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Re: Thomas and John

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  • apx0n
    Hi Cari, The burgeoning proto-orthodoxy, of ... Hmmm. Let s take a deeper dive on your comment about the letters of John. I agree with you to the extent
    Message 1 of 21 , Apr 8, 2004
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      Hi Cari,

      "The burgeoning proto-orthodoxy, of
      > course, wanted to lay claim to the work, dispelling any Gnostic
      > interpretation, and it eventually showed up in the Bible canon with
      > all kinds of support against "antichrists" and false teachers, etc.
      > in "letters" of John."
      >

      Hmmm. Let's take a deeper dive on your comment about the letters of
      John. I agree with you to the extent that somebody very loyal to the
      Gospel of John saw value in writing those letters to distinguish John
      from the gnostic movements of his day. But I've not seen those
      letters dated any later than 130-150 AD - and that's the VERY high
      end of the dating spectrum. So if we run with the points Pagels
      makes about the hostility John continued to encounter from many in
      the orthodox communities of the early and mid-Second century, those
      dates are rather interesting, no? I think you make the orthodox a
      bit too monolithic...

      Why not think of it this way: in the early second century the Gospel
      of John had its devoted followers, folks more or less on the fringe
      of what you term "burgeoning proto-orthodoxy". Some of them (those
      closest to that "orthodoxy") felt compelled to lobby for the Gospel's
      acceptance by those hostile to gnosticism. Yet for all their
      lobbying, it took decades for the Gospel to be embraced by orthodoxy
      with anything resembling unanimity. So instead of the big bad
      orthodox snatching up John and integrating it, a small minority had
      to win it tolerance (and ultimatley honor) over time.

      How to explain the vitriol that the letters express towards
      gnosticism? Welkl, have not heated words often followed the falling
      out of close intellectual (or spiritual) kin? My money says the guy
      who wrote the letters, maybe even the guy who completed the gospel as
      it has come down to us today, was only a generation or two removed
      from intellectual forebarers who would have been on common ground
      with the authors of Thomas. If nothing else, it would explain why a)
      the orthodox mainstream held them in suspicion, and b) they felt
      compelled to distinguish themselves from the gnostics with such
      aggression.

      > In the meantime, there is no reason why we can't discuss your
      > interest right here in the group. In view of limited source
      material
      > for the Gospel of Thomas, our group dialogue might at most offer
      > possibilities and conjecture, but it could prove to be engaging.
      > Josh, would you be interested in providing some passages you refer
      to
      > for comparison and group member comment? :-)


      Well, I'll give it a try...though I sorely wish I could propose such
      comparisons in the context of sound dating. Give me a few days, and
      I promise I'll cobble together a post on the matter.

      Much Easter grace (or gnosis) to all who are observing it :)

      Josh
    • Mike Leavitt
      Hello apx0n ... Good point, look at Origin and Clement, for instance. Clement apparently also used the Secret Gospel of Mark, yet virulently opposed the
      Message 2 of 21 , Apr 9, 2004
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        Hello apx0n

        On 04/08/04, you wrote:

        > How to explain the vitriol that the letters express towards
        > gnosticism? Well, have not heated words often followed the falling
        > out of close intellectual (or spiritual) kin? My money says the guy
        > who wrote the letters, maybe even the guy who completed the gospel
        > as it has come down to us today, was only a generation or two
        > removed from intellectual forebarers who would have been on common
        > ground with the authors of Thomas. If nothing else, it would explain
        > why a) the orthodox mainstream held them in suspicion, and b) they
        > felt compelled to distinguish themselves from the gnostics with such
        > aggression.

        Good point, look at Origin and Clement, for instance. Clement
        apparently also used the Secret Gospel of Mark, yet virulently
        opposed the Carpocratians. Those two were virtually gnostics within
        the orthodox fold, and both were fairly late, though I don't remember
        the dates.

