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Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Good subject, Mike! Do I understand correctly that Paterson s postulation concerns the text of GTh, which is in conflict with the terminology in the
    Message 1 of 23 , Mar 11, 2010
      At 01:38 PM 3/11/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:
       

      In my immediately-previous note concerning my Wikipedia
      activities, I mentioned that I had added a reference to what
      I then called the 'parable of the tenants in the vineyard'. Nobody
      called me on this, but I've since changed it to the more usual
      title of 'Parable of the Wicked Tenants', so as not to confuse
      it with the 'Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard', which has
      to do with another matter entirely.

      In Wikipedia, the article on the 'Parable of the Wicked Tenants'
      is called 'Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen', adopting the
      archaic and sexist King James language for no good reason
      (hey Judy, there's a project for you):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Wicked_Husbandmen

      I had a little fun with this parable, suggesting that it couldn't be
      considered a prophecy because it wasn't uttered by Jesus before
      his death. But now I find that there's a rather heated controversy
      about the interpretation of the parable, which is reflected indirectly
      in the way that L65 is translated in _The Fifth Gospel_ (Patterson,
      Robinson, Bethge, 1998). Against the previous consensus that
      the person who owns the vineyard is described in Coptic GTh as
      "a good person", Patterson et al take advantage of a small lacuna
      to posit a Greek word one letter different, meaning "userer".
      This small difference turns the whole thing on its head, however.
      The vineyard-owner can't be God, and hence the son of the
      vineyard-owner can't be Jesus, as the synoptic evangelists
      apparently thought. The "wicked" tenants then start to look not
      so bad after all, as the "userer" may be suspected of demanding
      more than is rightfully his. Under this interpretation, the synoptic
      evangelists are seen as either misunderstanding or subverting
      Jesus' thought. To me, this is revisionist bosh, but I'm interested
      in hearing what others have to think.

      Mike


      Good subject, Mike!
      Do I understand correctly that Paterson's postulation concerns the text of GTh, which is in conflict with the terminology in the synoptic texts?
      If so, he's swimming upstream here, against the synoptic witnesses. IOW, his conjecture has no evidence and no support.

      Bob in AZ
    • Michael Grondin
      ... The Coptic text (and there is no Greek) differs from the synoptics no matter how we reconstruct it. Mark and Luke describe the vineyard- owner as simply an
      Message 2 of 23 , Mar 12, 2010
        Bob Schacht wrote:
        > Do I understand correctly that Paterson's postulation concerns the
        > text of GTh, which is in conflict with the terminology in the synoptic
        > texts?

        The Coptic text (and there is no Greek) differs from the synoptics
        no matter how we reconstruct it. Mark and Luke describe the vineyard-
        owner as simply an 'anthrwpos'. Matthew adds (in a Greek construction
        that I don't understand) that he was a "land-owner" or some such.
        Thomas adds something as well, but apparently not the same as what
        Matthew adds. The Coptic starts out by using RWME as its equivalent
        of 'anthrwpos', and then adds what is apparently an adjective beginning
        with 'XR', but what adjective? Most translators have assumed it to be
        XRHSTOS, i.e., 'good', but Patterson et al postulate XRHSTHS, which
        they translate as 'usurer' (though my attempts to check this have been
        inconclusive; it appears that the word can also mean 'prophet' or
        'soothsayer'). You can see graphics that we developed at:

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/files/images/

        pg45top = top of pg. 45, where L65 starts
        nhc45_xrhstos = usual reconstruction
        nhc45_xrhsths = Patterson reconstruction

        The Jesus Seminar felt that the evangelists had allegorized the parable.
        "Thomas' version was given a pink rating, while the synoptic versions
        were labelled gray because of their allegorical features." (T5G, p.511)

        In the JS explanation, one can see the reasoning that led Patterson
        et al to their reconstruction:

        "... it is ... clear that the parable of the leased vineyard once
        circulated without the allegorical overlay present in the synoptic
        versions.
        Thomas is almost certainly closer to the original version.
        "In the original story, the tenants saw an opportunity to lay claim to the
        land themselves by killing the heir, the son of the owner. Tenant farmers
        were common in Galilee at the time of Jesus, and their situation was
        undoubtedly extremely difficult. Rich landowners readily took advantage
        of them. The story probably ended with the crime. Jesus did not draw
        a moral or pass judgment. In this respect, the parable of the leased
        vineyard is comparable to the parable of the shrewd manager (Lk 16:1-7)"

        This conjecture is beyond even the minimalist version in Thomas. With
        respect to the problem raised by the close association of L66 with L65,
        as paralleled in the synoptics, T5G theorizes that "the connection of the
        Psalm [Ps 118:22] with the story preceded its allegorization. In fact,
        the connection may have been the first step in reading the parable as
        an allegory, since the rejected stone was probably understood to refer
        to Jesus in Christian circles ..." (ibid.)

        This reasonable-sounding explanation doesn't hold up well under
        critical evaluation, IMO. It leaves it unclear what could possibly have
        caused the Psalm to be appended to the Parable *before* the Parable
        had even begun to be allegorized! If one is not already thinking of Jesus
        as the son of the vineyard-owner, why immediately follow with a Psalm
        that one *does* believe refers metaphorically to Jesus?

        As I see it, the Patterson reconstruction of L65 proceeded from a
        desire to find in Thomas support for the Jesus Seminar's view of the
        origin of the parable. But why should Thomas have *ever* reflected
        the origin of the parable, if that origin had no connection to religious
        themes that Thomasines favored? No matter how early Thomas was,
        the sayings in it were surely no mere reportings of words.

        Mike
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Thanks for your extensive and insightful reply. desire to find in Thomas support for the Jesus Seminar s view of the origin of the parable also = T5G s
        Message 3 of 23 , Mar 12, 2010
          At 01:20 AM 3/12/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:
          ...As I see it, the Patterson reconstruction of L65 proceeded from a
          desire to find in Thomas support for the Jesus Seminar's view of the
          origin of the parable. But why should Thomas have *ever* reflected
          the origin of the parable, if that origin had no connection to religious
          themes that Thomasines favored?...

