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Re: [GTh] Block Sizes

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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 1 of 13 , Feb 25, 2006
      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 2 of 13 , Feb 27, 2006
        [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 3 of 13 , Mar 2, 2006
          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 4 of 13 , Mar 2, 2006
            [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 5 of 13 , Mar 3, 2006
              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 6 of 13 , Mar 3, 2006
                [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 7 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
                  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 8 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
                    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 9 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
                      [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 10 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
                        [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 11 of 13 , Mar 5, 2006
                          > 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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