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Re: [GTh] Re: The gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom

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  • Tom Saunders
    Don t these represent a willful misreading of what seems to be a simple reference to the possibility that an individual GTh saying may have been randomly
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 11, 2005
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      "Don't these represent a willful misreading of what seems to be a simple
      reference to the possibility that an individual GTh saying may have been
      randomly chosen, by some users at some times, to shed light on a given
      question or problem? I see no implication that Davies "links" GTh to the
      structure or tradition of the Yi Jing, or that anyone has."

      Let me address the second part of the statement above first. I await reading what Davies says. I have what Elaine Pagels writes about the impression of a Buddhist Priest concerning the GThom, and can see myself an almost undeniable relationship to Oriental thought concerning something like the I-Ching fundamentals, and the GThom. It has to do with form and action.

      It is like doing martial kata, (moving forms), reading Chinese 'wisdom poetry,' and applying the wisdom or movement to real life, or the Tao, meaning Logos. As an instrument it is clear the GThom is meant to serve much of that same purpose. Like the Oriental workings of the I-Ching, and the other ways forms are presented, the actual form takes place in the structure of the act of performing the units within the form. In other words there is no discernible form to the way the GThom is written, because its form occurs in the action of its doing or understanding. Martial forms work the same way.

      By the time the Mandaeans would have had an influence on Jesus teachings the workings of the I-Ching and the Oriental method of study of forms would have been well known. Martial forms, or kata, 'quien' in Chinese had been installed in the time of Confucious, but in the 1st Century famous martial artists are known to have campaigned to share knowledge in foreign lands, and are known to have traveled the Silk Routes. It is not out of the question the concepts of learning forms in an Oriental manner, was understood in ancient Judea. The Theraputae movement would have been a natural link to the Orientals of the 1st c. who also sought to share knowledge.

      If the form of the GThom has any of the influence from this form of teaching, they modified it, as they did with the faults of humanity. Confucious saw similar faults in man but he tended to use a dualistic model to compare them. The Gnostics see the faults of man differently, separate from what can be the perfect man.

      Now, consider the idea of the 'robbers' in the GThom. Prophecy would be to predict them coming, when and where, etc. The GThom says they can be defeated, or avoided when you read into the sayings about robbers, Th-21, and 35. Prophecy would be to predict, but the GThom is advocating changing the outcome of the encounter, or changing the situation of the encounter.

      This is different from the I-Ching which would fix the question, when will the robbers come?

      The twist of the GThom which would excite the Oriental is the GThom is overcoming the ideas of fixed fate, and advocates at least in form a free will not bound by pre-destiny.

      Tom Saunders
      Platter Flats, OK











      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Grondin
      ... As with so much of what Tom writes, the reasoning here is badly muddled. On the one hand, he can t stop himself from thinking of everything in terms of
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 12, 2005
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        Tom Saunders writes:

        > It is like doing martial kata, (moving forms), reading Chinese 'wisdom
        > poetry,' and applying the wisdom or movement to real life, or the Tao,
        > meaning Logos. As an instrument it is clear the GThom is meant to serve
        > much of that same purpose. Like the Oriental workings of the I-Ching, and
        > the other ways forms are presented, the actual form takes place in the
        > structure of the act of performing the units within the form. In other
        > words there is no discernible form to the way the GThom is written,
        > because its form occurs in the action of its doing or understanding.
        > Martial forms work the same way.

        As with so much of what Tom writes, the reasoning here is badly muddled. On
        the one hand, he can't stop himself from thinking of everything in terms of
        martial arts, and so he has to draw some obscure comparisons between bodily
        movements and "acts of understanding", which are apples and oranges. On the
        other hand, he plays on the ambiguity of the word 'form', sometimes using it
        one way, sometimes another; sometimes applying it to one thing, sometimes to
        another. If one ends up being very confused, it is not the fault of your
        receiver.

        In a key sentence, Tom claims that "there is no discernible form to the way
        the GThom is written". In the primary sense of the word 'form' ("the shape
        of something, its outward or visible appearance" - OAD) this is patently
        false. But at this point, Tom is using another sense of the word 'form'
        (where it means 'structure'). What he's saying, then, is that GTh has no
        discernible structure (or order) to it - which mostly everyone would admit,
        without all the mumbo-jumbo intended to connect that rather obvious claim to
        martial arts "forms".

