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Re: Crossan on GThom 54

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  • Mark Goodacre
    Dear Don I am grateful for your drawing attention to _The Birth of Christianity_. I am waiting for my copy of this to arrive and I look forward to looking at
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 8, 1998
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      Dear Don

      I am grateful for your drawing attention to _The Birth of
      Christianity_. I am waiting for my copy of this to arrive and I look
      forward to looking at Crossan's latest arguments in more detail.

      > First, he argues against "direct literary dependence", quoting from
      > Bruno de Solages (1979) on the order of sayings between synoptic and
      > Thomas sources, John H. Seiber's Claremont doctorial dissertation
      > (1966) on redactional details, and Stephen Patterson's Claremont
      > doctoral dissertation (1988).

      There is also a passing reference to Sieber in _Four Other Gospels_,
      just before GThom. 54 example.
      >
      > Second, he raises the issue of "indirect literary dependence" with a
      > question about GThomas's redactional intentions and composition *if*
      > the beatitude parallels from GMatt and GLuke came indirectly. It
      > seems his argument has shifted since 1985 to a more moderate one;
      > namely, that the burden of proof rests with those who claim indirect
      > literary dependence.

      I look forward to reading it. It might still need to be said that
      the beatitude in GThom. 54 parallels Luke 6.20 practically
      verbatim (when differences in language have been accounted for); the
      only difference is over "kingdom of heavens" (Thom.) and "kingdom of
      God" (Luke), and the latter phrase never comes in Coptic Thomas
      (though it comes once certainly and again possibly in the Oxyrynchus
      fragments). Dependence one way or the other for this saying seems
      quite possible.

      > Methodologically, he is content with this: "the theory of Thomas's
      > intracanonical independence is now strongly enough supported by
      > experts that one can begin to build on it and thereby to test it
      > further." Please note that for Crossan one must make methodological
      > decisions and go with them. If one is in error, then of course the
      > whole edifice crumbles. But he puts it on the table! He is very
      > clear and willingly to rebuild from scratch where proven wrong.

      I am a bit concerned with the sound of "build on it and thereby (sic)
      to test it further". Much scholarship, for example, builds on the Q
      hypothesis that in no way tests that hypothesis. Likewise the
      priority of Mark -- I happily use arguments that build on it that I
      know full well do not "test" it. But again, I will need to look at
      Crossan's latest. I am encouraged to hear that he is discussing
      these kind of issues; one of the things that many found frustrating
      with the brilliant _Historical Jesus_ book was that he did not
      actually discuss key concerns like the complete independence of
      Thomas or the existence of Q. It made it difficult for many trained
      in a different school (especially Europeans) to be persuaded by the
      overall thesis.
      >
      > Crossan states, I think correctly, that arguments for and against
      > direct literary dependence can be judged on the criteria of genetic
      > relationship and redactional confirmation. All we have for and
      > against indirect literary dependence is redactional confirmation.
      > If one suggests depen dence, then redactional confirmation must
      > show how an author got from an independent to a dependent
      > relationship. And I would agree with him that the burden of proof
      > rests with those who claim dependence. Why? Here is the crux. How
      > could one ever falsify a claim for indirect literary dependence?
      > Falsifying independence is, in contrast, relatively easy to do.

      Although the testing of hypotheses can work (e.g. I attempted
      it myself with Goulder), the language of testing, proof and
      falsifiability is not always helpful. Sometimes the language of
      coherence and plausibility is what is needed. With the issue of
      Thomasine dependence or independence what is required is a coherent,
      plausible theory.

      We have been discussing these issues at some length on Crosstalk
      recently and I don't particularly want to repeat what I have written
      there. Those interested in the issue can consult the archives at
      http://www.findmail.com/list/crosstalk. I will however comment that
      I am becoming ill at ease with what I see as an unnecessary
      polarisation in some of the literature. There is often an false
      either-or: either Thomas is wholly dependent on the Synoptics or it
      is wholly independent. I propose instead the following working
      hypothesis (a) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions generated by
      the Synoptics; (b) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions influenced
      by the Synoptics and (c) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions
      independent of the Synoptics.

      All the best

      Mark
      -------------------------------------------
      Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
      Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre

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

      Synoptic-L Web Page: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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      Synoptic-L Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Don Spencer
      On Wednesday, July 08, 1998 5:23 PM, Mark Goodacre ... Actually, Crossan makes the same point. He has no truck with those who are unwillingly to do the hard
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 8, 1998
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        On Wednesday, July 08, 1998 5:23 PM, Mark Goodacre
        [SMTP:M.S.Goodacre@...] wrote:
        >
        > I am grateful for your drawing attention to _The Birth of
        > Christianity_. I am waiting for my copy of this to arrive and I look
        > forward to looking at Crossan's latest arguments in more detail.
        > [.....]
        > I am a bit concerned with the sound of "build on it and thereby (sic)
        > to test it further". Much scholarship, for example, builds on the Q
        > hypothesis that in no way tests that hypothesis.

