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Re: [GTh] GTh as hermeneiai?

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  • Tom Saunders
    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
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 25, 2003
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      "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.

      Tom Saunders
      Platter Flats, OK

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Grondin
      ... I ve been negligent in not responding to this sooner, but a certain tangent to the recent discussion of #98 has furnished me with an example of the kind of
      Message 2 of 7 , Oct 20, 2003
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        Back on Sep. 23, Rick Hubbard wrote:
        > The question becomes whether Mike has tumbled across evidence
        > that GTh is one gigantic “hermeneiai!”

        I've been negligent in not responding to this sooner, but a certain tangent
        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.

        Mike Grondin
        The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
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