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[gthomas] Ways of looking at GThom

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  • Mike Grondin
    (This is really a response to a note that Steve wrote under the title Fun . Unfortunately, that thread has become corrupted with a tangent, so I m gonna start
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 1999
      (This is really a response to a note that Steve wrote under the title
      "Fun". Unfortunately, that thread has become corrupted with a tangent, so
      I'm gonna start again under a new title.)

      Tord had written:
      > this approach of looking for consistency within the GOT
      > is rather humorous. it is fun. I will admit that.

      Steve writes:
      >Fun is fine with me, although I remember being blasted on
      >crosstalk for admitting that the discussions are just a hobby
      >like toy trains...turns out many people think it's all very serious.

      Not that exactly, Steve. As one of the "blasters", I was quite disappointed
      in your analogy - not because I don't have a sense of humor, but because
      ISTM that anyone who expects to be taken seriously had better not talk as
      if his own contributions (and others' responses to them) mean so little to
      him. I assume that isn't what you meant, but it sure came across that way
      to me. Perhaps you're more serious about toy trains than I am.

      Steve writes:
      >Anyhow, there seem to be four ways of looking into Thomas[:]
      >1. Impressionistic and present oriented (gthom2)
      >2. Seeking how the text does in itself make consistent sense
      >with the presumption that it was intended to do so (your discussion)
      > [I think Steve is referring to Tord here, but maybe not]
      >3. Seeking how the text could have been read to make
      >consistent sense without necessarily the presumption that it
      >was intended to do so (Richard Valentasis (I think))
      >4. Finding that the text does not in itself make consistent
      >sense and then
      >a) speculating on why this should be
      >b) making saying by saying comparisons with NT etc.
      >c) speculating on Historical Jesus questions by sorting
      >the material re: authenticity
      >d) speculating on what diverse bits are variously up to in
      >reference to non-NT ancient ideologies
      > I'm a 4 guy myself.

      I'm a 2 guy myself, and I'll tell you why:

      (3): Makes no sense to me. "without NECESSARILY the presumption"? What does
      that mean? If you succeed in coming up with an interpretation under which
      all of GThom makes sense, why on earth would you NOT presume that that was
      THE intended interpretation? To presume otherwise (or to make no
      presumption) is to imply BOTH that (a) it's only coincidence that your
      interpretation makes sense of GThom (which is a virtual impossibility), and
      that (b) your interpretation is nothing but a mind game. Surely Valantasis
      wouldn't agree with either (a) or (b) - which means to me that he's a two
      guy too, and there ain't no 3 guys.

      (4): This is the route of most academicians, so it's not surprising that
      this is the route you feel most comfortable with. In fact, I'm surprised
      there hasn't been much of this so far on this list. I'm sure there will be,
      but my own feeling (a minority view, to be sure) is that the main focus
      should be on the text itself, rather than the areas of popular academic
      speculation you mention. (4b) has been done to death, IMO. I must have half
      a dozen lists of "parallels" in my own limited library. (4c) has been done
      by JSem - are we in any better position to do the same thing? (4d) can be
      done under (2). Why not?

      That leaves (4a). What would be the basis for a "finding" that the text
      didn't make consistent sense? Perhaps years of trying and failing to find
      consistency? So should your GTCW be considered a failure? But your
      experience is different than mine. My own experience is that whenever I
      work on GThom, I make some progress in understanding it. It still seems
      likely to me that consistency was intended, and I think that those of us
      who see no reason to rule out that possibility should take it as a working
      assumption. If "working assumption" and "presumption" are the same, then
      I'm presumin'.

      One other thing: as you and I know, there is lurking behind the scenes of
      this discussion another one, which pits your view of GThom as the product
      of some kind of "brainstorming" session, against other views of the nature
      of GThom. In the "brainstorming" view, consistency simply cannot have been
      intended. But I think the brainstorming view is false. Perhaps we should
      take up that issue.

      The Coptic GThomas, saying-by-saying

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