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Re: [GTh] Paralleomania (Revisited)

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  • Maurice
    Hello Rick and Adrian …. … re your off-list suggestion (below) , I certainly hope that the two of you don t decide to go underground with your most
    Message 1 of 16 , Jun 20, 2010
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      Hello Rick and Adrian ….


      … re your "off-list" suggestion (below) , I certainly hope that the two of you don't decide to "go underground" with your most interesting and fascinating discussion.

      Having done a good deal of translation professionally over the years, I am not certain that your 3-phase process about text comparisons is quite complete just yet, but perhaps I can help you a bit with Rick's sense in stating that "I have a **lot** more reading to do before I can even begin to identify where the weak points are in present methodology."

      May I submit that translations are often much more than a simple conveyance of meaning as some people might imagine. For example, a simple STOP sign (one word) might reasonably be translated into another language by the use of another single word. (Arrêt, Halt, Fermata, Parada, Uppehall, Opshtel etc). Having said that, a "sentence" or a logion requires a bit more than the mere transposition of a single word in one language to be expressed and passed on in another language … What in turn it requires is "subjectivity" (which I suspect you may be getting at in your SELECTION PHASE when you speak of Grammar, Syntax etc. .

      One major problem which will be encountered at this stage is to both understand and translate just what the original scrivener "meant to say" when he / she wrote the original (or heard the original quote) being translated, notwithstanding the actual translation presented in any subsequent parallels written before or even after. For example, just about every translation of Thomas translates "sanah" by the word "hate". Bad choice … "sanah" can indeed mean "hate", but it can also mean "leave behind" or "not return to" . Upon rereading Thomas #6, 43, 55 and 68, (to one who understands the deeper meaning of Thomas and not to a mere translator who might not), it becomes obvious that "sanah" should not be pervasively translated by the word "hate" but rather sometimes by the expression "leave behind" as in "Do not tell lies, and do not return to your former ways ... or the things which you have left behind." (i.e … do not do what you "now hate"). Think of it … "55 – "Whoever does not hate his father and mother cannot become my disciple…". I rather suspect ther true meaning is / was "- Whoever does not "leave behind" his father and mother for my sake" and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me …" In fact, in this same Logion the word "Saliba" (cross) should also be looked at very closely in this respect … because indeed, "saliba" in Aramaic (the source of the logionno doubt) moreso implies the idea of "difficulty" or "strength" (or yet "personal demand on one's self") than it does wooden cross or "crucifix". (i.e. one "carries a cross" as one carries a difficulty) the truer meaning of Logion 101 then, is much likelier" -"Jesus said: He who does not leave behind his (earthly) father and mother cannot become a disciple of mine, and he who does not leave behind his earthly brothers and sisters while accepting personal demands and difficulties on himself (as I am doing) will not be worthy of me."

      In the case of Logion 101, however, because it is pretty clear that the meaning of "sanah" is indeed "hate" (hate your earthly /material / carnal mother as oppose to your spiritual / godly (monakos mother) etc. the word "hate" is seemingly appropriate.


      The difficulty which your model will then have to take into account, will be the subjectivity of the "original text" being translated, and the translation bias which the schrivener may have built into it from his own (subjective) perspective, let alone that of the later translator or "elucidator" (is that a word ???). The above, of course, are not unusual realities in religious texts …. Viz, for example Matt 19:24 wherein for centuries, translators from the Aramaic have had Jesus saying: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." In Aramaic the word "gamla" is indeed a word often used to signify a camel. However, it is also a word which is commonly used to describe a "cable" or a "large rope". While one must respect and accept the toil and expertise of early translators in their work, it seems much more likely (to me at least) that Jesus' intended message in the above passage from Matthew was to suggest that it is more difficult for a "cable" or "large rope" to be threaded into the eye of a needle than it is for a "camel" to pass enter or be threaded through it.

      A second major difficulty which your model will then have to somehow take into account, is what is commonly called "polish" in the translation trade. Simply translating texts "verbatim" (word for word) is not usually acceptable for learned translators today. No doubt early on, translators would have been pressured for similar renditions. For this reason, translators are (today especially) expected to "get to the true meaning of the original text" and not simply indicate what the text "says" …. Big difference ! This means that your model is going to have to identify early on what the bias language or belief system of the translator is, and take it into account when he / she officially translates the text. (very difficult indeed) … if the text was meant to be food for thought to Christians, Islamists, Jews, etc etc. Accordingly, what was the "slant of choice" used by the translator to make the text warm and inviting to such individual "target listeners" ….

