like a soul that doesn't hold epistemes.

        [Frank]:
        > A soul without qualification is the whole soul of mind and
        sense-perception.
        > What I say is that the Kingdom in this passage is the meal not the woman.
        > [The sentence above], thus, is a gross misrepresentation of what I said.

        You're right. The nonsensicality I drew attention to derives from the form
        of the saying, not your interpretation of it. But what was the point of
        your delineating two types of soul, if you were then going to ignore that
        distinction in your interpretation?

        [Mike]:
        >> ... make up your mind. Either this soul loses the epistemes because it's
        >> the kind of soul that can't hold it, or because it's on the wrong road.
        >> Which is it?

        [Frank]:
        >... a soul that is losing her words/virtues is on the wrong road and a
        >soul on the wrong road is losing her words/virtues. Conversely, a soul that
        >is not losing her words/virtues is on the right road and a soul on the right
        >road is not losing her words/virtues. Got the picture now?

        So there are not, after all, two "types" of soul, as you earlier
        maintained. There are, rather, two roads that a soul may take. Fine, but
        there's nothing in the saying to indicate that this particular soul (the
        woman) is on "the wrong road", or even indeed that there IS an alternative
        road for her. What would have been different if she had been on "the right
        road"? Would she still have been headed back to her "house"? I think the
        answer is clearly "yes", but if so, your interpretation simply obscures the
        point of the parable, which is to avoid inattentiveness - and this has
        nothing to do with the house being the body, or with two different "roads".
        Rather, the house seems clearly to be a destination that the woman would
        have journeyed toward whether or not she lost the meal, thus it [the house]
        cannot represent the body. And the road itself has no particular importance
        that I can see, other than representing the long journey home.

        [Mike]:
        > How did this soul get out of its body in the first place? And wherein lay
        > her mistake? That she didn't notice the leaky jar, or that she was trying
        > to bring the flour back to her "house" at all? Also, it's really quite
        > absurd to say that "this road of vice and passions leads the soul to the
        > body", since the soul must already be subservient to the body in order to
        > even venture out on that road. You're tripping up all over the place on
        > your own equivalences.

        [Frank]:
        >Who knows how the soul got out of its body? It's not discussed in
        >the parable, but is simply presumed to have happened. In any event, the
        >parable is not to be taken literally.

        Suddenly shy? You were able to give a metaphorical explanation of just
        about every element of the parable, but you can't say what it means that
        the soul is presented as being on a journey outside of the body? Could it
        be because the house in Th97 isn't the body, after all?

        >[The point of the parable] is that a soul who chooses
        >the road of the vice and passions ends up imprisoned in the house of the
        >body and also ends up in total spiritual ignorance because it has forgotten
        >all the words/virtues it has been taught. Got it now?

        What I've got is your interpretation, but your interpretation isn't
        intuitively satisfying. I'll admit that what's lost may arguably be
        spiritual wisdom, but there's no indication that the soul ends up
        "imprisoned". Why can't it simply go out of its house again and get some
        more flour? On the other hand, if the house is a heavenly destination of
        some sort, then arriving there without the contents of the jar may be
        regarded as an irrecoverable oversight. (But see George Duffy's take on
        this, which came in as I was writing.)

        >Mike, what links the parables in GTh 97 and 98 is that, in each, the house
        >symbolizes the body. That's why they are in GTh together.

        I don't agree. The catch-word 'house' may have served to join them, but
        your claim that the house in Th97 represents the body seems indefensible to
        me, for reasons stated above. (I'll leave Th98 aside for now.)

        > The bottom line: you misrepresent my exegetical methodology, for I do not
        >consistently take a house to mean a body.

        Sorry. But then why do you not think that the house in Th97 isn't some sort
        of heavenly abode, or final destination from which the soul can no longer
        journey forth? That would explain your intuition that the soul can't leave
        the "house", once there. Your own interpretation, however, doesn't seem to
        support that intuition.

        [Mike]:
        > (I wonder if you're aware of the irony of your applying not only Philonic
        > concepts, but Philonic methodology as well.)

        [Frank]:
        > Thank you. I read Philo for many years for the express purpose of
        >learning to think like him. I assumed that one cannot understand the real
        >Jesus of history unless one learns how to think like a Jewish contemporary
        >of him.

        The fly in this particular ointment is that a contemporary of X may not
        think at all like X, except perhaps with respect to matters of basic
        knowledge. If Jesus was not a Hellenistic Jew like Philo, then Philo's
        thinking can only help in the most general of ways.

        >I know that, for you, this idea is another stupid layman thing that
        >no biblical scholar like yourself would deem worthy of a second thought,
        >for its not "scientific" or "rigorous".

