## Re: [GTh] Block Sizes

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• ... 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 1 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.

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

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

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

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

Regards,
Mike
• Hi Mike. Thanks for the reply. Some comments follow. I m still flying the landscape of Coptic Thomas, looking for your blocks and other anomalies which might
Message 2 of 13 , Mar 3, 2006
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Hi Mike.
I'm still flying the landscape of Coptic Thomas, looking for your
blocks and other anomalies which might tend to either support or
challenge your thesis. All I've spotted to-day are another bunch of
crop-circles. (wink, grin)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(material snipped)

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

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

Best,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully,

Dave Hindley
Cleveland, Ohio USA
• Mike, I have an unrelated question to all of this. I wondered if you have ever seen the original coptic text. Not photographs of it, but the actual copy that
Message 5 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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Mike,

I have an unrelated question to all of this.

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

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

dave [arbuckle]
• ... No, I haven t. ... It s in very good condition relative to the other tractates of Codex II, probably due to its good fortune of being the second of the
Message 6 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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[Dave Arbuckle]:
> I wondered if you have ever seen the original coptic
> text. Not photographs of it, but the actual copy that
> was found at Nag Hammadi.

No, I haven't.

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

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

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

In the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

thanks,
Mike
• ... I ve reproduced the material you quoted, Dave, because I m unsure to which portion of it you re responding with this comment. I _think_ you re responding
Message 7 of 13 , Mar 4, 2006
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[Mike]:
> The textual evidence so far adduced - even the connection between L42 and
> L11.1 _alone_ - should have been enough to convince the
> skeptical mind that these features were not "an odd concatenation of
> coincidences". Coincidence simply doesn't rise to that level.
> As for "deliberate red-herring", that's unimaginable. No one would go to
> that trouble simply to produce a "red-herring". I think you
> must have been discouraged when you wrote this. When I get discouraged
> (which is often, since almost nobody seems to understand or
> appreciate this stuff), I focus on the textual evidence and ask myself
> whether I'm still really convinced that it could not have
> been the result of randomness or coincidence.>>

[Dave Hindley]:
> Sure it does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Grondin
• ... features ... do ... Alright, I m probably going to regret this, but go ahead and try to convince me from the relationship between L42 and L11.1 that your
Message 8 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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