          Thanks for your extensive and insightful reply. "desire to find in Thomas support for the Jesus Seminar's view of the
          origin of the parable" also = T5G's interest in making a case for the priority of GThomas.
          Whatever else one might say about the JS, one cannot really consider it to have a neutral scholarly orientation.
          It has a POV, or rather several POVs, and is not embarrassed to admit it.

          Bob in AZ

        • Michael Grondin
          Further comments: 1. The connection between Stephen Patterson and the Jesus Seminar is, I hope, familiar to everyone here. Patterson, along with Marvin Meyer,
          Message 4 of 23 , Mar 12, 2010
            Further comments:

            1. The connection between Stephen Patterson and the Jesus
            Seminar is, I hope, familiar to everyone here. Patterson, along
            with Marvin Meyer, produced the so-called "Scholar's Version"
            of the Gospel of Thomas, which appeared in the JSem publication
            _The Five Gospels_ in 1993. But in that translation, the lacuna in
            the first line of L65 is left as an ellipsis (...). It's also so treated in
            Meyer's 1992 book _The Gospel of Thomas_, though he notes
            (p.95) that:

            > The Coptic text may be restored to read either "A [good] person"
            > (read [XRHSTOS]) or "A creditor" (read [XRHSTHS]).

            He refers to a 1974 French article, which apparently makes that point.
            But for all this, I believe that the translation in Patterson's 1998 book
            _The Fifth Gospel_ is the first one where XRHSTHS is presented as
            the favored alternative, by being present in the main translation while
            XRHSTOS is relegated to a footnote. (It should also be noted that
            Patterson's book _The God of Jesus_, which came out the same
            year, contains a three and a half page treatment of the Parable along
            the same lines as the JSem interpretation, but more detailed. In a
            nutshell, he believes that the original point of the parable was "This
            is the world as it is; the Kingdom won't be like this.")

            2. Results of some unsystematic research:
            I first looked at the Sahidic translation of Matthew's version of the
            parable, because I was curious about what had been done with
            Matt's two-word description of the vineyard-owner. The way it came out
            in Coptic was "a man of wealth" (rwme rm-mao), so that was no help,
            since the word in the lacuna can't be 'rm-mao'.

            I then searched the Coptic of GMt to see what words starting with
            'XR' might have been used. There were several uses of XRHSTOS,
            even some where the Greek was XRISTOS ('christ'), but no
            occurrences of XRHSTHS (creditor/usurer). I looked a couple other
            places, too, without success, but this was rather random, so don't
            read too much into it. (It would be nice if one could search the entire
            Coptic NT at one fell swoop, but that's evidently not possible.)

            BTW, XRHSTOS is definitely used once in Coptic GTh - L90:

            > You all come up to me, for my yoke is a good/just one ...

            Overall, it seems to me that what's missing is examples of the Coptic
            usage of the Greek word XRHSTHS. If there's no known instances
            of its being used anywhere else, the mere fact that it fits the lacuna
            doesn't carry much weight, IMO.

            3. Some other questions that might be raised:
            a. Could L65 simply be a minimalist harmonization of the synoptic
            accounts of the parable? Doesn't seem so to me, since it both
            (1) lacks simple elements common to the synoptic accounts and
            (2) contains elements not in any of those accounts.

            b. Could L65 have been based on the Diatessaron? Seems even
            less likely, since the Diatessaron is a *maximalist* harmonization,
            so that its version of the parable contains pretty much everything
            that's in all the synoptics combined.

            That's all I can think of to add for now.

            Mike
          • Ian Brown
            Hi Michael, Sorry to jump on this one so late (been busy), but I thought I might point you in the direction of a book that may be of some interest. Recently
            Message 5 of 23 , Mar 22, 2010
              Hi Michael,

              Sorry to jump on this one so late (been busy), but I thought I might point you in the direction of a book that may be of some interest.

              Recently John Kloppenborg published a massive study of the parable of the tenants, Tenants in the Vineyard: Ideology, Economics, & Agrarian Conflict in Jewish Palestine. It's a huge book but well worth the read if Th 65 interests you. Kloppenborg sides with Patterson's reading (and DeConick's too for that matter) that the Coptic should read "a creditor." Based on a literary analysis of the parable, there is no reason for us to assume that the vineyard owner was a good man, and based on the historical circumstances, there is no reason to assume anyone would have presented the vineyard owner as a good man (he was an absentee landlord who exploited the labour of others, this much is clear from Thomas alone!). Kloppenborg presents this in order to argue that Thomas represents a much more realistic story (therefore not allegorized) than does Mark. For instance Mark has the man plant the vineyard (with refernce to Isaiah 5:1-2) but then demand rent right away (vineyards take at least 5 years to become fruitful). Mark also has the tenants assume that by murdering the heir they would inherit the vineyard, there was, of course, no legal grounds for this. And finally Mark has the owner exact his own revenge, rather than go through the motions to do it legally.

              All this shows Thomas resists allegorization, and that the tendency to read the owner as a good man, and the tenants as evil, is the result of reading Thomas through Mark.

              As for Th. 66, we should not be so quick as to assume it is "appended onto Th. 65. After all it is its own chreia, complete with its own introduction (Jesus says). While its placement seems like more than a coincidence, Kloppenborg deals with this too (an argument that you should get straight from the horses mouth).

              ian

              The link for the book is below.

              http://www.amazon.com/Tenants-Vineyard-Economics-Wissenschaftliche-Untersuchungen/dp/316148908X


              Be smarter than spam. See how smart SpamGuard is at giving junk email the boot with the All-new Yahoo! Mail
            • Michael Grondin
              Hi Ian, No need to apologize for a late response; your message put a welcome end to a week-long dry spell on the list which rather depressed me. ... Although I
              Message 6 of 23 , Mar 22, 2010
                Hi Ian,

                No need to apologize for a late response; your message put a welcome
                end to a week-long dry spell on the list which rather depressed me.

