Re: [GTh] The Rule of the Shepherds Some Comments
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen" <stephen@...>
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 4:22 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] The Rule of the Shepherds Some Comments
> Thank you for your comments. I have the following points -
> > 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
> 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
> 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
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
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.