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Re: [GTh] GTH 1: Ten Questions and Two Notes

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  • Isidoros
    Rick Hubbard wrote on Fri, 13 Jul 2001, [... have resolved to prepare a list of 1,000 questions ...] Dear Rick, first, may I wish you the best on getting on
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 16, 2001
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      Rick Hubbard wrote on Fri, 13 Jul 2001,

      [... have resolved to prepare a list of 1,000 questions ...]

      Dear Rick,

      first, may I wish you the best on getting on with your resolution;
      the best, most fruitful of an outcome. At the same time, I feel obliged
      to add here that I, personally, would had not assumed to taken on
      such an approach. Methodological issues, my own mind's "daemons,"
      would had prohibited a task of the sort. But if you think it fruitful
      to you and for all, please, by all means...

      Pursuant to this, and I think relevant to most of ten or so of the points
      you queried, even if addressing only the first and last of the lot,
      here are some critical comments, for what may be possibly worth.

      >Now the questions:
      >
      >1.1 Who was the author of the Gospel of Thomas? The word Thomas
      >means “the Twin” in Semitic languages (of which Hebrew and
      >Aramaic are representatives). Didymos is the Greek translation of
      >the Semitic word. It therefore also means “the Twin.” Judas is a
      >proper, or personal, name. It seems therefore possible that the
      >name mentioned in the opening lines could be rendered as Judas
      >the Twin.

      The word "thomas" means not merely, or should I say not nearly,
      "twin" in Semitic languages. There are other meanings and nuances,
      and at that even more relevant to your pursuit. Nor is it necessarily
      this word to be found only within the "Semitic." "Language trees,"
      language "families," and other like minded structuralist classes,
      while possibly helpful to categorize cultural voices in certain respects,
      are, too, most always limiting, and often condescending or misleading.

      You assume "thomas" to be Semitic. Could it be also (?) though,
      Indoeuropean? -- to use the "other" "family" nomen-- not to say
      Greek?! See, you will find the word in Greek alright, in the Ionic
      dialectal form of the Hellenic, about the same "thomas," both in its verb
      and noun forms. But, you, or any one, has to *really* read the Hellenic
      *through*, and not get by on any given, token literalist formulae:
      "this" means (by "translation" taken to signify "equals," = ) "that"!

      Similarly with your reference to Didymos:

      > Didymos is the Greek translation of the Semitic word.
      > It therefore also means “the Twin.”


      To start with, Didymos may not be merely a translation of the Semitic,
      let alone to being a translation. Didymos may be Greek proper. Originally
      in Greek. Or it might had been a rendering specifically designed to convey
      a special meaning, such as said "twin" might not convey. Which does
      not appear though here to be the case. Just as Ioudas is original
      Hellenic.

      An aside: our usage there (too) of the "therefore" may not be taken so
      "straight" as is seemingly intended; may not be assumed to function
      logically, axiomaticly. And let me add, that I take the included "also"
      in the latter sentence, to be merely a superfluous add on; a worthless,
      though practically harmless, intruder.

      By the same, you may not say, as if intent to master "progress" on,
      "Regardless of how the name is rendered," as you do say, following,
      in section 1.2. See, the whole point of an academic discourse (and in
      a list with spiritual ... aspirations, hopefully -- didn't say religious!)
      is that the "how" a "name" is rendered is about all that matters in the
      discourse!

      Re

      > Judas is a
      >proper, or personal, name. It seems therefore possible that the
      >name mentioned in the opening lines could be rendered as Judas
      the Twin.

      all I should wish to further add is, please, you should not want to
      proceed like this, by "therefore" or other intended abridgements.
      You should not want to stay literalist, if you should ever hope
      to approach the substance of your No. 10 goal. IOYDAS is not just a
      proper name. It might have become one. Like George, Georgios,
      Gewrgios and Gewrgos, the tiller of the earth, plowman, or abouts,
      which over continents and time became plain, meaningless "George."
      You have been told, things are "hidden". (In marks, to signify the imprecision
      of the rendering.( So if you should hope to get below skin level, past the
      appearances, you have to look for the hidden meanings below or beyond
      the whatever received, popularly "translated" words. You have to get
      down to the near origins.

