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Re: [GTh] Blog News

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  • sarban
    ... From: Michael Grondin To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 6:49 AM Subject: [GTh] Blog News Chris Skinner posts the first part of
    Message 1 of 19 , Oct 1, 2009
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Michael Grondin
      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 6:49 AM
      Subject: [GTh] Blog News


      Chris Skinner posts the first part of an interview with Nick Perrin:
      http://pejeiesous.com/2009/09/28/interview-with-nicholas-perrin-part-i/

      <SNIP>
      Commentary on these blog-postings is welcome here.

      Mike G.



      One of my concerns is the way that Nick Perrin assumes that Tatian's Diatessaron was the earliest Syriac Gospel text. Hence evidence for the use of a Syriac version of the Gospels by the author of Thomas is taken as evidence that Thomas is later than the Diatessaron; despite the problems caused by such a very late dating.



      Andrew Criddle
      .



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    • Michael Grondin
      Over at NT Blog, Mark Goodacre posted a piece Friday on Grenfell and Hunt s discovery of the P.Oxy. fragments and their subsequent publications (available
      Message 2 of 19 , Oct 3, 2009
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        Over at NT Blog, Mark Goodacre posted a piece Friday on Grenfell
        and Hunt's discovery of the P.Oxy. fragments and their subsequent
        publications (available online):

        http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/nt-pod-15-gospel-of-thomas-first.html

        Associated with that is a 12-minute audio Podcast (#15) titled "The Gospel
        of Thomas: First Glimpse":

        http://podacre.blogspot.com/2009/10/nt-pod-15-gospel-of-thomas-first.html

        Mike Grondin
      • Michael Grondin
        Mark Goodacre continues a series of postings related to his Thomas research, this time drawing attention to an old YouTube video featuring Gilles Quispel,
        Message 3 of 19 , Oct 7, 2009
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          Mark Goodacre continues a series of postings related to his Thomas
          research, this time drawing attention to an old YouTube video featuring
          Gilles Quispel, James Robinson, Elaine Pagels, and Hans Jonas:

          http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/discovery-of-nag-hammadi-codices-old.html

          As it turns out, I had viewed this video earlier when I wrote recommending
          another video, viz., the (pirate) BBCFour video on YouTube which is now
          linked to from my website. I regarded the former as inferior to the latter
          (and still do), and ended up not recommending it, both because it contains
          at least two claims now known to be erroneous, and because I didn't like
          the scene where Quispel pays obsequious gratitude to Muhammed Ali,
          the Egyptian peasant who decided to smash the jar open, ripped several
          of the codices apart on the spot to divide among his men, and later, upon
          arriving home, saved most of it from being burned only because he thought
          he could get some money out of it. Not that I begrudge peasants acting like
          peasants, but there's no call for fawning over them as Quispel does.

          As to the aforementioned errors, the video shows a young Elaine Pagels
          claiming before a class that the jar was six feet tall - a tall tale indeed
          given that it would be too tall to use for anything. According to my
          information, it wasn't more than half that. Then again, a young James
          Robinson, in discussing how some of the books were ripped apart to
          divide among the men, refers to "thirteen books" - a claim that he was
          later himself to disprove ("Codex XIII" not being what was first thought,
          but rather a single tractate torn from another codex in antiquity and
          placed inside Codex VI.) Robinson corrected himself in the 1988 edition
          of NHL, but the legend lives on. Ironically, in the course of noting one of
          Mark G's recent postings, Andrew Bernhard picks up the error from John
          Dart's 1998 book _Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus_:

          http://www.gospels.net/2009/10/05/the-rediscovery-of-the-gospel-of-thomas/

          Finally, Chris Skinner discusses some Johannine analyses (including those
          of Raymond Brown) that bear on the John-Thomas debate:

          http://pejeiesous.com/2009/10/06/reading-for-polemic-the-anatomy-of-a-questionable-hermeneutic/

          Best to all,
          Mike Grondin
        • Mark Goodacre
          Thanks for the interesting comments, Mike. 2009/10/7 Michael Grondin ... I must admit that I shared these kinds of feelings when I
          Message 4 of 19 , Oct 7, 2009
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            Thanks for the interesting comments, Mike.

