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Re: [GTh] Critique on the Paper by Goodacre

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  • Frank McCoy
    INTRODUCTION This is a critique on Mark Goodacre s paper, Luke 11.27-28 // Thom. 79a: A Case of Thomasine Dependence . It can be accessed at:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2007
      INTRODUCTION

      This is a critique on Mark Goodacre's paper, "Luke 11.27-28 // Thom.
      79a: A Case of Thomasine Dependence". It can be accessed at:

      http://ntgateway.com/goodacre/Thom79c.pdf

      His paper concerns the relationship between Luke 11:27-28 and Thomas
      79:1-2.

      Luke 11:27-28 reads, "As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her
      voice and said to him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the
      breasts that you sucked!' But he said, 'Blessed rather are those who
      hear the word of God and keep it!'" The original language for it is
      Greek

      Thomas 79:1-2 reads, "A woman from the crowd said to Him, 'Blessed are
      the womb which bore You and the breasts which nourished You.' He said to
      her, 'Blessed are those who have heard the word of the Father and have
      truly kept it.'" The original language for it is Coptic.

      His thesis is that the two passages are so close that they have a
      literary dependence and that, further, while the version of Thomas
      79:1-2 we possess is in Coptic, the original of it was probably written
      in Greek and was probably based on the Greek text of Luke 11:27-28.

      So, he states (pp. 5-6), "The two texts are close to each other. Most
      of the variations seem to be the kind that translation of a Greek
      original (of Thomas 79:1-2) would explain. If we were looking at this
      degree of agreement among the Synoptics, we would usually incline
      towards literary dependence of some kind. Thus, while it is possible
      that a saying like this could have come independently via oral tradition
      to both Thomas and Luke, the closeness between the two sayings will
      suggest that it is worth looking further for signs of direct knowledge
      one way or the other. I would suggest that there is good evidence of
      such knowledge for this saying and that it runs in the direction from
      Luke to Thomas."

      I fully agree that there appears to be a literary dependency between the
      two passages. I further agree that the original version of Thomas
      79:1-2 probably was written in Greek. However, while he thinks that
      Thomas 79:1-2 is based on Luke 11:27-28, I am inclined to think that
      Luke 11:27-28 is based on Thomas 79:1-2.

      This issue is very important. Most scholars think that Thomas was
      written in the second century AD. If so, then Goodacre is probably
      correct in thinking that Thomas 79:1-2 is based on Luke 11:27-28.
      However, the Jesus Seminar and a number of scholars think that the first
      edition of Thomas might date to as early as the 50s. If so, then I am
      likely correct in thinking that Luke 11:27-28 is based on Thomas 79:1-2.

      FOIL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS FROM ANONYMOUS INDIVIDUALS.

      Goodacre (pp. 9-10) notes that there are five verses in Luke that
      contain foil questions or comments from anonymous individuals and that
      also contain the Greek word tis. They are 9:57, 11:27, 12:13, 13:23
      and 14:15

      Regarding these five verses, he states (pp. 10-11), "Now foil comments
      and questions are common in the Synoptics and they are common in Thomas
      too (e.g. 91, 99, 100 and 104). The distinctive features of the five
      cases listed above is that these are the only places in the Synoptic
      tradition where a teaching is introduced by foil comments from anonymous
      individuals, always with tis. This feature comes at least five times in
      Luke and it is probably due to his own redaction, especially since three
      of the occasions (9.57, 13.23 & 14.15) there is a contrast with
      Q/Matthew. It only occurs twice in Thomas (Thom. 72, Thom. 79) both
      times parallel to Luke."


      The implied scenario of this evidence presented by Goodacre: Luke
      deliberated created, either as something new or else as a redaction of
      Mathean or Q material, all five foil comments or questions from
      anonymous individuals, always with tis. Then Thomas utilized two of
      them in writing 72 and 79.

      Still, it is the case that one of these five verses, i.e., 13:23, is an
      oddball because, while all the other four contain foil comments with
      tis, it contains a foil question with tis. Further, each of the four
      that contain foil comments with tis is a part of a larger passage with a
      parallel in Thomas:
      Lukan Passage # // Thomas Saying #
      1. 9:57-58 // 86
      2. 11:27-28 // 79
      3. 12:13-15 // 72
      4. 14:15-25 // 64
      The implication of this is that either (1) Thomas used Luke as a source
      and utilized Luke's four passages containing foil comments by anonymous
      individuals and tis in reverse order or else (2) Luke used Thomas as a
      source and utilized Th 64, 72, 79 and 86 in reverse order when writing
      his four passages containing foil comments by anonymous individuals and
      tis.

