Thomas logion 71. Response. Re-submitted
- On the term "house" in Thomas 71. Reply to J.M.G. Cornier
Using the word "house" for the Jerusalem Temple is normal usage in Hebrew
and Aramaic. Compare the Hebrew phrases [bifne ha-bayit] meaning "when the
Second Temple was standing", literally "in the presence of the house' or
[bime bayit sheni] "in the time of the Second Temple", literally "in the
time of the second house". This is because the formal name of the Jerusalem
Temple is [bet ha-mikdash] literally "the house of the Sanctuary", that is,
the building which is or contains or bounds or defines the Sanctuary. The
term "Sanctuary" (Mikdash) is the term used in the Torah in the verse "Make
me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in it". The stone building is the body of
the Sanctuary, for want of a better analogy. In Hebrew and Aramaic of the
period a word corresponding to the English word "building" is available, but
is not the natural term unless the context is either the act of building or
the building considered as a monument. The building made out of stone might
well have been right in front of Jesus when he said this (whether in John's
version or Thomas's), but he was not thinking primarily about architecture.
The word "temple" is misleading. Any apparent obscurity here is only due to
thinking in English (or French).
The Greek word "naos" is ambiguous in referring to both a building and the
sanctuary. This point is relevant here.
The Greek of the New Testament and related texts usually follows standard
Hebrew technical terminology, even to the point of sounding artificial. This
point is relevant to Thomas, here and elsewhere.
The suggestion made by J.M.G. Cornier won't work. The term "House of Israel"
[bet yisra'el] is a fixed phrase. The usage of "bayit" on its own would be
impossible. The reason is that the word must have a qualifier if it is to
refer to people. The qualifier need only be "his", but there has to be
something: otherwise you're talking about a structure.
Ultimately any part of what is now the New Testament or related texts such
as Thomas is blurred to the understanding without a thorough grounding in
the Torah and in the Hebrew literature of the first and early second
centuries, and this means not only having read it, but having learnt its
techniques of argument and manner of
expression. This statement is not intended as a slight on any members of
this forum, since no one person can do everything. It is more a comment on
one of the inadequacies of current scholarship on the New Testament and
related texts, with the consequent disadvantage to informed readers.
I haven't forgotten my promise to answer the question put to me as to what
language I thought Thomas had been written in, but I don't want to do this
till ready to give a reply backed up by systematic argument.
Dr. Ruairidh (Rory) Bóid
Honorary Research Associate
Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology
School of Historical Studies
Home E-mail irmboid@...
Monash E-mail Ruairidh.Boid@...
3 Goathlands St.
Tel / Fax: +61 - 3 - 9527 8047
- Thank you both Dr.Bóid and Mike Grondin for your insightful
contributions on my question regarding Thomas 71.
If indeed "The Greek of the New Testament and related texts usually
follows standard Hebrew technical terminology, even to the point of
sounding artificial" and if "the word temple is misleading" (both
quotes Dr Boid), then I will have to find another way of resolving
why the discrepancy still seems so real to me in a dogmatic sense
(body vs "what have you") between John and Thomas. Perhaps others
can make equally insightful contributions.
Had your (Dr Boid)note not arrived when it did, I might have been
tempted to argue on Mike's closing comment (his Post of one day
earlier) about "One possibility is that the Temple was no longer
relevant (because it was no longer in use) when L5 reached the form
in which we find it" ... that if Thomas was written as an integral
manuscript at one specific point in time (this, of course being
contrary to the "manuscript evolutionists'" views about Thomas) that
given Jesus' suggestion to his Disciples in Logion 12 (because James
died c. 62 C.E. and the temple was only destroyed 8 years later in
70 C.E.) that Jesus, in suggesting that the disciples "go to James"
for proper advice, Jesus would have been suggesting a chronological
impossibility ... thus throwing Thomas' reliability into a bit of
Again, thank you both for your valuable insights ...