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## Block Sizes

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• Although I ve expressed the belief that it s significant both that there s 24 blocks in Coptic Thomas, and that saying 42 (line 280) is block 6 - the first
Message 1 of 13 , Feb 23, 2006
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Although I've expressed the belief that it's significant both that there's
24 blocks in Coptic Thomas, and that saying 42 (line 280) is block 6 - the
first perfect number - more evidence is needed, since blocks occur in every
text and are normally of no importance. This note surveys the sizes of
blocks within the Coptic Thomas, and concludes that the set of those sizes
is significantly statistically improbable, hence that it's plausible to
suppose that the text may have been intentionally designed to be composed of
blocks of just those sizes, and thus that they constitute "seams" deserving
further attention.

Not being a statistician, I can only make some judgements from a
lay-person's viewpoint. Since the largest block of text within CGTh is 86
lines, I've asked myself what is the probability of choosing 24 (or 21 - see
below) random numbers from 1 to 86 and coming up with the patterns to be
discussed below. The block-sizes in CGTh are as follows (in size-order): 86,
82, 81, 78, 66, 38, 36, 29, 26, 22, 21*, 20, 16, 14, 13, 8, 7, 6 (2), 5, 3,
2 (2), and 1 (line 280). The last "block" contains 21 lines, but it doesn't
end at the right-hand margin, so it's unclear whether that should be counted
as a true block. Furthermore, two sets of two blocks have the same size (6
lines and 2 lines). Because these situations might theoretically affect the
statistical picture, I'll give the results both with and without them -
though it will turn out that they don't in fact alter the picture.

OK, suppose one were to randomly choose some 21-24 numbers from 1 to 86. One
would expect first that the numbers chosen would be roughly divided between
odd and even. In the CGTh set, however, there's 8 odd and 16 even (or 7 odd
and 14 even if we throw out the two dupes and the last block). Twice as many
even-sized blocks as odd-sized. Still, although the relationship of 2 evens
to 1 odd is suggestive, the statistical probability of this result isn't low
enough (in my judgement) to demonstrate intentionality. What does
demonstrate that (to my satisfaction) is how those evens and odds are
related to prime numbers.

First, the odd numbers. The odd-sized blocks are 81, 29, 21*, 13, 7, 5, 3,
and 1. Now between 1 and 86 are 23 prime numbers and 20 composite numbers
(if my list is accurate). So a set of odd numbers randomly chosen between 1
and 86 should yield roughly the same number of primes as non-primes, with a
slight edge to primes. Yet of the 8 odd-sized blocks in CGTh, 6 of those
(75%) have prime-number sizes. And if we throw out 21 (the last block), that
makes 6 of 7 primes. The only exception (other than 21) is 81 - which
happens to be 3 to the 4th power (hence not the product of two _different_
primes, as are 16 of the 20 non-prime numbers between 1 and 86.)

The even-sized blocks yield an equally improbable result. Of the 43 even
numbers between 1 and 86, half of them are twice an even number and half are
twice an odd number. So if one were to choose, say, 16 even numbers from
that set, about 8 should be twice an odd number. But that isn't the case
with the even-sized blocks in CGTh. Twelve of those 16 are twice an odd
number; only 4 are twice an even number. (If we toss out the two dupes, it
becomes 10 of 14 - still significantly statistically improbable).

An even more remarkable result obtains with respect to prime numbers. Of the
even numbers between 1 and 86, 14 of them (33%) are the product of 2 times a
prime number. But of the 16 even-sized blocks in CGTh, 11 of 16 of them
(69%) are two times a prime number. If we throw out the two dupe sizes (2
and 6), that leaves 9 of 14 (64%) - still statistically improbable.

What's the significance of this? Well, if the block-sizes were intentionally
designed rather than being the result of randomness, there must have been
some reason for that. The sizes themselves don't seem to me to be
particularly significant, but perhaps blocks were intended to be moved
around - or to be considered as units in combination with other blocks. One
indication of this may be the placement of the name 'IHS'. It occurs three
times, in three different blocks (2, 4, and 14) whose total size is 82+16+22
= 120 lines. What are the chances of _that_ happening randomly?

For the fan of generic GTh, and/or kernalists, the possibility of an
intricately-designed CGTh should, I think, be of no small interest. If one
could identify elements added, deleted, or changed in order to make the
design come out right, we might have a better idea of what the Greek GTh
looked like before the Copts go their hands on it than we now have from the
POxy fragments. But first we have to take the numerical-design hypothesis
seriously. Since that hypothesis is patently implausible, one can only hope
that the cumulative weight of indubitable textual evidence will eventually
show that patent implausibility to be a mistaken result of presuppositions
that don't hold for CGTh.