                > Recently John Kloppenborg published a massive study of the parable
                > of the tenants, Tenants in the Vineyard: Ideology, Economics, & Agrarian
                > Conflict in Jewish Palestine.It's a huge book but well worth the read if
                > Th 65 interests you. Kloppenborg sides with Patterson's reading (and
                > DeConick's too for that matter) that the Coptic should read "a creditor."

                Although I didn't mention it and don't have it, I was aware of
                Kloppenborg's book. I did fail to consult DeConick, however, and you're
                quite right that she has 'creditor' (with a note indicating that the lacuna
                might also be restored as "an 'honest' man".) I have some problems with
                'creditor' (or 'lender'), but at least it's better to my mind than
                Patterson's 'userer' (it was Meyer who suggested 'creditor', but that
                suggestion wasn't followed in _The Fifth Gospel_). I also wonder how
                DeConick would square her translation (of what she takes to be a kernel
                saying) with her opposition to the JSem's picture of Jesus.

                > Based on a literary analysis of the parable, there is no reason for us to
                > assume that the vineyard owner was a good man, and based on the
                > historical circumstances, there is no reason to assume anyone would
                > have presented the vineyard owner as a good man (he was an absentee
                > landlord who exploited the labour of others, this much is clear from
                > Thomas alone!).

                Well, "exploitation" is a subjective concept. To my mind, the Thomas
                version suggests that there was an agreement between the owner and
                the tenant farmers that they would give him the produce of his vineyard
                in return for him allowing them to live on the land free of charge. Whether
                that would have been a bad bargain or not (in terms of *their* time and
                place, not ours), the tenants clearly broke the agreement in an illegal
                and violent manner. The counter to Kloppenborg's analysis, I suppose,
                would be to suppose that a positive description of the vineyard-owner
                (missing from the synoptics) was felt necessary in Thomas to make sure
                that no one assumed that the vineyard-owner might have somehow
                deserved what happened to his son and servants.

                > Mark ... has the tenants assume that by murdering the heir they would
                > inherit the vineyard, there was, of course, no legal grounds for this.

                Are you sure that if the owner died without existing male issue, the
                legalities of that time and place wouldn't have favored the tenants?
                Of course, under *our* laws, the owner's estate would pass to his
                nearest relatives, but Thomas seems to agree with the synoptics
                that the tenants thought that there would be some special benefit
                to them from doing away with the owner's son.

                Aside from these matters of interpretation, the problem I have with
                XRHSTHS is that it appears to have been a very uncommon Greek
                word, and hence not one that would normally be expected to pass
                into the Coptic lexicon of Greek loan-words. In fact, I can't find it at
                all in the entire Greek NT. 'Creditor', 'lender', and 'userer' all seem to
                correspond to other Greek words. Hopefully, Rick or someone else
                who knows Greek pretty well can confirm or disconfirm this.

                Regards,
                Mike
              • Bob Schacht
                ... This is a variety of sharecropping that most Americans don t know about because we ve been divorced from our agricultural roots. It is unusual if the
                Message 7 of 23 , Mar 22, 2010
                  At 12:06 PM 3/22/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:
                  ...the Thomas version suggests that there was an agreement between the owner and
                  the tenant farmers that they would give him the produce of his vineyard
                  in return for him allowing them to live on the land free of charge.

                  This is a variety of sharecropping that most Americans don't know about because we've been divorced from our agricultural roots. It is unusual if the landowner demands 100% of the crop, because it would leave the tenants with nothing to eat. To get back in touch with the gritty realities of this situation, it might help to read The Grapes of Wrath, by Steinbeck.

                  Whether that would have been a bad bargain or not (in terms of *their* time and
                  place, not ours), the tenants clearly broke the agreement in an illegal and violent manner.

                  That sounds like an easy legalistic argument that does not sound much like Jesus. It sounds more pharisaic.

                  We have become so cut off from our agricultural roots that it is difficult for us to fathom the realities of this situation. Reading The Grapes of Wrath, even though it is from our time and not from Jesus' time, helps. But of course, something true of both situations is that this kind of action (by landowner as well as the tenant) has consequences that cannot be ignored.

                  A lot also depends on who the audience was.

                  Bob Schacht
                  Northern Arizona University
                • Richard Hubbard
                  ... XRHSTHS is that ... that ... loan-words. In ... lender , and userer all ... else who ... I m nowhere close to any printed reference works right at the
                  Message 8 of 23 , Mar 23, 2010
                    On the matter of the word XRHSTHS Mike wrote:

                    |
                    |Aside from these matters of interpretation, the problem I have with
                    XRHSTHS is that
                    |it appears to have been a very uncommon Greek word, and hence not one
                    that
                    |would normally be expected to pass into the Coptic lexicon of Greek
                    loan-words. In
                    |fact, I can't find it at all in the entire Greek NT. 'Creditor',
                    'lender', and 'userer' all
                    |seem to correspond to other Greek words. Hopefully, Rick or someone
                    else who
                    |knows Greek pretty well can confirm or disconfirm this.
                    |

                    I'm nowhere close to any printed reference works right at the moment but
                    I took a quick look at LSJ at the Perseus site to see "what is what"
                    with XRHSTHS. It's an interesting entry.
                    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=xrh%2Fsths&la=greek&prior=xr
                    hsthriw/dhs#lexicon
                    The primary meaning of XRHSTHS is " one who gives or expounds oracles"
                    but a secondary entry for the word (A.2) gives the meaning as "a
                    creditor or userer". As a side note, Perseus looked at 27 sets of texts
                    with a total of about 802,000 words and determined that the word occurs
                    66 times, so yeah, it is not exactly common as Mike observes.

                    While XRHSTHS with the meaning 'Creditor', 'lender', and 'userer' is
                    indeed attested I also note that none of the texts in which it is used
                    are "religious" texts. I'll do a little more checking when I get home to
                    print version of LSJ tonight.

