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Making Herself Male

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  • Grondin
    The single (male) line that matches the two-line (female) set 69-70 which we have previously suggested should be moved to the end of the text to fill in line
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2002
      The single (male) line that matches the two-line (female) set 69-70 which we
      have previously suggested should be moved to the end of the text to fill in
      line 668 and add new line 669, is line 280, a one-line saying most often
      translated "Become passers-by" or some such, but translated by myself and
      Schoedel independently as "Come into being as you pass away". Among the 24
      blocks of text within Thomas, this is the only one that contains but a
      single line, and thus line 280 (=saying 42) must be regarded within the
      theory being here developed as undoubtedly the most important sentential
      element of the entire puzzle. It's most probably no accident that it happens
      to be the 6th block (the reader no doubt remembering from previous notes
      that 6 is the first "perfect number"). But the "coincidences" don't end
      there. Of course, one needn't call the reader's attention to the
      relationship between the line numbers (280=4x70). It's also obvious from
      looking at the Coptic (easily done on my site, BTW) that the same Greek
      verb-stem (PARAGE, 'pass away' or 'bypass', here the former) that terminates
      line 280 also terminates line 70. But the fact that PARAGE occurs a third
      time in the three lines may be significant in terms of saying 30 ("the place
      which has three gods there, among the gods are they"). Is it possible that
      the Coptic authors were comparing Greek words within the text to "gods", and
      that the self-referential level of meaning of saying 30 was to draw special
      attention to sayings in which the same Greek word occurred three times? I
      have to admit that this is a new thought to me, and I haven't investigated
      it fully, but I do note that the Greek word 'ARXH' ('beginning') occurs
      three times in the very-important saying 18, which I've been using heavily
      to analyze the beginning/end dichotomy.

      So here's what the end of GThom looks like with the suggested

      666: ... any woman making herself
      667: male, she will go in to the kingdom
      668: of-the-heavens. Jesus says: This heaven will-pass- (from line 69)
      669: away, and she who is above her will-pass-away. (was line 70)
      670: Jesus says: Come-into-being as-you-pass-away. (was line 280)

      Now then, it's been important all along that the lines we've moved here tie
      in closely and naturally not only with the mention of "the heavens", in that
      last (perfect) word of the text, but also with that phrase considered as a
      female syntactical element (the noun 'heaven/sky' is feminine gender in
      Coptic). Has that been clearly and precisely accomplished? Let's see. The
      addition of line 280 has added a male element (because of being one line) to
      the female element (two lines) of the former 69-70, and so 69-70 has been
      "made male" by being "married" to line 280. Now as it turns out, the
      _singular_ form of the _feminine noun_ PE ('heaven/sky') is identical to the
      _masculine_ form of the Coptic _verb_ 'to be'. I think this is going to be a
      very important fact, since PE thus has an androgynous status ('he is' =
      masculine/verb/movement vs 'heaven' = feminine/noun/rest). But leaving that
      issue aside for the moment, I want to try to answer a quite specific
      question: does either of these two feminine syntactical elements ("the
      heavens" or the two-liner 69-70) _make herself_ male? In the case of the
      former lines 69-70, I think the answer is "yes", by virtue of her having
      "called" (via the word PARAGE) her companion line 280 from out of the main
      body of the text. In the case of the phrase "of-the-heavens", I think the
      answer is "not yet", and I think in order to make herself male, the phrase
      "of the heavens" is going to have to be moved, in accordance with the
      command "this heaven will pass away". Now then, the word 'this' _could_ be
      taken to refer to itself - and we did interpret it as referring to itself
      when we moved it. But now, I think, it should be taken to be pointing to the
      phrase "of-the-heavens" to its left. And the reason I think that is that I
      have a specific move in mind wherein "she" _will_ "make herself male". I
      won't go into that right now, because it involves some complications, and
      this note is too long already, but I will say that it will basically (with
      some modification to be spelled out) go into the blank area in line 9. If
      the puzzle theory is to be sustained, this area MUST HAVE BEEN intentionally
      left blank - not due to an imperfection of the papyrus. Quite simply, the
      entire puzzle theory rises or falls on that unlikely claim - for if the
      scribe had wanted to write letters into the blank area, but been unable to
      do so, the contents of every other line would have been thrown off, and my
      assumption of "perfection" of the various blocks, pages, lines, etc _as they
      stand_, would be contradicted. So it's incumbent on me to present a
      convincing and natural way to fill in that area. I'll take up that challenge
      in the next note.

      One last comment: notice that the joining of 69-70 and 280 was made possible
      by the "catchword" PARAGE. So Patterson's "catchword theory" of GThom's
      organization has some small truth to it - not, however, that the sayings _as
      they stand now_ are systematically joined by catchwords, but rather that
      they may well be so systematically joined _after construction_. Thus, as I
      remarked when responding to Patterson's theory, there are potential
      catchwords (such as PARAGE) which do not _now_ join sayings, but which
      _could_ (and _would_, if his theory was correct). Unfortunately, Patterson,
      like Davies, didn't consider the possibility of moving textual material
      around, because that is simply unthinkable, in terms of everything we think
      we know.

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