Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Emory Studies in Early Christianity

Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity

Religious Sites in Atlanta

Emory Department of Religion

Emory Graduate Division of Religion



Enthymemic Texture in the Gospel of Thomas
Vernon K. Robbins, Emory University

From Society of Biblical Literature 1998 Seminar Papers, pp. 343-366

In many sections of early Christian writings, assertions do not simply stand alongside other assertions, but they are supported by rationales. The presence of rationales indicates that the speaker/author is engaged in some kind of reasoning about the world and the things and processes in it. In some instances, assertions and rationales are "explanations" rather than "arguments." An instance of this is present in GTh 57:1-4:

57 1Jesus said, "The kingdom of the Father is like a person who had [good] seed. 2His enemy came at night and sowed weeds among the good seed. 3The person did not let the workers pull up the weeds, but said to them, 'No, lest you go to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.' 4For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be conspicuous, and will be pulled up and burned."

The rationale in v. 4 of this logion explains "why" the person did not let the workers pull up the weeds; therefore, this assertion and rationale are an "explanation" rather than an "argument." An assertion and a rationale present an "argument" only if the rationale attempts to prove "that" something is the case (Hurley 1985: 17). The rationale in this logion does not attempt to prove that the person did not let the workers pull up the weeds; it only explains why. When an assertion and a rationale constitute an explanation,1 they regularly present conventional wisdom and provide excellent grounds for arguments that attempt to prove that something is the case.

In contrast to GTh 57, the parable in GTh 20:2-4 is a "description," not an explanation:

20 1The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like." 2He said to them, "It is like a mustard seed. 3<It> is the tiniest of all seeds, 4but when it falls on prepared soil, it produces a large plant and becomes a shelter for birds of heaven."

"A description consists of one or more statements that, taken together, cause a certain picture to appear in the mind of a reader or listener" (Hurley 1985: 12). While a description is neither an explanation nor an argument, it may also present well-known information that can function as grounds (a case/minor premise) for drawing a particular conclusion.

Much early Christian discourse moves beyond a presentation of explanations and descriptions into a presentation of arguments. GTh 54 is an instance of an assertion with a rationale that presents an argument:

54 Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven." [[344]]

In this instance the rationale presents grounds for believing the claim that the poor are blessed. If the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor, then the poor are blessed (if possessing the kingdom of heaven is a special benefit) (see Robbins 1985: 38-56). The assertion and the rationale do not simply present conventional wisdom; they argue something that moves beyond what people generally think and understand.

At least since the time of Aristotle, interpreters have recognized that some assertions accompanied by rationales present implicit or explicit rhetorical arguments that can be displayed as categorical syllogisms. The name people in antiquity gave to such a formulation is "enthymeme," which is a noun related to "thinking," "reasoning," "pondering," "imagining," or perhaps "holding a conviction" (cf. Matt 1:20; 9:4; 12:25; Acts 10:19; 17:29; Hebrews 4:12; see Eriksson 1998: 41-43; Bloomquist forthcoming). In this essay, sayings in early Christian gospels that contain assertions accompanied by argumentative rationales are called "enthymemic logia." These logia exhibit social, cultural, ideological, eschatological, christological, and theological argumentation by early Christians (Mack and Robbins 1989; Robbins 1985, 1996a, 1996b, 1998).

The Gospel of Thomas contains an inner network of enthymemic logia built upon conventional Mediterranean wisdom. This means that some enthymemic logia in Thomas contain explanations or descriptions as "cases" or "grounds" for arguments. Many logia that contain explanations or descriptions are part of the "bedrock of tradition" in the variant forms of Q, synoptic, and Thomas tradition (Patterson 1993: 225). One of the characteristics of this tradition is to present explanations and descriptions in a negative form, either as negative assertions or as questions expecting a negative answer. In other words, instead of presenting Jesus as saying "Whoever lights a lamp puts it on a lampstand," the tradition presents Jesus as saying either "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light" (Luke:11:33 par.) or "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand?" (Mark 4:21). One of the goals of these descriptions or explanations is to introduce either a positive or negative "implication." In the realm of logic, an implication is a conclusion implied from premises (Hurley 1985: 306). In rhetorical terms, an implication regularly takes the form of exhortation toward a certain kind of action or an appeal not to engage in a certain kind of action. A positive implication, then, takes the form of persuasion to do something (protrepsis) and a negative implication takes the form of dissuasion from doing something (apotrepsis) (Aristotle, Rhet. 1.3.5; Kennedy 1991: 49). GTh 33 includes a positive implication (protrepsis) in its presentation about the lamp:

33 1Jesus said, [Implication] "What you will hear in your ear, in the other ear proclaim from your rooftops. [Explanation (Case/Grounds)] 2For no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, nor does one put it in a hidden place. 3Rather, one puts it on a stand so that all who come and go will see its light."

Jesus' statement to his disciples that they should proclaim from their rooftops what they will hear in their ear is a positive implication grounded in the explanation about the lamp. The reasoning here is inductive, from case to implication. The explanation presents [[345]] conventional wisdom in a negative form that gives it rhetorical force. There is nothing counter to conventional wisdom in the saying. Its formulation in a negative manner provides an opportunity to introduce various negative alternatives in a manner that invites elaboration of the concepts it articulates (Robbins 1987).

In the midst of negative formulations that present conventional wisdom, Q, synoptic tradition, and the Gospel of Thomas contain assertions that invert and divert conventional wisdom. An example is the assertion that "Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known" (Q 12:2). Conventional wisdom asserts that some things that are hidden will be lost and never found. This saying inverts conventional wisdom, perhaps through analogy with a person's inability to hide his or her deceptions or evildoing, which has given rise to sayings like, "Your sins will find you out." In this essay, wisdom that inverts conventional wisdom is called "contrawisdom." With certain topics, Q, synoptic tradition, and Thomas move away from conventional wisdom into contrawisdom. At these points an interpreter sees aspects of the ideological texture of this tradition that set it in opposition to conventional Mediterranean wisdom.

