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Block Sizes

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  • Michael Grondin
    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
    • Ron McCann
      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
        Saskatoon Canada

        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
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • Michael Grondin
        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
        • Michael Grondin
          ... 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
          • Ron McCann
            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,
              Saskatoon, Canada

              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
            • Michael Grondin
              ... 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
                > 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.

                Regards,
                Mike
              • Ron McCann
                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
                  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.


                  >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
                  where your mathematical
                  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
                • Michael Grondin
                  ... 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
                  • David Hindley
                    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
                    • David Arbuckle
                      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]
                      • Michael Grondin
                        ... 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
                        • Michael Grondin
                          ... 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.
                            The full statement was this:

                            "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
                          • Andrew Bernhard
                            ... 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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