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[gthomas] Re: Illegitimacy/105

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  • Mike Grondin
    ... Ike s imagination here turns out to be somewhat limited. An original #105 (if there was one) would probably have looked like the following: (1) He who
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 3, 1999
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      Once again, I have to correct my evil twin Ike, who wrote:
      >... If we try to imagine how #105 might have read, if it had originally
      >been much more personally relevant to Jesu, we come up with curiously
      >unsatisfying results, as in the following:
      >
      >"He who knows his mother will be called the son of a harlot."
      >
      >This just doesn't strike me as the type of "last-word" retort of which
      >Christian apologists were capable. I would have expected some kind of a
      >slam-dunk put-down of J's opponents. Which leads me to believe that there
      >was no such "original" version of #105. Which leads me to believe that
      >#105, although it carries echoes of the charge of illegitimacy, was not
      >included in the collection for the purpose of answering that charge, but
      >rather for a different purpose altogether.

      Ike's imagination here turns out to be somewhat limited. An "original" #105
      (if there was one) would probably have looked like the following:

      (1) "He who knows the Father will be called 'son of a harlot'."

      This has the required apologetic "punch" that Ike was talking about. But if
      we go further and remove any suggestion of illegitimacy (hence any need for
      a "punch"), the result is a typical Johannine-type saying:

      (2) "He who knows the Father will be called 'the Son'."

      Looking at the changes that such an "original" #105 would have undergone in
      the process of becoming the Coptic #105, I'm struck by the fact that they
      are just such as we would expect to have been made by Christian gnostics:

      a. The addition of "the Mother" (dualism), and
      b. either adding 'the Harlot' (2), or changing 'A harlot' into 'THE harlot'
      (1) - in both cases to provide a contrast with "the Mother".

      What this seems to come down to is a dilemma for Steve D: Either he accepts
      that the Coptic logion 105 is pretty much the original - in which case his
      illegitimacy interpretation seems to falter - or he accepts that the Coptic
      version of 105 has been significantly changed from the Greek original -
      indicating a level of Coptic emendation beyond that which he appears
      willing to admit.

      (Note: Everyone pretty much agrees that charges of illegitimacy were
      levelled against Jesu. Whether these charges were based in fact or not is
      perhaps an issue better suited to Crosstalk. What I see as the main issue
      here is how or whether these charges were reflected in logion 105.)

      Mike
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    • Sytze van der Laan
      ... I think you may be overinterpreting saying 105, especially the Coptic. The text has P|$HRE M|PORNH , the|son of|harlot. It is true that the Coptic text
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 4, 1999
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        Mike Grondin wrote:
        >Although logion 105 does resemble a defense against charges of
        >illegitimacy, there are features that count against that interpretation in
        >its present form:
        >(1) J's opponents would not have said that he was the son of "THE Harlot"
        >(as the Coptic has it); they would have said that he was the son of "A
        >harlot".
        >(2) J is not made to say that he knows HIS father & mother, but that he
        >knows THE Father & THE Mother, quite a different thing. The Mother in
        >question is surely not his natural mother, but rather the "true" Mother who
        >gave him "the Life" (whatever that was).

        I think you may be overinterpreting saying 105, especially the Coptic. The
        text has "P|$HRE M|PORNH", the|son of|harlot. It is true that the Coptic
        text often drops the definite article, and we can be certain that there is
        no scribal error causing the omittance of an indefinite article. But here
        we're dealing with a very common genitive construction. Compare the
        following example: we translate "PSHRE MPRWME" as "the son of man". The
        second definite article "P" is disregarded in the translation. For the same
        reason, we translate "TS2IME" in GTh 15 as "(him who was not born) of
        woman". You called Lambdin's translation wrong for translating "the son of A
        harlot", but his translation only attempts to make sense to nowadays'
        readership. We do not know who THE harlot is in the GThomas, let go who THE
        woman or THE man..

        I still like the way Guilleaumont et al. translated GTh 105, "Whoever knows
        father and mother shall be called the son of a harlot." Although this
        edition does use a lot of capitals in general, they refrained from doing so
        in this saying. Translating "THE Father & THE Mother" isn't an emphasis we
        can find in the text. And it doesn't necessarily point at GTh 101, because
        there we have only "[......] DE MME" which may or may not utilise the word
        "mother" from the previous sentence - we just don't know yet. Perhaps it is
        better to translate everything in capitals from now on ;-)

        Steve Davies wrote:
        >All this may indicate that a saying whereby Jesus defends
        >the fact that he knows who his father and mother are against
        >a charge that he is the son of the harlot is either from Jesus
        >or a defense of Jesus constructed to counteract accusations
        >that he was illegitimate.

