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RE: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?

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  • Judy Redman
    I know from personal experience that blogging decreases my ability to participate on lists. I only have so much time avaible for this kind of activity,
    Message 1 of 22 , Jun 24 3:58 PM
      I know from personal experience that blogging decreases my ability to
      participate on lists. I only have so much time avaible for this kind of
      activity, because like Jed I have a full time job and am studying part time,
      so if I spend time blogging, it means I don't spend that time contributing
      to lists. Blogging lets me operate differently to list membership and I
      think both are valuable. On this list, I talk exclusively about Thomas,
      whereas on my blog, I can talk about other things that interesect with my
      research.

      I have a link to this list on my blogroll, and have just moved it up above
      the archives, so that it might be easier to find. People definitely visit
      my blog looking for info about Gospel of Thomas.

      Judy

      --
      Rev Judy Redman
      Uniting Church Chaplain
      University of New England
      Armidale 2351 Australia
      ph: +61 2 6773 3739
      fax: +61 2 6773 3749
      web: http://www.une.edu.au/chaplaincy/uniting/ and
      http://blog.une.edu.au/unitingchaplaincy/
      email: jredman@...


      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of CJED5@...
      > Sent: Wednesday, 25 June 2008 4:57 AM
      > To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?
      >
      > I'm rather in the woodwork at the moment reading posts but
      > leaving no
      > evidence of doing so. I have a full-time job and doing a
      > doctorate part-time,
      > which is busy, but right now is conference season, which at
      > least has left me
      > refreshingly single-minded preparing for them. Is it
      > partly just a seasonal
      > phenomenon, though? Holidays, good weather (ish), and
      > conferences in full summer glut.
      >
      > Jed Chandler
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
      > Interlinear translation:
      > http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
    • David Hindley
      Hello Andrew, Yes, by my observation the decline of academic e-lists started around 2003, although there were signs of trouble before that. IMHO, the trouble
      Message 2 of 22 , Jun 24 8:06 PM
        Hello Andrew,

        Yes, by my observation the decline of academic e-lists started around 2003, although there were signs of trouble before that. IMHO,
        the trouble seems to center on the issue of whether such lists should be for the accredited academic only, or serve a larger
        constituency including informed amateurs. Even on Crosstalk2 (XTalk), where membership represented a good cross-section of academics
        coming from all angles, and a considerable number of especially well informed amateurs, some professional academics found it
        annoying to deal with some of the amateurs. Some also did not want to discuss the philosophy of history as this got in the way of
        the fun stuff. This was exacerbated by a few especially large egos, most notable among the amateurs but not excluding a professional
        or two. "Wag-ism", a situation where supposedly witty posts are directed to "in-groups", and perhaps intended to freeze out those
        outside the intended group, became more common.

        The Christian Origins e-list started by William Arnal and Zeba Crook was, IMO, an extreme reaction by professionals who found some
        of the amateurs, end even a few of the professionals, intensely annoying. Not liking the way the game was being played on
        Crosstalk2, they took their ball and went home, forming their own list, and setting academic qualifications for full participation
        in discussion that few amateurs could meet (exceptions were made for a few). Interested amateurs received a 2nd tier membership, and
        must be content to watch real scholars discuss deep meaningful issues without muddying the waters with questions that betray their
        ignorance and lack of sophistication. Wasn't that what the Westar discussion group is/was all about? Last I heard, they were in a
        tizzy over the fact that conservative evangelicals have become more vocal at SBL meetings, both as presenters and listeners. I guess
        the sky really is falling ... I lost respect for several of the professionals who quickly jumped to this list and stopped posting on
        Crosstalk2 on account of this.

        Now it seems that everyone wants to blog. Because blogs are basically running commentaries, wags love them. I'm not saying every
        blogger is on an ego trip, but a lot of them (even the few really interesting ones) are pretty eccentric. Cleverness and witticisms
        become as important as the subject covered, it seems. I like to periodically check into a few, even when I don't always agree with
        the opinions expressed, especially if the blogger seems to be receptive to opinions other than his or her own. Personally, I do not
        like blogs as much as e-lists and consequently have refrained from large scale participation in them.