        Actually, Crossan makes the same point. He has no truck with those who are
        unwillingly to do the hard work in testing their working hypotheses.
        Still, I prefer the language of hypothesis and testing to that of
        plausibility and coherence. The latter, a la Wright, can be spun
        continually with scholars and the public talking past one another forever.
        But like audio tapes, perhaps that is a statement of personal preference
        <g>!

        I like your working hypotheses, Mark, and I guess I will have to wade
        through the rather enormous output of Crosstalk correspondents to get the
        full flavour of your position. The nuances seem quite reasonable and
        modest to me (BTW, that is a compliment!).

        Shalom,

        Don Spencer
        dspencer@...

        "A high proportion of what I say is probably wrong...The only problem is
        that I do not know which bits are wrong."
        N. T. Wright
      • Yuri Kuchinsky
        On Thu, 9 Jul 1998, Mark Goodacre wrote: ... Yes, Mark, I agree that this seems like a false polarisation. ... I m skeptical about (a). As to (b) and (c), some
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 12, 1998
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          On Thu, 9 Jul 1998, Mark Goodacre wrote:

          ...

          > I will however comment that I am becoming ill at ease with what I see as
          > an unnecessary polarisation in some of the literature. There is often
          > an false either-or: either Thomas is wholly dependent on the Synoptics
          > or it is wholly independent.

          Yes, Mark, I agree that this seems like a false polarisation.

          > I propose instead the following working hypothesis (a) Thomas is
          > dependent on oral traditions generated by the Synoptics; (b) Thomas is
          > dependent on oral traditions influenced by the Synoptics and (c) Thomas
          > is dependent on oral traditions independent of the Synoptics.

          I'm skeptical about (a). As to (b) and (c), some of this may well be true.
          But I would suggest that the oral tradition may have been only a part of
          the story. In my view, the original authors of Thomas may have also had
          some sort of a written collection of the sayings of Jesus to work with. Or
          perhaps a number of such collections. The genre of the ancient (both oral
          and written) sayings collection is well attested in antiquity.

          On the whole, just like with the canonical materials, the writing and
          editing of Thomas probably continued for many years. In other words, it
          was a document in progress. I see the creation of Thomas taking place
          parallel to the creation of the synoptic gospels. It seems to me that the
          authors of Thomas were in continuing dialogue with the authors and editors
          of the canonical gospels. So there was cross-pollination between these
          various parties.

          Some of the sayings in Thomas seem to me like polemical commentary on the
          emerging catholic theology. Thomas does seem to be aware of the catholic
          position and disagrees with it. Likewise, e.g. the "doubting Thomas"
          pericopes in the canonical material also seem like conscious polemical
          commentary on the Thomasine theology.

          Regards,

          Yuri.

          Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

          http://www..trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

          The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
          equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
        • Don Spencer
          On Sunday, July 12, 1998 7:25 AM, Yuri Kuchinsky ... Mark s three hypotheses ((a) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions generated by the Synoptics; (b) Thomas
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 12, 1998
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            On Sunday, July 12, 1998 7:25 AM, Yuri Kuchinsky
            [SMTP:yuku@...] wrote:
            > On the whole, just like with the canonical materials, the writing and
            > editing of Thomas probably continued for many years. In other words, it
            > was a document in progress. I see the creation of Thomas taking place
            > parallel to the creation of the synoptic gospels. It seems to me that
            > the
            > authors of Thomas were in continuing dialogue with the authors and
            > editors
            > of the canonical gospels. So there was cross-pollination between these
            > various parties.
            >

            Mark's three hypotheses ((a) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions
            generated by the Synoptics; (b) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions
            influenced by the Synoptics and (c) Thomas is dependent on oral traditions
            independent of the Synoptics.) and Yuri's comments about continuing
            redaction both point to general agreement with Ron Cameron as quoted in
            Marvin Meyer's introduction to _The Gospel of Thomas_: "An intertextual
            model may prove helpful, for it enables texts to be understood as highly
            conscious authorial compositions, adapted and adopted from various
            encounters with groups and repeated engagements with texts that
            constituted the cultural tapestry of the times" (p. 357, _The Anchor Bible
            Dictionary_).

