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Re: [GTh] Greek vs Coptic Thomas

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  • Ian Brown
    Maurice, Thank you for that very thoughtful, and thought provoking response. I apologize in advance for the brevity of my response, but I am insanely busy this
    Message 1 of 17 , Jun 16, 2010
      Maurice,

      Thank you for that very thoughtful, and thought provoking response. I apologize in advance for the brevity of my response, but I am insanely busy this month. That being said I think you brought up some extremely important points which I wish to address (albeit too briefly) at this point.

      First, regarding the splitting up of saying 30 and 77. Here I think I can defend the argument that the Coptic version altered the Greek original and not the other way around. My argument is based on a catchword association that only works in the Coptic version. The Coptic verb pwh can mean both "to attain or reach" (as it does in saying 77) as well as "to split" (as it does in the second part of Coptic 77, Greek 30. It seems to me then, that it is due to this bit of word play, again a piece of word play that only works in Coptic, is responsible for the differing orders.

      As for legei Iesus and peje Iesus, I was under the impression that the Greek was using the historical present here. This use of the present is frequent in the New Testament, especially in John, and it simply conjugates the verb in the present even though the idea is in the past. I am not intimately familiar with the use of the historical present, so I stand to be corrected, but I was under the impression that legei Iesus in Greek Thomas was just another instance of this tense.

      As for you final point, I'm afraid I don't have a satisfactory answer for that one. Perhaps I can take this opportunity to explain why I am convinced the Greek is the original. To begin with, we know that the process of copying and recopying manuscripts in the ancient world was not an exact science (let alone translations!). We have hundreds of copies of the Gospels and letters that do not agree with each other word for word. In addition we have the long ending of Mark, John 7:53-8:11, and several places in the Pauline letters where there appears to have been scribal alterations. Given the fact that textual transmission more often than not resulted in the corruption of the original text, I would argue that the striking similarities between the Greek fragments of Thomas, and the much later Coptic version, as well as the fact that the biggest variation seems to be due to Coptic catchwords, speak volumes to the idea that the Greek was the original, and that the Coptic actually presents itself as a very good copy/translation of the Greek.

      ian


    • Tim Ricchuiti
      Earlier, Ian mentioned he was working on a comparison between the Coptic Thomas and the Greek manuscripts. Not to step on any toes, but later this year an
      Message 2 of 17 , Jun 16, 2010

        Earlier, Ian mentioned he was working on a comparison between the Coptic Thomas and the Greek manuscripts. Not to step on any toes, but later this year an essay on exactly that will be coming out in a book edited by Dan Wallace. It takes a text-critical perspective to analyzing the differences between the four manuscripts. The raw data (the text and some simple analysis) can be found here: http://bit.ly/dhmdYh. I'd put the whole thing up, but I don't think the publisher would be very happy with me.


        Without getting into the question of Syriac vs. Greek origins, and which strain (the Greek or the Coptic) is "original," if you look at the manuscripts from a purely text-critical perspective, P. Oxy. 654 and 655 both appear to represent an earlier, more concise form of the text. When applicable, they also tend to preserve more difficult readings (e.g., βασιλεία το θεο in Log. 3, if you take Attridge's and G+H's reconstruction to be accurate, contra DeConick; see also π τν γν vs. ϫ ⲥϩⲛ̅ ⲑⲁⲗⲁⲥⲥⲁ in the same logion). 


        P. Oxy. 1, on the other hand, consistently expands on and clarifies the Coptic text. Again, simply looking at the problem text-critically, it appears to be secondary to the Coptic text. What's so interesting about that secondary nature is that in the largest text-critical problem for Thomas (the combined vs. separated l. 30 and 77b) the secondary P. Oxy. 1 text actually appears to preserve the more original reading.


