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Strata and possibilities( Clarification)?

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  • BitsyCat1@aol.com
    The strata listed are interesting. And yet I wonder at their provability? These would be true only if the original never alluded to a Gnostic like tradition.
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 26, 2001
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      The strata listed are interesting.
      And yet I wonder at their provability?
      These would be true only if the original never alluded to a Gnostic like
      tradition.
      Bearing in mind the earlier discussions that have passed through the
      Gospel of Thomas
      I am reminded of the statements Mike made.To the effect that all Christianity
      is Low level Gnostic.
      Therefore I ask this question. If Paul and the early Christian writers
      were writing in a Gnostic Fashion.( originally),
      If we therefore try to divide the Gospel of Thomas into original versus
      Gnostic. Is this a valid division? Would you not be extracting original
      material based on a potentially biased premise. That is that if it sounds
      Gnostic it must be later?
      This would not therefore conform to the other discussions that we have
      had and have had many different citings in the Greek (as well as some
      discussion of the Aramaic)
      If a division would be made perhaps it would be early or late? Or
      perhaps based on Language( Aramaic/Greek/Coptic)?
      There may be potential strata based on the Language changes alone.
      Perhaps some clarification of Why we should extract or attempt to
      separate the Christian Gnostic from the Coptic Gnostic from the other
      (ascetic).
      As well as some comment of how you could insure that None of the
      Gnostic is not original to the Sayings and the author?
      Regards johnmoon3717@...
      John Moon
      Springfield,TN37172
    • Rick Hubbard
      John; Thanks for the post. Several of the questions you raise I can t answer directly, simply because I was only trying to place before the group a portion of
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 26, 2001
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        John;

        Thanks for the post. Several of the questions you raise I can't
        answer directly, simply because I was only trying to place before
        the group a portion of the arguments made by one scholar (who
        happens to be Bill Arnal). On the other hand, I do not mean to
        transfer to him the responsibility of clarifying my own remarks.

        Your response, however, reminds me of the hesitancy I had when I
        tried to create the summary: there is much that was said in the
        full article that was arbitrarily omitted from my post. Without
        that article ready-to-hand, I am not surprised that many
        questions remain. In a perfect world, you would have a copy of
        the article in front of you, which I confidently presume you do
        not (although not from any fault of your own).

        Nevertheless, you ask a few pertinent questions which I'll do my
        best to answer.

        FIRST, you inquired at the outset, whether Arnal's (or any
        other's) stratification model is "provable." The short answer is,
        "No." In order for that to be the case there would need to be two
        original language copies of Thomas available, each of which would
        be respectively identified as "original" and "redacted, second
        edition." Obviously, no such copies exist. The model is not,
        then, provable.

        On the other hand, if you will permit me to rephrase your
        question, "Is such a hypothetical reconstruction **defensible**,"
        the answer is an unequivocal,: "Yes." But this answer is only
        defensible within the context of a century or two of the history
        of critical scholarship. Unless one has some sense of the shape
        of that trajectory, and an appreciation of the processes by which
        its general premises and methods developed, then the answer would
        inevitably be "No."

        It may very well be, then, that the stratification hypothesis is
        indefensible from your own perspective (since I surmise that you
        do not have the requisite exposure to the discipline, although
        you DO have the necessary curiosity). That does not mean,
        however, that it is not defensible from another perspective
        (i.e., that of professional scholars).

        SECOND, you offer that, "These [stratification hypotheses?] would
        be true only if the original never alluded to a Gnostic like
        tradition."

        "Allusions" are elusive (and sometime illusory). More
        importantly, a legitimate allusion presupposes that the referent
        is precisely defined. The question I return to you is, what
        qualifies as a "Gnostic like Tradition"? Does the referent need
        to be so explicit as to mention some personification (e.g.,
        Barbelo) or does "Gnostic like" also encompass fundamental
        dichotomies such as light/darkness, hidden/revealed and
        knowledge/ignorance?