For all the gospels, whether their enthymemic formulations are presented in positive terms, negative terms, or in terms of contrawisdom, they become productive by means of interaction among deductive, inductive, and abductive social and cultural reasoning (Lanigan 1995; Robbins 1998). Most people are familiar with deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning proceeds according to a standard that "an argument is good only if the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises" (Hurley 1985: 25). Contrary to Aristotle, who argued that deductive arguments only proceed from the general to the particular, "there are deductive arguments that proceed from the general to the general, from the particular to the particular, and from the particular to the general, as well as from the general to the particular" (Hurley 1985: 30). The key is that in deductive arguments "the conclusion follows necessarily and with complete certainty from the premises" (Hurley 1985: 29). This means that the general premise ("rule" or "warrant") in a deductive argument contains, implicitly or explicitly, the assertions made both in the minor premise ("case" or "grounds") and the conclusion ("result" or "claim") (Murphy 1994: 35).2 Thus, deduction does not generate any new information; it simply clarifies or helps one to find information accurately.

In contrast to deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning is a means by which we get new knowledge. Inductive reasoning moves to new knowledge by following a standard of probability rather than certainty; therefore, the inductive standard is that "an argument is good only if the conclusion follows probably from the premises" (Hurley 1985: 25). An initial way to think about induction is reasoning from particular statements to a general statement, where inductive arguments present claims (results) that enlarge upon and go beyond the evidence. Nancey Murphy presents the following example:

Fox number 1 is red; fox number 2 is red; fox number 3 is red...Therefore all foxes are red. This is induction at its simplest...Inductive reasoning is essential for expanding our knowledge. Its drawback is that it does so at the expense of the [[346]] comforting certitude of deductive reasoning -- we can never be sure that the next fox will not be grey (Murphy 1994: 35).

While Hurley discusses only four kinds of deductive syllogisms (see note 2), he discusses six kinds of inductive syllogisms: (1) prediction; (2) argument from analogy; (3) inductive generalization; (4) argument from authority; (5) argument based on signs; and (6) causal inference (Hurley 1985: 28-29). In each instance, the standard is "probability": the conclusion in some way moves beyond the premises to something that is less familiar or that little is known about, but the reasoning has warrants and grounds that make it reasonable to think that the conclusion is probable.

Still another means of moving toward new knowledge is through abductive reasoning, "that form of reasoning in which a recognizable similarity between A and B proposes the possibility of further similarity" (Gregory Bateson in Bateson and Bateson 1987:206; cf. Lanigan 1995: 60). Abductive reasoning draws an insight in the context of similarity a person observes among phenomena in different fields. There is disagreement among interpreters whether the rhetor or inquirer "invents" or "discovers" similarity. Richard L. Lanigan proposes that "By shock, question, puzzlement, surprise, and the like, the rhetor or inquirer discovers similarity" in a context of deductive and inductive reasoning (Lanigan 1995:59). In the words of C. S. Peirce:

The abductive suggestion comes to us like a flash. It is an act of insight, although of extremely fallible insight. It is true that the different elements of the hypothesis were in our minds before; but it is the idea of putting together [metonymy] what we had never before dreamed of putting together which flashes the new suggestion [metaphor] before our contemplation (Peirce in Lanigan 1995:66; Lanigan's insertions).

"Putting together what we had never before dreamed of putting together" is in many ways a key to understanding abductive reasoning. When the context of reasoning is a deductive-inductive cycle of argumentation, abduction regularly is a matter of putting the case (grounds or minor premise) together with the result (claim or conclusion) in a way that discovers a new insight. This new combination of case and result becomes a case (grounds or minor premise) that creates a new result (claim or conclusion).3 We will see instances of this in the enthymemic logia within the first nineteen logia in the Gospel of Thomas. Since the abductive process is perhaps the most difficult aspect of this essay to [[347]] grasp, we will postpone trying to explain it further until we have explored some other logia that present deductive-inductive reasoning. When we analyze abductive reasoning, we will see that it does not simply follow an inductive-deductive cycle of argumentation but "leaps" imaginatively to distinctive insights by perceiving or inventing similarity among data in a number of fields. In the context of reasoning from conventional wisdom about hosts and guests, friends, fathers and sons, patrons and clients, plants, animals, and good people and bad people, abductive reasoning discovers and invents special insights that create a rich system of transcendent understanding about the nature of God, God's son, God's world, and the joys and responsibilities of being a child of God in the world (Robbins 1998).

Interwoven into the conventional social and cultural wisdom in the Gospel of Thomas is a thick network of enthymemic logia that exhibit not only abductive reasoning but contrawisdom. Using images from conventional Mediterranean society and culture, these enthymemic logia invert and divert conventional wisdom in ways that are mysterious, unusual, or even bizarre to the ordinary reader. This is not accidental. The purpose of the sayings is to create an environment that takes people on a search for meanings that lie beyond conventional understanding into a realm that produces wonder and inducts people into a special kingdom of knowledge that makes them royalty among other people of understanding. GTh 2:1-4 straightforwardly presents the program for this activity:

1Jesus said, "Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one finds. 2When one finds, one will be disturbed. 3When one is disturbed, one will marvel, 4and will reign over all."

This logion refers directly to the shock, question, puzzlement, and surprise referred to in the discussion of abductive reasoning. Seeking to understand leads one not simply to conventional wisdom based on deductive-inductive reasoning but to secret, hidden knowledge based on abductive reasoning that disturbs conventional wisdom and introduces one to unusual knowledge known only by certain people � those who are members of a "royal" circle of understanding.

The procedure of this essay is first to examine two enthymemic logia in the Gospel of Thomas that build upon conventional social and cultural wisdom in the Mediterranean world. These logia are variants of Q and synoptic tradition. After the analysis of logia containing conventional enthymemic reasoning, the essay displays eight enthymemic logia that occur in the context of the first nineteen logia in Thomas. These logia in the opening progressive texture of Thomas exhibit in an especially dramatic manner how Thomasine tradition builds its point of view on contrawisdom. Many of them use abductive reasoning in addition to deductive and inductive reasoning.

