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The Three Words: Unwarranted Certainty

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  • Michael Grondin
    Browsing through Gregory Riley s _Resurrection Reconsidered_ in preparation for conversing with Chris Skinner about his own recent John-Thomas book, I ran
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 28, 2009
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      Browsing through Gregory Riley's _Resurrection Reconsidered_
      in preparation for conversing with Chris Skinner about his own
      recent John-Thomas book, I ran across the following:

      "If one looks to the _Book of Thomas_ [Codex II,7], the three words
      which are secrets in the _Gospel of Thomas_ appear to have been
      part of oral tradition, and are declared openly: ... ('my twin, my true
      companion, and my brother') ..." (p.112-113)

      As certain as Riley is, however, DeConick is even more so:

      "The 'three words' mentioned in L.13.6 must be a reference to
      the unutterable and unpronounceable Name of God ... found in
      Exodus 3:14, 'I AM WHO I AM." (TOGTT, p. 85)*

      In both cases, the authors cite the reference to stoning as implying
      blasphemy, but they locate the blasphemy differently:

      Riley: "In John, stoning is the punishment of choice for those who
      claim equality with deity (John 10:30-33)."

      DeConick: "This interpretation of L.13.6-8 is based on the fact
      that the penalty for blasphemy in Judaism was stoning (Lev.24.16)..."

      The certainty with which these two scholars state their choices
      seems to me unwarranted, especially as they give no apparent
      consideration to why _Thomas_ should be stoned, rather than
      _Jesus_. After all, Thomas would just be repeating what Jesus
      had told him, were he to report the "three words". Thomas isn't
      the blasphemer - or is he? Would he be stoned because his
      companions believed him to be _lying_ about what Jesus had
      said to him? (As I understand it, "blasphemy" was either a lie
      or an insult against the gods.) Or would this be a case of "killing
      the messenger"? Or is it rather that the question I'm asking is
      just much too analytic for the saying?

      In any case, the choices of Riley and DeConick as to the "three
      words" both fit as a natural followup to what Jesus is given to say
      just before he takes Thomas aside, but with a striking difference:
      "I'm not your master; I'm God." (DeConick) versus "I'm not your
      master; I'm your twin, etc." (Riley). Since the two scholars seem
      equally sure that their own candidate would have been considered
      blasphemous, but since the supposed blasphemies (and the
      assumed beliefs of Thomas' companions) are contradictory,
      this is rather obviously an issue where certainty can't be purchased
      as cheaply as Riley and DeConick imply.

      Cheers,
      Mike Grondin

      *FWIW, Paterson Brown of Metalogos made the same claim,
      preceding DeConick.
    • sarban
      ... From: Michael Grondin To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 6:00 AM Subject: [GTh] The Three Words: Unwarranted Certainty Browsing
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 29, 2009
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Michael Grondin
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 6:00 AM
        Subject: [GTh] The Three Words: Unwarranted Certainty


        Browsing through Gregory Riley's _Resurrection Reconsidered_
        in preparation for conversing with Chris Skinner about his own
        recent John-Thomas book, I ran across the following:

        "If one looks to the _Book of Thomas_ [Codex II,7], the three words
        which are secrets in the _Gospel of Thomas_ appear to have been
        part of oral tradition, and are declared openly: ... ('my twin, my true
        companion, and my brother') ..." (p.112-113)

        As certain as Riley is, however, DeConick is even more so:

        "The 'three words' mentioned in L.13.6 must be a reference to
        the unutterable and unpronounceable Name of God ... found in
        Exodus 3:14, 'I AM WHO I AM." (TOGTT, p. 85)*



        Hi Mike



        One interesting parallel to the three secret words in the Gospel of Thomas is the passage from the Acts of Thomas

        http://www.tertullian.org/fathers2/ANF-08/anf08-100.htm

        And he [Thomas] began to say: O Jesus Christ, the secret mystery which has been revealed to us, Thou art He who disclosest to us all manner of mysteries, who hast set me apart from all my companions, and who hast told me three words with which I am set on fire, and I cannot tell them to others...



        Andrew Criddle
        .



