Gematria rating for this blog

Yes, everyone wants to know what the gematria rating for their blog/website or an important piece of text is and now you can find out. Just visit the Gematriculator, put in your URL or paste the piece of text and whammo!!

This site is certified 66% GOOD by the Gematriculator

I am happy to say that my chaplaincy website is not only rated 81% good, but also has a significantly higher rating than either of my colleagues’ sites. Obviously this site is rated so low because I am studying an heretical text. 😦

Now you can have hours of fun checking the gematria rating of blogs belonging to friends, colleagues, even enemies, not to mention being able to decide quickly and easily if the Spirit of God is present in your next conference paper or journal article.

My thanks to Wade Greiner on his Evolution of the Mystery blog, but I’m not sure how I missed it on Jim West’s blog – and he found it on NT Wrong’s blog.


I now have proof that Gematria is evil.  Adding this post has resulted in:
This site is certified 58% GOOD by the Gematriculator


Is Thomas gnostic?

It appears that it is now possible to add polls to WordPress blogs (assuming one is able to deal with the tech bits), so I thought I’d do a slightly more serious one than I’ve seen on other blogs in the last day or so. When I tell people I’m doing a PhD on the Gospel of Thomas, many nod sagely and say “Oh, yes, the Gnostic gospel.” I actually don’t think it’s Gnostic but I’m wondering what other readers of this blog think. You will be pleased to see that there is an option where you can write in your own answer in case you don’t like any of mine. There is probably a character limit for the write-in box. If you find out what it is, please let me know. 🙂


It appears that the comments in “other” don’t show up when you check the votes, so I will paste them here. So far, there are three:

  • Wisdom literature with gnostic overtones
  • It’s eclectic – wisdom traditions, mystic traditions, gnostic traditions, synoptic
  • Gnostic, but only because that’s what I read somewhere.

Update 2

And a fourth:

  • Wisdom open to gnostic interpretation

Update 3

The results say there are now five comments, but I can only find four.  I may have accidentally deleted it when I pressed ctrl-W instead of shift-W If your comment hasn’t been included, you might like to post a comment or email me at jredman2 at une dot edu dot au and I’ll put it up anonymously.

On asking the right questions

In the last few days, I’ve been participating in a couple of discussions on the Gospel of Thomas email list – one about Nicholas Perrin’s Thomas and Tatian and another about different ways of understand the term “son of man”.  My most recent response to one caused me to make a link between the paper I presented at SBL Auckland on eyewitness testimony and a post I wrote on this blog while I was in Texas last year about using the right tools.

One of the things that was highlighted for me in my reading of the psychological research about eyewitness testimony was the important of what questions are asked if you want to retain the integrity of your data.  So, if you line up half a dozen people and ask an eyewitness to a crime “which of these people did it?” you are more likely to get a positive identification, even if none of them was there, than you are if you ask “did any of these people do it?” If you ask someone “how fast was the car going?” you are likely to get higher speed estimates than if you ask “how slowly was the car going?”, and so on.

My lawyer friend refers to these as “leading questions” and she gets very frustrated when her husband doesn’t respond correctly to her leading questions in social situations. “You remember Judy, don’t you, R?” is supposed to be met with the response “Hello, Judy, how are you” or “Hmm, yes, your face is familiar but I can’t remember where we met” rather than “No, darling, I don’t remember ever seeing her before in my life”.

I think it is possible for biblical scholars (and other researchers) to ask leading questions which cause their analysis of the data of their research to be tainted.  So, if you approach Thomas asking “what evidence can I find that Thomas is dependent on the synoptic material?” you will potentially reach different conclusions to the ones you will reach if you ask “are there any passages in Thomas that are similar to and/or the same as those in the synoptics and if so, what might that mean?” The answer you give, especially to the first question will be further influenced by whether or not you have anything invested in the outcome.  That is, if you want the answer to be “lots of evidence” you are more likely to include tenuous evidence.  If you want it to be “none at all”, then you will discard anything that could reasonably be considered tenuous.

I think its actually quite difficult to resist the temptation to read into ancient Christian texts what we expect to see in them, especially if, like me, you’ve been trained as a Christian minister and listened to years and years of preaching on them.  I find it helps if I start with my Thomas text rather than one of the synoptic parallels, because the Thomas text is almost invariably different to the text I’m used to, so it shakes me out of my complacency and encourages me to question my comfortable understandings of the meaning of the parable in question.  I still want to ask, though, “what is Jesus saying here?” rather than “what is the text saying and how might its readers understand it?”  I guess the guiding principle ought to be that if you begin your research with questions you already know the answers to, you are asking the wrong questions.

Oral Tradition online

James McGrath has just put up a page on his Exploring Our Matrix blog with links to a range of articles on oral tradition by recognised scholars that are available on the web.  Some are quite brief, while others go into more depth.  He also points out that the jounal Oral Tradition is available free on line, which is good news.  This journal contains articles by highly respected scholars in the field of oral tradition.