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The Concept of "Money" in the GThom Puzzle

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  • Grondin
    In this note, I m going to try to provide the beginnings of a response to a basic anomaly to which Bill Arnal draws attention in his paper about conceptual
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2002
      In this note, I'm going to try to provide the beginnings of a response to a
      basic anomaly to which Bill Arnal draws attention in his paper about
      conceptual contradictions within GThom. One such contradiction involves
      "money". First, let me say quite directly that I think the basic concept of
      money in GThom is that it's something which is unnecessary - "extra", as it
      were - and that it should be spent on heavenly things. In terms of the text,
      it would presumably be a phrase (often a single Coptic word) that would be
      superfluous to the meaning of a whole saying or portion thereof - usually at
      the end, perhaps, but maybe not always. Now then, the Coptic word for
      'money' (which looks like the characters 2OMT) occurs three times, and two
      of these are in apparent contradiction to each other, as Bill points out.
      Saying 95 tells the reader that if he has money, he should NOT give it "at
      interest" (i.e., lend it), but rather should give it to someone from whom he
      won't get it back. But in saying 109, the person who buys the field with the
      treasure in it begins to lend money to those he loves. Is he a villain, or
      what?

      The suggested solution to this situation begins by drawing attention to the
      fact that the Coptic phrase "at-the-interest" is composed of 6 letters
      (E-T-MHSE), and that line 645 makes sense without it (albeit not the same
      sense). Without it, the end of saying 109 simply says that the man "began to
      give money to those he loves" (and the "he" in question may be Jesus, BTW).
      But if we removed 'at-the-interest' from saying 109, we now have "money" -
      namely that six-letter Coptic word. What to do with it? Give it to someone
      from whom we won't get it back, evidently. But who? The "boatman" who is
      going to carry line 571 over the "river Styx" of the two blank pages to join
      the remainder of saying 95 which is in the higher heaven of the last three
      pages? If so, the two blank pages, on this supposition, represent a body of
      water - whether a sea or a river. "Money" - extra words - are going to be
      thrown into that water, I think. Or maybe these extra words represent fish -
      the picture is still unclear, but I think the contents of the two pages is
      going to be in opposition to each other in some way. It may represent "the
      two ways", or it may represent the "waters of the sea" that have to be
      separated from the "waters of the heavens" as the seeker reenacts the six
      days of creation.

      Although the two blank pages (which would be pages 49 and 50 if they were
      numbered) are apparently important to the puzzle theory, an explanation is
      offered for them by the experts. The explanation is that, toward the end of
      Codex II, the scribe inadvertently left out an entire page and had to go
      back and fix it. He fixed it (so the story goes) by inserting a sheet of
      papyrus in the appropriate place, writing the missing material on both sides
      of the right-hand half (to the _right_ of the midpoint of the codex), and
      necessarily leaving the left-hand half blank, extending into Thomas. (Take
      several pieces of paper and fold them in half to see what I mean.)
      Unfortunately, there's no way to determine whether this explanation is true,
      since there's no way to distinguish the scenario envisioned from one in
      which the scribe deliberately left the left-hand side of that sheet of
      papyrus blank. Furthermore, it must be asked - would the folks who put this
      collection of codices together have allowed the situation that their holiest
      book (as evidenced by its cover markings) contained such an imperfection?
      From what we can determine, they seem to have had the idea of leaving these
      books for the ages. Would they have left an imperfect copy? Surely they had
      some way of checking to prevent just such an accident from happening.
      Nevertheless, the situation remains maddeningly ambiguous. There must be
      _some place_ for the solver to put his "money" as he goes along discovering
      the "world" and becoming rich. If not back into the text, then where? And
      the two pages represent a nice division between "the left" and "the right"
      that might be expected.

      There's one other thing that seems to be quite important. The "perfect" six
      seem usually to be divided between 1 and 5. When looking at the last word of
      the text - a 6-letter word - it divided itself into 'N' + 'M-PHUE'. This
      feature seems to be a reflection of the six composed of Jesus + the original
      5 disciples ("there are five trees for you in Paradise"). Groups of six seem
      to be dissolved down to their root of five, by removal of the first element.
      This is evident also in "at-the-interest". Actually, "at-interest" is
      normally written 'E-MHSE', according to Lambdin, without the 'T' which means
      'the'. But without the leading 'E' (meaning 'at/to'), we're left with
      'T-MHSE', a feminine noun meaning not only 'the-interest', but also (as I've
      just learned tonight) 'the-pregnant woman'! A native Coptic speaker would
      presumably have recognized this, and so for him/her, it would constitute a
      clever play on words ("don't give money to the pregant woman"!). Let's see,
      then, what happens when we combine the two six-letter words I've identified
      as superfluous so far:

      (N + M-PHUE) + (E + T-MHSE) = M-PHUE + NE + T-MHSE

      This latter arrangement of the letters is formed by taking the first letter
      of each six-letter group and joining those two single letters into a
      two-letter word in the middle. And it has a sense - a rather suggestive one
      composed of two female elements made into one 12-letter (in Coptic) sentence
      that I'll leave the reader to ponder:

      "The-heavens are the-pregnant-woman."

      (Remember Paul? "The heavens are groaning in childbirth")

      Mike Grondin
      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
      http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
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