Talk:Gospel of the Hebrews

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Good article Gospel of the Hebrews has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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June 24, 2013 Peer review Reviewed
September 12, 2013 Good article nominee Listed
Current status: Good article
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Scope of this article[edit]

Should this article be about only the single source identified by modern scholarship as the "Gospel of the Hebrews", or should it also deal with the source identified by Jerome as the "Gospel of the Hebrews"? The article in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, arguably perhaps the most highly regarded reference source on the topic of the Bible in general, includes a great deal of information on the book called GotH by Jerome, and the resultant scholarly questions, in its article on the "Gospel of the Hebrews", and I believe that it would be reasonable, and in accord with WP:WEIGHT, for our article to do so as well. John Carter (talk) 15:41, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Reviewers: Please see the above section on GA review for background to the current discussion. Ignocrates (talk) 16:04, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

I should also have mentioned that the material that was taken out when the scope was restricted was migrated to a work-in-process page and the talk page discussion of the implementation of the cleanup resulting from the merge decision runs down to Talk:Gospel of the Hebrews/Archive 5#Wrap up merge proposal. Ignocrates (talk) 18:15, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Just a general observation that doesn't touch on the main question: When I looked at the publisher's page for the Anchor Bible Dictionary, I noticed that it has a publishing date of 1992. Surely there has been substantial textual analysis that has happened over the past 21 years, right? Or are you looking at a newer, abbreviated version than the 6 volume collection, John Carter? Because I see you refer to this reference work often as the authoritative source of information. Liz Read! Talk! 18:19, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
It has been described by other, later, reference sources as possibly the best reference source out there, which is why I take recourse to it. With its length, it's articles are also among the longest out there, and on that basis useful in that regard as well. However, I acknowledge that it is somewhat dated. However, I have seen nothing in any other sources which indicate in recent years that there has been some sort of discovery of documents directly relevant to this topic, so I would assume that the conclusions drawn then are still valid, those conclusions being, basically, that (1) we have no extant copies of any work by that title, and (2) that, pretty much, most everything discussed is, well, guesswork, if reasonable guesswork based on the admittedly limited amount of evidence of any sort available. Having said that, I would welcome some input on the question asked in the RfC itself, specifically, whether material about the discussion/controversy relating to the source Jerome called the GotH should be included in this article, and if so, how much weight it should be given. John Carter (talk) 18:25, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
It seems to me that one would need to be quite an expert in this rather specialised subject area to have a valid opinion as to how much weight should be put on what Jerome said (I see quite a few references to Jerome in the article as it is), but I do think that "this article varies from the Anchor Bible Dictionary" is not a good reason, by itself, to change it.Smeat75 (talk) 18:35, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
There has been a substantial amount of scholarly work done in the field since 1992 which is reflected by the reliable secondary sources in the article. Ignocrates (talk) 18:37, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
It would be helpful if the above statement actually gave any information directly relating to the question of what the sources say about the question under discussion here. A simple statement, which seems almost to be a bit of a brush-off, of those concerns which a non sequitur comment such as the above does not really help the discussion. John Carter (talk) 18:47, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
That's the point of having article content supported by reliable sources; you can read the original information for yourself. Anyway, the point of an RfC is to seek the opinions of the wider Community, not to use it as a platform to further expound on your own views. Ignocrates (talk) 18:52, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Ignocrates, your comment above seems to again completely miss the mark of the request. Please provide a source which specifically addresses the question of the identity of the texts, rather than vague generalities such as the one above. And I would note that the RfC is not to allow you to make statements which seem to be unfounded aspersions on the motivations of others, either.
This particular quote from the ABD seems relevant to me for the discussion here: "Thus, in spite of himself, Jerome attests to the existence both of a Greek Gos. Heb. and another Jewish-Christian gospel, one which appears to be closely related to or identical with an expanded version of Matthew's Gospel that was translated into Greek from Aramaic or Syriac." So, according to that source, Jerome himself seems to clearly indicate that there were at least two books called the GotH. This is also affirmed in the first sentence of that article, "The title ascribed in antiquity to at least one and probably two Jewish-Christian narrative gospels that are extant in fragmentary form in a few quotations preserved only in early church writings." Therefore, as these seem to me to be rather clear statements that academia at that time indicated that there were multiple GotH's, I can see no good reason for us not to indicate as much in our own article on the topic, unless there has been some change in evidence or otherwise overwhelming change without evidence in the opinion of the academic world. And, yes, as Jerome did call it the GotH, it is reasonable that the discussion about the one or more works referred to by that title would take place in the first article people looking for information on it would consult, this one. John Carter (talk) 18:47, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

