Re: [GTh] Design Theory
- In a message dated 2/17/06 3:02:06 PM, abernhar@... writes:
>If I may?
> I regard it as most improbable that anyone would have gone to the enormous
> trouble of transforming a text from a foreign language into a gigantic and
> (apparently) indecipherable puzzle, even if they could have, which I seriously
IT would appear historically that the educated of that time, such as a
scribe would be, would think nothing of organizing a text into what might be
termed Sacred numbers.
Now before you think that is crazy. Consider, Philo of Alexandria thought
that Moses was the teacher of Pythagorus.
Today we may laugh at that as an impossibility, but the educated and
philosophical great minds of that century believed this to be so.
In that light, it is almost a certainty that The scribe writer of Thomas
would believe that the numbers themselves were handed down by God. He may
well have organized the Thomas text
so that they might better reflect what he himself saw in these numbers
It would be no different from say the Markan obsession with threes(3s),
and other Devices of the day.
It is highly likely that The text includes numbers and allusions to
these numbers which the Coptic scribe believed should be there.
Even if it were not in the original text.
The Copts, and educated of that day lived in an Era saturated with
numbers and associations with Divine purposes and even In Cubits, Royal Cubits
as well as other systems.
They appear to be imbedded in many texts of the day.
The question I would ask?
Were they in the original or in the Coptic Thomas only, placed
there by the scribe writing the document down?
If we assume the text was originally Greek, it may well be in the
original Greek text.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- [Andrew Bernhard]:
> ... I must ask one simple question: How could someone demonstrate thatBy showing that it's reasonable to suppose that the evidence adduced for it
> your theory is false?
could have been the result of randomness - or by showing that the theory
goes far beyond the evidence. In the first instance, the evidence consists
of the combination of relationships between L11.1 and L42 involving the
number 70 that I've specified. If that is accepted as randomly impossible,
then ISTM that one would have to admit the presence of authorial counting of
syntactical elements, however odd (or bonkers?) that may seem. It then
becomes a question of what implications to draw from that. I'm wondering if
you're prepared to admit the evidence of L11.1 and L42 in the first place,
and if so, what conclusions you think reasonable to draw from it? I
appreciate your feedback, but it would be even more helpful if you could be
more specific as to how far you agree with the evidence presented, and at
what point you think the theory goes beyond that.
- [John Moon]:
> Were [secret numberings] in the original or in the Coptic Thomas only,I tend not to agree that it was the person who actually penned tractate 2 of
> placed there by the scribe writing the document down?
codex II that was responsible for the design of it. However, that issue is
both undecidable and relatively unimportant, so I prefer to talk about
what's in the two versions, and not pack any unnecessary assumptions into
> If we assume the text was originally Greek, it may well be in theThat's jumping ahead of the game a bit, but I will say that I consider this
> original Greek text.
to be a distinct possibility, for two reasons: (1) a priori, evolutionary
development (from simpler to more elaborate design as one moves from one
version to another) strikes me as more likely than Coptic de novo
creativity, and (2) I cannot help but think that the separation of L6A from
L14 (the four questions and answers about fasting, etc) is part of the
"puzzle", and hence an indication that POxy 654 (which includes L6) shares
that nature. On the other hand, it seems clear that the Copts moved 77B from
its position in saying 30 for the specific purpose of positioning part of it
on line 496 (the third perfect number). So certainly not ALL of the design
features of CGTh were present in the Greek version. The question is how
many - if any. To my mind, it's best not to spend a lot of time and effort
on that question until we know more about the Coptic design.
- At 12:06 AM 18/02/06, Mike wrote:
> (2) I cannot help but think that the separation of L6A fromI'm not sure Mike, that you can hang you hat on or rely too much on the 6A and
>L14 (the four questions and answers about fasting, etc) is part of the
>"puzzle", and hence an indication that POxy 654 (which includes L6) shares
14 question and answer displacement in support of your thesis.
Although we cannot
be sure, (because no L14 has survived in P.Oxy) L6 in it's entirety
has survived as a single logion
in it, with both the same question and answer as is found in Coptic
GThomas L6. This
suggests this postulated displacement "split" between 6A and 14
probably existed in the Greek text, each logion standing complete and alone.
