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Re: [GTh] #95 & #109

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  • Jim Bauer
    I was just digging around in Strong s exhaustive concordance trying to find a line of scripture which I think relevant to this discussion. It was the line,
    Message 1 of 25 , Mar 8, 2002
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      I was just digging around in Strong's exhaustive concordance trying to find
      a line of scripture which I think relevant to this discussion. It was the
      line, spoken to Peter(?), "Go, sell all that you have and come follow me."
      The idea is that encouraging people to give away their money and join a
      group led by a wandering itinerant wisdom teacher may be part of some
      general ascetic slant on the part of the authors of Thomas. I didn't find
      the passage I wanted but instead found the following. Matthew 13:44, which
      parallels Thomas very strikingly:
      "The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found
      and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys
      that field."

      The material here is recognizably similar to the version in Thomas, but
      Thomas seems more complete, more complex, adds more detail. One argument
      often made about Thomas as a possible source of original sayings/historical
      Jesus material for the Bible is that the canonical ones seem to have been
      fleshed out, that Thomas is more primitive. Yet in this case it seems like
      the opposite happened and loss of components has actually made it more
      adaptive to its audience. As in Matthew 13:52, it seems a mixture of "what
      is new and old". Ideas only survive if they are selected-for, so possibly
      the saying had to be pared down to make it acceptable to a Gentile audience,
      which in turn allowed it to survive as a creed (Christianity) and not a cult
      (Gnosticism and related ideas).

      (45) continues with a similar theme:

      "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a man in search of fine pearls, who,
      on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and
      bought it."

      I am particularly impressed between the resemblance's here between this
      scripture and the Gnostic "The Hymn of the Pearl". I am not well acquainted
      enough with this particular scripture to objectively comment on this
      particular bit of speculation.

      #47 repeats a theme from Thomas--a net being cast into the sea by a wise
      fisherman--but at a different location in the text. In Thomas this
      particular parable, #8, is removed from the two sayings, #95 and #109, which
      were originally being discussed here. In this case it does seem to resemble
      the idea that Thomas was put together somewhat randomly, or perhaps that the
      author of Matthew deliberately chose to cluster these sayings purely as a
      literary device.

      Jim Bauer
    • mwgrondin
      ... But Dave, the person who finds the treasure in Th109, and who then proceeds to lend money at interest, is not the one who originally owned the family plot,
      Message 2 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
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        --- Dave Hindley wrote:
        > I do not think that it is an uncritical assumption to
        > understand ... GoT 109 to be a representation of
        > the joy someone might feel to be unexpectedly released from
        > a subsistence existence (specifically, as a freeholding
        > peasant farming a family plot) to the much more secure
        > position of a wealthy man with money to lend to Gentiles.

        But Dave, the person who finds the treasure in Th109, and who then
        proceeds to lend money at interest, is not the one who originally
        owned the family plot, and evidently is not a peasant. For all we
        know, this buyer might have been a Gentile.

        Regards,
        Mike
      • David C. Hindley
        ... who then proceeds to lend money at interest, is not the one who originally owned the family plot, and evidently is not a peasant. For all we know, this
        Message 3 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
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          Mike Grondin says:

          >>But Dave, the person who finds the treasure in Th109, and
          who then proceeds to lend money at interest, is not the one
          who originally owned the family plot, and evidently is not a
          peasant. For all we know, this buyer might have been a
          Gentile.<<

          You are right that I assumed the ethnicity of the subject of
          the story was a Jew. In a way, you have uncovered a problem
          in my way of interpretation of these sayings. Ironically, it
          is the same problem I complained that others were doing.
          <oops!>

          I am not sure I understand what you mean when you say the
          man who finds the treasure was "not a peasant."

          109) Jesus said, "The Kingdom is like a man who had a
          [hidden] treasure in his field without knowing it. And
          [after] he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know
          (about the treasure). *He inherited the field and sold
          [it].* And the one who bought it went plowing and found the
          treasure. He *began* to lend money at interest to whomever
          he wished."

          First, the son who inherited the field went on to sell it.
          Generally, in this period (1st century CE) peasants had a
          propensity to sell land and elites to buy or otherwise
          acquire control over it. That tells me that the seller (the
          inheriting son) was likely not himself an elite/wealthy
          landowner, although still a freeholder. Where his father's
          treasure came from is a puzzle. It would seem that the son
          was not as affluent as the father was.

