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Re: [GTh] The Great Thomas Breakthrough

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  • Michael Grondin
    ... You might better ask what breakthrough members would consider most important, Maurice, since there s a number of important questions that Thomas scholars
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 16, 2005
      Maurice Cormier writes:
      > ... I would be interested in knowing just what the "minimum expectations"
      > of the list members herein might think will constitute "the great
      > Thomas breakthrough".

      You might better ask what "breakthrough" members would consider most
      important, Maurice, since there's a number of important questions that
      Thomas scholars are trying to answer, and so I doubt if anyone envisions
      just one "great breakthrough". One primary area of interest for just about
      everyone would surely be the question of origination and development - i.e.,
      where and when and by whom was it originally composed, and how did it
      develop over time in various languages and locales? This is related also to
      the question of who used it, and for what purpose?

      But since you asked for a personal response, I'll add that of special
      interest to me are questions specifically related and confined to the Coptic
      version of the GTh - this being the only one we have in its entirety. It's
      widely assumed that this version was but a straight translation from another
      language - either Greek (as most believe) or Syriac. But there are
      significant differences between the Coptic version and even the sparse
      content of the Greek POxy fragments that seem to belie the "straight
      translation theory" - at least as related to Greek. Nor do I think it likely
      that there was ANOTHER Greek version different from the POxy fragments which
      was translated in a straightforward way into Coptic, for the Coptic bears
      signs of intentional design - which presumably would not be found in a
      straight translation.

      Let me give just one example: my own syntactical analysis (results available
      at http://tinyurl.com/4apg4) demonstrates that the Coptic text contains
      exactly 500 occurrences of Greek words and names. That's rather startling,
      but one could respond that there's at least a 1% chance of the number of
      such words being evenly divisible by 100. OK, except that there's an
      additional syntactical feature which must remove any doubt we might have
      about intentional design - namely, that these 500 word-tokens are composed
      of exactly 2400 Greek and Coptic letters. There's not a chance in hell that
      this extraordinary pair of interlocking syntactical features could be the
      random result of straight translation. One has to conclude, I think, that
      the Copts took an enormous amount of time and trouble to design their
      version; it was evidently not just a straightforward translation from any
      other language (though an other-language text no doubt served as the
      _basis_ for it). So my own main area of interest is the more-limited
      subset of questions: "What did the Copts do to the text and why
      did they do it?"

      Mike Grondin
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