      Using Logion 23 as an example ( Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."), a Christian translator could well reason that these are words consistent with several New Testament renderings wherein Jesus suggests that "Many are called and few are chosen" or again "it is very difficult to enter the Kingdom of God …" . He /she might then want to polish this logion with some sort of slant in a Christian direction and without due regard for the original intent of the scrivener. Having said this, the essence of logion 23 is very likely Mandean, and not Jewish or Christian or otherwise. The reason for this is that in Mandean mythology, there existed a uthra or angel who "weighs souls" at death's gate in order to determine if those arriving were worthy of entering the Kingdom. His name was Abathur, and tradition has it that only "one in a thousand and two in ten thousand" makes it past him and achieves "liberation" from the material world to the hereafter. The above logion is thus a very likely reminder (and target statement) of this belief which emphasizes the paucity of souls entering "the Kingdom" to or for Mandean (and not Christian or Jewish or Islamic) audiences.

      My suggestion is thus also that the Gospel of Thomas is rife with such translation difficulties, and that again here, your model is going to have to find a way to vacuum both the original and target texts to show if parallels truly exist between them …

      Clearly, a Lotta Hard Work Ahead for you both, and Good Luck in treading the labyrinth which is Thomas. ! Keep us all posted !


      Maurice Cormier


      -------------------------------------------------------------
      Original Message ....


      Hi Adrian

      In general, at first reading anyway, the approach you suggest strikes me
      as being more complex than is necessary but I'm not quite ready to make
      my own proposal for such an undertaking since I have a **lot** more
      reading to do before I can even begin to identify where the weak points
      are in present methodology.

      I can however give some general hints about how I think the process
      works now. So far as I have been able to determine, there are 3 distinct
      phases (or steps) involved, although I doubt whether researchers are
      actually aware that they working systematically.

      Phase 1 is the SELECTION phase. This is simple enough. Place two texts
      side by side and objectively identify their features. Minimally these
      features include: Scope (where the text begins and ends for each
      pericope); Language (e.g., Greek Coptic, Hebrew or Klingon); Vocabulary
      (lexical inventory); Grammar (inflectional and conjugational
      properties); Syntax (the arrangement of the vocabulary into meaningful
      structures) and compositional integrity (the presence of uncertain,
      emended or doubtful readings).

      Phase II is the ANALYTICAL phase. This is nothing more than an empirical
      comparison of the two texts' Features. It is simply a series of
      questions in this format: 'Does "Feature X" of "Text A" match "Feature
      X" of "Text B"?' The answers will **always** be Yes or No.

      Phase III is the ASSESSMENT phase. This is where the rubber meets the
      road. Here one begins to make judgments about the significance of the
      data accumulated in the preceding phase and to consider features that
      are not innate in the texts themselves (e.g., form-critical traits,
      provenance extra-textual directionality, ideological characteristics and
      thematic reference).

      As I said at the outset, I'm not quite sure where the weak spot is in
      this process (or that I have even described it correctly) however I
      suspect what it boils down to is that inadequate attention is given to
      phase II (there is a rush to get to the ASSESSMENT phase, in other
      words)

      More on this at a later date, but at the same time maybe we need to
      think about whether the bulk of the conversation should be carried on
      off-list.

      Rick Hubbard
    • Michael Grondin
      Maurice, I don t pretend to speak for Rick, but my impression is that his project does not address your interests, which seem to be in uncovering the original
      Message 2 of 16 , Jun 20, 2010
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        Maurice,

        I don't pretend to speak for Rick, but my impression is that
        his project does not address your interests, which seem to
        be in uncovering the original words of Jesus (good luck with
        that.) Since there's no Aramaic text, there's no Aramaic stuff
        to find parallels with, hence back-translating into Aramaic
        doesn't seem to have any relevance to Rick's project.

        I did want to question you about one statement you made, and
        also to suggest that you and others follow the practice of citing
        the source of quoted material. Your statement was this:

        > ... tradition has it that only "one in a thousand and two in ten
        > thousand" makes it past [Abathur] and achieves "liberation"
        > from the material world to the hereafter.

        DeConick cites Mandaean Prayers, 90, but her quote is this:

        "He chose one out of a thousand, and from two thousand,
        he chose two." (TOGTT, p.119 - not clear who "he" is)

        Two out of 2000, not two out of 10000. Are you citing a
        different passage, or are you going from memory?