        Perhaps the lull in e-list interest is just a reflection of the times, with sociological roots in changes occurring in North
        American and Western cultures in general, and may change for the better in the future. I sure hope so. Many of the discussions were
        fun and informative, and prompted me (at least) to read the literature, investigate methodological questions, and gawd help me, bone
        up on the philosophy of history.

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Newton Falls, Ohio USA


        -----Original Message-----
        From: sentto-1127921-7992-1214200759-dhindley=compuserve.com@...
        [mailto:sentto-1127921-7992-1214200759-dhindley=compuserve.com@...] On Behalf Of Andrew
        Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 1:59 AM
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [GTh] Are e-lists dying?


        (Apologies for cross posting)

        Hello all-

        Two summers ago, I announced the publication of the hardback edition of my book, Other Early Christian Gospels: A Critical Edition
        of the Surviving Greek Manuscripts, via email discussion lists. It seemed at the time that the lists offered a great way to reach
        potential readers interested in the subject, and I planned to make a similar announcement for the paperback edition this summer (for
        those interested, see my website: gospels.net) However, I can't help but notice that the times seem to have changed significantly.

        With the exception of B-greek, all the early Christianity e-lists I'm subscribed to (crosstalk2, gthomas, textualcriticism,
        TC-Alternate- List, etc.) seem to have fallen largely into disuse. I used to learn about important new publications and follow
        substantive, ongoing debates involving many participants. Now, I can only glean precious little information from the ever more
        infrequent messages that get posted (many of which are just references to blogs). I even checked Mark Goodacre's ntgateway.com (the
        "website-of-record" for New Testament studies, in my opinion) to see if I was missing something and discovered that it now only
        mentions four lists (Synoptic-L, Kata Markon, John Lit Internet Discussion, and Acts-L) and two of these (Synoptic-L & John Lit)
        appear to have disappeared (apologies, Mark, for dragging you into this). What gives?!

        Is my perception wrong? If not, where have all the scholars (and
        others) who used to contribute to the e-lists gone? Has everyone given up on studying early Christianity? I highly doubt that
        (though perhaps interest in the "historical Jesus" has waned). Have they given up on using the internet in their research? I highly
        doubt that as well. My suspicion is that they are simply using the internet in new ways to gather and disseminate information
        (blogs, RSS feeds, etc.), but I'm not fully aware of how they are going about it.
        So, if others are willing to share their secrets, my question is simply this: HOW ARE OTHERS _NOW_ USING THE INTERNET IN THEIR STUDY
        OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY? How are are people using the internet to get information about significant new publications (books and
        articles)?
        How are people navigating the blogosphere (and what are the most widely read blogs)? What else am I missing? (I'm guessing a an
        awful lot).

        Thanks in advance for any guidance!

        Andrew


        ------------------------------------

        Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
        Interlinear translation: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
        Yahoo! Groups Links
      • Stephen C. Carlson
        My theory is that successful e-lists need to have good conversation starters. The decline in e-lists would be due to those people no longer starting threads.
        Message 3 of 22 , Jun 24 9:28 PM
          My theory is that successful e-lists need to have good
          conversation starters. The decline in e-lists would be
          due to those people no longer starting threads. Some of
          them have moved on to other e-lists or "forums," and
          many of them now blog instead. For Synoptic-L, our most
          productive conversation starter passed away from cancer.

          The problem is that many of the qualities that go into a
          good conversation starter can come off as somewhat
          crankish. For example, there is a fine line between
          having a healthy, albeit single-minded, devotion to
          one's passions and being a crank about it, hijacking
          every thread in favor of some idiosyncratic thesis.

