Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by Ben C. Smith »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:41 pm
I think this is the main weakness of your argument. If the saying makes sense in Matthew 18.8-9 = Mark 9.43-48, but not so much in Thomas, then there is no reason to suppose that Matthew and/or Mark had to derive it from Thomas.
That is exactly opposite, I think?
No. David is the one who made an argument that the details in Matthew were less cogent in their context than what we find in Thomas:
Switching to Matthew problems arise
It's talking about adultery and looking at a woman lustfully (interestingly what Jesus was accused of with the wonky eyed innkeeper in Talmud!)
So far so good. The 'eye' part fits perfectly. But what does the 'right hand' have to do with this?
The same problem in Thomas really, how does going from eye to hand make sense. at least in thomas its not a context issue like matthew
I pointed out that, actually, the details in Matthew fit their context very well. Thus, by the standard of David's own argument, there is no reason based on this observation to suppose that Matthew copied from Thomas.
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by mlinssen »

Hi Ben, my comment was directed at your comment, hence the quote.
You state that when statement A makes less sense than B, that it is not likely that B copied A. Correct? That is what you say here, right?
If the saying makes sense in Matthew 18.8-9 = Mark 9.43-48, but not so much in Thomas, then there is no reason to suppose that Matthew and/or Mark had to derive it from Thomas.
So I'm just reacting to that single statement right here
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by mlinssen »

Is there a similar progression to the sayings in Thomas 22.1-7? I would love to see it, because at the moment it looks to me like the only reason Thomas has a saying about eyes and hands and feet at this point is because Matthew and Mark have a saying about eyes and hands and feet at this point. I am more than willing to be persuaded otherwise, but that is how it appears to me here and now.
Now that is the real challenge, of course

First off all, hands and feet are quite a trademark in Thomas: 1 verb with hands (fill-hands), 6+1 adjectives (from-the-hand-of, by-the-hand), 7 nouns (hand), plus 2 for right hand and left hand.
Feet? 3 occurrences of the plural, 5 of the singular. And 2 verbs: stand on foot.
So, plenty of those in Thomas: 17 and 10

But why does Thomas follow up his children and kingdom with hands and feet, is the question. And unfortunately, the only way out there is interpretation, there are no literal textual leads in the text of logion 22

Babies drinking milk are at the centre of the scene, IS pointing them out is what draws the attention: these little persons taking milk, they liken to those who enter the kingdom!
Naturally, the dumb disciples bite. "So if we become little persons, we will enter the kingdom?" - and they skip the milk part, and add the future tense.
IS corrects them, of course, and points them once more to the point of making the two one, and follows an elaborate set of examples like the old and new wine, logion 47:

Thomas is lovely concise and complete here: he first posits his theorem that no one can handle two objects simultaneously, inanimate (47a) or animate, when he elaborates on that in serving two masters at the same time (47b). Then he zooms in on the aspect of time by exemplifying one side of the coin (47c), building a case for the fact that it takes time to transition from one object to the other object, from old to new.
Switching back to inanimate objects he then handles the compatibility of these specific two objects, the old and the new, while shedding light on both sides: they are mutually incompatible because new destroys old and old splits (sic) new (47d). And then in (47e) he falls back on the example in (47c) with this time looking at the other side of the coin: (47c) shows that old doesn't immediately desire new, (47e) shows that new doesn't desire or endure (a piece of) the old.
Thomas is perfectly balanced, unbiased, looking at old and new from both sides


Likewise, the set of examples unfolds here:
"Continue to make the two one" is the general instruction (that will allow you to enter the kingdom) and Thomas elaborates on that with two examples: make the inward part like the outward part (and vice versa), and the heaven part like the ground part: all "parts" - yet all of them concepts, and none tangible.
Clear opposites, all of these

So then he moves a step up, and gets a little closer to reality: male vs female. More tangible, yet still fairly conceptual at start, when he instructs to "make the male female-dom to one alone".
Are these opposites? Not really, more like two of a kind, parts of a pair. They are somewhat opposite yet they also belong together.
Moving closer, he explains that the goal should be that male shouldn't be made male nor female be made female: again, two examples

And then he finally moves to tangible subjects, although those still are concepts - because it is all about concepts what he is trying to tell, the entire idea of the kingdom is about concepts and concepts alone!
So finally, he moves down to the last set, the third set...
The instruction right here? "Make eyes in the place of an eye", and it is a pun on the well-known Thomasine 'hear-hear': use your eye well, very well, open your eye so wide that it becomes eyes - or something the like.
And then he furthers the singular-plural set, and continues with tangible objects just like eyes: hands and feet - and again, we see two examples. Hand versus hand, feet versus feet, and it is all in perfect balance once again: eyes is plural, eye is singular - and he follows up with hand first, and then feet.
Are hands and feet opposites? No. Two of a kind? No. Counterparts? No. Yet we do see them "together", and we do treat them like opposites, don't we? Odd, isn't it? And thus we are delivered by Thomas on the doorstep of our destination: to think about the image that we assign to our concepts...

The end? The end is the summary, just like the beginning to logion 47: no one can serve two masters. Right here, Thomas has slowly guided us from opposites to counterparts, conceptual to tangible, but the entire subject has been concepts: images - and that is the double whammy at the end, the clue. Make an image in place of an image: replace the images in your head, contemplate the concepts in your mind

It is mesmerisingly beautiful, all of Thomas is. But not if you try to relate it to the canonicals, not if you go straight into some assumed biblical interpretation, not if you think that Thomas tells about a Jesus, any Jesus that we know.
I have tried, of course, to find the Christian Jesus in Thomas - that's what everyone does I think, unless one has never heard of the Christian Jesus.
I have tried, for months, and have gone through all parallels, with great thanks to Steven Davies and his misericordia site. But I have horribly and utterly failed to find either one in either, I simply can't, and I have given up that little quest: only with tremendous effort can one continuously try very hard to make Christian sense of Thomas - and one will fail miserably most of the time

Thomas is deeply philosophical, challenging, and is the greatest poet of prose that I have ever encountered. His work is truly magnificent and it will keep me busy for another few years - but it's all worth it
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by Ben C. Smith »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:07 pm Hi Ben, my comment was directed at your comment, hence the quote.
You state that when statement A makes less sense than B, that it is not likely that B copied A. Correct?
Close, but not quite. When a statement makes sense within its own context, then there is no reason on that account to suppose it copied from some other statement. Statements which make sense in their own context is exactly what competent speakers and writers of a language aim for much/most of the time; therefore, to find a statement that makes sense in its own context ought to occasion no surprise and raise no eyebrows. This does not automatically mean that the statement was not copied from somewhere; the copying may have been very competent and smooth; but no argument can be made for copying on the basis of a mismatch of context or on the basis of inconcinnity.

The difference between my argument: "there is no reason to suppose that Matthew and/or Mark had to derive it from Thomas," and your summary: "it is not likely," is subtle but real to my way of thinking. "It is not likely" colloquially tends to mean that the odds are lowered; that is, we have reason to believe that the odds are lower than if we did not have that reason, whatever it is. "There is no reason," on the other hand, tends to mean that the slate is wiped clean; no likelihood is yet being considered, because whatever reason we thought we had for determining the likelihood turned out not to be the case after all.

That is how I intended my reply to David that you quoted.

On the other hand, when there is a statement which does not make sense in its own context, one generally likes to search for a reason, and that reason may be copying. There are other possible reasons; the speaker or writer may just be clumsy, for example. But copying is also one possible explanation, and ought to be explored.
mlinssen wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:53 am
Is there a similar progression to the sayings in Thomas 22.1-7? I would love to see it, because at the moment it looks to me like the only reason Thomas has a saying about eyes and hands and feet at this point is because Matthew and Mark have a saying about eyes and hands and feet at this point. I am more than willing to be persuaded otherwise, but that is how it appears to me here and now.
Now that is the real challenge, of course

First off all, hands and feet are quite a trademark in Thomas: 1 verb with hands (fill-hands), 6+1 adjectives (from-the-hand-of, by-the-hand), 7 nouns (hand), plus 2 for right hand and left hand.
Feet? 3 occurrences of the plural, 5 of the singular. And 2 verbs: stand on foot.
So, plenty of those in Thomas: 17 and 10

But why does Thomas follow up his children and kingdom with hands and feet, is the question. And unfortunately, the only way out there is interpretation, there are no literal textual leads in the text of logion 22

Babies drinking milk are at the centre of the scene, IS pointing them out is what draws the attention: these little persons taking milk, they liken to those who enter the kingdom!
Naturally, the dumb disciples bite. "So if we become little persons, we will enter the kingdom?" - and they skip the milk part, and add the future tense.
IS corrects them, of course, and points them once more to the point of making the two one, and follows an elaborate set of examples like the old and new wine, logion 47:

Thomas is lovely concise and complete here: he first posits his theorem that no one can handle two objects simultaneously, inanimate (47a) or animate, when he elaborates on that in serving two masters at the same time (47b). Then he zooms in on the aspect of time by exemplifying one side of the coin (47c), building a case for the fact that it takes time to transition from one object to the other object, from old to new.
Switching back to inanimate objects he then handles the compatibility of these specific two objects, the old and the new, while shedding light on both sides: they are mutually incompatible because new destroys old and old splits (sic) new (47d). And then in (47e) he falls back on the example in (47c) with this time looking at the other side of the coin: (47c) shows that old doesn't immediately desire new, (47e) shows that new doesn't desire or endure (a piece of) the old.
Thomas is perfectly balanced, unbiased, looking at old and new from both sides


Likewise, the set of examples unfolds here:
"Continue to make the two one" is the general instruction (that will allow you to enter the kingdom) and Thomas elaborates on that with two examples: make the inward part like the outward part (and vice versa), and the heaven part like the ground part: all "parts" - yet all of them concepts, and none tangible.
Clear opposites, all of these

So then he moves a step up, and gets a little closer to reality: male vs female. More tangible, yet still fairly conceptual at start, when he instructs to "make the male female-dom to one alone".
Are these opposites? Not really, more like two of a kind, parts of a pair. They are somewhat opposite yet they also belong together.
Moving closer, he explains that the goal should be that male shouldn't be made male nor female be made female: again, two examples

And then he finally moves to tangible subjects, although those still are concepts - because it is all about concepts what he is trying to tell, the entire idea of the kingdom is about concepts and concepts alone!
So finally, he moves down to the last set, the third set...
The instruction right here? "Make eyes in the place of an eye", and it is a pun on the well-known Thomasine 'hear-hear': use your eye well, very well, open your eye so wide that it becomes eyes - or something the like.
And then he furthers the singular-plural set, and continues with tangible objects just like eyes: hands and feet - and again, we see two examples. Hand versus hand, feet versus feet, and it is all in perfect balance once again: eyes is plural, eye is singular - and he follows up with hand first, and then feet.
Are hands and feet opposites? No. Two of a kind? No. Counterparts? No. Yet we do see them "together", and we do treat them like opposites, don't we? Odd, isn't it? And thus we are delivered by Thomas on the doorstep of our destination: to think about the image that we assign to our concepts...

The end? The end is the summary, just like the beginning to logion 47: no one can serve two masters. Right here, Thomas has slowly guided us from opposites to counterparts, conceptual to tangible, but the entire subject has been concepts: images - and that is the double whammy at the end, the clue. Make an image in place of an image: replace the images in your head, contemplate the concepts in your mind
Okay, thanks for this. I will give your interpretation some consideration. If it turns out that the eyes/eye, hand/hand, and foot/foot pairs sit well within this saying, then of course there will be no reason on that account to suppose that Thomas copied from the synoptics here, either. Because the synoptic sayings are cogent on their own, as well, there would therefore remain no argument to be made for copying in either direction. (This is not to say that no copying occurred here; it is just to say that, if it did, cogency or lack of cogency is not going to be our reason for supposing it did.)

One final thing: I highlighted "feet/feet" in your response because you have the noun as plural here, whereas according to the interlinear version I have from Michael Grondin the noun is singular both times, "foot/foot." (I do not know Coptic, except lexically in the case of those words derived from Greek, so I rely on translations, commentaries, and interlinears.) Is there some reason you used the plural here?
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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Ben C. Smith wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:05 amOne final thing: I highlighted "feet/feet" in your response because you have the noun as plural here, whereas according to the interlinear version I have from Michael Grondin the noun is singular both times, "foot/foot." (I do not know Coptic, except lexically in the case of those words derived from Greek, so I rely on translations, commentaries, and interlinears.) Is there some reason you used the plural here?
Quickie here Ben; I was in your position a while ago, using Grondin with great pleasure - but even his translation is far from precise, and I've had a few discussions about that with him.
Apparently he settled for following "the big shots" on quite a few occasions, where his translation would lead him to entirely different words and meanings (e.g. strangers instead of visitors in logion 64). Which is his good right, but I would have loved a footnote here and there then - and there aren't any.
I use this interlinear now, which not only translates every single Coptic lemma, but hyperlinks each and every one of them into an online Coptic Dictionary as well: Interlinear Coptic-English Thomas translation - interactive, literal, and fully normalised

And feet is the correct translation for ⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ, as you will be able to verify for yourself, when you click the Crum (link with CD 491a) after you get to the Coptic Dictionary. Crum says:

nn foot f, plural (dual)

Yeah it's my translation indeed. The stories aren't all this long, fortunately - yet there are many dozens of mistranslated words, and now people like you, without any Coptic knowledge at all yet some background and interest, can check the translation for themselves. The CD is still young and I've made many changes to it (via github) but it's a work on progress (University of Göttingen, Germany, plus another few)
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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mlinssen wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:50 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:05 amOne final thing: I highlighted "feet/feet" in your response because you have the noun as plural here, whereas according to the interlinear version I have from Michael Grondin the noun is singular both times, "foot/foot." (I do not know Coptic, except lexically in the case of those words derived from Greek, so I rely on translations, commentaries, and interlinears.) Is there some reason you used the plural here?
Quickie here Ben; I was in your position a while ago, using Grondin with great pleasure - but even his translation is far from precise, and I've had a few discussions about that with him.
Apparently he settled for following "the big shots" on quite a few occasions, where his translation would lead him to entirely different words and meanings (e.g. strangers instead of visitors in logion 64). Which is his good right, but I would have loved a footnote here and there then - and there aren't any.
I use this interlinear now, which not only translates every single Coptic lemma, but hyperlinks each and every one of them into an online Coptic Dictionary as well: Interlinear Coptic-English Thomas translation - interactive, literal, and fully normalised

And feet is the correct translation for ⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲧⲉ, as you will be able to verify for yourself, when you click the Crum (link with CD 491a) after you get to the Coptic Dictionary. Crum says:

nn foot f, plural (dual)

Yeah it's my translation indeed. The stories aren't all this long, fortunately - yet there are many dozens of mistranslated words, and now people like you, without any Coptic knowledge at all yet some background and interest, can check the translation for themselves. The CD is still young and I've made many changes to it (via github) but it's a work on progress (University of Göttingen, Germany, plus another few)
Thanks. I think I found the interlinear you speak of at Academia.edu, from what looks like it might be your own account there. I have downloaded it and will take a look. Always good to have another tool in the belt, at the very least. I appreciate it.

I wanted to respond briefly to something you wrote on another thread:
mlinssen wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:08 amLike Hamlet, he is the main character of a story.
Unlike Hamlet, his name is very short: IC, or IHC in three logia

I'm not familiar with names around that time, but it seems like an abbreviation, not a proper name
mlinssen wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:26 am Addendum: and you can't call him Jesus until and unless you have pointed out a source, prior to this text, that shows a connection between IC and Jesus

....

And the name of the protagonist in Thomas is IC (IS in our Latin alphabet)
It seems pretty clear to me that both ΙΣ and ΙΗΣ (to use the Greek forms) are nomina sacra for Ἰησοῦς. So you would be correct: both IC and IHC are abbreviations; it is just that they are abbreviations for the Greek name we drag through the Latin and transliterate as Jesus in English. In the Oxyrhynchus fragments of Thomas we also find ΘΥ for θεοῦ, ΠΡΑ for πατέρα, and ΑΝΩΝ for ἀνθρώπων; these are standard nomina sacra, and so are both ΙΣ and ΙΗΣ for Ἰησοῦς, used even when the "Jesus" in question is actually the Hebrew hero Joshua (Joshua and Jesus are the same name in Hebrew and in Greek). The earlier manuscripts (including the Oxyrhynchus fragments of Thomas) seem to use the three-letter contraction ΙΗΣ more often than the later manuscripts do, which drifted toward ΙΣ:

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 657 (Ƿ13), column 3, lines 73-74a (= Hebrews 4.8): 73-74a [Εἰ γὰρ α]ὐτοὺς Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς κατέπαυσεν, οὐκ ἂν π[ερὶ ἄλλης ἐλά]λι μετὰ ταῦτα ἡμέρας.

Schøyen 2648, column 2, lines 11b-14 (= Joshua 10.29): 11b-14 Καὶ ἀπῆλθεν Ἰη(σοῦ)ς [יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, Masoretic] κα[ὶ πᾶς Ισ]ραηλ μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐκ [Λεβ]νὰ εἰς Λαχείς, καὶ περιεκάθισεν αὐτὴν. [Link.]

Colossians 4.10-11: 10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11 and also Jesus who is called Justus [καὶ Ἰη(σοῦ)ς ὁ λεγόμενος Ἰοῦστος, Ƿ46]. These are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.

