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Re: [GTh] Skinner's Interview with Davies

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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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