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Doug Milford
        Andrew s comment stimulated an old memory of reading the Pirqe Aboth because the phrase, three things, is used several times in those writings. Some of these
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 29, 2009
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          Andrew's comment stimulated an old memory of reading the Pirqe Aboth
          because the phrase, "three things," is used several times in those
          writings. Some of these "sayings of the fathers" would have been
          developing oral traditions around the origins of Christianity--some
          later.

          The juxtapostion of "three words" and "fire" in the passage Andrew
          cites from the "Acts of Thomas" reminded me of the second part of this
          passage from Chapter II of the Aboth:

          14. And they said (each) three things. R. Li'ezer said, Let the honour
          of thy friend be dear unto thee as
          thine own; and be not easily provoked; and repent one day before thy
          death. And warm thyself before
          the fire of the wise, but beware of their embers, perchance thou
          mayest be singed, for their bite is the
          bite of a fox, and their sting the sting of a scorpion, and their hiss
          the hiss of a fiery-serpent, and all their
          words are as coals of fire.

          http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/sjf/sjf04.htm

          I'm wondering aloud about any relationship between "three things" and
          "three words" in the pre and post-Christian religious milieu, though I
          have not time to research it. I'm also curious if "the fire of the
          wise" refers to some sort of mystical or gnostic tradition.

          Apologies if this is getting too far afield from GTh.

          Doug Milford
        • Michael Grondin
          ... Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that three things is a very common theme in a wide range of writings. In the gospels, it runs from Matthew s
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 29, 2009
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            > One interesting parallel to the three secret words in the Gospel
            > of Thomas is the passage from the Acts of Thomas
            >
            > http://www.tertullian.org/fathers2/ANF-08/anf08-100.htm
            >
            > And he [Thomas] began to say: O Jesus Christ, the secret mystery
            > which has been revealed to us, Thou art He who disclosest to us all
            > manner of mysteries, who hast set me apart from all my companions,
            > and who hast told me three words with which I am set on fire,
            > and I cannot tell them to others...

            Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that "three things" is a very
            common theme in a wide range of writings. In the gospels, it runs from
            Matthew's three groups of fourteen generations to John's having
            Jesus tell Peter three times "Feed my sheep". The tendency to
            group things into threes is probably inborn to the human species,
            since many of our jokes are tripartite ("a priest, a rabbi, and an
            Iman went into a bar ..." OK, I just made that up.) Sometimes things
            are repeated three times for emphasis, sometimes things are
            grouped into threes to make them seem more important, sometimes
            (as in our jokes) the first two of a threesome is a setup for the
            third, but under whatever guise, some threesome or other is pretty
            much bound to turn up wherever you look.

            Having said that, I'm struck both by the close allusion to L.13 in
            the above passage, and by what I sense as lonely lament in the
            words "he sets me apart from all my companions". Of course,
            we don't know what "companions" are in mind here, but it's hard
            to avoid the conclusion that they were probably other Christians.
            If so, what we have here may be a kind of sad confession that
            the Thomasines found themselves a distinct minority within
            Christianity, didn't see much hope of that changing, and could
            only cling to the consoling thought that they were the "chosen ones"
            who had possession of secrets withheld from other Christians.
            Unfortunately, if they followed the advice against procreation found
            in the Book and Acts of Thomas, all their new "sheep" would have
            had to have been recruited from outside, not born into the flock.
            Which is OK if the end of the world is just around the corner, but
            maybe not such a good strategy for long-term survival. (:-)

            Cheers,
            Mike
          • Ron McCann
            Thanks for a very interesting discussion, but:- If one stays within the four corners of the document- which is one of the cardinal rules for the Legal
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 30, 2009
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              Thanks for a very interesting discussion, but:-

              If one stays within the four corners of the document- which is one of the cardinal rules for the Legal interpretation of documents, anyway- the only three "blasphemous" and shocking things that Jesus may have told Thomas, that I can see, which might provoke the others into stoning Thomas are found in 14, 1,2,3,:-

              "If you fast, you will being sin upon yourselves, If you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity (alms), you will harm your spirits."