Mike Grondin
Mt. Clemens, MI
• Mike, I m sure you have it posted somewhere, so can you direct me to where you list the 24 blocks, where each begins and ends? I remember some years ago trying
Message 2 of 13 , Feb 24, 2006
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Mike,
I'm sure you have it posted somewhere, so can you direct me to where
you list the 24 blocks, where each begins and ends?
I remember some years ago trying to identify blocks of sayings, and
got a number of apparent sequential blocks joined or punctuated by a
bridging-saying or sayings, but it sort of petered out into a jumble
of uncertainty as to precisely where one block or another began or
ended, as I proceeded through. I gave up, finally, concluding that
the apparent block structure was likely a chimera unconsciously being
imposed by myself in my search for some order to the sayings.
It seems you've succeeded where I failed, and I'd like to see how,
and use it to follow your
"Block Sizes" argument.

Regards,

Ron McCann

At 01:12 AM 24/02/06, Mike wrote:
>Although I've expressed the belief that it's significant both that there's
>24 blocks in Coptic Thomas, and that saying 42 (line 280) is block 6 - the
>first perfect number - more evidence is needed, since blocks occur in every
>text and are normally of no importance. This note surveys the sizes of
>blocks within the Coptic Thomas, and concludes that the set of those sizes
>is significantly statistically improbable, hence that it's plausible to
>suppose that the text may have been intentionally designed to be composed of
>blocks of just those sizes, and thus that they constitute "seams" deserving
>further attention. ...

(material snipped)

>Mike Grondin
>Mt. Clemens, MI
>
>
>
>
>--------------------------------------------------------------------
>Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
>To unsubscribe from this group,
>send a blank email to gthomas-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
>
>
>
• Hi Ron, As you may have realized by now, what I ve been calling blocks (and perhaps should call textual blocks ) is different from the notion of a group or
Message 3 of 13 , Feb 25, 2006
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Hi Ron,

As you may have realized by now, what I've been calling 'blocks' (and
perhaps should call 'textual blocks') is different from the notion of a
group or cluster of sayings. In fact, the concept of a textual "block" is
applicable to any text, and so I've defined it in terms of "complete
thoughts", rather than sayings. Whenever a new thought begins a new line, it
constitutes the beginning of a textual block. That block continues until
another new thought begins another new line. Textual blocks can be of any
size - even as small as a single line (e.g., saying 42).

You have drawn my attention, however, to a source of confusion I hadn't
anticipated. Since the only "blocks" I've mentioned so far have been the 24
sayings-blocks, it may be natural to assume that that's the only kind of
thing I have in mind. Not so. Consider line 577:

"He who has ears, let him listen."

This is a complete thought which is independent of the saying that contains
it, and since that's all there is on line 577, that line constitutes a
textual block in itself. In fact, this little segment may be much more
important than it seems, because it immediately follows line 576, which is
24 squared - and 24 is not only the number of letters on line 577, but also
a number that shows up in several different contexts that look significant -
such as the number of letters in saying 42. (BTW, line 577 is the only
"ears" segment that appears on a line by itself. And they're all
syntactically different - no two identical.)

I don't have time tonite to get into the subject of the overall structure
that I think is indicated by the 24 sayings-blocks, so I'll have to beg off
on that for the time being. What I did want to do as soon as possible is to
correct a mistake in my previous note. Although I'm well-versed in prime
numbers, I had marked the number 39 as prime (which it isn't, of course) in
my notes. As a result, I had included the block sized 78 as among the
even-sized blocks which are two times a prime number. The true results are
these: that of the 10 even-sized blocks of different sizes which are two
times some odd number, 8 of them (not 9) are two times a prime number. (The
blocks of which this is true are those sized 86, 82, 38, 26, 22, 14, 6, and
2. The exceptions are 78 and 66). This doesn't substantially affect the
results, but I try to correct all my own errors before anyone else can
pounce on 'em. (:-)

Regards,
Mike
• ... Maybe not, Ron. If you were to consider the possibility that some rearrangement of sayings and/or sayings-blocks (in my sense of physical blocks of text)
Message 4 of 13 , Feb 27, 2006
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[Ron]:
> I remember some years ago trying to identify blocks of sayings, and
> got a number of apparent sequential blocks joined or punctuated by a
> bridging-saying or sayings, but it sort of petered out into a jumble
> of uncertainty as to precisely where one block or another began or
> ended, as I proceeded through. I gave up, finally, concluding that
> the apparent block structure was likely a chimera unconsciously being
> imposed by myself in my search for some order to the sayings.

Maybe not, Ron. If you were to consider the possibility that some
rearrangement of sayings and/or sayings-blocks (in my sense of physical
blocks of text) was intended by the authors to be done by the reader, it
might give new life to your intuition. Somewhat analogously, Patterson's
catch-word theory falls short because he assumed that catch-words have to
occur between adjacent sayings - whereas the connection between L42 and
L11.1 indicates that catch-words (in that case, PARAGE) operate at a
distance as well.

