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Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas

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  • fmmccoy
    ... From: To: Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 9:20 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas ... Dear Randy
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 12, 2002
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <rahelzer@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 9:20 AM
      Subject: Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas


      > Frank McCoy asks:
      >
      > > Does anyone else have an
      > > explanation as to why the Oxyr.
      > > papyrus fragments apparently
      > > contain only passages from the
      > > hypothesised Proto-Thomas and
      > > Pre-Thomas?
      >
      > Maybe the fragments don't contain them because
      > they are, um, fragments? :-)
      >
      > How can you argue that the missing parts
      > didn't contain substantially the same content
      > as the coptic text?

      Dear Randy Helzerman:

      Here are what I understand to be the three main fragments: (1) 654--which
      contains all or part of GTh 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. (2) 1--which contains
      all or part of GTh 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33, and (3) 655--which
      contains all or part of GTh 36, 37, and 39.

      Now, in GTH 1-39, the hypothesised Paleo-Thomas (which consists of the
      postulated Proto-Thomas and Pre-Thomas) is found in 1-10 and in 25-39.

      In the first segment of ten sayings (i.e., GTh 1-10), seven (i.e., 70%) of
      the sayings are found in the fragments. In the second segment of 15 sayings
      (i.e., GTh 25-39), ten (i.e., 67%) are found in the fragments. In the
      segment of 14 sayings *not* assigned to Paleo-Thomas (i.e., GTh 11-24), none
      (i.e., 0%) are found in the fragments.

      Why is it that roughly 2/3 of the sayings in *each* of the two segments of
      the postulated Paleo-Thomas are found in the fragments, whle not a single
      saying is found in the segment not assigned to Paleo-Thomas? While I grant
      that this might be a statistical fluke without meaning, I think it more
      likely that it is meaningful.

      Randy, you also state:
      > (Note that for this argument to be used
      > as evidence for your stratification,
      > it must be independent from your arguments
      > for that stratification.)
      >
      :Could you amplify on this statement? Why must it be completely
      independent?

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109
    • Randall Helzerman <rahelzer@ichips.intel
      ... I don t know if that is the right question to ask. It seems to me that the question should be did the _entire_ documents, of which the Poxy fragments are
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 13, 2002
        Frank McCoy Asks:

        > Why is it that .... not a single
        > saying is found [in the Oxyr.
        > fragments] in the segment not
        > assigned to Paleo-Thomas?

        I don't know if that is the right
        question to ask. It seems to me
        that the question should be
        "did the _entire_ documents, of which
        the Poxy fragments are fragements of,
        contain nothing which is not assigned
        to Paleo-Thomas?" right?

        I think its likely that the original documents
        which the Poxy fragments are from contained
        substantially the same contents as the coptic
        Thomas. Here's how I would argue for that.
        First, notice something interesting about the
        Poxy. fragments (as described by you below):

        > Here are what I understand to be the three main fragments:
        > (1) 654--which contains all or part of GTh 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
        > and 7. (2) 1--which contains all or part of GTh 26, 27, 29,
        > 30, 31, 32, and 33, and (3) 655--which
        > contains all or part of GTh 36, 37, and 39.

        Notice that the statements on the fragements are:
        1. substantially the same as their corresponding coptic statements.
        2. in substantially the same order as their corresponding coptic
        statements.

        (I use the weasle-word "substantially" because there are differences
        in both order and content, but these are minor).

        Since the _remaining_ Poxy. fragments contain substantialy the same
        content in substantially the same order as the coptic, why wouldn't
        it be reasonable to conclude that the _missing_ parts of the
        greek gospel would _also_ contain substantialy the same content in
        substantially the same order?


        > Randy, you also state:
        > > (Note that for this argument to be used
        > > as evidence for your stratification,
        > > it must be independent from your arguments
        > > for that stratification.)
        > >
        > :Could you amplify on this statement? Why must it be completely
        > independent?

        Suppose you wanted to make the following argument:

        1. the original document, of which the Poxy fragments are fragments
        of, contained only/mostly Paleo Thomas
        2. therefore, paleo thomas is a stratum of Thomas.

        Obviously, you can't use your conclusion (statement #2) to
        argue for its premise (statement #1) or you'd have a circular
        argument.

        Randy Helzerman
      • Tom Saunders
        Randy presents.... Notice that the statements on the fragements are: 1. substantially the same as their corresponding coptic statements. 2. in substantially
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
          Randy presents....