          It's like a Gresham's Law of e-lists: the bad cranks
          drive out the good conversation starters.

          Stephen

          --
          Stephen C. Carlson
          Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
          Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
        • Michael Grondin
          Hi Dave- I suspect your note is going to cause some controversy, especially your characterization of motivations behind the Christian Origins group, but I
          Message 4 of 22 , Jun 24 10:00 PM
            Hi Dave-

            I suspect your note is going to cause some controversy, especially
            your characterization of motivations behind the Christian Origins group,
            but I won't be here to see the fun, since I'm being dragged off to
            Minneapolis for five days (Wed-Sun) by my own She Who Must Be
            Obeyed. I trust the other moderators will take up the slack.

            As to your remarks about the C-O group, you failed to mention that
            their main reason-for-being is to focus on a secular/humanist approach
            to Biblical studies. Thus, your remarks about their wanting to create an
            (almost) amateur-free zone didn't adequately cover motivation. (If
            it's any consolation, they have far less activity than we do.)

            (To compare Dave's remarks to C-O's own self-description, go to:
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christian_origins/ )

            Well, controversy is one thing that builds message-volume, so this
            discussion may, ironically, at least temporarily assuage its own
            object-problem (if you know what I mean :-). More constructive and
            long-lasting solutions are needed, however. I like Stephen Carlson's
            observation that just came in about conversation-starters, because it
            jibes with an idea I've been mulling over of somehow luring a number
            of listers into agreeing to contribute a new thread or a couple messages
            each week or so. Not sure what would get someone to do that, though.
            (I do it because this is my home list, and I've found that writing and
            interacting about some subject stimulates the creation of other ideas
            I mightn't have had otherwise.)

            In other news, I've jazzed up our group main page a bit by adding
            a nice picture of one of the pages of Thomas, taken by a Coptic
            museum attendant by request of April DeConick, when she was
            there, and which appears on one of the pages of her website.
            I've also added a little to our group description. See:

            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/

            Mike Grondin
            (off-line till next Monday)
          • mottrogere3
            ... List ... activity ... Hi Mike, I was one of the individuals on your inactive e-mail broadcast. I was surprised as I faithfully have read every message
            Message 5 of 22 , Jun 25 9:53 AM
              --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > I've always believed that such meta-issues as you bring up are in
              > order, and I think the other moderators agree, so don't worry about
              > that. In fact, I had been thinking about posting a "State of the
              List"
              > message to discuss the relatively low number of contributors lately,
              > despite my efforts to get inactive members (i.e., those who don't
              > receive email messages) more interested/active, by sending offlist
              > messages to let them know what we had been discussing. That didn't
              > work, but I haven't yet given up on the goal of increasing list
              activity
              > without sacrificing quality.
              >

              Hi Mike,

              I was one of the individuals on your "inactive" e-mail broadcast. I
              was surprised as I faithfully have read every message off the home
              page since subscribing to the list over a year ago. I even replied
              to your "broadcast e-mail to stimulate interest message" to your off
              line e-mail address with information. I wonder if you have several e-
              mail addresses flagged as spam or even blocked. Someone else here
              recently had that experience too so I hope you have checked that out.

              Have fun in Minneapolis.

              Roger Mott
              Waterloo, Iowa
            • Andrew
              Apologies again for crossposting. I m really glad I asked the question I did (see subject). The feedback has been tremendous. I think I m starting to get a
              Message 6 of 22 , Jun 26 1:05 AM
                Apologies again for crossposting.

                I'm really glad I asked the question I did (see subject).

                The feedback has been tremendous. I think I'm starting to get a sense
                of what the core issues are, and (hopefully) what can be done.

                I've read every email on the three lists I was allowed to post on
                (thanks again to the moderators for the leeway). Currently, I'm sorting
                through it all.

                Any more thoughts, ideas, etc, please share.

                I'll be posting again on the topic towards the end of the weekend.

