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Re: [GTh] Skinner's Interview with Davies

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Mike, ... Stevan writes elsewhere that the list genre should by all odds be early, and I think he is right. So I would re-write his sentence above as What
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 10, 2009
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      At 04:12 PM 11/10/2009, Michael Grondin wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      >...As Chris notes, Steve is very generous in his response to questions,
      >ranging far and wide with his typical keen senses of logic and humour.
      >I was a little surprised to learn that Steve now thinks far less of the
      >Gospel of John than he apparently did when writing _Jesus the Healer_,
      >but it's a pleasant surprise, since I felt that his position in that book
      >re GJn wasn't really tenable. But in any case, an interview well worth
      >reading, and thanks to Chris for doing the work to get it together.
      >As usual, responses to Steve's comments are welcome here.

      Mike,
      To take just one bite of a large apple, Stevan wrote:

      >...What we appear to have in Thomas is a collection of stuff of
      >diverse sorts that lacks a fully coherent ideology that was compiled
      >by people who themselves probably didn't think they fully understood
      >it (saying 1). ...

      Stevan writes elsewhere that the list genre should by all odds be
      early, and I think he is right. So I would re-write his sentence above as
      "What we appear to have in Thomas is a collection of stuff of diverse
      sorts that lacks a fully coherent narrative that was compiled by
      people who themselves probably didn't think they fully understood it
      (saying 1). "

      Despite some attempts here to impose an order on the text of Thomas
      according to the number of characters that fit neatly onto a page (of
      papyrus, I assume), I think Stevan is probably right that the only
      structure evident in the list of sayings is that there seems to be
      more word association among the later sayings in the list than
      earlier (so I am intrigued by his suggestion that the list came about
      has a haphazard record of sayings people could remember when a scribe
      was handy). There is room for some important text-critical work here.

      But I mainly want to emphasize here the importance of narrative on
      the text, and on the ideological consequences. Lacking a narrative
      structure (except for the beginning and end), the sayings in GTH are
      free to roam. Q is a list, but it is a partly narrativized list, so
      the ideology in it is more important. That is, sayings that do not
      conform to the (somewhat minimal) narrative are less likely to be included.

      But with Mark, we have a full-blown narrative. And that forces Mark
      to make decisions that list-makers are not bothered with: In order to
      make his narrative coherent, he needs to make choices among his
      material, probably discarding material that doesn't fit, and perhaps
      inventing some material to cover up gaps in his narrative. And the
      more coherent the narrative, the more it has a Point of View-- i.e.,
      an ideology. And the more a Gospel has a Point of View, the more
      likely there will be opposing Points of View.

      GJohn, as usual, poses problems for any scheme of literary
      development of the Gospels. I reject the argument of the Jesus
      Seminar to marginalize GJohn because it differs so much from the
      Synoptic gospels. GJohn seems to me, more than the other gospels, a
      layered document, with what seems to me an early layer consisting of
      a narrative based on the "Signs Gospel," and a later layer that
      interleaves a bunch of sermons elaborating on the Gospel's Point of
      View. But I digress.

      The main take-away for me from Stevan's first two interviews is the
      importance of narrative in the literary development of Q and the
      "Gospels," and in their relative dating.

      Bob Schacht, Ph.D.
      Northern Arizona University

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Grondin
      ... Somewhat oversimplified, I m afraid. The implication is that Thomas has no point of view, and so one has to be created for it. (This derives from a
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 11, 2009
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        Steve wrote to Bob:
        >It's hard to have opposing views to Thomas because first you have to
        >create some sort of point of view for Thomas and then you have to
        >oppose the one you created.

        Somewhat oversimplified, I'm afraid. The implication is that Thomas has
        no point of view, and so one has to be created for it. (This derives from
        a mistaken idea that narrative has some necessary connection to POV.)
        Agreed that it hasn't much of a POV, but what there is is cherce (to
        paraphrase a classic movie line). The death of Jesus wasn't part of a
        divine plan to atone for anything, there was no resurrection in the flesh,
        and salvation doesn't lie in mere belief. Not just that there's no mention
        of such doctrines, but that what's there provides a contrary ideology.

        BTW, thanks for posting Steve's response to your note, Bob.