        Mike G.
      • Richard Hubbard
        Maurice s comments are exactly why I m hesitant to engage in discussions on-list about the way in which correlated texts are decreed to be parallels: in
        Message 3 of 16 , Jun 21, 2010
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          Maurice's comments are exactly why I'm hesitant to engage in discussions on-list about the way in which correlated texts are decreed to be parallels: in general, discussions about methodology go far beyond the interests of this list and it is all the more so when the parameters of the dialogue are not established.

          Now, more specifically, Maurice misses the point of my earlier (preliminary) remarks. First, "translation issues" are completely irrelevant to the SELECTION phase. At this point one simply describes the features of the texts. If both texts are written in the same language that fact is noted. If they are **not** written in the same language, to designate one as a translation of the other prejudges the relationship between the two texts (in other words, it **pre-supposes** a relationship). Moreover, if the two texts **are not** written in the same language it seems to beg the question of whether it is appropriate to call the texts "parallels" in the first place. This, for example:

          |One major problem which will be encountered at this stage is to both understand and
          |translate just what the original scrivener "meant to say" when he / she wrote the
          |original (or heard the original quote) being translated, notwithstanding the actual
          |translation presented in any subsequent parallels written before or even after.

          As I've said- more on this later.

          Rick Hubbard

          |-----Original Message-----
          |From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com]
          |Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2010 4:14 PM
          |To: Richard Hubbard; gthomas@yahoogroups.com
          |Subject: Re: [GTh] Paralleomania (Revisited)
          |Importance: Low
          |
          |
          |
          |
          |Hello Rick and Adrian ....
          |
          |... re your "off-list" suggestion (below) , I certainly hope that the two of you don't
          |decide to "go underground" with your most interesting and fascinating discussion.
          |
          |Having done a good deal of translation professionally over the years, I am not certain
          |that your 3-phase process about text comparisons is quite complete just yet, but
          |perhaps I can help you a bit with Rick's sense in stating that "I have a **lot** more
          |reading to do before I can even begin to identify where the weak points are in present
          |methodology."
          |
          |May I submit that translations are often much more than a simple conveyance of
          |meaning as some people might imagine. For example, a simple STOP sign (one
          |word) might reasonably be translated into another language by the use of another
          |single word.
          |(Arrêt, Halt, Fermata, Parada, Uppehall, Opshtel etc). Having said that, a "sentence"
          |or a logion requires a bit more than the mere transposition of a single word in one
          |language to be expressed and passed on in another language ... What in turn it
          |requires is "subjectivity" (which I suspect you may be getting at in your SELECTION
          |PHASE when you speak of Grammar, Syntax etc. .
          |
          |One major problem which will be encountered at this stage is to both understand and
          |translate just what the original scrivener "meant to say" when he / she wrote the
          |original (or heard the original quote) being translated, notwithstanding the actual
          |translation presented in any subsequent parallels written before or even after. For
          |example, just about every translation of Thomas translates "sanah" by the word
          |"hate". Bad choice ... "sanah" can indeed mean "hate", but it can also mean "leave
          |behind" or "not return to" . Upon rereading Thomas #6, 43, 55 and 68, (to one who
          |understands the deeper meaning of Thomas and not to a mere translator who might
          |not), it becomes obvious that "sanah" should not be pervasively translated by the
          |word "hate" but rather sometimes by the expression "leave behind" as in "Do not tell
          |lies, and do not return to your former ways ... or the things which you have left
          |behind." (i.e ... do not do what you "now hate"). Think of it ... "55 - "Whoever does
          |not hate his father and mother cannot become my disciple...". I rather suspect ther
          |true meaning is / was "- Whoever does not "leave behind" his father and mother for
          |my sake" and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me ..." In fact, in this
          |same Logion the word "Saliba" (cross) should also be looked at very closely in this
          |respect ... because indeed, "saliba" in Aramaic (the source of the logionno doubt)
          |moreso implies the idea of "difficulty" or "strength" (or yet "personal demand on one's
          |self") than it does wooden cross or "crucifix". (i.e. one "carries a cross" as one carries
          |a difficulty) the truer meaning of Logion 101 then, is much likelier" -"Jesus said: He
          |who does not leave behind his (earthly) father and mother cannot become a disciple
          |of mine, and he who does not leave behind his earthly brothers and sisters while
          |accepting personal demands and difficulties on himself (as I am doing) will not be
          |worthy of me."
          |
          |In the case of Logion 101, however, because it is pretty clear that the meaning of
          |"sanah" is indeed "hate" (hate your earthly /material / carnal mother as oppose to
          |your spiritual / godly (monakos mother) etc. the word "hate" is seemingly appropriate.
          |
          |
          |The difficulty which your model will then have to take into account, will be the
          |subjectivity of the "original text" being translated, and the translation bias which the
          |schrivener may have built into it from his own (subjective) perspective, let alone that
          |of the later translator or "elucidator" (is that a word ???). The above, of course, are
          |not unusual realities in religious texts .... Viz, for example Matt 19:24 wherein for
          |centuries, translators from the Aramaic have had Jesus saying:
          |"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a
          |rich man to enter the kingdom of God." In Aramaic the word "gamla" is indeed a word