            2009/10/7 Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...>

            > As it turns out, I had viewed this video earlier when I wrote recommending
            > another video, viz., the (pirate) BBCFour video on YouTube which is now
            > linked to from my website. I regarded the former as inferior to the latter
            > (and still do), and ended up not recommending it, both because it contains
            > at least two claims now known to be erroneous, and because I didn't like
            > the scene where Quispel pays obsequious gratitude to Muhammed Ali,
            > the Egyptian peasant who decided to smash the jar open, ripped several
            > of the codices apart on the spot to divide among his men, and later, upon
            > arriving home, saved most of it from being burned only because he thought
            > he could get some money out of it. Not that I begrudge peasants acting like
            > peasants, but there's no call for fawning over them as Quispel does.

            I must admit that I shared these kinds of feelings when I first
            watched it. Muhammed Ali and his brothers were murderers who happened
            upon the texts. There is little to admire about them. Having said
            that, Quispel is clearly in a strange scenario in this video, with the
            camera pointing at him, with Ali and translator in the same shot. I'd
            have been interested to have seen Robinson with Ali given that
            Robinson had clearly got to know Ali very well by this point.

            > As to the aforementioned errors, the video shows a young Elaine Pagels
            > claiming before a class that the jar was six feet tall - a tall tale indeed
            > given that it would be too tall to use for anything. According to my
            > information, it wasn't more than half that.

            Yes, Robinson says that the jar was 60cm (less than 2 feet) tall,
            according to Ali's description. But to be fair to Pagels, who knows
            what errors we have all come out with in teaching classes. The
            problem of the camera is that it can immortalize them, and I admire
            Pagels for letting the cameras into her classroom. She looks like a
            fantastic teacher, lively and communicative. I loved this part of the
            video.

            > Then again, a young James
            > Robinson, in discussing how some of the books were ripped apart to
            > divide among the men, refers to "thirteen books" - a claim that he was
            > later himself to disprove ("Codex XIII" not being what was first thought,
            > but rather a single tractate torn from another codex in antiquity and
            > placed inside Codex VI.) Robinson corrected himself in the 1988 edition
            > of NHL, but the legend lives on. Ironically, in the course of noting one of
            > Mark G's recent postings, Andrew Bernhard picks up the error from John
            > Dart's 1998 book _Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus_:

            Thanks for mentioning that. There is another small error in what
            Robinson says. According to his written account, there were seven
            people present at the discovery of the manuscripts, Ali, two brothers
            and four other camel drivers. In this video, he talks about eight.
            But again, I don't fault him on that. Sitting in front of a camera
            freezes in time the slightest errors. I know I've cringed to hear
            back things I've said on radio or TV.

            I think I have managed to track down a bit more information on the
            identity of this video; I think it dates from 1987. I hope to blog it
            later.

            All best
            Mark
          • Andrew Bernhard
            Mike Grondin wrote: Ironically, in the course of noting one of Mark G s recent postings, Andrew Bernhard picks up the error from John Dart s 1998 book
            Message 5 of 19 , Oct 7, 2009
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              Mike Grondin wrote:

              Ironically, in the course of noting one of Mark G's recent postings, Andrew
              Bernhard picks up the error from John
              Dart's 1998 book _Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus_:

              http://www.gospels.net/2009/10/05/the-rediscovery-of-the-gospel-of-thomas/

              Ummm . . . no.



              I recommended John Dart's book previously on my blog because it tells the
              story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library very well. Dart's a
              journalist, and he tells the story in a lively and engaging manner that
              "appeals to the 'Indiana Jones' in all of us." I loan my copy to people all
              the time but haven't re-read it in over a decade.



              My source for referring to the Nag Hammadi library as 13 codices was James
              Robinson. The opening sentence of Robinson's preface for -_The Nag Hammadi
              Scriptures_ (edited by Marvin Meyer, 2007): "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures is a
              collection of thirteen papyrus codices - bound books, not scrolls - that
              were buried near the city of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt in the second half
              of the fourth century."



              Best,

              Andrew





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            • Michael Grondin
              ... The Tchacos codex (containing the Gospel of Judas) is included in the count of The Nag Hammadi Scriptures , yet in the earlier _Secrets of Judas_,
              Message 6 of 19 , Oct 7, 2009
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                > My source for referring to the Nag Hammadi library as 13 codices was
                > James Robinson. The opening sentence of Robinson's preface for
                >_The Nag Hammadi Scriptures_ (edited by Marvin Meyer, 2007): "The
                > Nag Hammadi Scriptures is a collection of thirteen papyrus codices -
                > bound books, not scrolls - that were buried near the city of Nag Hammadi
                > in Upper Egypt in the second half of the fourth century."

