Re: [GTh] Line Numbers
- Some further thoughts on the 1300-line figure, Frank.
1. After writing my earlier note, it occurred to me that maybe the line-size
of the Greek text was about half that of the Coptic. I discovered that
there's interesting but confusing differences between the three sets of
fragments designated POxy 1, 654, and 655. According to Layton's critical
edition, scholars have determined that POxy 1 came from a codex, but that
654 and 655 came from rolls. The typical line-length in POxy 654 seems to be
about the same as the Coptic - maybe a little more - but since the Thomas
material was apparently copied onto the back of something else (some kind of
land survey), it may be discounted for that reason. The typical line-lengths
of POxy 1 and POxy 655, on the other hand, appear to be substantially
smaller than the Coptic - not half, I would say, but maybe about 3/4 (say
about 18 letters per line versus 24 in the Coptic). But remember, this is a
different language. When I made my interlinear, for example, it soon became
evident that it generally took significantly more letters to express the
same thought in English than in Coptic. So maybe the Greek text did have
1300 lines of generally smaller size than the Coptic.
2. The 1300-line figure is supported by certain indications of what the text
might look like AFTER it's been restructured or rebuilt. One plausible
possibility at this point is that the FINAL structure may represent the
twelve apostles + Jesus, and that each of these 13 segments has the same
nice, round number of lines. If so, then the typical line size of the Coptic
text as it now stands (which is BEFORE the thing is torn apart and rebuilt)
may be about half of what it'll be at the end. The average line-length in
the Coptic text is 25.25 letters (16848/667 - lines 9 and 668 counted as
one), but if - for the sake of argument - the final structure has, say,
exactly 13 letters per line, then the number of lines would approximately
double. (And if it turns out that there's the equivalent of 18 lines to be
set aside for some reason or other - perhaps because they're "weeds" - the
approximate becomes exactitude.) That's a hell of a lot of IF's, and we'll
only know for sure at the end, but 1300 isn't inherently implausible, IMO.
(BTW, this may be of no importance, but line 280 contains 13 syllables, and
"bad" numbers like 11 and 17 seem to figure prominently. I think it has to
do with GPh's talk about how "good" and "bad" are really brothers of each
- Is it possible the order and numerical values
reflect the pentameter and stanzas of an oral
tradition, a poem, maybe even a song?
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- Dave Renfro writes:
> Is it possible the order and numerical valuesBasically, no - in my opinion. In the first place, I believe that the Gospel
> reflect the pentameter and stanzas of an oral
> tradition, a poem, maybe even a song?
of Thomas was always intended to be a secret document shared only among
initiates. It probably used elements from oral tradition, and they may have
counted (Coptic) syllables to create some kind of "rhythm", but IMO any such
"rhythm" was based on the numbers they wanted to use, rather than the other
- Frank McCoy wrote:
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