        As opposed to most commentators, however, I would claim that GTh DOES have a
        structure to it - or at least the Coptic version does. (We can't tell about
        the Greek version.) It's just that we've been looking at it wrongly. The
        structure isn't evident unless we look at the manuscript itself, because the
        structure seems to be basically syntactical. There is an apparent tie-in to
        the sematic aspect, but one can't tell from reading a translation, for
        example, that the first part of saying #10 ("I have cast fire on the world,
        and look - I am watching over it") occurs on lines 67-68 of the manuscript,
        that what precedes it is a single textual "block" of 66 lines, and that what
        follows it is exactly 600 lines of text (divided into 400 + 200) - some or
        all of which may or may not be "the world", but is surely of a size
        mysteriously-convenient to *represent* "the world".

        Now I know that one "coincidence" doesn't mean anything, but such
        syntactical coincidences multiply far beyond the ability of randomness to
        account for them, IMO. And they aren't confined to GTh, as I've pointed out
        before. The first and preceding text in Codex II (The Apocryphon of John)
        contains exactly 1100 lines plus the end line "Jesus Christ, Amen". The
        subsequent text (The Gospel of Philip) contains exactly 1232 lines - which
        doesn't seem to be significant in itself, but when added to GTh's 668, the
        result is an even 1900 lines, and when that is added to AoJ's 1100 lines,
        the cumulative size of the three texts is exactly 3000 lines. To my way of
        thinking, this suggests that the scribal author of Codex II consciously
        transcribed the three texts in a way that made the line-counts come out to
        some predetermined figure (I do not see any such pattern in the remaining
        four texts of Codex II). The same kind of detailed examination of the
        manuscript indicates (as I've argued at greater length elsewhere) that
        attention was also given to the syntactical structure _within Thomas_. Since
        commentators don't pay attention to such things, however, it will inevitably
        appear to them that the Coptic Thomas has no structure.

        Postscript: Anyone wishing to confirm my factual claims about the Coptic
        Thomas, or to pursue this line of inquiry, are welcome to download and/or
        print my page-by-page pdf-file presentation
        (http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/gtbypage_112702.pdf).

        Mike Grondin
        Mt. Clemens, MI
      • Andrew Smith
        ... sacred ... informal ... page and ... something ... cookie type ... miracle , etc.) ... page on ... is there ... the ... possible), ... contents, it ...
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 16, 2005
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          --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@c...> wrote:
          >
          > Judging from the article, the heretical practice of "sortilege" or
          "sacred
          > lots" seems to have been practiced both formally and informally. As
          informal
          > practice, one would open the bible (or Homer or Virgil) at a random
          page and
          > read the first passage that hit one's eye, trying to glean from it
          something
          > related to one's future - or some piece of advice. Taking this a step
          > further, some folks evidently thought to write a brief "fortune
          cookie" type
          > statement ("You will be saved from danger", "Expect a great
          miracle", etc.)
          > on each page of, say, Mark. Metzger doesn't say whether these
          > "interpretations" were related to the particular contents of the
          page on
          > which they were written (though one can imagine that to be so), nor
          is there
          > any indication that the numbers involved (one each on 69 pages of Mark,
          > e.g.) correspond to the numerical possibilities of throwing dice.
          >
          > As to Steve's hypothesis, it doesn't seem very likely to me. Even if
          the
          > number of sayings could be reduced to 108 (which is certainly
          possible),
          > there's the matter of content. One would think, for example, that the
          > compiler of such a collection would have included only relatively short
          > sayings, eschewing lengthy logia like the banquet parable. On the other
          > hand, if he himself had been using "sortilege" to select his
          contents, it
          > would be unlikely that he would have ended up with the canonical
          sequence
          > 64-66. Also, many logia don't easily lend themselves to "fortune" or
          > "advice" type interpretations - which would presumably have been the
          > selection criterion for the compiler - if that had been what he was
          up to.
          > Which is not to say that I don't think that the compiler had SOME
          selection
          > criteria. It's just that I don't think that it was this.
          >

          It's interesting that a proposal that GThomas was compiled by putting
          together excerpts found by sortilege is a version of the dependency
          argument, which is anathema to Steve Davies.
          I don't have GTCW to hand, so I can't check, but I don't think that
          Steve was proposing that Thomas was composed as an oracles text, but
          that it perhaps owed its survival to its use as an oracles text. I'd
          better check that.