        Regards
        --
        Mike Leavitt ac998@...
      • lady_caritas
        ... with ... etc. ... of ... the ... John ... Gospel ... Gospel s ... orthodoxy ... falling ... guy ... as ... a) ... Sorry if I was unclear, Josh. I don t
        Message 3 of 21 , Apr 10, 2004
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          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "apx0n" <apx0n@y...> wrote:
          > Hi Cari,
          >
          > "The burgeoning proto-orthodoxy, of
          > > course, wanted to lay claim to the work, dispelling any Gnostic
          > > interpretation, and it eventually showed up in the Bible canon
          with
          > > all kinds of support against "antichrists" and false teachers,
          etc.
          > > in "letters" of John."
          > >
          >
          > Hmmm. Let's take a deeper dive on your comment about the letters
          of
          > John. I agree with you to the extent that somebody very loyal to
          the
          > Gospel of John saw value in writing those letters to distinguish
          John
          > from the gnostic movements of his day. But I've not seen those
          > letters dated any later than 130-150 AD - and that's the VERY high
          > end of the dating spectrum. So if we run with the points Pagels
          > makes about the hostility John continued to encounter from many in
          > the orthodox communities of the early and mid-Second century, those
          > dates are rather interesting, no? I think you make the orthodox a
          > bit too monolithic...
          >
          > Why not think of it this way: in the early second century the
          Gospel
          > of John had its devoted followers, folks more or less on the fringe
          > of what you term "burgeoning proto-orthodoxy". Some of them (those
          > closest to that "orthodoxy") felt compelled to lobby for the
          Gospel's
          > acceptance by those hostile to gnosticism. Yet for all their
          > lobbying, it took decades for the Gospel to be embraced by
          orthodoxy
          > with anything resembling unanimity. So instead of the big bad
          > orthodox snatching up John and integrating it, a small minority had
          > to win it tolerance (and ultimatley honor) over time.
          >
          > How to explain the vitriol that the letters express towards
          > gnosticism? Welkl, have not heated words often followed the
          falling
          > out of close intellectual (or spiritual) kin? My money says the
          guy
          > who wrote the letters, maybe even the guy who completed the gospel
          as
          > it has come down to us today, was only a generation or two removed
          > from intellectual forebarers who would have been on common ground
          > with the authors of Thomas. If nothing else, it would explain why
          a)
          > the orthodox mainstream held them in suspicion, and b) they felt
          > compelled to distinguish themselves from the gnostics with such
          > aggression.


          Sorry if I was unclear, Josh. I don't use only the term "orthodoxy"
          in reference to the first and second century C.E., especially in
          a "big, bad" or monolithic sense. I used the term "proto-
          orthodoxy." The early Christian milieu was quite diverse. But we do
          see elements emerging within this early Christian fluid environment
          that were indeed, as you say, incorporated into a later orthodoxy.
          Irenaeus, for instance, considered the man, Jesus to be God manifest
          in human form, fully human and fully divine, through his
          interpretation (different from the Valentinians) of the book of John,
          which supplied him with a way to support his claim that the other
          gospels used by ordinary Christians didn't. Jesus in the other
          gospels was a "son" of God, a messiah; he bore a human role, a man
          with the power of the holy spirit to rule in God's kingdom. Later we
          see acceptance of this gospel into the canon coloring a divine
          interpretation of Jesus into the other gospels that most likely was
          not there originally. Hence we see the earlier disagreement of other
          Christians you mention who were not originally accepting of this
          gospel with this interpretation, in addition, as you said, to
          hostility toward heterodox sects who also used John. Irenaeus
          therefore also viewed other portrayals of Jesus as heresy, deviating
          from what he considered correct doctrine. 1 John emphasizes the man,
          Jesus, as God, possibly countering docetic portrayals, which could be
          useful in supporting later doctrine by including it as authoritative
          scripture in the Bible.

          This concept of correct doctrine was much easier to incorporate into
          a political structure than an interpretation valuing instead a path
          of self-knowledge (such as espoused by Thomas), which would be much
          harder to control and might even be considered dangerous without need
          for specific go-betweens to stipulate what would be considered
          a "correct" route. Another possibility I would imagine regarding the
          vitriol you mention might very well be due to control issues and
          emphasis for some on theological differences.

