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Re: [Gnosticism2] Sexism?

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  • James Lambert
    ... Davies research: James writes: Super! Great post. Finally I see you turning away from the experts and actually examining the material itself. Sure, at the
    Message 1 of 7 , May 23, 2003
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
      > Reply to James Lambert's post #7819:
      > >>Steven Davies' arguments for 114 being a late addition are at the
      following link:
      > http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/appendix.htm
      > I have pasted the core of the argument below:
      > . . . Can any of these arguments be addressed?<<

      > Well, ANY argument can be addressed, James. Let's see what we can do with
      Davies' research:

      James writes:
      Super! Great post. Finally I see you turning away from the experts and
      actually examining the material itself. Sure, at the end of the post you are
      back to quoting experts, but of course there is nothing wrong with doing so
      in conjunction with you own studies of the matter. Well balanced, all in

      One thing which must be mentioned before we begin. The primary reason that
      Logion 114 is considered a late addition to the text is simply because it is
      the last saying. If someone wanted to add something to an existing document
      their only option, other than rewriting the entire document, is to tack on
      something at the end of the text. If you are going to question the validity
      of a piece of text, the final section of the document is always an easy

      > >>a. The saying begins with a disciple, Simon Peter, addressing the other
      disciples. This literary device is otherwise never used by Thomas.<<
      > Of course, that doesn't mean that it couldn't have been used intentionally
      in that passage. For instance, Shakespeare often used rhymed couplets (in
      otherwise unrhymed verse) to mark the end of scenes and acts. The actual
      passage reads, "Simon Peter said to them...," and doesn't have him
      specifically addressing the other disciples. Since Jesus responded to the
      comment, we can assume that he was also present among the group, making such
      an exchange not so different from the others.

      James writes:
      Excellent point! Tell you what, I'll go ahead on intersperse my own comments
      to Davies' post with your own. As you know, I take the view that the text
      should be studied in reverse order, which effectively makes this the first

      Here we have Simon Peter attempting to impose his will on the group. Jesus
      then soundly puts him in his place. After this event Peter is not
      in a position to question Mary's presence. His wings have been effectively
      clipped. And so Peter is no longer depicted in the document
      as asserting his authority before the other disciples.

      > >>b. The idea of one "guided" by Jesus occurs only here.<<
      > Since Davies isn't arguing for the term "guided" occurring only in this
      particular instance, I would offer that a similar "idea" is conveyed in
      Logion 13 when Jesus takes Thomas aside for private instruction:
      > . . . And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When
      Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
      > Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you
      will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and
      devour you."

      James writes:
      Good answer.

      > >>c. In Thomas D we find the phrase "Kingdom of the Father" appearing in
      96, 97, 98, 99, 113. Only in 114 is "Kingdom of Heaven" used.<<
      > Actually, #97 only contains the word "kingdom."

      James writes:
      Here you falter a bit. It is important to make a distinction between terms
      added to the text because the translators believed that they were
      accidentally omitted and terms added to the text based on the reconstruction
      of a damaged document. In this case we have a damaged document. The text
      clearly has 'Kingdom of the F.' The damaged area is of the proper size if
      one assumes that the missing letters spell the rest of 'father' and 'is,' in
      Coptic, of course. As this documents has only three sorts of kingdom
      sayings, 'kingdom,' kingdom of the father,' and 'kingdom of heaven' there is
      little reason to doubt this reconstruction of the text.

      > In fact, #113 contains both "kingdom" AND "father's kingdom."

      James writes:
      Interesting point. It can be read that the disciples are asking one question
      while Jesus is answering another.

      > Other instances in the book where "kingdom" can be found without the
      "fatherly" modifier are in logia 3, 22, 27, 46, 49, 82, 107, and 109. In
      fact, there are two more that referred to "father's kingdom" in sayings 57
      and 76.

      > By focusing on only the last of four "chapters" (the veracity of which is
      not established), the author neglects to mention two occasions where the
      notion of "kingdom of heaven" was found besides #114:
      > The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us what Heaven's kingdom is like.."
      > Jesus said, "Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs Heaven's
      kingdom." [#54]
      > The implication is that this "heavenly" expression is out of place in the
      Gospel of Thomas, but by focusing on one "chapter" as Davies did, one could
      conclude that #57 is the result of a later redaction since the phrase
      "father's kingdom" was used ONLY ONCE in what he denotes as chapter B.
      Basically, it's a poorly reasoned exaggeration.

      James writes:
      Yes, my view exactly. Also as there are only two other instances of "Kingdom
      of Heaven" being used in the document, at numbers 20 and 54, perhaps
      "Kingdom of Heaven" has some special significance to set it apart from
      "Kingdom of the Father," and Mary, as the guided, is being specifically
      directed towards these sayings.

      > >>d. Only in 114 do we hear anything like the idea that a person should
      "become a living spirit."<<
      > Assuming that this IS a Gnostic work, all the more reason to end on a note
      that emphasizes our quest to reunite with the Spirit. See the commentary

      James writes:
      Surely you can make an argument not dependant on such an assumption.

      It simply needs to be pointed out that there are many terms within the text
      which occur only once. 'Go to Jacob the Just' is but a single example.

      > >>e. Finally, this logion is in direct contradiction to 22. There the male
      should become female, the female become male and neither should be any
      longer male or female. Here, in 114 the status "male" is positively valued
      and the status "female" is negatively valued. Indeed, the woman should
      become male.<<
      > Actually, I don't see it as being in "direct contradiction" with #22, and
      it is far from denoting a "positive" male value as we might interpret in a
      modern sexist context.

      James writes:
      Notice how 114 leads us directly to 22. 21 is the next saying after 22
      if we continue following a reverse order throughout the document. With
      that in mind, let's look at 21.

      21) Mary said to Jesus, "Whom are Your disciples like?"
      He said, "They are like children ...

      Mary is directly engaging Jesus. This is the only saying which opens
      with Jesus being addressed by a named individual. Except perhaps for
      114 which opens with Peter addressing either Jesus or the group as a

      So we have come full circle. Not only does 114 function as an integral
      piece of the collection, it also serves as the portal through which the
      document as a whole must be approached.

      > From Peter Kirby's site, here are some opinions on
      the interpretation of #114:
      > (http://www.gospelthomas.com/gospelthomas114.html)


      > Marvin Meyer writes: ". Often the transformation of the female into the
      male involves the transformation of all that is earthly, perishable,
      passive, and sense-perceptible into what is heavenly, imperishable, active,
      and rational. In short, what is connected with the earth Mother is to be
      transformed into what is connected with the sky Father. If this is a correct
      interpretation of Gospel of Thomas saying 114, then the saying is intended
      to be a statement of liberation, although the specific use of gender
      categories may be shocking to modern sensitivities." (The Gospel of Thomas:
      The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 109)
      > Why should we view this "last" saying with a less-than-allegorical
      appreciation than we have for the rest of the sayings?

      Here I noticed something very interesting. You chose to quote only part of
      what Marvin Meyer wrote, editing out the following:

      Marvin Meyer writes: The transformation of the female into the male is
      discussed extensively in ancient literature (the transformation of the male
      into the female is also discussed, in the context of the acts of
      self-castration within the mysteries of the Great Mother and Attis). A few
      ancient accounts, in authors like Ovid and Phlegon of Tralles, communicate
      fantastic stories of women sprouting male genitals and thus becoming male,
      but most of the accounts use the gender categories in a metaphorical sense.

      You apparently have no interest in examining the material basis behind the
      saying, but rather you choose to acknowledge only its metaphorical aspect.

      James Lambert
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