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RE: [GTh] On Thomas 68 (Fwd)

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  • Rick Hubbard
    BRUCE: On the root question of Thos 68, it seems to me that we continue to have two questions: (1) what is the text, and (2) what does it mean? (1) The Text I
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 17, 2010
      BRUCE: On the root question of Thos 68, it seems to me that we continue to
      have two questions: (1) what is the text, and (2) what does it mean?

      (1) The Text

      I can so far see two alternatives: (a) Clement is quoting correctly from the
      Greek text of Thomas available to him, and the later Coptic text is somehow
      defective. (b) Clement's quote is somehow wrong, and the Coptic text is what
      we have to work with. Since a good many people seem to be not very confident
      about what the Coptic text means, it might seem that option (a) is

      RICK: Indeed it may be that option a is preferable, but nevertheless it
      appears that the devil in much of this discussion indeed concerns the Coptic
      text of 68:2 and perhaps (partially at least), that pesky negative that has
      led some, including DeConick, to conclude that the text is corrupted since
      in its present form, as Valantasis says, "it makes no sense." But rather
      than reject the negative (AN) as a "corruption" consider that an identical
      Coptic construction is in the text at L. 21:7. There, in 21:7, the Future
      3rd person plural negative, CENA2E AN, is translated "they will not come"
      rather than "they will not find." The former is the way Schenke renders
      68:2. In contrast to Schenke, most other translators want to associate the
      negative with TOPOC so that the translation reads something like, "they will
      find no place" (e.g., Lambdin, Leipoldt, Plisch, Hedrick, Valantasis, Davies
      and Meyer).

      But even if this is the case, it does not resolve the issue- instead it
      seems to push the uncertainty elsewhere, for now it is clear that we have
      one too many "places" in the sentence. If one accepts Schenke's translation
      of CENA2E AN as "they will not come" one is in in a quandary to explain why
      both TOPOC and MA (each governed by a different preposition) are both used.
      It would be simplest to read "they will not come to a place (or the place)",
      but that is not the case. Instead The Coptic text seems to read, "they will
      not come to a place [E-TOPOC] in the place [2M P-MA]. . . ." Leipolt and
      Plisch, in their translations, apparently recognize the presence of the
      duplicate words (the former word being Greco-Egyptian and the latter being
      Egyptian) for place and translate as follows:
      Leipoldt: "no place {TOPOC} will be found in the place {MA}. . . "
      Plisch: "they will find no place {TOPOC} at the site {MA}. . ."

      As I have noted above, however, Leipoldt and Plisch push the negative
      particle toward "place" and take 2E to mean "find" instead of "come upon" so
      that the translation still suffers, it seems to me. It would perhaps be more
      workable if we proposed something like this:

      "They will not come to a place [CENA2E AN ETOPOC], the very place [2M PMA]
      down there in it [2RAI N2HTF], where you they persecuted [ENTAYDIWKE] you

      But even if that is an acceptable translation, we are left wondering about
      the antecedent to "they" at the beginning of 68:2. Who are "they"? Who is it
      that will not come to the place? Is it the ones blessed because of their
      persecution or is it the persecutors from 68:1? In other words, as Bruce
      asked, what does it mean?

      If the Coptic text is corrupt, as some suggest, it appears to involve a
      whole lot more than a misplaced negative particle. If Clement accurately
      reproduces the Greek vorlage to L. 68 (Bruce's option a) then it clear that
      the Kilmon dictum has once again come into play: "This text has been highly
      screwed around with."