          The "falling out" of close intellectual or spiritual kinship is an
          interesting theory. I would suggest that intellectual kinship can be
          something quite different from a spiritual one. Also, shared
          scriptures and/or motifs don't always necessarily indicate a
          pneumatic connection. In the case of a possible spiritual kinship
          (even as Mike proposed regarding Clement or Origen), when
          specifically considering Gnostics, who emphasized Gnosis as salvific,
          why would there be a falling out? My feeling is that shared
          realization of and emphasis on Gnosis as salvific would surpass
          weight placed on theological differences, in spite of different
          expressions. Yet...




          > > In the meantime, there is no reason why we can't discuss your
          > > interest right here in the group. In view of limited source
          > material
          > > for the Gospel of Thomas, our group dialogue might at most offer
          > > possibilities and conjecture, but it could prove to be engaging.
          > > Josh, would you be interested in providing some passages you
          refer
          > to
          > > for comparison and group member comment? :-)
          >
          >
          > Well, I'll give it a try...though I sorely wish I could propose
          such
          > comparisons in the context of sound dating. Give me a few days,
          and
          > I promise I'll cobble together a post on the matter.
          >
          > Much Easter grace (or gnosis) to all who are observing it :)
          >
          > Josh



          Thanks, Josh. Take your time. Look forward to hearing from you.


          Cari
        • apx0n
          ... term orthodoxy ... do ... environment ... orthodoxy. ... manifest ... John, ... we ... was ... other ... deviating ... man, ... be ... authoritative ...
          Message 4 of 21 , Apr 12, 2004
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            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Sorry if I was unclear, Josh. I don't use only the
            term "orthodoxy"
            > in reference to the first and second century C.E., especially in
            > a "big, bad" or monolithic sense. I used the term "proto-
            > orthodoxy." The early Christian milieu was quite diverse. But we
            do
            > see elements emerging within this early Christian fluid
            environment
            > that were indeed, as you say, incorporated into a later
            orthodoxy.
            > Irenaeus, for instance, considered the man, Jesus to be God
            manifest
            > in human form, fully human and fully divine, through his
            > interpretation (different from the Valentinians) of the book of
            John,
            > which supplied him with a way to support his claim that the other
            > gospels used by ordinary Christians didn't. Jesus in the other
            > gospels was a "son" of God, a messiah; he bore a human role, a man
            > with the power of the holy spirit to rule in God's kingdom. Later
            we
            > see acceptance of this gospel into the canon coloring a divine
            > interpretation of Jesus into the other gospels that most likely
            was
            > not there originally. Hence we see the earlier disagreement of
            other
            > Christians you mention who were not originally accepting of this
            > gospel with this interpretation, in addition, as you said, to
            > hostility toward heterodox sects who also used John. Irenaeus
            > therefore also viewed other portrayals of Jesus as heresy,
            deviating
            > from what he considered correct doctrine. 1 John emphasizes the
            man,
            > Jesus, as God, possibly countering docetic portrayals, which could
            be
            > useful in supporting later doctrine by including it as
            authoritative
            > scripture in the Bible.
            ...
            ...
            >
            >
            >
            > Cari

            Hi Cari,

            First let me respond to what you say above - I'll try to keep my
            response focussed on a point raised by Pagels in Beyond Belief in
            pages 60-62. Therein, she is discussing the Gospel of
            John's "grudging acceptance" of Peter's primacy. She first
            states: "Matthew's gospel, like Mark's and Luke's, apparently
            reflects the view of the so-called Peter Christians - a group based
            in Rome." She then points to a number of differences in the Gospel
            of John that, she concludes, "suggest rivalry - but not necessarily
            opposition - between the Peter Christians and those whom John
            assumes to be his audience, the so-called Johannine Christians, who
            regard 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' as their spiritual mentor."

