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Re: Is the Gospel of Thomas Gnostic?

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  • smithand44
    Well, it s fun. Perhaps in two thousand years time, critical scholars will be arguing whether these verse are truly about baseball. Is a-hugging an important
    Message 1 of 40 , Jan 19, 2007
      Well, it's fun. Perhaps in two thousand years time, critical scholars
      will be arguing whether these verse are truly about baseball. Is
      "a-hugging" an important piece of baseball jargon? Was Mudville a
      major team? And were Cooney, Blake, Casey and Flynn real players? (The
      last I'm genuinely curious about).

      It has umpires and innings, so some may see this as a poem about
      cricket rather than baseball. But for me the "strike one... strike
      two... strike out" clinches it.

      The umpire may represent the demiurge, and Casey with his "smile of
      Christian charity" is obviously a redeemer figure.

      You'll be receiving a copy of GTCW unless someone finds a more
      Andrew-pleasing example.

      Andrew

      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gnostic_ken" <gnostic_ken@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > > >>>Well, I still think that it's a poor analogy because sports
      > articles
      > > are usually littered with jargon, with names of players, teams,
      > sports
      > > grounds. I'll send a free copy of Stevan Davies' The Gospel of
      > Thomas
      > > and Christian Wisdom to anyone who can find an article on baseball
      > > that actually works along the lines of Ehrman's analogy.<<<
      >
      > I don't know about Ehrman's analogy but here is an example of an
      > article about baseball that contains a point not necessarly about
      > baseball and is in language that someone with very little knowledge
      > of baseball can understand.
      >
      > Ken
      >
      > "Casey at the Bat By Ernest Lawrence Thayer
      >
      > The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
      > The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
      > And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
      > A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
      >
      > A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
      > Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
      > They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that ?
      > We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."
      >
      > But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
      > And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
      > So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat;
      > For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
      >
      > But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
      > And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
      > And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
      > There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
      >
      > Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
      > It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
      > It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
      > For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
      >
      > There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
      > There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
      > And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
      > No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
      >
      > Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
      > Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
      > Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
      > Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
      >
      > And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
      > And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
      > Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped ?
      > "That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.
      >
      > From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
      > Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
      > "Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
      > And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
      >
      > With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
      > He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
      > He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
      > But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"
      >
      > "Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
      > But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
      > They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
      > And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
      >
      > The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate;
      > He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
      > And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
      > And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
      >
      > Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
      > The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
      > And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
      > But there is no joy in Mudville ? mighty Casey has struck out."
      >
    • Gerry
      ... Atheist or not, Davies impresses me as operating under the assumption that these scriptures are expected to provide information corroborating one aspect or
      Message 40 of 40 , Mar 1, 2007


        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "smithand44" <smithand44@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        >
        > I don't see any general "pro-orthodox" tendency in Davies' work, and
        > as far as I know he is an atheist with a strong curiosity for
        > religious traditions. In fact, he tends towards quirky viewpoints and
        > unorthodox (in the non-technical sense) positions. For instance, his
        > Jesus the Healer looked at the historical Jesus in terms of the
        > anthropology of spirit possession, and he was very interested in Earl
        > Doherty's mythic Jesus, and is fond of pointing out the contradictions
        > in the usual views of Christian origins.
        >

         

        Atheist or not, Davies impresses me as operating under the assumption that these scriptures are expected to provide information corroborating one aspect or another of a literal, historical Jesus.  I think that modern scholarship is tainted by this "orthodox" perspective even when they appear to recognize the inevitable stumbling block that such a bias presents for one's objectivity.  As PMCV recently pointed out, Bart Ehrman (a self-professed agnostic) is currently involved with lectures on the Gospel of Judas (which I had the misfortune of attending back in January), and the focus of his talks is on the historical relevance this new gospel has regarding Judas AND Jesus.  I'll reiterate the question that PMCV asked:  Why?  Is it really asking so much that a little more consideration be given to the fact that Gnostic authors might have had more to convey than biographies of Jesus and his cohorts?

         

        >

        > I think there is a stubborn quality in Steve's position. But in the
        > last conversation I remember between Davies and Arnal on the gthomas
        > list, Arnal wrote that, after reading King's What is Gnosticism?, he
        > finally agreed that Thomas wasn't Gnostic. Steve has changed his
        > opinion on various issues connected with Thomas--he now thinks that
        > 114 is integral to the collection and he might admit the Syrian
        > connection.
        >

         

        I may be willing to recognize a Syrian "connection" as well, and I have always felt that saying 114 was integral to the collection, but such issues still do not prohibit me from viewing the overall work—as it survives—in a Gnostic context.

         


        > I actually didn't like Davies' translation in GTA&E, as it cuts
        > corners in places. You have identified a mistranslation and, I agree,
        > it's one that comes from his view of Thomas. Funnily enough, Davies'
        > closing comment on that is "In this saying, for a change, Thomas's
        > gospel takes the orthodox position on an issue." Steve in fact has no
        > Coptic, and worked from Mike Grondin's interlinear translation, but
        > Grondin's translation clearly indicates that OUWN2 should be
        > translated as "appeared", "revealed" or "made manifest".
        >

         

        Call me a purist, but it seems to me that if an author wishes to put forth an alleged "translation" of ancient texts, he should REALLY have an understanding of the original language.  Furthermore, if what is merely his resulting "interpretation" of someone else's "translation" shows evidence of being a poor bastardization of that prior work, then this could easily be seen as one more unscrupulous step beyond theft and fraud.  It would be pretty shady indeed.

         

        > OTOH, I don't really see this as referring to docetism at all, and the

        > following saying, which debates whether flesh came into being because
        > of spirit, or spirit because of the body, doesn't either. Meyer, for
        > instance, connects saying 28 with the incarnation of Wisdom too.
        >
        > Best Wishes
        >
        > Andrew
        >

         

        Perhaps we're in agreement again, Andrew, as I don't see EITHER of those sayings as "referring" to Docetism, but neither do I think that the one could "prove" an anti-docetic stance (as Davies would have us believe with his contrived "translation").

        At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'll come right out and ask if we're talking about two things here:  As I've tried to point out, my concern with GTh is the work as we know it—in Coptic—found amid a treasury of predominantly Gnostic texts.  If others are more interested in picking its bones clean in search of some elusive "original" or "core" Thomas, then more power to them.  Personally, I don't see how such conclusions could EVER be proven, short of someone actually stumbling across the missing text that certain individuals seem hell-bent on creating.  If that's what floats their boat, then more power to 'em.  If it were established today beyond a shadow of a doubt that Gnostic thought came secondarily to apocalyptic Christianity, for instance, and that the Coptic GTh is merely an elaboration by Gnostic scribes of preexisting material, is it not clear that this would really have little bearing on its relevance to Gnosticism?

        Gerry

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