        Yes, that may explain the existence of GTh 105. Another, late, parallel
        comes to mind. In Sura 19:28, Mary, who has no husband, shamelessly shows
        baby Jesus to the people. They quickly conclude that she has dishonoured her
        family. They rebuke her and say, "O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a
        man of evil, nor was your mother a harlot."

        Was Judges 11:1 already mentioned in this thread? Here Jephthah the
        Gileadite is called "the son of a harlot". Interesting detail in this tale
        of his six year command over Israel is the unfortunate promise he has to
        keep by sacrificing his only daughter. She asks for permission to stay in
        the mountains for 2 months to "bewail her virginity". After Jephthah has to
        kill her, the story stresses: "she had never slept with a man"...

        I think it is also interesting to compare the sequence of GTh 105 and GTh
        106 with 1 Cor. 6:16: "Do you not know that he which is joined to an harlot
        ("PORNH") is one body? For two, it is said, shall be one flesh." Gth 106
        has, "When you make the two one, you shall become sons of man ..". It may
        not shed any light on the meaning of GTh 105, but wouldn't it be possible
        that the editor of the GThomas put GTh 105 next to GTh 106 for a reason?

        - Sytze

        Gospel of Thomas Bibliography @ http://huizen.dds.nl/~skirl/
        ECTHN EN MECW TOY KOCMOY



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      • Stevan Davies
        ... Sytze ... Better: Mark 10:8 .... and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. 104 has a bridalchamber reference. 106 when you make
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 4, 1999
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          > Steve Davies wrote:
          > >All this may indicate that a saying whereby Jesus defends
          > >the fact that he knows who his father and mother are against
          > >a charge that he is the son of the harlot is either from Jesus
          > >or a defense of Jesus constructed to counteract accusations
          > >that he was illegitimate.

          Sytze
          > I think it is also interesting to compare the sequence of GTh 105 and GTh
          > 106 with 1 Cor. 6:16: "Do you not know that he which is joined to an harlot
          > ("PORNH") is one body? For two, it is said, shall be one flesh." Gth 106
          > has, "When you make the two one, you shall become sons of man ..". It may
          > not shed any light on the meaning of GTh 105, but wouldn't it be possible
          > that the editor of the GThomas put GTh 105 next to GTh 106 for a reason?

          Better: Mark 10:8 ".... and the two shall become one. So they are
          no longer two but one."

          104 has a bridalchamber reference.

          106 "when you make the two one, you will become sons of man"
          may (probably not) imply "marriage begets human beings"
          Make the two one has a marriage/intercourse connotation
          (cf. 22 where it might have re: Mk/Pl references) .... this only
          makes any possible sense if "become" in 106 can be translated
          "bring about" or "bring forth" or some such. What do you think?

          Steve

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        • Mike Grondin
          ... This is a very curious charge, Sytze, especially in this area of study, where it s often the case that meaning turns on a few letters, as you know. I m
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 5, 1999
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            (me):
            >Although logion 105 does resemble a defense against charges of
            >illegitimacy, there are features that count against that interpretation in
            >its present form:
            >(1) J's opponents would not have said that he was the son of "THE Harlot"
            >(as the Coptic has it); they would have said that he was the son of "A
            >harlot".
            >(2) J is not made to say that he knows HIS father & mother, but that he
            >knows THE Father & THE Mother, quite a different thing. The Mother in
            >question is surely not his natural mother, but rather the "true" Mother who
            >gave him "the Life" (whatever that was).

            (Sytze):
            >I think you may be overinterpreting saying 105, especially the Coptic.

            This is a very curious charge, Sytze, especially in this area of study,
            where it's often the case that meaning turns on a few letters, as you know.
            I'm reminded of my wife complaining that I over-analyze her words. Her
            typical exasperated response is "You know what I mean!" I suppose you and
            Steve would say "You know what #105 means!" Problem is, I really don't
            think it means what you want it to mean. So I guess my counter-charge would
            be that to analyze it strictly as a response to charges of illegitimacy
            amounts to under-interpretation.

            >The text has "P|$HRE M|PORNH", the|son of|harlot. It is true that the
            >Coptic text often drops the definite article ... But here we're dealing
            >with a very common genitive construction.