        Cheers,
        Mike G.
      • Michael Grondin
        Don t get me wrong, I love interacting with Steve D., but things are getting a little confusing around here trying to properly post messages that Steve
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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          Don't get me wrong, I love interacting with Steve D., but things
          are getting a little confusing around here trying to properly post
          messages that Steve apparently intended for the list, but sent
          elsewhere. I forwarded two of them to the list within the last
          hour, one a response to me and the other a response to Bob.
          Bob himself forwarded some stuff yesterday. Hopefully, this
          confusion can be brought to an end soon.

          I might as well take this opportunity to answer one of Steve's
          questions to me on a non-substantive issue. At the risk of
          ruining an allusion by explaining it, I was alluding to a bit in the
          1952 movie _Pat and Mike_, wherein the Spencer Tracy character
          says of the Katherine Hepburn character, "Not much meat on
          her, but what there is is cherce."

          So - if as Steve says there's no "meat" (i.e., POV) on Thomas
          at all, then why did Athanasius think it important to outlaw it by
          name, rather than ignoring it as just another inconsequential piece
          of light reading for Christians?

          Mike
        • Stephen C. Carlson
          ... By the time of Athanasius, wasn t Thomas being read and used by the Manicheans? That would be enough not to ignore it as light reading. Stephen -- Stephen
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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            Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
            >So - if as Steve says there's no "meat" (i.e., POV) on Thomas
            >at all, then why did Athanasius think it important to outlaw it by
            >name, rather than ignoring it as just another inconsequential piece
            >of light reading for Christians?

            By the time of Athanasius, wasn't Thomas being read and
            used by the Manicheans? That would be enough not to
            ignore it as light reading.

            Stephen

            --
            Stephen C. Carlson
            Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
            Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
          • Michael Grondin
            ... Hmm... hadn t thought of that. Good point. Another response might be that anything called a gospel other than than the main four would have had to be
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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              [Mike]:
              >>So - if as Steve says there's no "meat" (i.e., POV) on Thomas
              >>at all, then why did Athanasius think it important to outlaw it by
              >>name, rather than ignoring it as just another inconsequential piece
              >>of light reading for Christians?

              [Stephen]:
              > By the time of Athanasius, wasn't Thomas being read and
              > used by the Manicheans? That would be enough not to
              > ignore it as light reading.

              Hmm... hadn't thought of that. Good point. Another response might
              be that anything called a "gospel" other than than the main four
              would have had to be dealt with explicitly. Bottom line I guess is that
              this question isn't going to do it. Maybe I can find something in
              Steve's own writings? (:-)

              Speaking of Steve, we've identified the source of the problem in
              his attempts to send notes to the list. Since this may affect other
              subscribers as well, it's worth mentioning. Seems that Steve is
              subscribed under one id, but trying to send notes under another.
              Because he's using a non-subscribed address, the system thinks
              he's a non-subscriber, so when he reads the list off the web and
              tries to respond to a note, the only choices he's given are to send
              the reply to either the original sender (like Bob) or the list owner
              (which is me). And if he tried to get around this by using his emailer
              to send to the correct address, the system would treat his message
              as coming from a non-subscriber and would send it to a black hole.
              We would never get notified (which is just as well, since almost all
              such notes are spam). Anyway, if anyone else is encountering the
              same problem, let me know and we'll see what we can do about it.

              Mike
            • stevandavies
              OK, maybe this will work. I was subscribed long ago under an extinct email address. Thank you Michael for helping straighten this out, if indeed it is
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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                OK, maybe this will work. I was subscribed long ago under an extinct email address. Thank you Michael for helping straighten this out, if indeed it is straightened out. We'll see.

                As regards the following letter, I'm usually sceptical about titles of ancient manuscripts found in writings unless there are quotations or something else to confirm that the title reflects the text I'm dealing with. I don't, for example, think the references to the Gospel of Judas are necessarily about the text that was revealed recently. I don't know that the Manicheans used Thomas. Maybe you have evidence that they did but I've not been convinced by what I've seen. Not that they couldn't have.... I don't see why not. But I don't know of convincing evidence that they did.

                Recall that there is another Gospel of Thomas and one reason I recently published a book about it is that I want to be the only person in history to have published books on both Gospels of Thomas. Anybody can do just one!

                By the time of Athenasius anything that challenged the authority of teh canon would have been outlawed and probably for the same reasons that today you won't find Evangelical scholars defending it independence or early date. A Gospel of Thomas that gives us credible information about Jesus that is different from what is in the Word is considered a threat to the Word by, I guess, indicating that the Word is incomplete and that It can be supplemented.

