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correction Re: [GTh] 17 Logia opposing Roman rule

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  • Paul Lanier
    ... Should read from Greek to Coptic of course. My apologies. regards, Paul
    Message 1 of 14 , Aug 19, 2008
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      --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Paul Lanier" <jpaullanier@...> wrote:

      > the translation from Coptic to Greek may be uneven

      Should read "from Greek to Coptic" of course. My apologies.

      regards, Paul
    • Kevin Johnson
      Hi, Paul - Thanks for the thoughtful response. ... Others have already tried it in different ways. It comes down to the criteria you use. Here are some
      Message 2 of 14 , Aug 21, 2008
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        Hi, Paul -

        Thanks for the thoughtful response.

        You wrote:

        > However since Mack has identified 17 "aphoristic
        > imperatives" in Q1 (BL Mack 1993. The Lost Gospel. HarperSanFrancisco,
        > pp. 112-113), it must be logical to attempt to expose the core "terse
        > sayings." This is simply peeling away the one more layer of text
        > accretions.

        > It seems necessary to have a guiding principle for this attempt.

        Others have already tried it in different ways. It comes down to the
        criteria you use.

        Here are some examples:

        o M. Eugene Boring, "The Historical-Critical Method's 'Criteria of
        Authenticity': The Beatitudes in Q and Thomas as a Test Case," in The
        Historical Jesus and the Rejected Gospels, Semeia, vol. 44 (Atlanta:
        Scholars Press) 1988

        o John P. Meier, "A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Volume
        I: Rethinking the Historical Jesus," Anchor Bible Reference Library (New
        York; London; Toronto: Doubleday) v. 1, pp. 174-175, 317; 1991

        o Stanley E. Porter, "The Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus
        Research: Previous Discussion and New Proposals," (Sheffield Academic
        Press), 2000

        o Thiessen, Gerd and Dagmar Winter, "The Quest for the Plausible Jesus:
        The Question of Criteria," 2002. (M. Eugene Boring, tr.)

        Kloppenborg also has a web page on the topic:
        http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~kloppen/criteria.htm

        > I suppose leaning toward Zealot or other Jewish rebel interpretations is
        > controversial. However I do not see any way to avoid that sort of
        > bias.

        The problem is that you are put into the position of imposing a belief
        system onto the text instead of extracting one from it.

        > Personally I think many Jerusalem "Christians" (if they were even
        > known as such that early) did as Jerusalem Jews did. They likely
        > struggled for political influence with fellow Jews

        Well, if they did, they would have a difficult time finding their
        justification in GTh, which speaks of fasting from the world (L 27),
        renouncing power (L 81), and renouncing the world (L 110).

        > The Pella story is one more accretion to the tradition.
        > And it is shaky!

        The tradition is there and you can dispute it if you want to, as Brandon
        did. I merely point out that such traditions often have a grain of truth
        behind them.

        > Well, in comparing Thomas with Luke, at least four parallel sayings
        > demonstrate this. In Luke the sayings are specifically anti-Jewish,
        > or else war imagery is deleted. Both tactics reframe the sayings as
        > pacifist or specifically anti-Jewish.
        ...
        > GTh 47:3 // Lk 16:13 (Two masters). In Luke "it is impossible for a
        > man to mount two horses or bend two bows" has been deleted.

        This saying appears in Mt. 6:24 also and, since Matthew does not include a
        parallel to this section of Thomas either, Luke cannot be held responsible
        for the change.

        > GTh 16:1-4 // Lk 12:52-53 (Division not peace). In Luke "fire, sword
        > and war" has been deleted.

        Of the four examples you suggest, this seems to be the best case of Luke's
        editorial work. For one thing, Matthew 10:34 has "Do not think that I have
        come to bring peace on the earth. I came not come to bring peace, but a
        sword" where Luke has "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?
        No, I tell you, but rather division." Harnack argued long ago that Luke's
        "division" here is secondary because the term is more abstract than
        Matthew's "sword." Interestingly, Thomas contains both "divisions" and
        "sword." But even if Luke has omitted "sword," which we find in Matthew, we
        cannot definitely say that Luke omits "fire" and "war," since these do not
        appear in Matthew.