            The fact that it's a genitive has nothing to do with it. The issue really
            turns on how to handle the Coptic definite article 'the', as your further
            comments make clear:

            >Compare the following example: we translate "P|$HRE M|P|RWME" as "the son
            >of man". The second definite article "P" is disregarded in the translation.

            This example begs the question, which is precisely whether the definite
            article should be disregarded. Your translation "the son of man" would
            actually be my third choice, behind "Son of Man" and "the Son of the Man".

            >For the same reason, we translate "T|S2IME" in GTh 15 as "(him who
            >was not born) of woman".

            Same objection, though this example is better for your case than the one
            above. Problem is, the case can't be made by looking at a few
            counter-examples. What we need to know is the general pattern of using
            definite articles. We know that the Copts used the definite article in
            front of country-names and titles, which would seem to suggest that it was
            sometimes used as a mechanism for capitalization (as in "the god" = "God").
            But above, and elsewhere in your comments, you don't use capitals, so where
            does that leave us? They sometimes stuck it in, sometimes not, based on the
            mood of the moment? That would be a pretty unsatisfactory explanation, I
            would think.

            >You called Lambdin's translation wrong for translating "the son of A
            >harlot", but his translation only attempts to make sense to nowadays'
            >readership. We do not know who THE harlot is in the GThomas, let go who
            >THE woman or THE man...

            I'm sure you'll agree that if, in the course of attempting to make some
            passage understandable to "nowadays' readership", the translator alters the
            meaning of the passage, that still counts as an error, regardless of good
            intentions. Problem is, the translator often goes with what he/she thinks
            the saying means, regardless of the actual wording, which in turn confirms
            other folks' predispositions to think the same way. We WANT GThom to sound
            like the canon, so we tend to do things to make it so. Personally, I think
            we should be aware of, and resist, that tendency.

            >I still like the way Guilleaumont et al. translated GTh 105, "Whoever knows
            >father and mother shall be called the son of a harlot." Although this
            >edition does use a lot of capitals in general, they refrained from doing so
            >in this saying.

            Rather curious, don't you think? I'd say it's another example of
            translators trying to fit the translation to their preconceived notions of
            what it MUST MEAN. They don't go all the way to "HIS father", but they
            don't capitalize "Father", either, cuz that would tend to make it mean what
            they don't want it to mean, namely that the reference is not to one's
            natural father and mother, but rather to some divine Father and Mother. It
            can't mean THAT, of course, cuz that would bring in a female divine entity,
            which wouldn't be canonical. I think you see the problem. All these
            self-fulfilling translations seem to derive from the assumption that the
            Coptic GThom is a straight translation from the earliest GThom. ISTM that
            assumption is false.

            >Translating "THE Father & THE Mother" isn't an emphasis we
            >can find in the text. And it doesn't necessarily point at GTh 101, because
            >there we have only "[......] DE MME" which may or may not utilise the word
            >"mother" from the previous sentence - we just don't know yet.

            No, but we do know that whoever/whatever gave J "(the) Life" is feminine,
            because of the feminine article in the verb (AS|Ti), which rules out, for
            example "my father". And we do know that the lacuna in question will hold
            about six letters, just enough for "my mother" (TA|MAAY). So your defense
            here seems pretty slim, unless you have another candidate for filling in
            the gap.

            >Perhaps it is better to translate everything in capitals from now on ;-)

            Might not be a bad idea. Notably, we have "the god" = "God" and "the
            christ" = "Christ", so it does seem to be the right pattern for translating
            into English. Maybe the trouble stems from our not always following that
            pattern.

            >Steve Davies wrote:
            >>All this may indicate that a saying whereby Jesus defends
            >>the fact that he knows who his father and mother are against
            >>a charge that he is the son of the harlot is either from Jesus
            >>or a defense of Jesus constructed to counteract accusations
            >>that he was illegitimate.

            Aside from objections to Steve's view based on syntax, I've also commented
            at length on what a poor response Steve's reading of #105 would have been
            to charges of illegitimacy. Just doesn't have that good old "last-word"
            punch the Christian apologists were capable of. On Steve's reading, we'd
            have something like this:

            Opponents: "Jesu was the son of a harlot."
            Defenders: "He knew who his father and mother were."

            Are the defenders talking about J's NATURAL father and mother? Then what
            good would it do to say that he knew who they were? In the first place,
            saying that he knew who his MOTHER was would in no way allay the charge
            that his (natural) mother was a harlot. If your mom's a harlot, that
            doesn't mean you don't know who she is. But what about knowing who your
            FATHER is? Again, it's irrelevant to the charge, unless it's an admission
            that, even though your mom was a harlot, nevertheless you know that your
            father was her husband, not some other guy she slept around with. Bottom
            line: this view is just pretty durn unsatisfying, all round.