Edgar Battad Ebojo, A Scribe and His Manuscript: An Investigation into the Scribal Habits of Papyrus 46, pages 338-339 (Contraction Profile table reformatted into lines):

ΙΗΣΟΥΣ

CONTRACTION PROFILE:
SACRAL, Nomina Sacra = 107, Plene = 0.
NON-SACRAL, Nomina Sacra = 2, Plene = 0.

Like κυριος, abbreviation for Ιησους is consistently applied, using the 3-letter format; the 2-letter suspension (ι̅η̅), used in a few contemporary manuscripts, was never employed in Ƿ46. Except in two instances,* all have Jesus Christ as the referent. Paap noted that ι̅η̅ς̅ (χ̅ρ̅ς̅) in Heb 13.21 is dative in function despite its nominative form. This is only partly true; it is more likely that in context it has a genitival function, hence, consequently stimulating scribal correction toward the genitive, i.e., ι̅η̅υ̅ χ̅ρ̅υ̅. / Viewed against the backdrop of other surviving papyri witnessing to the text of Pauline Epistles and Hebrews, Ƿ46 shares only with two other papyri (Ƿ30 and Ƿ65 [both from the third century]) in equally exhibiting preference for the 3-letter compendium. In contrast, the majority of them prefer the shorter form, although they mostly represent a production timeframe after the 3rd century.

* Col 4.11 (“Jesus the one called Justus”) and Heb 4.8 (referring to “Joshua”). Surprisingly, Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts, 129, erroneously reported that these (as well as 2Cor 11.4 [“another Jesus”]) were written plene in Ƿ46.

Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς = nomen sacrum used of Joshua/Jesus/Yehoshua/Yeshua.

Colossians 4.11 in P46 & Joshua 10.29 in Schøyen 2648.png
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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Not according to Justin as you well know. IS = 'man' and 'savior.'
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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Secret Alias wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:32 am Not according to Justin as you well know. IS = 'man' and 'savior.'
Yes, we know. I am speaking of the manuscripts themselves, not of a church father's apologetic interpretation of the contents of those manuscripts.
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

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Ben C. Smith wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:42 am
Secret Alias wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:32 am Not according to Justin as you well know. IS = 'man' and 'savior.'
Yes, we know. I am speaking of the manuscripts themselves, not of a church father's apologetic interpretation of the contents of those manuscripts.
Thank you Ben, that's quite a lot of work!
I'm familiar with the so-called nomina sacra, and was just trying to get to the point that these two don't stand for Jesus - without presuming a whole bunch

Under Absolute Thomasine priority, IS or IHS would just mean simply that... although it does seem fair to assume that I(H)S came first, Jesus later, and that one came before the other.
But what about the oldest MSS? They don't have Jesus in full, I presume - so it's more likely, I think, that the word was IS or IHS and came to be pronounced IESus, IESis, but more likely IESos

I'm not after a presumed meaning, Secret Alias. Unless you have a very sound story full of etymology and such, I like those a lot :)
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Re: Significance of the Gospel of Thomas if the Canonical Gospels are late?

Post by mlinssen »

mlinssen wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:59 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:42 am
Secret Alias wrote: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:32 am Not according to Justin as you well know. IS = 'man' and 'savior.'
Yes, we know. I am speaking of the manuscripts themselves, not of a church father's apologetic interpretation of the contents of those manuscripts.
Thank you Ben, that's quite a lot of work!
I'm familiar with the so-called nomina sacra, and was just trying to get to the point that these two don't stand for Jesus - without presuming a whole bunch

Under Absolute Thomasine priority, IS or IHS would just mean simply that... although it does seem fair to assume that I(H)S came first, Jesus later, and that one came before the other.
But what about the oldest MSS? They don't have Jesus in full, I presume - so it's more likely, I think, that the word was IS or IHS and came to be pronounced IESus, IESis, but more likely IESos

I'm not after a presumed meaning, Secret Alias. Unless you have a very sound story full of etymology and such, I like those a lot :)
EDIT: I'm trying to argue that it can't be an abbreviation for Jesus, as Jesus came later, and IS / IHS earlier. So the whole nomina sacra thing is nonsense, as the usual abbreviations that you mention are indeed exactly that: abbreviations of an existing word.
Going by the earliest MSS, Jesus wasn't an existing word - so in fact Jesus could be considered a nomen Sacrum for IS / IHS, but not vice versa

Right?
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