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Re: Re: [GTh] Skinner's Interview with Davies

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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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