      ||-----Original Message-----
      ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
      ||Behalf Of E Bruce Brooks
      ||Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2010 1:15 PM
      ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      ||Cc: GPG; Mark Goodacre
      ||Subject: Re: [GTh] On Thomas 68 (Fwd)
      ||To: GThomas
      ||Cc: GPG, Mark Goodacre
      ||In Response To: Rick Hubbard
      ||On: Thomas 68 (DeConick)
      ||From: Bruce
      ||Thanks to Rick for his fuller quotes from the wider literature; it helps
      ||identify the area of difficulty. Thanks also for the link to the
      ||Stromateis/Stromata; I have added it to the Project's small list of useful
      ||websites, at
      ||There are undoubtedly poor choices as well as missed good ones on that
      list; if
      ||anyone has suggestions, I will be glad to hear them.
      ||THOS 68
      ||On the root question of Thos 68, it seems to me that we continue to have
      ||questions: (1) what is the text, and (2) what does it mean?
      ||(1) The Text
      ||I can so far see two alternatives: (a) Clement is quoting correctly from
      ||Greek text of Thomas available to him, and the later Coptic text is
      ||defective. (b) Clement's quote is somehow wrong, and the Coptic text is
      ||we have to work with. Since a good many people seem to be not very
      ||confident about what the Coptic text means, it might seem that option (a)
      ||(2) The Meaning. Clement's report of the Greek is what I have called
      ||Matthean: it promises compensation (an end to persecution) for those who
      ||persecuted. It is less enigmatic than we might have expected of GThomas,
      ||which is frequently enigmatic, but the very next unit, Thos 69, has the
      ||compensation meaning: Those who now suffer will be better off later. This
      ||the basic posture of all the Beatitudes; it seems to me to support option
      ||the Matthean option, for Thos 68.
      ||It is this Matthean reading that might have been intended to refer to
      Pella (or
      ||other place), not as something in the future life (the Matthean concern),
      but as
      ||a political haven in the present life. I still find it pretty subtle. And
      if as
      ||DeConick says her Layer 3 (2nd addition to her core
      ||layer) is meant to show solidarity with Jacob of Jerusalem (who by then
      ||dead), is there any evidence for a connection between Pella and that view
      ||Jacob? I am not very clear about Pella in general, and would welcome a
      ||citation of a convenient treatise or other learning tool.
      ||Rick's more extensive quote from Clement is helpful. It shows me that
      ||is citing what for him was the canonical version of this saying, and
      ||it with three variant versions known to him (one of them Luke, and one
      ||"some of those who change the Gospels;" he probably regards Luke too as
      ||"changing the Gospels"). Given Clement's intent of contrast, and the
      ||of three versions on which he is concerned to report, it seems to me that
      ||odds are good that in this case he is paying close attention to the actual
      ||wording of the respective texts, and thus probably getting them right.
      ||increases my confidence that Clement is accurately reporting Greek Thomas
      ||of the year in question, which is still presumably before the Coptic
      ||was made.
      ||If we had a strange meaning in the Greek, and a Matthean one in the
      Coptic, I
      ||think we would be inclined to say that the Coptic translator has
      ||his source with Matthew; this kind of thing happens all the time in the
      ||canonical texts. We would then prefer the strange Greek text, even if it
      ||enigmatic to us. We seem to have here the opposite: the strange passage is
      ||second, not the first. Did the translator change the Greek in a new
      ||puzzling to us but meaningful to him? Could be [see the suggestion at the
      ||Meanwhile, it does seem that the Coptic is grammatically awkward in
      ||Coptic terms. Rick says of the various offered translations that "some are
      ||tortured than others," but all of them seem tortured to some extent; I get
      ||sense that the translators are struggling with the sentence (not with
      ||words in it. Quite apart from any meaning considerations, this itself
      ||that the Coptic may be erroneous rather than intentional. Whether or not
      ||error in question was precisely the one DeConick suggests, I can't judge,
      ||the hypothesis of error seems to be at least still up for consideration.
      ||Valantasis, as earlier noted, concludes that the Coptic does not make
      ||His version, for comparison, was "No place will be found, wherever you
      ||been persecuted."
      ||So far the error theory. I now consider the non-error theory.
      ||Mike Grondin feels that Coptic 68 *does* make sense:
      ||MIKE: As to DeConick's belief that the Coptic version of 68.2 is a mistake
      ||involving a misplaced negative, I'm not persuaded. In fact, it does make
      ||as a reference to Jerusalem as being a place of persecution which was
      ||during both Jewish rebellions. Hence "a TOPOS won't be found in the place
      ||where you were persecuted."
      ||BRUCE: If the reference is to Jerusalem versus some new center for the
      ||Christian group in question, then what it seems to say (following Mike's
      ||version) is that "no place remains where you were persecuted." If this
      does not
      ||mean simply the destruction of the city as such, it might suggest that
      "there is
      ||no place for you where you were persecuted;" or, you cannot go back to
      ||Jerusalem. This seems to me to refer not so much to the flight to Pella
      ||wherever), but to a thought of going back to Jerusalem. Is the saying
      meant to
      ||reprove that thought? I guess I still have trouble working it out.
      ||My best guess as of this morning. Suppose the Greek is correctly reported
      ||Clement, and that it said what he says it said. It does not greatly depart
      ||the usual Beatitude thought that things are tough now but will be better
      ||That is a bit tame, but so is Thos 69 next door (unless someone wants to
      ||propose an esoteric meaning, and DeConick, for one, does not do so). So it
      is at
      ||least not unthinkable in immediate context.
      ||Suppose, though, that the Coptic translator also found it tame, and was
      ||to change it into something more, well, Thomasine. He stumbled in
      ||it, seemingly, but he was aiming at something. What?
      ||The difference seems to lie in the negative: either there will (Greek) or
      ||will not (Coptic) be a place for the persecuted person at some next stage.