        I do deplore the lack of rigor of this approach, but not because I'm a
        biblical scholar. In fact, I'm just a layman like yourself. But it's one
        thing to understand Philonic thought, quite another to adopt his
        "allegorical" technique for one's own. That technique is very old and quite
        disreputable, IMO. It depends too much on random and subjective conceptual
        and textual connections. In Philo's case, he was just simply wrong that the
        Pentateuch was intended to be understood in Platonic terms; the fact that
        it CAN be so understood (in a very unsystematic way, be it noted) doesn't
        show that it was INTENDED to be. Why should we repeat the methodological
        errors of 1st-century thinkers? (There's such a thing as getting so much
        into the head of someone else that you lose your objectivity about that
        person.)

        >... my opinion, for what its worth, is that
        >history is a humanities subject rather than a science and that being able to
        >think like an early first century CE Jew is of greater help in enabling one
        >to successfully complete the quest for the real Jesus of history than are
        >all of the allegedly "scienific" techniques of modern biblical scholarship
        >combined.

        I agree with much of this, although I see history as a hybrid. Seeing it
        strictly as a "humanity" seems to lead to all sorts of unwarranted
        conclusions about how to justify one's results - or even whether such
        justification is necessary, or whether there's any such thing as "results"!
        But as to putting oneself into the mindset of "an early first century CE
        Jew", I would rather suggest trying to put oneself into the mindset of the
        arrangers of GTh, and leaving it open whether or not they might have been
        early first century CE Jews - or devotees of Philonism. The way I look at
        it, the trick is not to force the evidence into a pre-determined box, but
        to let it speak for itself insofar as possible. This requires, I think,
        that intuitive "naturalness" and intra-textual consistency be regarded as
        ultimate tests of any interpretation. When we have to pile on a conceptual
        apparatus that doesn't seem to be there, we're probably on the wrong track.

        Mike
      • mgrondin@tir.com
        It occurred to me after writing my last note on this subject, that it might be possible to save part of Frank s interpretation, namely the idea of house as
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 7, 2001
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          It occurred to me after writing my last note on this subject, that
          it might be possible to save part of Frank's interpretation, namely
          the idea of house as body in both 97 and 98. In order to do so, it
          seems necessary to put a Gnostic twist on the interpretation, and
          I'll try to sketch that out here.

          Readers of the Apocryphon of John and other Gnostic works may recall
          that a common idea in such systems was that of the soul losing the
          memory of its pre-birth existence, upon entering the body. This
          pre-birth memory could, however, be reawakened, and "gnosis" was
          typically associated with such a "reawakening", often by means of
          the words of a savior-figure. Be that as it may, at the moment
          I want to concentrate not on the reawakening, but on the loss of
          memory idea. And I'm going to suggest that in Th97, the loss of the
          contents of the jar may be likened (in a gnostic scenario) to the
          necessary, but unforeseeable, loss of the soul's prebirth memory.

          OK, here's how the gnostic story might go: the woman travelling on
          the road is a soul descending to earth to enter into a body - her
          "house". She isn't aware of the fact that her memory is going to
          be lost on this journey, but it will. The "spilling" has to happen.
          But now when she gets to her house, she no longer has any memory of
          her pre-birth existence. That's the existential dilemma that the
          gnostics postulated. If that's what the arrangers of GTh thought
          that Th97 meant, then perhaps Th98 WAS intended (as Frank claims)
          to suggest "a way out". It doesn't seem to be the standard gnostic
          way out, but then GTh is not your standard gnostic text, and anyway,
          Th98 may represent only the BEGINNING (or a part) of a way out, not
          the entire story. One little word may be crucial - the word 'TOTE'.
          Normally, it's translated 'then', but it seems to have a temporal
          dimension as well - as in 'at that moment' or 'just then'. What a
          difference it makes if we read Th98 as saying at the end, "At that
          moment [i.e., when he stuck the sword in the wall], he slew the
          powerful man"!

          I'm not necessarily recommending the above as an interpretation of
          Th97, but it does seem to avoid the difficulties of Frank's Philonic
          interpretation, while at the same time, preserving his intuitions
          that the "house" in 97-98 is the body, and that 97-98 may thus be
          a dilemma-solution pair.

          One more note: the saying about "coming into the world empty"
          doesn't imply a gnostic interpretation of Th97, since it doesn't
          imply that anything has been lost on the way into the world. But
          it does imply something that both the gnostic interpretation and
          my own (more traditional) one have in common, namely the necessity
          of getting something out of this world in order to prepare oneself
          for the other world. This in turn clearly implies that asceticism,
          by itself, isn't sufficient to guarantee "eternal Life".

          Mike
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