            This is the idea that I was trying (poorly) to convey in my last
            post: that a group of Christians, distinct from the Petran group,
            though not necessarily in conflict with it, already espoused c. 100-
            150 AD the primacy of the Johannine view of Christ's divinity.
            Pagels goes even further than this - she says on p. 44 that "The
            author whom we call John probably knew that he was not the first -
            and certainly not the only - Christian to believe that Jesus was
            somehow divine." She goes on to site the hymn from Phillipians 2 as
            evidence of Pauline (and general early Church) interest in Christ's
            divinity.

            Whether or not you extend such views to Paul, the other apostles, or
            their followers, its hard not to accept that Irenaeus was merely
            advocating (and perhaps a product of) an antique school of thought
            with deep roots in the Christian movement: a school that held Christ
            to be divine. That leaves plenty of room to speculate - as Pagels
            does - that until Irenaeus, such views of Christ were at best
            controversial, and quite possibly a minority teaching.


            Now, as promised, let me try to address what I've been told is the
            common ground between John and Thomas. In a way, our present
            discussion about Irenaeus is a good first step towards assessing the
            common ground of Thomas and John. Pagels is inclined to see John
            and Thomas a gospels in conflict - that's even the name of one of
            her chapters in Beyond Belief. Therein, she says "I have now come
            to see that John's gospel was written in the heat of controversy, to
            defend certain views of Jesus and to oppose others." (p. 34). Such
            a view fits seemlessly with her understanding of Irenaeus and his
            struggle to deliniate orthodox doctrine, excluding gnostic thought
            and texts.

            I just don't think it's that simple. I agree that the soteriologies
            of John and Thomas are in conflict - John clearly favors a
            soteriology of faith in Christ, as opposed to the Thomasine notion
            of self-knoweldge. However, if John was truly written to confront
            Thomas or a Thomasine school, I find it hard to understand why the
            two Gospels share so much ground with respect to the consequences of
            salvation. For does not John 15.15 echo Thomas 13: "I no longer
            call you servents, because a servent does not know his master's
            business. Instead, I call you friends, for everything that I have
            learned from my Father I have made known to you." John very
            purposefully introduces Jesus as the only one who has seen the
            Father. However, as Jesus concludes his ministry and speaks
            privately to the disciples, he tells them (14:7): "From now on, you
            do _know_ [my Father] and have seen him."

            In John, as in Thomas, the followers of Jesus acheive a profound
            state of knowledge of God, and come to share in God's light in a way
            that transcends the eschatological promises of the synoptic
            gospels. Though they differ with respect to means (faith vs.
            gnosis) Thomas and John appear to me to share an understanding of
            the Kingdom that is not present in the Synoptics. Koester sites
            Thomas 13, 19, 24, 38, 49, and 92 as the passages that parrallel
            John. 13, 19, and 24 are direcly addressing the RESULTS of
            following Christ's teachings. (see his introduction in Nag Hammadi)

            Interestingly, Koester suggests that the oldest version of Thomas
            probably contained primarily eschatological and wisdom sayings of
            Jesus. He says that "Wheras Q emphasized the eschatological
            expectation of the future coming of the Kingdom of God, The Gospel
            of Thomas, in its oldest form, stressed the findings of wisdom, or
            the Kingdom of the Father, in the knowledge of oneself, guided by
            the sayings of Jesus." He points out that John, like Thomas,
            emphasizes the findings of truth and knowledge through the words of
            Jesus Christ, himself being quite literally the Word.

            Really, I'm just engaging in a glass half empty vs. half full
            disagreement with Pagels - for each substantive agreement between
            Thomas and John there's a substantive disagreement. But I think
            it's unfair to see their disagreements in light of late second
            century controversies that were undoubtedly more heated than those
            at the time the two gospels took form.