                    Rick



                    |-----Original Message-----
                    |From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com]
                    |Sent: Monday, March 22, 2010 3:03 PM
                    |To: Richard Hubbard; gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                    |Subject: Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
                    |Importance: Low
                    |
                    |
                    |
                    |
                    |Hi Ian,
                    |
                    |No need to apologize for a late response; your message put a welcome
                    end to a
                    |week-long dry spell on the list which rather depressed me.
                    |
                    |> Recently John Kloppenborg published a massive study of the parable of
                    |> the tenants, Tenants in the Vineyard: Ideology, Economics, & Agrarian
                    |> Conflict in Jewish Palestine.It's a huge book but well worth the read
                    |> if Th 65 interests you. Kloppenborg sides with Patterson's reading
                    |> (and DeConick's too for that matter) that the Coptic should read "a
                    creditor."
                    |
                    |Although I didn't mention it and don't have it, I was aware of
                    Kloppenborg's book. I did
                    |fail to consult DeConick, however, and you're quite right that she has
                    'creditor' (with a
                    |note indicating that the lacuna might also be restored as "an 'honest'
                    man".) I have
                    |some problems with 'creditor' (or 'lender'), but at least it's better
                    to my mind than
                    |Patterson's 'userer' (it was Meyer who suggested 'creditor', but that
                    suggestion wasn't
                    |followed in _The Fifth Gospel_). I also wonder how DeConick would
                    square her
                    |translation (of what she takes to be a kernel
                    |saying) with her opposition to the JSem's picture of Jesus.
                    |
                    |> Based on a literary analysis of the parable, there is no reason for
                    us
                    |> to assume that the vineyard owner was a good man, and based on the
                    |> historical circumstances, there is no reason to assume anyone would
                    |> have presented the vineyard owner as a good man (he was an absentee
                    |> landlord who exploited the labour of others, this much is clear from
                    |> Thomas alone!).
                    |
                    |Well, "exploitation" is a subjective concept. To my mind, the Thomas
                    version
                    |suggests that there was an agreement between the owner and the tenant
                    farmers
                    |that they would give him the produce of his vineyard in return for him
                    allowing them
                    |to live on the land free of charge. Whether that would have been a bad
                    bargain or not
                    |(in terms of *their* time and place, not ours), the tenants clearly
                    broke the agreement
                    |in an illegal and violent manner. The counter to Kloppenborg's
                    analysis, I suppose,
                    |would be to suppose that a positive description of the vineyard-owner
                    (missing from
                    |the synoptics) was felt necessary in Thomas to make sure that no one
                    assumed that
                    |the vineyard-owner might have somehow deserved what happened to his son
                    and
                    |servants.
                    |
                    |> Mark ... has the tenants assume that by murdering the heir they would
                    |> inherit the vineyard, there was, of course, no legal grounds for
                    this.
                    |
                    |Are you sure that if the owner died without existing male issue, the
                    legalities of that
                    |time and place wouldn't have favored the tenants?
                    |Of course, under *our* laws, the owner's estate would pass to his
                    nearest relatives,
                    |but Thomas seems to agree with the synoptics that the tenants thought
                    that there
                    |would be some special benefit to them from doing away with the owner's
                    son.
                    |
                    |Aside from these matters of interpretation, the problem I have with
                    XRHSTHS is that
                    |it appears to have been a very uncommon Greek word, and hence not one
                    that
                    |would normally be expected to pass into the Coptic lexicon of Greek
                    loan-words. In
                    |fact, I can't find it at all in the entire Greek NT. 'Creditor',
                    'lender', and 'userer' all
                    |seem to correspond to other Greek words. Hopefully, Rick or someone
                    else who
                    |knows Greek pretty well can confirm or disconfirm this.
                    |
                    |Regards,
                    |Mike
                    |
                    |
                    |
                    |
                    |
                  • Michael Grondin
                    Hi Rick, Thanks for your research on XRHSTHS. My own research indicates that it doesn t occur at all in either the Greek or Coptic NT s. Because of that, and
                    Message 9 of 23 , Mar 25, 2010
                      Hi Rick,

                      Thanks for your research on XRHSTHS. My own research
                      indicates that it doesn't occur at all in either the Greek or
                      Coptic NT's. Because of that, and in the absence of any
                      examples of Coptic usage in the NHL or elsewhere, I would
                      have to conclude that the word would have been almost
                      totally unfamiliar to a Coptic audience, and therefore that
                      the lacuna in L65 most likely contained XRHSTOS, i.e.,
                      that the intention in Coptic Thomas was to describe the
                      vineyard-owner as a kind or good man. Unfortunately, those
                      who have suggested XRHSTHS seem not to have asked
                      themselves the key question of how likely (or unlikely) the
                      sheer occurrence of that word in this text might have been.

                      Mike
                    • Rick Hubbard
                      Hi Mike- I concur that XRHSTHS is a genuinely obscure Greek word. Subsequent to my on-line query into the Perseus database, I also pulled out my copy of LSJ
                      Message 10 of 23 , Mar 25, 2010
                        Hi Mike-

                        I concur that XRHSTHS is a genuinely "obscure" Greek word. Subsequent to my
                        on-line query into the Perseus database, I also pulled out my copy of LSJ to
                        look for more detail but attestation there is equally scanty.

                        More or less on a lark I pulled out my copy of Rudolf Kasser's _L' Evangile
                        selon Thomas_ just to see how he translated L 65 from Coptic back into
                        Greek(a feature of his commentary that I always find informative). He
                        clearly did not favor XRHSTHS since his Greek reads: EIPEN: ANQROPW XRHSTW
                        hN AMPELWN.... Oddly enough, in his retranslation he takes no note of the
                        lacuna but he was clearly aware of it because in his French translation of
                        the logion he renders: Un home ex[cel]lent avait une vigne (p 91). Neither
                        is there anything in the footnotes remarking on the lacuna. Guillaumont's
                        old edition of the text reads the Coptic as MXPH[ST].S (with the uncertain
                        letter being "O"). The Brill edition follows Guillaumont except that even
                        Guillaumont's uncertain reading of the O is included inside the brackets.
                        From my perpective, I can't see any way that XPHTNS is defensible given the
                        word's obscurity and the apparent contrary readings proposed by other
                        authorities. At best, at least the number of letters is plausible, but it
                        seems to me pretty cheeky to adopt the "creditor" reading given the evidence
                        **against** it being correct.