        Tim Ricchuiti

      • Michael Grondin
        ... But the more difficult reading (apparently considered so simply because it s more wordy?) is also less concise than the Coptic - which has simply
        Message 3 of 17 , Jun 17, 2010
          Tim Ricchuiti wrote:
          > ... if you look at the manuscripts from a purely text-critical
          > perspective, P. Oxy. 654 and 655 both appear to represent
          > an earlier, more concise form of the text. When applicable,
          > they also tend to preserve more difficult readings (e.g.,
          > [kingdom of God] in Log. 3, if you take Attridge's and G+H's
          > reconstruction to be accurate, contra DeConick [kingdom of
          > heaven] ...

          But the "more difficult reading" (apparently considered so simply
          because it's more wordy?) is also less concise than the Coptic -
          which has simply 'kingdom'. The two factors conjoined above -
          "more concise" and "tend to preserve more difficult readings" -
          would thus seem to incline in opposite directions and toward
          opposite conclusions.

          Mike Grondin
        • Tim Ricchuiti
          Fair enough. That particular example is certainly debatable (as I ll attempt to demonstrate below). But as to the character of 654 s text generally, I think
          Message 4 of 17 , Jun 17, 2010
            Fair enough. That particular example is certainly debatable (as I'll attempt to demonstrate below). But as to the character of 654's text generally, I think it's difficult to argue that the Coptic represents an earlier strain. For just a few examples:
            • The addition of Didymos in the prologue is clearly secondary
            • The substitution of ⲑⲁⲗⲁⲥⲥⲁ for τὴν γῆν in logion 3 is certainly not original
            • The additional  ⲉϫⲙ̅ ⲡⲧⲏⲣϥ of logion 2 is likely a Coptic expansion of the text
            • The omission of καὶ οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι in logion 4 also demonstrates the Coptic text's secondary character (and serves as a good example for the fact that the shorter text is not always original). 
            Whether the του θεου of log. 3 is original or not, in general (and, again, speaking only from a text-critical perspective) the Greek text as preserved by P. Oxy. 654 appears to represent an earlier strain of Thomas than the Coptic text.

            As to the omission (or addition, depending on your perspective) of του θεου in logion 3, it is not the more difficult reading because it is wordier, but (in part) because it would have been unpalatable to the "Gnostic" theology of the Nag Hammadi writings. I put Gnostic in quotes because, of course, it is a subject of some debate whether and how much Gnostic influence there was in the Coptic Thomas, to say nothing of the usefulness/correspondence to reality of the category itself. But, even if we don't consider that issue, it is still the case that the Coptic text demonstrates a willingness to omit "of God" from "kingdom" elsewhere (cf. log. 54's rejiggering of luke 6.20, as well as log. 27's similar deletion of του θεου). You're right that the two TC rules of thumb--shorter reading is to be preferred, more difficult reading is to be preferred--are in conflict here. But those rules of thumb are corollaries to the broader canon--the reading that more likely explains the rise of the other is to be preferred. I would argue that it is more likely the Coptic scribe would have omitted του θεου, in keeping with what we know of the remainder of the Coptic text, than it is that the Greek scribe would have added του θεου (or, if you accept DeConick and Dieter Mueller's postulation, του ουρανου).

            Tim

            On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 2:12 AM, Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
             

            Tim Ricchuiti wrote:
            > ... if you look at the manuscripts from a purely text-critical


            > perspective, P. Oxy. 654 and 655 both appear to represent
            > an earlier, more concise form of the text. When applicable,
            > they also tend to preserve more difficult readings (e.g.,
            > [kingdom of God] in Log. 3, if you take Attridge's and G+H's
            > reconstruction to be accurate, contra DeConick [kingdom of
            > heaven] ...

            But the "more difficult reading" (apparently considered so simply
            because it's more wordy?) is also less concise than the Coptic -
            which has simply 'kingdom'. The two factors conjoined above -
            "more concise" and "tend to preserve more difficult readings" -
            would thus seem to incline in opposite directions and toward
            opposite conclusions.