Secondly, this "displacement", rather than intentional may have been
accidental. The Nag
Hammadi text is a codex consisting of pages. I don't know if it has
been determined whether
the Greek fragments were from pages also once bound in a codex, or
not. But assuming
they were, there is an possible explanation as to how the question in
6A got separated
by the answer in L14.
At some point in the copying and recopying of the greek GoT, the part
of the logion we
call 16 A ends up at the bottom of the page. The top of the next page
would have the
answer now found in 14 and the logions that follow it. There is no 6B
at this stage.
The codex gets unbound at one point in the copying process and the
pages separated. When reassembled, a page's-worth of logions (or
perhaps more) gets accidentally inserted between
the page ending with 6A and the page beginning with L14. Later,
someone notices that
the question posed in 6A hasn't got an answer, and decides to supply
one from another known
sayings of Jesus.- doesn't quite fit- but, hey, it's a valid saying
of Jesus, so it will do.
This gives us a relatively simple, and uncomplicated explaination for
that requires no elaborate "scheme" to explain.
In the Coptic version, there appears to be a bit more material
intervening than would fit on one page,
but we don't know about the Greek version. Was it a single page? Or
does it take more room to say the same thing in Coptic than it does
in Greek? I know that the French version of something translated from
English, is invariably much much longer (takes more words and
letters) than the English.
In any event I fail to see that the 6A-14 "displacement" would be of
much use, or would be of much value as evidence in support of your thesis.
Unlike Andrew, I don't think this exploration is "bonkers", and
"fingers-crossed" that the other evidence isn't some sort of ephemera
or natural artifact or accidental by-product of the
sayings-collection process, I'd encourage you to keep at it.
> I'm not sure Mike, that you can hang you hat on or rely too much on the 6AI'm not. It's just that I consider the 6/14 situation suspicious - not so
> and 14 question and answer displacement in support of your thesis.
much that it couldn't have happened in the first instance, but that it
wasn't corrected by the Copts - who STM to have been both very careful
(witness the secret numbering of lines, e.g.) and yet not averse to moving
stuff around (e.g. 77B) if need be. But maybe they just moved and/or altered
what they needed to and left the rest as it was.
> ... [the] postulated displacement "split" between 6A and 14 probablyExactly.
> existed in the Greek text, each logion standing complete and alone.
> Secondly, this "displacement", rather than intentional may have beenYes, it may have been. Your scenario is quite plausible up to this point.
> Later, someone notices that the question posed in 6A hasn't gotThis explanation at least has the virtue (to my mind) of accounting for the
> an answer, and decides to supply one from another known
> sayings of Jesus.- doesn't quite fit- but, hey, it's a valid saying
> of Jesus, so it will do.
similarity of the material above and below 6A (5.2 and 6.5 - "Nothing hidden
will fail to appear" - being exactly the same in the Coptic - which is
unusual). But it seems to require us to believe that the "corrector" was so
unfamiliar with the rest of the text that he didn't notice that L14 had the
answers to the four questions, and that all he had to do was to move L14
after 6A, instead of creating a new "answer". Surely he would either have
already known about L14, or would have learned of it as he continued on. So
I guess the scenario requires that (1) the addition of 6B was made by a
copyist/scribe as he was writing, (2) that he had not read the thing in
advance (or hadn't remembered L14), and (3) that when he came upon L14 later
in the course of his writing, he decided that it was too late to do anything
> In any event I fail to see that the 6A-14 "displacement" would be ofYou're right that the displacement in itself is evidence of nothing. It's a
> much use, or would be of much value as evidence in support of your thesis.
suspicious circumstance, that's all. The above scenario is certainly
possible, but because it seems to require that the "corrector" was acting in
a specific way that strikes me as questionable, and because 5.1 says what it
does about something hidden being revealed, I don't think it's satisfying
enough to remove the suspicion.
- Hi Mike.