            But now suppose that the "defenders" above were talking about J's DIVINE
            father and mother. Ah, now we have a defense with real "punch", and one
            consistent with other sayings in GThom. To become disciples, one is advised
            to hate one's (natural) parents and love one's (divine) parents, just like
            Jesu did. If the reference to a divine mother is what's throwing you off,
            ignore it - the gnostics probably added it in, anyway.

            Best regards,
            Mike
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          • S. Patterson
            Dear Steve: Sounds interesting. Yes, I agree that the Barbelognostic explanation seems a reach for me as well. I would recommend Schaberg s book to you then.
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 5, 1999
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              Dear Steve:

              Sounds interesting. Yes, I agree that the Barbelognostic explanation
              seems a reach for me as well. I would recommend Schaberg's book to you
              then. All of the issues you raise are dealt with in detail, if memory
              serves me right.

              Yours,
              Steve P.

              On Wed, 3 Feb 1999, Stevan Davies wrote:

              >
              > > Re: Schaberg's book:
              > > Thesis: Jesus was the illigitimate child of a Roman soldier. Sounds wild,
              > > but surprisingly well argued based on the texts and social history.
              > > Especially good on the social history of illegitimacy in the ancient
              > > world. In the end, I wasn't convinced, but impressed. Also: her car was
              > > bombed after it was published. Can't say that of many books.
              > > Steve Patterson
              >
              > Hi Steve!
              >
              > I was thinking of getting into this question re: 105
              > "He who will know the father and the mother
              > will be called 'the Son of harlot'."
              >
              > If a variety of things are put together:
              >
              > 1. Considerably later and often obscure Jewish references
              > to Jesus' illegitimacy (Mary's honor defended, though,
              > in Toledoth Jesu) --
              > Against Celsus 1.28,32 "Origin cites the tradition that Jesus was
              > the illegitimate son of Mary who 'bore a child from a certain
              > soldier named Panthera.'"
              > (cf. Meyer pg 106 and a discussion in M. Smith "J the Magician")
              >
              > 2. The striking (to me) absence of references to Jesus by his
              > patronymic in Christian writings (two instances in GJn and
              > that's it that I know of)
              >
              > 3. Mark's "son of Mary" reference strongly implying his father
              > was not known (cf. M. Smith)
              >
              > 4. Matthew and Luke independently conceding that Jesus was
              > not impregnated by a legitimate father
              >
              > 5. Jn 8:41 (followed immediately by the Jews asking if Jesus
              > was a Samaritan or possessed).
              >
              > All this may indicate that a saying whereby Jesus defends
              > the fact that he knows who his father and mother are against
              > a charge that he is the son of the harlot is either from Jesus
              > or a defense of Jesus constructed to counteract accusations
              > that he was illegitimate.
              >
              > I do think this perspective on the saying is more likely to
              > be reasonable than are perspectives derived from speculations
              > deriving from Barbelognosticism.
              >
              > Steve Davies
              >
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            • S. Patterson
              Dear Mike: I would not put too much stock in the use of the definite article in this saying. Generally, the use of the srticle in Coptic does resemble English
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 5, 1999
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                Dear Mike:

                I would not put too much stock in the use of the definite article in this
                saying. Generally, the use of the srticle in Coptic does resemble English
                useage--coincidentally--but in a translation situation, Greek to Coptic,
                say, one just never knows.

                Whatever it is, 105 is no longer a straightforward retort exhibiting
                Jesus' metis; on that I would agree. There is obviously paradox and
                esotericism here. One might speculate on an original non-esoteric
                version--cf. Thomas' beatitudes, e.g.--helpful, but speculative.
                Yours,
                Steve P.