                Steve


                --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@...> wrote:
                >
                > Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                > >So - if as Steve says there's no "meat" (i.e., POV) on Thomas
                > >at all, then why did Athanasius think it important to outlaw it by
                > >name, rather than ignoring it as just another inconsequential piece
                > >of light reading for Christians?
                >
                > By the time of Athanasius, wasn't Thomas being read and
                > used by the Manicheans? That would be enough not to
                > ignore it as light reading.
                >
                > Stephen
                >
                > --
                > Stephen C. Carlson
                > Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
                > Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
                >
              • Bob Schacht
                ... One thing at a time here. I know you re a logician, so I ll concede the word necessary -- your word, not mine. It is true that narrative has no
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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                  At 11:46 PM 11/11/2009, Michael Grondin wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  >Steve wrote to Bob:
                  > >It's hard to have opposing views to Thomas because first you have to
                  > >create some sort of point of view for Thomas and then you have to
                  > >oppose the one you created.
                  >
                  >Somewhat oversimplified, I'm afraid. The implication is that Thomas has
                  >no point of view, and so one has to be created for it. (This derives from
                  >a mistaken idea that narrative has some necessary connection to POV.)

                  One thing at a time here. I know you're a logician, so I'll concede
                  the word "necessary"-- your word, not mine.
                  It is true that narrative has no *necessary* connection to POV, but
                  it often or even usually does, especially when the work has an overt
                  purpose, as the canonical gospels do, almost by definition.

                  >Agreed that it hasn't much of a POV, but what there is is cherce (to
                  >paraphrase a classic movie line). The death of Jesus wasn't part of a
                  >divine plan to atone for anything, there was no resurrection in the flesh,
                  >and salvation doesn't lie in mere belief. Not just that there's no mention
                  >of such doctrines, but that what's there provides a contrary ideology.

                  So, the Thomasine community had as its mantra, "Just say no"?

                  To claim that the Thomasine community had a POV in this way somewhat
                  resembles the claim that Republicans today have a point of view
                  about... just about anything. They have no program to propose as an
                  alternative, and when they propose one, it is usually such a
                  slap-dash product that it is easy to shoot it full of holes. [Please
                  let's not get off into partisan bickering about modern politics.]
                  Steve was right in another message when he wrote, IIRC, that its not
                  that GThomas has no POV, it just has too many of them, and none
                  coherent with the others.

                  And if it is a "contrary ideology", as you suggest, that would imply
                  that it was compiled in response to something, which would make it
                  later in date, i.e., after the following three ideologies had become
                  important enough to dispute that:
                  * The death of Jesus was part of a divine plan to atone for something
                  * there was resurrection in the flesh
                  * belief is sufficient for salvation
                  In fact, if that is where you want to rest your case, then a (late)
                  date for GThomas ought to be easy to calculate.

                  >BTW, thanks for posting Steve's response to your note, Bob.

                  Of course. I was sure that was his intention, and it is a pleasure to
                  engage with him and others on these matters. It helps my thinking.

                  Bob

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Stephen C. Carlson
                  ... I should have checked this sooner, but looking at what has survived of Athanasius 39th festal letter, he does not condemn any apocryphal text by name,
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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                    >--- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@...> wrote:
                    >> Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                    >> >So - if as Steve says there's no "meat" (i.e., POV) on Thomas
                    >> >at all, then why did Athanasius think it important to outlaw it by
                    >> >name, rather than ignoring it as just another inconsequential piece
                    >> >of light reading for Christians?
                    >>
                    >> By the time of Athanasius, wasn't Thomas being read and
                    >> used by the Manicheans? That would be enough not to
                    >> ignore it as light reading.

                    I should have checked this sooner, but looking at what has
                    survived of Athanasius' 39th festal letter, he does not condemn
                    any apocryphal text by name, much less the Gospel of Thomas.

                    stevandavies <stevandavies@...> wrote:
                    >As regards the following letter, I'm usually sceptical about
                    >titles of ancient manuscripts found in writings unless there
                    >are quotations or something else to confirm that the title
                    >reflects the text I'm dealing with. I don't, for example, think
                    >the references to the Gospel of Judas are necessarily about the
                    >text that was revealed recently. I don't know that the Manicheans
                    >used Thomas. Maybe you have evidence that they did but I've not
                    >been convinced by what I've seen. Not that they couldn't have....
                    >I don't see why not. But I don't know of convincing evidence
                    >that they did.