John Carter asks, "Should this article be about only the single source identified by modern scholarship as the "Gospel of the Hebrews", or should it also deal with the source identified by Jerome as the "Gospel of the Hebrews"?

The problem is, nobody actually knows what Jerome was referring to. John Carter suggests it was the hypothetical original Aramaic/Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew, later translated/enlarged to form the present-day Greek Matthew. Aramaic Matthew is valid subject for an article, but quite separate from the not-quite-so-hypothetical gospel used by Jewish Christians in Egypt that's the subject of this one. (At least for this one there are extant quotations). So I'd say, keep these two articles separate.

The last para of the lead does deal with the potential confusion between various Jewish-Christian gospels, and I hope it's enough, but if anyone feels it isn't then by all means let's enlarge it.

I also think an additional para or at least sentence is needed to introduce the section "Origins and characteristics" - at the moment it just jumps right in with "The Gospel of the Hebrews is the only Jewish–Christian gospel...". I think the subject of Jewish Christian gospels needs a little bit of explanation, or else the reader is going to be asking just what a JC gospel actually is. PiCo (talk) 06:38, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

  • John raises some good points, but it seems to me that the issue can be resolved using PiCo's suggested clarification. The earlier discussion to separate the content raised important issues that justify (what might be considered) a content fork and I don't see any harm - and indeed quite a lot of good - in maintaining separate articles. Eusebeus (talk) 14:42, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
Does this proposal from PiCo meet with general approval? Liz Read! Talk! 18:50, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. PiCo's proposed changes can easily be handled in the normal course of editing or even as part of the GA review. The important thing to decide in this RfC is whether to abide by the consensus decision that was reached during the merge discussion or change the scope in a way that would require a major rewrite of the article. Ignocrates (talk) 19:11, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
First, Ignocrates, I very much wish you refrained from the pontification you are so fond of, such as, basically, your entire last sentence above. The record of this page will show that I started the thread as a general point, and then that you decided to turn it into an RFC, without any sort of discussion or consultation, after the fact. Honestly, it only became an RfC because you, unilaterally, and without any form of discussion, determined to make it one. I do not myself necessarily object to their being an RfC, but the way in which you apparently unilaterally decided to turn my comment into something it was not written to be, the start of an RfC, could not unreasonably be seen as being at least a little problematic.
Secondly, I have rather serious reservations about the proposal from PiCo, only because, so far as I can tell, it seems to me to minimize the level of controversy about this topic. Also, honestly, like I said, the source is described by Jerome as being the "Gospel of the Hebrews," or some variation on that, (he uses four different variant phrasings). I believe it would probably be most reasonable, and at least in my opinion, be most neutral, to begin the lead indicating the existence of the problem, and then perhaps add something similar to the second two sentences of the ABD article, "Because of the scantiness of the citations and the uncertainty of the patristic source attributions, assessing these fragments is one of the most vexing probems in the study of early Christian literature. Determining the precise number of these gospels, identifying which fragments may plausibly belong to which text(s), appraising the nature and extent of these texts, and establishing the relationship of one gospel to another are extremely problematic tasks that continue to challenge scholars.". This is I believe important for the reader to know up front. The following sections of the article might then start with a comparatively short description of the controversy regarding the matter, with a "Main article:X" subheading to that section. Also, in the ABD, in the sentence directly following the first sentence I quoted above, the one ending in "...Aramaic and Syriac," it says that the "other" source Jerome used was the Gospel of the Nazoreans": "This expanded version of Matthew is customarily referred to today as the Gospel of the Nazoreans, a document whose original title is unknown but which seems to have been used since the 2nd century C.E. by the Nazoreans, a group of Jewish Christians in W. Syria." The information about all the documents with which this source is confused is I think worthy of mention in the lead. The article also says, "Although the existence of Gos. Heb. Is not in question, identifying its fragments and appraising its character remains difficult," and goes on, after a quotation from Jerome, to say "countless difficulties in our attempts to isolate and verify the gospel(s) in which these fragments belong".
That possible first section would also probably include a lot of the information from the "Relationship to Other texts" section currently in the article. It could also probably mention the disagreements which seem to exist between some scholars, like Vielhauer and James, about which quotes come from which books.
