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NBX, WBX, ETC

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  • Rick Hubbard
    I’m not sure exactly when Mike first began to talk about certain signals of systematic arrangement that he has identified in CGth, but I confess that I was
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 10, 2009
      I’m not sure exactly when Mike first began to talk about certain signals
      of systematic arrangement that he has identified in CGth, but I confess
      that I was initially skeptical about the whole business. Eventually I
      conceded that, yes, perhaps there **is** some evidence of an orderly
      compositional structure in the text. At that time I hypothesized that **
      if** the text **was** assembled according to some preconceived design
      concept, that perhaps the text was used for ceremonial purposes by some
      particular community. I suggested that a careful examination of at least
      the syllabic (or rhythmic) structure of the text, and perhaps combined
      with a tonal analysis, might yield evidence to support my hypothesis. I
      very quickly discovered that there were enormous technical challenges in
      such an investigation and so more or less abandoned the project due
      primarily to time constraints.

      Lately, however, I have renewed my interest in determining the degree to
      which CGth exhibits evidence of a systematic design structure. While the
      time constraints that led me to postpone my inquiry have not subsided all
      that much, Mike’s ongoing remarks on the matter (in addition to some
      fairly extensive reading about gematria and other kinds of Isopsephy in
      the literatures of late aniquity) have motivated me to revive the project.

      Of particular interest to me is what seems to be the almost irrefutable
      chiastic structure that Mike has identified in CGth’s incipit (aka,
      “prologue”). In spite of the near certainty of this being an intentionally
      composed sequence of words, it seems to me that a preliminary question
      that should be addressed is whether similar structures exist elsewhere in
      the document. I have devised my own (computer aided) strategy for
      conducting the analysis, but honestly I am not sure how well it will work
      or even if it will work at all. After all, the same technical challenges
      exist now that were present when I gave up earlier- perhaps all that has
      changed is my level of determination.

      No doubt there are other correspondents on the forum who have the
      expertise and/or interest in such an analysis so I invite you comments,
      suggestions or criticism in whatever manner you see fit.

      Thanks,

      Rick Hubbard
    • Michael Mozina
      RH I m not sure exactly when Mike first began to talk about certain ... IMO you might consider the idea that this purpose might have be related to the idea
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 10, 2009
        RH>>I'm not sure exactly when Mike first began to talk about certain
        > signals of systematic arrangement that he has identified in CGth,
        > but I confess that I was initially skeptical about the whole
        > business. Eventually I conceded that, yes, perhaps there **is**
        > some evidence of an orderly compositional structure in the text.
        > At that time I hypothesized that **if** the text **was** assembled
        > according to some preconceived design concept, that perhaps the
        > text was used for ceremonial purposes by some particular community.


        IMO you might consider the idea that this "purpose" might have be related to
        the idea of early evangelism where disciples went far and wide to "spread
        the good news". It would have been rather handy to have such a list if one
        was "on the road" as an evangelist, and there are stories of Jesus sending
        his disciples to teach in various villages. Of course this might even
        suggest that if it is a very early document, it could even be "original
        material" which predates the formalized Gospels of various communities.
        It's a fairly radical idea perhaps, but it seems to fit the evidence to some
        degree, at least IMO.


        [Michael Mozina]
        _____
      • Michael Grondin
        Hi Mike, You seem to be getting off track. That s natural, given the wide and intense interest in the _original_ GTh, but the design features we re talking
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 10, 2009
          Hi Mike,

          You seem to be getting off track. That's natural, given the wide and
          intense interest in the _original_ GTh, but the design features we're
          talking about occur only in the _Coptic_ GTh, as far as can be determined.
          Nor do they seem to be geared toward orality, since someone hearing
          the words spoken wouldn't have been aware of any numerical design
          based on number of letters, etc. But this doesn't reflect back on the
          _original_ GTh. The question is rather "What were the Copts up to?"
          They were evidently doing something with their source text. But why?
          One possibility is that they were designing features which they thought
          would be "pleasing to God", with no intention that anyone other than
          themselves should detect them. Or perhaps they intended that these
          special features would be hidden from outsiders, but would be made
          known to insiders. The latter explanation is appealing for several reasons,
          not least that GTh refers several times to "hidden things" becoming
          known by, or revealed to, the true Thomas disciple. And as we know,
          one of the appeals of secret groups is that they claim to have secret
          esoteric knowledge unavailable to outsiders.

          Cheers,
          Mike G.
        • Rick Hubbard
          Hi Michael- Your suggestion that the purpose of the Gospel of Thomas was to meet some proselytizing requirement puts you in the company of lots of other
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 10, 2009
            Hi Michael-

            Your suggestion that the "purpose" of the Gospel of Thomas was to meet some
            proselytizing requirement puts you in the company of lots of other folks.
            Inevitably, when questions about the "purpose of the Gospel of Thomas" is
            asked, answers similar to yours are the conventional responses. Leaving
            aside the matter of whether or not this majority response is correct, I can
            only say that the question I am trying to ask is more related to form, not
            to function. Of course that question itself is subject to multiple
            qualifiers: **if** there exists in CGth some formal structure (such as NBX,
            WBX or something else) can we identify that structure? **If** we can
            identify such structures, can we infer some motive on the part of the CGth
            composer for arranging the text in a particular way?