          Andrew
        • Michael Grondin
          ... Hi Andrew- This note is partially to respond to what you say above, partially to raise another issue with respect to the second edition of GTCW that you ve
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 16, 2005
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            Andrew Smith wrote:

            > It's interesting that a proposal that GThomas was compiled by putting
            > together excerpts found by sortilege is a version of the dependency
            > argument, which is anathema to Steve Davies.
            > I don't have GTCW to hand, so I can't check, but I don't think that
            > Steve was proposing that Thomas was composed as an oracles text, but
            > that it perhaps owed its survival to its use as an oracles text. I'd
            > better check that.

            Hi Andrew-

            This note is partially to respond to what you say above, partially to raise
            another issue with respect to the second edition of GTCW that you've
            recently published. With respect to the above, I quite agree with you.
            I considered the possibility of creation-by-sortilege simply as one of
            several scenarios wherein sortilege *might* have been involved. In the end,
            I rejected all of them.

            The question I want to raise about the second edition of GTCW is whether it
            includes Appendix I ("The Structure of Thomas") from the original edition.
            It was this section particularly (and more specifically, its last sentence)
            which inspired my own attempt to solve the problem that Steve set forth
            there:

            "I look forward to the time when someone unambiguously uncovers the secret
            to Thomas' order or, indeed, to the time when we can conclude that the
            sayings are essentially random, for that seemingly discouraging result would
            in fact be a negative conclusion of considerable interest and significance."
            (GTCW, 1983, p.155)

            What I have uncovered so far in some 15 years of on-again off-again
            effort indicates to my satisfaction (and I'm not easily satisfied, believe
            me) that the *Coptic* Gospel of Thomas was a sort of "puzzle" which
            represented the world (and its chaos), and that it was intended that
            the "disciple" rearrange that "world" in order to form some kind of
            textually-perfect "new world" (which would include, for example, the joining
            of the set of questions in #6A with the set of answers in #14). This task,
            which was probably part of the training to become "a perfect one", required
            an intimate knowledge of the sayings - but also the development of a
            peculiar way of interpreting them, according to which they were
            referring to themselves (as well as to the outside world).

            As astonishing as it seems (and we have never seen the like), numbers of
            lines, occurrences of the names 'IS' and 'IHS', and even letters, evidently
            served as guides for the re-structuring of the text. As Jesus (represented
            by the first of three occurrences of 'IHS' in the text) is made to say to
            Thomas in #13, "You've gotten drunk from the bubbling spring _which I have
            measured_". It seems that this last phrase was intended to be taken
            literally - not that the author of the text was Jesus, but that the text was
            "measured" in some way to allow it to be restructured (as in 111A's "The
            heavens and the earth will be rolled up _in your presence_").

            My task here is not to argue for this view, because arguments are to no
            avail. The claim is extraordinary, and so, too, must be the evidence. I will
            only mention here one piece of textual evidence that I came across in the
            last several days. It's related to saying 107, that has to do with a
            shepherd searching for a 100th sheep that's gone astray. When he finds it,
            he says that he loves it (or wants it) more than the 99. Now as it happens,
            the 100th occurrence of the name 'IS' is at the tail end of saying 111, in
            what I've always feared (and commentators agree) might be a scribal addition
            ("Because JS speaks thus: whoever-falls upon-it himself, the world isn't
            worthy of him"). The reason I say that I "feared" it might be a scribal
            addition, is that it would pretty much ruin either my theory or the
            possibility of proving it if it was. Now I'm convinced that it isn't - and
            I'll tell you why. The number of letters in sayings 111 and 112 is 180, with
            120 in saying 111 and 60 in saying 112. (I need hardly remind you of the "60
            per measure and 120 per meaure" thingy). But more than that - saying 111 is
            itself divided into two parts. The first part (which contains the 99th
            occurrence of 'IS') is composed of 70 letters. The second part - the
            apparent "scribal addition" which contains the 100th occurrence of 'IS' - is
            composed of exactly 50 letters. As a result, we have 111A+111B+112 =
            70+50+60 = 180 letters. In my opinion, this well-ordered three-part
            structure cannot be accounted for by randomness, nor (thankfully) is 111B a
            scribal addition. It's an integral part of the structure. (It is, perhaps,
            an instance of what the Gospel of Philip refers to as hiding something of
            great value in a container of little value.)

