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Re: [GTh] Block Sizes

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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