              ...all things mandated by the Law of Moses.

              Ron McCann
              Saskatoon, Canada
            • Roger Mott
              ... Hi Mike G. My thoughts are based on the premise that #13 was written after the 4 Gospels were circulated. Therefore, the 3 word theme seems to be lifted
              Message 6 of 10 , Jul 30, 2009
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                --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                >
                > > One interesting parallel to the three secret words in the Gospel
                > > of Thomas is the passage from the Acts of Thomas
                > >
                > > http://www.tertullian.org/fathers2/ANF-08/anf08-100.htm
                > >
                > > And he [Thomas] began to say: O Jesus Christ, the secret mystery
                > > which has been revealed to us, Thou art He who disclosest to us all
                > > manner of mysteries, who hast set me apart from all my companions,
                > > and who hast told me three words with which I am set on fire,
                > > and I cannot tell them to others...
                >
                > Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that "three things" is a very
                > common theme in a wide range of writings. In the gospels, it runs from
                > Matthew's three groups of fourteen generations to John's having
                > Jesus tell Peter three times "Feed my sheep". The tendency to
                > group things into threes is probably inborn to the human species,
                > since many of our jokes are tripartite ("a priest, a rabbi, and an
                > Iman went into a bar ..." OK, I just made that up.) Sometimes things
                > are repeated three times for emphasis, sometimes things are
                > grouped into threes to make them seem more important, sometimes
                > (as in our jokes) the first two of a threesome is a setup for the
                > third, but under whatever guise, some threesome or other is pretty
                > much bound to turn up wherever you look.
                >
                > Having said that, I'm struck both by the close allusion to L.13 in
                > the above passage, and by what I sense as lonely lament in the
                > words "he sets me apart from all my companions". Of course,
                > we don't know what "companions" are in mind here, but it's hard
                > to avoid the conclusion that they were probably other Christians.
                > If so, what we have here may be a kind of sad confession that
                > the Thomasines found themselves a distinct minority within
                > Christianity, didn't see much hope of that changing, and could
                > only cling to the consoling thought that they were the "chosen ones"
                > who had possession of secrets withheld from other Christians.
                > Unfortunately, if they followed the advice against procreation found
                > in the Book and Acts of Thomas, all their new "sheep" would have
                > had to have been recruited from outside, not born into the flock.
                > Which is OK if the end of the world is just around the corner, but
                > maybe not such a good strategy for long-term survival. (:-)
                >
                > Cheers,
                > Mike
                >
                Hi Mike G.

                My thoughts are based on the premise that #13 was written after the 4 Gospels were circulated.

                Therefore, the 3 word theme seems to be lifted from (Jn 14:5-6) where Thomas is confused and asks a question. Jesus answers and says the 3 "sacred" words, Way, Truth, Life.

                I understand that the author of #13 was using the Gospels of Mt 16:13-17 and Jn 6:68-69 as both passages would be considered pro-Petrine.

                And finally the last line was about the Apostles [James and John] calling down fire from heaven to burn up the unbelievers. Lk 9:54. #13 reverses the fire stones to suggest that the "doubting" Thomas will burn up the questioning Apostles.

                P.S. IMO, here is a mystery--- fill in the other words from Gospel of Jn 14:6
                Way (hodos) is 8+140+4+200 =352 reduces to 1
                Truth (aletheia) is 1+30+5+9+8+5+10+1 = 64 reduces to 1
                Life (zoe) is 7+800+5 = 812 reduces to 2
                Father (pater) is 80+1+300+5+200 = 586 reduces to 1
                Death (thanatos) is 9+1+50+1+300+70+200 = 631 reduces to 1

                (Hope I calculated the Greek gematria correctly)

                Roger Mott
              • Ariadne Green
                Hello, As the intuitive mother of this group, I consider saying 13 as well 12 to be later addition to Gospel of Thomas and therefore not sayings of Jesus.
                Message 7 of 10 , Jul 30, 2009
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                  Hello,
                  As the intuitive mother of this group, I consider saying 13 as well
                  12 to be later addition to
                  Gospel of Thomas and therefore not sayings of Jesus. In my mind, the
                  three words or three sayings aren't as relevant in the dialogue as is
                  the interaction between Jesus and his disciples and Thomas'
                  interaction with the others. And I am quite certain saying 14 would
                  be provocative enough to be considered blasphemous by many.
                  Logion 13 in my mind might have been constructed as a dramatization of
                  the provocativeness of Jesus, and to punctuate saying 16.

