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Re: [XTalk] Re:GThomas Response to Brian Trafford--I

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  • Frank McCoy
    ... Dear Brian Trafford: I thought that Wisdom was understood to be a first century BCE text and was unaware of a controversy regarding its date of
    Message 1 of 36 , May 1, 2002
      --- bjtraff <bj_traff@...> wrote:
      > Hello again Frank
      > I believe that I was excessively hasty in my reply
      > to you, and for
      > that I apologize sincerely. In addition to your
      > interesting (but
      > problematic on the basis of dates) points on the
      > Wisdom of Solomon,
      > you point as well to passages from Philo, and
      > suggest possible
      > connections between him and Gthomas. I would like
      > to focus on this
      > part of your post, as well as some of your
      > conclusions, and examine
      > them more closely. On this basis I will be snipping
      > most of your
      > references to WoSol, while replying to those you
      > connect most closely
      > to Philo himself (an obviously 1st Century source).

      Dear Brian Trafford:

      I thought that Wisdom was understood to be a first
      century BCE text and was unaware of a controversy
      regarding its date of composition. If there is
      evidence that it dates to the late first century CE or
      to the second century CE, then the probability that
      GThomas is first century CE is decreased. Do you have
      any references on this dating controversy I could
      check out?


      > > So, I suggest, GThomas 2 can be thusly
      > > "Let him who seeks Wisdom continue seeking until
      he finds her.
      > >When he finds her, she will trouble him, then she
      will astonish him,
      > >and then, as she is Kingship (Basilea), she will
      enable him to be
      > >king (basileus) over the All."

      > The actual passage again:
      > Thomas 2
      > Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking
      until they find.
      > When they find, they will be disturbed. When they
      are disturbed, they
      > will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after
      they have reigned
      > they will rest.]"
      > Based on the actual text, your paraphrase does seem
      to be a bit
      > strained, in my opinion. Philo makes no reference
      here to those
      > finding wisdom being troubled by it. It does offer
      a connection to
      > kingship or rulership, however, and this is

      As I point out in my post, it is in *Ecclesiasticus*
      that those who find
      Wisdom initially are troubled, stating, "So, it
      is said in Ecclesiasticus 4:17-18, 'For at first she
      will walk with him by
      crooked ways, and bring fear and dread upon him, and
      torment him with her
      discipline, until she may trust his soul, and try him
      by her laws. Then will
      she return the straight way unto him, and comfort him,
      and shew him her

      According to Ecclesiasticus, she is also found by
      those who seek. See 6:27,
      "Search, and seek, and she shall be made known unto

      Fragments of (the Hebrew version of) Ecclesiasticus
      have been found at
      Qumran and at Masada, so there can be no question
      about it having been in
      existence in the first century CE.

      So, as all of GTh 2 has parallels in either Philo or
      Ecclesiasticus, it
      appears to reflect first century CE thought..

      > > GTHOMAS 3B
      > >
      > > Next, let us turn to GThomas 3b, "When you come to
      > > know yourselves, then you will become known, and
      you will realize
      > >that it is you who are the sons of the living


      > > These others who reside in her also include God.
      > > in Cong (116), Philo states, "And further on he
      will speak of God's
      > > dwelling place, the skenen (tent/tabernacle), as
      being 'ten
      > > curtains' (Ex. xxvi. 1), for to the structure
      which includes the
      > > whole of Wisdom the perfect number ten belongs,
      and Wisdom is the
      > >court and palace of the All-ruler, the sole
      Monarch, the Soveregn
      > >Lord." (Note: Being the court and palace of God,
      Wisdom is also the
      > >spiritual dark cloud in which dwells God. and which
      worthy souls can
      > >enter.
      > > So, in Exodus (Book II, 23), Philo states, "This
      > > said in reference to the dissolution and rapture
      of the most
      > >perfect and prophetic mind, for which it is fitting
      and lawful to
      > >enter the dark cloud and to dwell in the forecourt
      of the palace of
      > >the Father.")

      > I do not see the connection between Th3 and these

      These passages from Philo are relevant because I offer
      the intepretation
      that those, in GTh 3, to whom one gets known are those
      who reside in Wisdom.
      This raises the question of the identities of those
      who reside in Wisdom.
      What these passages from Philo demonstrate is that, in
      his teachings, those
      who reside in Wisdom include God and worthy souls.