            Mike Grondin


          • Michael Grondin
            Tim, Firstly, let me congratulate and thank you for the very clear and well- organized presentation of the Greek-Coptic differences in your pdf accessible from
            Message 5 of 17 , Jun 18, 2010
              Tim,

              Firstly, let me congratulate and thank you for the very clear and well-
              organized presentation of the Greek-Coptic differences in your pdf
              accessible from http://bit.ly/dhmdYh. I've copied it for personal use,
              and hopefully we can arrange for it to be put into our file section,
              when publication constraints allow. If there's anything similar, I'm not
              aware of it. Well done! (BTW, did you use the Attridge reconstructions?)

              (Disclaimer: One of my pet peeves is that the standard practice among
              Greek scholars of transcribing canonical writings into scholastic cursive
              lettering complete with hooks and curls has been carried over to the
              P.Oxy. fragments, even though they don't look like that. The lettering in
              the fragments actually looks a lot more like the Nag Hammadi texts than
              standard transcriptions indicate. Uncial lettering. No funny little hooks
              and curls. But don't worry; I know I can't win this one.)

              Secondly, I think it's good that you've moved on to the real reasoning
              behind your conclusions, and away from the initial statement that P.Oxy.
              654 and 655 contain a more concise form of the text, since the summaries
              in the above pdf don't seem to support that - assuming that conciseness
              can be judged by the number of "additions" (7 to 6 Greek over Coptic in
              P.Oxy. 654, 3 to 1 in 655.)

              Thirdly, a technical point that may be confusing folks. On my emailer,
              the Greek in your messages comes out OK, but not the Coptic. Same
              with the archives (using Unicode). I think this is something we should
              work on offlist (maybe a difference in Coptic fonts?), but I wanted to
              mention this in case other subscribers are seeing indecipherable
              characters in your messages and wondering why.

              Best,
              Mike
            • Adrian
              Hello Tim, I am inclined to agree with you that it s difficult to argue that the extant Coptic version represents an earlier strain given your examples with
              Message 6 of 17 , Jun 18, 2010
                Hello Tim,

                I am inclined to agree with you that it's difficult to argue that the extant Coptic version "represents an earlier strain" given your examples with regard to comparing use of 'God' with Greek fragments. I note however that 'God' is present (twice) in the Coptic version of Logion 100, which will require some special pleading - it is the exception to rule, afterall.


                Kind regards,

                Adrian Millar
              • kurt31416
                Fascinating discussion. Real evidence, not angels dancing on pins. One thing rarely pointed out is that from the perspective of picking kernels out of the
                Message 7 of 17 , Jun 20, 2010
                  Fascinating discussion. Real evidence, not angels dancing on pins.

                  One thing rarely pointed out is that from the perspective of picking "kernels" out of the Coptic Thomas, things deleted from the Greek don't matter (much).

                  In other words, looking at the Coptic and trying to decide if it was in early manuscripts, all that matters is what the Coptics added.

                  And in the 14 sayings sufficiently complete to judge, the Coptics only added complete sentences (and significant changes) in two places. Saying 28(P.Oxy.1) and Saying 37(P.Oxy.655). And in both cases, sentences at the end (as one might expect.)

                  Color coded, side by side...
                  http://www.kingdomofthefather.com/Greek-Coptic.html

                  Not a large sample, but the most probable case is that in the 114-14=100 Coptic sayings not matched by the Greek, 2/14 will have sentences added at the end.

                  In other words, about 14 of the Coptic sayings not matched by the Greek, we can expect sentences added at the end not being in the Greek version. Could be 5 could be 20, could be a few added at the beginning, but that's about the only hard evidence we have.

                  Richard Van Vliet
                • Michael Grondin
                  ... In case it hasn t so far been clear, the answer to this question is no . There is no valid basis for this speculation, neither in the Greek (see Ian
                  Message 8 of 17 , Jun 20, 2010
                    Maurice wrote:

                    > Could it thus be that the translator of Coptic Thomas is not
                    > simply translating a Greek document into Coptic, but that he
                    > is recasting the timeframe of the document which he is copying
                    > from in order to meet certain chronological realities or dogma
                    > of his own (later) times ?