            For a long time, I've referred to my theory as a "working hypothesis". With
            the clearing away of this piece of possible contrary evidence, I now feel
            confident of calling it a 'theory', since it now STM to be both probable and
            provable. I'm confident that the text hasn't been scribally altered in such
            a way that would eliminate any possibility of _our_ solving the puzzle. What
            remains to do (and of course this is no easy task) is the actual putting
            together of the puzzle, as the original "disciples of the perfect" would
            have done it. Nothing less could possibly convince anyone else of this
            astonishing theory - which owes its impetus (though not its substance) to
            Appendix I of Steve's GTCW.

            Regards,
            Mike Grondin
            The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
            http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
            The Coptic Gospel of Thomas in Context
            http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/index.htm
          • Andrew Smith
            Mike, Yes, Appendix 1 is included in the new GTCW. In the new intro, Steve briefly assesses the contribution of GTCW to Thomas studies and comments Is thomas
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 17, 2005
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              Mike,

              Yes, Appendix 1 is included in the new GTCW. In the new intro, Steve
              briefly assesses the contribution of GTCW to Thomas studies and
              comments "Is thomas in its origin or its structure divisible into four
              sections, as suggested in the first appendix? Frankly that is an idea
              that nobody supports.

              I remember that you handed out a summary of your hypothesis at the SBL
              a while ago. did you receive any response to it? The 120+60 is
              certainly interesting.

