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  • 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 1 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
      ||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
      ||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 2 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

        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.


        ||-----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
        ||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.
        ||Mike G.
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