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Ezekiel, John the Baptist, and the Five Trees of Paradise

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  • kurt31416
    Ezekiel, John the Baptist, and the Five Trees of Paradise Introduction: There are ten Gospel of Thomas sayings that have no parallels in the famous Funk s
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2010
      Ezekiel, John the Baptist, and the Five Trees of Paradise

      There are ten Gospel of Thomas sayings that have no parallels in the famous
      "Funk's Parallels". One of them is Thomas 19. The Five Gospels is also
      dismissive... "Five trees. This saying exhibits two themes familiar from later
      gnostic works...The fellows voted this cluster black by common consent." Thomas
      19 and it's Five Trees is Gnostic like Genesis, Psalms, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Philo
      and the historical Jesus are Gnostic. The only thing missing is explicit
      statement of the number of trees being five in number. That shows up well after
      Thomas in the third century. But the Mandaean followers of John the Baptist's
      religion is centered on those trees in paradise from Genesis-Ezekiel,
      particularly Ezekiel 47:12, which is a dead parallel to the tree part of Thomas
      19, except the number five. However, in the Canonical Prayer Book, the Mandaeans
      mention five trees exactly, (like Philo does), and we can list their names, and
      even show a picture of them.

      Rivers, Trees that Don't Fade, & Immortality in Paradise, From Genesis to

      There's an unbroken chain from Genesis 2 to Ezekiel 47:12, to 19:2 of the Gospel
      of Thomas. Always magical trees, that never fade, by the side of a magical
      river, that gives immortality/healing. In Genesis it's the Garden of Eden, in
      Ezekiel, it's become an explicit parable of the Second Temple. True, rivers with
      trees by the side, with fruit, and it being a good thing, was an important part
      of the actual ancient world, independent of the Hebrews/Jews/Samaritans, and
      they wrote about it, such as Homer in the Odyssey. But virtually never with that
      complete list. That the leaves don't fade, and immortality/healing are implicit
      in Genesis, but by Psalms, it's explicit.

      Genesis 2:8-10...15-16
      8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put
      the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of
      the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle
      of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and
      evil. 10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden...15 The LORD God took the
      man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the
      LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

      Psalms 1:3...6
      3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in
      season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers...6 For the
      LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will

      Jeremiah 17:7-8
      7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8
      He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the
      stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no
      worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

      Ezekiel 47:12
      12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves
      will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because
      the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and
      their leaves for healing."

      Coptic Thomas 19
      Jesus says: "Blessed is he who was, before he came into being. If you become
      disciples of mine (and) listen to my words, these stones will serve you. For you
      have five trees in Paradise that do not change during summer (and) winter, and
      their leaves do not fall. Whoever comes to know them will not taste death." ©

      It's universally assumed Ezekiel gets his parable of the Second Temple from
      Genesis and the Garden of Eden, at least indirectly, why wouldn't it also be
      universally assumed Jesus got his version from Ezekiel? It's closer to Thomas
      than it is to Genesis. One reason is that Thomas says five trees, gives an
      actual number. The only number up until then is the two mentioned in Genesis.
      The rest of the Hebrew Bible gives no number. But by the time of Thomas, it
      seems everyone that mentions it had a list of trees by name, and it was usually
      around five, including, apparantly, John the Baptist...

      Ezekiel, Q, and the Followers of John the Baptiser

      In the famous Gnostic John the Baptizer by G.R.S. Mead, Chapter 1, he points out
      how John the Baptist, in Q, discusses stones and trees (just like Thomas 19),
      and that stones and trees are central to the Mandaeans, and points out Ezekiel
      47 with it's spring of water and trees is where John the Baptiser got it and how
      it seems to match the Mandaean writings...

      "Let us now turn to the first part of the short but powerful address of the
      Baptizer handed on by Mt. (3:7-10) and Lk. (3:7-9), a most interesting example
      of those stirring utterances or 'sayings' of his referred to by Josephus.

      Ye out-births of vipers, who hath given you a glimpse of fleeing from the Wrath
      to come? Make fruit, therefore, worthy of (or sufficient for) your repentance.
      And think not (Lk. begin not) to say within (or among) yourselves: We have
      Abraham [for] father. For I say unto you that God is able of these stones (Aram.
      'abenayya) to raise (or wake) up children (Aram. benayya) for Abraham. But even
      now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree, therefore, which
      beareth not good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.

      This graphic discourse, contained in Q, begins with the same terrible phrase
      'generation' or 'out-births of vipers' which Jesus also uses on several
      occasions. It may possibly go back to Micah 7:17, where we read, referring to
      the heathen: "They shall lick the dust like serpents, like those creeping on the
      earth." And if 'licking the dust' can be taken in the sense of the allegorists
      of the time, who interpret it as eating excrement, a fate allotted to the
      serpent-shaped souls of the damned in Sheôl, it becomes all the more strikingly
      graphic. In vain do they think they will escape because they are of kinship with
      Abraham, or that God cannot repeat the wonder he once wrought, of raising up
      children out of the barren rock of their forefather. God is able to make a new
      Israel out of the very stones, just as he had of old hewn, like stones (Heb.
      'abanîm), a line of sons (Heb. bânîm) from the once barren rock of Abraham, as
      Isaiah says (51:1-2): "Look unto the rock whence ye were hewn . . . look unto
      Abraham your father."