          Notice that the statements on the fragements are:
          1. substantially the same as their corresponding coptic statements.
          2. in substantially the same order as their corresponding coptic
          statements.

          I have to agree that this indicates Thomas was copied faithfully over time. I think those that copied it must have had every reason to think it was the real thing.

          Crossan ("Birth of Christianity") provides some justification for thinking that Thomas was a product which corresponded with a central authority in the very beginnings of Christian writing. He points out that even the Coptic version of Thomas has signs (abbreviations) which correspond to Q, and the 'Sayings Tradition" which seem to have been composed under a literary model.

          Codex vs. scroll is another sign of an effort to institutionalize a literary form, at least with a structural symbolism. The first sayings that correspond to the earliest known Jesus sayings represent a stratification. The problem is how you justify the rest of Thomas? Did it too come from different sources?

          Using the 'T' model, all those sayings that correspond with Q are T-1, including the parables, and all the others are T-2. We must consider that T-1 was written from a source which was not conceptualized for the same purpose as Thomas, but perhaps similar. T-1 is not the mystery that T-2 presents. Thomas started out as a conception outside but perhaps similar to the purpose of Q.

          How does T-2 correspond to its parallels, its parallels having been composed from different sources with different criteria, at presumably different times, by different people? It may not be possible for that scenario. One possibility is that T-2 was composed within the same time period by/with all its other sources. This would mean the sources had to have been developed in the Apsotle's Village and other early Christian communities developed before 43 C. E.

          The next possibility is that T-2 was developed by combining parts of T-2 with all its counterparts in different places and times. As we know that Papias did not have all the complete sources in 110 C.E. we can assume that Thomas had to have come from the earliest possible sources of its counterparts, or was written from a collection of sources but we know texts were scattered. Not likely.

          It is likely that original texts were destroyed in 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. T-2 has sources, (parallel sayings) that simply cannot have evolved from itinerant development, as these sources would have to have been gathered from a very wide range of sources after the destruction of Jerusalem. Thomas therefor almost has to have been composed T-1 + most of T-2 by the death of James the Just, unless the saying about him was written before his death. Most likely if this is true Thomas was the author.

          I think Crossan is right about Q reflecting dissent among the first Christians, and some of Acts reflects there may have been. This may be the motive for combining T-1 to T-2(+) in developing Thomas. (Thomas wrote Thomas so he could hit the road like Philip.) This argues for a very early Thomas which almost has to be, otherwise you have to explain how it developed in a scattered Christian environment suddenly oppressed to larger and larger degrees. This includes greater internal threats as well as huge outside threats.

          There are most certainly indications of a varied ideology between all the Gospels. I think it is likely that after the first writings done while the Apostles were together in Jerusalem the differences Peter and others experienced drove them to start their own followings using their own criteria. I do not think this had to be a bitter parting, and may have been at least somewhat a goal from the start for some. This happened before 43 C.E.

          I think that any who had early Thomas would have seen it as a real treasure, authentic, and very dangerous from the earliest of time. Due to increasing ideological differences, especially over control of the church, not to mention the Holy Spirit, Thomas was secret from all but a select secular group. From that point it was probably not even known but from a select few that expanded independently of those that split, even as early as Paul's time. Lucky for us it got to Egypt, Luxar was an end town of the silk routes.

          Tom Saunders
          Platter Flats, OK

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Michael Grondin
          The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm ... From: Tom Saunders To:
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
            The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
            http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Tom Saunders" <tom@...>
            To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Saturday, December 14, 2002 05:33 AM
            Subject: Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas


            > Randy presents....
            >
            > Notice that the statements on the fragements are:
            > 1. substantially the same as their corresponding coptic statements.
            > 2. in substantially the same order as their corresponding coptic
            > statements.
            >
            > I have to agree that this indicates Thomas was copied faithfully over
            time. I think those that copied it must have had every reason to think it
            was the real thing.
            >
            > Crossan ("Birth of Christianity") provides some justification for thinking
            that Thomas was a product which corresponded with a central authority in the
            very beginnings of Christian writing. He points out that even the Coptic
            version of Thomas has signs (abbreviations) which correspond to Q, and the
            'Sayings Tradition" which seem to have been composed under a literary model.
            >
            > Codex vs. scroll is another sign of an effort to institutionalize a
            literary form, at least with a structural symbolism. The first sayings that
            correspond to the earliest known Jesus sayings represent a stratification.
            The problem is how you justify the rest of Thomas? Did it too come from
            different sources?
            >
            > Using the 'T' model, all those sayings that correspond with Q are T-1,
            including the parables, and all the others are T-2. We must consider that
            T-1 was written from a source which was not conceptualized for the same
            purpose as Thomas, but perhaps similar. T-1 is not the mystery that T-2
            presents. Thomas started out as a conception outside but perhaps similar to
            the purpose of Q.
            >
            > How does T-2 correspond to its parallels, its parallels having been
            composed from different sources with different criteria, at presumably
            different times, by different people? It may not be possible for that
            scenario. One possibility is that T-2 was composed within the same time
            period by/with all its other sources. This would mean the sources had to
            have been developed in the Apsotle's Village and other early Christian
            communities developed before 43 C. E.
            >
            > The next possibility is that T-2 was developed by combining parts of T-2
            with all its counterparts in different places and times. As we know that
            Papias did not have all the complete sources in 110 C.E. we can assume that
            Thomas had to have come from the earliest possible sources of its
            counterparts, or was written from a collection of sources but we know texts
            were scattered. Not likely.
            >
            > It is likely that original texts were destroyed in 70 when the Romans
            destroyed Jerusalem. T-2 has sources, (parallel sayings) that simply cannot
            have evolved from itinerant development, as these sources would have to have
            been gathered from a very wide range of sources after the destruction of
            Jerusalem. Thomas therefor almost has to have been composed T-1 + most of
            T-2 by the death of James the Just, unless the saying about him was written
            before his death. Most likely if this is true Thomas was the author.
            >
            > I think Crossan is right about Q reflecting dissent among the first
            Christians, and some of Acts reflects there may have been. This may be the
            motive for combining T-1 to T-2(+) in developing Thomas. (Thomas wrote
            Thomas so he could hit the road like Philip.) This argues for a very early
            Thomas which almost has to be, otherwise you have to explain how it
            developed in a scattered Christian environment suddenly oppressed to larger
            and larger degrees. This includes greater internal threats as well as huge
            outside threats.
            >
            > There are most certainly indications of a varied ideology between all the
            Gospels. I think it is likely that after the first writings done while the
            Apostles were together in Jerusalem the differences Peter and others
            experienced drove them to start their own followings using their own
            criteria. I do not think this had to be a bitter parting, and may have been
            at least somewhat a goal from the start for some. This happened before 43
            C.E.
            >
            > I think that any who had early Thomas would have seen it as a real
            treasure, authentic, and very dangerous from the earliest of time. Due to
            increasing ideological differences, especially over control of the church,
            not to mention the Holy Spirit, Thomas was secret from all but a select
            secular group. From that point it was probably not even known but from a
            select few that expanded independently of those that split, even as early as
            Paul's time. Lucky for us it got to Egypt, Luxar was an end town of the
            silk routes.
            >
            > Tom Saunders
            > Platter Flats, OK
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            > --------------------------------------------------------------------
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            >
            >
          • Michael Grondin
            ... time. Not so. Randy s substantially the same covers a number of significant differences. The evidence from POxy, as well as Hippolytus, indicates that
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
              [Randy]:
              > Notice that the statements on the fragements are:
              > 1. substantially the same as their corresponding coptic statements.
              > 2. in substantially the same order as their corresponding coptic
              > statements.
              [Tom]:
              > I have to agree that this indicates Thomas was copied faithfully over
              time.

              Not so. Randy's "substantially the same" covers a number of significant
              differences. The evidence from POxy, as well as Hippolytus, indicates that
              Thomas was _not_ "copied faithfully".

              Mike Grondin
              p.s. Apologies for my previous note, which resulted from hitting the Send
              key prematurely.
            • Jim Bauer
              ... Mike, How not faithfully are you talking about, & how does this fit in with your puzzle hypothesis? Are you talking about not faithful copying in the
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
                > Not so. Randy's "substantially the same" covers a number of significant
                > differences. The evidence from POxy, as well as Hippolytus, indicates that
                > Thomas was _not_ "copied faithfully".
                >
                Mike,

                How "not faithfully" are you talking about, & how does this fit in with your
                puzzle hypothesis? Are you talking about "not faithful" copying in the
                Greek, as well as the Coptic? & if the text needs to be rearranged re your
                puzzle hypothesis, how free were the translators to move things around?
                Also, to what extent do you have to "not faithfully" copy something before
                it's moved from the category of "scribal error" to outright "redaction"?