        The answer to this question, it seems to me, depends on whether
        one [in this case, *you*] persists with a purely documentary, or
        literary, approach to the larger issue. As long as we search,
        intra- and extra-textually, for equivalencies upon which to
        construct arguments for "allusions," the less likely it is that
        we will move any closer to answer two fundamentally important
        questions, (a). How did Christianity develop during the first
        decades after the execution of Jesus and, (b). Were there any
        alternative interpretations of what Jesus said and did outside of
        the records that have been preserved in the biblical corpus that
        are informative? It seems to me that GTh can provide illumination
        on both of these questions, provided that we do not rely
        excessively, or exclusively, upon documentary approaches.

        THIRD, it is my opinion that efforts to dissect Thomas using any
        combination of translational hypotheses are hopelessly eccentric.
        The texts which most of us have before us are translations into
        English from Coptic an Egyptian language. Coptic is riven with
        Greek loan-words. Enclaves of the ancient Mediterranean basin
        were populated with residents whose day-to-day language **may**
        have been Aramaic. The influence of Greek upon Aramaic, or the
        reverse, is open to debate. In any case, within such a narrow
        geographic and cultural stage, the likelihood that nuances
        between/among could be significant is infinitesimal and
        unimportant.

        FINALLY, with respect to the certitude of scholarly approaches to
        Thomas, you write: "how ... could [you] insure that None of the
        Gnostic is not [sic] original.."

        To which I say, if you want to insure ANYTHING, look in the
        yellow pages under "I."

        Rick Hubbard
        Humble Maine Woodsman

        -----Original Message-----
        From: BitsyCat1@... [mailto:BitsyCat1@...]
        Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 1:19 PM
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [GTh] Strata and possibilities( Clarification)?


        The strata listed are interesting.
        And yet I wonder at their provability?
        These would be true only if the original never alluded to a
        Gnostic like
        tradition.
        Bearing in mind the earlier discussions that have passed
        through the
        Gospel of Thomas
        I am reminded of the statements Mike made.To the effect that all
        Christianity
        is Low level Gnostic.
        Therefore I ask this question. If Paul and the early
        Christian writers
        were writing in a Gnostic Fashion.( originally),
        If we therefore try to divide the Gospel of Thomas into
        original versus
        Gnostic. Is this a valid division? Would you not be extracting
        original
        material based on a potentially biased premise. That is that if
        it sounds
        Gnostic it must be later?
        This would not therefore conform to the other discussions
        that we have
        had and have had many different citings in the Greek (as well as
        some
        discussion of the Aramaic)
        If a division would be made perhaps it would be early or
        late? Or
        perhaps based on Language( Aramaic/Greek/Coptic)?
        There may be potential strata based on the Language
        changes alone.
        Perhaps some clarification of Why we should extract or
        attempt to
        separate the Christian Gnostic from the Coptic Gnostic from the
        other
        (ascetic).
        As well as some comment of how you could insure that None
        of the
        Gnostic is not original to the Sayings and the author?
        Regards johnmoon3717@...
        John Moon
        Springfield,TN37172



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      • BitsyCat1@aol.com
        Thank you for the response. I did not say that it was not well done, nor was it uninteresting. In fact I use the stratification as posted in my remarks upon
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 26, 2001
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          Thank you for the response.
          I did not say that it was not well done, nor was it uninteresting. In fact
          I use the stratification as posted in my remarks upon the other Gospel of
          Thomas list.
          What had struck me though in the discussion I have followed is whether or
          not
          The lines between what (presumably Jesus) actually taught (original
          Christianity)
          and the concept of Gnostic Christianity, where they (those lines) appear to
          get very shall we say fuzzy?
          The response to the use I made of the stratification was interesting. The
          citing
          of Non Gnostic (as classed) verses and the explanations of why they believed
          that these were related, as well as to the New testament itself. This Made me
          decide to take the plunge and ask.
          That is we can stratify and find layers, but perhaps I am wondering at the
          Labeling
          of original versus Gnostic.
          I am of course fully aware (no pun intended) of the Gnostic cue points.
          However
          It would appear that some evidence exists to suggest that a pre Christian
          Gnostic
          existed (which I believe we discussed on the list some time back).Therefore
          the question becomes might not the original (although possibly redacted
          later) have been at least partially Gnostic.
          That is if the original teaching was Jewish Gnostic, we can divide it
          between
          Non Gnostic and Gnostic, but it may tell us nothing about the dating per se.
          That is whether it is early or late.
          By asking the question I (not being critical) hoped to foster a little
          discussion over the various methods of Stratification and their application
          to the Gospel of Thomas.
          It would be my hope that others would comment on the various methods
          and the article in the spirit of Debate and good scholarship.

