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Re: Meier on Thomas & the Synoptics (was Re: [Synoptic-L] Special Mark?)

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  • Mark Goodacre
    Thanks for helping me to think this through. ... Who are the others? Blomberg also makes this point; I can t remember if Snodgrass does. ... It s tough
    Message 1 of 29 , Oct 8, 2003
      Thanks for helping me to think this through.

      On 8 Oct 2003 at 12:34, Peter M. Head wrote:

      > I'm generally pretty sympathetic with Meier and others on this one.

      Who are the others? Blomberg also makes this point; I can't
      remember if Snodgrass does.

      > But the LukeR and MattR parallels are the crucial ones if they can be
      > made to stick (which they often can't!).

      It's tough because LukeR and MattR questions are sometimes a matter
      of judgement. I'd see Matthew's Wheat and the Tares parable as his
      redaction of Mark's Seed Growing Secretly, for example, and Thomas
      witnesses both. But that's far from a consensus view so we have to
      look elsewhere. One less controversial is Matt. 15.10-11 // Mark
      7.14-15 // Thomas 14c, into the mouth / out of the mouth -- this is
      Matthean redaction of Mark.

      > I can recall/imagine two
      > possible responses (other than disputing the existence of significant
      > parallels): a) yes the Coptic translation does show the broader
      > influence of terms from gospel texts, but when we say that GThomas is
      > from 60CE we don't mean the Coptic text we do have but something a bit
      > less definite that we don't, UrThomas (which we can reconstruct by
      > deleting some of these pesky parallels).

      But that won't wash, will it, because it's not just "terms" but
      entire pericopae / sayings from across the various strands? Mk, Q,
      M, L, Special Mk, Mk-Q overlap are all there. Moreover, P.Oxy. 1,
      654 and 655 will give us Q, M and L.

      > Or (b): Yes we accept the
      > existence of the parallels (except for MattR and LukeR because they
      > would be knock out blows), but this simply demonstrates that the
      > Thomas stream of tradition reaches way back to the earliest Jesus
      > tradition in the same way that all the other 'strands' do; but when
      > you compare the GT version with the SG version the GT very often
      > demonstrates that it is a more primitive version of the parallel
      > tradition. Indeed to argue any other way is to imagine that GT has
      > first unpicked every strand of synoptic tradition that modern
      > scholarship can supply and then ensured she included something from
      > everything - what are the odds of that?!

      The form of the latter sounds scarily like the famous Streeter
      quotation and it reminds me of Downing and Crossan too in other
      contexts! But basically, yes, that's the problem. I don't find many
      of the greater primitivity arguments particularly convincing, e.g.
      the idea of less allegorical versions of the parables being more
      primitive than more allegorical versions I find particularly
      problematic. But in any case I think that that would beg the
      question. The point is the extraordinary scope of Thomas's parallels
      with the differing strands, something that seems implausible for
      someone writing independently of the Synoptics. The only thing I
      can think of -- and I think you may be hinting at this -- is that we
      would have to conceptualise the earliest traditions as being
      relatively unified and / or limited; they only diversified as time
      went on into separate streams.

      But the difficulty remains, does it not, that one is having to try to
      think of how defenders of an early and autonomous Thomas would deal
      with the point rather than being able to engage directly with their
      answer(s) to it?

      Mark
      -----------------------------
      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
      Graduate Institute for Theology & Religion
      Dept of Theology
      University of Birmingham
      Elmfield House, Bristol Road tel.+44 121 414 7512
      Birmingham B29 6LQ UK fax: +44 121 415 8376

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    • Stephen C. Carlson
      ... I think Perrin did much to establish that the language of Thomas s composition is Syriac, but there simply wasn t enough work with the Diatessaron directly
      Message 2 of 29 , Oct 8, 2003
        At 11:37 PM 10/8/03 +0100, Mark Goodacre wrote:
        >On 8 Oct 2003 at 14:20, Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
        >> Someone recently -- on this or another listserve --
        >> reported that recent scholarship had argued strongly
        >> that the Gospel of Thomas was based on the
        >> Diatesseron. Does anyone know anything about this
        >> argument?
        >
        >Yes, it's the thesis of Nicholas Perrin, _Thomas and Tatian: The
        >Relationship Between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron_
        >(Academia Biblica, 5; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002).

        I think Perrin did much to establish that the language of Thomas's
        composition is Syriac, but there simply wasn't enough work with the
        Diatessaron directly to show the dependence.

