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8587Re: Anthropomorphic mistakes

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  • lady_caritas
    Nov 6, 2003
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pneumen_borealis <no_reply@y...>

      > > And yet, it is generally accepted amongst academecians that the
      > > Gospel of Mark has been heavily edited, both adding and removing
      > > sections. The "Biblical" version of Jesus' saying concerning
      > > and finding leaves out some pretty key elements when compared to
      > > Thomas, and Dr Pagels (whom I only point out because you seem to
      > > trust her), in her latest book, dedicates a great deal of
      > > to how diametrically opposed John and Thomas' understanding of
      > > is. The seeming subtle difference in his sayings have such
      > > implications that she considers John to have been written for the
      > > purpose of gaining political (Church politics.. not secular
      > > government) ground over Thomas.
      > >

      > Well, I haven't gotten to this part yet, so it would be prudent for
      > to wait until I got to it before commenting. But I'll dive in
      > I think I know the parts that you are refering to, though. I
      > one part from John that is very adamant about Jesus having been a
      > person, something Thomas stressed less. It puzzled me when I first
      > read it, but given the context of a debate between Thomas followers
      > and John followers, it makes a lot of sense.
      > More to the point though, the fact that a particular Gospel was
      > heavily edited does not mean it was falsified. It might just as
      > mean that dubious elements were deleted.
      > I should also point out, that while there was considerable debate
      > what Jesus meant by "finding and seeking", there is none about
      > he said it or that these words were important.
      > Lastly, I would not refer to these differences as "political". To
      > political would mean that positions are adopted for the sake of
      > winning power and influence. These differences appear to be
      > theological, which one would expect in a community as far-flung and
      > diverse as the early Christian one.
      > I find it an interesting idea, though, that the Gospels were in
      fact a
      > result of a theological dialogue between various schools of thought
      > within the Christian community, and that these schools appear to
      > their lineage to specific apostles. Studying the interactions
      > these schools appears to be what Pagels is doing. It sems a very
      > constructive and reasonable way of approaching the Gospels.

      But Pneumen, this is very possibly about "winning power and
      influence" through alleged words of Jesus, not merely theological
      debates, according to Elaine Pagels. I had agreed with PMCV's
      comments about Pagels's statements showing Jesus's sayings written by
      John for the purpose of gaining political ground. Even if one does
      not agree with Pagels's interpretation, it is at least worth taking
      into consideration in light of the blatant divergence of this
      portrayal of Thomas from the synoptic accounts.

      Let me be more specific. When you get to Chapter 2 of _Beyond
      Belief_, pages 69 through 72 describe John's version of Thomas, "the
      doubter," different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke versions. And,
      these differences are demonstrated directly through Jesus's words.


      "Mark, Matthew, and Luke mention Thomas only as one of `the twelve.'
      John singles him out as `the doubter' -- the one who failed to
      understand who Jesus is, or what he is saying, and rejected the
      testimony of the other disciples. John then tells how the risen
      Jesus personally appeared to Thomas in order to rebuke him, and
      brought him to his knees. From this we might conclude, as most
      Christians have for nearly two millennia, that Thomas was a
      particularly obtuse and faithless disciple -- though many of John's
      Christian contemporaries revered Thomas as an extraordinary apostle,
      entrusted with Jesus' `secret words.' The scholar Gregory Riley
      suggests that John portrays Thomas this way for the practical -- and
      polemical purpose -- of deprecating Thomas Christians and their
      teaching. According to John, Jesus praises those `who have not seen,
      and yet believed' without demanding proof, and rebukes Thomas
      as `faithless' because he seeks to verify the truth from his own

      "John offers three anecdotes that impose upon Thomas the image --
      Doubting Thomas! -- he will have ever afterward in the minds of
      most Christians..."

      Pages 70-71 recounts these anecdotes. Then when Jesus reappears
      after his crucifixion to the disciples, he appears to only ten in
      John's version, unlike the other gospels, which have eleven in
      attendance (all but Judas Iscariot).

      Continuing ~
      "The implication of the story is clear: Thomas, having missed this
      meeting, is not an apostle, has not received the holy spirit, and
      lacks the power to forgive sins, which the others received directly
      from the risen Christ. Furthermore, when they tell Thomas about
      their encounter with Jesus, he answers in the words that mark him
      forever -- in John's -- characterization as Doubting Thomas: `Unless
      I see the mark of the nails in his hand, and put my finger in the
      mark of the nails, and my hand in his side, _I will not believe_.' A
      week later, the risen Jesus reappears and, in this climactic scene,
      John's Jesus rebukes Thomas for lacking faith and tells him to
      believe: _ `Do not be faithless, but believe.'_ Finally Thomas,
      overwhelmed, capitulates and stammers out the confession, `My Lord
      and my God!'

      "For John, this scene is the coup de grace: finally Thomas
      understands, and Jesus warns the rest of the chastened
      disciples: `Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are
      those who have not seen, and yet believe.' Thus John warns all his
      readers that they _must_ believe what they cannot verify for
      themselves -- namely, the gospel message to which he declares himself
      a witness -- or face God's wrath. John may have felt some
      satisfaction writing this scene; for here he shows Thomas giving up
      his search for experiential truth -- his `unbelief'-- to confess what
      John sees as the truth of his gospel: the message would not be lost
      on Thomas Christians."

      Pneumen, regardless of whether one considers Pagels analysis here to
      have merit, we have an example of the crux of Irenaeus's beef about
      whom he views as "heretics." How dare these people trust their own
      experience and not have faith in what he considers to be "right
      thinking," the right theology? I submit that the issue isn't about
      having faith. We all have faith and there will always be a certain
      element of subjectivity involved. It comes down to the *kind* of

      There is most definitely a difference between having faith in one's
      own experience vs. blindly trusting or being hammered into believing
      the faith of someone *else's* experience or even blind belief or even

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