          Using what we do know about the economics of that time (and
          I am basing this on what I am currently reading, David A.
          Fiensy, _The Social History of Palestine in the Herodian
          Period_, 1991, and Jack Pastor, _Land and Economy in Ancient
          Palestine_, 1997) I reconstruct the following scenario:

          The father, facing confiscation of his good land, tries to
          hedge his future prospects by hiding money in the poor lands
          he expected to retain (possibly part of ancestral lands),
          but ultimately did not survive the transition, never having
          the chance of telling his son about the treasure. Loss of
          status by an elite family often accompanied changes in
          government. The best land was often confiscated from the
          retainers of the former rulers and turned into royal
          estates.

          Another possibility is that the father acquired the treasure
          by brigandage, and was thus himself a poor peasant who had
          nothing but crappy land to farm. He is caught and executed
          before telling his son what he secreted.

          That the buyer discovers it when the inheriting son did not
          suggests that he discovered it while trying to plough/work
          the land. This would imply that the inheriting son did not
          do so, or he would likely have found his father's treasure
          himself. This in turn suggests that the son was not used to
          working poor land, so I am inclined to think his father was
          a dispossessed elite of an old order. The inheriting son,
          then, unaware of the treasure his father secreted, and
          facing the prospect of farming poor land as a common
          peasant, throws up his hands and gives up farming entirely,
          likely moving to a town or city to become a retainer for the
          elite classes, or worse.

          That the buyer only begins to lend money at interest after
          discovering the treasure suggests that he was also not
          already an elite/wealthy landowner. But why would a peasant
          buy crappy land? According to James C. Scott, peasants in SE
          Asia will invest quite a lot of physical effort and capital
          just to eke a little more productivity out of land and meet
          family subsistence needs. This includes buying or leasing
          additional sub-par land that requires more intense farming
          effort than the other land he already owns or leases. Scott
          notes that the less land a family owns, the more they are
          willing to pay for more. [_The Moral Economy of the
          Peasant_, 1976, pg. 13-14] If there is any correspondence
          between these cultures, the inheriting son saw a good
          opportunity to unload the land, and ran with it.

          But to get back to your other point, yes these could well
          have been Gentiles. I guess that the nationality of the
          subjects of the stories hinges on where these stories
          originated (e.g., from the Jesus movement in rural Galilee,
          as many seem to think, or maybe borrowed for rhetorical
          purposes from oral/written lore of Gentile origin, as I
          think). It also hinges on how the author or editors of
          Thomas intended these stories to be understood by the
          readers and hearers of the book, and here I would think that
          he intended the stories to be understood in a Jewish
          context, which also presumes that the readers & hearers
          would have a minimal awareness of Jewish land tenancy
          practices.

          Respectfully,

          Dave Hindley
          Cleveland, Ohio, USA
        • mwgrondin
          ... Well, I said that he was _evidently_ not a peasant, since he had money to buy the land. The price of the land, however, was evidently not nearly as great
          Message 4 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
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            --- Dave Hindley wrote:
            > I am not sure I understand what you mean when you say the
            > man who finds the treasure was "not a peasant."

            Well, I said that he was _evidently_ not a peasant, since
            he had money to buy the land. The price of the land, however,
            was evidently not nearly as great as the value of the treasure.

            > The father, facing confiscation of his good land, tries to
            > hedge his future prospects by hiding money in the poor lands
            > he expected to retain (possibly part of ancestral lands),
            > but ultimately did not survive the transition, never having
            > the chance of telling his son about the treasure. ...
            > Another possibility is that the father acquired the treasure
            > by brigandage, and was thus himself a poor peasant who had
            > nothing but crappy land to farm. He is caught and executed
            > before telling his son what he secreted.

            But Dave, you're forgetting that the father _didn't know_ about
            the treasure! Looks like you'll have to redo this part of your
            elaborate construction. I'd say you're right, however, about
            the nature of the land, the Coptic word suggesting wilderness or
            undeveloped land, as in Th78 ("Why did you come out into the
            field?") and Th21 ("[My disciples] are like little children
            dwelling in a field that isn't theirs.") The problem with the
            word 'field' is that it's an open question whether it would be
            developed or undeveloped, whereas the Coptic word and the Greek
            underlying it apparently could only have meant undeveloped land
            (hence when the buyer in Th109 "comes plowing", he's doing
            something that the original owners hadn't done to that piece
            of land). In simplistic terms, I think the moral of the story
            isn't "Don't sell your land", but rather "Use the land you got."

            M.
          • tsgnosis
            Hi Dave, This, to me, is the danger of taking too intellectual an approach to the Gospel of Thomas. According to the logion, the father did not know he had a
            Message 5 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
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              Hi Dave,

              This, to me, is the danger of taking too intellectual an approach to
              the Gospel of Thomas. According to the logion, the father did not
              know he had a treasure, so he couldn't have hidden it himself.

              This logion seems to speak more of the treasure hidden within all of
              us. When we go 'plowing' within, we find the treasure to which this
              logion refers. Unfortunately, neither the father nor the son made the
              effort.