Based on letter-counts, I believe at least two triadic clusters can be
confidently identified. I'm wondering if these two were identified in your
earlier work as well. First is the cluster L73-75. I recall reading at least
one commentator who regarded those three as a cluster, based on thematic
considerations, and the cumulative size of the three (120 letters) seems to
confirm that. An even more intriguing triadic structure occurs in L111-112:

1. L111.1-2: IS99, 70 letters
2. L111.3: IS100, 50 letters
3. L112: IS101, 60 letters

This ties in so nicely with "60 per measure and 120 per measure" (L111
totalling 120 letters), as well as containing IS100 - which may be the 100th
"sheep" - that I'm wondering if this isn't some of that "ripe fruit" that
the harvester is supposed to "come quickly" and reap as maybe an early step
in solving the puzzle? If such a segment were to be removed ("reaped"?), the
resultant conjoining of sayings immediately above and below it might reveal
connections not apparent with the segment in place.

Regards,
Mike
• Hi Mike, Thanks for the following material on your Blocks. Its of great help. I m still working on it and will get back to you on that subject later. Meantime,
Message 5 of 13 , Mar 2, 2006
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for the following material on your Blocks. Its of great help.
I'm still working on it and will get back to you on that subject later.

Meantime, on your general Design Theory of Thomas:-

We have been looking at seeming "displacements" of sayings or parts
of sayings in Coptic Thomas and how these changes seem to have have
arithmetical or over-all structure/design significances.

I'm wondering about "deletions" and "additions"- that is, where the
scribe has accidentally or by some as yet impenetrable design dropped
material from the Greek version or added material to it. I dealt with
the apparent deletion
in the Coptic translation of the line "and nothing buried that will
not be raised" from the very end of the Greek version of Logion 5-
suggesting that it was modified in form, and then tucked back in
(ultimately "displaced") to the end of Logion 6B, because the Greek
version of 6B does not have it
there. So it's an "addition" to the Greek 6B version.I assumed this
was simple scribal error. I quess my question is- are these changes
maybe not accidental, and part and parcel of the proposed Coptic
scheme to rearrange and restructure Thomas along some grand design?
Do you find any mathematical or other reason why they should have
intentionally done this?

In keeping with this "deletion" theme, there is another one, which
again, to me, appears like it was a copyist or scribal error, but
might have been deliberate. Once again, can you show any mathematical
or other reason why whe might conclude that the scribe did this deliberately to
satisfy proposed "design requirements"? Logion 3 B (lines 3,4,5) in
the Coptic, while in all other respects is pretty close to the Greek
version omits completely the line which in the Greek version reads "
Whoever knows himself will find this, and ...)." ("This" referring to
the "Kingdom", in the line just previous.). This should be present in
the Coptic version after the line "Rather the Kingdom is within you
and it is outside you." and before the line commencing "When you know
yourselves you will be knows and you will understand..." , but it is
not there. As near as I can tell, it hasn't been "displaced" to
anywhere else. It's just gone.

Finally, back to the subject of "displacement" again. You have made
much of logion 111 and how it supports your "design theory". As In
recall part of your argument was to refute the view that 111B
was just a readers comment on 111 that was accidentally incorporated
into the text by some copiest- a well recognized category of scribal
error. Much turns on whether the usual translation
of " Does not Jesus say ...?" is accurate. Your own translation has a
more "neutral" " Because Jesus speaks thus...", which doesn't
necessarily compel us to the conclusion that it's a reader's note
accidentailly incorporated into the text. With respect, even Bentely
Layton translates it as
"Doesn't Jesus mean....? I think that part of your argument must
fail. This is indeed a readers note that *appears* to be
"accidentally" inserted into the text after 111A.
But that doesn't end the matter.
The problem is that the comments/question, if you look at it closely
and compare, doesn't really relate to 111A, except by us "really
reaching". It really doesn't belong there as any sort of explicative
comment on 111A.
"Doesn't Jesus mean that the world is not worthy of a person who has
found the self (or himself)?"
really doesn't fit as a comment to 111A. Check that word usage of "world" in B.
It *would* be a good, and certainly much better fit if it was a
comment on either L110, or L80. and was found originally after either
one of those. Particularly 80. Try it. You'll see what I mean. I
think it has been moved- another "displacement", and if Mike is
right, a displacement to satisfy the demands of the design theory at
the existing location- as his evidence suggests.
Because the fragments of the Greek version do not contain any of
these logions, a displacement is not provable using it.
Might I add that I haven't been able to find any "accidental" way or
any ordinary reasons to account for the "displacement" of 77B from
it's old location in P.Oxy to it's new place in the Coptic.
So I think you really might be onto *something* here, Mike, although
it seems gawd-awful complicated and gives me a headache just thinking about it.