      Of these two options, the second appears to be more likely. Luke
      appears to be the only evangelist with an evident intense interest in
      passages containing foil comments by anonymous individuals and also
      containing tis. Therefore, it apparently would have been out of
      character for Thomas to have combed Luke for its four passages
      containing foil comments by anonymous individuals and also containing
      tis and then utilizing them in writing four of his passages.

      Also, note that the Thomasine sayings are 7-8 sayings apart: 86 - 7 = 79
      - 7 = 72 - 8 = 64. This suggests that Luke not only used Thomas as a
      source when writing his four passages containing foil comments by
      anonymous individuals and also containing tis, but that he deliberately
      chose which Thomas passages to use by selecting each seventh or eighth
      one, starting with 86 and working backwards.

      In this regard, let us look at this remarkable situation:
      Lukan Passage # // Thomas Saying #
      3. 12:13-15 // 72----->immediately followed by 12:16-21 // 63
      4. 14:15-25 // 64----->immediately followed by 14:26-27 // 55
      One sees that the two "trailer" Thomasine parallels, i.e., 63 and 55,
      are exactly eight sayings apart. This, again, suggests that Luke was
      delberately choosing which Thomas passages to use by selecting each
      seventh or eighth one.

      THE CROWD

      Goodacre writes (p. 12), "One of the striking features of the parallel
      is the occurrence in Thomas of the term "the crowd" (NMHWE), its sole
      occurrence in the text. We inevitably find ourselves asking, "What
      crowd?" for it is the first and last that we find of them. Indeed in
      the previous saying (Thomas 78). it is implied that Jesus and his
      disciples are not part of the kind of large group travelling through
      Israel that we see in Luke's Central Section but are, rather, those who
      have "come out to the countryside". There is a marked contast with Luke
      where "the crowds" are present throughout, and no more so than in the
      Central Section....They are, then, superfluous and irrelevant here in
      Thomas but coherent, important and pervasive here in Luke."

      The basic argument appears to be this:
      1. In Thomas 79:1-2, the word "crowd" is anomalous because it is the
      sole time it occurs in Thomas and, further, it does not fit well with
      the preceding Thomas 78
      2. This suggests that Thomas would not have added "crowd" to 79:1-2 if
      he had created it by himself.
      3. This, in turn, suggests that he based Thomas 79:1-2 on a source
      containing the word "crowd".
      4. Since there is a literary dependency between Luke 11:27-28, and since
      Luke 11:27-28 has "crowd" in it, this suggests that Thomas based Thomas
      79:1-2 on Luke 11:27-28
      5. Indeed, in full agreement with this suggestion, the word "crowd" in
      Luke 11:27-28 is quite in keeping with the rest of Luke--where crowds
      frequently are mentioned

      However, there is some evidence that step 4 in the argument is
      incorrect.

      To begin with, there are common catchwords between Thomas 79:1-2 and
      79:3 which indicate they were orally transmitted together.

      So, Stephen J. Patterson (The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, p. 60) states,
      "Turning finally to Thom 79 itself, it is noteworthy that 79:1-2 is
      joined to 79:3 with the catchwords zh (womb) and nkibe (breasts). This
      indicates that the two units circulated together already at an oral
      stage in their tradition-history, where this mnemonic device first
      acquired its usefulness. Their linking in Thomas, then, is not to be
      attributed to the redactional work of a Thomas author/editor, but to an
      earlier stage in the history of the tradition itself."

      In support of this idea that Thomas 79 originated in an oral period,
      there is a third catchword in it as well. This is neeiat
      (blessed)--which occurs twice in Thomas 79:1-2 and once in Thomas 79:3.

      As a result, it appears, Thomas 79 is either based on an oral tradition
      or else on a passage in a source which was based on this oral tradition.

      In either case, Thomas 79 is not based on Luke 11:27-28--which has no
      parallel to Thomas 79:3.

      Therefore, the sequence appears to be this:
      Oral tradition ---> (?passage in a now lost source --->?) Thomas 79:1-3
      ---> Luke 11:27-28.

      In this case, Luke was aware of Thomas 79:3 but chose not to use it
      immediately after Luke 11:27-28.

      Indeed, this explains why we do find a parallel to Thomas 79:2 in Luke
      23:29. In this case, Luke didn't use Thomas 79:3 immediately after Luke
      11:27-28 because he thought it better to use it later in his gospel,
      i.e., at Luke 23:29.