                  16. Jesus said, "Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace
                  upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts
                  upon the earth: fire, sword, war.
                  For there will be five in a house: there'll be three against two and
                  two against three, father against son and son against father, and they
                  will stand alone."

                  Ariadne Green


                  On Jul 30, 2009, at 4:19 PM, Ron McCann wrote:

                  > Thanks for a very interesting discussion, but:-
                  >
                  > If one stays within the four corners of the document- which is one
                  > of the cardinal rules for the Legal interpretation of documents,
                  > anyway- the only three "blasphemous" and shocking things that Jesus
                  > may have told Thomas, that I can see, which might provoke the others
                  > into stoning Thomas are found in 14, 1,2,3,:-
                  >
                  > "If you fast, you will being sin upon yourselves, If you pray, you
                  > will be condemned, and if you give to charity (alms), you will harm
                  > your spirits."
                  >
                  > ...all things mandated by the Law of Moses.
                  >
                  > Ron McCann
                  > Saskatoon, Canada
                  >
                  >



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Michael Grondin
                  Hi Ron, I believe you re in good company. As I recall, Steve Davies made the same suggestion many years ago when we were discussing this. But let me compare
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jul 30, 2009
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                    Hi Ron,

                    I believe you're in good company. As I recall, Steve Davies made
                    the same suggestion many years ago when we were discussing
                    this. But let me compare and contrast your suggestion with those
                    of Riley and DeConick so as to illustrate my point that certainty on
                    the identification of the three "words" can't be purchased cheaply
                    (i.e., with anything short of a major argument).

                    The way I would put it is in terms of criteria or conditions. What criteria
                    should a candidate for the three "words" have to satisfy for it to be
                    considered a good one? You suggest:

                    c1: the "words" should be within the text

                    You support this criterion by saying that it is "one of the cardinal rules
                    for the Legal interpretation of documents". That, however, seems to
                    be irrelevant, in spite of the fact that I tend to agree with you that the
                    three "words" may in fact be within the text. More significantly, it's
                    clear that Riley and DeConick don't believe that c1 is a necessary
                    condition (since their candidates don't meet it). Rather, they might
                    suggest the following criterion:

                    c2: the "words" should be a natural followup to "I'm not your master"

                    Riley's and DeConick's candidates meet c2. Yours doesn't, so you
                    would presumably have to argue that c2 isn't a necessary condition.

                    Is there any condition on which almost everyone agrees? Well, yes,
                    but it's more problematic than it seems:

                    c3: the "words" must be such as to have been considered blasphemous
                    by Thomas' "companions"

                    The difficulty with this condition is that it causes assumptions about
                    what kind of folks Thomas' "companions" were. If Christian, what
                    kind of Christians were they? Riley thinks of them as high-christology
                    Christians, so that "I'm your twin (etc)" would be offensive to them.
                    DeConick thinks of them as low-christology Christians (or even Jews),
                    so that "I'm God" would be offensive to them. (You actually have the
                    advantage on this one, since Jews and Christians of all stripes seem to
                    have fasted, prayed, and given alms.)

                    I think you can see the difficulties here. But just for the heck of it,
                    let's pick another threesome that meets both c1 and c2, and c3 under
                    the DeConickesque assumption that Thomas' companions are
                    low-christology Christians at most. How about this one (77.1):

                    1) "I'm the light above everything else"
                    2) "I am everything"
                    3) "Everything came out of me and everything opens up to me"

                    Or how about L.108, which again meets all three conditions, but
                    this time using a Rileyesque high-christology assumption for c3:

                    1) "Whoever drinks from my mouth will come to be like me"
                    2) "As for me, I will come to be as he is"
                    3) "and the hidden things will appear to him"

                    Admittedly, your candidate has the advantage of immediately
                    following L.13.8, but this latter candidate has the advantage of
                    a close thematic connection to an important part of L.13.5,
                    viz., "Because you [Thomas] drank, you've gotten drunk from
                    the bubbling spring I've measured out." (Which implies, of course,
                    that Thomas has drunk from J's mouth and the others haven't.
                    Which is why he gets to hear the three secret words.)

