What are the Doublets of Gos.Thom.?


Although commentators routinely discuss the occurrence of "doublets" in Gos.Thom., and
there is general agreement that most of them occur in what Jon Ma. Asgeirsson called the
"doublet stratum" of sayings 99-112, there is a surprising lack of agreement when it comes
to specifying exactly what those doublets are. In the late 90's, Asgeirsson surveyed lists of
doublets from six sources, four from the period 1960-75 and two from 1990-91 (which he
considered the better of the two groups). Working his way through those lists, he measured
each proposed pairing against his suggested definitional criteria, narrowing the proposals
down to five that fit his criteria. As needed as that effort was, however, it seems to have had
little effect. Below is a comparison of Asgeirsson's final list with the latest of the six others
he examined (Schenke), and with two that have appeared since (DeConick and Plisch).

Sources:
Asgeirsson, J-M., Doublets and Strata: Towards a Rhetorical Approach to the Gospel
.................... of Thomas
, Claremont Ph.D. Dissertation, 1998, p.161
DeConick, A., Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas, 2005, p.38
Plisch, U-K,, The Gospel of Thomas: Original Text with Commentary, 2008, p.23
Schenke, H-M., "On the Compositional History of the Gospel of Thomas", Paper presented
................ at the Fall Meeting of Westar Institute's Jesus Seminar, Edmonton, Canada, 1991
................ (citation and Schenke list from Asgeirsson's dissertation)

Schenke Asgeirsson DeConick Plisch
1991 1998 2005 2008
55 & 101 4 yes yes yes yes
56 & 80 (+111.3) 4 yes yes yes yes
87 & 112 3 yes yes yes
48 & 106 2.5 yes* yes yes
3.1-3 & 113 2 yes yes
5.2 & 6.5-6*** 2 yes yes
21.5-7 & 103 2 yes yes
22.4-7 & 106.1 1.5 yes* yes
(6.1+14) & 104 1.5 yes** yes
38 & 92 1 yes
92.1 & 94.1 1 yes
*Schenke matches 106.1 to parts of 22, 106.2 to 48
**Schenke has only 6.1+14, which are actually parts of the same saying
***108.3 added at suggestion of Ian Brown

Other Suggestions
3.4 & 111.3 (Ian Brown)
8.1-3 & 107 (Ian Brown)
11.1-2 & 111.1-2 (myself, Patterson)
39.1-2 & 102 (myself, Gathercole)
41& 70 (myself)
81& 110 (myself)

Relevant GThomas threads
Listing the "Twins" (Mike Grondin, 14 Apr 2011)
The Literary Unity of Thomas (Ian Brown, 3 Dec 2009)

Commentary
The suggested "doublets" range from those that seem quite clear (the top three) to those whose similarity is highly questionable. Similarity of what, though? We might start with three factors: form, wording, and motif. The best pairs are those that have all three, whereas those that lack one or more tend not to count as "doublets" - though a strong motif connection may call for notice on its own. In any case, it seems that "the problem of doublets" in Gos.Thom. isn't so much the question that's been stressed ("What does their presence mean?") as the logically prior question, "Exactly what data are we talking about?"

In my judgement, the pair 87 and 112 is every bit as good as the top two. I see no reason for Plisch to have left it out. With respect to 106, the situation is more complex. Schenke actually split 106, matching 106.1 to 22.4-7 and 106.2 to 48. One other source did the same, but the other four matched all or part of 106 to 48. Asgeirsson's reason for preferring a match not listed by any of his six sources (i.e., the whole of 106 to 22.4-7) was that "it seems questionable to identify a doublet on the basis of a proverbial phrase alone" (i.e., 106.2 and 48.2). To my mind, however, it's simply not the case that the pairing of 106 and 48 is based on 106.2 and 48.2 alone. The obvious similarity of form between 106 and 48 (not present in the other suggested pairing), as well as the fact that two making peace with each other is pretty similar to making two one, must, I think, be taken into the balance against an ignoring of 106.2 because it's a "proverbial phrase".

Some Thomas commentaries, such as those of Patterson and Gathercole, contain discussions of doublets in general, but don't indicate in any one place which pairs the author considers doublets. When one digs into the details and footnotes, however, one can get at least some idea of that. Sometimes this yields surprises. A digital search of Gathercole's commentary, for example, shows that of the four pairings with respect to which he uses the word 'doublet', two aren't at all common: 39.1-2 & 102 (which I hadn't seen on any list except my own), and 22.2 & 46.2, which I hadn't seen anywhere else. -M.Grondin, 2/2/17


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