                        Rick





                        ||-----Original Message-----
                        ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
                        ||Behalf Of Michael Grondin
                        ||Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2010 4:15 PM
                        ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                        ||Subject: Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
                        ||
                        ||
                        ||
                        ||Hi Rick,
                        ||
                        ||Thanks for your research on XRHSTHS. My own research indicates that it
                        ||doesn't occur at all in either the Greek or Coptic NT's. Because of that,
                        and in
                        ||the absence of any examples of Coptic usage in the NHL or elsewhere, I
                        would
                        ||have to conclude that the word would have been almost totally unfamiliar
                        to a
                        ||Coptic audience, and therefore that the lacuna in L65 most likely
                        contained
                        ||XRHSTOS, i.e., that the intention in Coptic Thomas was to describe the
                        ||vineyard-owner as a kind or good man. Unfortunately, those who have
                        ||suggested XRHSTHS seem not to have asked themselves the key question of
                        ||how likely (or unlikely) the sheer occurrence of that word in this text
                        might
                        ||have been.
                        ||
                        ||Mike
                        ||
                        ||
                        ||
                        ||
                      • Ian Brown
                        Rick (and others for that matter), You write that, At best, at least the number of letters is plausible, but it seems to me pretty cheeky to adopt the
                        Message 11 of 23 , Mar 25, 2010
                          Rick (and others for that matter),

                          You write that, "At best, at least the number of letters is plausible, but it
                          seems to me pretty cheeky to adopt the "creditor" reading given the evidence
                          **against** it being correct."

                          I'm not quite sure why "creditor" is any cheekier a translation than "good". While I admit it is very interesting that XRHSTHS is used infrequently, just because a word isn't used often does not mean that it wasn't used here. There are plenty of texts that use a word once, or use vocabulary that is otherwise not characteristic of the text.

                          Yes, I agree that the proposition that Th. 65 refers to a "creditor" does play into the hand of the Jesus seminar. But we need to remember that the idea that Th. 65 refers to a "good man" is primarily derived from an anachronistic reading of Thomas through the synoptics. They allegorize the parable and make it (reasonably) clear that the vineyard owner is the protagonist. This is not the case in Thomas (the allegorixation that is), therefore there is no reason to see the vineyard owner as the protagonist.

                          Having dispensed with our predispositions (or rather acknowledged that both are ideologically loaded), we can read the parable on its own, but also in the context of its location in Thomas. The parable does not betray any indication that we should sympathize with the vineyard owner. So while this does not prove one way or ther other whether or not he is good, it does suggest, perhaps we are not meant to see him as such.

                          I think there is more evidence for this when we look at Th. 65 in the context of the preceeding two logia. Th. 63 tells us of the rich man who invested in worldly things, then died, and Th. 64 tells us of a person hosting a banquet who is shamed when the originally invited guests refuse his invitation. The logion concludes with Jesus saying "Buyers and merchants will not enter the places of my Father."

                          Thus in light of the fact that Th. 65 gives us no reason to view the vineyard owner as a good man, and the location of Th. 65 after two logia which are a little more clearly opposed to material exchange, it seems to me that reading the man as a "creditor" makes much more sense than as a "good man".

                          ian


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                        • Rick Hubbard
                          The notion that the 3 logia (64, 65 and 66) are part of a seminal context has merit, and Ian needs to be thanked for pointing that out to us. On the other
                          Message 12 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
                            The notion that the 3 logia (64, 65 and 66) are part of a seminal context
                            has merit, and Ian needs to be thanked for pointing that out to us.

                            On the other hand, with regard to the question of the choice of XPHSTHS or
                            XRHSTOS, I still remain skeptical of the former and lean toward the latter.

                            Mike observed that XPHSTHS appears nowhere in the CNT nor in the NHL.
                            Lidell-Scott-Jones (LSJ) finds little record of its usage except in a narrow
                            group of classical writers and the Perseus site attests to an undeniably low
                            use frequency. I note also that Mike has apparently checked the indices to
                            the NHL and found no use of the word elsewhere in the corpus. Moreover, at
                            least two textual authorities read the damaged glyph in the MSS as "O"
                            rather than "H". In fact, in the notes on the reconstructed Coptic text
                            (printed in the Q-Thomas reader which I presume is the basis for the
                            disputed translation and which I also presume to be identical to the BWG
                            text, [p154]), the alternative readings of **either** "a [good] person"
                            (XRHSTOS ) **or** "a [creditor]" (XRHSTHS) are offered as alternatives.

                            Why the latter of these two possibilities was chosen for the translation is
                            unclear, but I **still** think that the choice cuts hard against the grain
                            of probability given the statistically rare use of XRHSTHS in both Greek and
                            Coptic literature.