                    But my purpose here is not to argue for one candidate over
                    another. Rather, it's to indicate some of the complexities
                    involved when one tries to pick one among many possibilities
                    for the three "words". In fact, I see now that even in this
                    extended analysis that I thought was relatively complete, I've
                    left out what might be an important modification of c3, viz.,
                    that even "one of the words" should be such as to have been
                    offensive (to someone or other). Having arrived at the point of
                    what I had thought would be the conclusion of this note, however,
                    I'll have to leave it to the reader to judge how that affects the
                    candidates discussed above. I'm satisfied that the general
                    point is only enhanced by this additional complication.

                    Cheers,
                    Mike
                  • Ron McCann
                    Thanks Mike, Not so sure about 108. None of the three statements is offensive or blasphemous that I can see, and I think it fails on that criteria. Next, as
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jul 30, 2009
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                      Thanks Mike,

                      Not so sure about 108. None of the three statements is offensive or blasphemous that I can see, and I think it fails on that criteria.

                      Next, as you point out, any one of the "words" or "things" was, of itself , if repeated, supposed to be sufficient to trigger the "Blasphemy" response.

                      That would certainly be the case in 14. All three trigger it.

                      "I am your twin" ot "I am God" are things that might be found offensive, and pehaps Blasphemous (I am your twin ???) but where is the three things element there?

                      Now 77 may be a good candidate. There are three sayings, and anyone claiming any on of them was true about himself could be speaking Blasphemy. But wouldn't Thomas say to his friends:-
                      1) He (Jesus) is the light above everything else.
                      2) He is everything.
                      3) Everything came out of him, etc."

                      Would these words then be thought Blasphemous by Jesus's other apostles? That's pretty much the way many view Jesus to-day- John's Logos- and presumably the Johannine community thought this was true about him. And would they consider such statements Blasphemy?
                      But maybe.

                      As for criteria C2, Frankly, I just don't get it. Why must there be any connection to " I am not your master/teacher".??? That's followed by the bubbling spring saying which explains why he is no longer Thomas's teacher. The cycle is complete. The narrative resumes. I can't see this an an important or connected criteria.

                      As for the C1 criteria, isn't it irrelevant only because scholars don't use it? Perhaps it should be used. It's served the legal community well for centuries, and is used in cyptography and deciphering difficult archaeological texts. The rule is, that the first place you look, is to the rest of the document itself, and only after that do you start looking beyond it for your answer.

                      It seems to me that only 14 meets the truly important criteria. But perhaps seen from the lofty heights of scholarship, these matters are never quite that simple.

                      Ron McCann
                      Saskatoon, Canada
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Michael Grondin
                      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:49 PM
                      Subject: Re: [GTh] The Three Words: Unwarranted Certainty


                      Hi Ron,

                      I believe you're in good company. As I recall, Steve Davies made
                      the same suggestion many years ago when we were discussing
                      this. But let me compare and contrast your suggestion with those
                      of Riley and DeConick so as to illustrate my point that certainty on
                      the identification of the three "words" can't be purchased cheaply
                      (i.e., with anything short of a major argument).

                      The way I would put it is in terms of criteria or conditions. What criteria
                      should a candidate for the three "words" have to satisfy for it to be
                      considered a good one? You suggest:

                      c1: the "words" should be within the text

                      You support this criterion by saying that it is "one of the cardinal rules
                      for the Legal interpretation of documents". That, however, seems to
                      be irrelevant, in spite of the fact that I tend to agree with you that the
                      three "words" may in fact be within the text. More significantly, it's
                      clear that Riley and DeConick don't believe that c1 is a necessary
                      condition (since their candidates don't meet it). Rather, they might
                      suggest the following criterion:

                      c2: the "words" should be a natural followup to "I'm not your master"

                      Riley's and DeConick's candidates meet c2. Yours doesn't, so you
                      would presumably have to argue that c2 isn't a necessary condition.