                    Well, as it turns out, there isn't even a title to go on in
                    Athanasius. ;-) Helmut Koester, ANCIENT CHRISTIAN GOSPELS,
                    78, asserts: "The GOSPEL OF THOMAS was also used and valued
                    highly by Mani." Koester says that this fact is attested by
                    "several Church fathers" but he only cites explicitly Cyril
                    and the Decretum Gelasanium. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses
                    4.36, condemns by name a gospel of Thomas in use among the
                    Manicheans. Unfortunately, there's no quotation of the text
                    in Cyril, but Thomas 52 was quoted as coming from an apocryphal
                    work by the former Manichean Augustine, Contra adversarium
                    Legis et Prophetarum 2.4.14. Also,

                    >Recall that there is another Gospel of Thomas and one reason I
                    >recently published a book about it is that I want to be the only
                    >person in history to have published books on both Gospels of Thomas.
                    >Anybody can do just one!

                    Yeah, there's a work now known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas,
                    but it does not seem to have acquired that attribution until some
                    time between the sixth and eleventh centuries.

                    Stephen


                    --
                    Stephen C. Carlson
                    Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
                    Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
                  • Michael Grondin
                    ... Sorry. My fault, Stephen. I should have checked my recollection before posting. Mike
                    Message 9 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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                      > I should have checked this sooner, but looking at what has
                      > survived of Athanasius' 39th festal letter, he does not condemn
                      > any apocryphal text by name, much less the Gospel of Thomas.

                      Sorry. My fault, Stephen. I should have checked my recollection
                      before posting.

                      Mike
                    • Michael Grondin
                      ... Nice try, Bob, but no cigar. Though there may be a hint of chronological order in some of the ways we normally use the word contrary , the meaning of the
                      Message 10 of 15 , Nov 12, 2009
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                        > [if GTh has] a "contrary ideology", as you suggest, that would imply
                        > that it was compiled in response to something, which would make it
                        > later in date ...

                        Nice try, Bob, but no cigar. Though there may be a hint of chronological
                        order in some of the ways we normally use the word 'contrary', the
                        meaning of the word doesn't include that. It simply means 'opposing',
                        or something like that, and it doesn't matter which of the opposing
                        objects came first. Ex: if a result is contrary to our expectations, it's
                        also true that our expectations were contrary to the result.

                        Mike
                      • sarban
                        ... From: Michael Grondin To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Friday, November 13, 2009 5:27 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] Skinner s Interview with Davies ... Sorry. My
                        Message 11 of 15 , Nov 13, 2009
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                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: Michael Grondin
                          To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Friday, November 13, 2009 5:27 AM
                          Subject: Re: [GTh] Skinner's Interview with Davies



                          > I should have checked this sooner, but looking at what has
                          > survived of Athanasius' 39th festal letter, he does not condemn
                          > any apocryphal text by name, much less the Gospel of Thomas.

                          Sorry. My fault, Stephen. I should have checked my recollection
                          before posting.

                          Mike




                          I think you may have meant Cyril of Jerusalem's condemnation in his Catechetical Lectures.
                          <QUOTE>Of the New Testament there are (only) four gospels: the others are pseudepigraphical and harmful
                          (the Manichaeans indeed have written a Gospel according to Thomas, which by the fragrance of its evangelical title
                          corrupts the souls of the more simple sort).</QUOTE>

                          Andrew Criddle

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Bob Schacht
                          ... Mike, I can t let you get away with this. First, though, I have to restore ... If it is contrary, or opposing, as you prefer, then it has to be contrary or
                          Message 12 of 15 , Nov 16, 2009
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                            At 10:47 PM 11/12/2009, Michael Grondin wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            > > [if GTh has] a "contrary ideology", as you suggest, that would imply
                            > > that it was compiled in response to something, which would make it
                            > > later in date ...
                            >
                            >Nice try, Bob, but no cigar. Though there may be a hint of chronological
                            >order in some of the ways we normally use the word 'contrary', the
                            >meaning of the word doesn't include that. It simply means 'opposing',
                            >or something like that, and it doesn't matter which of the opposing
                            >objects came first. Ex: if a result is contrary to our expectations, it's
                            >also true that our expectations were contrary to the result.
                            >
                            >Mike

                            Mike,
                            I can't let you get away with this. First, though, I have to restore
                            the context. What I wrote was this:

                            >...Steve was right in another message when he wrote, IIRC, that its not
                            >that GThomas has no POV, it just has too many of them, and none
                            >coherent with the others.
                            >
                            >And if it is a "contrary ideology", as you suggest, that would imply
                            >that it was compiled in response to something, which would make it
                            >later in date, i.e., after the following three ideologies had become
                            >important enough to dispute that:
                            >* The death of Jesus was part of a divine plan to atone for something
                            >* there was resurrection in the flesh
                            >* belief is sufficient for salvation
                            >In fact, if that is where you want to rest your case, then a (late)
                            >date for GThomas ought to be easy to calculate.