Ron McCann,

At 01:39 AM 26/02/06, Mike wrote:
>Hi Ron,
>
>As you may have realized by now, what I've been calling 'blocks' (and
>perhaps should call 'textual blocks') is different from the notion of a
>group or cluster of sayings. In fact, the concept of a textual "block" is
>applicable to any text, and so I've defined it in terms of "complete
>thoughts", rather than sayings. Whenever a new thought begins a new line, it
>constitutes the beginning of a textual block. That block continues until
>another new thought begins another new line. Textual blocks can be of any
>size - even as small as a single line (e.g., saying 42).
>
>You have drawn my attention, however, to a source of confusion I hadn't
>anticipated. Since the only "blocks" I've mentioned so far have been the 24
>sayings-blocks, it may be natural to assume that that's the only kind of
>thing I have in mind. Not so. Consider line 577:
>
>"He who has ears, let him listen."
>
>This is a complete thought which is independent of the saying that contains
>it, and since that's all there is on line 577, that line constitutes a
>textual block in itself. In fact, this little segment may be much more
>important than it seems, because it immediately follows line 576, which is
>24 squared - and 24 is not only the number of letters on line 577, but also
>a number that shows up in several different contexts that look significant -
>such as the number of letters in saying 42. (BTW, line 577 is the only
>"ears" segment that appears on a line by itself. And they're all
>syntactically different - no two identical.)

(material snipped)

>Regards,
>Mike
• ... I believe that the larger design was a trilogy composed of ApJohn (1100 lines + 1), GTh (668 lines -2) and GPh (1234 lines). If block 12 of GTh (lines
Message 6 of 13 , Mar 2, 2006
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[Ron]:
> I quess my question is- are these changes
> maybe not accidental, and part and parcel of the proposed Coptic
> scheme to rearrange and restructure Thomas along some grand design?
> Do you find any mathematical or other reason why they should have
> intentionally done this?

I believe that the larger design was a trilogy composed of ApJohn (1100
lines + 1), GTh (668 lines -2) and GPh (1234 lines). If block 12 of GTh
(lines 469-470) is removed as its contents suggest ("I will destroy this
house and no one will be able to build it up again."), GTh is 666 lines and
GTh + GPh = 1900 lines, and the trilogy is 1100 (ApJohn) + 1900 = 3000
lines.

This line-count evidence is confirmed by letter-counts. The total basic size
of GTh is probably 16848 letters (one can't be entirely sure because of the
lacunae). Block 12 is two lines of 24 letters each. Removal of that block
results in a net size of 16800 letters - which is both 24x700 and 80x210 -
the gematria value of 'IS'. Needlesss to say, I regard the combined evidence
of line and letter counts to be quite beyond coincidence.

In answer to your question, then, I think that one must assume that there
are no scribal changes to the design of CGTh, and no errors other than those
that have evidently been caught by a proof-reader and corrected above the
line. All differences from the Greek were apparently intentional, even if it
isn't yet possible to explain all of them.

> You have made
> much of logion 111 and how it supports your "design theory". As In
> recall part of your argument was to refute the view that 111B
> was just a readers comment on 111 that was accidentally incorporated
> into the text by some copiest- a well recognized category of scribal
> error. Much turns on whether the usual translation
> of " Does not Jesus say ...?" is accurate. Your own translation has a
> more "neutral" " Because Jesus speaks thus...", which doesn't
> necessarily compel us to the conclusion that it's a reader's note
> accidentailly incorporated into the text. With respect, even Bentely
> Layton translates it as "Doesn't Jesus mean....? I think that part
> of your argument must fail. This is indeed a readers note that
> *appears* to be "accidentally" inserted into the text after 111A.
> But that doesn't end the matter.

Indeed, you go on to say that 111.3 appears to have been displaced, which is
in fact support for my view. You also reckon without the letter-sizes
(70+50+60 for 111.1-2, 111.3, and 112, respectively). Without 111.3, the
remainder is 70+60 = 130, which isn't nearly as suggestive as 60 (L112) and
120 (L111). As to the translations, I don't see that anything turns on that.
Yes, it's different from the other sayings in appearing to be a scribal
note, but maybe that's another reason (besides the presence of IS100) it
could have been regarded as a lost sheep that went astray. I can tell you
that before I calculated the letter-counts, I knew that 111.3 had to be
explained, because any change initiated by the scribe himself would throw
off the whole design (which I assume was the work of a group, not just the
scribe). Happily, the letter-counts confirmed for me that the appearance was
deceiving.

> ... I think you really might be onto *something* here, Mike, although
> it seems gawd-awful complicated and gives me a headache just thinking

Me too. It probably would take a team of experts from various fields to
unravel it, but so far I'm the only one that I know of working on it - and I
only do it by fits and starts. I've tried to interest others, but have so
far been unsuccessful.