        >There are two things in particular that concern me about the thesis
        >(both of which I've put to Nick who is a good friend). The first is
        >David Parker's point (in the review above) that Thomas does not have
        >any clear parallels with John. This is remarkable if Thomas is
        >dependent on the Diatessaron: how did Thomas know to eliminate the
        >specifically Johannine pieces from the Diatessaron? Second is my own
        >question relating to the narrow window available on this theory for
        >the writing of Thomas. The Diatessaron is c.175; P.Oxy. 1 is
        >usually dated to c. 200. There are verbatim links between the Greek
        >of P.Oxy. 1 and Matt / Lk. This gives a very narrow window for
        >Thomas to go from Syria to Egypt, from Syriac to Greek. There may be
        >answers to these points but I can't work out for myself what they
        >would be.

        As for the second point, a copy of Irenaeus, Adv. haer., composed
        around 185 also showed up in Egypt with a c. 200 date. Paleographic
        dates are not exact; you can give or take 50 or 100 years, and MSS
        did move around quite a bit in the Pax Romana.

        As for the first point, no John parallels, that is the more interesting
        question. Perhaps the reason is genre: more pithy sayings in the
        Synoptics, and even in the Diatessaron, the Johannine material still
        manages to stand out some. Unless the motives for compiler/composer
        of Thomas are pretty clear and established, it is hard for me to draw
        much of a conclusion from Thomas's Johannine silence, however.

        Stephen Carlson
        --
        Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
        Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
        "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35


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      • Peter M. Head
        Dear Mark, Sorry I can t help too much with the bibliography at the moment. But can I probe one issue? Mark wrote: Thomas has parallels with every major
        Message 3 of 29 , Oct 9, 2003
          Dear Mark,

          Sorry I can't help too much with the bibliography at the moment. But can I probe one issue?
          Mark wrote:

          "Thomas has parallels with every major strand of Synoptic material, triple trad., Q, M, L, MattR, LukeR etc."

          and (in another post)

          "Thomas does not have any clear parallels with John."

          As you say, this would pose a bit of a difficulty (not perhaps the only one) with Perrin's thesis.

          But there are some parallels in phraseology if not in whole sayings:
          John: 8.52 cf GosThom.1;
          4.14 cf GosThom.13;
          1.5,9 cf GosThom.24b;
          7.33f cf GosThom.38b;
          15 cf GosThom.40;
          8.12 cf GosThom.77;
          7.37 cf GosThom.108.

          What do you make of these?
          Pete



          Peter M. Head, PhD
          Research Fellow
          Tyndale House
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          Cambridge, CB3 9BA                                            Fax: (UK) 01223 566608
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        • Mark Goodacre
          ... Thanks for that -- good point. But Irenaeus is Greek, no? I suppose my concern is not simply the relatively narrow window but what is the actually
          Message 4 of 29 , Oct 9, 2003
            On 9 Oct 2003 at 0:28, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:

            > As for the second point, a copy of Irenaeus, Adv. haer., composed
            > around 185 also showed up in Egypt with a c. 200 date. Paleographic
            > dates are not exact; you can give or take 50 or 100 years, and MSS did
            > move around quite a bit in the Pax Romana.

            Thanks for that -- good point. But Irenaeus is Greek, no? I suppose
            my concern is not simply the relatively narrow window but what is the
            actually achieved in this window in thelight of the verbatim
            agreement between P.Oxy. 1 and Matt/Luke in Thomas 26. If Thomas is
            composed in Syriac, the Greek translator has assimilated to the
            Matt/Luke form, which brings us back to Patterson's difficulties with
            explaining the links between the Synoptics and Thomas.

            But agreed about the inexact science of palaeography though even here
            it's give or take 50/100 years, i.e. P.Oxy.1 could be much earlier
            than 200 (and for that matter P.Oxy 654 and 655 much earlier than
            250), in which case the link with the Diatessaron would be
            impossible. So the lack of precision potentially cuts both ways, no?
            What this evidence gives us is a reminder that it is quite possible
            that Thomas postdates the Diatessaron, but I don't think it erases
            the question mark. What I really would have liked would have been
            more discussion of the P.Oxy material in Nick's book, some
            acknowledgement that these are really key issues in the origin of
            Thomas, especially for someone who dates it so much later than anyone
            else.