                            If it is contrary, or opposing, as you prefer, then it has to be
                            contrary or opposed to *something which existed at that time,* which
                            forces a chronological datum. You wrote,
                            >it doesn't matter which of the opposing objects came first.

                            No, it doesn't, but *all three* would have to be in circulation
                            before Thomas. You can't say Thomas is opposed to something that was
                            not yet an issue.

                            Besides, as Steve pointed out, what you call "opposing" is not so
                            much opposing as indifferent to. As he wrote in the message that you
                            forwarded on Thu, 12 Nov 2009 12:06:56 -0500,

                            >No... Thomas is [not] AGAINST the resurrection in the flesh, it just
                            >has nothing to do with it. It's not against repeating the Nembutsu
                            >or sacrificing goats to Legba either, it just doesn't mention them.
                            >Salvation lies in figuring out what the list of sayings is communicating,
                            >we hear at the outset of Thomas, but as I wrote in my skinner interview
                            ><http://pejeiesous.com/>http://pejeiesous.com/ I don't think that
                            >the Thomas people themselves
                            >thought they understood the text.


                            Bob Schacht
                            Northern Arizona University


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Michael Grondin
                            Hi Bob, Thanks for giving me something to think about late at night (here). ... I can and do. I take it you haven t looked up the word contrary , or if you
                            Message 13 of 15 , Nov 16, 2009
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                              Hi Bob,
                              Thanks for giving me something to think about late at night (here).
                              You wrote:

                              > You can't say Thomas is [contrary] to something that was
                              > not yet an issue.

                              I can and do. I take it you haven't looked up the word 'contrary', or
                              if you have, were unable to find a definition to support your position.
                              My creaky old 1980 OAD, e.g., has the following:

                              "1. Opposite in nature, opposed; 2. Opposite in direction ..."

                              No mention of chronological priority there, but let's look at it this way:
                              Suppose I claim that text A contains ideas contrary to those in text B.
                              According to you, I can't also claim that text B contains ideas contrary
                              to those in text A, since one of them had to come first, hence one of
                              my two claims has to be false. But of course that's not so. If A is
                              contrary to B, then B is also contrary to A, and vice versa. That's just
                              the way we use the word in both Logic and ordinary language.

                              Other examples may suffice: I think you may agree that Paul's accounts
                              of his travels are somewhat contrary to what was written in Acts. Or that
                              Mark's report of the final words on the cross is contrary to any of the
                              other gospels. But how can that be, according to your argument, since
                              the latter texts didn't yet exist? QED, I believe.

                              [Bob]:
                              > Besides, as Steve pointed out, what you call "opposing" is not so
                              > much opposing as indifferent to. As he wrote in the message that you
                              > forwarded on Thu, 12 Nov 2009 12:06:56 -0500,
                              >
                              >>No... Thomas is [not] AGAINST the resurrection in the flesh, it just
                              >>has nothing to do with it. It's not against repeating the Nembutsu
                              >>or sacrificing goats to Legba either, it just doesn't mention them.

                              Witty, of course, but somewhat irrelevant, since the text DOES mention
                              human flesh, and it doesn't much like it. The problem I have with
                              responding to Steve on this point is that there seems to be no response
                              that he would deem adequate. If I quote some logia, he might accuse me
                              of falling victim to what he pointed to as a common tendency to draw a
                              general ideology out of a few logia. An end-around might work if he would
                              allow consideration of other Thomasine writings (Book and Acts) which
                              more clearly denigrate the flesh, hence suggesting that to Thomasines
                              a resurrection in the flesh would be an abomination, but I'm afraid he
                              wouldn't do that. That pretty much makes his position impregnable.

                              Dare I say that Paul's position on resurrection in the flesh was likewise
                              contrary to the canonical gospels (leaving aside GosMark, and the
                              endless variations of scholastic reasoning employed to show otherwise)?

                              Mike
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