                The Tchacos codex (containing the Gospel of Judas) is included in the count
                of "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures", yet in the earlier _Secrets of Judas_,
                Robinson was adamant that the Tchacos codex could not have been part of
                the Nag Hammadi find (SJ, pp.38-40). For whatever reasons, however, he
                then turned around and went along with Meyer in a clever terminological
                switch from "NH Library" to "NH Scriptures" in order to smuggle the
                then-hot Gospel of Judas into Meyer's book. I commented on Robinson's
                apparent hypocrisy back in August '08:

                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/8146
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/8147

                Regards,
                Mike
              • Michael Grondin
                Hi Mark, To balance my remarks about the Egyptian peasants, I should add that other folks who have handled ancient texts and who should know better have acted
                Message 7 of 19 , Oct 7, 2009
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                  Hi Mark,
                  To balance my remarks about the Egyptian peasants, I should add that
                  other folks who have handled ancient texts and who should know better
                  have acted like peasants when money was involved. It's not unknown,
                  as I recall, for a manuscript-seller to separate tractates of a codex in
                  order to get a higher price for the individual tractates one-by-one. And
                  if the Tchacos codex is any indicator, codices have been carelessly
                  handled, stored for years and allowed to deteriorate while the seller
                  looks for someone who'll pay the "right price".

                  > I think I have managed to track down a bit more information on the
                  > identity of this video; I think it dates from 1987.

                  Here's what concerns me: if the Robinson portion of it was filmed
                  anywhere close to that date, then his reference to "thirteen books"
                  is another example of his own contribution to the confusion on this
                  issue, for in _The Secrets of Judas_ (2007) he claims that as early
                  as the 1979 paper that you refer to on your blog, he was suggesting
                  that there was no evidence for a missing codex. Referring to an
                  online discovery account by Roger Pearse, as noted on Stephen
                  Carlson's b-blog, Robinson writes:

                  "This presentation [Pearse's], which is used by Carlson to suggest
                  ... that there is a missing Nag Hammadi codex, is an oversimplified
                  summary of a report I made in 1979 _that actually pointed in the
                  opposite direction_. So I need to quote my own presentation to
                  straighten things out." (SJ, pp.38-39, emphasis added)

                  After quoting from his 1979 paper, he adds this:

                  "Muhammad 'Ali had heard me and others talk of thirteen codices,
                  and so he would quite naturally speak of thirteen, not recalling what
                  he had counted at the time (if he had counted at all - he was
                  illiterate). In all probability he was just playing back what he had
                  learned was the "correct" number. In any case, his report of what
                  happened at the time of discovery would not indicate that a previously
                  unknown codex containing the _Gospel of Judas_ survived to
                  appear a generation later. Rather, his report would indicate that
                  anything that has not reached its final destination in the Coptic
                  Museum in Cairo was shredded at the cliff or burned in his mother's
                  oven. There is no way that his report can be twisted into the
                  suggestion that the _Gospel of Judas_ was in a codex from the
                  Nag Hammadi discovery." (SJ, p.40)

                  So ... in 2007, Robinson claims that his 1979 report implied
                  that there was no missing (thirteenth) codex in existence.
                  Yet on this 1987 video he's still talking about thirteen books?
                  No wonder folks get confused by his various statements.

                  Best,
                  Mike
                • Stephen C. Carlson
                  ... Thanks for your work in lending some clarity to a confusing situation. I had not known Robinson referred to my blog post in his book (which may account
                  Message 8 of 19 , Oct 7, 2009
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                    On Oct 8, 2009 1:15 AM, Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                    >So ... in 2007, Robinson claims that his 1979 report implied
                    >that there was no missing (thirteenth) codex in existence.
                    >Yet on this 1987 video he's still talking about thirteen books?
                    >No wonder folks get confused by his various statements.

                    Thanks for your work in lending some clarity to a confusing
                    situation. I had not known Robinson referred to my blog post
                    in his book (which may account for its being my most popular
                    post ever), and I am pleased he spelled my name right.