              Best Wishes

              andrew
              --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@c...> wrote:
              > Andrew Smith wrote:
              >
              > > It's interesting that a proposal that GThomas was compiled by putting
              > > together excerpts found by sortilege is a version of the dependency
              > > argument, which is anathema to Steve Davies.
              > > I don't have GTCW to hand, so I can't check, but I don't think that
              > > Steve was proposing that Thomas was composed as an oracles text, but
              > > that it perhaps owed its survival to its use as an oracles text. I'd
              > > better check that.
              >
              > Hi Andrew-
              >
              > This note is partially to respond to what you say above, partially
              to raise
              > another issue with respect to the second edition of GTCW that you've
              > recently published. With respect to the above, I quite agree with you.
              > I considered the possibility of creation-by-sortilege simply as one of
              > several scenarios wherein sortilege *might* have been involved. In
              the end,
              > I rejected all of them.
              >
              > The question I want to raise about the second edition of GTCW is
              whether it
              > includes Appendix I ("The Structure of Thomas") from the original
              edition.
              > It was this section particularly (and more specifically, its last
              sentence)
              > which inspired my own attempt to solve the problem that Steve set forth
              > there:
              >
              > "I look forward to the time when someone unambiguously uncovers the
              secret
              > to Thomas' order or, indeed, to the time when we can conclude that the
              > sayings are essentially random, for that seemingly discouraging
              result would
              > in fact be a negative conclusion of considerable interest and
              significance."
              > (GTCW, 1983, p.155)
              >
              > What I have uncovered so far in some 15 years of on-again off-again
              > effort indicates to my satisfaction (and I'm not easily satisfied,
              believe
              > me) that the *Coptic* Gospel of Thomas was a sort of "puzzle" which
              > represented the world (and its chaos), and that it was intended that
              > the "disciple" rearrange that "world" in order to form some kind of
              > textually-perfect "new world" (which would include, for example, the
              joining
              > of the set of questions in #6A with the set of answers in #14). This
              task,
              > which was probably part of the training to become "a perfect one",
              required
              > an intimate knowledge of the sayings - but also the development of a
              > peculiar way of interpreting them, according to which they were
              > referring to themselves (as well as to the outside world).
              >
              > As astonishing as it seems (and we have never seen the like), numbers of
              > lines, occurrences of the names 'IS' and 'IHS', and even letters,
              evidently
              > served as guides for the re-structuring of the text. As Jesus
              (represented
              > by the first of three occurrences of 'IHS' in the text) is made to
              say to
              > Thomas in #13, "You've gotten drunk from the bubbling spring _which
              I have
              > measured_". It seems that this last phrase was intended to be taken
              > literally - not that the author of the text was Jesus, but that the
              text was
              > "measured" in some way to allow it to be restructured (as in 111A's "The
              > heavens and the earth will be rolled up _in your presence_").
              >
              > My task here is not to argue for this view, because arguments are to no
              > avail. The claim is extraordinary, and so, too, must be the
              evidence. I will
              > only mention here one piece of textual evidence that I came across
              in the
              > last several days. It's related to saying 107, that has to do with a
              > shepherd searching for a 100th sheep that's gone astray. When he
              finds it,
              > he says that he loves it (or wants it) more than the 99. Now as it
              happens,
              > the 100th occurrence of the name 'IS' is at the tail end of saying
              111, in
              > what I've always feared (and commentators agree) might be a scribal
              addition
              > ("Because JS speaks thus: whoever-falls upon-it himself, the world isn't
              > worthy of him"). The reason I say that I "feared" it might be a scribal
              > addition, is that it would pretty much ruin either my theory or the
              > possibility of proving it if it was. Now I'm convinced that it isn't
              - and
              > I'll tell you why. The number of letters in sayings 111 and 112 is
              180, with
              > 120 in saying 111 and 60 in saying 112. (I need hardly remind you of
              the "60
              > per measure and 120 per meaure" thingy). But more than that - saying
              111 is
              > itself divided into two parts. The first part (which contains the 99th
              > occurrence of 'IS') is composed of 70 letters. The second part - the
              > apparent "scribal addition" which contains the 100th occurrence of
              'IS' - is
              > composed of exactly 50 letters. As a result, we have 111A+111B+112 =
              > 70+50+60 = 180 letters. In my opinion, this well-ordered three-part
              > structure cannot be accounted for by randomness, nor (thankfully) is
              111B a
              > scribal addition. It's an integral part of the structure. (It is,
              perhaps,
              > an instance of what the Gospel of Philip refers to as hiding
              something of
              > great value in a container of little value.)
              >
              > For a long time, I've referred to my theory as a "working
              hypothesis". With
              > the clearing away of this piece of possible contrary evidence, I now
              feel
              > confident of calling it a 'theory', since it now STM to be both
              probable and
              > provable. I'm confident that the text hasn't been scribally altered
              in such
              > a way that would eliminate any possibility of _our_ solving the
              puzzle. What
              > remains to do (and of course this is no easy task) is the actual putting
              > together of the puzzle, as the original "disciples of the perfect" would
              > have done it. Nothing less could possibly convince anyone else of this
              > astonishing theory - which owes its impetus (though not its
              substance) to
              > Appendix I of Steve's GTCW.
              >
              > Regards,
              > Mike Grondin
              > The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
              > http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
              > The Coptic Gospel of Thomas in Context
              > http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/index.htm
            • Michael Grondin
              ... Nor do i. All previous attempts to find order or structure in Thomas (including Steve s) have looked at it the way it is now, and they ve looked at it in a
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 17, 2005
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                [Andrew Smith]:
                > Yes, Appendix 1 is included in the new GTCW. In the new intro, Steve
                > briefly assesses the contribution of GTCW to Thomas studies and
                > comments "Is thomas in its origin or its structure divisible into four
                > sections, as suggested in the first appendix? Frankly that is an idea
                > that nobody supports.

                Nor do i. All previous attempts to find order or structure in Thomas
                (including Steve's) have looked at it the way it is now, and they've looked
                at it in a superficial, English-translation kind of way. On the one hand,
                they haven't gone deep enough to look at syntactical details like line and
                letter counts, and on the other hand, they haven't considered the
                possibility of moving stuff around. It's like Th113 says: "The Kingdom of
                the Father is spread out upon the [textual] earth, but men don't see her."