Then, a second section could reasonably contain most of the information already in the article, starting with a statement to the effect of "although there are clearly disagreements in the academic community regarding this topic, there is a broad general consensus regarding the allocation of most of the quotations. They include the following: (list). Although it would be a mistake to attempt to read too much into the information we do have." This last statement can be supported with the following quote from the 2006 The New Interpreters Guide to the Bible" "It is impossible to draw solid conclusions regarding the scope, plan, and aims of this Gospel, given the fact that it is available to us only in a few fragments that vary greatly in their nature, style, rhetoric, and theological orientation." and a similar quote from the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, 2007, "In the circumstances it is difficult to be certain of the character, form, and compass of these documents, and precarious in the extreme to build hypotheses upon what little is known."
Having said all that, I am grateful in the extreme for the work PiCo has done, but like I said, I do think it would probably be most useful to some of those who might use this article, like maybe lazy college students looking to find out something about some of Jerome's quotations, if we gave a bit more discussion early on about the nature of the disputes about this subject, and then went into more depth about the general consensus regarding the nature of the work which the scholarly community has decided to use this title to describe. John Carter (talk) 14:59, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
As I said, the controversy about the identity of the Gospel of the Hebrews vs. the Gospel of the Nazoraeans was consolidated onto the main Jewish-Christian gospels article where the two are examined in parallel as the History of scholarship in the Jewish-Christian gospel problem rather than replicating the same content on all three articles. All we need to do here is add a link with a brief explanation to direct the reader to the "History of scholarship" section of the main article. It doesn't matter if other encyclopedias organize the material differently. We are not here to clone the Anchor Bible Dictionary. Ignocrates (talk) 20:45, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
I added a link in the lead to the "History of scholarship" section of the Jewish-Christian gospels article. The sentence could be clarified a bit more to direct the reader to the link, but the details of scholarship on the "Jewish-Christian gospel problem" should be further developed in the main article. This article is for content uniquely attributed to the Greek gospel known as the Gospel of the Hebrews that was used in Egypt. Ignocrates (talk) 23:58, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Ignocrates, although I am more than a bit surprised that you added a link, I also very much believe as per WP:WEIGHT that based on the information in the independent reliable sources on the topic the link is not enough, as per my comments below. John Carter (talk) 16:57, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Nishidani left his comments on his talk page for whatever reason. There doesn't appear to be any enthusiasm for changing the consensus that was reached during the merge discussion. Ignocrates (talk) 20:34, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

  • Question - John, is the extra material in the Anchor article covered in another en.wp article?
Answer: I'm not sure how exactly the question is relevant, or what the purpose of the question is. The concern I have, which has to date not been addressed, is that all three of the recent (I think generally highly regarded) reference sources I produced above specifically give the material on the subject in their article by this title. Now, it has been contended that this article is a spinout of the J-C gospel article. If that is the case, then, as per WP:SPINOUT, to quote directly from that page, "When you split a section from a long article into an independent article, you should leave a short summary of the material that is removed along with a pointer to the independent article. In the independent article, put the {{SubArticle}} or {{Summary in}} tag on the talk page to create a banner that refers back to the main article." So far as I can tell, that has not been done here, and failure to abide guideline leaves the article in a problematic state. Alternately, if the contention is that the content of the J-C gospel article is a spinout of this article, then this should adhere to WP:SS#Subarticle navigation, which I have no particularly reason to believe it does. Policies and guidelines make it quite clear that one cannot simply try to dump content out of one article into another without leaving some sort of prominent indicator of that having been done, and there is no indication in this article which meets those standards one way or another. Also, considering that this topic is itself counted as a standalone article in multiple reference sources, as I have indicated above, I think that the case that this is a subarticle is a rather weak one. I admit that I haven't checked for the existence of "Jewish-Christian gospels" in those reference works, because those reference sources have articles by this title which are clearly more directly relevant to this article, but I don't see any clear reason to believe that this article would, logically, be considered a subarticle or spinout article of the J-C gospel article based on the evidence I have seen. Whether this is the spinout or it isn't however, guidelines clearly indicate that their should be some sort of prominent link to the other article where the relevant content is placed, and, so far as I can see, that has not been done. John Carter (talk) 16:12, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