                    In case it hasn't so far been clear, the answer to this question
                    is "no". There is no valid basis for this speculation, neither in the
                    Greek (see Ian Brown's response) nor in the Coptic (see SQL
                    and _The Fifth Gospel_ for notes on the translation of 'peje'.)
                    This is just another case where reasoning from English
                    translations alone leads one astray.

                    Mike G.
                  • Michael Grondin
                    ... This analysis is flawed by being based on translations alone. When the manuscripts are taken into account, a different picture emerges, because there are
                    Message 9 of 17 , Jun 22, 2010
                      > ... in the 14 sayings sufficiently complete to judge, the [Copts]
                      > only added complete sentences (and significant changes) in
                      > two places. Saying 28 (P.Oxy.1) and Saying 37 (P.Oxy.655).
                      > And in both cases, sentences at the end (as one might expect.)

                      This analysis is flawed by being based on translations alone.
                      When the manuscripts are taken into account, a different picture
                      emerges, because there are portions of the fragments which
                      can't be reliably reconstructed. These lacunae don't show up
                      in translations, but they had something in them.

                      Saying 37 is a case in point. According to Layton's presentation
                      in the Brill Nag Hammadi series, saying 37 occupies about 15
                      lines, but only the first 7 are visible. That means that much of
                      L.37 is missing in the Greek - and doesn't show up in translation,
                      of course. But there was something there; we just don't know
                      what is was. So it seems that we can't draw any reliable conclusions
                      about the relationship between the Greek and Coptic versions.

                      The case of L.28 is different, but has its own oddities. If I read
                      Layton's presentation correctly, L.28 begins at the bottom half
                      of the front side of P.Oxy. 1 and seems to end at the top of the
                      obverse side. Problem is, though, that there doesn't appear to
                      be enough space there for even the beginning of L.29. Perhaps
                      Tim Ricchuiti can clarify the situation, but I note for starters that
                      Tim's pdf doesn't show a Coptic addition on the end of either
                      L.28 or L.37, and I assume he has good reasons for that.

                      Mike G.
                    • kurt31416
                      ... looking at the best copy of POxy1 I have... http://www.kingdomofthefather.com/POxy1.html ...it sure doesn t look like there s a trace of a continuation of
                      Message 10 of 17 , Jun 22, 2010
                        ... looking at the best copy of POxy1 I have...
                        http://www.kingdomofthefather.com/POxy1.html
                        ...it sure doesn't look like there's a trace of a continuation of #28

                        And it's absolutely certain, if I had a high resolution scan of it, one you could do with a cheap PC and put on the internet for free, I would be able to tell you for a fact if there was writing there at one time.

                        If such a thing exists, I'd sure like to get my hands on it. If it doesn't exist, shame on those that made that decision.

                        There's a way to make progress,
                        Richard Van Vliet
                      • Michael Grondin
                        ... You re right that there s a mystery or two there. The first is that there s no trace in the image of the end of L.28 and the beginning of L.29. But there s
                        Message 11 of 17 , Jun 23, 2010
                          > ... looking at the best copy of POxy1 I have...
                          > http://www.kingdomofthefather.com/POxy1.html
                          > ...it sure doesn't look like there's a trace of a continuation of #28

                          You're right that there's a mystery or two there. The first is that
                          there's no trace in the image of the end of L.28 and the beginning
                          of L.29. But there's also the question of where line 21 came from.
                          The last thing that can be seen on the image of the front of POxy 1
                          is line 20, ending with KAR, the beginning of the word KARDIA (heart).
                          But Harold Attridge, who edited the Greek fragments in Layton's book,
                          and others like Andrew Bernhard and Tim Ricchuiti (who may or may
                          not have been simply following Attridge) have somehow been able to
                          discern most of the letters of a line 21 below that. At least, that's the
                          implication of the fact that most of what they show as line 21 isn't
                          enclosed in brackets (any material not enclosed in brackets being
                          supposed to be visible). I can't find any explanation for this anomaly.
                          Hopefully, one of our Greek folks will speak up, if only to say that
                          they have no explanation either.