Enthymemic Logia Exhibiting Conventional Wisdom in the Gospel of Thomas

This section contains an analysis of two enthymemic logia in Thomas oriented theoretically, at least, toward all people in the world. The purpose of this section is to introduce a procedure for analyzing and interpreting enthymemic logia that contain negative formulations. In the overall text of the Gospel of Thomas, universal enthymemes [[348]] establish primary polarities within the Thomasine view of the world: good plant/bad plant, good person/bad person, good seed/bad seed, one/two. The term "universal" is used here in the sense of reasoning that purports to apply to every person everywhere. In other words, these logia do not contain "you" or some other formulation that directs the reasoning toward a limited group of people. Universal enthymemes in the Gospel of Thomas are part of the enthymemic network of wisdom that Thomas shares with Q and synoptic material. These enthymemes do not contain startling information or inverted modes of reasoning. Rather, they contain negative formulations that use conventional Mediterranean wisdom forcefully toward their rhetorical goals.

Gospel of Thomas 45:1-4

Gospel of Thomas 45:1-4 argues that grapes and figs are analogous to good people, and thorn trees and thistles are analogous to bad people. Any region in the world with viticulture as part of its food source is ready for the reasoning in this logion. Bad people (like thorn trees and thistles) do not produce nourishing fruit but evil actions and speech; good people (like grapes and figs) produce nourishing actions and speech. The logion in Thomas is as follows:

GThom 45 1Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit. 2A good person brings forth good from the storehouse; 3a bad person brings forth evil things from the corrupt storehouse in the heart, and says evil things. 4For from the abundance of the heart this person brings forth evil things."

The reasoning in this logion works inductively from the case that thorn trees and thistles yield no fruit (but grapes and figs do), and this inductive reasoning is applied by analogy to good and bad people. An inductive display of the reasoning in the logion looks as follows:

Explanation (Case/Ground/Minor Premise):Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit.
Analogy (Result/Claim): A good person brings forth good from the storehouse; a bad person brings forth evil things from the corrupt storehouse in the heart, and says evil things. For from the abundance of the heart the evil person brings forth evil things.
[Major Premise (Rule/Warrant):(Unexpressed)]
Protrepsis/Apotrepsis (Implication):
(Unexpressed)]

The reasoning from analogy in this logion is inductive (Hurley 1985: 28), since it requires reasoning beyond viticulture to human culture in a manner that is probable but not certain. Since nourishing fruit is gathered from plants like grapevines and fig trees, rather than thorns and thistles which yield no fruit, by analogy (induction) good people are like grapevines and fig trees and bad people are like thorn trees and thistles. Bad people produce evil rather than good things from the abundance of their hearts, much like thorn trees and thistles produce thorns and thistles rather than fruit. The Thomas logion does not [[349]] express either a warrant (major premise or rule) or an implication (protrepsis or apotrepsis).

The reasoning about grapes and figs in GTh 45 comes directly out of the environment of Q sayings. The variation between GTh 45:1; Luke 6:44b; Matt 7:16b displays well the oral variation that exists among Q/Thomas sayings that express this conventional wisdom in some kind of negative formulation (Uro 1993; Robbins 1997):

GThomas 45:1 Luke 6:44b Matthew 7:16b
Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?

GTh 45:1 arranges the relation of grapes, thorns, figs, and thistles like the saying in Matt 7:16b, but its form is not interrogative but declarative, like Luke 6:44b. This is a natural relationship of sayings to one another in a context of oral transmission. It is noticeable that none of them simply contains a straightforward assertion that grapes are harvested from grapevines and figs from fig trees. Rather, the sayings gain their rhetorical force and their potential for expansion and elaboration through their use of the negative topic of thorns and thistles. A display of the full versions of the Thomas/Luke/Matthew reasoning looks as follows, and here we see an interactive oral/written environment of relationships:

GThomas 45:1-4

Luke 6:43-45 Matthew 7:16-20 Matthew 12:33-35
  Explanation (Rule):
43 No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44a for each tree is known by its own fruit.
Warning (Implication):
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16a You will know them by their fruit. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
Explanation (Implication):
33 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.
Explanation (Case):
1 Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit.
Description (Case):
44b Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
Analogy (Case):
16b Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Analogous Explanation (Case):
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings [[350]] evil things out of an evil treasure.
Analogous Explanation (Result):
2 A good person brings forth good from the storehouse; 3 a bad person brings forth evil things from the corrupt storehouse in the heart, and says evil things. 4 For from the abundance of the heart a bad person brings forth evil things.
Analogous Explanation (Result):
45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Description (Result):
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Explanation (Result):
36 I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
  Illustration (Implication):
46 Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you? 47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.
   

First, this display shows how a variety of rules and implications may be generated from or attracted to a negative inductive case. Luke 6:43; Matt 7:15-16, 20, 46-49; and Matt [[351]] 12:33 display rules and implications. The generation or attraction of variant positive and negative rules and implications leads naturally to different emphases within the elaboration of the reasoning. Second, the Matthew 7 version contains aspects of both the Lukan and Thomasine version. Matt 7:16b, 18 combines a variant version of GTh 45:1a with a variant version of Luke 6:43. This must have occurred through use by Luke, Thomas, and Matthew of Q material in an interactive oral/written environment. Third, each gospel develops the reasoning in a variant manner. Luke develops the reasoning in a christological manner: in Luke 6:46-47, 49 Jesus speaks as the authoritative Lord whose words must be obeyed or calamity will come. Matthew develops the reasoning agonistically in an environment of the end-time: on the one hand in relation to false prophets (7:15-20) and on the other hand through challenge-riposte (12:24, 34, 36-37) that uses the day of judgment as a special means of shaming Pharisees (12:36). Thomas, in contrast, places the logion in a section that begins with the disciples asking Jesus, "Who are you to say these things to us?" (43:1) and ends with Jesus telling them, "If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'" (49:3). In other words, Jesus answers their question by diverting the discussion from himself to them and people they are like (Jews [43:3], people who blaspheme [44], bad people [45], people from Adam to John the Baptist [46], people who try to serve two masters [47], people who make peace with each other [48], people who are alone and chosen [49], and people who ask them where they come from [50]). The entire section in Thomas, then, engages the reader in a series of comparisons of various people with disciples who wonder who Jesus is to say these things to them. In the midst of the comparisons, reasoning about grapes, figs, thorns, and thistles is part of an argument from analogy that explains the nature not only of good and bad people but of disciples who do and do not understand who Jesus is. But this understanding of Jesus is not so much christological or eschatological as it is cosmological and epistemological. As we will see below, in Thomas Jesus knows he is from the place of light. The disciples also are from the place of light, but they do not understand this. Jesus' coming from the place of light, then, is not exceptional. Only his knowledge of it is.