                Jim Bauer
                Havre, MT
              • BitsyCat1@aol.com
                In a message dated 12/14/2002 14:49:38PM, tom@cherokeetel.com writes:
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
                  In a message dated 12/14/2002 14:49:38PM, tom@... writes:

                  << Not so. Randy's "substantially the same" covers a number of significant
                  differences. The evidence from POxy, as well as Hippolytus, indicates that
                  Thomas was _not_ "copied faithfully".

                  We are talking about a matter of degree here. Can you determine as to why
                  scribes would make alterations? What were they trying to do with these
                  differences?
                  >>

                  John observes

                  Perhaps the essential concepts and Sayings list could be maintained and
                  Placed in Puzzle form by using Clever wording? Remaining faithful to the
                  meaning on the surface and yet using cleverness to hide a Second meaning.(
                  And keys to a secret)
                  For example the idea of the moving stone in Saying 77 I believe. That
                  might be considered a Coptic only (clever way of hiding part of a Puzzle)
                  Merely by choosing the right set of words in a particular order?

                  In such an Instance there might be an allusion to the Stone that is moved
                  away.
                  ( which would occur in the Gospel accounts).

                  The Coptic Writer knew these things and perhaps used carefully chosen
                  words and concepts to paint word pictures to be discovered within the Text.

                  The Question would be I suppose, is was this clever word play within
                  the Greek
                  or Original Text or did it actually come into being within the Coptic
                  Compilers
                  Pen?
                  Regards John Moon
                  Crescent DR
                  Springfield, TN

                  johnmoon3717@...
                • Randall Helzerman <rahelzer@ichips.intel
                  ... I suppose it is incumbent upon me to clarify what I meant by substantially the same . I ll try to do it ostensively. Two other texts which I would
                  Message 8 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
                    Mike Grondin writes:

                    > Not so. Randy's "substantially the
                    > same" covers a number of significant
                    > differences.

                    I suppose it is incumbent upon me to
                    clarify what I meant by "substantially
                    the same". I'll try to do it
                    ostensively. Two other texts which
                    I would consider to be "substantially
                    the same" would be the KJV version of
                    the bible and the NIV version of the bible.

                    Even though there are some significant
                    differences between the NIV and the KJV
                    in both content (e.g. the ending of Mark)
                    and in order (e.g. the location of the
                    woman-caught-in-adultery story),
                    not to mention differences in
                    spelling, grammar and wording, I would
                    say the two texts are substantially the
                    same in both content and order. The
                    differences between them are no more
                    than what you'd expect of two translations
                    produced centuries apart from two
                    different originals.

                    Same for the Poxy. and the N.H. witnesses.
                    They were produced centuries apart, in
                    two different languages, so we'd naturally
                    expect significant differences. But
                    I think it would be fair to say they
                    are substantially similar in both content
                    and order, don't you?

                    -Randy Helzerman

                    P.S. In my original post, I was making a
                    rather narrow point--that the differences
                    which are between the Greek & Coptic
                    witnesses are not the right kind of
                    differences to prove that GTh is stratified.
                    Surely this is a rather uncontroversial
                    point?
                  • Tom Saunders
                    Mike says, Not so. Randy s substantially the same covers a number of significant differences. The evidence from POxy, as well as Hippolytus, indicates that
                    Message 9 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
                      Mike says,

                      Not so. Randy's "substantially the same" covers a number of significant
                      differences. The evidence from POxy, as well as Hippolytus, indicates that
                      Thomas was _not_ "copied faithfully".

                      We are talking about a matter of degree here. Can you determine as to why scribes would make alterations? What were they trying to do with these differences?

                      Tom Saunders
                      Platter Flats, OK


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Michael Grondin
                      ... Giving my short answer first, I think that the differences were largely due more to adaptation than anything else. Adaptation to the time and place of its
                      Message 10 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
                        [Tom]:
                        > Can you determine as to why scribes would make alterations?
                        > What were they trying to do with these differences?