                Best,
                Andrew Bernhard
              • Rick Hubbard
                I may as well offer my two cents about this topic. Speaking personally, the reasons why my own participation in e-list discussions have radically diminished
                Message 7 of 22 , Jun 27 4:38 AM
                  I may as well offer my two cents about this topic.

                  Speaking personally, the reasons why my own participation in e-list
                  discussions have radically diminished can be distilled into two words:
                  fatigue and boredom.

                  My fatigue proceeds from trying to keep up with discussions on not only
                  multiple e-lists but also an ever-growing number of blogs. These forums are
                  too dispersed and it is simply too time intensive to follow them all.

                  Boredom. It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
                  of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
                  repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I emphasis that it is
                  only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what can only
                  be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring but
                  persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score theological
                  points are nothing less than mind-numbing.

                  Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it take to
                  reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my own
                  perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues rather
                  than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to discuss WHY
                  the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
                  development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or alters our
                  collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics like the date
                  of composition or the document's literary integrity.

                  Okay, so maybe this is more than two cents worth, but in any case-there you
                  have it.

                  Rick Hubbard

                  Humble Maine Woodsman
                • Michael Grondin
                  Hi Roger, Yahoogroups allows four levels of contact between a group and a subscriber: individual emails , daily digest , special notices , or no email .
                  Message 8 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
                    Hi Roger,

                    Yahoogroups allows four levels of contact between a group and a
                    subscriber: "individual emails", "daily digest", "special notices", or
                    "no email". The former two I would count as relatively interested
                    members, the latter two as relatively uninterested - though there are
                    exceptions like yourself. Judging from my own experience, most folks
                    are probably subscribed to a lot of groups, get email from a few of them,
                    check a few others from time to time, but (if they're like me) still belong
                    to
                    many groups that they no longer pay much attention to. (BTW, I don't know
                    what "special notices" are, or to whom they go.)

                    When I began contacting "relatively uninterested" subscribers, they
                    were 48% of our membership. Because they don't normally receive
                    any email beyond the original group welcome, most of the addresses
                    had been unverified for a long time, and it turned out that about twenty
                    of them (as I recall off the top of my head) were dead addresses.
                    These were deleted (I don't think any other group has ever done this),
                    with the result that these types of subscribers dropped to around 40%.
                    I received only two responses - your own and one other person. Another
                    couple of folks unsubscribed - as I suggested they do if they were no
                    longer interested in the list. Overall though, the response was markedly
                    underwhelming, given a hundred or so messages sent out.

                    As to this thread, I'm pleased to note that the number of responses on
                    our list are about the same as appeared on Crosstalk - both substantially
                    higher than those on John-Lit.

                    Mike Grondin

                    > Hi Mike,
                    >
                    > I was one of the individuals on your "inactive" e-mail broadcast. I
                    > was surprised as I faithfully have read every message off the home
                    > page since subscribing to the list over a year ago. I even replied
                    > to your "broadcast e-mail to stimulate interest message" to your off
                    > line e-mail address with information. I wonder if you have several e-
                    > mail addresses flagged as spam or even blocked. Someone else here
                    > recently had that experience too so I hope you have checked that out.
                    >
                    > Have fun in Minneapolis.
                    >
                    > Roger Mott
                    > Waterloo, Iowa
                  • Michael Grondin
                    Hi Andrew, I notice that one of the variables mentioned on Crosstalk was specialization, i.e., that groups with a narrow focus tended to fade away more readily
                    Message 9 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
                      Hi Andrew,

                      I notice that one of the variables mentioned on Crosstalk was
                      specialization, i.e., that groups with a narrow focus tended to
                      fade away more readily than those with a broader focus. Well, of
                      course our group has a rather narrow explicit focus, but I think
                      that we've been open to many areas of interest which can reasonably
                      be construed as relatively directly connected with the Gospel of Thomas
                      and its manuscripts - from early Christian history in various geographic
                      areas, to other Thomasine literature (The Book of Thomas the Contender,
                      The Acts of Thomas - including notably the Hymn of the Pearl) to other
                      tractates of Codex II, other sayings gospels (e.g., Q), even to the
                      specifics of codex-production and the use of sacra nomina, and to issues
                      of the preservation of ancient texts. In short, just about anything that can
                      be directly connected to GThomas and its manuscripts is fair game, as
                      far as I'm concerned. (As well as meta-issues, of course.)