Gospel of Thomas 47:1-5

The second logion after GTh 45 contains a series of six instances of conventional wisdom:

47 1Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows. 2And a servant cannot serve two masters, or that servant will honor the one and offend the other. 3No person drinks aged wine and immediately desires to drink new wine. 4New wine is not poured into aged wineskins, lest they break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, lest it spoil. 5An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, for there would be a tear."

The reasoning in this logion is based on unsuccessful experiences in the world. This means that they present descriptions and explanations in a negative mode. Like GTh 45, the reasoning presents negative statements, some which are supported by rationales and [[352]] some which are not. In the inductive reasoning in GTh 47, some negative cases are descriptions with no supportive statement, and some are explanations with rationales. Four of the six instances in GTh 47 are explanations: (2) serving two masters; (4) putting new wine in old wineskins; (5) putting old wine in new wineskins; and (6) putting an old patch on a new garment. The instances of the two horses and bows (1) and the person not desiring new wine (3) are simply descriptions. A noticeable feature of the progression is the absence of argumentation that evokes implications. We noticed in the analysis of GTh 45 and its parallels that negative cases regularly generate or attract rules and implications. In fact, in all instances parallel to GTh 45 rules and implications play an important role in the amplification or elaboration of the unit. In GTh 47 the initial negative description about two horses and two bows provides the context for four negative explanations and one more negative description. It is noticeable that the descriptions and explanations in GTh 47 do not generate amplification or elaboration of the topics. The reason may be that the topic of new and old does not have special importance for Thomasine tradition. That which is new and that which is old is important to redemptive wisdom only if people consider the sequence of history to be run by redemptive forces. Within a context of redemptive history, either that which is old is better because it was not yet corrupted by certain events or that which is new is better because it replaces certain imperfect things in the past. If redemptive wisdom is more interested in cosmological and epistemological issues than the sequence of history, the categories of new and old simply are ways of talking about two different kinds of things. This seems to be the case in GTh 47. The new and the old do not hold the potential for special insights into the process of redemption; thus the logion progresses through the entire series without generating any rules (warrants) or implications that give rise to amplification and elaboration of the new and the old.

As the topic of two incompatible things unfolds in GTh 47 beyond the first instance, which is distinctive to Thomas, the reasoning about serving two masters exists in variant form in Q tradition:

GThomas 47:2 Luke 16:13 Matthew 6:24
    Rule (Warrant): No one can server two masters;
1st Explanation (Negative Case): A servant cannot serve two masters, or that servant will honor the one and offend the other. Explanation (Negative Case): No slave can serve two masters, for a slave will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. Description (Case): for a slave will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.
  Analogy (Result): You cannot serve God and wealth. Analogy (Result): You cannot serve God and wealth.

In Q, the tradition either in the form of an explanation or a rule and description becomes the basis for an inductive argument from analogy about serving God and wealth [[353]] (mammon). The Thomas logion appears to be an oral variant of the Q tradition without the argument from analogy. Since GTh 47 also is part of GTh 43-50 discussed above, the context is a comparison of the disciples with a series of people and things in an attempt to get them to focus on who they themselves are and what they must do to enter the kingdom, rather than questioning who Jesus is to say what he does to them. In this context, wealth does not come into the discussion as a result of its absence from this saying. For Thomas, it appears that wealth would be only one minor symptom of a much larger challenge -- understanding the nature of the world itself, the nature of people in the world, and the nature of the search that can lead to redemption.

The four remaining cases about wine and cloth present a variation in sequence in a context of overall agreement concerning the polarities. It is noticeable that all three synoptic gospels contain positive cases or results, which Thomas does not. The positive formulations in the synoptic gospels show an interest in the new and the old that simply is not shared by the Gospel of Thomas:

GThomas 47:3-5 Mark 2:21-22 Matthew 9:16-17 Luke 5:36-39
2nd Description (Negative Case):
3 No person drinks aged wine and immediately desires to drink new wine.
    3rd Explanation (Negative Case):
39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, "The old is good."
2nd Explanation (Negative Case):
4a New wine is not poured into aged wineskins, lest they break.
2nd Explanation (Negative Case):
22a-b And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins.
2nd Explanation (Negative Case):
17a-b Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. Otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed.
2nd Explanation (Negative Case):
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
  Description (Positive Case):
22c But one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.
3rd Explanation (Positive Case):
17c-d New wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.
Belief (Positive Case):
38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
3rd Explanation (Negative Case):
4b And aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, lest it spoil.
     

In Q, the tradition either in the form of an explanation or a rule and description becomes the basis for an inductive argument from analogy about serving God and wealth [[354]]

4th Explanation (Negative Case):
5 An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, for there would be a tear.
1st Explanation (Negative Case):
21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak. Otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.
1st Explanation (Negative Case):
16 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made.
1st Explanation (Negative Case):
36 No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment. Otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old.

Instead of beginning with the case of sewing a new, unshrunk piece of cloth on an old garment, GTh 47:3 begins with a focus on the manner in which people desire the old rather than the new. The emphasis is on the nature of people rather than on the nature of that which is old and that which is new. In contrast to the synoptic tradition, GTh 47 does not say either that the old wine is good (Luke 5:39) or that new wine is put into fresh wineskins so that both the new wine and the new wineskins are preserved (Matt 9:17). Rather, GTh 47 emphasizes that desire for the old creates a conflict with desire for the new, and there is no preference indicated for the new or the old as the logion progresses. Richard Valantasis surely is right that the topic is the redemptive subjectivity and identity available to the person who chooses the interpretation of these sayings as the avenue to a spiritual life that stores up good things in one's heart. It is not clear, however, that "[t]he aged wine presumably refers to the richness of the spiritual life presented to those who interpret these sayings, while the young wine refers to the lesser things of the world" (Valantasis: 124). As noted above, the Gospel of Thomas neither has Jesus say that the old wine is good nor that having everything new preserves that which is new. In contrast to the synoptic gospels where historical events create patterns in which the new and the old vie with one another for superiority, the Gospel of Thomas simply distinguishes between a mode of life that seeks understanding and a mode of life that proceeds without knowledge of the kingdom. In Thomas, the new and old garments, wine, and wineskins simply are ways of talking about things that are incompatible with one another (cf. Crossan 1983: 124-27). The issue is whether a person lives in a bifurcated state that spoils one's life and tears it apart or in a unified state that seeks and finds understanding. Again, it is noticeable that the logion in Thomas generates no positive rule, case, or implication. The force of the logion is to emphasize that people cannot have things two ways at once. Either people will seek to understand the redemptive wisdom offered by these sayings or they will not.