        > However if the anti-Roman logia in GTh have a surface
        > meaning as well as a hidden one (and certainly most logia seem to have
        > that flavor) then the double meaning of L 65 is expected rather than
        > problematic.

        While L 65 has a reference to the death of the son, it does not have a
        reference to the war, as the synoptics do. Now, is it possible to interpret
        some sayings as having a hidden anti-Roman meaning? Sure, just as it's
        possible to read almost anything you want into a hidden meaning.

        For example, if I wanted to, I could use L 60 to represent the pacifist
        view of Jesus:


        <They saw> a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. He said to his
        disciples, "(Why does) that man (carry) the lamb around?" They said to him,
        "So that he may kill it and eat it." He said to them, "While it is alive, he
        will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse."
        They said to him, "He cannot do so otherwise." He said to them, "You too,
        look for a place for yourself within the Repose, lest you become a corpse
        and be eaten."

        I could say, "Well, Jesus is predicting a time when someone will seek to
        kill the disciples, so the hidden meaning is a reference to the coming age
        of Roman persecution. Note that he is not telling them to fight back or
        to resist, but to find another place for themselves (probably in Pella in
        the Decapolis :) )."

        >> Now it is obvious that a plural "foxes" makes a
        >> strained analogy to a singular Herod.

        > True. Of course there were a few Herods.

        Haha... very good... very clever! However, I'm not sure that reading the
        Herods into one example of an animal that has a home is justified. I would
        think that you find a clearer allusion in L 78 - "And to see a man clothed
        in fine garments like your kings and your great men?" I wondered why you
        made no appeal to this logion in your discussion of anti-Roman sayings,
        since it seems to be a good candidate.

        In regard to L 100, you wrote:

        > The saying is enigmatic; it advocates nothing specific.

        Your characterization is reminiscent of the famous passage about the dog in
        the nighttime in the Sherlock Holmes story, "Silver Blaze," which Wikipedia
        recounts as follows:

        Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you
        would wish to draw my attention?"
        Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
        Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
        Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

        The fact that the L 100 "advocates nothing specific" is the curious incident
        here. You would have thought that an anti-Roman agenda would have surfaced
        here. At least we see what L 100 does not advocate, which is non-payment of
        the tax.

        By the way, in several of the sayings you have pointed out, there is an
        element which is crucial to them that we have not discussed and that is the
        Messianic element. It is present in L 16 in that it is the person of
        Jesus who ushers in the epoch of fire, sword, and war. It is present in L65
        in that the son who is killed, the "heir" to the vineyard, may well
        represent Jesus. And it is present in L 100 in the concluding words "and
        give me what is mine." This element, which is a recurrent theme in GTh, is
        often ignored.

        > I treated each saying as independent. However there appear to be two
        > clusters: LL 45, 47, 48 and LL 71, 73, 74, 76.

        I thought your clusters were very interesting. I note that in the first
        cluster, you skip L 46. Yet this saying is related to your 'rebel
        interpretation' by the fact that John the Baptist appears in it, whose
        opposition to Herod (and vice-versa) was recorded in the traditional gospels
        (though not in Thomas). In the second cluster, you do not include L 72, L
        75, and L 77 (which seems to have been an interpolation). But why haven't
        you included L 78 and L 79? L 78 describes "your kings and your great men"
        while L 79 ends with a portent of disaster which is often interpreted as a
        reference to the war when the Roman set siege to Jerusalem.

        > GTh of course does not contain anything like pesher, but the
        > idea that the meaning of a Hebrew text is fixed was already discarded
        > by some before Thomas was written.

        The meaning of certain symbols remained consistent, just as you earlier
        described the vineyard as symbolizing Israel. Drinking both old wine and new
        wine seemed to symbolize idolatry in Hosea.

        > before the war the Jesus communities were surely indistinguishable
        > from Jewish communities, especially to Romans.