                      Regards,
                      Mike
                    • Chris Weimer
                      Mike, You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription status as No Email , but I still get every message that goes through gthomas
                      Message 10 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
                        Mike,

                        You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription
                        status as "No Email", but I still get every message that goes through
                        gthomas because of bloglines RSS reader. Imagine if you came across my
                        "No Email" status and deleted my subscription, and upon seeing this or
                        another message went to post and found out that I couldn't!

                        Chris Weimer
                        University of Memphis

                        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Hi Roger,
                        >
                        > Yahoogroups allows four levels of contact between a group and a
                        > subscriber: "individual emails", "daily digest", "special notices", or
                        > "no email". The former two I would count as relatively interested
                        > members, the latter two as relatively uninterested - though there are
                        > exceptions like yourself. Judging from my own experience, most folks
                        > are probably subscribed to a lot of groups, get email from a few of
                        them,
                        > check a few others from time to time, but (if they're like me) still
                        belong
                        > to
                        > many groups that they no longer pay much attention to. (BTW, I don't
                        know
                        > what "special notices" are, or to whom they go.)
                        >
                        > When I began contacting "relatively uninterested" subscribers, they
                        > were 48% of our membership. Because they don't normally receive
                        > any email beyond the original group welcome, most of the addresses
                        > had been unverified for a long time, and it turned out that about twenty
                        > of them (as I recall off the top of my head) were dead addresses.
                        > These were deleted (I don't think any other group has ever done this),
                        > with the result that these types of subscribers dropped to around 40%.
                        > I received only two responses - your own and one other person. Another
                        > couple of folks unsubscribed - as I suggested they do if they were no
                        > longer interested in the list. Overall though, the response was markedly
                        > underwhelming, given a hundred or so messages sent out.
                        >
                        > As to this thread, I'm pleased to note that the number of responses on
                        > our list are about the same as appeared on Crosstalk - both
                        substantially
                        > higher than those on John-Lit.
                        >
                        > Mike Grondin
                        >
                        > > Hi Mike,
                        > >
                        > > I was one of the individuals on your "inactive" e-mail broadcast. I
                        > > was surprised as I faithfully have read every message off the home
                        > > page since subscribing to the list over a year ago. I even replied
                        > > to your "broadcast e-mail to stimulate interest message" to your off
                        > > line e-mail address with information. I wonder if you have several e-
                        > > mail addresses flagged as spam or even blocked. Someone else here
                        > > recently had that experience too so I hope you have checked that out.
                        > >
                        > > Have fun in Minneapolis.
                        > >
                        > > Roger Mott
                        > > Waterloo, Iowa
                        >
                      • Michael Grondin
                        Hi Chris, Nice to hear from you. I don t follow your reasoning, however. As I said, I only deleted dead addresses, i.e., addresses where the server in question
                        Message 11 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
                          Hi Chris,

                          Nice to hear from you. I don't follow your reasoning, however.
                          As I said, I only deleted dead addresses, i.e., addresses where
                          the server in question indicated that the address was no longer
                          valid. Of course, if someone subscribes to a group with one
                          email address, then lets it go dead and gets a Bloglines feed
                          through another address, the scenario you suggest could happen.
                          Doesn't sound like that's what you had in mind, though. Anyway,
                          I didn't know that one could get group messages thru Bloglines.
                          That's interesting. So there could be more folks listening in than
                          we're aware of?