At 01:34 AM 19/02/06,on the subject of the 6A and 14 displacement you wrote:
>I'm not. It's just that I consider the 6/14 situation suspicious - not soI seems to me that since the error appears to have been made in the Greek
>much that it couldn't have happened in the first instance, but that it
>wasn't corrected by the Copts - who STM to have been both very careful
>(witness the secret numbering of lines, e.g.) and yet not averse to moving
>stuff around (e.g. 77B) if need be. But maybe they just moved and/or altered
>what they needed to and left the rest as it was.
version, the prelimilary question is why didn't the Greeks correct
would seem to be ludicriously simple. Move Mohammed to the mountain in
a fresh copy. If the "Question" in 6A is tucked in to Logion 14 as it's opening
line(s), nothing much is disturbed. The 6B (2-6) "Answer" has it's own
"Jesus said", and just converst to a pronouncement saying rather than
14 already has it's "Jesus said" more or less. And is just a
sayings-collection, after all.
Nothing should rise or fall on where the full 14 get's placed.
Yet this correction doesn't appear to have been made in the Greek
copy- as near as we
can tell. Why?
I think it depends on when it was first noticed. And I think that
displacement could easily
go unnoticed. The 6A-14 spliting and displacement doesn't exactly
"leap out at you", once
the "faux" answer has been supplied- in fact- I think I had read
through Thomas at least a
dozen times before I spotted it, and most readers today don't 'twig"
and go blithefully along
interpreting 6 by supposing the 6B material is and answer to the 6A
question. One of the
reasons for this is that 14 has it's own "introductory" "Jesus said"
flagging it as a different
numbered logion in it's own right. There is not a great conceptual
difference between "Jesus
said" and Jesus said to them"- the latter being what's used in 14.
It's only when you focus
on that "them" and ask "Who are those "thems"?" that it becomes
evident that some
introductory part of this logion may be missing.
A casual reader, even a copy-proof-reader could easily miss it and
miss the connection to 6A,
even without the 6B "faux"answer penned in.
But that sidesteps the question. Surely SOME greek reader would have
spotted it. Why not
pen a new copy correcting it then?
That may depend on just how many original copies were made and went
out and how practical
or useful such a correction would be then. If a lot of copies had
been made or gone out, the only
practical thing to do was to leave it, and "save" the correction for
some later or newer
edition. Eventually, I suppose, the error was forgotten.
It appears that some historians believe that Alexandria (where the
P.Oxy copy likely originated, IMO) was a publishing centre in
antiquity, where not only was it policy that any traveller
with a written work surrender it for a time so the Library could make
a copy, but an industry
in copying books for sale had sprung up and was being pursued. When
the Roman General's
ships in the Alexandrian harbour caught fire and set fire to parts of
the city and the
"library", evidence seems to indicate that what burned was not the
library but a huge harbour
warehouse containing thousands of scrolls bound for sale/export.
It may simply have been too late to correct it, once the error was discovered.
So then why didn't the Copts correct it?.
Once again, did they even "see" it?
And if they saw it, did they even "dare" change it? This was probably
considered an ancient
and sacred text by the Copts at the time they did the Nag Hammadi
translation, and one supposes they would be reluctant to make
changes. Consider what would happen to-day if such an
error was spotted in Luke. People wouldn't exactly clamour that their
Gospels be changed. Even our modern translators and scholars don't
stick their necks out and correct the error, in their own works.
Mike further responded ( to my point that after the accidental
displacement an answer to
the question posed by 6A had to be found and penned in.)
>This explanation at least has the virtue (to my mind) of accounting for thematerial snipped.
>similarity of the material above and below 6A (5.2 and 6.5 - "Nothing hidden
>will fail to appear" - being exactly the same in the Coptic - which is
>unusual). But it seems to require us to believe that the "corrector" was so
>unfamiliar with the rest of the text that he didn't notice that L14 had the
>answers to the four questions, and that all he had to do was to move L14
>after 6A, instead of creating a new "answer". Surely he would either have
>already known about L14, or would have learned of it as he continued on. So
>I guess the scenario requires that (1) the addition of 6B was made by a
>copyist/scribe as he was writing, (2) that he had not read the thing in
>advance (or hadn't remembered L14), and (3) that when he came upon L14 later
>in the course of his writing, he decided that it was too late to do anything
>You're right that the displacement in itself is evidence of nothing. It's aWell, I think I given you a partial answer to some of this which
>suspicious circumstance, that's all. The above scenario is certainly
>possible, but because it seems to require that the "corrector" was acting in
>a specific way that strikes me as questionable, and because 5.1 says what it
>does about something hidden being revealed, I don't think it's satisfying
>enough to remove the suspicion.
explains why the
displacement was not noticed or if noticed, not corrected by the Greeks and
probably left intact by the Copts. but in invoking the similarities
between L 5(B)(2-3)
and L 6 (B) (5-6) you open a brand-new can of worms, and I guess I
Logion 6 is truly a dog's breakfast of screw-ups IMO. It is not only
that material was
accidentally displaced "out", but material seems to have been
accidentally "displaced" from it's proper place in Logion 5. and
inserted "in" logion 6. This appears to be a Coptic error, not
one by the greeks and it's all about those "concealed-revealed " lines.