                    Stephen

                    --
                    Stephen C. Carlson
                    Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
                    Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
                  • Andrew Bernhard
                    Mike- My current understanding is that the _Nag Hammadi Scriptures_ refers to all the texts from the thirteen codices from the initial find at Nag Hammadi
                    Message 9 of 19 , Oct 8, 2009
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                      Mike-



                      My current understanding is that the _Nag Hammadi Scriptures_ refers to all
                      the texts from the "thirteen" codices from the initial find at Nag Hammadi
                      plus certain texts from Berlin Gnostic Codex 8502 (the Gospel of Mary and
                      Act of Peter) and Codex Tchacos (notably, the Gospel of Judas).



                      Regardless, I really don't want to quibble about the number of codices in
                      the initial find. I myself (apparently like Robinson and probably many
                      others) have stated on different occasions that 12 or 13 codices were found.
                      I get criticized for whatever I say.



                      Is it fair to say that there were thirteen codices, if by that I mean twelve
                      largely complete ones and a part of another?



                      Best,

                      Andrew















                      From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                      Michael Grondin
                      Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 9:17 PM
                      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [GTh] Blog News





                      > My source for referring to the Nag Hammadi library as 13 codices was
                      > James Robinson. The opening sentence of Robinson's preface for
                      >_The Nag Hammadi Scriptures_ (edited by Marvin Meyer, 2007): "The
                      > Nag Hammadi Scriptures is a collection of thirteen papyrus codices -
                      > bound books, not scrolls - that were buried near the city of Nag Hammadi
                      > in Upper Egypt in the second half of the fourth century."

                      The Tchacos codex (containing the Gospel of Judas) is included in the count
                      of "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures", yet in the earlier _Secrets of Judas_,
                      Robinson was adamant that the Tchacos codex could not have been part of
                      the Nag Hammadi find (SJ, pp.38-40). For whatever reasons, however, he
                      then turned around and went along with Meyer in a clever terminological
                      switch from "NH Library" to "NH Scriptures" in order to smuggle the
                      then-hot Gospel of Judas into Meyer's book. I commented on Robinson's
                      apparent hypocrisy back in August '08:

                      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/8146
                      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/8147

                      Regards,
                      Mike





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                    • Judy Redman
                      ... I think it s probably safest to say there were twelve largely complete codices and part of another. :-) Incidentally, I just watched the video from Mark s
                      Message 10 of 19 , Oct 8, 2009
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                        Andrew Bernhard says:

                        > Is it fair to say that there were thirteen codices, if by that I mean
                        > twelve
                        > largely complete ones and a part of another?
                        >
                        >
                        I think it's probably safest to say there were twelve largely complete
                        codices and part of another. :-)

                        Incidentally, I just watched the video from Mark's blog, which was
                        fascinating, but still a "made for television" program with the shortcomings
                        that that causes. While Elaine Pagels did *say* that the jar in which
                        Muhammed Ali found the codices was six feet high, her hand gestures
                        certainly didn't bear this out. My suspicion is that she was caught out
                        translating 60 cm into terms that a US student audience would understand and
                        said the wrong thing.

                        Judy

                        --
                        Rev Judy Redman
                        Uniting Church Chaplain
                        University of New England
                        Armidale 2351 Australia
                        ph: +61 2 6773 3739
                        fax: +61 2 6773 3749
                        web: http://www.une.edu.au/chaplaincy/uniting/ and
                        http://blog.une.edu.au/unitingchaplaincy/
                        email: jredman@...



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                      • Michael Grondin
                        ... I agree, Judy. In fact, that s the way Robinson put it in NHL (1988): The Nag Hammadi Library consists of twelve books, plus eight leaves removed from a
                        Message 11 of 19 , Oct 9, 2009
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                          > I think it's probably safest to say there were twelve largely complete
                          > codices and part of another. :-)

                          I agree, Judy. In fact, that's the way Robinson put it in NHL (1988):

                          "The Nag Hammadi Library consists of twelve books, plus eight
                          leaves removed from a thirteenth book in late antiquity and tucked
                          inside the front cover of the sixth. These eight leaves comprise a
                          complete text, an independent treatise [Trimorphic Protennoia]
                          taken out of a book of collected essays." (NHL, p.10)