                      Is there any condition on which almost everyone agrees? Well, yes,
                      but it's more problematic than it seems:

                      c3: the "words" must be such as to have been considered blasphemous
                      by Thomas' "companions"

                      The difficulty with this condition is that it causes assumptions about
                      what kind of folks Thomas' "companions" were. If Christian, what
                      kind of Christians were they? Riley thinks of them as high-christology
                      Christians, so that "I'm your twin (etc)" would be offensive to them.
                      DeConick thinks of them as low-christology Christians (or even Jews),
                      so that "I'm God" would be offensive to them. (You actually have the
                      advantage on this one, since Jews and Christians of all stripes seem to
                      have fasted, prayed, and given alms.)

                      I think you can see the difficulties here. But just for the heck of it,
                      let's pick another threesome that meets both c1 and c2, and c3 under
                      the DeConickesque assumption that Thomas' companions are
                      low-christology Christians at most. How about this one (77.1):

                      1) "I'm the light above everything else"
                      2) "I am everything"
                      3) "Everything came out of me and everything opens up to me"

                      Or how about L.108, which again meets all three conditions, but
                      this time using a Rileyesque high-christology assumption for c3:

                      1) "Whoever drinks from my mouth will come to be like me"
                      2) "As for me, I will come to be as he is"
                      3) "and the hidden things will appear to him"

                      Admittedly, your candidate has the advantage of immediately
                      following L.13.8, but this latter candidate has the advantage of
                      a close thematic connection to an important part of L.13.5,
                      viz., "Because you [Thomas] drank, you've gotten drunk from
                      the bubbling spring I've measured out." (Which implies, of course,
                      that Thomas has drunk from J's mouth and the others haven't.
                      Which is why he gets to hear the three secret words.)

                      But my purpose here is not to argue for one candidate over
                      another. Rather, it's to indicate some of the complexities
                      involved when one tries to pick one among many possibilities
                      for the three "words". In fact, I see now that even in this
                      extended analysis that I thought was relatively complete, I've
                      left out what might be an important modification of c3, viz.,
                      that even "one of the words" should be such as to have been
                      offensive (to someone or other). Having arrived at the point of
                      what I had thought would be the conclusion of this note, however,
                      I'll have to leave it to the reader to judge how that affects the
                      candidates discussed above. I'm satisfied that the general
                      point is only enhanced by this additional complication.

                      Cheers,
                      Mike






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                    • Michael Grondin
                      Hi Ron, I first want to note with disapproval that both you and Roger quoted large amounts of material from my notes into yours. It s been awhile since I ve
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jul 30, 2009
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                        Hi Ron,

                        I first want to note with disapproval that both you and Roger quoted
                        large amounts of material from my notes into yours. It's been awhile
                        since I've had to draw attention to this, but please bear in mind at all
                        times that only such material as is directly relevant should be quoted.
                        I know that emailers typically insert the entirety of a message to which
                        one is replying, but our protocols make it incumbent on our members
                        to remember to delete most or all of that before the message is sent.
                        It's best to do that right off the bat, rather than wait until the end, at
                        which point it's too easy to press "Send" without further thought.

                        The procedure that seems best here is to respond point-by-point
                        to your message. Hopefully, it won't get too confusing.

                        > Not so sure about 108. None of the three statements is offensive
                        > or blasphemous that I can see, and I think it fails on that criteria.

                        What I said about 108 is that it apparently counts as blasphemous
                        on _Rileyesque_ assumptions. Look back at my original note.
                        Riley's candidate is roughly this:

                        1) "I'm your twin"
                        2) "I'm your true companion"
                        3) "I'm your brother"

                        The reason that Riley thinks this is blasphemous is that it seems
                        to put Thomas on an equal footing with Jesus. It would thus be
                        thought to be blasphemous by Christians with a high christology,
                        as I put it in my last note.

