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Re: [GTh] A Mention on Word pictures and the ankh( Saying 77)a Key

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  • Michael Grondin
    John- The ankh as the key? Well, I d say rather that the Christianized ankh - the bisected rho in the cross saying - might be the key. Not so much, however,
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 4, 2003
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      The ankh as the key? Well, I'd say rather that the Christianized ankh - the
      bisected rho in the "cross saying" - might be the key. Not so much, however,
      in terms of letters themselves, as in terms of their numeric values. In
      fact, the bisected rho (which I previously referred to as 'tau/rho') is but
      the latest of a very significant number of indicators that point to the
      apparent importance of the numbers 50 and 100 "behind the scenes" of Thomas.
      As mentioned previously, rho had a value of 100. More specifically, rho was
      used as the symbol of the number 100 in the Greek numeral system used also
      by the Copts - when the letter overstroked, that is. So the Greek/Coptic
      reader would more naturally think of the connection between letters and
      numbers than we do, looking at their language from the outside.

      A bisected rho - a "divided" rho - might quite plausibly have been
      associated with the number 50. As it turns out, there's at least two
      syntactic anomalies involving the Greek nu (=50): first, just above the body
      of the Gospel of Thomas in Codex II is the title of the preceding tractate -
      The Apocryphon of John - and that title is divided into three lines such
      that the 'N' of the phrase translated as 'the apocryphon' is separated off
      by itself on a single line. Secondly, there are 17 occurrences within the
      text of Thomas of a "missing nu" at the end of a line, represented by an
      overstroke with no letter under it. Now it has to be understood that this
      was not a unique feature of Thomas, but as far as I know, there's no
      explanation of this rather curious syntactical feature of some Christian
      Coptic texts. Even more curious, it's not the case (as one might expect)
      that *every* 'N' occurring at the end of a line and also at the end of a
      word was represented in this way.

      The "jubilee" number 50 represented a "sabbath of sabbaths", and in Th27 we
      find what might be a reference to exactly that ("If you don't keep the
      sabbath of sabbaths, you won't see the Father"?)

      Outside of Thomas, the "jubilee number" 50 has a host of important mentions
      in Christian and mystic Jewish lore - the Therapeutae, the DSS, the gospel
      seating of the 5000 in "groups of 50 and 100", to name just a few. (With
      your mind for connecting details from disparate works, you may be able to
      come up with a few more.)

      Now then, let's look at Th77 with the above in mind. Specifically, 77.2
      ("Split a timber, I am there"). What would the Coptic reader have noticed
      that might not be clear to us? I suggest that he would have noticed that the
      Coptic word here translated as 'timber' was also used to mean '100'. I need
      hardly point out the connection between "split 100" and the bisected rho of
      the "cross saying". To my mind, this suggests that the "key" to Thomas
      was/is the arrangement of text into groups of 50 and 100. As you may
      remember, my series of notes last November leaned heavily toward an attempt
      to construct such groups. (I also have a vague recollection that there was
      some other Coptic text arranged in groups of 50/100 - I'll have to see if I
      can find that reference.)

      In all, the recent attention to the bisected rho of the "cross saying" seems
      to confirm my intuition that the number 50 and its multiples (100, 500,
      5000, etc) were regarded as important symbolic numbers in mystical-leaning
      Christian circles, and might well have been "the key" to the rearrangement
      of the chaotic present "world" of Thomas into a "perfect (textual) world".

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
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