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editors & compilers

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  • Jim Bauer
    Since my last post--Neoplatonism--I ve been thinking about precisely how Thomas got into the NHL. As with all evolutionary systems there must have been some
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 17, 2002
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      Since my last post--Neoplatonism--I've been thinking about precisely how Thomas got into the NHL. As with all evolutionary systems there must have been some set of selection processes, for. as Lewontin defined it, evolution consists of heritability, variability and selection. Note that this s not an exclusively biological concept. It can also include all manner of psychological and social systems. In this case the effort is to determine what selection processes which went into choosing which documents were or weren't to survive the presumed purge of the library at the nearby monastery. These would be the compilers, the ones who, upon news that the bishop was coming or something, hurriedly started stuffing clay vases with manuscripts. Was there just one or did a whole bunch of people get together, and start voting on what they wanted?

      Before this happened, though, there is the matter of the editors, the ones who presumably, at times inserted, deleted, or modified existing verses. The ones which were most "robust" (a term from information science to indicate stability), were those which most closely paralleled Q and oral tradition. Evolution works by building up robust systems, no matter what the information content, gene or meme (replicating systems such as ideas or myths). The most common point of convergence between the canonicals and Thomas is the parables. These therefore possibly survived as potentially authentically closer to the historical Jesus. Certainly this form of literary style has a great commonality there. Even were this not so Christian editors of Thomas might have wanted to see elements of Jesus' (assumed) parables present in a "gnostic" text. Conversely, gnostics probably wanted to Christianize the text.

      The question I have for the group is--how did GThomas get included in this much larger process of determining precisely which scriptures became the NHL? It is necessary when dealing with any complex system to view it holistically. Mostly, the point of this post is to secure more firmly Thomas into the whole larger system of which it is a part

      Jim Bauer

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