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[gthomas] Re: Mysterious syntactical facts

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  • Mike Grondin
    Thanks for your response, Jon, especially for pointing out the practical necessity of line-counting in the production of the NH codices. One can get a feel for
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 7, 1999
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      Thanks for your response, Jon, especially for pointing out the practical
      necessity of line-counting in the production of the NH codices. One can get
      a feel for the problem by taking a bunch of blank sheets of paper and
      folding them in the middle. Immediately you realize that the bottom sheet
      constitutes both the first page and the last, etc. So if you start copying
      something into this home-made "book" without some planning, you run the
      risk of having too many blank pages at the end, or (worse) of overshooting
      the mark and having stuff left over with no page to put it on.

      The natural assumption is that if the Copts had had their "druthers", they
      would have wanted each text to end at or near the bottom of a page, and the
      next text to start at the top of the next page. If this assumption is
      correct, then the fact that texts often ended in the middle of page, and
      that the next text was started on the same page, would seem to indicate an
      "overshoot" situation with respect to the first text, with an attempt to
      correct the situation by beginning the next text on the same page, rather
      than making the matter worse by skipping to the top of the next page. This
      gives the appearance that the Copts did some planning, but were unable to
      be exact - much depending, evidently, on the writing style of the
      individual scribe. I'm not really happy with this scenario, since I would
      have thought that the scribes would be more restricted as to the content of
      each line, and the number of lines per page, but the evidence seems to
      indicate otherwise.

      As to your question about the order of the NH codices, Robinson says this
      in NHLe (p. 11):

      > The Coptic Museum in Caro, where the Nag Hammadi library is kept,
      > has assinged a number to each book. At the time this was done, the
      > numeration was thought to be the order in which they would be pub-
      > lished, which in turn reflected a value judgment in terms of their
      > importance and state of preservation.

      In addition to the fact that a numbering based in part on "state of
      preservation" is guaranteed to be arbitrary, I assume that when Robinson
      talks about a judgment as to the relative "importance" of each book, he
      means "importance to us", not "importance to them" (the originators).
      Otherwise, codex II would surely have been codex I, because of its uniquely
      ornate cover, as well as its contents. But what came to be called 'codex I'
      was the famous "Jung codex", so-called because it found its way for a time
      into the hands of C.G. Jung, thereby marking it in the minds of some as
      "the most important". It wasn't, of course. (It's probably not even one of
      the top three.)

      The books weren't numbered or titled originally, of course, and so one of
      the few methods we have of distinguishing between them is their covers.
      Robinson (in NHLe) distinguishes two groups of covers, plus a third
      miscellaneous category, based on quality and style of cover (the "grade A"
      and "grade B" are my designations):

      Grade A covers: II*, VI, IX, X
      Grade B covers: IV*, V, VIII, XII
      miscellaneous : I, III*, VII, XI
      (*AOJ is the lead text in these three books)

      Robinson comments (NHLe, p.15):

      > The two groups of covers plus four miscellaneous covers, and the
      > one group of scribal hands plus miscellaneous scribes, may indicate
      > that the Nag Hammadi library is a secondary merging of what was
      > originally a series of smaller libraries or isolated books. This
      > would seem to be confirmed by the distribution of duplicates. No
      > one codex contains two copies of the same work, nor is there a
      > duplicate tractate among the books of one group of covers.

      Were the Christian-gnostic Copts who hid the jar (a minority group of)
      residents of the several Pachomian monasteries around the area of Nag
      Hammadi? I personally think all the evidence points that way, including the
      likelihood that the attempt to preserve these books was directly related to
      a "purge" of Pachomian monasteries undertaken by their new and
      overly-zealous archimandrite Shenoute in early fifth century. Up until that
      time, the monasteries of the upper Nile had, for both religious and
      practical reasons, enjoyed a great deal of independence from the central
      church authorities far away in Alexandria.

      Oh, BTW, although I did give the number of lines in GOT and GOP in my
      earlier message, I failed to point out that GOP is almost exactly twice the
      length of GOT (1234 vs 668). Now you take out that line 280 ...

      Mike
      ------------------------------------
      The Coptic GThomas, saying-by-saying
      http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm

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