      .> >This also explains why they come to realize that
      > >are sons of the living Father--for one's entry into
      Wisdom is one's
      > >calling above by God *and this is a rebirth in the
      soul alone in
      > >which one's sole parent is God the Father.*
      > > So, in Exodus (Book II, 46), regarding Exodus
      > > ("And the glory of God came down upon the mount
      Sina, and the cloud
      > >covered it six days; and the Lord called Moses on
      the seventh day
      > >out of the midst of the cloud."), Philo asks the
      question, "Why is
      > >the mountain covered with a cloud for six days, and
      Moses called
      > >above on the seventh day?", and gives, as a part of
      his answer, "But
      > >the calling above of the prophet is a second birth
      better than the
      > >first. For the latter is mixed with a body and had
      > >parents, while the former is an unmixed and simple
      soul of the
      > > sovereign, being changed from a productive to an
      unproductive form,
      > > which has no mother but only a father, who is (the
      Father) of all."

      > Once again I do not see the connection you are
      attempting to make
      > between Th3 and these texts. In fact, given Philo's
      > desire to appeal to OT figures and stories, the
      connection is even
      > more tenuous, as GThomas makes no such connections
      in its texts.
      > This forms a critical component in my argument for
      2nd Century
      > dating, and one that appeals to Philo do not seem to

      GTh 3 ends on the note you will know that you are the
      sons of the living
      Father. In the interpretation I give, this regards
      people whose souls
      have entered into Wisdom. How have their souls gotten
      into Wisdom? The
      proposed answer: In view of what Philo states above,
      these people have
      gotten into Wisdom by being called above/reborn by
      God in the soul alone
      into Wisdom. Since they know that they have been
      reborn by God, they,
      thus, know that they are truly sons of the Father.
      So, this is necessary
      for us to understand *how* they have come to know that
      they are truly sons
      of the Father.

      > >Here, Philo speaks of how the calling above of
      > >by God into the cloud (i.e., Wisdom--the dark cloud
      within which
      > >resides God) was his second birth--a birth in which
      his sole parent
      > >was God as his Father.

      > This is an interesting point, but one that would
      appear more
      > appropriate in an examination of John 3, where Jesus
      speaks of the
      > need for one to be born again in order to enter the
      Kingdom. Out of
      > curiousity, what date range do you assign to the
      Gospel of John?

      I think it's more appropriate to John 1:12 than to
      John 3, although it can
      be made appropriate to John 3 with the application of
      another idea also
      found in the teachings of Philo.

      In terms of dating John, I date 1-20 to c. 62 and 21
      to c 65.


      > > GTHOMAS 3C
      > >
      > > Next, we come to GThomas 3c, which reads, "But if
      > > will not know yourselves, you will dwell in
      poverty and you are that
      > > poverty."

      > I would offer a similar interpretation for Th3c
      here. To the
      > Gnostic, the fleshy body was evil (in poverty),
      while the spirit was
      > the light, and therefore worthy of the Kingdom of
      > {snip much, as we appear to agree on the meaning of

      If the true wealth is Wisdom and other spiritual
      things, then anything
      corporeal (including the body) is of no true value.
      This is *not*, though,
      to say that the body (or, for that matter, the whole
      corporeal Cosmos) is
      evil. So, we are not truly in agreement here.
      Rather, by interpreting the
      "poverty" of the body to be its evilness rather than
      its worthlessness in
      comparison to Wisdom, you're putting a Gnostic "spin"
      on this saying that I
      am skeptical as to its validity.

      > >As Philo puts it in Gig (65-66), "But
      > >the sons of earth have turned the steps of the mind
      out of the path
      > >of reason and transmuted it into the lifeless and
      inert nature of
      > >the flesh. For 'the two became one flesh' as says
      the lawgiver
      > >(Gen. ii. 24). Thus they have debased the coin of
      truest metal."

      > I wanted to focus on this part, as it most directly
      affects the
      > question of dating GThomas. The difficulty of the
      "two became one
      > flesh" would appear to suggest a different context
      and meaning for
      > Philo here, as opposed to what Thomas is saying in
      verse 3. Also, I
      > would again point to the heavy reliance upon Hebrew
      Scripture, even
      > as metaphor, a characteristic completely lacking in
      GThomas, and very
      > significant in my opinion.

      In a continuation of my response to your original
      post, I will go into the
      details of how, in Philo's teachings, one's soul can
      merge into one's
      body/flesh and how this aspect of Philo's teaching
      possibly impacts on what
      is said in GTh--including GTh 3C, 7, and 11.

      Yes, it is *very* significant that, in GTh, ther are
      no citations
      of O.T. passages. Further, there appears to be a
      rejection of the Law of
      Moses and of the prophets.

      A Q tradition saying might be helpful in understanding
      this situation in
      GTh--see Luke 16:16, "The Law and the prophets [were]
      until John. Since
      then, the Kingdom of God is gospelized, and every one
      forces into it."

      Here, I suggest, the Kingdom (as in GTh 3) is Wisdom.

      If so, then there is a strong contrast between two
      eras. First is the era
      of an inferior revelation--the revelation of the Law
      and the prophets. Next
      is the era of the perfect revelation--which is Wisdom
      as the uttered Gospel,
      i.e., as uttered logoi (words).

      This is a rejection of the traditional Jewish notion
      that Wisdom and the
      Torah are to be equated. Here, rather, Wisdom is
      equated with a new
      revelation called the Gospel and consisting of the
      logoi (words) of God.

      On a more fundamental level, what we have here is the
      notion that the era of
      the Law and the prophets is over and we now live in an
      era in which one
      should only follow Wisdom as the uttered Gospel, i.e.,
      as the uttered words
      (logoi) of God.

      This notion, I suggest, was adapted by the GTh
      community--leading them to
      abandon observance of the Law and leading them to
      think what we now call the
      O.T. as being an imperfect revelation that belongs to
      the past and, so,
      needs not be cited in the present.

      If so, then, as the Q tradition definitely dates to
      the first century CE,
      the lack of citations of the O.T. in GTh is
      consistent with it dating to
      the first century CE.


      > > So, I suggest, GThomas 4, "The man old in days
      > > not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old
      about the place of
      > > life, and he will live. For many who are first
      will become last,
      > > and they will become one and the same.", can be
      roughly paraphrased
      > > this way, "The man born of human parents a long
      time ago, will not
      > > hesitate to ask he who has just been reborn in the
      soul alone by
      > > God into Wisdom about this Wisdom and, as he is
      asking about Wisdom
      > > and, so, is seeking her, he will find her and,
      finding her, he will
      > >enter into herself and, thereby, live to life in an
      immortal sense.
      > > For many who are earliest in being born of human
      > > will be the latest in being reborn in the soul
      alone by God into
      > > Wisdom and, as all souls which are reborn are
      without any marks of
      > > distinction, all of them will become identical."

      > As you do not connect this passage to anything from
      Philo, I am
      > unclear as to how this might help us place it within
      his thought or
      > theology. In my opinion I see verse 4 as being a
      Gnostic version of
      > the Synoptics' triple tradition that the kingdom of
      God belongs to
      > the little children (Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14-15, Luke

      This interpretation is based upon the idea, found in
      the teachings of Philo,
      of the rebirth/calling above of the soul by God into
      Wisdom. A citation
      from Philo regarding this idea is given earlier in
      this post.

      Also, in the teachings of Philo, one is made after the
      image of God only as
      respects the mind, so those who are reborn in the soul
      alone are identical
      in the sense that each is a copy of the Image of God
      (i.e., the Logos).

      GTh 4 differs so greatly in wording and content from
      the saying in Mark
      9:14-15 that, ISTM, it is unlikely that they are two
      versions f the same

      The saying in Mark 9:14-15 reads, "Let the children
      come to me, do not
      himder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.
      Truly, I say to you,
      whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a
      child shall not enter

      I suggest that the Kingdom in this saying (as in GTh
      3) is Wisdom and that
      it reflects the idea, found in the teachings of Philo,
      that one must receive
      Wisdom with the reverential awe of a child to its
      parents or to a teacher or
      to an elder. So, in Gen (Book III, 30), he states,
      "The divine Logos
      disciplines and admonishes the soul which is able to
      receive healing, and
      turns it back to sovereign Wisdom, lest being left
      without a mistress, it
      leap into absurd folly. And he disciplines it, not
      only that it may turn
      back to Virtue (i.e., Wisdom) but also submit itself
      under her hands, by
      which I mean under her powers. Now submission is of
      two forms. One is by
      way of deficiency, arising from the soul's weakness,
      which is easy to
      overcome, arrest and condemn. The other is that which
      the dominant Logos
      enjoins, and arises from awe and reverence, such as
      sons feel toward their
      parents, and pupils toward their teachers, and youths
      toward their elders."