      As must also seize to being "logical," or you'll end plucked like Plato's
      man! Immediately above, you have used another "therefore". One should
      not have to do this, to think like that, like in quantum jumps. And, no,
      the qualifying clauses you usually insert to absorb some of the ensuing
      shock (therefore possible ... therefore could, etc ..) will not, do not seem
      to prevent one from keep amassing myriads of utterly used sound bytes.
      No end, nearly, by means of that. On the contrary, it's an "easy" means
      to adding on to the usual, scholarly, defective words composite pile,
      that would soon after be exposed out on the abysmal intellectual Keadas.
      1.000 questions!!! Why? How do you know? Is there merit to the many?

      Why add to the Labyrinth corridors? Is there not enough twisted forks?
      Not enough "grafitti" on the walls? wall signs? Really, all one has to do
      is read through what is there! Through symbolism and time. For
      1.000... is like setting up an agenda so as to be indefinitely on the road,
      stopping at one thousand ports, on the way to some Ithaka, chatting an-on,
      like setting up a roving house of self-servicing intellectual masturbation--
      really not an uncommon thing within the scholarly world.

      For, who knows? maybe one good word stop would suffice to pick up
      Ariadne's thread and, after some wonderment and twisting and turning,
      essentially get out of this one (too) religious labyrinthine maze. Or
      after ten,
      or fifteen word stops, of hundreds; precisely as many as the task might
      call for -- borne and take up and contemplated one-at-a-time!

      Are you not boring one at a time? I myself will ask. I think not. There
      at work may be a mass, quantitatively assumed approach that necessarily
      interferes with the outcome, qualitatively. I am not objecting to the querying,
      should want to make clear. Only to the method of asking.

      >1.10 Finally, as the “Notes” entry indicates, it is uncertain
      >who is the speaker of the line that begins with, “Whoever finds
      >the meaning…” Was it Jesus or the person who is reported to have
      >written down the hidden or secret sayings? Moreover, exactly how
      >does finding the meanings of these sayings prevent one from
      >“tasting” or “experiencing death?

      "Moreover, exactly how ..."!

      ... "exactly" how? ... death!

      Rick! ey, slow down a bit. Sit on your words; take it a little easier,
      with the whole process -- if you ever want to approach Ithaka's port.

      >Can this be understood as the
      >“key” to Thomas?

      Right. Let us belabor the obvious.
      (Hey, here I am being only ... facetious :(

      >Is this the reason why there is no mention in
      >the Gospel of Thomas of Jesus’ death and resurrection as the
      >Christ?

      Sorted 'em out better, and cut *through*, them words!

      >Is there another scheme of salvation at work here? If so,
      >what is it?

      No. No other scheme. Same one. 'tis simply an (other) offshoot of
      the one (same) tradition, over space/time. It is another "branch",
      though people who look only above the horizon-cut mistakenly see it
      as if a "tree," separate. But it is same. And tho this tradition, too,
      has undergone various "filterings" (the main ones intentional)
      along with some umpteen oral transfigurations (retellings), so as to
      appear to another as other, to any one with any simple introduction
      to the tradition it should all appear to be the same.
      Same one soteriology. Somewhat different the catechetical word play.

      >Rick Hubbard
      >Humble Maine Woodsman

      In the spirit of agape
      (even, and especially, for the intended
      -- all well meant -- remarks made personally).

      Isidoros, Athens
    • Rick Hubbard
      Thank you Isodorus for your lengthy response. This is precisely the kind of reaction I had hoped these questions would elicit from someone. When I framed these
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 17, 2001
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        Thank you Isodorus for your lengthy response. This is precisely
        the kind of reaction I had hoped these questions would elicit
        from someone.

        When I framed these questions, I intentionally avoided citing
        secondary studies as sources. I suspected that if the questions
        were constructed in the manner that I chose, then some very
        incisive remarks might emerge from at least some people.
        Apparently I was correct.

        You have raised some thought provoking issues. First, you seem to
        suggest that the conclusions reached by scholars that, [1] the
        name Thomas is Semitic in origin, [2] that Didymos literally
        means "twin" and, [3] that Judas is a proper name, have become
        assumptions that need to be re-examined. If so, if those
        conclusions are unwarranted assumptions, then it seems to me that
        many reference works, scholarly studies and English translations
        will need to properly annotated.

        The venerable _Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible_ (Nashville:
        Abingdon, 1962), identifies the origin of the Greek form of
        Thomas in Aramaic (ibid, "Thomas") and defines it briefly as
        "twin."

        Bauer's _Greek English Lexicon_. (Chicago: University of Chicago
        Press, 1957), provides essentially the same information (ibid,
        "QWMAS"). In that entry, Bauer also cites a study of Northern
        Semitic languages which determined that the Aramaic word "was
        never used simply as a surname."