                            Rick


                            ||-----Original Message-----
                            ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
                            ||Behalf Of Ian Brown
                            ||Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2010 7:32 PM
                            ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                            ||Subject: Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
                            ||
                            ||
                            ||
                            ||Rick (and others for that matter),
                            ||
                            ||You write that, "At best, at least the number of letters is plausible, but
                            it
                            ||seems to me pretty cheeky to adopt the "creditor" reading given the
                            evidence
                            ||**against** it being correct."
                            ||
                            ||I'm not quite sure why "creditor" is any cheekier a translation than
                            "good".
                            ||While I admit it is very interesting that XRHSTHS is used infrequently,
                            just
                            ||because a word isn't used often does not mean that it wasn't used here.
                            There
                            ||are plenty of texts that use a word once, or use vocabulary that is
                            otherwise
                            ||not characteristic of the text.
                            ||
                            ||Yes, I agree that the proposition that Th. 65 refers to a "creditor" does
                            play
                            ||into the hand of the Jesus seminar. But we need to remember that the idea
                            ||that Th. 65 refers to a "good man" is primarily derived from an
                            anachronistic
                            ||reading of Thomas through the synoptics. They allegorize the parable and
                            ||make it (reasonably) clear that the vineyard owner is the protagonist.
                            This is
                            ||not the case in Thomas (the allegorixation that is), therefore there is no
                            reason
                            ||to see the vineyard owner as the protagonist.
                            ||
                            ||Having dispensed with our predispositions (or rather acknowledged that
                            both
                            ||are ideologically loaded), we can read the parable on its own, but also in
                            the
                            ||context of its location in Thomas. The parable does not betray any
                            indication
                            ||that we should sympathize with the vineyard owner. So while this does not
                            ||prove one way or ther other whether or not he is good, it does suggest,
                            ||perhaps we are not meant to see him as such.
                            ||
                            ||I think there is more evidence for this when we look at Th. 65 in the
                            context of
                            ||the preceeding two logia. Th. 63 tells us of the rich man who invested in
                            ||worldly things, then died, and Th. 64 tells us of a person hosting a
                            banquet
                            ||who is shamed when the originally invited guests refuse his invitation.
                            The
                            ||logion concludes with Jesus saying "Buyers and merchants will not enter
                            the
                            ||places of my Father."
                            ||
                            ||Thus in light of the fact that Th. 65 gives us no reason to view the
                            vineyard
                            ||owner as a good man, and the location of Th. 65 after two logia which are
                            a
                            ||little more clearly opposed to material exchange, it seems to me that
                            reading
                            ||the man as a "creditor" makes much more sense than as a "good man".
                            ||
                            ||ian
                            ||
                            ||
                            ||________________________________
                            ||
                            ||Be smarter than spam. See how smart SpamGuard is at giving junk email the
                            ||boot with the All-new Yahoo! Mail
                            ||<http://ca.promos.yahoo.com/newmail/overview2/>
                            ||
                            ||
                          • Michael Grondin
                            Hi Ian, You make a good case, and I m glad to see that here, even if I may not ... It isn t that XRHSTHS would be used just once in the text; there are other
                            Message 13 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
                              Hi Ian,
                              You make a good case, and I'm glad to see that here, even if I may not
                              agree with it. Here's a few pieces of reasoning I would question:

                              > While I admit it is very interesting that XRHSTHS is used infrequently,
                              > just because a word isn't used often does not mean that it wasn't used
                              > here. There are plenty of texts that use a word once, or use vocabulary
                              > that is otherwise not characteristic of the text.

                              It isn't that XRHSTHS would be used just once in the text; there are other
                              words that were used just once in Coptic Thomas, LOGOS among them.
                              Nor is it that this word would necessarily be uncharacteristic of the text.
                              It's that it's questionable whether the word was part of the Coptic lexicon
                              of Greek loan-words to begin with. They didn't use every Greek word,
                              anymore than French speakers use every English word, though they use
                              some. That the word was uncommon in Greek even to the extent of never
                              being used in the Greek NT is a strong indication that it was an unlikely
                              candidate to have passed into Coptic usage. I think, then, that it's
                              incumbent on those who favor the word to find at least one example of
                              its usage in Coptic.

                              > [The synoptics] allegorize the parable and make it (reasonably) clear
                              > that the vineyard owner is the protagonist. This is not the case in
                              > Thomas (the allegorixation that is), therefore there is no reason
                              > to see the vineyard owner as the protagonist.

                              Well, as I understand the word 'protagonist', he still remains one. The
                              parable begins with him, and he has a continuing action and speaking
                              role, while the tenant-farmers are acting as his antagonists.

                              > The parable does not betray any indication that we should sympathize
                              > with the vineyard owner. So while this does not prove one way or the
                              > other whether or not he is good, it does suggest, perhaps we are not
                              > meant to see him as such.

                              You should have prefaced this with "apart from the lacuna", but in any
                              case, I disagree with it. The Thomas version indicates that the owner
                              had an agreement with the tenants, that they broke it and refused to
                              render to him any part of the fruit of his vineyard, and that not only did
                              they do that, but they also viciously beat (note that the text doesn't
                              just say 'beat', but adds 'almost to death') his servants and killed his
                              son. You think none of that evokes sympathy or was intended to?

                              > I think there is more evidence for this when we look at Th. 65 in the
                              > context of the preceeding two logia. Th. 63 tells us of the rich man
                              > who invested in worldly things, then died, and Th. 64 tells us of a
                              > person hosting a banquet who is shamed when the originally invited
                              > guests refuse his invitation. The logion concludes with Jesus saying
                              > "Buyers and merchants will not enter the places of my Father."

                              And yet the banquet-giver is apparently himself a rich man, and the
                              story is apparently an allegory, so there's nothing implied to be
                              wrong with being rich per se - what's impled to be wrong is letting
                              mundane affairs interfere with spiritual needs (which is apparently
                              what the tenants did in Th.65). But more than that, if we're going to
                              consider adjacent sayings, then we need to consider Th.66 also.
                              That saying seems to allegorize Jesus as "the stone that the builders
                              rejected", which in turn lends credence to the view that the vineyard-
                              owner's son in Th.65 might have been intended the same way.
                              Overall, I don't see that context is any better than a draw.

                              What we may be able to agree on is that given that there's
                              plausible reasons on both sides, the best translation of the
                              lacuna may be an ellipsis.

                              Regards,
                              Mike
                            • Michael Grondin
                              ... I would have done that if there was any way to do it, but as far as I know, there isn t. What I did do was to check Layton s Greek lexicons for the 7
                              Message 14 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
                                Rick writes:
                                > I note ... that Mike has apparently checked the indices to the
                                > NHL and found no use of the word elsewhere in the corpus.

                                I would have done that if there was any way to do it, but as far as
                                I know, there isn't. What I did do was to check Layton's Greek
                                lexicons for the 7 tractates of Codex II, and to use the search
                                function at gnosis.org to search the English translations of the
                                entire NHL for the words 'creditor', 'lender', and 'usurer'. I came
                                up with nothing, but of course that isn't as conclusive as could
                                be wished.

                                Mike
                              • Ian Brown
                                Rick, just a quick note of correction. You wrote that, The notion that the 3 logia (64, 65 and 66) are part of a seminal context has merit, and Ian needs to
                                Message 15 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
                                  Rick,

                                  just a quick note of correction. You wrote that,

                                  "The notion that the 3 logia (64, 65 and 66) are part of a seminal context
                                  has merit, and Ian needs to be thanked for pointing that out to us."