      In this case, the argument might run something like this:
      1. In Thomas 79:1-2, the word "crowd" is anomalous because it is the
      sole time it occurs in Thomas and, further, it does not fit well with
      the preceding Thomas 78
      2. This suggests that Thomas would not have added "crowd" to 79:1-2 if
      he had created it by himself.
      3. This, in turn, suggests that he based Thomas 79:1-2 on a source
      containing the word "crowd".
      4. Indeed, it appears that Thomas 79:1-3 is based on an oral tradition
      (either directly or else indirectly through a now-lost written source),
      that, presumably, contained the word "crowd".
      5.Therefore, in view of the literary dependency between Thomas 79:1-2
      and Luke 11:27-28 and in view of the parallelism between Thomas 79:3 and
      Luke 23:29, it appears that Luke utilized Thomas 79 in writing both Luke
      11:27-28 and 23:29.

      Which argument, though, is more likely to be correct?

      In this regard, it is noteworthy that, while "crowd" does regularly
      occur in Luke, it is, actually, anomalous in the context of Luke
      11:27-28. This is because it is both preceded (in Luke 11:14 ) and
      followed (in Luke 11:29) by the word "crowds". Why would Luke use
      "crowd" in Luke 11:27-28 when he used "crowds" both before it and after
      it unless he used a source for Luke 11:27-28 and this source had "crowd"
      ?

      So, I think it more likely that the second argument is more likely to be
      correct. If so, then it is most likely that Luke 11:27-28 is based on
      Thomas 79:1-2.

      GYNAECOLOGICAL DETAILS

      Goodacre writes (pp. 11-12), "Thomas refers to gynaecological details
      only here in 79 (the second half of which is parallel to Luke 23:29).
      By contrast, of all the evangelists, Luke is the one most inclined to
      mention gynaecological details. Womb (kolia) occurs again at 1.5, 1.41,
      1.42, 1.44, 2.21, 23.29, Acts 3.2 & 14.8. And mastoi (breasts) occurs
      only in Luke among the (canonical) Gospels, here and at 23:29. Indeed
      the combination of elements, Jesus' mother, womb and blessing occurs
      also at 1.41-44, clearly a co-text of 11:27-28:

      1.41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in
      her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 1.42 and she
      exclaimed with a loud cry: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is
      the fruit of your womb! 1.43 And why is this granted me, that the mother
      of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your
      greeting came to me, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.'

      This comes in material usually thought to have been carefully crafted by
      Luke and its similarity in theme and vocabulary to 11:27-28 is difficult
      to miss."

      Certainly, that (1) among the Gospel writers, "womb" is uniquely
      pleasing to Luke and that (2) among the canonical Gospel writers, only
      Luke finds "breasts" pleasing enough to mention twice and that (3) the
      triad of womb-blessing-mother of Jesus strongly links an apparent Lukan
      creation (i.e., Lk 1:41-44) to Luke 11:27-28 makes a decent prima facie
      case for the proposition that Luke 11:27-28 either is a Lukan creation
      or else is based on a pre-Lukan tradition heavily redacted by him. In
      either case, Thomas 79:1-2 is a secondary and, hence, later version of
      it.

      Still, the evidence is hardly clear-cut.

      For example, while there is the triad of womb-blessing (makarios)-mother
      of Jesus in both Lk 1:41-44 and Lk 11:27-28, there is only the twosome
      of womb-mother of Jesus in both Lk 11:27-28 and Th 79:1-2. This is
      because, in Thomas 79:1-3, the word blessing is rendered by "neeiat".

      This is the opposite of what one would expect if Thomas 79:1-2 had been
      based on Lk 11:27-28. If Thomas 79:1-2 had been based on Lk 11:27-28,
      one would expect that the "makarios" of Luke 11:27-28 would have been
      retained in the presumably original Greek version of Thomas 79:1-2.
      Further, one would expect that the Greek loanword of "makarios" would
      have been used in the translation of the Greek Thomas 79:1-2, with its
      "makarios", into Coptic--for, everywhere else in the Coptic version of
      Thomas, other than 79 itself, the word "blessed" is rendered by the
      Greek loanword of "makarios" . So, that "neeiat" appears in Thomas
      79:1-2 rather than "makarios" is evidence against the hypothesis that
      Thomas 79:1-2 is based on Luke 11:27-28.