        With only these two reference works in mind, perhaps one can
        understand this remark by Stephen Patterson regarding Didymos
        Judas Thomas in the incipit to the Gospel of Thomas. "of the
        three names strung together here only one is a bonafide given
        name. Thomas is simply the Semitic word for 'twin.' Didymos, on
        the other hand, is its Greek translation. Only Judas here is a
        real name." [Kloppengorg, J., et. al. _Q Thomas Reader_ (Sonoma:
        Polebridge Press, 1990) 90].

        Helmut Koester observes also, "'Thomas' is not a proper name but
        a transcription of the Aramaic word for 'twin,' and the Greek
        word 'Didymus' also means 'twin.' The Syrian tradition as well as
        the Gospel of Thomas have preserved his given name: Thomas."
        [idem, _Ancient Christian Gospels_. (Philadelphia/London: Trinity
        Press International/SCM Press Ltd., 1990) 79].

        Against this background, you have placed some intriguing
        observations:

        First, you suggest that Thomas has other meanings in the Semitic
        language family/families:
        [Isodorus wrote:]
        "The word "thomas" means not merely, or should I say not nearly,
        "twin" in Semitic languages. There are other meanings and
        nuances, [ snip]].

        Since I have no pretensions about my competence in Aramaic or
        Hebrew, it would be instructive to learn what are the other
        "meanings and nuances" and in what literature those alternatives
        are witnessed.

        Second, you point out that the word Thomas is present in the
        Ionic dialect both in nominal and verbal forms.
        [Isodorus wrote:]
        You assume "thomas" to be Semitic. Could it be also (?) though,
        Indoeuropean? -- to use the "other" "family" nomen-- not to say
        Greek?! See, you will find the word in Greek alright, in the
        Ionic
        dialectal form of the Hellenic, about the same "thomas," both in
        its verb
        and noun forms.[snip].

        You are, of course, indisputably more familiar with Ionic than am
        I. The only resource that I have at hand that could even come
        close to helping in this regard is the 1968 edition of Liddell &
        Scott's _Greek-English Lexicon_ (Oxford: University Press, 1968).
        That is hardly the best resource, I understand (by the way, I
        note with some puzzlement that QWMAS seems not to be present at
        all in this massive work). It would be helpful to have references
        to where and how the word Thomas occurs in Ionic literature, and
        in particular, whether it is ever used as a proper noun.

        Third, you may be perfectly correct in your observation that the
        name Judas is, or was at one time, something other than a proper
        name. It is conventionally understood to derive from a Hebrew
        word meaning "to praise." But in the case at hand, there seems to
        be virtually no explanation for its usage than as a proper name.

        The sum of what you seem to say is that Didymos Judas Thomas in
        the incipit to GTh **is** a proper name, is that correct?

        If that is what you mean, then I wonder what implication that has
        for the Five Big Questions about the Gospel of Thomas that seem
        to plague scholars and generalists alike?

        Finally, regarding your criticism of my writing style,
        methodology, engagement etc., all I can say is that I'll try to
        do better.

        Rick Hubbard
        Humble Maine Woodsman
      • smithand44@hotmail.com
        ... I think that s really the correct way to approach lists like this. Referrals to secondary literature are obviously helpful and important but usually beyond
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 17, 2001
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          --- In gthomas@y..., "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@m...> wrote:
          > Thank you Isodorus for your lengthy response. This is precisely
          > the kind of reaction I had hoped these questions would elicit
          > from someone.
          >
          > When I framed these questions, I intentionally avoided citing
          > secondary studies as sources. I suspected that if the questions
          > were constructed in the manner that I chose, then some very
          > incisive remarks might emerge from at least some people.
          > Apparently I was correct.


          I think that's really the correct way to approach lists like this.
          Referrals to secondary literature are obviously helpful and important
          but usually beyond reach. But if we argue things back and forth we
          improve our reasoning and can often come to something.


          > With only these two reference works in mind, perhaps one can
          > understand this remark by Stephen Patterson regarding Didymos
          > Judas Thomas in the incipit to the Gospel of Thomas. "of the
          > three names strung together here only one is a bonafide given
          > name. Thomas is simply the Semitic word for 'twin.' Didymos, on
          > the other hand, is its Greek translation. Only Judas here is a
          > real name." [Kloppengorg, J., et. al. _Q Thomas Reader_ (Sonoma:
          > Polebridge Press, 1990) 90].