Regards,
Mike
• Hi Mike. Thanks for the reply. Some comments follow. I m still flying the landscape of Coptic Thomas, looking for your blocks and other anomalies which might
Message 7 of 13 , Mar 3, 2006
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Hi Mike.
Thanks for the reply. Some comments follow.
I'm still flying the landscape of Coptic Thomas, looking for your
blocks and other anomalies which might tend to either support or
challenge your thesis. All I've spotted to-day are another bunch of
crop-circles. (wink, grin)

At 03:00 PM 02/03/06, Mike wrote:
>[Ron]: (quoting me:-
> > I quess my question is- are these changes
> > maybe not accidental, and part and parcel of the proposed Coptic
> > scheme to rearrange and restructure Thomas along some grand design?
> > Do you find any mathematical or other reason why they should have
> > intentionally done this?
>
>I believe that the larger design was a trilogy composed of ApJohn (1100
>lines + 1), GTh (668 lines -2) and GPh (1234 lines). If block 12 of GTh
>(lines 469-470) is removed as its contents suggest ("I will destroy this
>house and no one will be able to build it up again."), GTh is 666 lines and
>GTh + GPh = 1900 lines, and the trilogy is 1100 (ApJohn) + 1900 = 3000
>lines.

Yeah, I've got that. My question was too broad. I am wondering
L5-6 addition/deletion/displacements I mentioned, and whether your
line/letter math for those specific lines shows a mathematical
rationale for making those changes from the Greek version.

>This line-count evidence is confirmed by letter-counts. The total basic size
>of GTh is probably 16848 letters (one can't be entirely sure because of the
>lacunae). Block 12 is two lines of 24 letters each. Removal of that block
>results in a net size of 16800 letters - which is both 24x700 and 80x210 -
>the gematria value of 'IS'. Needlesss to say, I regard the combined evidence
>of line and letter counts to be quite beyond coincidence.
>
>In answer to your question, then, I think that one must assume that there
>are no scribal changes to the design of CGTh, and no errors other than those
>that have evidently been caught by a proof-reader and corrected above the
>line. All differences from the Greek were apparently intentional, even if it
>isn't yet possible to explain all of them.

Thanks. So I suppose they buried it very shortly after the final work
was completed.

> > You have made
> > much of logion 111 and how it supports your "design theory". As In
> > recall part of your argument was to refute the view that 111B
> > was just a readers comment on 111 that was accidentally incorporated
> > into the text by some copiest- a well recognized category of scribal
> > error. Much turns on whether the usual translation
> > of " Does not Jesus say ...?" is accurate. Your own translation has a
> > more "neutral" " Because Jesus speaks thus...", which doesn't
> > necessarily compel us to the conclusion that it's a reader's note
> > accidentailly incorporated into the text. With respect, even Bentely
> > Layton translates it as "Doesn't Jesus mean....? I think that part
> > of your argument must fail. This is indeed a readers note that
> > *appears* to be "accidentally" inserted into the text after 111A.
> > But that doesn't end the matter.
>
>Indeed, you go on to say that 111.3 appears to have been displaced, which is
>in fact support for my view.

Yes. That was my point for going on. I must raise a flag on one
point, however. If the
displacement was from the end of logion 80, it makes calling the
displacement a "scribal error" ludicrous. This is as much a
leapfrogging as the displacement of 77B. If, however, it originally
belonged immediately after 110, then we cannot rule out a
copiest-slip - an accidental scribal
displacement to the end of 111. So it's not as firm as one might like.

The correlation of known displacements/additions/deletions to lines
vodoo (that you do so well!) calls for them to be placed, is encouraging.
Trouble is, I've run out of these. That just about exhausts what can
be used from the surviving
P.Oxy fragments. Had we the whole Greek version we could have
examined and run all such changes and correlations, and maybe got a
much,much better idea of the design, and what these Copts were doing
with, and to, original Thomas. As it stands, I don't see much hope.

(material snipped)

> > ... I think you really might be onto *something* here, Mike, although
> > it seems gawd-awful complicated and gives me a headache just thinking
> > about it.
>
>Me too. It probably would take a team of experts from various fields to
>unravel it, but so far I'm the only one that I know of working on it - and I
>only do it by fits and starts. I've tried to interest others, but have so
>far been unsuccessful.

Well, I guess I can *pretend* to be Crick to your Watson, and we can
kick the ball around a bit longer, but I fear this may turn out to be
like an Abbot and Costello episode, with me the clueless, short, fat
fellow. (grin). I think others may be asking "What is the prize that
justifies this hunt?" They may also be asking "What kind of nut-bars
put this scheme together (16,800 letters and three "gospel"???) and
why should we bother chasing something so absurd and aparently
pointless?" What do we gain?
For all we know, this may be utterly idiosyncratic, inconsequential,
just an odd concantenation of coincidences or even a deliberate red-herring.
And it seems very unlikely we have enough information to crack it,
let alone confirm it's truly "there".
It's not the sort of work most people would be lining up to get into.

Best,

Ron
• ... I assume that you re not serious about looking for the sayings-blocks, since I know that you have the pdf file and they re clearly marked there. I may get
Message 8 of 13 , Mar 3, 2006
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[Ron]:
> Hi Mike. Thanks for the reply. Some comments follow.
> I'm still flying the landscape of Coptic Thomas, looking for your
> blocks and other anomalies which might tend to either support or
> challenge your thesis.