      ||Additionally, the Coptic has to be positive for a Thomas follower, even if
      ||counterintuitive for a more conventional (Beatitude) Christian. Is there a
      ||elsewhere in Thomas about what the counterintuitive but positive thought
      ||might have been?
      ||I think of Thos 10 (|| Lk 12:49), "I have cast fire on the world, and see,
      I am
      ||guarding it until it blazes." Fire should be bad, because it burns things
      up, but
      ||burning things up (getting rid of the material world) may have, for the
      ||Christians, a meaning akin to what the conventional Christian means by
      ||salvation. Fire is also used in the NT canon as a symbol for persecution
      ||martyrdom: a bad thing in the usual view, but one that, for a Christian,
      ||lead to a good thing later. If the Christian reaches the point where he is
      ||persecuted not in one place, but in every place, then the time of the End,
      ||thus of his liberation, is near. So the *absence* of a place free from
      ||persecution would in that sense be good news.
      ||As an assist in decoding the fire in Thos 10, I would suggest Thos 82:1,
      ||says, (1) the person who is near me is near the fire. (2) And the person
      who is
      ||far from me is far from the fire." Then it is good (for a Thomas follower)
      to be
      ||near the fire, and when there is noplace but fire (or persecution), then
      ||situation actually promises well. Not for an earthly haven at Pella or
      ||elsewhere, but for release from the world as we know it.
      ||It thus seems to me that the Coptic text of Thos 68, which turns a
      ||saying into something which can be read at one level be read as meaning
      ||opposite, may have had in mind something like the above.
      ||PS: GOODACRE
      ||The above supposes that there has been a purposive and meaningful change
      ||between the Greek Thomas and its Coptic successor; or so to speak, that
      ||Thomas gets more Thomasine as it goes along. Is there any parallel to this
      ||situation? Perhaps this remark of Mark Goodacre, in his paper on Thos 79a
      ||(arguing for dependence on Luke), online draft p5, n6, here quoted entire,
      ||"6. Unfortunately we have no Oxyrhynchus papyri here to help us with this
      ||saying. It is at least worth noting, however, that Coptic Thomas is
      further from
      ||the Synoptics than is Greek Thomas in the case of the closest parallel to
      ||Synoptic saying, Thom 26 (P Oxy 1) // Matt 7:5 // Luke 6:42."
      ||DeConick (I should note) disagrees. But if so, then the tendency I suggest
      ||been detected elsewhere by an experienced Thomas investigator, and its
      ||plausibility as a procedure (quite apart from the specifics) perhaps gains
      ||Respectfully suggested,
      ||E Bruce Brooks
      ||Warring States Project
      ||University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      ||[Somewhere along in here it would make sense to take up the question of
      ||Greek > Coptic changes in toto. Presumably someone has done this. If so, I
      ||would appreciate a reference].
    • Michael Grondin
      Hi Rick, I may be able to shed some light on the translation issues involved in 68.2. One of the problems is that, as you pointed out, there are two nouns
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 18, 2010
        Hi Rick,
        I may be able to shed some light on the translation issues involved in 68.2.
        One of the problems is that, as you pointed out, there are two nouns involved,
        Greek TOPOS and Coptic MA, which are generally pretty equivalent to each
        other, as far as I know. Some translators collapse them into a single noun,
        others leave it as two.
        As to the translation of CE-NA-2E AN E-TOPOS, the verb '2E' literally means
        'fall' and is invariably combined with an 'e-<noun>' phrase to form the idiomatic
        'fall upon <noun>', which I think of as akin to our 'stumble upon'. It can be
        translated as 'find', but since there's another Coptic word for 'find' (6INE), I
        translate it as 'discover'. I suppose it could also be translated as 'come upon',
        but doing so causes a mess in 21.7 (which you mentioned), where the Coptic
        verb EI, normally translated 'come' occurs in close proximity to '2E' resulting in
        something like "the thieves come upon (2E E-) a road to come (EI) up to you"?
        I suppose 'happen upon' could get around this, but I'll stick with 'discover'.
        I don't have Schenke's book, but the above and another consideration make
        me wonder about his translation. The other consideration is the unreferenced
        'they' that you discussed. Since Coptic has no true passive voice, the way
        the passive was handled was precisely with an unreferenced 'they'. There are
        several examples of this in the text, including 3.4, which literally reads "When
        you know yourselves, then THEY will know you", but which means "When you
        know yourselves, then you will be known."
        In L68, there are three unreferenced 'they's'. The second and third (which are
        in 68.2) must depend on the first, which is in 68.1. Since Schenke translates
        the second and third in the active voice, he must also translate the first in the
        active voice, but it seems to me that the first is clearly in the passive voice.
        Literally, it reads "You (pl) are blest when THEY hate you and persecute
        you", but since there's no apparent specific reference for 'they', it must mean,
        I think, "You're blest when you're hated and persecuted" - and apparently
        every translator except Schenke reads it that way. (And it doesn't do any good
        to say as Schenke does that "they" are whoever hate and persecute you - that
        only means that he should have translated it in the passive voice - unless his
        translation is much more literal than the others we've been discussing - in which
        case we should regard his as being in a separate category, I think.)
        Finally, as to the scope of the Coptic negation 'AN', I don't see that as a
        problem. Grammatically, it goes with the verb in the native language, but
        since "you won't find a spot" and "you'll find no spot" are equivalent in
        English, ISTM that either will do as a translation. The thing that kinda bothers
        me, however, is that there's no word 'a' in the Coptic next to TOPOS. It's
        not "discover a TOPOS", but rather "discover TOPOS", which seems a
        bit odd. I should probably look into that to see if the indefinite particle is
        EVER used in such a construction.
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