The First Eight Enthymemic Logia in the Gospel of Thomas

Among the first nineteen logia in the Gospel of Thomas, a section that forms an extended introduction to the work, eight (forty-two percent) contain explicit rationales. While some of these rationales simply function as explanations, others are premises (rules/warrants/major premises or cases/grounds/minor premises) in arguments. In contrast to the logia analyzed above, the enthymemic logia in the introduction feature [[355]] contrawisdom and abductive reasoning. These logia invert and divert conventional wisdom to direct a person toward important inner reasonings and presuppositions in Thomasine culture. Some of these logia have a close relation to logia in the canonical gospels; others do not.

Gospel of Thomas 4:1-3

A person who reads the Gospel of Thomas in sequence from the beginning encounters three enthymemic logia in a row in GTh 4-6. In contrast to GTh 45 and 47, these logia present contrawisdom. GTh 4-5 are enthymemic logia addressed to anyone who reads the Gospel of Thomas. They set the stage for the discussion Jesus has with his disciples in GTh 6. GTh 4 reads as follows:

4 1Jesus said, "The person old in days will not hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live. 2For many of the first will be last, 3and will become a single one."

This logion contains a potential case where the person who acts on the basis of a particular kind of contrawisdom will attain life. The inspiration for the contrawisdom appears to have come from the tradition in Q 10:21 about hidden things being revealed to infants. A well-known saying in gospel tradition about first and last provides a rule or warrant for the contrawisdom:

GTh 4:1-3 Luke 10:21-22 Matt 11:25-27
Contrawisdom Belief (Rule):
2 For many of the first will be last.
Explanation (Rule):
21 I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Explanation (Rule):
25 I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Contrawisdom Description (Rule):
1a The person old in days will not hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life,
Description (Case):
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father;
Description (Case):
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father;
Contrawisdom Description (Rule):
1b and that person will live. 3 And will become a single one.
Description (Result):
and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Description (Result):
and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. [[356]]

Q material (Luke 10:21-22/Matt 11:25-27) christologizes the tradition by making Jesus the son who receives the knowledge of all hidden things from God the father. This approach develops the tradition according to conventional wisdom about fathers teaching their sons. The Thomas logion, in contrast, neither builds on the conventional wisdom that fathers teach sons nor christologizes the tradition. Rather, it inverts conventional reasoning about the necessity for old people to teach infants. The age of seven days old appears to be related to the day of circumcision on the eighth day. Prior to the eighth day, a child was not considered a viable living being on earth. If the child made it to the eighth day, it had become a viable earthly being. If an old person asks a seven day old child about the place of life, that person is asking a full-term pre-earthly being who has, from the perspective of Thomasine culture, recently come from the place of life. GTh 4:2 provides a warrant for the inversion between the role of the young with the dictum that "many of the first will be last." GTh 4:3 is an additional result that is appended to the warrant. The result of the old man's asking the seven day old child is that the old person will live and will become a single one. This again is part of Thomasine belief. While on earth a person becomes two (male and female is one of these forms of two). When people return to the place of life, once again they become one. In contrast to enthymemic reasoning that grounds its assertions in conventional reasoning, every step of this reasoning is contrawisdom: (a) many of the first will be last; (b) the old person will become wise through instruction by a seven day old child; and (c) people who know this contrawisdom will live and overcome their duality to become a single one. While GTh 5 has the form of inductive-deductive argumentation, its reasoning will persuade only those who are willing to enter its contrawisdom and reason on its basis.

Gospel of Thomas 5:1-2; 6:1-6

The next two logia present a sequence concerning hidden things being revealed:

5 1Jesus said, "Know what is before your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. 2For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed."
6 1 His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?" 2Jesus said, "Do not lie, 3and do not do what you hate, 4because all things are disclosed before heaven. 5For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, 6and there is nothing covered that will remain without being disclosed."

GTh 5 presents a deductive line of reasoning that provides a basis for abductive reasoning in the next logion. GTh 5 contains the following argumentation:

Contrawisdom Belief (Rule/Major Premise): 5:2 There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.
Case/Minor Premise: 5:1a (If you) know what is before your face,
Result: 5:1b (then) what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. [[357]]

The statement that nothing is hidden that will not be revealed functions as a major premise, rule, or warrant for deductive reasoning. The conditional assertion about knowing what is before your face functions as a case that produces the result that what is hidden will be disclosed to you. The reasoning in the major premise is contrawisdom, so most people probably would not consider the reasoning in this logion to meet the standard either of deductive or inductive reasoning. If a person grants the truth of the warrant, however, the logic is straightforward: If everything has an inclination to reveal rather than hide itself, then if people know what is before their face, what is hidden from them will be disclosed to them. The reasoning is contrawisdom, but its logic could be persuasive to people who believe the major premise or rule.

The next logion, GTh 6, applies the reasoning about hiddenness in GTh 5 to an inquiry by the disciples concerning what diet they should observe and if they should fast, pray, and give alms. Jesus' response is that they should not lie and do what they hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. Conventional religious wisdom in the Mediterranean world probably would say that fasting, praying, giving alms, and observing a special diet would disclose a special religious person who will receive the benefits of heaven. Thus, if people would grant the initial premise, they probably would construct the reasoning as follows:

Contrawisdom Explanation (Rule): 6:5There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, 6:6 and there is nothing covered that will remain without being disclosed, 6:4 because all things are disclosed before heaven.
[Case: Fasting, praying, giving alms, and observing a special diet discloses a devoted religious person.
[Result: A person who fasts, prays, gives alms, and follows a special diet will receive the benefits of heaven.]