      Again, while Luke is the sole canonical Gospel writer to use "breasts",
      he is not the sole Gospel writer to use "breasts". In particular,
      Thomas does as well. Further, both Luke and Thomas use "breasts" in the
      same two situations, i.e., Lk 11:27-28//Th 79:1-2 and Lk 23:29//Th 79:3.
      In view of how massive is Luke-Acts in comparison to Thomas, this means
      that the occurrences of "breasts" are denser in Thomas than in
      Luke-Acts. You add to this the two factors that: (1) both situations
      stress the nourishment given by breasts to babies, and (2) the same
      stress on the nourishment given by breasts to babies occurs in Thomas
      22, the conclusion one reaches is that, it appears, breasts and the
      nourishment they give children is a topic more pleasing to Thomas than
      to Luke.

      The bottom line: Luke is more interested in gynaecological details than
      any other Gospel writers. So, that gynaecological details are present
      in Lk 11:27-28//Th 79:1-2 supports the hypothesis that Th 79:1-2 is
      based on Lk 11:27-28. However, since (1) Luke is unique among the
      gospel writers only in his intense interest in the womb and since (2)
      the breasts and the nourishment they provide children is perhaps of
      stronger interest to Thomas than to Luke and since (3) the word used for
      blessing the womb and breasts in Thomas 79:1-2is neeiat rather than
      makarios, this is weak support rather than strong support for the
      hypothesis that Th 79:1-2 is based on Lk 11:27-28.

      HEARING THE WORD OF GOD AND KEEPING IT

      Goodacre states (p. 20), "In short, a key theme in Thomas is that one
      finds life by properly listening to the sayings of Jesus. The matter of
      'hearing the word of the Father and truly keeping it' in it has come to
      Thomas from Luke, for whom this is, by contrast, a major and distinctive
      emphasis."

      Yes, it certainly appears that 'hearing the word of the Father and truly
      keeping it' came to Thomas from a source--it is simply too much out of
      character for him to have invented it.

      But is the source Luke?

      This is not a given, particularly given the evidence above that scenario
      was:
      Oral tradition ---> (?passage in a now lost source --->?) Thomas 79:1-3
      ---> Luke 11:27-28.

      Goodacre states (p. 15) "'Hearing the word of God' (akouein ton logon
      tou theou) is a major preoccupation of Luke and one of the clearest
      aspects of his agenda. It occurs often and particularly in redactional
      changes to Mark."

      Certainly, hearing/receiving the word of God/the Lord is a major theme
      in Luke-Acts, but not in Mark, Matthew or Thomas. So, in this sense, it
      is of unique interest to Luke.

      However, on the fuller theme of hearing the word of God and keeping it
      (which is the theme we find in Th 79:1-2), Goddacre gives only one Lukan
      example outside of Luke 11:27-28, and this is Luke 8:21.

      He states (pp. 14-15):
      "Most striking however is Luke's redaction of the saying at the
      conclusion of the Mother and Brothers pericope, which appropriately
      comes at the conclusion of Luke's parable chapter, acting as a comment
      on it:

      8.21: But he said to them, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear
      the word of God and do it (hoi logon tou theou akouontes kai
      poiountes)'. (contrast Mark 3:35:' Whoever does the will of God is my
      brother and sister, and mother'; so too Matt. 12.50).

      This example is all the more striking because it is closely related to
      the passage under discussion, Luke 11.27-28--family ties are in question
      and Jesus corrects a worldly misapprehension with a spiritual
      pronouncement. And here, as in his redaction of Mark 3.35, Luke uses
      his distinctive language of hearing the word of God and doing (poiew,
      8.21) or keeping (phylasso, 11.28) it."

      This is a very important point. Clearly, Luke has redacted Mt 12:50//Mk
      3:35 to make it conform to Luke 11:27-28.

      But what is he using as the basis for his redactions? Is it simply his
      own opinions, or is he using a source?

      In this regard, it is noteworthy that Luke 8:21 differs from both Mk
      3:35 and Mt 12:50 is having my a pair of mother and brothers rather than
      a trie of brother, sister and mother.

      This suggests the possibility that Luke is using Thomas as the basis for
      his redactions because the Thomasine parallel (Th 99) has a pair of
      mother and brothers.

      In this case, Luke redacted the Markan and Matthean theme of doing the
      will of God into a theme of hearing the word of God and doing it on the
      basis of Th 79:1-2--which speaks of hearing the word of the Father and
      truly keeping it.

      In this case, then, Luke redacted Mk 3:35//Mt 12:50 partly on the basis
      of Th 99 and partly on the basis of Th 79:1-2.

      One can understand why Luke might redact Mk 3:35//Mt. 12:50 to a certain
      extent on the basis of Th 99 because it is a Thomasine parallel to them.

