On the Syntax of the Prologue
- The purpose of this note is to examine some syntactical
features of the prologue/incipit to the Coptic GTh which
are consistent with the Intentional Design Theory (IDT)
I've long maintained for CGTh - as opposed to the view
that CGTh is simply a translation from some other language,
wherein apparent design elements are nothing more than
the result of random coincidence.
As is well-known, the prologue of CGTh differs from the
prologue of the Greek P.Oxy. 654 in that the former contains
'DIDYMOS IOUDAS QWMAS' while the latter contains just
'DIDYMOS QWMAS' ('Q' representing 'th', BTW). The 3-name
version is of Syriac origin, and so those who, like Robinson,
maintain that CGTh is a translation of a Greek version (albeit
evidently not one represented in the POxy fragments!) are at
once faced with explaining why the Copts would change the
Greek version of the name into the Syriac one. But I leave
that aside, because I think I know why the Copts preferred
the Syriac version of the name. My suggestion is that they
preferred it because its number of letters tied in with numbers
associated in their text with the name of Jesus. The abbreviation
they used most often for 'Jesus' was 'IS', which had a numeric
value of 210 (I=10, S=200). The name 'DIDYMOS IOUDAS
QWMAS' has 7x6x5 letters, the product of which is 210.
In CGTh, 'IS' is used 102 times, the alternative 'IHS' 3 times.
The total number of occurrences of the sacred name is thus
105, which is half of 210 and also a kind of "magic number"
in its own right, being the product of the first three odd primes
other than one: 3x5x7. The number 210, then, is the product
of the first four primes (again, not including 1): 2x3x5x7. And
these were facts known and appreciated in antiquity.
(As to the Greek fragments, a quick survey indicates that POxy
654 uses 'IHS' throughout, while POxy 1 and 655 use 'IS'. Why
the difference is beyond me, but it should be remembered that
the three sets of Greek fragments come from three different
manuscripts, not from the same one.)
Turning from what might be called "the triple-powered name"
(ala a phrase in ApocJn, the text preceding CGTh) to the
full wording of the prologue, it can be seen that the 63 letters
of the prologue can be arranged into either of two symmetrical
patterns, based on real divisions between Coptic words:
1. 30+3+30: the word 'AYW' ('and') occurs precisely in the
middle, so that we have two 30-letter pieces of text on either
side of it.
> These are the-words hidden which-ISThe second pattern STM to be the primary symbolic one,
> who-lives spoke-them, and he-wrote-them
> namely, Didymos Judas Thomas
although it may have been thought nice and/or necessary
to have TWO patterns. In any case, both patterns exhibit
the tripling motif, while the second one features the number
seven, tripled to tie in (deliberately, I think) with the number
210 of 'IS'.
The Prologue as seen here thus ties in nicely with what
I've previously written about saying 42 (=2x21), namely
that it was intentionally positioned at line 280 so that its
end-of-line keyword PARAGE ('pass-away') would connect
with the identical end-of-line keyword PARAGE at line 70,
to form the numerical relationship 280-70=210. All of which
favors the IDT, since the combination of these features
involving the same set of numbers could hardly have been
random. The value of the sacred name 'IS' as 10 times triple
seven was apparently on the minds of the Coptic designers
as they set about the work of fashioning their own version
of the Gospel of Thomas.