                On Wed, 3 Feb 1999, Mike Grondin wrote:

                > >All this may indicate that a saying whereby Jesus defends
                > >the fact that he knows who his father and mother are against
                > >a charge that he is the son of the harlot is either from Jesus
                > >or a defense of Jesus constructed to counteract accusations
                > >that he was illegitimate.
                >
                > Although logion 105 does resemble a defense against charges of
                > illegitimacy, there are features that count against that interpretation in
                > its present form:
                >
                > (1) J's opponents would not have said that he was the son of "THE Harlot"
                > (as the Coptic has it); they would have said that he was the son of "A
                > harlot".
                >
                > (2) J is not made to say that he knows HIS father & mother, but that he
                > knows THE Father & THE Mother, quite a different thing. The Mother in
                > question is surely not his natural mother, but rather the "true" Mother who
                > gave him "the Life" (whatever that was).
                >
                > (3) If we try to imagine how #105 might have read, if it had originally
                > been much more personally relevant to Jesu, we come up with curiously
                > unsatisfying results, as in the following:
                >
                > "He who knows his mother will be called the son of a harlot."
                >
                > This just doesn't strike me as the type of "last-word" retort of which
                > Christian apologists were capable. I would have expected some kind of a
                > slam-dunk put-down of J's opponents. Which leads me to believe that there
                > was no such "original" version of #105. Which leads me to believe that
                > #105, although it carries echoes of the charge of illegitimacy, was not
                > included in the collection for the purpose of answering that charge, but
                > rather for a different purpose altogether.
                >
                > Mike
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              • Mike Grondin
                At the risk of confusing the issue by talking too much, here s what might be a clearer way of looking at the alternative interpretations of #105: There are two
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 5, 1999
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                  At the risk of confusing the issue by talking too much, here's what might
                  be a clearer way of looking at the alternative interpretations of #105:

                  There are two ways to respond to a charge - one is to deny the charge, the
                  other is to say that the charge, even if true, is unimportant. I think it's
                  the latter that's involved in #105. Imagine the following dialogue:

                  (pharisees): "You talk like you know the Father, but you
                  don't even know who your real father was!"
                  (Jesus): "Oh, but I do know my real father. Do you?"

                  Isn't it the case that this retort, which turns on ambiguity in the word
                  'real', is much more consistent with what we would expect to be attributed
                  to Jesu, than the rather pale and petulant alternative, "I DO SO know who
                  my real father was!"? If so, then we must have some way of indicating in
                  the translation of #105 that it's talking about one's "real" (i.e.,
                  heavenly) parents, not one's natural/earthly parents.

                  Mike

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                • Sytze van der Laan
                  ... I think we both know that there are multiple ways for translating GTh 105 (with or without articles/capitals) and that it s a matter of what perspective
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 7, 1999
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                    Mike Grondin wrote:
                    >So I guess my counter-charge would be that to analyze it strictly
                    >as a response to charges of illegitimacy amounts to under-interpretation.
                    >[snip] Problem is, the translator often goes with what he/she thinks
                    >the saying means, regardless of the actual wording, which in turn confirms
                    >other folks' predispositions to think the same way. We WANT GThom to sound
                    >like the canon, so we tend to do things to make it so. Personally, I think
                    >we should be aware of, and resist, that tendency.

                    I think we both know that there are multiple ways for translating GTh
                    105 (with or without articles/capitals) and that it's a matter of what
                    perspective one brings to the study of the GThomas. I think that in the
                    field of NT language, literature & theology, we are forced to take a
                    more cautious stance; under-interpreting, if you will. I study the
                    GThomas as a source that is relevant to the NT writings, so it's
                    probably true that my bias possibly would be to understand the language
                    of the Greek and Coptic GThomas texts in close relation to Biblical
                    writings. The good thing, IMO, may be the consistency of translating
                    that way, though. Biblical scholars may use some awkward translations
                    for certain terms in the GThomas, but it is very easy to see where
                    they're coming from. That's often not the case with translators who have
                    a different agenda.

                    Re: GTh 101 Mike wrote:
                    >No, but we do know that whoever/whatever gave J "(the) Life" is feminine,
                    >because of the feminine article in the verb (AS|Ti), which rules out, for
                    >example "my father". And we do know that the lacuna in question will hold
                    >about six letters, just enough for "my mother" (TA|MAAY). So your defense
                    >here seems pretty slim, unless you have another candidate for filling in
                    >the gap.

                    I know there's a fat chance that I'll be able to put anything else than
                    "TA|MAAU" in the lacuna of GTh 101 (NHC II, 50:1), I'll give you that,
                    but "my true mother" has an equal chance pointing at an earthly mother
                    as at a heavenly one. Thus, I'll feel inclined to chose the former and
                    translate without capitals (and yes, showing my bias). Perhaps if others
                    are interested as well, we should discuss this (bias, agenda,
                    self-fulfilling translations) some more in a thread with a new subject
                    line.

                    - Sytze

                    Gospel of Thomas Bibliography @ http://huizen.dds.nl/~skirl/
                    ECTHN EN MECW TOY KOCMOY

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