I assume that you're not serious about looking for the sayings-blocks, since
I know that you have the pdf file and they're clearly marked there. I may
get into this in more detail later on, but I assume also that you're aware
of the broad structure that I believe to be present in the blocks, with
lines 67-68 ("I have cast fire upon the world, and behold! - I watch over
it.") actually seeming to "overlook" the remainder of the text - as seems to
me, a textual "world" of 600 lines, apparently divided between an "earth" of
400 lines, and an additional 200 lines that may represent two heavens of 100
lines each. I assume you also know that the association of the number 600
with the cosmos is sanctioned by the fact that the gematria-value of the
word KOSMOS is (and was known to be) 600. Of course, I don't present this as
conclusive evidence of anything in itself, but rather as yet another highly
suggestive textual feature that seems much too neat for coincidence, and MAY
constitute a starting-point from which one can get a grip on this thing.

> My question was too broad. I am wondering specifically about those
> L5-6 addition/deletion/displacements I mentioned, and whether your
> line/letter math for those specific lines shows a mathematical
> rationale for making those changes from the Greek version.

Dunno. Haven't looked into it yet. It'd be great to find a rationale, but if
one couldn't be found, that wouldn't necessarily mean anything, since the
rationale might be something not immediately obvious.

> I must raise a flag on one point, however. If the displacement
> [of 111.3] was from the end of logion 80, it makes calling the
> displacement a "scribal error" ludicrous. This is as much a
> leapfrogging as the displacement of 77B. If, however, it originally
> belonged immediately after 110, then we cannot rule out a
> copiest-slip - an accidental scribal displacement to the end of
> 111. So it's not as firm as one might like.

From my point of view, it doesn't matter whether it was displaced or not. It
fits in its location as an integral part of the triadic structure of 111-112
as far as letter-counts is concerned, and that - plus the fact that it
_doesn't_ fit as far as content is concerned - indicates to my satisfaction
that it was not something that a scribe would have thought to pen in at that
point on his own accord. That it relates to logion 80, however, is of great
interest, since I feel that there must have been some reason for the
inclusion of very similar sayings at a distance from each other.

> That just about exhausts what can be used from the surviving
> P.Oxy fragments. Had we the whole Greek version we could have
> examined and run all such changes and correlations, and maybe got a
> much,much better idea of the design, and what these Copts were doing
> with, and to, original Thomas. As it stands, I don't see much hope.

The hope lies in the Coptic manuscript. We can only catch a glimpse of a few
things they've done from the POxy fragments, but that's at least enough to
indicate that the Coptic version wasn't a simple translation from the
Greek - and that's a pretty important result in itself, since that
assumption is still widespread.

> I think others may be asking "What is the prize that
> justifies this hunt?" They may also be asking "What kind of nut-bars
> put this scheme together (16,800 letters and three "gospel"???) and
> why should we bother chasing something so absurd and aparently
> pointless?" What do we gain?

The "nut-bars" who put this together may have been a group of Hellenistic
Jews who were familiar with the apparent mathematical design of portions of
Psalms. I'll get into that when I start discussing Laura Joffe's paper in
detail. As to "what's the prize?", I don't quite know how to answer that,
because of course one can't know what a process of discovery will yield, and
everybody has different ideas of what's important. For myself, I'm fairly
well convinced that we don't yet know the true nature of the Gospel of
Thomas, or the reason why it was arranged the way it was. If I'm right about
that, I consider that to be a pretty good "prize". I've always been driven
by Steve Davies' lament in Appendix I of GTCW that he looked forward to the
day when it could be shown either that GTh was truly a random collection of
sayings, or that there was some underlying rationale for its order. That may
not be a question of interest to everyone, but catch-word theorists have
spent a good deal of time on it.

> For all we know, this may be utterly idiosyncratic, inconsequential,
> just an odd concantenation of coincidences or even a deliberate
> red-herring.

A definite "no" to the last two. The textual evidence so far adduced - even
the connection between L42 and L11.1 _alone_ - should have been enough to
convince the skeptical mind that these features were not "an odd
concatenation of coincidences". Coincidence simply doesn't rise to that
level. As for "deliberate red-herring", that's unimaginable. No one would go
to that trouble simply to produce a "red-herring". I think you must have
been discouraged when you wrote this. When I get discouraged (which is
often, since almost nobody seems to understand or appreciate this stuff), I
focus on the textual evidence and ask myself whether I'm still really
convinced that it could not have been the result of randomness or
coincidence. If so, then trudge on - you're on the right track.

> And it seems very unlikely we have enough information to crack it,
> let alone confirm it's truly "there".
> It's not the sort of work most people would be lining up to get into.