              Mike's translation from the Coptic actually says the person who
              bought the land "Did he begin to give money (at interest) to those he
              loves." This seems reasonable enough, that he would share the wealth,
              since we have a fine example of this in Jesus. What I'm curious about
              is the (at interest). Mike, could you shed some light on this?

              Laura
            • David C. Hindley
              ... about the treasure! Looks like you ll have to redo this part of your elaborate construction. I was concentrating on the fact that
              Message 6 of 25 , Mar 11, 2002
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                Mike Grondin notes:

                >>But Dave, you're forgetting that the father _didn't know_
                about the treasure! Looks like you'll have to redo this part
                of your elaborate construction.<<

                Details, details! <g>

                I was concentrating on the fact that the text *also* says
                that the son knew nothing of the treasure. Why did the
                author repeat that the father and the son both did not know
                of it? It still seems as if the story is meant to form a
                neat contrast: wealth to poverty to wealth.

                The delay in response was due to my feeble attempt to try
                and look at the Coptic, but I have "two" many distractions
                competing for my attention (ages 9 & 2).

                I noticed the word forms in your interlinear sounded funny:

                The-kingdom * she-is-comparable * to-a-man * who-had-he *
                [t]here * in *his-field * a-treasure * hid[ing] * [he-bein]g
                * not-knowing * about him

                I take it "she" is the field and "he" is the treasure.
                "Hidden" is partly conjectural (unless it is the only
                possible word that fits). The word you translate
                "not-knowing" is in the word index, with the meaning "to
                know (obj)".

                I am still curious whether the statement that is usually
                translated "without knowing it" could be also rendered
                something like "without disclosing it." Is a meaning like
                this possible, based upon your knowledge of Coptic?

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA

                PS: John Moon pointed out, off list, that read the way it is
                usually rendered, GoT 109 could be thought of as a lesson
                about a heir who is unaware of the riches if his inheritance
                and sells it, only to see another benefit from it's riches.
                The "replacement theology" found in the canonical gospels
                comes to mind, yet it does not seem that this was what the
                editor of Thomas wanted to emphasize, as I cannot think of
                any overtly anti-Jewish sayings in the entire book. Bill
                Arnal, for his part, (seems to have) considered the emphasis
                of 109 (when compared to 95) to be loan interest!
              • William Arnal
                ... Not at all. In fact I m not sure why you d say this. The saying *mentions* interest, and I noted that this (apparently) contradicts another saying in
                Message 7 of 25 , Mar 12, 2002
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                  David Hindley wrote:

                  >any overtly anti-Jewish sayings in the entire book. Bill
                  >Arnal, for his part, (seems to have) considered the emphasis
                  >of 109 (when compared to 95) to be loan interest!

                  Not at all. In fact I'm not sure why you'd say this. The saying *mentions*
                  interest, and I noted that this (apparently) contradicts another saying in
                  valuation of interest. That's all. It doesn't mean that I think that
                  interest is the central point of this saying.

                  Bill
                  ___________________________
                  William Arnal
                  Department of Religion
                  University of Manitoba

                  "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                  -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



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                • Grondin
                  ... I assume that the author wanted to make it clear to the reader that the son was ignorant also. But as to why the story requires both father and son, I
                  Message 8 of 25 , Mar 12, 2002
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                    Dave Hindley writes:
                    > I was concentrating on the fact that the text *also* says
                    > that the son knew nothing of the treasure. Why did the
                    > author repeat that the father and the son both did not know
                    > of it?

                    I assume that the author wanted to make it clear to the reader that the son
                    was ignorant also. But as to why the story requires both father and son, I
                    don't know. Seems to me that it must be of some importance, but what?

                    > I noticed the word forms in your interlinear sounded funny:

                    > The-kingdom * she-is-comparable * to-a-man * who-had-he *
                    > [t]here * in *his-field * a-treasure * hid[ing] * [he-bein]g
                    > * not-knowing * about him
                    >
                    > I take it "she" is the field and "he" is the treasure.
                    > "Hidden" is partly conjectural (unless it is the only
                    > possible word that fits). The word you translate
                    > "not-knowing" is in the word index, with the meaning "to
                    > know (obj)".

                    The root word in the verbal phrase means 'to know' (or 'to be aware of'),
                    but the prefix 'NAT' is a negation, transforming it into its opposite 'to be
                    ignorant of', lit., 'to not know'.

                    > I am still curious whether the statement that is usually
                    > translated "without knowing it" could be also rendered
                    > something like "without disclosing it." Is a meaning like
                    > this possible, based upon your knowledge of Coptic?

                    Not that I'm aware of.