            When Mark first broached Crossan's arguments from 1984 about the literary
            independence of GThomas from the synoptics, I suggested some comments were
            not entirely fair to Crossan. Clearly, most on this list are arguing for
            a more highly nuanced relationship between the synoptics and GThomas.
            Mark's hypotheses are completely about oral traditions. Yuri has added
            suspicions about redactional activities. Perhaps Crossan's latest book
            has something to offer the discussion; namely, basic inventories and
            literary stratigraphy. Or to use his own elaboration of Patterson, Crossan
            suggests a three-step process: establishing the *existence* of a common
            corpus of materials, establishing the *redaction* of the common corpus of
            materials, and establishing the *typology* of the common corpus of
            materials in Q and GThomas.

            What I'm getting at, in more straightforward language, is that Crossan's
            1998 discussion might be a more useful and appropriate target for this
            list. I suggest an irony here. We don't consider it appropriate to talk
            about intra- and extracanonical relationships without considering
            redactional activity or the typology of the gospels. So maybe we should
            do the same with Crossan. He has benefitted dramatically from Q/GThomas
            research in the past 15 years.

            But of course, as a newbie on the list, perhaps this has all been covered
            before, in which case I will make a tactical withdrawal and keep reading a
            while longer.

            Shalom,

            Don Spencer
            dspencer@...

            "A high proportion of what I say is probably wrong...The only problem is
            that I do not know which bits are wrong."
            N. T. Wright
          • Viola Goodacre
            Dear Don Thanks for the helpful Email. I like your quotation from Cameron very much, and I hope you won t mind my using it to ask a couple of ... Cameron s
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 13, 1998
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              Dear Don

              Thanks for the helpful Email. I like your quotation from Cameron
              very much, and I hope you won't mind my using it to ask a couple of
              related questions:

              > "An intertextual model may prove helpful, for it
              > enables texts to be understood as highly conscious authorial
              > compositions, adapted and adopted from various encounters with
              > groups and repeated engagements with texts that constituted the
              > cultural tapestry of the times" (p. 357, _The Anchor Bible
              > Dictionary_).

              Cameron's article in _ABD_ is indeed useful and I wonder if he is
              here articulating the kind of thing I was trying to hint at with my
              threefold model? Cameron does seem quite strongly against the notion
              that Thomas shows any degree of dependence on the Synoptics, however,
              and I wonder if that is necessary given this "intertextual model"?

              I am interested too in the term "intertextual" in this context and it
              prompts a question based on research I am doing at the moment on
              narrative-critical readings of the Gospels: Why is it that we tend
              to avoid the term "intertextual" when discussing texts that have the
              most interesting and intimate literary relationship of all, viz. the
              Synoptics?

              I suppose that a large part of the answer is that narrative-critics
              (and the like) are looking for intertextuality that works at the
              level of the implied author, therefore the implied author (and
              reader) of Luke knows Isaiah, Deuteronomy etc. but does not
              necessarily know Mark. However, even this might be questioned.
              Does not the implied author of Luke know of many who have undertaken
              to set accounts in order before him (1.1)? And is there not at least
              a hint that the implied reader also knows of these accounts -- "in
              order that you might know certainty about the things concerning
              which you have been catechised" (1.4)?

              What concerns me is that source-critics have become so possessive
              about the synopsis that narrative-critics tend not even to look at
              it. Perhaps synoptic "intertextuality" might provide a meeting point
              for source-critics and narrative-critics, and perhaps too it might
              help non-synoptic problem experts the grounds to reclaim at least
              some limited use of the synopsis. Or is this just wishful thinking?

              Mark

              -------------------------------------------
              Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
              Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
              Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre

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

              Synoptic-L Web Page: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
              Synoptic-L Archive: http://www.findmail.com/list/synoptic-l
              Synoptic-L Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
            • Don Spencer
              On Monday, July 13, 1998 4:27 AM, Viola Goodacre ... Mark et al, I wonder if someone more conversant with intertextuality could briefly illuminate the
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 13, 1998
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                On Monday, July 13, 1998 4:27 AM, Viola Goodacre
                [SMTP:M.S.Goodacre@...] wrote:
                >
                > I am interested too in the term "intertextual" in this context and it
                > prompts a question based on research I am doing at the moment on
                > narrative-critical readings of the Gospels: Why is it that we tend
                > to avoid the term "intertextual" when discussing texts that have the
                > most interesting and intimate literary relationship of all, viz. the
                > Synoptics?
                > [...]
                >
                > What concerns me is that source-critics have become so possessive
                > about the synopsis that narrative-critics tend not even to look at
                > it. Perhaps synoptic "intertextuality" might provide a meeting point
                > for source-critics and narrative-critics, and perhaps too it might
                > help non-synoptic problem experts the grounds to reclaim at least
                > some limited use of the synopsis. Or is this just wishful thinking?
                >