                          Mike

                          > Mike,
                          >
                          > You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription
                          > status as "No Email", but I still get every message that goes through
                          > gthomas because of bloglines RSS reader. Imagine if you came across my
                          > "No Email" status and deleted my subscription, and upon seeing this or
                          > another message went to post and found out that I couldn't!
                          >
                          > Chris Weimer
                          > University of Memphis
                        • Chris Weimer
                          Hey Mike, Ah, I see. I was hoping you weren t just deleting emails that didn t respond to you, as we re all busy enough to not respond to emails some point or
                          Message 12 of 22 , Jul 1, 2008
                            Hey Mike,

                            Ah, I see. I was hoping you weren't just deleting emails that didn't
                            respond to you, as we're all busy enough to not respond to emails some
                            point or another (I am all the time).

                            I honestly don't know enough about the feeds and cookies of Yahoo
                            groups, but I assume that the RSS feed should work for any group that
                            allows RSS. I don't want to unsubscribe to see what happens, though.
                            But certainly readership is probably higher than you expected. I know
                            I'm not alone in using RSS readers to read email lists.

                            All the best,

                            Chris Weimer

                            --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Hi Chris,
                            >
                            > Nice to hear from you. I don't follow your reasoning, however.
                            > As I said, I only deleted dead addresses, i.e., addresses where
                            > the server in question indicated that the address was no longer
                            > valid. Of course, if someone subscribes to a group with one
                            > email address, then lets it go dead and gets a Bloglines feed
                            > through another address, the scenario you suggest could happen.
                            > Doesn't sound like that's what you had in mind, though. Anyway,
                            > I didn't know that one could get group messages thru Bloglines.
                            > That's interesting. So there could be more folks listening in than
                            > we're aware of?
                            >
                            > Mike
                            >
                            > > Mike,
                            > >
                            > > You walk a dangerous line doing that, however. I have my subscription
                            > > status as "No Email", but I still get every message that goes through
                            > > gthomas because of bloglines RSS reader. Imagine if you came across my
                            > > "No Email" status and deleted my subscription, and upon seeing this or
                            > > another message went to post and found out that I couldn't!
                            > >
                            > > Chris Weimer
                            > > University of Memphis
                            >
                          • Michael Grondin
                            ... I agree, Rick. I d only add that one of the factors that seems to contribute to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable questions.
                            Message 13 of 22 , Jul 2, 2008
                              Rick Hubbard wrote:
                              > It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
                              > of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
                              > repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I [emphasize] that it
                              > is only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what can
                              > only be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring
                              > but persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score
                              > theological points are nothing less than mind-numbing.

                              I agree, Rick. I'd only add that one of the factors that seems to contribute
                              to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable questions.
                              (This is apart from questions that _are_ decidable on empirical grounds,
                              but which some participants insist on regarding as open questions.)

                              > Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it take to
                              > reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my own
                              > perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues rather
                              > than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to discuss
                              > WHY the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
                              > development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or alters
                              > our collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics like
                              > the date of composition or the document's literary integrity.

                              "Collective historical consciousness"? You're not going Jungian, are you?
                              In any case, I wouldn't call the date of composition question 'minutia' so
                              much as one of those questions endlessly debated precisely because
                              it's essentially undecidable, so no one's in danger of being shown to be
                              conclusively wrong (except maybe Nicholas Perrin :-).

                              Mike
                            • Rick Hubbard
                              Hi Mike-- ... Jungian, Eh? Well, I don t think I ve gone around that particular bend, but who knows. When I was growing bald, I didn t really notice that was
                              Message 14 of 22 , Jul 4, 2008
                                Hi Mike--

                                You Wrote:
                                ||"Collective historical consciousness"? You're not going Jungian, are
                                ||you?

                                Jungian, Eh? Well, I don't think I've gone around that particular bend, but
                                who knows. When I was growing bald, I didn't really notice that was
                                happening either!