                    Regards,
                    Mike
                  • dchindley
                    ... *mentions* interest, and I noted that this (apparently) contradicts another saying in valuation of interest. That s all. It doesn t mean that I think that
                    Message 9 of 25 , Mar 13, 2002
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                      --- In gthomas@y..., "William Arnal" <warnal@h...> wrote:

                      >>Not at all. In fact I'm not sure why you'd say this. The saying
                      *mentions* interest, and I noted that this (apparently) contradicts
                      another saying in valuation of interest. That's all. It doesn't mean
                      that I think that interest is the central point of this saying.<<

                      Sorry, I did not mean to impute an idea to you.

                      Out of curiosity, could you provide a brief summary of the criteria
                      you used to base your published (1995?) analytical breakout of GoT
                      mentioned in earlier posts? I have not yet had a chance to find a
                      copy of the journal it is in, but am interested in what would have
                      been written there.

                      Thanks!

                      Dave Hindley
                      Cleveland, OH (USA)
                    • Rick Hubbard
                      [Dave asked:] Out of curiosity, could you provide a brief summary of the criteria you used to base your published (1995?) analytical breakout of GoT mentioned
                      Message 10 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
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                        [Dave asked:]

                        Out of curiosity, could you provide a brief summary of the criteria
                        you used to base your published (1995?) analytical breakout of GoT
                        mentioned in earlier posts?

                        I did my best to try to summarize Bill's article last summer. Although there
                        is always the danger that I have missed something altogether, or that I have
                        mis-stated Bill's position, the "breakout" of the strata is close to
                        accurate (at least). Here's the link:
                        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/3998

                        Rick Hubbard
                        Humble Maine Woodsman
                      • William Arnal
                        ... Thanks for this, Rick. I wasn t able to reply to Dave s original message yet because any copies of the article I have are back at the office, and I m at
                        Message 11 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
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                          Hey all:

                          >[Dave asked:]
                          >
                          >Out of curiosity, could you provide a brief summary of the criteria
                          >you used to base your published (1995?) analytical breakout of GoT
                          >mentioned in earlier posts?
                          >
                          >[and Rick replied]
                          >
                          >I did my best to try to summarize Bill's article last summer. Although
                          > >there
                          >is always the danger that I have missed something altogether, or that >I
                          >have
                          >mis-stated Bill's position, the "breakout" of the strata is close to
                          >accurate (at least). Here's the link:
                          >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/3998

                          Thanks for this, Rick. I wasn't able to reply to Dave's original message yet
                          because any copies of the article I have are back at the office, and I'm at
                          home today. But this saves me the necessity of a (belated) reply.

                          Bill
                          ___________________________
                          William Arnal
                          Department of Religion
                          University of Manitoba

                          "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                          -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



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                        • David C. Hindley
                          ... summer. Although there is always the danger that I have missed something altogether, or that I have mis-stated Bill s position, the breakout of the
                          Message 12 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
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                            Rick Hubbard said:

                            >>I did my best to try to summarize Bill's article last
                            summer. Although there is always the danger that I have
                            missed something altogether, or that I have mis-stated
                            Bill's position, the "breakout" of the strata is close to
                            accurate (at least). Here's the link:
                            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/3998 <<

                            I must have missed this one! Well, at least I now have
                            something to do over the weekend. Still have to find the
                            article, though.

                            Thanks again!

                            Respectfully,

                            Dave Hindley
                            Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                          • Michael Mozina
                            ... sayings must or should go back to Jesus? No, like you and like Kloppenborg, I can t see Thomas as testimony to the historical Jesus -- it, like the
                            Message 13 of 25 , Jun 19, 2002
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                              William Arnal Wrote on 3/08/02:

                              >>We might be talking past each other again. Did I seem to imply that Thomas
                              sayings must or should go back to Jesus? No, like you and like Kloppenborg,
                              I can't see Thomas as testimony to the historical Jesus -- it, like the
                              canonicals, is a theological-literary production, I assume.

                              I'm at work at the moment, and I can't seem to locate your posts about the
                              oral traditions of Thomas. I'll look again at home for these posts since I
                              am very curious about your analysis of this issue.

                              I did however run across this comment of yours about the origins of Thomas,
                              and I'm curious if you wouldn't mind giving me me a short explanation of
                              *WHY* you can't see this as a testimony to the historical Jesus, and instead
                              "assume" it's a theological-literary production. From my vantange point,
                              Thomas seems very randomly slapped together and I don't see much of an
                              underlying "production" to it. The randomness of these sayings, as opposed
                              to grouped "themes", seems to lend credence to the notion that these were
                              recorded at different times as the author happened to pen them down, rather
                              than this list representing a well thought out "production" per se.

                              [Michael Mozina]
                              [sig added by ed. Contributors should sign messages.]
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