Instead of this reasoning, the logion contains abductive reasoning:

Contrawisdom Explanation (Rule): 6:5 There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, 6:6 and there is nothing covered that will remain without being disclosed, 6:4 because all things are disclosed before heaven.
Case put together with Result from previous logion: Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe? What is hidden from you will be disclosed to you [as unimportant]!
[Abductive Result: Fasting, praying, giving alms, and following a special diet hides from people what they must do to live and become a single one.]
Apotrepsis (Implication): 6:2-3 Do not lie, and do not do what you hate.

Building on the major premise in the reasoning, the logion joins the minor premise (the case of fasting, praying, giving alms, and observing a special diet) with the result (what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you). When this happens, there is a "discovery" that fasting, praying, giving alms, and observing a special diet are disclosed as "unimportant" (activities that hide), and this discovery uncovers the activities people actually should be engaging in to seek life (seeking the understanding of these logia). One suddenly becomes aware, then, that the phenomenal world, the world we see, regularly deceives us. It hides [[358]] what we should truly see until we look at it long enough that it reveals itself as secondary and unimportant. This produces the result that fasting, praying, giving alms, and following a special diet hide rather than reveal the important things a person should do. In enthymemic fashion, this logion does not state this result. Rather, it states the implication of the unstated result: one should not lie to oneself about the things that matter and one should not do the things one hates to do. In other words, one should not deceive oneself by thinking that religious rites and dietary practices can truly achieve life. What they seem to achieve is really a lie; they are a matter of doing what one hates. Rather, one must devote oneself to seeking understanding that lies in and through the things in the phenomenal world that hide. Regular rituals that seek to understand Jesus' sayings are the practices that really matter, for they are the means for bringing that which is hidden forth into understanding.

In Mark 4:21-22 and Luke 8:16-17, conventional wisdom about lamps is interwoven with the conviction that all things hidden will be revealed. There is no such link in Thomas. In GTh 5-6, the insight about hiddenness being revealed is treated like a true statement that should be convincing in and of itself. The problem, as mentioned above, is that conventional wisdom suggests that some things that are hidden remain hidden and lost forever. Contrawisdom in Thomas holds an opposite view as a conviction that functions as a proposition (major premise/warrant/rule) both for deductive and abductive reasoning. The underlying contrawisdom is present in Q and synoptic tradition. The Gospel of Thomas accepts the contrawisdom of this environment of reasoning and makes the abductive "discovery" that the entire phenomenal world hides true understanding from us until we look it in the face and invite it to reveal itself to us. When we do this, the logion states, fasting, praying, giving alms, and following a special diet reveal themselves as ways of telling lies about the religious practices that really matter. Rather than being activities that enact love, they are activities, the logion says, that enact have both for oneself and for others.

Gospel of Thomas 14:1-5

We observed that, in characteristic enthymemic manner, the result was unexpressed in GTh 6. The logion expresses the implication without stating the result. GTh 14:1-4 contains the result of the reasoning in a series of statements to the disciples:

14 1Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, 2and if you pray, you will be condemned, 3and if you give alms, you will harm your spirits. 4When you go into any country and walk from place to place, when the people receive you, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them. 5For what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it is what comes out of your mouth that will defile you."

This logion, GTh14, presents the result of the reasoning in GTh 6 in the form of three descriptions and an explanation that answer the four questions the disciples asked: [[359]]

Description (Result):
1 If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves.
Description (Result):
2 if you pray, you will be condemned.
Description (Result):
3 if you give alms, you will harm your spirits.
Explanation (Result):
4 When you go into any country and walk from place to place, when the people receive you, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them. 5 For what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it is what comes out of your mouth that will defile you.

If regular religious rituals deceive people into thinking they are really what matters, people will bring sin upon themselves, be condemned, and harm their spirits. These descriptions quickly answer the first three questions about fasting, praying, and giving alms. The question about observing a diet calls forth two traditions well-known from the synoptic gospels: eating what is set before you when people receive you in their house and it is what comes out of your mouth that defiles you. The interesting thing is that no synoptic gospel brings these two traditions together. As we know from the discussion above, a key to abductive reasoning is putting together things that we had never before dreamed of putting together. GTh 14:4-5 displays precisely this process. In a context where deductive reasoning has produced a result that one should not fast, pray, or give alms lest they bring about a harmful result, the result lies ready at hand that one should eat whatever one is given to eat, rather than observing a diet. In the context of this result the rhetor "discovers" a further insight that provides the reason why: it is what comes out of the mouth rather than what goes in that defiles a person. But what is the importance of this conclusion to GTh 14? In order to see this, we must turn to GTh 13, which occurs just before it.

Gospel of Thomas 13:1-8

In addition to leaving premises and results unexpressed in logia, it is characteristic of the Gospel of Thomas either to delay answers to questions the disciples ask or never to give direct answers to the questions. As we have just seen, the answers to the disciples' questions in GTh 6 are delayed until GTh 14. Readers engaged in linear reading of the sayings, therefore, hold enthymemic, abductive reasoning in their minds as they read through GTh 7-13 until they find the results expressed in GTh 14. The question, then, is what the reader encounters in the intervening span of text.

Just prior to the logion where Jesus presents the answers to the disciples questions, Jesus asks the disciples to compare him to something and to tell him what he is like: [[360]]

13 1Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like." 2Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just angel." 3Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." 4Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like." 5Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended." 6And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. 7When Thomas came back to his friends, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?" 8Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you."

The enthymemic reasoning in this logion works abductively from contrawisdom that functions as a rule/warrant/major premise for the reasoning that follows. Conventional wisdom suggests that Jesus teaches his disciples throughout the Gospel of Thomas. Jesus, however, introduces as a rule/warrant/major premise the contrawisdom that he is not their teacher. This contrawisdom establishes an environment for abductive reasoning in Jesus' reply. Conventional reasoning could fill out the sequence as follows:

Contrawisdom Belief (Rule): I am not your teacher.
Case: [Thomas's] mouth is unable to say what Jesus is like.
[Result: Thomas has had some other teacher not wise enough to teach him what Jesus is like.]

