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Micro-analysis of GTh

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  • Grondin
    I ve recently had occasion to recheck my transcription of the Coptic GTh against Layton s (contained in his Brill critical edition), with, of course, the aid
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2002
      I've recently had occasion to recheck my transcription of the Coptic GTh
      against Layton's (contained in his Brill critical edition), with, of course,
      the aid of the facsimiles. While the contents of three lacunae cannot be
      precisely determined at this time, we can be reasonably certain of the
      number of letters within those lacunae, leading to some interesting results.
      The number of letters within the text is almost certainly 16848. If we
      ignore the 48 letters of saying 71 ("I will destroy this house..."), the
      total is 16800, which has the surprising property of being equal to both
      24x700 and 28x600. The number 28 is significant because it's a "perfect
      number" (and known to be such in antiquity), due to being the sum of its
      factors (1+2+4+7+14). The first "perfect number" is 6, and the third is a
      rather large number, so there aren't that many of them around. But aside
      from its semantic ("I will destroy this house...") and syntactical (48
      letters) contents, there's yet a third reason to suppose that the creators
      of the Coptic GThom intended the removal of saying 71: when two lines are
      removed from the text, we're left with 666 lines, which (besides being
      reminiscent of the mention of that number in John's Apocalypse) divides into
      111 groups of "perfect" size 6.

      Results like this are precisely what one would expect if the Coptic GThom
      were a word-puzzle. The fact that GThom contains many grammatical mistakes,
      misspellings, mixtures of Sahidic and Subachmimic usage, etc, leads me to
      believe not that its authors were sloppy and relatively uneducated, but
      rather that such "mistakes" must have been necessary for the puzzle, i.e.,
      that they were intentional. Furthermore, the size of the preceding
      Apocryphon of John (1100 lines, not including the final "Jesus the Christ,
      Amen") suggests to my mind that the Barbeloites who wrote AoJ put this
      particularly-sized version of it (there are two others of different sizes
      among the codices) beside the Coptic GTh word-puzzle as a companion-piece in
      Codex II. "Do you not know that he who made the inside also made the
      outside?" I would additionally venture (as I have before), again based on
      number of lines (1234, where 666+1234=2000), that the Gospel of Philip was
      intended as a third piece of a trilogy in this most revered of the codices,
      representing both the trinity and the heaven-earth-underworld cosmology.

      Mike Grondin
      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
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