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Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas

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  • 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 1 of 12 , Dec 13 4:18 PM
      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 2 of 12 , Dec 14 2:33 AM
        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 3 of 12 , Dec 14 7:40 AM
          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]
          >
          >
          > --------------------------------------------------------------------
          > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
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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 4 of 12 , Dec 14 7:48 AM
            [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 5 of 12 , Dec 14 9:46 AM
              > 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 6 of 12 , Dec 14 1:05 PM
                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 7 of 12 , Dec 14 1:55 PM
                  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 8 of 12 , Dec 14 2:23 PM
                    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 9 of 12 , Dec 14 9:44 PM
                      [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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