            Please please pretty please...if you know of anything that goes
            further down the avenues Koester highlights, or if you want to do so
            yourself, ___post___ :-)

            Josh
          • Mike Leavitt
            Hello apx0n ... I think you have made some good points here on the similarities between John and Thomas, but as even you point out John is based on
            Message 5 of 21 , Apr 12, 2004
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              Hello apx0n

              On 04/12/04, you wrote:

              > First let me respond to what you say above - I'll try to keep my
              > response focussed on a point raised by Pagels in Beyond Belief in
              > pages 60-62. Therein, she is discussing the Gospel of
              > John's "grudging acceptance" of Peter's primacy. She first
              > states: "Matthew's gospel, like Mark's and Luke's, apparently
              > reflects the view of the so-called Peter Christians - a group based
              > in Rome." She then points to a number of differences in the Gospel
              > of John that, she concludes, "suggest rivalry - but not necessarily
              > opposition - between the Peter Christians and those whom John
              > assumes to be his audience, the so-called Johannine Christians, who
              > regard 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' as their spiritual mentor."
              >
              > This is the idea that I was trying (poorly) to convey in my last
              > post: that a group of Christians, distinct from the Petran group,
              > though not necessarily in conflict with it, already espoused c. 100-
              > 150 AD the primacy of the Johannine view of Christ's divinity.
              > Pagels goes even further than this - she says on p. 44 that "The
              > author whom we call John probably knew that he was not the first -
              > and certainly not the only - Christian to believe that Jesus was
              > somehow divine." She goes on to site the hymn from Phillipians 2 as
              > evidence of Pauline (and general early Church) interest in Christ's
              > divinity.
              >
              > Whether or not you extend such views to Paul, the other apostles, or
              > their followers, its hard not to accept that Irenaeus was merely
              > advocating (and perhaps a product of) an antique school of thought
              > with deep roots in the Christian movement: a school that held Christ
              > to be divine. That leaves plenty of room to speculate - as Pagels
              > does - that until Irenaeus, such views of Christ were at best
              > controversial, and quite possibly a minority teaching.
              >
              >
              > Now, as promised, let me try to address what I've been told is the
              > common ground between John and Thomas. In a way, our present
              > discussion about Irenaeus is a good first step towards assessing the
              > common ground of Thomas and John. Pagels is inclined to see John and
              > Thomas a gospels in conflict - that's even the name of one of her
              > chapters in Beyond Belief. Therein, she says "I have now come to see
              > that John's gospel was written in the heat of controversy, to defend
              > certain views of Jesus and to oppose others." (p. 34). Such a view
              > fits seemlessly with her understanding of Irenaeus and his struggle
              > to deliniate orthodox doctrine, excluding gnostic thought and texts.
              >
              > I just don't think it's that simple. I agree that the soteriologies
              > of John and Thomas are in conflict - John clearly favors a
              > soteriology of faith in Christ, as opposed to the Thomasine notion
              > of self-knoweldge. However, if John was truly written to confront
              > Thomas or a Thomasine school, I find it hard to understand why the
              > two Gospels share so much ground with respect to the consequences of
              > salvation. For does not John 15.15 echo Thomas 13: "I no longer call
              > you servents, because a servent does not know his master's business.
              > Instead, I call you friends, for everything that I have learned from
              > my Father I have made known to you." John very purposefully
              > introduces Jesus as the only one who has seen the Father. However,
              > as Jesus concludes his ministry and speaks privately to the
              > disciples, he tells them (14:7): "From now on, you do _know_ [my
              > Father] and have seen him."
              >
              > In John, as in Thomas, the followers of Jesus acheive a profound
              > state of knowledge of God, and come to share in God's light in a way
              > that transcends the eschatological promises of the synoptic gospels.
              > Though they differ with respect to means (faith vs. gnosis) Thomas
              > and John appear to me to share an understanding of the Kingdom that
              > is not present in the Synoptics. Koester sites Thomas 13, 19, 24,
              > 38, 49, and 92 as the passages that parrallel John. 13, 19, and 24
              > are direcly addressing the RESULTS of following Christ's teachings.
              > (see his introduction in Nag Hammadi)
              >
              > Interestingly, Koester suggests that the oldest version of Thomas
              > probably contained primarily eschatological and wisdom sayings of
              > Jesus. He says that "Wheras Q emphasized the eschatological
              > expectation of the future coming of the Kingdom of God, The Gospel
              > of Thomas, in its oldest form, stressed the findings of wisdom, or
              > the Kingdom of the Father, in the knowledge of oneself, guided by
              > the sayings of Jesus." He points out that John, like Thomas,
              > emphasizes the findings of truth and knowledge through the words of
              > Jesus Christ, himself being quite literally the Word.
              >
              > Really, I'm just engaging in a glass half empty vs. half full
              > disagreement with Pagels - for each substantive agreement between
              > Thomas and John there's a substantive disagreement. But I think
              > it's unfair to see their disagreements in light of late second
              > century controversies that were undoubtedly more heated than those
              > at the time the two gospels took form.
              >
              > Please please pretty please...if you know of anything that goes
              > further down the avenues Koester highlights, or if you want to do so
              > yourself, ___post___ :-)