      More importantly, though (at least for the current discussion), why
      would Luke redact Mk 3:35//Mt 12:50 to a certain extent on the basis of
      Th 79:1-2?

      A clue comes from this schema:
      Th 79:1-2//Lk 11:27-27
      Lk 11:29-32
      Lk 11:33//Lk 8:16
      Lk 8:17-18
      Lk 8:19-21//Th 99
      What this schema suggests is that Luke used Thomas as a source and
      strongly linked Th 79:1-2 to Th 99 and, so, felt free to redact his
      Lukan version of Th 99 in light of Th 79:1-2.

      Also see this schema:
      Mt 12:38-42//Lk 11:29-32
      Lk 11:27-28//Th 79:1-2
      Mt 12:43-45//Lk 11:24-26
      Mt 12:46-50//Lk 8:19-21//Th 99
      What this schema suggests is that Luke not only used Thomas as a source,
      but Matthew as well, and not only strongly linked Th 79:1-2 to Th 99,
      but also linked both to Mt 12:38-50.
      As a result, Lk 11:24-26, 11:27-28. 11:29-32 and 8:21 and their
      parallels in Th 79:1-2, Th 99 and Mt 12:38-50 form a tightly
      interlocking set, with these Lukan passages running in reverse order of
      their Matthean and Thomasine parallels.

      So, while (1) the theme of hearing/receiving the word of God/the Lord is
      a theme favored by Luke alone among the Gospel writiers, it is also the
      case that (2) the fuller theme of hearing the word of God and
      keeping/doing it appears to be found only twice in Luke (Lk 11:27-28 and
      Lk 8:21) and that (3) it appears that Luke found it in Th 79:1-2 and
      used it not only writing in Lk 11:27-28, but in creating Lk 8:21 by
      redacting Mt 12:50//Mk 3:35 as well.

      As a result, the scenario does not appear to be this:
      Lk 11:27-28 ---> Th 79:1-2
      Rather, it appears to be this:
      Thomas 79:1-2 ---> Luke 11:27-28.
      This is in accord with the evidence already given that the fuller
      scenario was this:
      Oral tradition ---> (?passage in a now lost source --->?) Thomas 79:1-3
      ---> Luke 11:27-28.

      CONCLUDING REMARKS

      Goodacre thusly closes his paper (pp. 18-19), "Thomas 79a and Luke
      11.27-28 are parallel texts which, when allowance is made for
      differences in language, have similar wording. In several key respects,
      this wording is distinctively Lucan. The style, thought and terminology
      of this passage are common elsewhere in Luke and are paralleled in
      agreed redactional reworking of Mark and Q/Matthew. There is a Lucan
      foil comment with tis, an interest in gynaecology and, most importantly,
      a thoroughly Lucan stress on 'hearing the word of God (my Father) and
      keeping it'. Since the same features are, on the whole, anomalous in
      Thomas, the likely conclusion from the data will be that Thomas is, for
      this pericope at least, dependent on Luke's Gospel."

      Still, the Lucan foil comment with tis is one of four Lucan foil
      comments with tis and the passage in which each of them occurs has a
      parallel in Thomas. Since it would have been out of character for
      Thomas to have combed Luke for passages containing Lucan foil comments
      with tis and then using them in his gospel, this indicates that Luke
      based the passages containing his four foil comments with tis on the
      four parallel Thomas passages--in which case Lk 11:27-28 is based on Th
      79:1-2.

      Also, while Luke had a deep interest in wombs not shared by Thomas, it
      appears that Thomas had a greater interest in breasts and the
      nourishment they provide to children than did Luke.

      Too, while Luke had an interest in hearing/receiving the word of God/the
      Lord not shared by Thomas, there is some evidence that the fuller
      thought of hearing the wod of God and keeping/doing it was found by Luke
      in Th 79:1-2 and utilized by him in writing Luke 11:27-28 and Luke 8:21.

      Finally, there is some evidence indicating that the scenario was:
      Oral tradition ---> (?passage in a now lost source --->?) Thomas 79:1-3
      ---> Luke 11:27-28.

      So, while Goodacre makes a tightly woven and plausible argument for
      Thomas 79:1-2 being based on Luke 11:27-28, there is enough other
      evidence indicating that Luke 11:27-28 is based on Thomas 79:1-2 for me
      to find his argument insufficently strong to change my opinion that Luke
      11:27-28 is most likely based on Thomas 79.

      Frank McCoy
      St. Paul, MN USA 55119


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