                          Contrast the above with what he writes in his preface to Meyer's
                          _Nag Hammadi Scriptures_ (2007):

                          "The Nag Hammadi Scriptures is a collection of thirteen papyrus
                          codices ... that were buried near the city of Nag Hammadi in Upper
                          Egypt in the second half of the fourth century." (emphasis added)

                          No, Robinson didn't change his mind about the contents of the jar, as
                          might be supposed by the unwary reader. Rather, he seems to have
                          been speaking loosely, as he did in the 1987 video. (Having now read
                          his Preface to SJ more closely, I see that the thirteenth codex that
                          Robinson was thinking of was the so-called "Codex XIII" - i.e., the eight
                          leaves mentioned above - rather than the Tchacos Codex, so I hereby
                          apologetically withdraw that earlier unfortunate suggestion.)

                          At this point, it might be a good idea to examine three actual or possible
                          manuscripts that one might be talking about as a "thirteenth codex":

                          1. The so-called "Codex XIII", which isn't a codex at all, as explained
                          above. When Robinson talks about thirteen codices, this is the ms to
                          which he's referring, albeit incorrectly. Pagels may have picked up
                          this loose talk while working with the NH team, and others (Dart?)
                          in turn may have picked it up from Pagels' influential 1979 work.

                          2. The Tchacos Codex (contains the _Gospel of Judas_): not an NH
                          codex; found closer to Oxyrhynchus than Nag Hammadi.

                          3. One or more "phantom codices" that may have been either destroyed
                          at the find-site or burned in Ali's mom's oven. Robinson leaves open this
                          possibility, but it's pure speculation. To my mind, neither of the options
                          are viable. (Some pages were apparently torn out of some codices
                          and used as kindling, but a whole book doesn't generally burn well.)

                          While I think that the number of camel-drivers in Ali's entourage is an
                          inconsequential detail, I don't think that the number of books in the jar
                          is inconsequential. That's why I cringe at the loose talk about Codex
                          XIII. After all, why would one tractate have been removed from one
                          codex and tucked into another? And when was it done - when the jar
                          was being packed or at some earlier time when the jar-packing wasn't
                          yet in view? Personally, I harbor the suspicion that it was done when
                          the jar was being packed, but in either case, the result was the same -
                          namely that the jar-packers thought of the jar as containing twelve
                          books. I'm convinced that they would have considered that a good
                          number, whether representing Jesus (Codex II) and the eleven, or
                          simply the number twelve, with its own positive connotations. They
                          would not, I suspect, have been happy with any suggestion that the
                          jar that they sealed up for posterity contained thirteen books.

                          Best to all,
                          Mike
                        • Mark Goodacre
                          I ve just found and blogged the fact that the complete From Jesus to Christ PBS series from 1998 is now available to watch online:
                          Message 12 of 19 , Oct 13, 2009
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                            I've just found and blogged the fact that the complete "From Jesus to
                            Christ" PBS series from 1998 is now available to watch online:

                            http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/watch-from-jesus-to-christ-online-in.htmlf
                            http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/watch/

                            One section is pertinent to our recent discussion. Part 2, Section 7,
                            about half-way through, has a discussion of the Nag Hammadi finds.
                            Mike won't be too pleased because Elaine Pagels again does the 13
                            bound codices and the six-foot jar.

                            This was a pretty interesting series, though, and one that I remember
                            clearly, not least because of the outstanding associated website that
                            PBS created at the time and which is still available, at
                            http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/ .

                            Mark
                            --
                            Mark Goodacre            Goodacre@...
                            Associate Professor
                            Duke University
                            Department of Religion
                            Gray Building / Box 90964
                            Durham, NC 27708-0964    USA
                            Phone: 919-660-3503        Fax: 919-660-3530

                            http://www.markgoodacre.org
                          • Michael Grondin
                            Hi Mark, Thanks for noting the PBS video on our list in addition to your blog. ... Not only that, but Michael White refers to the books as being buried in
                            Message 13 of 19 , Oct 13, 2009
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                              Hi Mark,
                              Thanks for noting the PBS video on our list in addition to your blog.

                              > Mike won't be too pleased because Elaine Pagels again does the
                              > 13 bound codices and the six-foot jar.