                          Mike G.
                        • Richard Hubbard
                          ... there s no trace in the ... the question of ... line 20, ending ... Well, at least I m not the only one who can t see line 21. My eyes aren t what they
                          Message 12 of 17 , Jun 23, 2010
                            Mike wrote:

                            |You're right that there's a mystery or two there. The first is that
                            there's no trace in the
                            |image of the end of L.28 and the beginning of L.29. But there's also
                            the question of
                            |where line 21 came from.
                            |The last thing that can be seen on the image of the front of POxy 1 is
                            line 20, ending
                            |with KAR, the beginning of the word KARDIA (heart).

                            Well, at least I'm not the only one who can't see line 21. My eyes
                            aren't what they used to be, I'll concede but I'm a long way from being
                            blind (except perhaps "in my heart", as line 21 has been reconstructed).
                            I did, however take a closer look at the image this morning (the
                            colorized one) by blowing it up to 400%. It looks to me like I can see
                            just the faintest trace underneath the iota in the first word in line 20
                            that **looks** like it could be the right side of an alpha (which would
                            be consistent with the restoration of the line that begins with DIA
                            AUTWN).

                            I suppose one plausible explanation is that the bottom of the papyrus
                            has eroded between the time of its earliest collation and the time this
                            picture was taken and since then editors have simply followed the
                            original restored reading (Grenfell Hunt? Ca. 1897).

                            The other possibility, less likely IMO, is that the Greek was restored
                            based on the Coptic reading NHC II,2 38:25-26

                            Rick Hubbard
                          • Michael Grondin
                            ... My first response to this remark of Rick V s was inadequate, since I failed to take account of Attridge s Introduction to the Greek fragments in Layton s
                            Message 13 of 17 , Jun 23, 2010
                              > ... looking at the best copy of POxy1 I have...
                              > http://www.kingdomofthefather.com/POxy1.html
                              > ...it sure doesn't look like there's a trace of a continuation of #28

                              My first response to this remark of Rick V's was inadequate,
                              since I failed to take account of Attridge's Introduction to the
                              Greek fragments in Layton's book. It doesn't solve the mystery
                              of line 21, but it does address the missing portions of L28 & 29:

                              "Both sides [of P.Oxy.1] now contain twenty-one lines ... but
                              the bottom half of the page, which must have contained another
                              sixteen lines or so, is wanting." (Layton, NHC II, 2-7, p.97)

                              Mike G.
                            • Rick Hubbard
                              FWIW, I turned up Grenfell and Hunt s reconstruction of P Oxy 1 ( LOGIA IHSOU: Sayings of or Lord , Frowde: 1897). Here is the note on line 21 from that
                              Message 14 of 17 , Jun 23, 2010
                                FWIW, I turned up Grenfell and Hunt's reconstruction of P Oxy 1 ("LOGIA
                                IHSOU: Sayings of or Lord", Frowde: 1897). Here is the note on line 21 from
                                that publication (p 12):

                                "Of the **latter half** [my emphasis] of l. 21 only very faint vestiges
                                remain. At the end of it the horizontal stroke which looks like the top of S
                                might only be part of a long cross bar of E; and the dot which is
                                discernable before this stroke, and which could doubtless have transcribed
                                as I could be the bottom of a long P (Rho) in the previous line."

                                These remarks seem to reinforce the possibility I mentioned earlier that the
                                bottom of the papyrus deteriorated between the time of its
                                discovery/publication and the time the photographic image was made. In
                                addition G-H's critical rendering of line 21 is virtually the same as that
                                in B. Layton (by H. Attridge), viz:

                                DIA AUTW[N] KAI [..] BLEIS- (with AI, L, E and s marked as questionable).