                Mark et al,

                I wonder if someone more conversant with "intertextuality" could briefly
                illuminate the concept for me. All I have at this point is a very casual
                appreciation of the term, something along the lines of what follows.
                ***********
                This particular genre makes great use of what we will term 'intertextual
                icons'. These are people like, in terms of the David Letterman show,
                fitness guru ~Richard Simmons <http://www.sirius.com/> , actor O.J.
                Simpson <http://www.cs.indiana.edu/hyplan/dmiguse/other.html> or early
                morning television presenters, Regis and Kathie Lee. The proliferation of
                Cable television channels that have sprung up in the last decade means
                that the Late Night audience (and audiences in general) have an immense
                amount of knowledge of television and television personalities. Along with
                their knowledge of the personalities comes a knowledge of their background
                and in very simple terms, what is funny about these people. The Letterman
                audience understands why a reference linking O.J. Simpson and shoes or
                gloves (key pieces of evidence in his wife's murder trial) is funny so
                that a mere mention in, for example, The Top Ten List, guarantees a laugh.
                This certainly makes the task of writing the show much simpler, and this
                is illustrated in the amount of Top Ten Lists in which these stars figure.
                *********

                Intertextuality in this context strikes me as something quite different
                from intertextuality in the context of the synoptics. For one, it
                depends, I think, on a multimedia mass popular culture where both literary
                and oral transmission are about as complex as one can imagine. In the
                context of the synoptic communities it seems safe only to assume extensive
                knowledge of Tanakh and not the common sayings tradition or even early
                synoptic editions. It might be fun to guess at how the synoptic gospel
                communities would react to a "top ten reasons why Jesus fed fish and bread
                to the 5,000", but it would, of course, be almost entirely speculative.

                Am I missing out on a nuance of intertextuality that someone can help me
                with?

                Shalom,

                Don Spencer
                dspencer@...

                "A high proportion of what I say is probably wrong...The only problem is
                that I do not know which bits are wrong."
                N. T. Wright
              • Don Spencer
                On Monday, July 13, 1998 4:27 AM, Viola Goodacre ... When I quoted Cameron I was completely unfamiliar with the technical meaning of intertextual, assuming it
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 14, 1998
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                  On Monday, July 13, 1998 4:27 AM, Viola Goodacre
                  [SMTP:M.S.Goodacre@...] wrote:
                  > I like your quotation from Cameron
                  > very much, and I hope you won't mind my using it to ask a couple of
                  > related questions:
                  >
                  > > "An intertextual model may prove helpful, for it
                  > > enables texts to be understood as highly conscious authorial
                  > > compositions, adapted and adopted from various encounters with
                  > > groups and repeated engagements with texts that constituted the
                  > > cultural tapestry of the times" (p. 357, _The Anchor Bible
                  > > Dictionary_).
                  >
                  > Cameron's article in _ABD_ is indeed useful and I wonder if he is
                  > here articulating the kind of thing I was trying to hint at with my
                  > threefold model? Cameron does seem quite strongly against the notion
                  > that Thomas shows any degree of dependence on the Synoptics, however,
                  > and I wonder if that is necessary given this "intertextual model"?
                  >

                  When I quoted Cameron I was completely unfamiliar with the technical
                  meaning of intertextual, assuming it to refer obliquely to a
                  methodological process whereby acknowledgement of highly complex
                  interactions between actual texts and oral traditions occur. Not so, I
                  discover. The more precise meaning of intertextual: "Term proposed by
                  Julia Kristeva in La Revolution du langage poetique to describe the way a
                  single work can actually consist of several texts and/or the transposition
                  of one set of signs into another. Kristeva described it as a text
                  conceived as a "mosaic of quotations..., [an] absorption and
                  transformation of another text." By this rather circumscribed meaning,
                  Cameron should not use the term at all. Even in its more comprehensive
                  art historical meaning, it is still too bound to actual cultural
                  artifacts. In other words, it presupposes, in the context of a possible
                  relationship between GThomas and the synoptics, a literary dependency,
                  exactly what Cameron would argue against and that which we are
                  investigating.

                  If we follow the implicit meaning of "intertextual" as used by Cameron,
                  the relationship does not have to be direct in any way. It can simply
                  point to group interaction and to a common textual repository, in our
                  case, what we term the Old Testament and pseudepigraphal writings.

                  > I am interested too in the term "intertextual" in this context and it
                  > prompts a question based on research I am doing at the moment on
                  > narrative-critical readings of the Gospels: Why is it that we tend
                  > to avoid the term "intertextual" when discussing texts that have the
                  > most interesting and intimate literary relationship of all, viz. the
                  > Synoptics?
                  >

                  Maybe because we are uncertain what flavour of "intertextual" is being
                  employed.

                  I'm skeptical, Mark, that intertextual will offer any help to us except as
                  a trigger word for acceptance of nuanced analyses.
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