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RE: [GTh] Saying 7

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  • Judy Redman
    Thanks for your two surveys, Mike. I will give them some thought. It s actually something of a side-track to the work I m supposed to be doing on S8. Judy --
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 30, 2010

      Thanks for your two surveys, Mike. I will give them some thought. It’s actually something of a side-track to the work I’m supposed to be doing on S8.





      Judy Redman
      PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
      University of New England
      Armidale 2351 Australia
      ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
      mob: 0437 044 579


      From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Grondin
      Sent: Saturday, 1 May 2010 3:39 AM
      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [GTh] Saying 7



      Can other usages of the Coptic word ouwm ('eat') in Thomas shed

      some light on the meaning of L.7? That's what this note will attempt

      to answer. (As usual with my usage-surveys, I don't know in advance

      where this might lead.)


      The Coptic word in question is used 13 times in 8 sayings (taking

      L.6A and L.14 to be a single saying.) The following are my own



      L.7: (as previously quoted, two occurrences)


      L6.1d: "What edibles should we abstain from?"

      L14.4-5: "Eat what is set before you. ... For what goes into your

      mouth won't defile you, but what comes out of it will."


      L9.4: [The thorns] choked the seed(s) and the worm ate them.


      L11.3: "When you were eating what is dead, you were making it alive."


      L60.3: [Why a man with a lamb?] "So that he may kill it and eat it."

      L60.4: "While it's living, he won't eat it."

      L60.6: "Find a place of repose for yourselves, so that you don't

      become corpses and get eaten."


      L61.2: Salome said ... "... you ate off of my table."


      L76.3: "Seek after his imperishable treasure where no moth can get

      in to eat and no worms can get in to destroy."


      L102: "Woe to the Pharisees, for they're like a dog laying in a manger

      of oxen; he neither eats nor lets the oxen eat."


      Looking over this list, it seems to me that L11.3 and L14.5 are most

      relevant to L7. The two of them together seemingly suggest that what

      is eaten takes on the character of the eater, rather than vice versa, as

      in Jewish dietary laws. L14.5 denies that there is any food that can

      defile the consumer of it, i.e., that the consumer of a food doesn't take

      on the character of the food, while L11.3 strongly implies the positive

      side, viz., that a food takes on the character of the eater. STM that

      this is consistent with the somewhat-differing views of DeConick

      and Valantasis. So if the "lion", then, in L7, is blessed/fortunate to be

      consumed by Man, then I would think that it must represent something

      which is inherently less than Man before being "eaten". Evidently, that

      rules out the possibility that it might represent Christ or any other

      divine entity.


      Mike Grondin

    • Rick Hubbard
      JUDY: I actually think that the scientific method is not the most useful way of approaching the analysis of ancient texts in that it starts with an hypothesis
      Message 2 of 11 , May 1, 2010
        JUDY: I actually think that the scientific method is not the most useful way
        of approaching the analysis of ancient texts in that it starts with an
        hypothesis which you need to test. I think that having an hypothesis when
        you approach an ancient text is problematic, because you tend only to see
        things that support your hypothesis and to interpret things in ways that
        support your hypothesis. I think it's much better to start with a question
        like "how are these two texts related?" or "what is this piece of text
        saying?" which doesn't put fences around your potential conclusions.

        RICK: Sentence two, above, gets at the heart of the matter, IMO. There is
        the danger that at all points during the analysis of a text (whether an
        actual **written** text or one of a more "metaphorical" nature) one tends to
        wear the presuppositions of the hypothesis as lenses through which one
        observes the subject at hand. A case in point, with respect to looking at
        written texts, is the discussion we have been having about the choice of
        reading the word "usurer" or "good man" in the damaged portion of the MS
        that is the beginning of L 65. If we step back and look at Patterson's (and
        Kloppenborg's) overall approach to Thomas it is clear that they are working
        as social historians. As such, they have in their minds certain conclusions
        about the historical context in which the sayings collection developed and
        so it is perhaps understandable (or inevitable?) that they would propose
        reading "usurer" rather than "good man" because that reading best "fits"
        with their presuppositions.

        It seems to me that the propensity to interpret what we see according to the
        lenses we choose to look through invariably shapes our conclusions about the
        subject matter, whether the subject matter is, as I said, a written or
        "metaphorical" text. I think I have mentioned this example before (years
        ago) but when I lived "out west" there was a wonderful range of hills in the
        center of the valley where I lived (and they are no doubt still there). I
        spent a great deal of time in those hills- they were my text that I read
        whenever I was walking through them From my "reading" I had developed a
        certain understanding about the hill's "meaning." Now, down the street from
        where I lived was a big-shot home-builder/land-developer. He had his own
        interpretation of the meaning of those same hills. He had in fact exerted
        much time and money describing the hills as he saw them by creating sets of
        highly detailed plans and conceptual drawings for an upscale housing
        development. Clearly, our interpretations were radically different. Who
        could judge which reading was correct?

        BOB: <snip> I think it is often a most excellent idea to have a hypothesis
        to test when approaching the issues posed by ancient texts. It can lead to
        clarity of thought, and pushes one to be more precise in one's arguments.

        This is the proverbial "other side of the coin". It is virtually impossible
        to investigate a text (or any subject for that matter) unless one
        pre-defines, at some level, what one hopes to see. When I misplace my car
        keys (a more or less regular occurrence) and begin looking for them I see
        many other things during my search but I ignore them all because what I want
        to see are my car keys. So, when we look at sets of texts in search of
        "relationships" how likely is it that we are going to see anything other
        than relationships? But, on the other hand if we are just browsing, not
        looking for anything in particular, how likely is it that we would recognize
        the most obvious word-for-word connections between two otherwise unrelated

        Hypotheses are, of course, a necessary part of "the Path to Truth and
        Beauty" or less noble sounding destinations such as the general advancement
        of collective understanding. It seems to me, then that the prudent thing to
        do is to be keenly aware of what the hypothesis is and to be willing to
        modify it as circumstances warrant. Not doing so could result in overlooking
        a misplaced twenty-dollar bill while searching for a set of car keys.

        Rick Hubbard
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