Instead of this reasoning, the process has worked abductively. Working from the major premise, which has arisen because Thomas has unwittingly called Jesus "teacher" when he replied to him, the reasoning joins the case and the result in a manner that produces a discovery about Thomas' inability to say who Jesus is like. Thomas is not simply without knowledge; he has drunk from a source of wisdom that tells him that Jesus is not simply like an angel (Simon Peter) or a wise philosopher (Matthew). This produces a different result as follows:

Contrawisdom Belief (Rule): I am not your teacher.
Case put together with Result producing a Discovery: [Thomas's] mouth is unable to say what Jesus is like, because he has drunk (from some other source of wisdom)!
Result: You [Thomas] have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended.

Thomas's inability to say what Jesus is like comes from his drinking deeply from the well of wisdom Jesus has made available to those who will listen and seek. Thomas's statement "that language cannot articulate the experience" (Valantasis 1997: 76) is better than Simon Peter's answer that Jesus is a just angel and Matthew's answer that Jesus is a wise philosopher. Again, this is not grounded in conventional wisdom. It may well be that the reasoning here is grounded in the point of view articulated in the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth in the Nag Hammadi Library:

I have found the beginning of the power that is above all powers, the one that has no beginning. I see a fountain bubbling with life. I have said, my son, that I am Mind. I have seen! Language is not able to reveal this (Robinson 1988: 324-25; quoted from Valantasis 1997: 76). [[361]]

Thomas has said that he has no language to describe what Jesus is like. Jesus' response suggests that Thomas, through Jesus' words, has seen and drunk deeply from a fountain bubbling with life. Jesus' response suggests that Thomas's drinking of a deep draft from the bubbling spring has left him unable to speak. It is noticeable that the logion does not relate the speaking to the presence of spirit. Here, instead of the spirit providing what one will say (Mark 13:11), intoxication leaves Thomas without utterable words that can describe who Jesus is. Now we get a hint of the significance of the conclusion of the logion that immediately follows this one: what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it is what comes out of your mouth that will defile you. One can answer far too quickly with one's mouth, and this answer will wed a person to ignorance. Drinking deeply from the fountain of wisdom Jesus makes available may produce an inability to state with certainty what something is like. This uncertainty is not ignorance. Rather, it is an intial kind of wisdom that creates within a person the possibility of receiving amazing wisdom from Jesus that most people (even other disciples) cannot even begin to fathom.

Gospel of Thomas 16:1-4

GTh 16 also contains a statement by Jesus concerning who he is not. It also contains an argument about who he is:

16 1Jesus said, "Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. 2They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war. 3For there will be five in a house: there will be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, 4and they will stand alone."

On the basis of conventional wisdom, most people think Jesus comes to bring peace. Jesus, instead, teaches contrawisdom: he has come to being conflicts in the form of fire, sword, and war. This contrawisdom is present in Q tradition:

GTh 16:1-4 Luke 12:51-53 Matthew 10:34-39
Conventional Wisdom:
1 Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world.
  Conventional Wisdom:
34a Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
Contrawisdom (Rule):
2 They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war.
Contrawisdom (Rule):
49 I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have [[362]] come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
Contrawisdom (Rule):
34b I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
[Unstated Case: This conflict will have its effect on households.] [Unstated Case: This conflict will have its effect on households.] [Unstated Case: This conflict will have its effect on households.]
Description (Result):
3 For there will be five in a house: there will be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father,
Description (Result):
52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
Description (Result):
35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one's foes will be members of one's own household.
Implication: 4 and they will stand alone.   Implication: 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Both Luke and Matthew have an expanded form of the Q/Thomas tradition. Luke contains an amplification in the form of a soliloquy by Jesus on the baptism with which he has been baptized. Also it contains an amplified version of the divisions in the household, not only speaking of fathers and sons but speaking of mothers, daughters, mothers-in-law, and daughters-in-law. The Matthean version does not speak of fathers, mothers, and mothers-in-law being set against their sons, daughters, and daughters-in-law. In addition, Matthew contains an extended implication about people who love family members more than Jesus and are not willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus. The statement in Thomas that "they will stand alone" appears to be a Thomasine way of referring to the lack of relationship with Jesus that is also spoken about in Matt 10:37-39. Again we find the variation characteristic of Q/Thomas tradition. In this instance, the contrawisdom exists in the Q tradition itself and the Gospel of Thomas simply includes it without amplification. [[363]]

Gospel of Thomas 18:1-3

This enthymemic logion reasons further about the relation of disciples to Jesus, which is a topic in GTh 16:4 and Matthew 10:37-39. In Thomas, instead of Jesus being the one who takes up a cross, he is the beginning. If disciples have discovered the beginning they will know their end, since their end is to return to the beginning.

18 1The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be." 2Jesus said, "Have you discovered the beginning, then, that you are seeking after the end? For where the beginning is, the end will be. 3Blessed is one who stands at the beginning: That one will know the end and will not taste death."

Once again the reader encounters contrawisdom in the Gospel of Thomas. The reasoning in the logion is as follows:

[Unexpressed Wisdom: The one who knows the end will not taste death.]

Contrawisdom (Warrant/Rule): Where the beginning is, the end will be.

Abductive Description (Case joined with Result): Have you discovered the beginning, then, that you are seeking after the end? [If you have discovered the beginning, then you are standing where the end will be!]

Explanation (Result): Blessed is one who stands at the beginning: That one will know the end and will not taste death.

Once again the reader encounters abductive reasoning. Straightforward reasoning from the contrawisdom would suggest that (Case) if one has discovered the beginning, (Result) then one has discovered the end. When this case and result are joined together, the insight emerges that when they have found the beginning (in the presence of Jesus) they are standing at the end as well as the beginning! This produces a new result, namely that one is blessed who stands at the beginning, since that one also knows the end and will not taste death.

Gospel of Thomas 19:1-4

GTh 19 also contains a beatitude, but this one occurs at the beginning of the logion:

19 1Jesus said, "Blessed is one who came into being before coming into being. 2If you become my disciples and hearken to my sayings, these stones will serve you. 3For there are five trees in Paradise for you; they do not change, summer or winter, and their leaves do not fall. 4Whoever knows them will not taste death."

