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RE: [GTh] #95 & #109

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  • 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 1 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
      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 2 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
        --- 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 3 of 25 , Mar 10, 2002
          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 4 of 25 , Mar 11, 2002
            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 5 of 25 , Mar 12, 2002
              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 6 of 25 , Mar 12, 2002
                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 7 of 25 , Mar 13, 2002
                  --- 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 8 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
                    [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 9 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
                      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 10 of 25 , Mar 14, 2002
                        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 11 of 25 , Jun 19, 2002
                          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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