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Re: [GTh] Paleo-Thomas

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  • BitsyCat1@aol.com
    In a message dated 12/14/2002 14:49:38PM, tom@cherokeetel.com writes:
    Message 1 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 2 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?
      • 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 3 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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