Re: [GTh] GTh as hermeneiai?
- Stevan Davies once wrote a paper suggesting that GThomas was used as
an oracle, hence its lack of order and organisation.
- "Stevan Davies once wrote a paper suggesting that GThomas was used as
an oracle, hence its lack of order and organisation."
I would suggest that the oracle idea is a bust. I think saying 3, of Thomas and the corresponding saying in the GMary rule out the use of oracles, "34) Beware that no one lead you astray saying Lo here or lo there! For the Son of Man is within you."
The use of oracles probably suggests an outside or external being or force that can dictate or predict future events. What we see in Thomas is not that kind of internal and external relationship. We see a methodology or suggestion of self power in the universe, and a suggestion that you do not go looking for the kingdom but you wait to see it.
I think the Thomas list is more a list of 'precepts' rather than an oracle.
Platter Flats, OK
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- Back on Sep. 23, Rick Hubbard wrote:
> The question becomes whether Mike has tumbled across evidenceI've been negligent in not responding to this sooner, but a certain tangent
> that GTh is one gigantic “hermeneiai!”
to the recent discussion of #98 has furnished me with an example of the kind
of thing that I see in GThom, and that is illustrative of the difference
between my working hypothesis and the hypothesis of GTh as oracle-text.
The first thing that I want to say is that in looking over GThom, I do
indeed find many sayings that seem to be oracular in nature, which is to say
that they're ambiguous enough to serve in a process of divination. But I
also find many sayings that do not appear to have this quality. (What I have
in mind is a sort of "horoscope quality", i.e., general and ambiguous enough
that they could be interpreted to fit many different real-life situations.)
More to the point, however, is that my working hypothesis is not that the
sayings were intended to be numbered differently (though that may be true),
nor that some of them were intended to be picked out as oracles as the text
now stands, but that the text was intended to be rearranged - indeed, that
some stuff may have been intended to be discarded entirely. When this has
been done, it may be that the resultant text - or a contiguous subset of
it - is oracular in nature, but that is not my focus, nor do I have any
strong intuitions about it one way or another at this point. What I think is
that the reader was intended to make the text "perfect" in some sense. What
the shape of that "perfection" is is not yet clear to me.
"The text was intended to be rearranged." That is the radical possibility
which I propose, and which simply hasn't occurred to anyone, because we have
no known examples of it. And yet it stares us in the face in sayings 6 and
14. Logion 6 consists of a series of questions which are answered in logion
14. There's no plausible way around that fact. That 14 was intended to
answer 6 is clearly indicated not only by its contents, by also by its
opening words, which are that "JS said TO THEM" - with no "them" in sight.
The "them" in question (the disciples) aren't there, because they're off in
saying 6 asking the questions that 14 answers. Was the separation of 6 and
14 originally a scribal error? IMO, it was not, for if it was, it would have
had to have been uncorrected in at least two texts that followed the
original error, since the POxy fragments have the same "mistake" as the
This much I've said before, but now our recent discussion of #98 has led to
a new insight on this matter. One of the discussants mentioned #35 ("It
isn't possible for anyone to go into the house of the strong and take it/him
by force, unless he bind his hands. Then he will move out of his house.") I
would now like to suggest that 6A (the questions) has been "bound" in
precisely this way, and that as a result, it has been removed from its
"house" (i.e., 14). (Parenthetically, this answers a question I've puzzled
over for some time, viz., was 6A intended to be moved over to 14, or 14 over
to 6A? I now think the former must be the case.)
The "bindings" that I have in mind for 6A are the identical statements (in
Coptic, if not in translation) "Nothing hidden will fail to appear", which
occurs at the end of #5 and near the end of #6. Logion 5 must, I think, be
taken as a lead-in to what follows in logion 6. Note particularly the use of
the _singular_ 'you' in logion 5. There is no disciple in view to whom these
words are addressed. Rather, they're addressed, I think, to the reader:
"Know what's in front of YOUR face, and that which is hidden from YOU will
be revealed to YOU."
This is not obvious to us when we read it in English, but in Coptic there's
a difference between the singular 'you' and the plural 'you'. That
difference would have been obvious to the native reader. When Jesus is made
to utter pronouncements containing the word 'you/your' with no disciples in
sight, it's invariably the plural 'you'. But here in logion 5, it's singular
in all three occurrences. Why? What is it that's in front of the reader's
face at that point? Apparently, that the response given to the questions in
6A (i.e., "Do not lie.") is not the answer to those questions. What's
"hidden" at that point is the real answers; they're "hidden" because they're
off in #14. Evidently, #14 is the "house" of 6A, and the "strong" (6A) has
been removed from its "house" by having its "hands" (i.e., both ends of it)
"bound" by the identical phrase "Nothing hidden will fail to appear". But
now "Jesus" appears in #5 to "free the captive" - or rather, to tell the
reader that he/she should "free the captive". The reader is thus not left
clueless as to how to rearrange the text - "Jesus" helps him. (Which
would have been the pious way of understanding the fact that some
of J's purported sayings refer to others. This is not to deny the existence
of the normal level of meaning, but to add another.)
If this suggested combination of Christian ideology with authorial genius
was at first glance opaque to the ancient mind, how much more so to the
modern, where what might be subtle syntactical clues are typically assigned
to scribal sloppiness? If my intuitions are correct, however, GThom lives up
to its promise to give the world "that which has never occurred to the mind
of man" - in spades.
The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying