The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

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StephenGoranson
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by StephenGoranson »

maybe of interest to some here:

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices
Selected Papers from the Conference “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices” in Berlin, 20–22 July 2018
Series:
Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume: 103
Volume Editors: Dylan M. Burns and Matthew J. Goff
The discoveries of Coptic books containing “Gnostic” scriptures in Upper Egypt in 1945 and of the Dead Sea Scrolls near Khirbet Qumran in 1946 are commonly reckoned as the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century for the study of early Christianity and ancient Judaism. Yet, impeded by academic insularity and delays in publication, scholars never conducted a full-scale, comparative investigation of these two sensational corpora—until now. Featuring articles by an all-star, international lineup of scholars, this book offers the first sustained, interdisciplinary study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices.
Copyright Year: 2022
E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51756-1
Publication date: 08 Aug 2022
Hardback
Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51302-0
Publication date: 11 Aug 2022

For table of contents (click below author bios):
https://brill.com/view/title/62099?cont ... al-content
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DCHindley
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 6:28 pm
Or do they [the pecularities of the Coptic translation of a passage fropm Plato's republic] serve to highlight some contemporary problems in the "Republic" when the Nag Hammadi Library was being assembled in the 4th century?

I was inclined to suggest the latter.
Here are my notes and findings:

http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/Plato ... ammadi.htm
OK, I see where you were going there. The state apparatus Plato deduced would be the best for everyone in a state may have been the driving force for the Coptic translator's differences from how Plato was traditionally translated from Greek

Since the Republic describes a utopian city-state that was never before, and never after, formally put into place by a city-state government. If you think about it, Plato was proposing a draconian organization that sought to capture the minds of the citizens at all levels, and prevent straying from the status quo. Some governments went about governing more despotically than others, and may have employed policies that resemble those proposed by Plato, but I do not see anyone using Plato's description of an ideally run polis as a spiritual guide.

In modern times, possibly the Soviet state might qualify as a promoter of a Platonic model of government. This might have been influenced by things written by Bruno Baur, but also Marx or Engels. All of these folks were sure that Platonic ideals that were swirling around in the social fabric of those days has influenced it historically.

DCH
schillingklaus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by schillingklaus »

No, the Soviet Umnion has absolutely nothing to do with Plato as the Soviet Unions believed in dialectic materialism, absolutely incompatible with classic idealism.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Leucius Charinus »

DCHindley wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:00 am
Leucius Charinus wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 6:28 pm
Or do they [the pecularities of the Coptic translation of a passage fropm Plato's republic] serve to highlight some contemporary problems in the "Republic" when the Nag Hammadi Library was being assembled in the 4th century?

I was inclined to suggest the latter.
Here are my notes and findings:

http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/Plato ... ammadi.htm
OK, I see where you were going there. The state apparatus Plato deduced would be the best for everyone in a state may have been the driving force for the Coptic translator's differences from how Plato was traditionally translated from Greek
Thanks DCH but that's not quite where I was headed. Let me try and explain.

Primary focus: what is the difference?

My primary focus was an attempt to identify exactly what the differences were between the Coptic Plato extract and the traditional Greek Plato extract. My secondary focus was attempting to provide an explanation for these differences. So let's start with the primary focus. You provided a PDF of the comparison at this post:
viewtopic.php?p=113888#p113888
The title of this PDF is: Coptic Plato Republic 588a-589b & Gospel of Thomas

In this PDF you bolded the (small number of) differences. These more or less agree with the same analysis which I had conducted independently, possibly a year or so earlier. Perhaps the best place to start is to list these differences since there's not many.


Secondary focus: Why the differences?

At the end of my article on this are three "editorial notes" in reverse chronological order. These are as follows:

* Editorial Notes - March 2011
* NOTES Drafted 3 March 2009
* NOTES DRAFTED 2 March 2009. <<<============ 3 questions

In the earliest of these I noted these questions. What I'd like to explore are the possible answers to these questions.

1) Why did the NHC authors present a purposefully corrupted version of Plato's Republic?

NB: I do not think that the Coptic translation is "inept", "poor", etc. Rather I suspect it was completely purposeful. The editor and scribes of the NHL were IMO highly educated people living sometime around the middle of the 4th century. Moreover I suspect - due to the presence of large numbers of "Platonising treatises" within the NHL - that they were Platonists. They knew their Plato. They were part of a long lineage who had preserved the canonical books of Plato. And they found themselves 400 miles up the Nile rather than in the Academy of Plato in the city of Alexandria.

2) What exactly are the differences and similarities between the two texts

I think we agree with these. I will summarise them later.

3) what do these differences and similarities actually tell us, if anything?

This is the $64,000 question.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Leucius Charinus wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 9:37 pm Primary focus: what is the difference?

My primary focus was an attempt to identify exactly what the differences were between the Coptic Plato extract and the traditional Greek Plato extract. My secondary focus was attempting to provide an explanation for these differences. So let's start with the primary focus. You provided a PDF of the comparison at this post:
viewtopic.php?p=113888#p113888
The title of this PDF is: Coptic Plato Republic 588a-589b & Gospel of Thomas

In this PDF you bolded the (small number of) differences. These more or less agree with the same analysis which I had conducted independently, possibly a year or so earlier. Perhaps the best place to start is to list these differences since there's not many.

///


2) What exactly are the differences and similarities between the two texts

I think we agree with these. I will summarise them later.
Hi DCH.

I have gone through your above PDF, noted the bolded bits in the Coptic, and compared them to the comments I made in my study of the comparison between the English translation of the Greek and the English translation of the Coptic. If anything comes from this then obviously the Greek and Coptic experts could chime in. But until then here is a summary of what appears to be the differences between the two.

The Section numbers refer to this page:
http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/Plato ... ammadi.htm

Where an asterisk follows the Section Number * this indicates that you have noticed this in your study and have bolded the words. In the following the bolded text should be from your study.



Section (1) * [588a] - I didn't find a difference here so far
COPTIC: And we will find that he says, 'Good is he who has been done injustice completely. He is glorified justly.' Is not this how he was reproached?"


GREEK: It was, I believe, averred that injustice is profitable to the completely unjust man who is reputed just. Was not that the proposition?”


Section (2) [588c] “What sort of an image?” he said. The monsters of Plato's ancient fables "have now become natural creatures" and were set to work.
COPTIC: these now have become natural creatures - even Chimaera and Cerberus and all the rest that were mentioned. They all came down and they cast off forms and images. And they all became a single image. It was said, 'Work now!'

GREEK: One of those natures that the ancient fables tell of,” said I, “as that of the Chimaera or Scylla or Cerberus, and the numerous other examples that are told of many forms grown together in one.” “Yes, they do tell of them.



Section (3) * Image of the complex beast [588d] - formed now with arrogance
COPTIC: these are formed now with arrogance. And also all the rest that are like them are formed now through the word. For now it is a single image.

GREEK: [588d] “It is the task of a cunning artist,” he said, “but nevertheless, since speech is more plastic than wax and other such media, assume that it has been so fashioned.


Section (4) and Section (5) = Seems to be much the same


Section (6) * He who does injustice [588e]
COPTIC: But what is profitable for him is this: that he cast down every image of the evil beast and trample them along with the images of the lion. (There follows [589a])


GREEK: it profits him to feast and make strong the multifarious beast and the lion and all that pertains to the lion, (There follows [589a])




Section (7) * [589a] The farmers are unable to check the growth of the wild monster on a daily basis. [589a]
COPTIC: The coptic presents a stark and simpler reality. The Coptic describes a farmer who
(1) is striving to take care of the farm on a daily basis, but
(2) is unable to check the growth of the wild monster on a daily basis.

"Then is it not profitable for him who speaks justly?"
"And if he does these things and speaks in them, within the man they take hold firmly.
Therefore especially he strives to take care of them and he nourishes them
just like the farmer nourishes his produce daily. And the wild beasts keep it from growing."



GREEK: Plato describes the perfect farmer in the natural scene who
(1) fosters the growth of cultivated plants, (2) checks the growth of the wild plants,
(3) makes an ally of all the beasts by caring for them, (4) promoting friendship and
(5) fostering growth.

“And on the other hand he who says that justice is the more profitable affirms that all our actions and words should tend to give the man within us [589b] complete domination over the entire man and make him take charge of the many-headed beast - like a farmer who cherishes and trains the cultivated plants but checks the growth of the wild--and he will make an ally of the lion's nature, and caring for all the beasts alike will first make them friendly to one another and to himself, and so foster their growth.


This last one concludes the extract in the NHL.

There seems to be quite a distinctive difference.
A wild monster is loose in the NHL version.

Anyway that's the summary so far concerning possible differences between the Coptic in the NHL and the standard Greek Plato version. It occurs to me that your study had another purpose to do with the Gospel of Thomas whereas my study was just on the Plato extract. So I apologise if I have mistaken your analysis for what it may not be.
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DCHindley
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 2:57 am ...

There seems to be quite a distinctive difference.
A wild monster is loose in the NHL version.

Anyway that's the summary so far concerning possible differences between the Coptic in the NHL and the standard Greek Plato version. It occurs to me that your study had another purpose to do with the Gospel of Thomas whereas my study was just on the Plato extract. So I apologise if I have mistaken your analysis for what it may not be.
I might not have looked at the final post in the thread as close as I should have. Things are getting a little hectic here at my "real" job.

Yes, my analysis was looking at the question of what "Lion" and "Man" meant to the Coptic translators of Thomas. According to an article I had read by Birger Pearson, called "The Socio-Economic Background of Christianity in Egypt" in The Roots of Egyptian Christianity (Pearson & James E. Goehring eds., 1986), the author cited several indications that the Roman administration of Egypt was marginalizing the many native Egyptions who continued to play important roles in the local governments.

For instance, in exchange for their technical knowledge, native Egyptian scribes and nome officials had citizen-like rights and were exempt from individual taxes, as were the Greeks. Those who had served as Scribes and village officials with a certain amount of respect by the representatives of the Roman emperors until the early 2nd century, when the mood changed. Then the Roman policy seemed to shift to ostracize the local Egyptians from "proper" society (kicked out of the gymnasium) and they lost their tax exempt status. They started to be no better off than the rest of the Egyptian subjects.

In an attempt by the Roman administration to induce peasant farmers to lease plots of formerly uncultivatable (less-desirable) land that needed a lot of hand work to maintain, reduced the lease rate and many educated folks decided to give agriculture a go. As more and more educated Egyptians were squeezed out of jobs as scribes and city officials in preference for "Greeks" some took up lives of solitude in these new farms, working the fields by day and had leisure to study by evening. I think this kind of socio-economic explanation for monastic community development is also discussed in Robinson's introduction to the NHL library (in English).

So, what I was saying, was that this was what caused these monastic communities to form. Farm life was quite a bit more spartan than the life they led previously, so they had to find ways to restrain themselves severely. They turned to Plato's thoughts about the nature of the human soul. Plato has Socrates deduce a multi part soul, with a breath of life that governs the cravings that drives human beings to seek shelter and find food, and a rational part. Plato had Socrates describe the process as a tug of war between the animal and the rational parts. He did have Socrates define some practices that help the rational part overcome the animal part, in effect taming it.

So yeah, there is an overlap between that way of looking at the problem and the way that you had done. A lot of this was done in the early 2000s so just possibly :confusedsmiley: a little out of date. In a way, I see the position of the native Egyptian ex-scribes now reduced to penury as an important impetus, along with the similar position of Judean "foreigners" in Egypt (decimated and ostracized as the result of the uprising of Egyptian/Cyprus Jews in the late 1st century CE), for the development of these monasteries. "Gnostic" speculations among Coptic speaking Egyptians was from several sources, Judean, Egyptian and Greek.

Have you read any of Scott's work on Cultural anthropology of subsistence farmers of SE Asia? E.g., Weapons of the Weak, and The Moral Economy of the Peasant. He called folks who were willing to invest large quantities of sweat equity into an agricultural project as paying "starvation rents." You buy or lease that plot that was formerly not suitable, as the number of mouths to feed requires that X hectares be tilled, even though the farmer knows he will be run ragged. These folks were really motivated to conquer their own animal cravings in order to conserve scarce resources as well as work smarter rather than harder.

DCH
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Thanks DCH,

I was interested to look up a number of the articles you cited above. I guess the common ground here is the lion and the man in Thomas (which also appears in the Plato extract). Our variances appear to involve the background chronology of the setting. In the above you reference material in the 2nd century, possibly the 3rd and possibly the 1st in order to work forward and provide some explanations for the setting of the author of Thomas (and probably authors of other tracts within the NHL). There's nothing wrong with that.

My approach is to start with a mid 4th century date for the NHL and attempt to work backwards in order to try and achieve the same objective: explanations for the setting of the author(s). Perhaps the most interesting challenge in this regard is attempting to understand exactly what the Pachomian monastic movement was all about.

Pachomian monastic movement

From my reading on the subject this monastic movement is almost certainly a post Nicene phenomenon. Pachomius leaves Alexandria c.324 CE perhaps just before or possibly at the time Constantine's army enters Alexandria. Some sources provide an earlier date. The movement was slow to start but within 20 years the numbers of people joining the monastic community rises to the thousands. Some sources (such as Jerome) gives the numbers in the tens of thousands. This to my mind is a significant movement of the population. The same phenomenon is found in the history of the city of Oxyrhynchus where some sources disclose that a second city was formed outside the walls of the old city by the mid 4th century. The sources say that the city was full of "monks" and there were just as many female and male. What was going down? I'd almost be inclined to suggest a mass movement.

What caused the mass movement?

Hard to tell. Excessive taxation had many people fleeing the tax collectors. Another possibility is that people were fleeing the process of "Christianisation" in Alexandria and Antioch and other cities in the east. By this I am referring to all those people who had for centuries worked in the pagan temples and shrines of the east and which, if we are to believe Eusebius (Life of C) were prohibited to conduct normal pagan rituals. The prohibition of pagan sacrifice included the rituals of burning incense and the like, not just animal sacrifice. The accounts of Constantine's hostile treatment of the pagan temples (including in some cases their looting and destruction) and their priesthoods may have precipitated a mass movement of people from their usual roles within the pagan religious industry. It may not have been the safest place to hang out. There is some evidence to suggest this whole class of people became redundant because of the emperor's subscription to the Christian Nicene church industry, and his hostile take-over via destruction of the opposition - the pagan religious industry.


Pachomius' monastic settlement at Nag Hammadi

A great deal has been written about this by a great many people. Many consider the texts within the NHL were prepared, bound and covered by people -- perhaps a select few --within this settlement. This does seem a reasonable reconstruction to me.

One of the more comprehensive treatments of Pachomius I have read is:
Pachomius as Discovered in the Worlds of Fourth Century Christian Egypt, Pachomian Literature and Pachomian Monasticism: A Figure of History or Hagiography?
by James M Drayton

Anyway that's a summary of my approach to the study of the NHL collection. Pachomius is reported to have died c.346 CE and the dating of the NHL is approximately c.350 CE (or possibly later). So I consider it quite possible that the NHL could indeed be the "grave goods" of Pachomius himself.
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

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Monasticism is the origin, not a late addition to Christianity. Judaization lead to the abandon of encratism and koinonia in favour of an ethics of alms giving and sacrifices. This has already been described by Jean Magne in SACRIFICE ET SACERDOCE.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by Leucius Charinus »

schillingklaus wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 1:08 am Monasticism is the origin, not a late addition to Christianity.
The "Desert Father" Saint Anthony is a fiction of Athanasius who invented Christian hagiography. As a noun applied to a person the term "monachos" (monk) does not enter Greek or Coptic prior to the Nag Hammadi Library. Please explain.
schillingklaus
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Re: The logic of the Nag Hammadi collection.

Post by schillingklaus »

Christianity is the result of a Judaization of pre-Christian gnosticism and tries to hide its anti-Judaist roots. Only editorial fatigue in the NT proves the precedence of monasticism over family-friendly (== Jewish) ethics.
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