        The war began in the year 66, but we know from Tacitus that Nero singled out
        Christians to be tortured and killed after the fire in Rome in the year 64.

        > In any case,
        > some Jewish rebels relocating to Alexandria may have dealt with
        > defeat by adapting a theme from the Platonic demiurge: YHWH is
        > incompetent or malicious. In this way a theology of the demiurge
        > identified with YHWH - gnosticism - may have developed. This is just
        > speculation, but one example of how surviving Christians may have
        > reframed earlier sayings. I think the Thomas logia, containing a
        > discernable Jewish core and later accretions that move in the
        > directions of gnostic thought, represent both the earlier sayings and
        > the later ones.

        The delineation you draw between an early "Jewish core" and "later (gnostic)
        accretions" may not always be clear-cut. For example, are the sayings in GTh
        that move "in the directions of gnostic thought" more like the early type of
        gnostic thought we find in Paul or do they represent a more developed form
        of gnosticism, such as you have just described, as we often find in many
        works in the Nag Hammadi Library? If they do not represent a more developed
        form of gnosticism, then they can still be "gnostic," so to speak, and not
        be post-war.

        Regards,

        - Kevin Johnson
        Leicester, Massachusetts


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Paul Lanier
        Hi Kevin, Thank you again for your clarity, and especially for your patience for my delayed response. I appreciate the references you have provided and I will
        Message 3 of 14 , Aug 28, 2008
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          Hi Kevin,

          Thank you again for your clarity, and especially for your patience for
          my delayed response. I appreciate the references you have provided and
          I will study them.

          Other responses:

          > The problem is that you are put into the position of imposing a
          belief system onto the text instead of extracting one from it.

          I admire those who stick absolutely to this criterion. It certainly
          preserves objectivity. I find the arguments of Brandon, Schonfield and
          Eisenman, regarding the presence of a dominant Nazorean/Zealot element
          in the early Christian scriptures, persuasive enough to explore
          further. I realize most would disagree with this approach. I need to
          define better what is meant by the connotation of Jewish rebellion in
          a saying. Then I can apply that to other texts to see if this produces
          similar results. I think then I will have a firmer basis for
          concluding that the texts do, or do not, address Jewish rebellion.

          > Well, if they did [struggle for political influence with fellow
          Jews], they would have a difficult time finding their justification in
          GTh, which speaks of fasting from the world (L 27), renouncing power
          (L 81), and renouncing the world (L 110).

          I think these can be accomodated without tormenting the text! For
          example: Renunciation of the world (Rome) is wealth (L 110). So much
          so that the world is not worthy of them (L 111). Fasting from the
          world (a metaphor) brings the Father's kingdom (L 27). I would also
          argue that "Father's kingdom" contrasts with that of Rome. Anyway,
          scripture has never prevented later believers from dedicating
          themselves to internal and external strife!

          > The tradition [Pella] is there and you can dispute it if you want
          to, as Brandon did. I merely point out that such rtaditions often have
          a grain of truth behind them.

          You are right, thanks.

          > This saying appears in Mt. 6:24 also and, since Matthew does not
          include a parallel to this section of Thomas either, Luke cannot be
          held responsible for the change.

          Agreed. The change occurs between Thomas and Q. I cite Luke, as it
          represents the synoptic most highly developed toward accomodation with
          Rome.

          > Of the four examples you suggest, this seems to be the best case of
          Luke's editorial work. For one thing, Matthew 10:34 has "Do not think
          that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I came not come to bring
          peace, but a sword" where Luke has "Do you think that I have come to
          give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." Harnack
          argued long ago that Luke's "division" here is secondary because the
          term is more abstract than Matthew's "sword." Interestingly, Thomas
          contains both "divisions" and "sword." But even if Luke has omitted
          "sword," which we find in Matthew, we cannot definitely say that Luke
          omits "fire" and "war," since these do not appear in Matthew.

          Interesting, thank you.