                > I remember that you handed out a summary of your hypothesis at the SBL
                > a while ago. did you receive any response to it?

                Ah, yes. That was back in November of 2002 in Toronto. It was my first SBL
                meeting. In the weeks preceding that trip, I had written a series of notes
                to our group, spelling out some of the textual details I had uncovered
                (including how to account for the half-blank line 9, which was another
                stumbling-block for my theory). For the meeting, I reprinted those notes and
                put together a page-by-page interlinear (which is now a pdf on my site). I
                made a half-dozen copies of these two items, and handed them out to a few
                individuals. (I think I gave one to April DeConick, one to Ismo Dunderberg
                for Risto Uro, a third to an unknown guy from a French-Canadian University
                that was hosting a Thomas conference, one to John Turner, and one to a guy I
                was having conversations with at the time about publishing an interlinear by
                Andrew Bernhard and myself.) Unfortunately, this was shortly after the
                anthrax scare associated with 9/11, so the recipients were probably
                suspicious of materials given to them by a guy they didn't know. Although my
                email address was on the documents, I never heard from anyone about it.

                Among the many incidents at that SBL meeting that still stick in my mind are
                two tangentially related to the Thomas puzzle. The one is the seminar where
                April DeConick spoke. It wasn't so much meeting her and her husband (an
                occasional contributer here) as the talk of another speaker, who happened to
                mention a 68-day initiation period for one of the ancient mystery cults. 68
                days? It naturally leapt into my mind that Thomas has 668 lines, with "the
                world" represented by the last 600 (minus lines 469-470). Does the first
                block of 66 lines, plus 469-470, represent the reader himself, a "house" to
                be "destroyed" before he can be "perfected"?

                The second incident was at a seminar on the Apocryphon of John. As you know,
                this was undoubtedly the most important text in the Nag Hammadi collection,
                so far as the originators were concerned. (Steve is currently doing a book
                on it, BTW.) Not only does it precede the Gospel of Thomas in Codex II -
                which is clearly the "Queen of the codices" - but it appears as the first
                item in two other books as well. The three versions differ significantly
                from each other, however. Codex II contains what's called the "long
                recension" - most notable for its 100 lines of strange names associated with
                body-parts of the Adam-figure that the "rulers" are creating. Anyway, long
                story short, I asked the speaker about the rather strange title of the
                Apocryphon of John in Codex II (whereas the other two versions have the
                standard order of "The Apocryphon According to John", the title in Codex II
                is "According to John, the Apocyphons". There's a difference of order, and
                apparently of number as well.) The speaker (a French guy) didn't seem to
                know what I was asking about. For a long, agonizing moment, there was total
                silence in the room - something that NEVER happens at these seminars. I was
                embarassed. Eventually he (and later, John Turner, in private conversation)
                came up with an explanation, but which I found unconvincing. Because the
                line-counts of the first three texts in Codex II tie so neatly together
                (1100+668+1232 = 3000), I believe that the title of AoJ (which occurs at the
                end of AoJ, just before GTh) was altered to reflect a relationship between
                these texts - as the size of AoJ in Codex II was tailored to match the
                cumulative sizes of the other two texts. (I know - this sounds like a
                conspiracy theory. I try not to go too far beyond the facts, but the facts
                are themselves astonishing. They suggest something sui generis in the known
                world of ancient manuscripts.)

                > The 120+60 is certainly interesting.

                If you like that, here's another one: the sacrum nominum name 'IHS' occurs
                three times in GTh, in three separate blocks of text ("where there are three
                gods, they are in God"?). The sizes of these blocks are 82 lines (block 2),
                16 lines (block 4), and 22 lines (block 14) - a total of 120 lines. Five
                such groups would, of course, total 600 lines (which I believe represents
                the cosmos, which in turn equals an "earth" of 400 lines, plus two heavens
                of 100 lines each). Interestingly, it's at the very end of block 1 (with a
                size of 66 lines) that the 60 and 120 are mentioned, and those yields are
                said to come from seeds falling on "the good earth (KA2)" - which I think
                begins just below block 1. (In the re-structuring of a "new world", the
                earth (KA2) and the heavens will be "rolled up".)

                Regards,
                Mike Grondin
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