Re: [GTh] Correspondence with Stephen Patterson
- I'm pleased to report that Steve Patterson has answered the
note I copied to the list a couple days ago. I wrote back,
mentioning a few new issues, but mainly responding to his
statement that he doubted whether he and Meyer had made
a blanket translational decision about 'rwme'. Below is my
response in its entirety:
Thanks so much for your note. I've been down in the dumps this
past week, wondering what I might have said that would have
caused you to decide not to respond. I figured, though, that any
really good scholar wouldn't mind being challenged. I'm relieved
that you lived up to your rep and didn't disappoint!
BTW, I've found a second 'man' in TCG. L35 starts out "One
can't enter a strong man's house ...". Not 'rwme' this time (which
is why I missed it at first), but again, it's 'person', not 'man', in T5G.
Reporting this to our email list yesterday, I jokingly referred to TCG
as the "black sheep" of the "Manless Family" of Thomas translations.
(That's my sense of humor for you.)
I'm very surprised to hear that there was no blanket treatment
of 'rwme' in SV Thomas, since I feel very strongly that there are
contexts where singular, gendered 'man' is what was intended.
Particularly pertinent in this regard are five sayings that compare
the kingdom to a human being doing something-or-other. Of those
five, two (L96 and 97) compare the kingdom to a C2IME, which
comes out 'woman' in those sayings. The other three (57, 98, 109)
compare the kingdom to a RWME, and in every case SV has 'person'.
What I ask myself is this: isn't it clear that the original intention was to
compare the kingdom sometimes to a woman and sometimes to a man?
- rather than sometimes to a woman and all other times to a person of
unspecified gender? I think so, and it's for that reason that I find it
almost impossible to believe that a case-by-case analysis wouldn't
yield even one place in Thomas where the intention was to designate
'man' in a gendered way.
Well, that's where I'm coming from anyway. I'd still like to get in touch
with Prof. Bethge or someone from the Berlin Working Group to find
out what their thinking was in regard to the English translation of
Thomas in SQE 15. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate a URL
or email address yet. If you can be any help in this regard, I'd be very
grateful. And thanks again for your comments thus far.
------------------------ (end of note to SP) -----------------------------
Glad to hear Steven Patterson responded to your inquiry, but I think you
should cut out the super-humble tone you're taking with them. It makes you
sound like you're in awe of them when you don't need to be at all. They're
I don't care what letters they have after their name: YOU are doing THEM a
favor by helping them refine their translations. You probably know the
Coptic text of the Gospel of Thomas better than any other person on the
planet. If they blow you off, it's their loss - don't get down in the dumps
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Thanks, Andrew. I needed that - for more than one reason.
Among other things, I was beginning to feel that I was talking
to myself on the list, since no one was responding. Re the
Patterson correspondence, I am in awe of people who have
reputable published works, but you're right about the obsequious
tone in spots. I cringed when I re-read it. In other spots, though,
my criticism seems very intense. Needs balance, I think.
As to refining their translations, I don't think that's likely to happen.
Their last translations are now over 10 years old, and I doubt
if either one of them is going to revisit Thomas. That's part of the
problem of writing to them - that it's old news to them now. I think
the most likely impact my letters might have is that the two instances
of 'man' that I found in TCG might be replaced by 'person' in the
projected new edition that Patterson referred to. It'd be ironic if that's
what happens. (Patterson said that he had forwarded my notes on to
Bob Miller, the editor of TCG.) I didn't get the impression that Miller's
revision is a wholly new SV, but if it is, or if I hear of any such thing,
I'll do everything I can to make my views known.