Unbalanced tag[edit]

I have added the unbalanced tag to this article for the following reasons. I have produced multiple recent reference sources above, even if one editor might have acted against WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and ignored the later ones, which specifically discuss at length material relating to the historic dispute about which quotes said to be from the GotH or similarly titled gospels actually come from which original source. And it should also be noted that all those sources are specifically articles called "Gospel of the Hebrews", not something else. If there is a belief, which I myself have no particular objections to, that the material relating to the debate should be primarily included in another article, that's fine, but if that is the case then I have every reason to believe WP:SS should be adhered to. And, yes, considering the rather short length of those articles I have produced above, I personally cannot see any obvious reason why all the material discussed in them could not be included here, as per WP:AVOIDSPLIT. In any event, if the material is to be primarily included elsewhere, that is no reason for there not be a summary section in this article, there should be some degree of prominent, if abbreviated, section relating to it in this article, probably with roughly similar placement and emphasis in those articles.

I also believe it is worth noting that I myself probably would have gone into more length regarding this in a separate RfC section earlier on. However, as will be seen from this edit, it was in fact Ignocrates who saw fit to add the RfC template to my preliminary comment, which I myself was intending to add to with additional sources prior to filing an RfC. Those sources were at another location, however, and I saw no reason to delay starting the discussion until I got to the other location to consult them. By adding the template and starting the RfC as he did, and, I should note, in no way did he seem to indicate exactly what the nature of the RfC he requested was until later, he basically, well, hijacked the discussion I was trying to start. Because it would be inappropriate for me to start a second RfC after the preemptive starting of one by Ignocrates, I believe that one of the few remaining recourses I have is to the template, and on that reason I have added it. John Carter (talk) 14:42, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

