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Re: [GTh] The Rule of the Shepherds Some Comments

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  • Stephen
    Andrew, Thank you for your comments. I have the following points - ... I do not see how taking the saying in isolation we could ever say whether it was an
    Message 1 of 2 , May 26, 2004
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      Andrew,

      Thank you for your comments. I have the following points -

      >
      > 1/ Is Thomas 65 a genuine allegory at all ?
      > There is less clearly allegorical detail in Thomas 65 than in
      > any of the synoptic parallels, this is particularly true for Mark
      > and Matthew but true to a lesser extent for Luke. This absence
      > of clearly allegorical features makes it at least possible that
      > Thomas 65 is a genuine parable and not an allegory at all (eg
      > with a meaning that no matter how clear the message those
      > whose priority is material things will refuse to accept it).
      > On the whole I agree that Thomas 65 is probably an allegory of
      > some sort but IMO this should be argued for rather than assumed.
      >

      I do not see how taking the saying in isolation we could ever say whether it
      was an allegory or not. But if we can find a link to another allegory which
      is specific enough so as not to have arisen by chance then we will also have
      proved that it must be an allegory.


      > 2/ Is Thomas 65 related to the Shepherds in Enoch ?
      > The idea of the Shepherds in Enoch is very distinctive and
      > striking. Angels (the Shepherds) are appointed by Yahweh to
      > destroy his people, their vigorous performance of their role is
      > apparently accepted by Yahweh. However he is having a secret
      > record kept and will in the end punish the Shepherds for having
      > enjoyed their job too much.
      > IMO these unusual features seem missing in Thomas 65. The
      > feature in the Synoptic Vineyard story which does seem similar,
      > the predicted destruction of the tenants by the owner, is notably
      > missing in Thomas 65.
      >

      Establishing a link between Thomas 65 and Enoch does not necessarily mean
      that Thomas has copied Enoch. It could be that both are derived from
      another source or are representative of the same system of beliefs. To
      establish a link it is sufficient to show that there enough features in
      common to make a random connection unlikely - it is not necessary to show
      that all or even most features agree.

      In any case it is interesting that, as you point out, the version in Mark is
      actually closer to Enoch on the point of the fate of the Shepherds. The
      internal evidence of the Mark saying indicates that it is descended from a
      version that, like Thomas, had two servants. So perhaps the Mark version is
      descended form a variant that matched the Shepherd myth more closely than
      our extant Thomas version.


      > 3/ Is Thomas 65 concerned about purely heavenly events ?
      > Even if Thomas 65 is based on the Shepherds in Enoch and
      > the messengers represent Noah Moses and the Messiah or
      > Son of God, this does not at first sight indicate that the parable
      > is speaking of purely heavenly events. Even granting that Noah
      > Moses and the Messiah are regarded as in some sense heavenly
      > beings their major role of described activity in Enoch is upon earth.
      >

      If the parable corresponds to the Shepherds myth then it is telling us that
      the fallen angels have murdered the son. There is still the possibility
      that the action is intended to have taken place on Earth - which is why the
      evidence in Mark linking the Sanhedrin trial to the Shepherds is so
      important.

      Stephen Peter
    • sarban
      ... From: Stephen To: Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 4:22 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] The Rule of the Shepherds
      Message 2 of 2 , May 26, 2004
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Stephen" <stephen@...>
        To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 4:22 PM
        Subject: Re: [GTh] The Rule of the Shepherds Some Comments


        > Andrew,
        >
        > Thank you for your comments. I have the following points -
        >
        > >
        <SNIP>
        >
        > > 2/ Is Thomas 65 related to the Shepherds in Enoch ?
        > > The idea of the Shepherds in Enoch is very distinctive and
        > > striking. Angels (the Shepherds) are appointed by Yahweh to
        > > destroy his people, their vigorous performance of their role is
        > > apparently accepted by Yahweh. However he is having a secret
        > > record kept and will in the end punish the Shepherds for having
        > > enjoyed their job too much.
        > > IMO these unusual features seem missing in Thomas 65. The
        > > feature in the Synoptic Vineyard story which does seem similar,
        > > the predicted destruction of the tenants by the owner, is notably
        > > missing in Thomas 65.
        > >
        >
        > Establishing a link between Thomas 65 and Enoch does not necessarily mean
        > that Thomas has copied Enoch. It could be that both are derived from
        > another source or are representative of the same system of beliefs. To
        > establish a link it is sufficient to show that there enough features in
        > common to make a random connection unlikely - it is not necessary to show
        > that all or even most features agree.
        >
        > In any case it is interesting that, as you point out, the version in Mark
        is
        > actually closer to Enoch on the point of the fate of the Shepherds. The
        > internal evidence of the Mark saying indicates that it is descended from a
        > version that, like Thomas, had two servants. So perhaps the Mark version
        is
        > descended form a variant that matched the Shepherd myth more closely than
        > our extant Thomas version.
        >
        >
        I am troubled on the issue of methodology here. By selecting
        elements from different and widely varying versions of a parable
        one can often construct an 'original' parable with significant
        resemblances to another narrative but I have doubts as to what
        this proves. The procedure can be worryingly circular
        The problems increase when the claimed connection is not between
        some version of a parable and some other narrative but instead the
        narrative and parable are held to both derive from a hypothetical
        common source.

        More specifically I'm doubtful whether the three servants in Mark is a
        modification of an earlier two servants. The fact that Matthew (who is
        almost certainly modifying Mark) has two sendings only, although of
        several servants may suggest that the rambling version in Mark could
        be primary and that other versions have 'streamlined' it in one way or
        another.
        The parable differs so much in its four extant versions that one is
        hesitant to say one of the four forms is the original from which the
        others derive. However IMHO one can make a plausible argument
        for Luke and Matthew modifying Mark's version in various ways and
        Thomas harmonizing Matthew and Luke.
        I'm not confident that this is right but by Occam's razor it has
        something to be said for it.

        More generally I do feel that you may be blurring the distinction
        between saying that influence of the myth of the Shepherds on the
        parable of the Vinedressers is an interesting possibility and claiming
        that it is a stromg probability.

        Andrew Criddle
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