                                  The three logia I linked together thematically were actually 63*, 64, and 65. In terms of themes (here all show the folly of investing in material things) 66 does not actually fit in with them.

                                  ian


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                                • Rick Hubbard
                                  Hi Ian- Thanks for pointing out my mis-typing. I hope no readers got confused by the error. I did after all mean to say 63, 64 and 65 . On another note, just
                                  Message 16 of 23 , Mar 28, 2010
                                    Hi Ian-

                                    Thanks for pointing out my mis-typing. I hope no readers got confused by the
                                    error. I did after all mean to say "63, 64 and 65".

                                    On another note, just to further ensure I haven't misspoken about the use of
                                    XRHSTHS in the NHL, I called the library at the local seminary (Bangor
                                    Theological Seminary) to see if they have all the volumes of the NHL on
                                    their shelves so I can hand check the indices for use of the word. They do
                                    have a complete set but for some inexplicable reason they are all in cold
                                    storage so it will take them "a few days" to retrieve them. In any case when
                                    they are available, I'll sift through them to see what I can find. Who
                                    knows, maybe XRHSTHS is attested somewhere in the collection.

                                    Rick

                                    ||-----Original Message-----
                                    ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
                                    ||Behalf Of Ian Brown
                                    ||Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2010 4:22 PM
                                    ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                                    ||Subject: Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
                                    ||
                                    ||
                                    ||
                                    ||Rick,
                                    ||
                                    ||just a quick note of correction. You wrote that,
                                    ||
                                    ||"The notion that the 3 logia (64, 65 and 66) are part of a seminal context
                                    has
                                    ||merit, and Ian needs to be thanked for pointing that out to us."
                                    ||
                                    ||The three logia I linked together thematically were actually 63*, 64, and
                                    65. In
                                    ||terms of themes (here all show the folly of investing in material things)
                                    66
                                    ||does not actually fit in with them.
                                    ||
                                    ||ian
                                    ||
                                    ||
                                    ||________________________________
                                    ||
                                    ||Make your browsing faster, safer, and easier with the new Internet
                                    ExplorerR
                                    ||8. Optimized for Yahoo! Get it Now for Free!
                                    ||<http://downloads.yahoo.com/ca/internetexplorer/>
                                    ||
                                    ||
                                  • Michael Grondin
                                    Just to clarify what Rick is now doing, and what we were talking about earlier: NHL is commonly used to refer to the volume of English translations that
                                    Message 17 of 23 , Mar 29, 2010
                                      Just to clarify what Rick is now doing, and what we were talking
                                      about earlier: "NHL" is commonly used to refer to the volume of
                                      English translations that Robinson edited (1977,1988). That
                                      book doesn't contain any indices of Coptic or Greek words, and
                                      indeed all the individual translators were free to translate as they
                                      wished. Subsequently, however, a series of critical editions
                                      were published by Brill under the general title "The Coptic
                                      Gnostic Library". Basically, each book in the series covered one
                                      codex, though sometimes in more than one volume. These books,
                                      unlike Robinson's NHL, contain both the Coptic text and indices
                                      of Coptic and Greek words used in each tractate of the codex.
                                      (The series also covers Papyrus Berolinensis 8502 and the Askew
                                      and Bruce codices, BTW.)

                                      With respect to Codex II, for example, Bentley Layton edited a
                                      two volume work that covers tractates 2 thru 7 - the Apocryphon
                                      of John in its three versions being edited by Wisse and published
                                      separately. My personal holdings include just the 2-volume Layton
                                      book, the Wisse book on ApJohn, and the critical edition of the Bruce
                                      Codex (Books of Jeu), so that was all I was able to consult at the
                                      outset, as far as indices of Greek words used in Coptic writings
                                      (other than a search of the Coptic and Greek NT's on CD).
                                      There is no general index to all the NHL tractates that I know of
                                      (I would certainly acquire it if there was one), so the best that can
                                      be done is to check the Greek index of every tractate in the entire
                                      series in the "Coptic Gnostic Library". That's what Rick's doing now.
                                      However, only a positive result will be decisive. If Rick's search
                                      turns up nothing, a proponent of XRHSTHS can still claim that
                                      it's possible, even if improbable, that that word was used only once
                                      in the entire NHL,

                                      Mike Grondin
                                    • rickhubbardus
                                      ... Thanks, Mike, for helping to clarify what I am doing (that s especially helpful because sometimes I, myself, don t know what I m doing). On a more
                                      Message 18 of 23 , Mar 30, 2010
                                        Mike wrote:

                                        > Just to clarify what Rick is now doing, <snip>

                                        Thanks, Mike, for helping to clarify "what I am doing" (that's especially helpful because sometimes I, myself, don't know what I'm doing).

                                        On a more serious note, to further clarify, the Brill critical editions which Mike has in his possession are individual volumes of the primo hard-bound editions with reconstructed texts, indices and translations of the Nag Hammadi corpus that were published over several years by multiple translators and editors (and are now priced far beyond the means of the average person, if they can be found at all). The formal title of these editions is _The Coptic Gnostic Library: Edited with English Translation, Index and Notes_. I think the conventional short-hand reference to this collection is therefore "CGL".

                                        A few years ago Brill published the complete critical editions of the Coptic Gnostic Library into a single 5 volume paperback set **also** called the Coptic Gnostic Library and this too, which **also** is ALSO regularly called the "CGL". Somewhere in between these critical editions two editions of English-only English translations were published in a single volume. These are called The Nag Hammadi Library in English and are usually shot-handed as the "NHL".

                                        To Be Perfectly Clear: There is no comprehensive index to the "NHL".

                                        So, what I hope to **really** clarify is that when I said I was going to look at the indices of the NHL what I really SHOULD have said (in order to be completely accurate) was that I'm going to examine the indices of the **GCL**not the *NHL*.

                                        Clear as mud, eh?