No, but I believe that if the techniques ("micro-textual analysis"?) and
results we've been talking about were widely known, there would be some
academic group somewhere that would take it up (with a grant, no doubt). But
wait til I discuss the Joffe paper (which I assume you haven't read). I
think some things will start to fall into place. At least CGTh may no longer
appear to be sui generis (which is what I think you mean by
"idiosyncratic"). I've always seen that as a big problem for acceptance of
the theory, and I think Joffe's paper goes a long ways toward diminishing
that problem.

Best,
Mike
• Mike,
Message 9 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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Mike,

<<The textual evidence so far adduced - even the connection between L42 and L11.1 _alone_ - should have been enough to convince the
skeptical mind that these features were not "an odd concatenation of coincidences". Coincidence simply doesn't rise to that level.
As for "deliberate red-herring", that's unimaginable. No one would go to that trouble simply to produce a "red-herring". I think you
must have been discouraged when you wrote this. When I get discouraged (which is often, since almost nobody seems to understand or
appreciate this stuff), I focus on the textual evidence and ask myself whether I'm still really convinced that it could not have
been the result of randomness or coincidence.>>

Sure it does. The question really is: "What, exactly, makes *those* characteristics significant?" Nothing is self evident. Anyone
who has spent time with discourse analysis has realized that the "structure" of sentences or thematic blocks has as many variations
as there are analysts. How do *you* know that the numbers/relationships that you take as significant (the number 42, prime numbers,
etc) were really significant, or even evident, to the Copts of the first few centuries of the Christian era?

You state that those who reject the significance of the characteristics you noted (the "facts") are guilty of the "severe fallacy of
denying facts based on general or a priori reasoning." However, you may have fallen into the fallacy of assuming what needs to be
proved!

You may be best served by giving the project a vacation and returning to it in a month or so. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in
a project that it affects our objectivity. Giving prized projects some space periodically seems to help the brain "reboot," and it
is amazing what jumps out at me when I use the technique at work (although there I can only put projects on the back burner for a
couple days or a week) or with my own hypotheses.

Respectfully,

Dave Hindley
Cleveland, Ohio USA
• Mike, I have an unrelated question to all of this. I wondered if you have ever seen the original coptic text. Not photographs of it, but the actual copy that
Message 10 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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Mike,

I have an unrelated question to all of this.

I wondered if you have ever seen the original coptic
text. Not photographs of it, but the actual copy that
was found at Nag Hammadi. I wonder if you could
comment on its condition and what it is like.

where it is kept, and who is control of it.

dave [arbuckle]
• ... No, I haven t. ... It s in very good condition relative to the other tractates of Codex II, probably due to its good fortune of being the second of the
Message 11 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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[Dave Arbuckle]:
> I wondered if you have ever seen the original coptic
> text. Not photographs of it, but the actual copy that
> was found at Nag Hammadi.

No, I haven't.

> I wonder if you could
> comment on its condition and what it is like.

It's in very good condition relative to the other tractates of Codex II,
probably due to its good fortune of being the second of the seven (the
surrounding texts - ApocJn and GPh - are in much worse shape). The sizes of
lacunae (gaps in the text caused by erosion of the papyrus - usually at the
top and bottom of a page) are small enough so that most of them can be (and
have been) confidently filled in, though of course I wish they all could be,
since the two or three remaining unresolved lacunae are enough to introduce
an element of uncertainty into total letter-counts for the text.

> where it is kept, and who is control of it.

In the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

thanks,
Mike
• ... I ve reproduced the material you quoted, Dave, because I m unsure to which portion of it you re responding with this comment. I _think_ you re responding
Message 12 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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[Mike]:
> The textual evidence so far adduced - even the connection between L42 and
> L11.1 _alone_ - should have been enough to convince the
> skeptical mind that these features were not "an odd concatenation of
> coincidences". Coincidence simply doesn't rise to that level.
> As for "deliberate red-herring", that's unimaginable. No one would go to
> that trouble simply to produce a "red-herring". I think you
> must have been discouraged when you wrote this. When I get discouraged
> (which is often, since almost nobody seems to understand or
> appreciate this stuff), I focus on the textual evidence and ask myself
> whether I'm still really convinced that it could not have
> been the result of randomness or coincidence.>>

[Dave Hindley]:
> Sure it does.

I've reproduced the material you quoted, Dave, because I'm unsure to which
portion of it you're responding with this comment. I _think_ you're
responding to the claim that "Coincidence simply doesn't rise to that
level." If so, I'd be happy to discuss that, since as you know almost all
our historical judgements are based on probability. If you knew, for
example, that a certain proposition had a 99% chance of being true, and only
a 1% chance of being false, I suspect that you wouldn't hesitate to assent
to it. Probably, in fact, quite a few of the propositions that you believe
about the history of Christianity have something less than a 99%
probability. Sometimes we even reach judgements on the basis of something
being more probable than not - and that's only 51% vs 49%. I realize,
however, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (thanks,
Carl Sagan), and so I'm prepared to defend the claim that the probability
that the combination of independent but interlocking textual features of
CGTh to which I've drawn attention was the result of randomness is so low
that, were it most any other proposition, it would be rejected out of hand.