          |often used to signify a camel. However, it is also a word which is commonly used to
          |describe a "cable" or a "large rope". While one must respect and accept the toil and
          |expertise of early translators in their work, it seems much more likely (to me at least)
          |that Jesus' intended message in the above passage from Matthew was to suggest
          |that it is more difficult for a "cable" or "large rope" to be threaded into the eye of a
          |needle than it is for a "camel" to pass enter or be threaded through it.
          |
          |A second major difficulty which your model will then have to somehow take into
          |account, is what is commonly called "polish" in the translation trade. Simply
          |translating texts "verbatim" (word for word) is not usually acceptable for learned
          |translators today. No doubt early on, translators would have been pressured for
          |similar renditions. For this reason, translators are (today especially) expected to "get
          |to the true meaning of the original text" and not simply indicate what the text "says"
          |.... Big difference ! This means that your model is going to have to identify early on
          |what the bias language or belief system of the translator is, and take it into account
          |when he / she officially translates the text. (very difficult indeed) ... if the text was
          |meant to be food for thought to Christians, Islamists, Jews, etc etc. Accordingly, what
          |was the "slant of choice" used by the translator to make the text warm and inviting to
          |such individual "target listeners" ....
          |
          |Using Logion 23 as an example ( Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a
          |thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."), a
          |Christian translator could well reason that these are words consistent with several
          |New Testament renderings wherein Jesus suggests that "Many are called and few
          |are chosen" or again "it is very difficult to enter the Kingdom of God ..." . He /she
          |might then want to polish this logion with some sort of slant in a Christian direction
          |and without due regard for the original intent of the scrivener. Having said this, the
          |essence of logion 23 is very likely Mandean, and not Jewish or Christian or
          |otherwise. The reason for this is that in Mandean mythology, there existed a uthra or
          |angel who "weighs souls" at death's gate in order to determine if those arriving were
          |worthy of entering the Kingdom. His name was Abathur, and tradition has it that only
          |"one in a thousand and two in ten thousand" makes it past him and achieves
          |"liberation" from the material world to the hereafter. The above logion is thus a very
          |likely reminder (and target statement) of this belief which emphasizes the paucity of
          |souls entering "the Kingdom" to or for Mandean (and not Christian or Jewish or
          |Islamic) audiences.
          |
          |My suggestion is thus also that the Gospel of Thomas is rife with such translation
          |difficulties, and that again here, your model is going to have to find a way to vacuum
          |both the original and target texts to show if parallels truly exist between them ...
          |
          |Clearly, a Lotta Hard Work Ahead for you both, and Good Luck in treading the
          |labyrinth which is Thomas. ! Keep us all posted !
          |
          |
          |Maurice Cormier
          |
          |----------------------------------------------------------
          |Original Message ....
          |
          |Hi Adrian
          |
          |In general, at first reading anyway, the approach you suggest strikes me as being
          |more complex than is necessary but I'm not quite ready to make my own proposal
          |for such an undertaking since I have a **lot** more reading to do before I can even
          |begin to identify where the weak points are in present methodology.
          |
          |I can however give some general hints about how I think the process works now. So
          |far as I have been able to determine, there are 3 distinct phases (or steps) involved,
          |although I doubt whether researchers are actually aware that they working
          |systematically.
          |
          |Phase 1 is the SELECTION phase. This is simple enough. Place two texts side by
          |side and objectively identify their features. Minimally these features include: Scope
          |(where the text begins and ends for each pericope); Language (e.g., Greek Coptic,
          |Hebrew or Klingon); Vocabulary (lexical inventory); Grammar (inflectional and
          |conjugational properties); Syntax (the arrangement of the vocabulary into meaningful
          |structures) and compositional integrity (the presence of uncertain, emended or
          |doubtful readings).
          |
          |Phase II is the ANALYTICAL phase. This is nothing more than an empirical
          |comparison of the two texts' Features. It is simply a series of questions in this format:
          |'Does "Feature X" of "Text A" match "Feature X" of "Text B"?' The answers will
          |**always** be Yes or No.
          |
          |Phase III is the ASSESSMENT phase. This is where the rubber meets the road. Here
          |one begins to make judgments about the significance of the data accumulated in the
          |preceding phase and to consider features that are not innate in the texts themselves
          |(e.g., form-critical traits, provenance extra-textual directionality, ideological
          |characteristics and thematic reference).
          |
          |As I said at the outset, I'm not quite sure where the weak spot is in this process (or
          |that I have even described it correctly) however I suspect what it boils down to is that
          |inadequate attention is given to phase II (there is a rush to get to the ASSESSMENT
          |phase, in other
          |words)
          |
          |More on this at a later date, but at the same time maybe we need to think about
          |whether the bulk of the conversation should be carried on off-list.
          |
          |Rick Hubbard
          |
          |
          |
          |
          |
        • jmgcormier
          Hello Mike .... Perhaps you might ask DeConick to double check her source as well. Mine is from the Nag Hammadi Library (the Pistis Sophia) as per the Book of
          Message 4 of 16 , Jun 21, 2010
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            Hello Mike ....