                                        Rick
                                      • Rick Hubbard
                                        To All: My apologies for the garbled post I submitted earlier: In the second paragraph I wrote: A few years ago Brill published the complete critical
                                        Message 19 of 23 , Mar 30, 2010
                                          To All:

                                          My apologies for the garbled post I submitted earlier:

                                          In the second paragraph I wrote:

                                          " A few years ago Brill published the complete critical editions of the
                                          Coptic Gnostic Library into a single 5 volume paperback set **also** called
                                          the Coptic Gnostic Library and this too, which **also** is ALSO regularly
                                          called the "CGL".

                                          Please ignore the "which **also**". Or, better yet, just understand that
                                          both the original hard-bound critical edition and the paper-bound versions
                                          mat both be called "CGL". The contents of both are the same (as far as I
                                          know).

                                          Then there is this:
                                          These are called The Nag Hammadi Library in English and are usually
                                          shot-handed as the "NHL".

                                          I meant to say, "usually short-handed as the 'NHL'."

                                          Rick
                                        • Judy Redman
                                          Well, Rick, it s clear to me what you re doing. But, as Mike says, not finding anything is not definitive, so a rather frustrating exercise. I spent quite a
                                          Message 20 of 23 , Mar 31, 2010

                                            Well, Rick, it’s clear to me what you’re doing. But, as Mike says, not finding anything is not definitive, so a rather frustrating exercise. I spent quite a number of hours doing a very similar task with CGL (paperback edition) a number of years ago, only I was looking at the way “time” CGL talked about “time” or something similar and the best I could do is “it seems highly unlikely that ...” L

                                             

                                            Good luck.

                                             

                                            Judy

                                             

                                            --

                                            Judy Redman
                                            PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
                                            University of New England
                                            Armidale 2351 Australia
                                            ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
                                            mob: 0437 044 579
                                            web: 
                                             http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
                                            email: 
                                             jredman2@...
                                             

                                            _

                                          • Michael Grondin
                                            Hi Rick, Many thanks for your research. I ve been trying to track down the 1974 French piece by B. Dehandschutter that Marvin Meyer cited in his comments on
                                            Message 21 of 23 , Apr 5, 2010
                                              Hi Rick,
                                              Many thanks for your research. I've been trying to track down the
                                              1974 French piece by B. Dehandschutter that Marvin Meyer cited
                                              in his comments on L.65 in _The Gospel of Thomas_ (1992).
                                              It's in a 1974 book edited by Maurits Sabbe. (It wouldn't do me any
                                              good to have it in French, cuz I don't know the language, but I was
                                              hoping it might be online, so that I could get a rough translation via
                                              the browser.) Preliminary search results indicate it isn't online, but
                                              I did find a 2001 address by John Kloppenborg (whose book Ian
                                              Brown had mentioned) on the occasion of assuming office as the
                                              president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. It's titled
                                              "Ideology and Ideological Readings of the Parable of the Tenants",
                                              and presumably includes some of the basic ideas of his book.
                                              See in particular pages 18-19, where he addresses the Thomas
                                              version (and cites Dehandschutter):

                                              www.ccsr.ca/csbs/presidential2001.PDF

                                              Kloppenborg notes that the 15th edition of the German publication
                                              SQE (1993) incorporates Dehandschutter's suggestion, which I
                                              wasn't aware of. I happen to have that, so I checked it out, and sure
                                              enough, XRHSTOS is reduced to a footnote. (Even worse, the English
                                              translation given is 'usurer', rather than the more benign 'creditor'.)
                                              It appears, then, that the earlier consensus in favor of XRHSTOS
                                              shifted some years back in favor of XRHSTHS. But as far as I have
                                              been able to determine, that shift was entirely based on reasoning
                                              about what the parable must mean. I haven't seen any indication that
                                              anyone gave any thought to the *likelihood* of that word appearing in
                                              a Coptic text. What I want to do is to check the Dehandschutter piece
                                              to see if *he* gave it any thought. I suspect he didn't, but that remains
                                              to be seen. Everyone else seems to have assumed that because it
                                              was a Greek word, there was no reason why it wouldn't show up in a
                                              Coptic text. But if they had actually researched the question, they would
                                              have seen that Coptic writings contain a relatively small lexicon of Greek
                                              words. Those that were used were those with which the Copts were most
                                              familiar, and as far as can be determined, XRHSTHS wasn't one of them.

                                              Mike
                                            • Michael Grondin
                                              Rick informs me that he s posted a note relevant to this discussion on Charlie Hedrick s blog at: http://www.charleshedrick.com It s worth taking a look at,
                                              Message 22 of 23 , Apr 8, 2010
                                                Rick informs me that he's posted a note relevant to this
                                                discussion on Charlie Hedrick's blog at:
                                                http://www.charleshedrick.com

                                                It's worth taking a look at, though Hedrick totally ignores
                                                the research results that Rick presents. Instead, he makes
                                                two claims that I think are misleading to the point of being
                                                blatantly false:

                                                (1) that XRHSTOS and XRHSTHS are "equally possible".
                                                What Hedrick must mean is that they both fit the lacuna.
                                                As to probability of usage, however, it's clear from the evidence
                                                presented here lately (and in Rick's blog note) that XRHSTHS is
                                                quite improbable.

                                                (2) that 'usurer' is a neutral term. To quote Hedrick:
                                                "... there is nothing intrinsically wrong about being a userer
                                                (money lender). Under certain community attitudes it can be
                                                seen as an ignoble profession, but in our society it plays a
                                                helpful role, unless of course we are talking about payday
                                                loans at exorbitant rates of interest."

                                                But when we use the word 'usurer', we _are_ talking about "loans
                                                at exorbitant rates of interest", because that's what the word means
                                                today! In an English translation, we cannot use a word to convey an
                                                *archaic* meaning that it no longer has. The reader will understand
                                                it in its contemporary meaning. If we want to convey an archaic
                                                meaning, another word should be used which has that meaning in
                                                contemporary parlance, such as, in the present case, 'money lender'.
                                                In short, I find Hedrick's defense of 'usurer' to be untenable.

                                                Mike Grondin
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