                        > Next, as you point out, any one of the "words" or "things" was,
                        > of itself , if repeated, supposed to be sufficient to trigger the
                        > "Blasphemy" response.

                        Can't think why you would say "if repeated" ?? Also not clear
                        that it would be "any one" of the words. That's a plausible
                        interpretation to be sure, but DeConick interprets it to mean
                        the _first_ "word", since her candidate has a second word
                        that isn't blasphemous. (See below.)

                        > "I am your twin" [or] "I am God" are things that might be found
                        > offensive, and pehaps Blasphemous (I am your twin ???) but
                        > where is the three things element there?

                        You have to refer back to my original note. In later notes, I've
                        abbreviated a bit. For Riley's threesome, see above. DeConick's
                        threesome is the three Hebrew words meaning "I-am Who I-am".

                        > Now 77 may be a good candidate. There are three sayings,
                        > and anyone claiming any on of them was true about himself
                        > could be speaking Blasphemy. But wouldn't Thomas say to his friends:-
                        > 1) He (Jesus) is the light above everything else.
                        > 2) He is everything.
                        > 3) Everything came out of him, etc."

                        Sure, but that's confusing and irrelevant, because Thomas would
                        presumably put ANY candidate for the three words into the third
                        person, as above. I really don't know why they would stone Thomas,
                        but it surely wasn't because he would have put J's words in the
                        first person.

                        > Would these words then be thought Blasphemous by Jesus's
                        > other apostles? That's pretty much the way many view Jesus
                        > to-day- John's Logos- and presumably the Johannine community
                        > thought this was true about him. And would they consider such
                        > statements Blasphemy? But maybe.

                        I'm afraid this ignores the distinction I drew between Riley's
                        assumption about Thomas' companions, and DeConick's. Here,
                        you're looking at the matter in a Rileyesque way, thinking that
                        "Jesus' other apostles" (and whoever said anything about
                        _apostles_?) wouldn't be at all offended or think it blasphemous
                        that Jesus made such high claims about himself. But as I wrote
                        earlier, it depends on what you're assuming to be the beliefs of
                        Thomas' "companions". If you assume that the saying-writer
                        took them to be Johannine types, then you'll conclude that
                        they would have considered certain things to be blasphemous.
                        But if you assume that the saying-writer took them to be, say,
                        Ebionite types, then a whole different kind of thing will look
                        blasphemous. Problem is, there's no way to figure out what
                        was in the saying-writer's mind.

                        > As for criteria C2, Frankly, I just don't get it. Why must there
                        > be any connection to " I am not your master/teacher".???
                        > That's followed by the bubbling spring saying which explains
                        > why he is no longer Thomas's teacher. The cycle is complete.
                        > The narrative resumes. I can't see this an an important or
                        > connected criteria.

                        Well, OK, that seems to be a plausible response.

                        > As for the C1 criteria [3 words must be in the text], isn't it irrelevant
                        > only because scholars don't use it?

                        I'd say that they don't use it _in this case_ because it's irrelevant
                        to this case. The Acts of Thomas mentions the three words
                        also, but they apparently aren't there. If C1 were valid, the
                        three words would be in both texts, and hence seemingly
                        pretty easy to find. But there doesn't seem to be any such
                        threesome in both texts. In fact, I don't believe that anything
                        like L14 is in the Acts of Thomas. Shouldn't it be, if C1 is valid?
                        But as I now understand it, you would modify C1 to be
                        something like "look in the text first". Well fine, in general,
                        but remember that Acts Thom. says that the three words
                        are secret. So why should we expect them to be out in
                        the open?

                        > ... perhaps seen from the lofty heights of scholarship,
                        > these matters are never quite that simple.

                        It's been awhile since I've been accused of being a denizen
                        of "the lofty heights of scholarship". Generally, I try to keep
                        things as simple and clear as possible, for what I take to be
                        sound methodological reasons. But I don't believe in over-
                        simplifying either, and in the present case I do believe that
                        Riley and DeConick (who ARE denizens of the lofty heights)
                        have over-simplified the matter of identifying the 3 "words".

                        Regards,
                        Mike
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