          > While L 65 has a reference to the death of the son, it does not have
          a reference to the war, as the synoptics do. Now, is it possible to
          interpret some sayings as having a hidden anti-Roman meaning? Sure,
          just as it's possible to read almost anything you want into a hidden
          meaning.

          Thanks. I don't think it's that loose, but I will need to develop this
          rigorously.

          > For example, if I wanted to, I could use L 60 to represent the
          pacifist view of Jesus: <They saw> a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his
          way to Judea. He said to his disciples, "(Why does) that man (carry)
          the lamb around?" They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat
          it." He said to them, "While it is alive, he will not eat it, but only
          when he has killed it and it has become a corpse." They said to him,
          "He cannot do so otherwise." He said to them, "You too, look for a
          place for yourself within the Repose, lest you become a corpse and be
          eaten." I could say, "Well, Jesus is predicting a time when someone
          will seek to kill the disciples, so the hidden meaning is a reference
          to the coming age of Roman persecution. Note that he is not telling
          them to fight back or to resist, but to find another place for
          themselves (probably in Pella in the Decapolis :) )."

          Heh. True! And if you identified several sayings that also fit, I
          would tend to think that suggests the presence of a pacific tradition.
          Actually I have never had any idea what this saying means, so I almost
          inlcuded it as "war" on general principles :)

          > I would think that you find a clearer allusion in L 78 - "And to see
          a man clothed in fine garments like your kings and your great men?" I
          wondered why you made no appeal to this logion in your discussion of
          anti-Roman sayings, since it seems to be a good candidate.

          Agreed. The parallel at Lk 7:25 has John the Baptist saying this,
          rather than Jesus. Of course a Herod is there, too.

          > The fact that the L 100 "advocates nothing specific" is the curious
          incident here. You would have thought that an anti-Roman agenda would
          have surfaced here. At least we see what L 100 does not advocate,
          which is non-payment of the tax.

          I think it is deliberately ambiguous. The saying can also mean,
          "believe what you will." It is an ingenious story.

          > By the way, in several of the sayings you have pointed out, there is
          an element which is crucial to them that we have not discussed and
          that is the Messianic element. It is present in L 16 in that it is the
          person of Jesus who ushers in the epoch of fire, sword, and war. It is
          present in L65 in that the son who is killed, the "heir" to the
          vineyard, may well represent Jesus. And it is present in L 100 in the
          concluding words "and give me what is mine." This element, which is a
          recurrent theme in GTh, is often ignored.

          Agreed. And if these relate at all to the sectarian DSS doctrine two
          messiahs - a priest and a king - then "give me what is mine" is
          ambiguous!

          > I thought your clusters were very interesting. I note that in the
          first cluster, you skip L 46. Yet this saying is related to your
          'rebel interpretation' by the fact that John the Baptist appears in
          it, whose opposition to Herod (and vice-versa) was recorded in the
          traditional gospels (though not in Thomas). In the second cluster, you
          do not include L 72, L 75, and L 77 (which seems to have been an
          interpolation). But why haven't you included L 78 and L 79? L 78
          describes "your kings and your great men" while L 79 ends with a
          portent of disaster which is often interpreted as a reference to the
          war when the Roman set siege to Jerusalem.

          Thanks for your encouragement. I will develop this.

          > The war began in the year 66, but we know from Tacitus that Nero
          singled out Christians to be tortured and killed after the fire in
          Rome in the year 64.

          I have wondered if this can be reconciled with Acts (which states that
          the term "Christian" derives from Antioch) and with Paul's writings
          (in which he never uses the term) . Of course Acts transfers the
          mantle of leadership from Barnabas to Paul (Acts 13) during a trip
          from Antioch (Syria) to Antioch (Pisidia). Again I think this makes
          much more sense when viewed through the lens of the author's
          accomodation with Rome. With the account of Tacitus we have James
          martyred 62 CE, Christians martyred 64 CE, Jewish War initiated 66.
          That's ominous, if you are a Roman who perceives Christians as Jews.