          Regards John Moon

          Springfield, TN 37172

          johnmoon3717@...
        • Rick Hubbard
          More than a week ago, John Moon requested some additional clarification about the distinctions between gnostic and non-gnostic elements in GTh. My apology
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 4, 2001
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            More than a week ago, John Moon requested some additional
            clarification about the distinctions between "gnostic" and
            "non-gnostic" elements in GTh. My apology for the delay (see my
            response to Mark Goodacre for my excuse).

            [John wrote:]
            The lines between what (presumably Jesus) actually taught
            (original
            Christianity)
            and the concept of Gnostic Christianity, where they (those lines)
            appear to
            get very shall we say fuzzy?

            [snip]
            It would appear that some evidence exists to suggest that a pre
            Christian
            Gnostic
            existed (which I believe we discussed on the list some time
            back).Therefore
            the question becomes might not the original (although possibly
            redacted
            later) have been at least partially Gnostic.

            If I comprehend correctly, I think your first question can be
            restated this way:

            [1] Are the "lines of distinction" between the "gnostic" and
            "wisdom" strata always clearly defined?

            No, I don't think they are always clearly defined (if I
            understand Bill Arnal's HTR article, a discussion of which
            initiated this thread in the first place). That is not to say
            however, that there are not some "signals" that point to gnostic
            characteristics. These signals include (pp.478f):

            A. The presence of "gnostic mythological motifs" (e.g., 50, 101).
            B. "Deliberate obscurity and use of external points of reference"
            (15, 84).
            C. The presence of "named disciples" (13,21,61,114).
            D. "Tendency toward the dialogue form" (13,22,60,61).
            E. Word plays (18, 101).
            F. Arrangement of sayings in pairs (21+22, 27+28, 50+51, 60+61,
            83+84).
            G. Themes of:
            becoming one, single or alone (11, 22, 48, 61, 114);
            the end is the beginning (18, 49);
            salvation as the avoidance of death (18, 61, 111);
            use of the word "living" (11, 50, 101, 111);
            use of the term "repose" (50, 60);
            references to "light" (50, 61, 83);
            the image of drinking from Jesus' mouth (13, 28, 108).

            When more than one of these characteristics are present in a
            single saying (and as you can see from above, this happens
            frequently), it becomes most certain that it is evidence of
            gnostic redaction.

            John's second question seems to be:

            [2] Is it possible that the gnostic strata is original and the
            sapiential strata is secondary?

            Bill seems to say that the answer is "no." He offers three
            observations (p.479).

            A. "...in terms of the history of the tradition, this order
            [wisdom to gnostic] makes most sense in its progression from
            inversionary wisdom to Gnosticism."

            B. "... the interpretation of the document as a whole is
            controlled by the incipit and the first two sayings, directing
            the reader to a 'hermeneutic of penetration' for all that
            follows. It is precisely through this device that the gnostic
            redaction is able to subsume and interpret the wisdom material in
            line with its own perspective."

            C. "...although the themes which characterize each stratum appear
            to be distinct from each other, there are secondary glosses to
            the wisdom material from the gnostic perspective."

            It seems safe, therefore, to characterize the secondary strand as
            gnostic and the primary stratum as wisdom. I also think that
            John's concern that the distinctions between the two do not
            always "glow in the dark" is valid. One who wishes to attend to
            these distinctions is advised to read VERY carefully.

            Rick Hubbard
            Humble Maine Woodsman
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