            > As for the first point, no John parallels, that is the more
            > interesting question. Perhaps the reason is genre: more pithy sayings
            > in the Synoptics, and even in the Diatessaron, the Johannine material
            > still manages to stand out some. Unless the motives for
            > compiler/composer of Thomas are pretty clear and established, it is
            > hard for me to draw much of a conclusion from Thomas's Johannine
            > silence, however.

            Perhaps; I'm not sure about this. Thomas apparently has little
            trouble on Perrin's thesis in picking out choice morsels from longer
            synoptic discourses, e.g. selections of a verse here and a verse
            there from the Sermon on the Mount. And in terms of genre, Thomas is
            undiscriminating when it comes to Synoptic sayings, aphorism,
            dialogue, short parable, full narrative parable, beatitude -- I don't
            get the impression that this is an author concerned about differences
            of genre among sayings materials selected.

            Thanks
            Mark
            -----------------------------
            Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
            Graduate Institute for Theology & Religion
            Dept of Theology
            University of Birmingham
            Elmfield House, Bristol Road tel.+44 121 414 7512
            Birmingham B29 6LQ UK fax: +44 121 415 8376

            http://www.theology.bham.ac.uk/goodacre
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          • Mark Goodacre
            ... I find them very interesting, especially the first, Thom. 1 / John 8.52, OU MH GEUSHTAI [QANATOU] . I don t think these are close enough to demonstrate
            Message 5 of 29 , Oct 9, 2003
              On 9 Oct 2003 at 12:04, Peter M. Head wrote:

              > But there are some parallels in phraseology if not in whole sayings:
              > John: 8.52 cf GosThom.1; 4.14 cf GosThom.13; 1.5,9 cf GosThom.24b;
              > 7.33f cf GosThom.38b; 15 cf GosThom.40; 8.12 cf GosThom.77; 7.37 cf
              > GosThom.108.
              >
              > What do you make of these?

              I find them very interesting, especially the first, Thom. 1 / John
              8.52, OU MH GEUSHTAI [QANATOU] . I don't think these are close
              enough to demonstrate direct dependency either way; do you? I'm very
              interested by the idea that John & Thomas emerged in similar
              contexts, perhaps at a similar time. Ismo Dunderberg in Uro (ed.),
              _Thomas at the Crossroads_, suggests that the early development of
              authorial fiction in both John & Thomas may place them at a similar
              point, and not very early in the first century, though he does not
              think that they come from the same or closely rival groups. I'm
              intrigued by the doubting Thomas business in John, though, and do
              wonder whether this could represent some polemicising in John against
              a Thomas-style Christianity that was uninterested in cross &
              resurrection (cf. Riley & Pagels). Sorry, a terse answer; hope it
              makes sense.

              Mark
              -----------------------------
              Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
              Graduate Institute for Theology & Religion
              Dept of Theology
              University of Birmingham
              Elmfield House, Bristol Road tel.+44 121 414 7512
              Birmingham B29 6LQ UK fax: +44 121 415 8376

              http://www.theology.bham.ac.uk/goodacre
              http://NTGateway.com


              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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            • Jeffrey Glen Jackson
              ... I could have sworn there were a couple, but maybe my memory is faulty. What I find more interesting is the parallels between Thomas and the Gospels of the
              Message 6 of 29 , Oct 9, 2003
                > The first is
                > David Parker's point (in the review above) that Thomas does not have
                > any clear parallels with John. This is remarkable if Thomas is
                > dependent on the Diatessaron: how did Thomas know to eliminate the
                > specifically Johannine pieces from the Diatessaron?

                I could have sworn there were a couple, but maybe my memory
                is faulty. What I find more interesting is the parallels between
                Thomas and the Gospels of the Hebrews and of the Egyptians.
                Given that the later two are extant only as a handful of fragments,
                it seems remarkable that we discover parallels with Thomas.
                This would suggest that Thomas and the Hebrews/Egyptians
                documents probably have many parallels, probably accounting
                for most of the Thomas sayings w/o canonical parallels.
                That still begs the question of which is the source of which,
                but it's provocative none-the-less.

