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Delusions of Grandeur, or How I Sold My First "Book"

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  • Grondin
    The purpose of this note is to give everyone a copy of a one-page writeup that I prepared for handing out to a few folks at the SBL meeting. I ended up handing
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2002
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      The purpose of this note is to give everyone a copy of a one-page writeup
      that I prepared for handing out to a few folks at the SBL meeting. I ended
      up handing out five of six copies, and have very little expectation that
      anyone has or will actually read it, let alone judge it promising, but let
      me tell the story.

      A few days before going to Toronto, it occurred to me that it might be a
      good idea to bring along a copy of my interlinear translation (the new
      page-by-page presentation of it, that is) and a "prospectus" for a
      prospective paper on the mystery-puzzle theory, so that I could get feedback
      on these materials. Since I didn't have time to prepare even a rough-draft
      of the paper, however, I ended up writing a one-page introduction to the
      theory, and attaching copies of the notes I'd sent to this group on that
      subject in the last two weeks. Headed by a cover-sheet grandly entitled "A
      New Paradigm for Thomas: The Kingdom of God Puzzle", the package was ready
      to go - except that I had no copies of the originals. Thus it was that,
      having unaccountably delayed the printing task until the hotel copy office
      was closed and the meeting buses had stopped running for the evening, I
      found myself trudging up the largely-deserted University Avenue late
      Saturday night, en route to the nearest all-night Kinko's - probably only a
      mile from the hotel, but seeming much longer to this aging body. Once there,
      I discovered that decent covers for the material cost at least as much as
      the printing. A copy of the 20-page Interlinear, for example, cost 1.80
      Canadian for printing and 2.99 for a clear plastic cover. This obviously
      required a scaling-back of my grandiose plans to hand out a copy to every
      Thomas scholar and Coptic expert in sight. I settled for six copies of the
      Interlinear and six copies of the 31-page "prospectus". Good thing, too,
      since the "demand" for these hot items turned out to be far less than I had
      hoped.

      I gave two copies to April DeConick the next day. In one of those chance
      meetings, I had arrived early for a session she was chairing. The room was
      empty at that point, except for a guy in the back that I started chatting
      with. Turns out he was April's husband (albeit of different surname), and
      was familiar (more than she) with the gthomas group - at least since the
      time that Bill had sent a copy of Rick's review of her article to her for
      comment. So when April came in, her hubby (an attorney) made the
      introductions, and I was able to chat a little with her. Among other things,
      I asked for her advice on how I might best go about distributing the
      afore-mentioned materials. She volunteered to take two copies, saying that
      she would pass them along (to whom, unspecified). I stayed for the session,
      of course, but that was the extent of my personal contact with April
      DeConick. (It was at this session, BTW, that I learned the fact - perhaps
      important to my theory - that the period of time for final preparation for
      becoming a Mandean priest was 68 days, split into 8 + 60.)

      The third copy of my two-package set of materials went to one of the
      "Helsinki three" at another session the same day (more on that later). The
      fifth went to David Trobisch, the prospective publisher for the joint
      interlinear that Andrew, Rick, and I are working on. The fourth, however,
      went to someone I didn't know - a student who happened to be waiting for one
      of the meeting buses at the same time that I was. (He was the guy who
      thought I might be so important that I didn't need an affiliation on my
      name-badge:-) When I told him about my interest in Thomas, he started
      telling me about a Thomas conference to be held in Laval (not sure of the
      spelling) Quebec in May. Well, it wasn't long before I was whipping out my
      Thomas stuff to show him. I was explaining the features of the interlinear
      (now so nicely "bound" in its clear plastic cover), when he remarked, "You
      ought to sell this." All I could think to say at that point was that I
      really should, since it had cost me three bucks or so to print it
      (under-estimate), but that I was following the Thomas injunction to give
      whatever you had, without expecting anything in return. He surprised me,
      however, by promptly digging into his pocket and insisting that I take a
      "loonie" and a "two-nie" (two coins worth one and two bucks Canadian,
      respectively) in payment. We soon parted, and I never saw him again, but
      that's how I made my first "sale".

      Now then, the reader's reward (such as it is) for having slogged through
      this boring story without falling asleep, is to be able to peruse the
      following overly-dramatic and self-aggrandizing (Lord, help me!)
      introductory note that I prepared for the meeting:

      A New Paradigm for Thomas:



      The Kingdom of God Puzzle



      (Prospectus for a paper)



      ------------------------------------------



      Michael W. Grondin



      November, 2002



      This packet contains copies of a series of notes written by myself for the
      GThomas e-group (of which I've been a moderator since its inception in 1999)
      in the two-week period just ended, from November 5th to November 19th. I
      believe that these notes constitute the beginnings of a major breakthrough
      in the development of a theory which I've held as a working-hypothesis for
      some 14 years now - namely, that the Coptic Gospel of Thomas (and perhaps
      also the Greek version) is a self-referential and interactive word-puzzle of
      a complexity far surpassing the famous SOTER-ROTAS diagram, and the simple
      acrostics known to have been sometimes employed by Christian writers.



      Obviously, this is an extraordinary theory - indeed a seemingly unimaginable
      one - and since I whole-heartedly subscribe to the principle that
      extraordinary theories require extraordinary evidence, I would personally be
      satisfied with nothing less than a specific solution to the puzzle - or at
      least a "smoking gun" (i.e., a clear and definite syntactical pattern which
      cannot be plausibly construed as the result of the proponent's imagination
      at work on accidental textual features.) I do not yet have such a "smoking
      gun", but the results of my recent work are personally encouraging to the
      point that I believe the time is right to begin publishing these results, so
      that those few scholars who might find the theory promising may begin the
      process of verification.



      The prospective paper will begin with the contents of "the jar" - and what
      we can learn from it - and will "drill down" to Codex II, and then to Thomas
      as the center-piece between the Apocryphon of John and the Gospel of Philip.
      Along the way, I'll draw attention to an unexpectedly large number of
      extraordinary anomalies, some well-known, some not - including the title
      inscriptions of these three tractates. The self-referential level of meaning
      that is crucial to the solution of the Thomas puzzle will be regarded as an
      additional layer - interacting with the "normal" level of meaning, but not
      supplanting it. Nor is any judgement reached about the autograph of Thomas;
      early-daters and late-daters alike can rest easy that I have nothing new to
      say about its provenance - only that of the Coptic and (possibly) Greek
      versions.



      As for myself, it may be obvious that I am not a professional religious
      scholar. Although I have participated in a large number of scholarly e-group
      discussions dealing with early Christianity and the "historical Jesus" over
      the years, my graduate training was in Logic and the Philosophy of Science,
      and while this may marginalize any contributions I might attempt to make in
      the minds of some professional scholars, it has at least the benefit of
      making it possible for me to assess evidence, arguments, and theories with a
      relatively high degree of impartiality. With respect to the puzzle theory, I
      cannot but agree with the likely response that on the face of it, it cannot
      be true. In terms of everything we think we know, it cannot be true. Yet, my
      examination of the detailed textual evidence over the course of many years
      has convinced me - in spite of my methodological skepticism - that it is.



      Michael W. Grondin

      for the annual SBL Meeting

      Toronto, Canada

      November 23, 2002
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