## Probability of No Mark Parallels for 29 Sayings in Thomas

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• Using the rather strict Jesus Seminar list, there are 25 Thomas sayings with a Mark parallel. They are pretty much evenly spread out except for a big gap of 29
Message 1 of 56 , Feb 1, 2009
Using the rather strict Jesus Seminar list, there are 25 Thomas
sayings with a Mark parallel. They are pretty much evenly spread out
except for a big gap of 29 sayings with no Mark parallels.

What's the probability of that?

Turns out, it's a non-trivial puzzle. If there's a discreet solution,
I couldn't find it on the internet, and I leave it as an exercise for
the student. But here's a sufficient approximation.

Best case, you would get 114sayings - 29 for the required gap = 85
tries.

The equation for that, in Excel form is,

Probability of a 29 or greater gap = 85*probability of 29 in a row

=85*((114-25)/114)^29 =~1/15

so, best case, if you tried a lot of times, you'd find on average no
more than one in 15 had 29 in a row.

However, you don't get 85 chances, you get less than half of that.
You start again, when a Mark parallel shows up. The odds of that are
only 25/114, and so on average, you clearly get one less than 50% of
the time and if 50%, that would double it to 1/30.

Empirically, I programmed a the computer to actually roll the dice
with random numbers 114 times with the proper probability. With 1000
tries, it had 1/70, and I'd bet money on it being between 1/60 and
1/80.

Close enough.

There's a 98.6% probability there won't be 29 or more sayings of
Thomas without a Mark parallel, if randomly distributed.

Ehhh, not like it's 99.99999%, but what else in Biblical scholarship
is true with a probability of 98.6%? Let's collect those up first, to
build a solid foundation. Ok, we have our
Axiom #1,

The Parallels to Mark in Thomas aren't random.

And Mike Grondin Coptic block fans will be happy to know the 29
saying gap is almost precisely composed of three large Coptic Blocks.
And the only Mark's after that are in the infamous one line, or short
Coptic blocks. The ones, if memory serves, suspected of having been
moved.

(P.S. Matthew, Luke, (John from what we can tell), and Dialog of the
Savior (from Funk in that case) parallels are distributed evenly from
beginning to end, with normal probability using the above system.
Only Mark has the non-random gap. (Q is statistically where Mark
isn't.) There is a long gap of no Thomas parallels in Mark at the
end, where Mark being a narrative, you wouldn't expect randomness,
and it's probability, from randomness is only one out of 10,
demonstrating just how unusual the 98.6% probability of non-
randomness is.)
• Hi Jack, Sorry you are feeling poorly. Hope you feel better soon. Whatever the outcome of these discussions, I just wanted to say that I much admire the fact
Message 56 of 56 , May 7, 2010
Hi Jack,

Sorry you are feeling poorly. Hope you feel better soon.

Whatever the outcome of these discussions, I just wanted to say that I much admire the fact that, as a historian, you picked up two historical references to two very, very early Chritian documents in Papias (The Matthean Logia and Mark's Notes) and have proposed that one was our Book of Q and the other the Gospel of Thomas.
Quite an original idea, and well worth exploring.
It's been been both interesting and stimulating trying to test out your intriguing proposal.
Thanks.

When you get back to this, I have a question.- Since the Matthean Logia is said to have been written down in Aramaic (actually, Papais calls it "Hebrew".) wouldn't back translating the Q parallel sayings in Thomas not also yield the sort of results you've found in the Markan sayings?

Best Regards,

Ron McCann
Sasakatoon, Canada         PS Couldn't find a listing for a Kilmon in the phone book. Does yourr son go by a different name or like many of the younger set,  does he use only a cellphone?

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