                ><> Jeffrey Glen Jackson, son of Albert, son of George, son of <><
                ><> Henry, son of Miles, son of Randolph, son of Ephraim, son of <><
                ><> Thomas, son of John, son of Thomas, .... sonne of Jack. <><
                mailto:jeff@... http://www.jeff-jackson.com




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              • Stephen C. Carlson
                ... Tertullian in North Africa was using a Latin translation of Irenaeus shortly after 200, so there is evidence in contemporary Christianity of texts being
                Message 7 of 29 , Oct 9, 2003
                  At 01:50 PM 10/9/03 +0100, Mark Goodacre wrote:
                  >On 9 Oct 2003 at 0:28, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
                  >> As for the second point, a copy of Irenaeus, Adv. haer., composed
                  >> around 185 also showed up in Egypt with a c. 200 date. Paleographic
                  >> dates are not exact; you can give or take 50 or 100 years, and MSS did
                  >> move around quite a bit in the Pax Romana.
                  >
                  >Thanks for that -- good point. But Irenaeus is Greek, no?

                  Tertullian in North Africa was using a Latin translation of Irenaeus
                  shortly after 200, so there is evidence in contemporary Christianity
                  of texts being translated and disseminated very rapidly. Perrin
                  points out the bilingual nature of Edessa (p. 27), and the bilingual
                  nature of Gaul for Irenaeus makes the analogy instructive as to the
                  rapidity of translation. Also, I recall reading that Mani, later in
                  the third century, traveled from Syria/Persia to Egypt as part of his
                  missionary activities, indicating circulation between Syria and Egypt
                  among heterodox groups.

                  >I suppose
                  >my concern is not simply the relatively narrow window but what is the
                  >actually achieved in this window in thelight of the verbatim
                  >agreement between P.Oxy. 1 and Matt/Luke in Thomas 26. If Thomas is
                  >composed in Syriac, the Greek translator has assimilated to the
                  >Matt/Luke form, which brings us back to Patterson's difficulties with
                  >explaining the links between the Synoptics and Thomas.

                  It might, but there are a few consideration that need to be addressed.
                  First, a fairly literal translation from Syriac can yield the same word
                  order as the Greek. For example, if you compare the OS and the Greek
                  for Matt. 7:5, the word order is basically the same (except that
                  articles in Syriac are postpositve while Greek articles precede the
                  noun). Vocabulary choice is another factor, and one would have to
                  study how much freedom of choice was actually available.

                  It is true, though, that the translation from Syriac to Greek presents
                  an opportunity for assimilation to the Greek texts of Matt. and Luke,
                  but in the late second century the danger is somewhat less than in the
                  fourth century of the Coptic translation, because it was only in the
                  mid to late second century that Matt. and Luke began acquiring their
                  canonical status, and that did not occur in all places at once.

                  >But agreed about the inexact science of palaeography though even here
                  >it's give or take 50/100 years, i.e. P.Oxy.1 could be much earlier
                  >than 200 (and for that matter P.Oxy 654 and 655 much earlier than
                  >250), in which case the link with the Diatessaron would be
                  >impossible. So the lack of precision potentially cuts both ways, no?

                  I wouldn't exactly say cuts both ways. What is important is the
                  relative size of the paleography window pre- and post- the critical
                  date. If POxy is 200 +/- 50 or 150-250, and the Diatessaron was
                  composed in 173, then most of the range is still after 173, even
                  some part is less than the 173 date (and there is uncertainty in
                  the dating of the DT as well).

                  > What this evidence gives us is a reminder that it is quite possible
                  >that Thomas postdates the Diatessaron, but I don't think it erases
                  >the question mark. What I really would have liked would have been
                  >more discussion of the P.Oxy material in Nick's book, some
                  >acknowledgement that these are really key issues in the origin of
                  >Thomas, especially for someone who dates it so much later than anyone
                  >else.

                  That would have been nice. It also would have been nice if he
                  interacted more with the actual text of the Diatessaron instead
                  of relying on the premises that the DT was the first available
                  scripture in Syriac and that the catchword composition of Thomas
                  requires documentary sources.

                  >> As for the first point, no John parallels, that is the more
                  >> interesting question. Perhaps the reason is genre: more pithy sayings
                  >> in the Synoptics, and even in the Diatessaron, the Johannine material
                  >> still manages to stand out some. Unless the motives for
                  >> compiler/composer of Thomas are pretty clear and established, it is
                  >> hard for me to draw much of a conclusion from Thomas's Johannine
                  >> silence, however.
                  >
                  >Perhaps; I'm not sure about this. Thomas apparently has little
                  >trouble on Perrin's thesis in picking out choice morsels from longer
                  >synoptic discourses, e.g. selections of a verse here and a verse
                  >there from the Sermon on the Mount. And in terms of genre, Thomas is
                  >undiscriminating when it comes to Synoptic sayings, aphorism,
                  >dialogue, short parable, full narrative parable, beatitude -- I don't
                  >get the impression that this is an author concerned about differences
                  >of genre among sayings materials selected.