            As an aside, and as a kind of preliminary report, I'll just mention that so
            far I have found in CGth about 413 instances of 3 letter words that are
            candidates for the "middle term" in a chiastic structure such as the one
            that Mike has identified in the incipit. However, lest excitement build too
            quickly, no more than 37 of those occurrences seem (at least preliminarily)
            to qualify as analogies to the pattern in the prologue (based on a
            preliminary examination of the words that precede each of the candidates).
            I'll need to do a bit more analysis to see if any of the remaining 37
            "middle terms" are surrounded by a series of words that exhibit the
            structure of the chiasm at the beginning of the text. I should also say that
            even if this particular analysis does not demonstrate the pattern we are
            looking for, there remains the possibility of other chiastic elements being
            present around middle terms of 4, 5 or even 6 letters. Determining that will
            of course take considerable time to accomplish.

            Rick Hubbard



            ||-----Original Message-----
            ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
            ||Behalf Of Michael Mozina
            ||Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 2:56 PM
            ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
            ||Subject: RE: [GTh] NBX, WBX, ETC
            ||
            ||
            ||
            ||RH>>I'm not sure exactly when Mike first began to talk about certain
            ||> signals of systematic arrangement that he has identified in CGth,
            ||> but I confess that I was initially skeptical about the whole
            ||> business. Eventually I conceded that, yes, perhaps there **is**
            ||> some evidence of an orderly compositional structure in the text.
            ||> At that time I hypothesized that **if** the text **was** assembled
            ||> according to some preconceived design concept, that perhaps the
            ||> text was used for ceremonial purposes by some particular community.
            ||
            ||IMO you might consider the idea that this "purpose" might have be related
            to
            ||the idea of early evangelism where disciples went far and wide to "spread
            ||the good news". It would have been rather handy to have such a list if one
            ||was "on the road" as an evangelist, and there are stories of Jesus sending
            ||his disciples to teach in various villages. Of course this might even
            ||suggest that if it is a very early document, it could even be "original
            ||material" which predates the formalized Gospels of various communities.
            ||It's a fairly radical idea perhaps, but it seems to fit the evidence to
            some
            ||degree, at least IMO.
            ||
            ||[Michael Mozina]
            ||_____
            ||
            ||
            ||
          • Rick Hubbard
            Hi Mike (Grondin) FWIW, I concur with your suggestion about the insider/outsider dichotomy. I m not sure if you have ever had a chance to read it or not, but
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 10, 2009
              Hi Mike (Grondin)

              FWIW, I concur with your suggestion about the insider/outsider dichotomy.
              I'm not sure if you have ever had a chance to read it or not, but the
              introduction to Malina and Rorhbaugh's _Social Science Commentary on the
              Gospel of John_ (Fortress, 1998) has an excellent, but basic, discussion on
              not only insider/outsider societies, but also on the ways that language is
              used by insiders to, if not "hide" from outsiders, at least differentiate
              themselves.

              Given the absence of narrative context in GTh, and the possibility that what
              we see now reflects a multitude of traditions, it is quite obviously
              difficult to extract a whole lot of information about the social setting of
              the collection HOWEVER, an intensive examination of the structure and
              language of **C**Gth may tell us something about the context in which it
              reached its current form.

              Or not.

              Rick

              ||-----Original Message-----
              ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
              ||Behalf Of Michael Grondin
              ||Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 3:54 PM
              ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
              ||Subject: Re: [GTh] NBX, WBX, ETC
              ||
              ||
              ||
              ||Hi Mike,
              ||
              ||You seem to be getting off track. That's natural, given the wide and
              ||intense interest in the _original_ GTh, but the design features we're
              ||talking about occur only in the _Coptic_ GTh, as far as can be determined.
              ||Nor do they seem to be geared toward orality, since someone hearing
              ||the words spoken wouldn't have been aware of any numerical design
              ||based on number of letters, etc. But this doesn't reflect back on the
              ||_original_ GTh. The question is rather "What were the Copts up to?"
              ||They were evidently doing something with their source text. But why?
              ||One possibility is that they were designing features which they thought
              ||would be "pleasing to God", with no intention that anyone other than
              ||themselves should detect them. Or perhaps they intended that these
              ||special features would be hidden from outsiders, but would be made
              ||known to insiders. The latter explanation is appealing for several
              reasons,
              ||not least that GTh refers several times to "hidden things" becoming
              ||known by, or revealed to, the true Thomas disciple. And as we know,
              ||one of the appeals of secret groups is that they claim to have secret
              ||esoteric knowledge unavailable to outsiders.
              ||
              ||Cheers,
              ||Mike G.
              ||
              ||
              ||
              ||
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