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Re: Paul's Gnosticism (and Jesus?)

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  • bjtraff
    Given the time and energy the discussions on GThomas and GJohn is taking for me, I do not have time to participate on this thread as I would like. I would,
    Message 1 of 4 , May 1, 2002
      Given the time and energy the discussions on GThomas and GJohn is
      taking for me, I do not have time to participate on this thread as I
      would like. I would, however, refer the members to Ronald Nash's
      book, _The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from
      Pagan Thought?_ (World Publishing: 1992) which brilliantly analyses
      and rebuts various theories about Paul's dependence upon Platonic and
      Gnostic thought. I strongly recommend those interested in the
      subject take a look at what Nash has to say, as it will prove very
      enlightening, even if one does not end up agreeing with his
      conclusions. It is very well argued.

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
    • sdavies0
      ... incidentally) ... of the ... GThomas ... Corinthians. This ... have gotten ... Gnostic, ... Thomas ... I think this is so. I remember a little dialogue
      Message 2 of 4 , May 2, 2002
        --- In crosstalk2@y..., "William Arnal" <warnal@h...> wrote:
        > Hi all:
        > The recent exchange about Thomas once again forcefully (if
        > reminded me of the extraordinary character of Paul's thought, and
        of the
        > fact that the strongest analogues I've been able to find for
        > thought and rhetoric are in fact from Paul, particularly 1
        Corinthians. This
        > is so much the case that I've come to define my own position on the
        > allegedly "Gnostic" charascter of Thomas -- an issue Steve and I
        have gotten
        > into in the past -- in the following terms: If one can call Paul
        > then so is Thomas. If one is unwilling to call Paul Gnostic, then
        > should not be so designated either.

        I think this is so. I remember a little dialogue between myself and
        James Robinson at an SBL awhile back where I was making the same
        point vis vis Thomas and John. If the one then the other; if not
        then not. He finally came around to agreeing.

        > Or, finally, can we view the structure and social functionality of
        > the "Christ myth" (which seems to predate Paul) as continuous with
        > social functionality of Jesus' activity?
        > I'm genuinely curious about this, and would welcome some discussion
        on the
        > topic.

        Me too. I've been fascinated by the "how do we get from A to B, from
        HJ toanythingÂ…. including Paul" problem for some time now. The usual
        efforts to solve it seem almost impossibly vapid, or even nonexistent.

        Anyhow, for any discussion of Paul's relationship to HJ, if any, I'd
        tend to emphasize the existence of a Christianity large
        enough and problematic enough for Paul to persecute. As one who does
        not dismiss Acts I'm prone to think that Luke's account of the
        persecution by Paul is signficant at least minimally to give grounds
        for us to think the persecution was official and that it extended to
        Damascus. Paul himself writes that he persecuted the churches of God
        in Judea and one gathers that these were fairly numerous.

        Leaving aside all the interesting but only marginally discussible
        questions such as "why did Paul do it?", the existence of a network
        of organized and threatening communities stretching thorughout Judea
        into Syria BY 36 AD or so is a significant datum. One should know
        that Paul did NOT think he just made everything up but that he joined
        a functioning system of churches. Accordingly, Paul thought that his
        teachings were by and large the teachings of those churches. To put
        it another way, Paul knew of Christianity prior to his conversion, he
        knew of it as an opponent knows of what he opposesÂ….. and that may be
        substantial. I've just been learning about Scientology, mostly from
        opponents, and the opponents are not ignorant of what they oppose.
        Neither, surely, was Paul. The revelation of God's Son in Paul did
        not just give Paul a whole bunch of facts he never had heard of but
        confirmed the facticity of whatever it was he was previously against.

        Going by what Paul tells us, and it's kind of hard to think that this
        is idiotic procedure vis a vis Paul's own history, Paul joined a
        Pauline or semi-Pauline Christianity.

        I think it is just out of the question that Jesus of Nazareth founded
        the network of churches that Paul opposed because the biographies we
        have show absolutly nothing of the sort happening and the letters of
        Paul show nothing by way of interst in the purported biographical
        Jesus-founder. I wouldn't doubt particularly that Jesus was a member
        of the movement.... but I suspect it predated him.

        My intuition on that subject is that we have some of the texts of the
        movement in the Odes of Solomon and possibly in some of the wierder
        Thomas bits. But this is going off in a whole new discussion not
        directly relevent to what you wrote about.

        Steve Davies
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