"Everybody knows" by now that Logion 5 in the Coptic Gospel of
Thomas, although it has
the line "For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed,
(just as Logion 5 in the
P.Oxy) lacks the following line- "And there is nothing buried that
will not be raised."- that is found in
the P.Oxy. version. It's "missing" in the Coptic. The Jesus Seminar,
and others postulate
this as a deliberate deletion by the Copts as it's wording, the words
used, seems to incorporate Pauline Resurrection Theology which is
conspicious by it's absence in Thomas. This was
distateful, so they took it out. So the JS pops it back in to their
translation (albeit in square
But is it actually GONE or have we got another accidental
displacement on our hands?
The latter, I suggest.
If we look at Andrew Bernhart's P.Oxy L6B and compare it to the
Coptic L6B, they are not
quite identical. In the POxy version the logion ends with the line
"For there is nothing hidden
that will not be made clear." In the Coptic versions, it duplicates
the P.Oxy last line,
but then adds "and there is nothing covered up that will remain
undisclosed." In other words,
in Coptic L6B a further line has been added which is not in the P.Oxy version.
And what a line!
It's a "softened", but still recognizable version of the missing line
in L5- "And nothing
buried that will not be raised."
Put that back in Coptic L5 B, where that line is missing, and Coptic
L5 becomes a virual
duplicate of P.Oxy L5. This simple shift also results in Coptic L6B
becoming truly identical to
My best guess is that the offensive line, which immediately follows
the line- "there is nothing hidden
that will not be revealed- was initially taken out, to be "softened"
to eliminate the wording
which seemed to invoke the unwanted Pauline Resurrection Theology,
and once softened
was replaced, NOT where it should be, but accidentally at the end of
the identical line
then found at the end of Coptic L6B- an easy mistake to make since
the two lines are
So again, we have what appears to be "accidental" rather than
"intentional" line displacement.
What then, is left "suspicious" about L5 and L6?
For these reasons, I don't see that you can make any mileage out of
this L5 and L6 stuff for your Design Thesis.
My apologies to this list for the length of this post.
- Hi Ron,
Thanks for your thoughtful analysis. I'll just respond to part of it here.
> ... why didn't the Copts correct it? ... did they even "see" it?Yes, I'm quite sure they noticed it. The reason I'm
rather certain about this is that in addition to what I've pointed out
about the careful relationship they constructed between L42 and L11.1 (and
between lines 70 and 480), there's evidence that they went through the
whole thing with a fine-toothed comb. As you know, the Coptic of the time
employed a number of Greek loan-words. It occurred to me to count those
words, and so I did. There's 501 occurrences of Greek words and names in the
text - which could mean nothing, except they're composed of 2401 letters!
One of those words is the single-letter word 'W' (in "Oh, man, who made me a
divider?" in saying 72). Coincidentally (?), saying 72 occurs at a dividing
line - the first saying of the second group of 12 blocks of the text. I
could say a lot more about that situation (being as how omega is an "end"),
but I'll let you mull over the simple facts first.
> And if they saw it, did they even "dare" change it? This was probablyReluctant, perhaps, and yet they DID make some changes. Among other things,
> considered an ancient and sacred text by the Copts at the time they
> did the Nag Hammadi translation, and one supposes they would be
> reluctant to make changes.
they evidently moved what is now 77B from saying 30, and my surmise is that
its positioning partially on line 496 was no accident, due to the
significance of the number 496 as the 3rd perfect number. (BTW, I don't
recall noticing this until the other day when I was writing that note;
previously, I didn't have a clue why they might have moved 77B. One thing
that's kept me going down this road is that such results keep popping up
unexpectedly. Not enough to prove the theory, but enough to indicate that it
isn't a blind alley.)
That's all I have time for right now. Hopefully, food for thought.