      This for the 'stones'; but what of the 'trees'? There are other passages in the
      O.T. (e.g. Ps. 1:1, Jer. 17:5-8) which liken the man who delights in the Law and
      has faith in Yahveh to fruit-bearing trees; but the most arresting verse in this
      connection is to be found in the continuation of the same vision in Ezekiel
      (47:1-8) which so graphically depicted the Messianic Source...

      The mystical application of this prophetical utterance to the righteous of
      Israel as the fruit-bearing trees of the longed-for days of the Messiah, would
      surely strike the imagination of so intuitive a mind as John's; it is indeed all
      of a piece with his general conception and expectation and fits in most deftly."

      Ezekiel, John the Baptiser and the Mustard Seed of Thomas 20

      And that other theme from Ezekiel, the birds finding shelter in the great branch
      of the Universe/Kingdom, also fundamental to the Mandaean religion. It's the
      next saying in Thomas. The two big tree motifs in the Mandaean religion,
      accepted as a given, long before Thomas was discovered, and they are side by
      side in Thomas, buried in a sealed jar for 1600 years.

      "The Tree is a common religous symbol in Mandaean books for Divine Life, and the
      souls of Mandaeans are not seldom represented as birds, taking refuge in the
      shelter of a Vine, or Tree, against the tempests of the world. Here, to
      translate the word "mandia" by "dwellings" or "Shelters" would make sense." The
      Mandaeans of Iran and Iraq, p. 11, E.S. Drower

      A story in itself, for brevity we'll omit, but as deep as this one, and worth
      mentioning here.

      Philo, John the Baptiser, Jesus, and the Five Trees of Paradise

      By the time of Jesus, many centuries after Ezekiel, giving names to those Trees
      in Paradise, so honored through the centuries in Jewish/Samaritan writings, was
      apparantly common. And strangely enough, the number is almost always Five. Philo
      often mentions those Trees in Paradise, with names, in more than one place, and
      it's always listed as five, although one could argue six. DeConick lists five. A
      different list...

      Philo, Noah's Work as a Planter IX
      "We must therefore have recourse to allegory, which is a favourite with men
      capable of seeing through it; for the sacred oracles most evidently conduct us
      towards and instigate us to the pursuit of it. For they say that in the Paradise
      there were plants in no respect similar to those which exist among us; but they
      speak of trees of life, trees of immortality, trees of knowledge, of
      comprehension, of understanding; trees of the knowledge of good and evil. (37)
      Now these cannot have been trees of the land, but must indisputably have been
      plants of a rational soil, which was a road to travel along, leading to virtue,
      and having for its end life and immortality; and another road leading to vice,
      having for its end the loss of life and immortality, that is to say, death.
      Therefore, we must suppose that the bounteous God plants in the soul, as it
      were, a paradise of virtues and of the actions in accordance with them, which
      lead it to perfect happiness"

      Philo's Five Trees in Paradise from Ezekiel, and an explicit parable like
      Ezekiel, with specific names for trees, from "sacred oracles"...
      1. trees of life,
      2. trees of immortality,
      3. trees of knowledge,
      4. of comprehension/understanding
      5. trees of the knowledge of good and evil.

      Another source, from the approximate time of Jesus, (apparantly), are the
      Mandaean followers of John the Baptist, demonstrated to be obsessed with those
      trees from Ezekiel, and the Stones and Trees of John the Baptiser in Q, and
      Thomas 19. They also have exactly five trees mentioned in their Canonical Prayer
      Book, the Ginza Rba. (See excerpts in the Appendix.)

      The Mandaean Five Trees in Paradise...
      1. Vine which is all life
      2. The Great Tree which is All Healings
      3. The Tree of Radiance
      4. The First Great Palm Tree
      5. The Great Tree Which is All Things

      1, 2, and 3 match if radiance is enlightenment/knowledge, which it is to the
      Mandaeans and the Jesus of Thomas.

      The Mandaeans have many drawings of those special Five Trees, among the other
      trees, who's leafs don't fade, by the side of Ezekiel's river, that are the key
      to eternal life. Here's one of them. The Tree of Radiance is easy to spot, using
      the Mandaean radiance motif. As is The First Great Palm Tree and Vine Which is
      All Things. The other two are a tough call. Perhaps the two to the left of the
      First Great Palm Tree.

      Yes, the Mandaean writings have been damaged over the centuries, being copied
      and re-copied, not sealed in a jar like Thomas, but it gives Thomas context.