                                Maybe I should clarify what I meant by "collective historical
                                consciousness". In most societies there is a more or less shared
                                understanding about cultural foundations. Among those foundations, and
                                especially in the American tradition, is the almost subconscious conviction
                                that the truths of certain primal stories of origin are unimpeachable. You
                                know the ones I mean-George Washington slinging a silver dollar across the
                                Potomac, and such. I'd guess that another set of these "myths of origin"
                                probably includes communal beliefs that the Bible (66 books of it, no more
                                and no less) accurately describe the genesis of our broader religious
                                traditions (Christianity and Judaism). Since the closing decades of the
                                nineteenth century, when critical historical scholarship became prominent,
                                there seems to have been an increasing sense of un-ease about the way "that
                                old time religion" has been called in to question more and more. I'm
                                becoming increasingly interested about the social and cultural responses to
                                this dissonance.

                                The mere presence of the Gospel of Thomas is undeniable evidence that the
                                legitimacy of conventional understandings of Western society's collective
                                are suspect. The Gospel of Thomas, as well as the substantial number of
                                other "non-canonical" texts that are more or less contemporaneous with it,
                                have become "the elephants in the room" - they are pretty damn hard to miss,
                                but nobody wants to admit they are there. What I find fascinating is the
                                contrived responses to this herd of pachyderms.

                                Lately I've been reading as much as I can find about North American
                                responses to the rise of evolutionary theory, critical historical (biblical)
                                scholarship and technological advances during the late nineteenth and early
                                twentieth century. These three things, among others, contributed to the
                                growth of a rabid fundamentalist movement in Christianity in the early
                                twentieth century here in the United States. The fortunes of Christian
                                fundamentalism have waxed and waned and the shape of the movement has
                                frequently been re-shaped during the course of the last hundred years.
                                Oddly, although fundamentalism has never been much more than a marginal
                                segment of society it seems to have exerted much more influence on our
                                collective historical consciousness than one would reasonably expect.

                                In any case, awareness of the Gospel of Thomas MAY be contributing to the
                                development of yet ANOTHER reactionary trend in the American religious
                                traditions. I'm very interested in how this plays out, but somewhat less
                                interested these days in the questions of GTh's compositional history or
                                precisely when it all happened. It's NOT that these are unimportant topics,
                                it simply that I find discussion about less compelling than in the past.

                                Rick Hubbard
                                Humble Maine Woodsman

                                ||-----Original Message-----
                                ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                                ||Of Michael Grondin
                                ||Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 3:30 PM
                                ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                                ||Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: Are e-lists dying?
                                ||
                                ||Rick Hubbard wrote:
                                ||> It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
                                ||> of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
                                ||> repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I [emphasize] that
                                ||it
                                ||> is only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what
                                ||can
                                ||> only be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring
                                ||> but persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score
                                ||> theological points are nothing less than mind-numbing.
                                ||
                                ||I agree, Rick. I'd only add that one of the factors that seems to
                                ||contribute
                                ||to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable
                                ||questions.
                                ||(This is apart from questions that _are_ decidable on empirical grounds,
                                ||but which some participants insist on regarding as open questions.)
                                ||
                                ||> Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it
                                ||take to
                                ||> reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my
                                ||own
                                ||> perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues
                                ||rather
                                ||> than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to
                                ||discuss
                                ||> WHY the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
                                ||> development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or
                                ||alters
                                ||> our collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics
                                ||like
                                ||> the date of composition or the document's literary integrity.
                                ||
                                ||In any case, I wouldn't call the date of composition question 'minutia'
                                ||so
                                ||much as one of those questions endlessly debated precisely because
                                ||it's essentially undecidable, so no one's in danger of being shown to be
                                ||conclusively wrong (except maybe Nicholas Perrin :-).
                                ||
                                ||Mike
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||------------------------------------
                                ||
                                ||Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
                                ||Interlinear translation: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
                                ||Yahoo! Groups Links
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||
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