Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [GTh] #95 & #109

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      --- 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 2 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        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 3 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
        • 0 Attachment
          --- 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 4 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            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 5 of 25 , Mar 11, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              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 6 of 25 , Mar 12, 2002
              • 0 Attachment
                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



                _________________________________________________________________
                Join the world�s largest e-mail service with MSN Hotmail.
                http://www.hotmail.com
              • 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 7 of 25 , Mar 12, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 8 of 25 , Mar 13, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    --- 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 9 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      [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 10 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
                      • 0 Attachment
                        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



                        _________________________________________________________________
                        Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp.
                      • 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 11 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment
                          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 12 of 25 , Jun 19, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            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.]
                          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.