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

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  • 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 1 of 23 , Mar 25, 2010
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      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 2 of 23 , Mar 25, 2010
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        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 3 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
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          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
          ||
          ||
          ||________________________________
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        • 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 4 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
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            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 5 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
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              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 6 of 23 , Mar 27, 2010
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                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 7 of 23 , Mar 28, 2010
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                  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 8 of 23 , Mar 29, 2010
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                    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 9 of 23 , Mar 30, 2010
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                      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 10 of 23 , Mar 30, 2010
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                        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 11 of 23 , Mar 31, 2010
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                          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 12 of 23 , Apr 5 11:19 PM
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                            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 13 of 23 , Apr 8 12:40 PM
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                              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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