          Coptic has many Greek loanwords. Is Didymos one of them? In that case
          a reader of the Coptic text might read "twin" instead of a name.
          Would a Coptic reader understand Didymos as "twin" or as a name?

          Best

          Andrew Smith
        • Rick Hubbard
          {Andrew wrote:(regarding absence of citations of secondary sources):] I think that s really the correct way to approach lists like this. Referrals to secondary
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 19, 2001
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            {Andrew wrote:(regarding absence of citations of secondary
            sources):]


            I think that's really the correct way to approach lists like
            this.
            Referrals to secondary literature are obviously helpful and
            important
            but usually beyond reach. But if we argue things back and forth
            we
            improve our reasoning and can often come to something.

            I understand what you say about the "inaccessibility issue." I
            customarily try to include such citations precisely because I
            know most folk can't get access to most of this stuff. By
            including such citations, it seems to me that it helps convey
            some sense of what contemporary scholarship is thinking and
            saying. It has the added advantage of sorting out, for list
            members, the difference between what "Rick says" and what
            qualified professional scholars say (the other benefit is that if
            I say something particularly controversial, I can always
            attribute it to someone else <grin>).

            [snip}
            Andrew wrote (regarding the use of the word Didymos in the GTh
            Incipit):]

            Coptic has many Greek loanwords. Is Didymos one of them? In that
            case
            a reader of the Coptic text might read "twin" instead of a name.
            Would a Coptic reader understand Didymos as "twin" or as a name?

            Presumably, Didymos would be classified as such a "loanword." In
            that case, as you suggest, perhaps a Copt may have read the text
            as "twin" and not as a proper name. That's probably a question
            for which there is no answer. Another question for which there is
            also probably no answer is whether the translator of Coptic GTh
            misunderstood "didymos" or whether he/she used it intentionally
            in order to refer to some specific person. I'm not sure if this
            sheds any light on the question or not, but consider the incipit
            to the Book of Thomas the Contender (NHC II,7 138:1-2):

            "The secret words that the savior spoke to Judas Thomas which I,
            even I Mathaias wrote down."

            Did the "author" of ThCont "get it right" or was there some
            difference of editorial intent at work here?

            Consider also POxy 654.1-5: "These are the [secret] sayings
            [which] the living Jesus [spoke and which Judas, who is] also
            Thomas recorded..." If Coptic Thomas was a translation from a
            Greek text (which is likely), and if POxy 654 reflects the same
            text (or text-family) from which Coptic GTh was translated (which
            cannot be determined with certainty), the question persists, "Why
            Didymos Judas Thomas?" in GTh.

            Among The Big Five Questions, "Who" is one of the most
            fascinating, but in this case, the most elusive. Nevertheless, it
            seems to me, the "Who" is especially important because it may
            determine how we frame our answers to the other four of The Big
            Five (i.e., Where, When, Why and What) in reference to Thomas.

            Rick Hubbard
            Humble Maine Woodsman
          • smithand44@hotmail.com
            ... Of course yes, it s important to have the citations, and a dozen well chosen books can make a huge difference (and needn t be too expensive if you re
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 19, 2001
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              --- In gthomas@y..., "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@m...> wrote:
              > {Andrew wrote:(regarding absence of citations of secondary
              > sources):]
              >
              >
              > I think that's really the correct way to approach lists like
              > this.
              > Referrals to secondary literature are obviously helpful and
              > important
              > but usually beyond reach. But if we argue things back and forth
              > we
              > improve our reasoning and can often come to something.
              >
              > I understand what you say about the "inaccessibility issue." I
              > customarily try to include such citations precisely because I
              > know most folk can't get access to most of this stuff. By
              > including such citations, it seems to me that it helps convey
              > some sense of what contemporary scholarship is thinking and
              > saying. It has the added advantage of sorting out, for list
              > members, the difference between what "Rick says" and what
              > qualified professional scholars say (the other benefit is that if
              > I say something particularly controversial, I can always
              > attribute it to someone else <grin>).
              >
              Of course yes, it's important to have the citations, and a dozen well
              chosen books can make a huge difference (and needn't be too expensive
              if you're willing to search the internet for bargains. As an aside,
              Ron Cameron's "The Other Gospels" seems to be remaindered at the
              moment and there are a number of copies on half.com from $5-$10.)

              I was thinking more of the thread-killing "see his ground breaking
              article in the Aberystwyth Theological Review of May 1924" and that
              sort of thing, giving a reference that few of us can follow up with
              no hint of the arguments contained therein.

              Best Wishes

              Andrew Smith
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