Re: Paul's Gnosticism (and Jesus?)
- 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.
Calgary, AB, Canada
- --- 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, andof the
> fact that the strongest analogues I've been able to find forGThomas'
> thought and rhetoric are in fact from Paul, particularly 1Corinthians. This
> is so much the case that I've come to define my own position on thehave gotten
> allegedly "Gnostic" charascter of Thomas -- an issue Steve and I
> into in the past -- in the following terms: If one can call PaulGnostic,
> then so is Thomas. If one is unwilling to call Paul Gnostic, thenThomas
> 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 ofthe
> the "Christ myth" (which seems to predate Paul) as continuous with
> social functionality of Jesus' activity?on the
> I'm genuinely curious about this, and would welcome some discussion
> topic.Me too. I've been fascinated by the "how do we get from A to B, from
HJ toanything . 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 opposes .. 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.