Again the reader encounters a logion built upon contrawisdom. The final statement in the logion suggests that GTh 19 is building on the insight of GTh 18. If it is accepted wisdom [[364]] that the person who knows the beginning is blessed and will not taste death, then one can extend this reasoning even further to "coming into being before coming into being." The reasoning in this logion appears to contain an inner mode of reasoning as follows:

Rule: Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death (GTh 1).
Case: If you become my disciples and hearken to my sayings,
Result: these stones will serve you!

This logion, then, would appear to be the conclusion of a long introduction to the Gospel of Thomas that builds an argument on the basis of the initial logion about listening carefully to Jesus' sayings (which means becoming his disciple), interpreting the sayings to find their meaning, and, as a result, not tasting death. This inner reasoning has become an environment for abductive discovery of information that extends far beyond conventional wisdom. If the reasoning in the logion is introducing the major premise in its initial statement, the reasoning proceeds as follows:

Contrawisdom (Rule): Blessed is one who came into being before coming into being.

Joining of Case and Result from GTh 1 and 19: If you become my disciples and hearken to my sayings, you will discover the interpretation of these sayings and not taste death, and these stones will serve you.

Result: There are five trees in Paradise for you; they do not change, summer or winter, and their leaves do not fall. Whoever knows them will not taste death.

The reader now has entered fully into the domain of contrawisdom. The initial contrawisdom appears to be based on "a myth of an already existent being entering the mundane world" (Valantasis 1997: 88). Jesus, an example of such a being, stands before disciples with sayings that can lead them to understand that they also are such beings. This leads to the case/result (abductive reasoning) that if they become Jesus' disciples, they will discover the interpretation that leads them to this knowledge about themselves, and they will not taste death. "These stones will serve you" may mean that objects in the phenomenal world will become the things that at first hide true insight but then become the objects that (through searching and reflecting) lead a person into true knowledge. Perhaps the five trees in Paradise are a matter of finding both the beginning (Garden of Eden) and the end (Paradise). Since, as is stated in GTh 18, true knowledge takes one both to the beginning and the end, one who becomes a true disciple comes to know "the five trees in Paradise." One wonders if these trees are in some way related to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Valantasis is perceptive when he says:

The knowledge of the mythology developed here that organizes a hierarchy of beings and posits the existence of a paradise with five unchanging trees confers the same benefit as the discovery of the interpretations of the sayings (Saying 1) and the standing at the beginning and knowing the end (Saying 18) since all of these sayings present the seeker as "not tast(ing) death." The immortal status of the [[365]] seeker may be achieved through a number of different enterprises (interpretative, intellectual, and mythological) (Valantasis 1997: 89-90).

GTh 19 joins insights in the initial sayings in the Gospel of Thomas with interpretative, intellectual, and mythological knowledge that the seeking listener acquires through engagement with the first nineteen logia, which form an extended introduction. As we have seen above, these sayings contain a combination of deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning. In certain instances the reasoning builds on conventional wisdom; in other instances the reasoning builds on contrawisdom in Q/synoptic tradition; in still other instances, like GTh 18-19, the reader sees glimpses of a world that looks more like the world of the Gospel of John than the synoptic gospels.

Conclusion

This essay has presented a beginning place for future analysis. Some sayings in the gospel tradition present conventional wisdom. Others present contrawisdom. It will be important in the future to identify the topics that various arenas of tradition develop according to conventional knowledge and according to contrawisdom. The preliminary analysis presented in this essay shows that Q/synoptic tradition contains both conventional wisdom and contrawisdom. Only future analysis can tell us the proportions of conventional and contrawisdom in this tradition. It appears that the Gospel of Thomas features more contrawisdom than conventional wisdom as it builds its system of thought through the logia attributed to Jesus.

Future analysis also can display the proportions and kinds of deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning in all of the canonical gospels as well as throughout the Gospel of Thomas (see Robbins 1998). This initial study has only given a glimpse of analysis of ten logia in the Gospel of Thomas.

There are many remaining tasks in this kind of study. One thinks of investigation of all of the enthymemic logia in Q, the canonical gospels, and the Gospel of Thomas. One also thinks of interactive comparison of the enthymemic texture not only of all of the gospels with one another but with other Mediterranean wisdom discourse and with wisdom discourse in other geographical and cultural regions of the world. The wisdom of this world is not confined simply to the Bible or to accepted and marginal Christians during the first centuries of the emergence of Christianity. It is important for us to develop practices of analysis and interpretation that can move not only beyond the confines of our treasured canons in our own religious traditions but beyond the confines of the Mediterranean world into other traditions throughout the world.

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1 An explanation contains two distinct components: the explanation and the explanas. "The explanandum is the statement that describes the event or phenomenon to be explained, and the explanans is the statement or group of statements that purport to do the explaining" (Hurley 1985: 17). Back

2 Hurley (1985: 26-27) presents four kinds of deductive syllogisms: (1) argument from definition; (2) categorical syllogisms (all � no �); (3) hypothetical syllogisms (if...then...); and (4) disjunctive syllogisms (either...or...). Back

3 "On Sabre's account..., the abduction creates as its conclusion (...claim) a hypothesis [All S are M] [Robbins addition: or "If...then...], which supplies...the minor premise (...warrant) of the rhetor's deduction supplied...by the conclusion [All M are P] of an induction (...backing). The deductive conclusion [All S are P] is susceptible to material error (...reservation) since (a) it has already functioned as the all important minor premise in the abduction -- a premise [All S are P!] intuitively (non-logically) generated in shock, question, puzzlement or assertion (...qualifier), and (b) since the major premise of the deduction and the abduction are identical [All M are P]. Note that the deduction relies on the claim that M and P are identical, hence the hypothesis that P either explains the meaning of S or not. By contrast, the abduction relies on the claim that M and P are similar, hence the hypothesis that M explains the meaning of both S and P, as Sabre correctly notes for the wrong reasons. The right reasons involve a contemporary understanding of tropic logic as it emerges in rhetoric, not science" (Lanigan 1995: 61, referring to Sabre 1990: 365-369). Back


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