                              Not only that, but Michael White refers to the books as being "buried
                              in clay jars" (note the plural). Not that the size of the jar (only one,
                              I believe, contra White) in itself is of any great concern to me, but
                              different beliefs about the facts lead to different interpretations, so one
                              needs to know what purported facts to believe. If it was a 6-foot jar -
                              a claim Pagels attributes to the seemingly unreliable M.Ali - it would
                              presumably have been an ornamental jar - since its size would seem
                              to have prohibited it from being used for anything else. Use of such a
                              large jar for such relatively meager contents would seem to indicate
                              that its packers had much higher regard for its contents than if they
                              had used a smaller, more functional, jar. (Of course there may be other
                              considerations, since I don't know much about jars, but I'm sure you
                              see what I mean about how uncertainty about facts can either stymie
                              or invalidate important interpretational inferences.)

                              As to the 12 or 13 (or more) books, I hope it's understood that I have no
                              vested interest there either - other than in trying to understand something
                              about the thinking of the jar-packers from their handiwork. That may prove
                              to be elusive for any number of reasons, of course, but it would help if I
                              could at least be clear about whether or not there's been any new evidence
                              since Robinson's statement about the contents of the jar in the 1988 (and
                              perhaps the 1977 as well - I don't have that one) edition of NHL that would
                              invalidate his statement. My understanding is that that statement was based
                              on physical proof that Robinson himself had examined (in addition to the
                              prima facie improbability that most of an entire codex could have been
                              destroyed at the hands of the Egyptian peasants while leaving but a single
                              complete treatise.) As I say, there could be some evidence I'm unaware of
                              that's turned up since then, but if it turns out that he and Pagels are
                              saying "13 books/codices" simply because that single treatise (Trimorphic
                              Protennoia) was (mis-)labelled 'Codex XIII' by the NH team to begin with,
                              then there's no excuse for that, IMHO. Maybe someone should ask them.

                              Regards,
                              Mike
                            • Andrew Bernhard
                              ... Har! Har! Har! 13 codices . . . I told you so. Then again, maybe I was wrong. The movie Stigmata says a _scroll_ containing the Gospel of Thomas was found
                              Message 14 of 19 , Oct 14, 2009
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                                > Mike won't be too pleased because Elaine Pagels again does the 13
                                > bound codices and the six-foot jar.



                                Har! Har! Har! 13 codices . . . I told you so.



                                Then again, maybe I was wrong. The movie Stigmata says a _scroll_ containing
                                the Gospel of Thomas was found at Nag Hammadi.



                                Perhaps a council needs to be convened to determine how the contents of the
                                jar found at Nag Hammadi will henceforth be characterized properly, and then
                                nobody will be allowed to be deviate from the agreed-upon description . . .
                                ever!!!!!!



                                Cheers,

                                Andrew



                                p.s. Out of curiosity, how big was the jar? Or do we even know? I guess it
                                was smashed, after all.



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                              • Mark Goodacre
                                2009/10/14 Andrew Bernhard ... Robinson says that the jar was 60cm (less than 2 feet) tall, according to Ali s description. There is a
                                Message 15 of 19 , Oct 14, 2009
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                                  2009/10/14 Andrew Bernhard <gospels.net@...>

                                  > p.s. Out of curiosity, how big was the jar? Or do we even know? I guess it
                                  > was smashed, after all.

                                  Robinson says that the jar was 60cm (less than 2 feet) tall, according
                                  to Ali's description. There is a very basic line drawing of it in the
                                  Biblical Archaeologist (1979) article.

                                  Robinson's account of the discovery has been questioned by several
                                  scholars, but this is not widely known. I hope to blog about this in
                                  due course.

                                  All best
                                  Mark

                                  --
                                  Mark Goodacre            Goodacre@...
                                  Associate Professor
                                  Duke University
                                  Department of Religion
                                  Gray Building / Box 90964
                                  Durham, NC 27708-0964    USA
                                  Phone: 919-660-3503        Fax: 919-660-3530

                                  http://www.markgoodacre.org
                                • Mark Goodacre
                                  2009/10/14 Michael Grondin ... Here s the relevant section in Robinson s 1979 Biblical Archaeologist article: The pottery was red slip
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Oct 14, 2009
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                                    2009/10/14 Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...>

                                    > Not that the size of the jar (only one,
                                    > I believe, contra White) in itself is of any great concern to me, but
                                    > different beliefs about the facts lead to different interpretations, so one
                                    > needs to know what purported facts to believe. If it was a 6-foot jar -
                                    > a claim Pagels attributes to the seemingly unreliable M.Ali - it would
                                    > presumably have been an ornamental jar - since its size would seem
                                    > to have prohibited it from being used for anything else.