                        Giving my short answer first, I think that the differences were largely due
                        more to adaptation than anything else. Adaptation to the time and place of
                        its retranslation, that is. Let's say, for example, that a Syriac version of
                        Thomas found its way to Alexandria, and fell into the hands of someone
                        skilled in both Syriac and Greek. One thing such a person _might_ have done
                        was merely to translate the text from Syriac into Greek, more or less
                        faithfully. But the limited evidence we have doesn't seem to support that
                        scenario. What it seems to show is that the earlier text, though left much
                        the same, was nevertheless significantly altered to fit the needs and
                        interests of the group which had received it and now claimed it as its own.

                        In addition to the differences between the POxy fragments and the Coptic
                        version, consider the saying which Hippolytus attributed to the Naassenes,
                        in the first known reference to a gospel 'according to Thomas':

                        "He who seeks me will find me in children of seven years upward, for there,
                        hidden in the fourteenth aeon, am I revealed."
                        (Hennecke/Schneelmelcher, _New Testament Apocrypha_, v.I, p.280)

                        Assuming that Hippolytus' quotation was substantially correct, the part
                        about "hidden in the fourteenth aeon" must have been meaningful and
                        important to the Naassenes, but not to others who handled this gospel. We
                        don't know, of course, whether the Naassenes added it to some earlier
                        version in another language, or whether it was dropped when and if the
                        Naassene version was translated into other languages - or both. What we do
                        know is that similar significant differences turn up between the Greek
                        fragments and the Coptic version. It seems likely that there must have been
                        cases of faithful translation from one language into another, but we don't
                        have one, and we don't know whether that's a statistical fluke due to the
                        small number of extant texts, or not.

                        I'm not sure whether a _scribe_ could have made such alterations. I guess I
                        tend to think of a scribe as a copyist, and it seems that copyists would not
                        have had the freedom to make alterations. So I'll take the question to be:
                        "Why would a translator/redactor ('T/R') make alterations (to the source
                        text)?" In the first place, I think we have to assume that the T/R would
                        have seen a great deal in the source text that he liked, and that he would
                        thus have preserved the core meaning of the text, as he understood it. If
                        there were, however, details that he didn't like, or which weren't relevant
                        to his own community, he may well have left them out. Similarly, he may have
                        taken the occasion to add material, for a variety of reasons, not least to
                        tack on certain ideas that were important to his own community, but weren't
                        addressed in the text. So why would a T/R change the text? Trying to collect
                        all the possibilities under one heading, I would say: in general, to adapt
                        it for the use he had in mind for his own community.

                        The situation can be contrasted with the distribution of the NT. There is
                        one class of texts that were apparently tightly controlled, as they show
                        little difference between one exemplar and another. On the other hand, the
                        so-called "Western" class of texts show quite a bit of variation. Which of
                        these patterns would we likely find for Thomas, if we had more exemplars?
                        Well, its own ideology seems to count against its having been
                        tightly-controlled by a central authority, and that is borne out by the
                        limited evidence available to us, so I would say that it would be likely to
                        exhibit the "Western" tendency. I'm also reminded of the comment of Papias
                        (as quoted by Eusebius) that everyone translated the logia of Matthew (which
                        I take to be a sayings-source) "as best they could". I think what's _behind_
                        that comment - i.e., what Papias likely actually observed - was simply that
                        there were versions of this Matthean sayings-source in different languages
                        that had significant differences in content. He may have _assumed_ that the
                        reason for this was the difficulty of translation, but it seems more likely
                        that it was due to differences between the using environments. Had Papias
                        considered this possibility, he might have been loathe to admit it in any
                        case. So I take his statement to be reflective of an actual historical
                        situation, but his suggested cause of that situation to be unlikely in
                        general.

                        All of which doesn't exactly answer the question, because we don't know the
                        exact answer to the question. We would have to know what the source text
                        looked like, to determine what changes were made to it by the T/R in
                        question. But we don't know, for example, whether the POxy fragments
                        represent the source text from which the Coptic T/R was working, and we
                        don't know what the source text for the POxy fragments looked like. In order
                        to begin to determine _why_ a given T/R did what he did, we first have to
                        determine _what_ he did, but that's exactly what we don't know for any
                        individual case. About the only thing we do know is that there were
                        significant (but not extreme) differences between versions of the text in
                        different languages - thus that its transmission must have allowed for a
                        significant (but not extreme) degree of translational/redactional freedom
                        from one community to the next.

                        Mike Grondin
                        Mt. Clemens, MI
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