As I said, I'd be happy to test the case on just one of the textual features
in question - namely, the relationship between L42 and L11.1. If it suits
you, we can discuss that and you can perhaps cite a case of similar
independent but interlocking elements from another text, which is known
to be the result of randomness. I won't repeat the salient syntactical
features connecting L42 (line 280) and L11.1 (line 70 + most of line 69)
at this point, but if you want to pursue it, I'd certainly be willing to do
so.

> The question really is: "What, exactly, makes *those* characteristics
> significant?" Nothing is self evident.

I don't think I agree with that. (Surely if what you say is true, then the
phrase "self-evident" would lack meaning, because it couldn't be applied to
anything.) I believe that it's self-evident, for example, that a scribe
_could have_ copied verbatim from an exemplar - line for line and letter for
letter. I think it's also self-evident that he _could have_ been instructed
to do so. Because these things are self-evident, any generality about how
scribes _usually_ operated is irrelevant.

> Anyone who has spent time with discourse analysis has realized that the
> "structure" of sentences or thematic blocks has as many variations
> as there are analysts. How do *you* know that the numbers/relationships
> that you take as significant (the number 42, prime numbers,
> etc) were really significant, or even evident, to the Copts of the first
> few centuries of the Christian era?

Irrelevant, since the whole of the Copts of that era aren't the folks in
question. The folks in question are a small group that produced the NH
codices. But we know almost nothing about them, and we don't even know if
the proposed numerical design of CGTh was theirs or was adopted from one
already present in the Greek version - which would have had to have been
suitably altered for a change in language, of course. Why wasn't there a
tractate in the NH corpus discussing theoretical mathematics? Dunno - any of
several reasons, I suppose. For one, they only hid the stuff that was being
cracked down on. For another, both Pythagorean mathematics and mystical
Judaism seem to have been mostly secret studies. As to the number 42, I'll
have more to say about that when I discuss Joffe's paper.

> You state that those who reject the significance of the characteristics
> you noted (the "facts") are guilty of the "severe fallacy of denying
> facts based on general or a priori reasoning." However, you may
> have fallen into the fallacy of assuming what needs to be proved!

Well, first, the remark you quote is from an offlist exchange that
you initiated a couple days ago. Worse than breaching confidentiality,
however, is that your paraphrase preceding the quotation is inaccurate.

"As I indicated already in a note to the list, if anyone thinks that some
general model of how scribes worked overrides the specific evidence
that in THIS case the scribe didn't work that way, he's guilty of the severe
fallacy of denying facts based on general or a priori reasoning."

As to begging the question, I'd know better than most if I'd done
that, since my training is in logic. As I see it, what I've done is to
present the textual features as I found them to be (and anyone is more than
welcome to check them) and concluded that the possibility of these
independent but interrelated (n.b.) features having resulted from randomness
is so low as to seriously jeopardize that assumption.

> You may be best served by giving the project a vacation and returning to
> it in a month or so. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in
> a project that it affects our objectivity. Giving prized projects some
> space periodically seems to help the brain "reboot," and it
> is amazing what jumps out at me when I use the technique at work (although
> there I can only put projects on the back burner for a
> couple days or a week) or with my own hypotheses.

This is good advice in general. I'm a great fan of giving the subconscious
mind time to work on a problem on its own, and believe me there've been many
many times when I just left this stuff alone for awhile and let my
subconscious mull it over, but I always come back with the same basic
intuitions, so the subconscious must be agreeing with the conscious. I
simply can't see what might be wrong with my assessment of the probability
of intentionality behind CGTh. Of course the proponent of a theory always
has a hard time being objective about it - I'm no exception. What would most
help, though, is adequate peer review. Even if it didn't change my basic
judgements, it would at least help to identify weaknesses in the case,
eliminate objectionable and/or confusing ways of expressing it, etc.
Unfortunately, such peer review hasn't yet been forthcoming, in my
estimation. Generalities are no substitute for specific, detailed criticism.

Mike Grondin
• ... features ... do ... Alright, I m probably going to regret this, but go ahead and try to convince me from the relationship between L42 and L11.1 that your
Message 13 of 13 , Mar 5, 2006
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> As I said, I'd be happy to test the case on just one of the textual
features
> in question - namely, the relationship between L42 and L11.1. If it suits
> you, we can discuss that and you can perhaps cite a case of similar
> independent but interlocking elements from another text, which is known
> to be the result of randomness. I won't repeat the salient syntactical
> features connecting L42 (line 280) and L11.1 (line 70 + most of line 69)
> at this point, but if you want to pursue it, I'd certainly be willing to
do
> so.

Alright, I'm probably going to regret this, but go ahead and try to convince
me from the relationship between L42 and L11.1 that your design theory is
plausible (and clarify what "L" stands for). I don't have time to go digging
through archives so you'll have to restate your case. Please be succinct and
clear.

Andrew
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