          Regards,
          Paul Lanier
        • Paul Lanier
          ... Criteria for Authenticity]: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~kloppen/criteria.htm Thank you, Kevin, for the references to Kloppenborg and others. I found some
          Message 4 of 14 , Sep 1, 2008
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            --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Kevin Johnson" <achilles377@...> wrote:

            > Kloppenborg also has a web page on the topic [Historical-Jesus
            Criteria for Authenticity]:
            http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~kloppen/criteria.htm

            Thank you, Kevin, for the references to Kloppenborg and others. I
            found some decent online sources too.

            In general I would agree that the strict use of criteria of
            authenticity produces very limited results. I agree with those who
            emphasize the need for criteria that make more sense from typological
            or historical perspectives.

            I would also agree with Mack and others who observe that criteria of
            dissimilarity provide a methodology that cannot correctly identify
            authentic sayings that closely mirror the Jewish environments from
            which they arose, or the Christian environments to which they gave
            rise. But of course I would also agree that distinctive sayings are
            more likely to be authentic when these can be shown to be at variance
            with contemporary religious authority.

            Here are the online sources. These are followed by three quotes that I
            find particularly cogent:

            JM Robinson 1959: A New Quest of the Biblical Jesus
            http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=2073

            J Swales. Historical Jesus: Method and Criteria
            http://ordinand.wordpress.com/historical-jesus-method-and-criteria/

            J Byron 2004: The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of
            Criteria (review)
            www.bookreviews.org/pdf/3000_3171.pdf

            CA Evans 2005: Assessing Progress in the Third Quest of the Historical
            Jesus
            www.craigaevans.com/Third_Quest.rev.pdf

            RW Funk 2001: Milestones in the Quest for the Historical Jesus
            http://www.westarinstitute.org/Periodicals/4R_Articles/milestones.html

            JP Meier 1999: The Present State of the `Third Quest' for the
            Historical Jesus: Loss and Gain
            http://www.bsw.org/project/biblica/bibl80/Comm11.htm

            Swales: For me the key characteristic of the "third quest" is setting
            Jesus in the context of Judaism rather than seeking to find that which
            distinguishes him from Judaism (Dunn & Wright: An Evening
            Conversation. Cited at Historical Jesus:
            Quest, Methods and Criteria (J Swales, 2008).
            http://ordinand.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/the-quest-for-the-historical-jesus-criteria-of-dissimilarity

            Borg: But there is another starting place for the study of Jesus.
            Familiarity with a typology of religious figures (derived from the
            history of religions, anthropology, and the psychology of religion)
            provides an illuminating vantage point... When the texts of the
            Gospels are approached from this perspective, broad strokes of a
            credible historical portrait emerge. It is another instance of
            re-viewing the Gospel data with fresh lenses... This approach in no
            way denies that the traditions about Jesus developed. It accepts that
            in all likelihood we never have direct quotation. It acknowledges that
            specifically Christian affirmations cannot be attributed to Jesus. The
            latter include, but are not restricted to, christological
            affirmations, texts speaking about the social formation of the early
            church (including applications of Jesus' teaching as "church rules"),
            reflections about the meaning of Jesus' death, and, in my judgment,
            texts that refer to a second coming. This approach seems to me to
            provide a promising means for breaking the methodological impasse that
            has marked much of Jesus scholarship. We may be more historically
            certain of the larger picture than we are of the historical exactness
            of any particular tradition... the more clearly we are able to imagine
            the dynamics of Jesus' social world, the more obvious it seems that
            his mission and message were intensely and intimately involved with
            changing it... As a charismatic who was also a subversive sage,
            prophet, and renewal movement founder, Jesus sought a transformation
            in the historical shape and direction of his social world.
            http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/oct1988/v45-3-article2.htm

            Kloppenborg: Theissen, dissatisfied with dissimilarity, seeks to
            replace it with Historical Plausibility which reckons with
            influences of Jesus on early Christianity and his involvement in a
            Jewish context. Whatever helps to explain the influence of Jesus and
            at the same time can only have come into being in a Jewish context is
            historical in its sources.
            http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~kloppen/criteria.htm



            regards,
            Paul Lanier
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