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Re: [GTh] Block Sizes

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  • 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 1 of 13 , Feb 24 12:05 PM
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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 2 of 13 , Feb 25 11:39 PM
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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 3 of 13 , Feb 27 10:44 AM
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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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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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