            Perhaps you might ask DeConick to double check her source as well.
            Mine is from the Nag Hammadi Library (the Pistis Sophia) as per the Book of Yew (Book 4, Chap 132 .... viz)

            "The Saviour answered and said unto Mary: "I say unto you: They will find one in a thousand and two in ten-thousand for the accomplishment of the mystery of the First Mystery. This will I tell unto you when I have explained to you the expansion of the universe. For this cause, therefore, I have rent myself asunder and have brought" (... no two from two thousand here .... )

            As for the Mandaens and other related texts, (if you're up to a little homework sometime) you might want to also check out various Mandean (laity) and nazorean (priestly class) texts... in particular, the Diwan Abathur ....


            Cheers !

            Maurice

            --------------------------------------------------------------

            --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
            >
            > Maurice,
            >
            > I don't pretend to speak for Rick, but my impression is that
            > his project does not address your interests, which seem to
            > be in uncovering the original words of Jesus (good luck with
            > that.) Since there's no Aramaic text, there's no Aramaic stuff
            > to find parallels with, hence back-translating into Aramaic
            > doesn't seem to have any relevance to Rick's project.
            >
            > I did want to question you about one statement you made, and
            > also to suggest that you and others follow the practice of citing
            > the source of quoted material. Your statement was this:
            >
            > > ... tradition has it that only "one in a thousand and two in ten
            > > thousand" makes it past [Abathur] and achieves "liberation"
            > > from the material world to the hereafter.
            >
            > DeConick cites Mandaean Prayers, 90, but her quote is this:
            >
            > "He chose one out of a thousand, and from two thousand,
            > he chose two." (TOGTT, p.119 - not clear who "he" is)
            >
            > Two out of 2000, not two out of 10000. Are you citing a
            > different passage, or are you going from memory?
            >
            > Mike G.
            >
          • Michael Grondin
            ... Well this is baffling. The material I quoted from your earlier note was in a paragraph where you were talking about _Mandaean_ tradition. Now you quote
            Message 5 of 16 , Jun 21, 2010
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              Maurice wrote:
              > [My source] is from the Nag Hammadi Library (the Pistis Sophia)
              > as per the Book of Yew (Book 4, Chap 132 .... viz)

              Well this is baffling. The material I quoted from your earlier note was
              in a paragraph where you were talking about _Mandaean_ tradition.
              Now you quote from the Pistis Sophia, which is NOT a Mandaean text?
              And in the same breath you mention another book the connection of
              which to either one is totally unclear? This doesn't make any sense.

              > As for the Mandaens and other related texts, (if you're up to a little
              > homework sometime) you might want to also check out various
              > Mandean (laity) and nazorean (priestly class) texts... in particular,
              > the Diwan Abathur ....

              No, it's not up to others to find the source of your quote, it's up to you
              to give it. Even more so since the accuracy of the quote has been
              brought into question, because if the quote is inaccurate, no one will
              ever find it. And just to remind - you said it was from _Mandaean_
              tradition, so you will need to cite a _Mandaean_ text. If it's online,
              and you can find the quote in question, just provide a link to it and
              we'll all be happy. Either that or admit that you misquoted.

              Mike
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