                                    Here's the relevant section in Robinson's 1979 Biblical Archaeologist article:

                                    "The pottery was red slip ware, distinguishing it from the creamy
                                    color of the modern Qina ware common in the region, and had four small
                                    handles near the opening. The jar was also large, with dimensions
                                    roughly illustrated by Muhammad 'All as 60 cm or more in height and an
                                    opening of some 15 to 20 cm widening to some 30 cm in the flank. The
                                    jar had been closed by fitting a bowl into its mouth. Khallfah had
                                    taken this bowl with him to the home in al-Qasr
                                    where he was a servant for the Copt, Salib 'Abd al-Maslh, who
                                    preserved the bowl intact. It is Coptic red slip ware of the 4th or
                                    5th century with a rim decorated with four fields of stripes. The
                                    diameter at the outer edge is 23.3-24.0 cm, with a diameter inside the
                                    bowl of 18.2-18.7 cm, adequate to close a mouth large enough to admit
                                    the codices, whose broadest leaves, in Codex VII, measure up to 17.5
                                    cm. There are a few black tarlike stains about 2.0 cm from the outer
                                    edge on the under side of the rim, perhaps vestiges of a bitumen used
                                    to seal the bowl into the jar. Thus, the jar probably could not be
                                    opened readily to investigate its contents, which would explain why it
                                    was broken by its discoverers." (213-4).

                                    Incidentally, having taken a closer look, it seems that Elaine Pagels
                                    has frequently talked about the "six-foot jar" in interviews (e.g.
                                    here, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week706/interview1.html,
                                    as well as in the two TV documentaries previously mentioned) but also
                                    in print -- see Beyond Belief, 97. I am not sure where she got it
                                    from. She may simply have forgotten the measurements and then, having
                                    said "six-foot jar" once, made it part of the repeated story. That
                                    can happen in story-telling. We introduce an error inadvertently, but
                                    then re-tell it and embed it in our story until we forget the origin
                                    of it. In The Gnostic Gospels, back in 1979, Pagels says that the jar
                                    was "almost a meter high", which is already bigger than Robinson's
                                    "60 cm or more", but still smaller than the "six-foot jar" that it
                                    later became. (One meter is 3.28ft).

                                    Mark
                                    --
                                    Mark Goodacre            Goodacre@...
                                    Associate Professor
                                    Duke University
                                    Department of Religion
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                                    http://www.markgoodacre.org
                                  • Michael Grondin
                                    ... Thanks for this extraordinarily perceptive and fecund point, Mark. It s one aspect of orality that seems most concrete and graspable. I m not much of a
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Oct 15, 2009
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                                      Mark wrote:
                                      > [Pagels] may simply have forgotten the measurements and then,
                                      > having said "six-foot jar" once, made it part of the repeated story.
                                      > That can happen in story-telling. We introduce an error inadvertently,
                                      > but then re-tell it and embed it in our story until we forget the origin
                                      > of it.

                                      Thanks for this extraordinarily perceptive and fecund point, Mark.
                                      It's one aspect of orality that seems most concrete and graspable.
                                      I'm not much of a story-teller myself, and not much of a fan of oral story-
                                      telling either, but it's not uncommon among the folks I know, and I presume
                                      that it was much more common the farther back in time we go. Off the top
                                      of my head, I would guess that two aspects of the (oral) story-teller's art
                                      are (1) exaggeration for effect, and (2) the elimination of details that
                                      detract from the story. (Interestingly, the result would be amplification
                                      of some parts of the story, simplification of others.) With respect to a
                                      point under discussion, it strikes me that the move from the complexity of
                                      "12 codices plus one treatise" to the simplicity of "13 codices" may well
                                      be an example of aspect (2). In any case, I think that story-telling is an
                                      important subject well worth investigating, not so much for Gos.Thom.
                                      as for other gospels and religious stories, both canonical and non, that
                                      have a significant story-line to them.

                                      Regards,
                                      Mike
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