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Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas

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  • Michael Grondin
    The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm ... From: Tom Saunders To:
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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      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 2 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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        [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 3 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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          > 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 4 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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            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 5 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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              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 6 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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                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 7 of 12 , Dec 14, 2002
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                  [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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