Rick Hubbard, Humble Maine Woodsman, wrote:
>I'm reluctant to embarrass myself by saying how many times I've
>re-read the above statement and failed to grasp the point. I am
>completely unable to comprehend the difference between these two
>different kinds of concealment. In both cases "meaning" does not
>reside in the text itself, but beneath it. What *seems* to be
Not exactly. In a way, I was contrasting two different attitudes to the
WORLD, and not so much interpretive MECHANISMS. For Thomas, meaning is at
odds with appearances, and for Philo it is continuous with it. For Philo,
e.g., someone who says, "there are two sexes," is correct as far as it goes,
although there may be some more profound symbolism they are missing (e.g.
the distinction between physicality and intellect, or some such thing). For
Thomas, they are wrong, mislead by appearances.
>different is EITHER that Philo presupposes that the "concealed
>meaning" of the text exists in multiple "layers" that become less
>opaque as one goes from "top to bottom"
>OR that there is a single
>"concealed" meaning, the clarity of which depends on the
>hermeneutical proficiency of the reader/interpreter. By contrast,
No, I don't think so.
>Bill says clearly that there is but a single meaning beneath the
>text of Thomas, but what remains unclear to me is the means by
>which the reader uncovers that meaning. I THINK he says that this
>hermeneutic occurs at the simplest level of cognition, i.e.,
>simply by "... looking at the surface of things, their obvious
>qualities." That which triggers the move from "ignorance to
>understanding," or "agnosia to gnosia," is the deprecation of
>that which one inspects.
Quite honestly, I'm not sure about this myself. The text implies at lerast
two processes: 1) the one it describes, which SEEMS to involve looking at
the surface of things and *recognizing* (why? how? who?) that this surface
is worthless, and then going on to ponder what of value might lie beneath
it; but also 2) the process implied by a collection of "secret sayings" of
Jesus in need of interpretation -- i.e., studying Jesus' words.
>If so, does this mean that Thomas requires a certain "cognitive
>dissonance" to be present in the reader (if the reader hopes to
>find the meaning of the words contained therein)? Similarly, is
Yes! I think so.
>the purpose of Thomas to be a paradigm (or catechism) for
>invoking cognitive dissonance?
Or reaffirming it once it's already there. Hence the comparison with Wayne
Meeks' observations on John in "The Man from Heaven."
What all this means, though, is beyond me.
Department of Religion
University of Manitoba
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