                  OK. Think of the Farrer counter-argument to charges that Luke must
                  have unpicked Mark out of Matthew to get the non-Markan Matthean bits.
                  Rather, the answer is that Luke's familarity with Mark allows him to
                  readily spot which parts of Matthew are not Markan. Similarly, if
                  the composer of Thomas was familiar with but antagonistic toward John,
                  then it wouldn't be too difficult to pick out the non-Johannine bits
                  from the Diatessaron, especially since the Johannine material was not
                  conflated so closely the Synoptic material was.

                  Stephen Carlson
                  --
                  Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                  Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                  "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35


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                • Peter M. Head
                  Just a note that in JBL 121 (2000) 579-583 there is an interesting review of a new German edition of Nag Hammadi texts. In this review James Robinson lines up
                  Message 8 of 29 , Oct 10, 2003
                    Just a note that in JBL 121 (2000) 579-583 there is an interesting review
                    of a new German edition of Nag Hammadi texts. In this review James Robinson
                    lines up 'the typically German position' (GT late 2nd Cent; depends on SGs
                    etc.) against 'the typically American position' (Helmut Koester et al).

                    Just interesting

                    Pete


                    Peter M. Head, PhD
                    Research Fellow
                    Tyndale House
                    36 Selwyn Gardens Phone: (UK) 01223
                    566607
                    Cambridge, CB3 9BA Fax: (UK) 01223 566608
                    http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Head/Staff.htm


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                  • Mark Goodacre
                    Thanks very much for that, Peter; I hadn t seen it before. The reference should be 2002. Interesting that the typically American position is pioneered by
                    Message 9 of 29 , Oct 10, 2003
                      Thanks very much for that, Peter; I hadn't seen it before. The
                      reference should be 2002. Interesting that "the typically American
                      position" is pioneered by Koester, a German! It's a fascinating
                      review; Robinson again talks about the alleged scribal error in Q
                      12.25 about which he & Heil have frequently published. He refers to
                      a debate with between himself and Schroeter on this one; an
                      extraordinary feature emerges here, that Schroeter apparently does
                      not think POxy 655 is part of the Gospel of Thomas. Does this
                      represent Schroeter accurately, I wonder? And if so, I find this
                      remarkable. On the alleged scribal error in Q 12.25 I remain
                      unconvinced. If the original text of Sinaiticus contained this
                      reading, then surely we have two options, (1) that it's a witness to
                      what Matthew wrote, thereby invalidating the idea of a scribal error
                      in Q or (2) that it represents a secondary emendation by a scribe.
                      If the latter, then we would be admitting that this could be a
                      secondary gloss, thereby again invalidating the case. Is there a
                      third option?

                      Mark
                      -----------------------------
                      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                      Graduate Institute for Theology & Religion
                      Dept of Theology
                      University of Birmingham
                      Elmfield House, Bristol Road tel.+44 121 414 7512
                      Birmingham B29 6LQ UK fax: +44 121 415 8376

                      http://www.theology.bham.ac.uk/goodacre
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                    • Peter M. Head
                      ... According to Maurice Casey, in all mythological quests there is always a third option and it always the best/highest/final one (cf. NTW and Tony Blair). I
                      Message 10 of 29 , Oct 10, 2003
                        At 12:01 PM 10/10/03 +0100, Mark Goodacre wrote:
                        > Is there a third option?

                        According to Maurice Casey, in all mythological quests there is always a
                        third option and it always the best/highest/final one (cf. NTW and Tony Blair).

                        I appreciate there is an issue of substance here as well, btu just don't
                        have time to get my head round that one again right now (with the rugby
                        already started).

                        Pete



                        >Mark
                        >-----------------------------
                        >Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                        > Graduate Institute for Theology & Religion
                        > Dept of Theology
                        > University of Birmingham
                        > Elmfield House, Bristol Road tel.+44 121 414 7512
                        > Birmingham B29 6LQ UK fax: +44 121 415 8376
                        >
                        >http://www.theology.bham.ac.uk/goodacre
                        >http://NTGateway.com
                        >
                        >
                        >Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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                        Peter M. Head, PhD
                        Research Fellow
                        Tyndale House
                        36 Selwyn Gardens Phone: (UK) 01223
                        566607
                        Cambridge, CB3 9BA Fax: (UK) 01223 566608
                        http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Head/Staff.htm


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