User:John Carter, please stop WP:EDIT-WARRING against WP:CONSENSUS and disrupting Wikipedia to make a WP:POINT. Ignocrates (talk) 01:16, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Ignocrates, please at least try to make a comment which deals with reality, which the above comment transparently refuses to do. As per WP:CCC, which I strongly suggest you at some point read, consensus can change. Also please read WP:AGF, and, it appears I must once again, for the second time in this thread, urge you to also read WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT. I have made several points, repeatedly, which, so far as I can tell, you have completely ignored and refused to respond to. Please make some sort of visible effort to have your own before conform to policies and guidelines. Thank you. John Carter (talk) 01:20, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
User:John Carter, you can't unilaterally undo a talk-page consensus by filibustering. Please stop WP:GAMING Wikipedia and abide by WP:TPG. Ignocrates (talk) 01:38, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Ignocrates, please try to make some degree of sense in your comments. The RfC which you started about a week ago is an RfC, which are in general open for more than a week before there is any declaration that consensus has been arrived at. Also, even beyond the fact that it is too early for you to declare consensus, there also has to be some sort of evidence that material presented has actually been responded to. The only one I've seen who has said anything since I presented the two more recent reference books is you, and honestly, so far as I can tell, you have completely and utterly ignored everything said therein. Therefore, honestly, it is both too early to determine that there exists a consensus regarding the new material presented, and, honestly, there isn't even any real evidence that the material presented has even been considered, which itself might be considered a violation of WP:STONEWALL and other behavior guidelines. Please make an attempt to familiarize yourself with all relevant guidelines, and perhaps make some sort of overt display of your familiarity with them. Thank you. John Carter (talk) 01:55, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
User:John Carter, while the RfC is indeed still open, the only respondent who has opposed PiCo's proposal to maintain the present scope is you alone. If you believe it is too early in the RfC discussion to determine a consensus, then your unilateral tagging of the article while a discussion is still in progress is WP:TENDENTIOUS. You can't have it both ways. Ignocrates (talk) 02:33, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
And, Ignocrates, there have been no comments made any anyone apparently in support of yout contention since you started this RfC with no clear indication as to why you started it, and, as I indicated above, in a rather preemptory, prejudicial way over the comment of another party, specifically me, without any prior discussion. In all honestly, Ignocrates, I see very serious questions regarding your own conduct in this matter, including your refusal to deal with any of the evidence that I had intended to include in the RfC I would have started since the time you, on your own, without any sort of indication to anyone else that you started the RfC, or even a clear indication as to what you sought to accomplish. And, honestly, your ongoing refusal to make any comments which address the substantive issues raised is, at least in my eyes, is among the most problematic behaviors I have ever seen. If you believe that you have grounds to bring this matter to a noticeboard, by all means do so. However, I stand by the placement of the template based on the material I have presented, and the to date I believe abject refusal on the part of others to address that material. John Carter (talk) 16:22, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
User:John Carter, the only thing unbalanced on this article is your disruptive conduct. There is no need for a noticeboard at this point; arbitration starts this week. I suggest you put some effort into preparing your opening statement. Ignocrates (talk) 17:10, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
If you honestly believe that, then I suggest you read WP:TPG, which indicate such blatant violations of WP:NPA have little if any business being on article talk pages. I also note how the comment seems to continue the habit of WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and WP:STONEWALL that has already been noted.
I assume you mean WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and WP:STONEWALL like your WP:TENDENTIOUS response to In ictu oculi's question. Or did you even bother to read it? Ignocrates (talk) 17:24, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
You obviously assume incorrectly. I had referred to your own failure to abide by these guidelines later, with specific links to them. Your inability to recognize that calls into very serious question whether you actually bother to read anything anyone posts here, and I don't think anyone would consider that behavior which is conducive to building articles. Now, Ignocrates, if it is possible for you to actually address any matters of substance in accord with WP:TPG, please do so. Otherwise, I can see no point in any further responses to ad hominem attacks which do not even remotely address the matters of substance that have been raised. Also, I am more than a little amused thaqt you can say that pointing out how this article does not abide by guidelines is "tendentious," and that apparent inability to even understand how articles are supposed to abide by guidelines may well be the biggest issue here. John Carter (talk) 17:35, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Re "like your WP:TENDENTIOUS response to In ictu oculi's question" I didn't find it tendentious. In ictu oculi (talk) 01:22, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Ok. Why are you bringing it up 3 months later? Ignocrates (talk) 01:49, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Moving forward[edit]

Now that arbitration has ended, it's time to put it behind us and move forward. I'm going to implement the consensus reached during the above discussion regarding the scope of the article, i.e., PiCo's suggestion to keep the scope the same but clarify and expand some of the points mentioned in the discussion without fundamentally changing the structure of the article. Ignocrates (talk) 23:19, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Proposal for 2014[edit]

I agree with In Ictu Oculi that we should avoid "fringe theories" about this topic. The fact that the Gospel of the Hebrews was syncretistic and composed in Greek many years after the time of the Disciples makes it unlikely there is any connection with the Hypothetical Hebrew Gospel. Indeed the GHeb traditions of Jesus' pre-existence, his coming into the world, a mighty Power in Heaven named Michael and the Power which came into the world called Mary (which had Christ in it's womb for only seven months) etc etc pretty much precludes this possibility. I would suggest we remove "Unbalanced tag" and do as Ignocrates suggested. I have little to add. All in all good work on a difficult topic! Happy New Year! Ret.Prof (talk) 13:55, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

There are no "fringe theories" in this article I am aware of, per WP:FRINGE; however, WP:WEIGHT is always subject to interpretation. I welcome any suggestions for ways to further refine and improve the article content. Ignocrates (talk) 18:00, 30 December 2013 (UTC)