      Stones and trees were associated with John the Baptist of Christianity and the
      Mandaeans by the experts before Thomas 19 was found in a jar, partly with the
      support of Q. Those trees in Paradise, who's leaves don't fade, and give eternal
      life, were also thought to come from Ezekiel, who got it from Jewish/Hebrew
      tradition, starting in Genesis 2. And unbroken chain from Genesis 2, through
      Ezekiel, to John the Baptist and the Mandaeans, who list Five Trees in Paradise.
      Why is it surprising that Jesus would mention those five trees, since at one
      time, according to the Christians and Mandaean, at one time he was a Mandaean

      Thomas 19 joins the growing list of sayings in Thomas paralleled in the Mandaean
      literature. An inconvenient truth is, despite the curt dismissal of the Jesus
      Seminar of it being "Gnostic", is that there are no clear parallels to the
      second century Gnostics, like there are to the Christians and Mandaeans. None.
      The five trees only shows up in the third century, and could have gotten it from
      Jesus, the Mandaeans, Philo or a host of other sources.

      It seems the historical Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas was influenced by John the
      Baptist and the Christians edited most of it out, for obvious reasons. Such as
      the competition with followers of John the Baptist, and more fundamentally, not
      their dogma. Perhaps those gaps in Thomas, with no clear Synoptic parallels,
      are, to a large extent, the John the Baptist part.

      So, how can this be? Why haven't Biblical scholars noticed? Perhaps because they
      can't read it. You can't publish about something you can't read...

      "A few European scholars have studied Mandaeism during the past few hundred
      years. Today, almost nobody does. Apart from the works of the English Lady Ethel
      S. Drower (1879-1972), the primary field worker among the Mandaeans in Iraq (and
      still fondly remembered by many older Mandaeans), most of the scholarship is in
      the German language. Many Mandaean texts still remain to be translated, and some
      are unknown to the West." The Mandaeans: An Unknown Religious Minority in the
      Near East, By Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley

      There haven't been any recent translations of any Mandaean literature. No one is
      qualified. And it's far from clear anyone ever was. Considering Mandaean
      hostility to Jesus for blabbing their secrets, and never ever under any
      circumstances whatsoever accepting converts, not like they are eager to help.
      Plenty of professional well educated Mandaeans, and none have translated
      anything. It's far from clear the few translations of the few documents we know
      of, almost all purchased before the Mandaeans knew what we were up to, were
      translated correctly at all or nearly complete. And, due to the persecutions
      over the centuries, particularly the last few centuries, the Mandaean
      priesthood, with all the knowledge has been decimated.

      Particularly condemning is how the next saying in Thomas, is also fundamental to
      the Mandaeans, and also from Ezekiel, and also about those Trees in Paradise,
      and it's universally condisered as likely to be genuine as anything reported to
      be said by Jesus. Voted Red by the Jesus Seminar. And what's the difference?
      Both are in the Hebrew Bible, in Ezekiel. Could the difference be that Thomas 20
      is in the Christian Bible and Thomas 19 isn't?

      Not that all kinds of corruptions hasn't been introduced into even the oldest
      Mandaean writings like the Ginza Rba over two thousand years. Not that the Jesus
      of the Gospel of Thomas agreed 100% with John the Baptist anyway. But it gives
      context to most of the obscure non-Christian sayings in Thomas, and demonstrates
      a common source for Thomas 19's Five Trees, John the Baptist, 2000 years ago,
      (who got it from Ezekiel 12 and Genesis 2), not some second century Gnostics.

      Appendix (Mandaean Ginza Rba, Trees in Paradise excerpts):

      In a building which life buildeth,
      good trees flourish.
      fragrant is the perfume of the trees
      with the perfume of manda-d-hiia
      which pervadeth them.

      Except for six or seven nations,
      Fruit is set up on the Tree
      On the Tree fruit is set up
      And (other) trees gather together toward it.

      Toward it do the trees assemble,
      And a throne is set up for the Lord of Radiance
      For the Lord of Radiance a throne is set up
      And the Lord of Radiance sitteth thereon.
      To what shall they dedicate the wreath upon their heads and upon what shall they
      hang it? They dedicate it to the Tree of Radiance and hang it (thereon).

      and the Vine which is all Life and the great Tree which is all healings

      the name of the great First Palmtree be pronounced on thee

      the guardian 'uthras of the jordan will curse him and the Wellspring and
      Palmtree will curse him.

      Thou art the father of all the 'uthras, the Support which is all light, the Vine
      which is all Life and the great Tree which is all things.

      Praised be that great first Jordan in which the First Life was baptised. Praised
      be all jordans of living water: praised be the fruits, grapes and trees which
      stand by them.

      Well is it for him Who hath looked on that Tree! Bihram , who saw it, lived,
      shone, was cured and established And his name hath not died.

      Praised be the First Great Radiance and praised the Great First Light! Praised
      be the Wellspring and the great first Palm-Tree Praised be the mystic Tan(n)a
      which dwelleth in the great mystic First Wellspring. Praised be the great
      S'is'lam who sitteth on the bank of the Wellspring and Palm-tree; and the Vine
      which is all Life and the great Tree which is all healings.

      The name of the great mystic Wellspring is pronounced upon thee. The name of the
      great mystic First Palmtree is pronounced upon thee.

      And the strength of Light increased greatly, Was increased and established. A
      wreath they twisted into crowns (Of) myrtle leaves. And trees bore their burden

      A complete list of the parallels, with links is at...
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