      So, I suggest, the meaning of the saying in Mark
      9:14-15 is that one must
      receive Wisdom with the reverence and awe a child has
      for its parents,
      teachers, and elders before one can enter into her.

      GTHOMAS 5
      > >
      > > Next, we come to GThomas 5, "Know what is in the
      > > presence of your face, and that which is hidden
      from you will
      > > become plain. For there is nothing hidden which
      will not become
      > > manifest."
      > >
      > > I suggest that it can be roughly paraphrased,
      > > Wisdom, so that you will know how to intepret what
      you are reading
      > > (i.e., the text of GThomas), and the hidden
      meaning meanings of it
      > > will become apparent to you. For there is no
      hidden meaning within
      > > this text which, if you possess Wisdom, will not
      become manifest to
      > > you."

      > I have the same question here as in Th4 above.
      Without connecting it
      > directly to Philo, I do not see how any paraphrase
      can show that it
      > is earlier, rather than later in origin.

      The idea that divinely inspired utterances are
      mysteries that require divine
      help for one to understand them is found in first
      century CE Judaism, so I
      think that GTh 5 is consistent with a first century CE
      dating for GTh.

      See, for example, IQPHab (VII), "And as for that which
      He said, 'That he who
      reads may read it speedily': interpreted this concerns
      the Teacher of
      Righteousness, to whom God made known all the
      mysteries of the words of His
      servants the Prophets."


      > >
      > > If, as is suggested above, GThomas belongs to the
      > > literary genre of Jewish Wisdom literature and is
      primarily based on
      > > Alexandrian Judaism as it was around the time of
      Jesus, then it
      > >could very well be a 1st Century document.

      > I certainly agree that this is worth greater
      consideration than I
      > have given it in the past. Your citation of texts
      from Philo is
      > especially helpful, and I thank you for them Frank.

      Thank you.

      > > Even more importantly, this means that much of it
      > > might reflect the thinking of the real Jesus of
      history: in which
      > >case the real Jesus of history was familiar with
      Alexandrian Judaism
      > >as it was during his lifetime--with him, perhaps,
      having spent some
      > >of his "lost" years in Alexandira.
      > Well, I typically refrain from entertaining this
      much speculation in
      > my historical inquiries. The evidence that the
      historical Jesus (as
      > opposed to, say the author of GJohn, for example)
      knew Alexandrian
      > philosophy or Judaism is virtually non-existent, and
      until a more
      > substantial link can be established between the two,
      I would confine
      > my own research to potential date ranges for works
      concerning him.
      > If it could be shown that Jesus went to Egypt as an
      adult (say older
      > than 12 or 13), then this would add significantly to
      the weight of
      > your hypothesis. Currently I am not aware of any
      evidence of the
      > sort, however, and this is why I label this as
      highly speculative.

      Yes, this is all highly speculative and lacks any
      "hard" evidence. It's
      what I suspect is the case, but it is no more than
      that--a suspicion only.

      > > For example, in GThomas 1-5, it appears that the
      > > Kingdom is Wisdom. As I have pointed out in some
      past posts, there
      > >is evidence from other gospel traditions as well
      that Jesus did
      > >believe the Kingdom to be Wisdom.

      > And this sounds like yet another thread I would like
      to participate
      > in, when time permits. :-)

      Well, in this post, I've given two examples from other
      gospel traditions of
      where the Kingdom might be Wisdom (one from the Q
      tradition and the other
      from the Markan tradition), so possibly a beginning
      has already been made.

      That you for you very thoughtful response.

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109

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    • Antonio Jerez
      An interesting message from Ken Olson ... Some years ago me, Mark Goodacre, Mahlon Smith and a few other participants had a very prolonged discussion where
      Message 36 of 36 , Feb 2, 2003
        An interesting message from Ken Olson

        > Luke says that "many" (POLLOI) "orderly accounts" or "narratives arranged in
        > order" (ANATAXASQAI DIHGHSIN) have already been written. While the word
        > "undertaken" (EPECEIRHSAN) may suggest that he considers these accounts less
        > than satisfactory for some reason, the fact that he says that he "too"
        > (KAMOI) has written one would seem to indicate that their works were of the
        > same genre as his own.

        Some years ago me, Mark Goodacre, Mahlon Smith and a few other participants had a
        very prolonged discussion where Mark and me argued along exactly these lines. I still believe'
        that Lukes own words in his prologue together with the indications in his text makes it almost certain
        that he knew both GMark and GMatthew.

        Best wishes

        Antonio Jerez
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