                                Attridge (in 1989) represents "[..]" as "[OU]" and emends BLEIS to BLEP the
                                same as J. Fitzmyer (Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament
                                SP, 1974, p.394), so somewhere between 1897 and 1974 it appears that [OU]
                                became an acceptable conjecture (I have a hunch it was first proposed by F.
                                Cross in 1897 suggested in Hugh Evelyn White (The sayings of Jesus from
                                Oxyrhynchus [Cambridge University Press, 1920, p.32 n2), but so far I
                                haven't been able to work through his references.

                                Rick Hubbard

                                ||-----Original Message-----
                                ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
                                ||Behalf Of Michael Grondin
                                ||Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 7:32 PM
                                ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                                ||Subject: Re: [GTh] Greek vs Coptic Thomas
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||> ... looking at the best copy of POxy1 I have...
                                ||> http://www.kingdomofthefather.com/POxy1.html
                                ||> ...it sure doesn't look like there's a trace of a continuation of #28
                                ||
                                ||My first response to this remark of Rick V's was inadequate, since I
                                failed to
                                ||take account of Attridge's Introduction to the Greek fragments in Layton's
                                book.
                                ||It doesn't solve the mystery of line 21, but it does address the missing
                                portions
                                ||of L28 & 29:
                                ||
                                ||"Both sides [of P.Oxy.1] now contain twenty-one lines ... but the bottom
                                half of
                                ||the page, which must have contained another sixteen lines or so, is
                                wanting."
                                ||(Layton, NHC II, 2-7, p.97)
                                ||
                                ||Mike G.
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||
                                ||
                              • Adrian
                                Given that we are only missing the latter half of line 21, and the lion s share of line 1 on the reverse, there is hardly enough space to complete Logion 28
                                Message 15 of 17 , Jun 24, 2010
                                  Given that we are only missing the latter half of line 21, and the lion's share of line 1 on the reverse, there is hardly enough space to complete Logion 28 and begin Logion 29 as represented in our Coptic version.
                                  The simpliest explanation may be that the ending for Logion 28 in the P.Oxy. 1 version was the last clause of we know as Logion 29 from NH version, and did not represent the last 5 clauses of the NH ending of Logion 28 (at this point in the P.Oxy. 1 version anyway).

                                  Here is one possible reconstruction of P.Oxy. 1 (Logion 28 ending):

                                  line 21 -earts and they do not see, yet I marvel at how
                                  line 1 this great wealth came to dwell in this poverty.

                                  This has some cohesive properties not present in the NH version, such as the contrast between 'my heart aches' and 'yet i marvel'.

                                  Adrian Millar
                                • Michael Grondin
                                  ... Hi Adrian, The test of this would be to see if the Greek would work out, but I m inclined to agree with Attridge et al that the bottom portion of the page
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Jun 25, 2010
                                    > Here is one possible reconstruction of P.Oxy. 1 (Logion 28 ending):
                                    > line 21 -earts and they do not see, yet I marvel at how
                                    > line 1 this great wealth came to dwell in this poverty.

                                    Hi Adrian,
                                    The test of this would be to see if the Greek would work out, but
                                    I'm inclined to agree with Attridge et al that the bottom portion
                                    of the page is missing. In fact, it appears to this untrained
                                    eye that the page was torn. The bottom edge is rather jagged,
                                    with extended fibers, unlike the edges I've seen which were
                                    worn away by the normal processes of time. It was originally
                                    part of a codex, BTW, so given its separation from the original
                                    codex and its presence in a garbage dump, I think it's safe to
                                    assume an ancient attempt to destroy. Tearing the page in half
                                    would be a natural part of that. As to the appearance of the edge,
                                    my guess is that when one tries to tear a piece of papyrus in half,
                                    its overlapping fiber construction causes a jagged tear rather
                                    than a clean one, but that's only an untrained guess, mind you.
                                    Jack Kilmon could tell us, if he's still listening in.
                                    Mike G.
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