              I think you have made some good points here on the similarities
              between John and Thomas, but as even you point out John is based on
              faith/pistis, while john is based on spiritual knowledge/gnosis, and
              this is a fundamental dichotomy between the Orthodox and the Gnostic
              position -- a fundamental difference basic to the Gnostic position.

              Regards
              --
              Mike Leavitt ac998@...
            • pmcvflag
              Hey Josh, hope you don t mind if I jump in on this conversation. I think you make some excellent observations, ones that I agree with in essence. There ARE,
              Message 6 of 21 , Apr 12, 2004
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                Hey Josh, hope you don't mind if I jump in on this conversation.

                I think you make some excellent observations, ones that I agree with
                in essence. There ARE, important parts of John that agree with
                Thomas, and there are a number of scholors who have pointed out some
                Gnostic tendencies in John as well (outside the previously mentioned
                fact that some Valentinians obviously saw Gnostic interperatations of
                John as perfectly valid.)

                While I think that Dr Pagels does us no favors by failing to deal
                with these similarities, I also think that in a way your point
                actually makes a good case for her arguement.

                Consider this for a moment... what would be the use of a dialogue
                attempting to discredit a movement that was too alien to present a
                danger? Augustine dedicates time to polemics against the Manichaeans
                because he knows there is a value to the movement that attracts a
                certain crowd... because he agrees with some of the ideas of the
                movement and uses them in his own beliefs.... because he WAS a
                Manichaean. John uses Gnostic terms, that has long been understood
                even prior to Pagels' recent work, and it is this that has led to the
                debate over whether it is a Gnostic work, or one that was
                specifically written to fight the Gnostic threat.

                I would suggest that the reality of the situation is not so black and
                white. The Testemony of Truth also attempts to discredit some Gnostic
                ideas and movements, but it is also heavily influenced by those very
                same movements, so I don't think it is an all or nothing proposition.
                Instead of seeing dispute between a right and left, I think what we
                actually see is a rainbow of beliefs disagreeing on specifics, which
                makes it easier for us to concentrate on the opposite ends of the
                spectrum while ignoring the shades in between. This was not simply
                some war of ideas between Gnostics and "Orthodoxy" (which didn't even
                exist).

                The difference of soteriological emphasis would seem the most prime
                amongst people who otherwised agreed with each other, and they would
                be right in that disagreement. It would not matter if two people had
                the same goal if thier means of attaining that goal was
                irreconcilable.

                PMCV
                ___________________________
                >>First let me respond to what you say above - I'll try to keep my
                response focussed on a point raised by Pagels in Beyond Belief in
                pages 60-62. Therein, she is discussing the Gospel of
                John's "grudging acceptance" of Peter's primacy. She first
                states: "Matthew's gospel, like Mark's and Luke's, apparently
                reflects the view of the so-called Peter Christians - a group based
                in Rome." She then points to a number of differences in the Gospel
                of John that, she concludes, "suggest rivalry - but not necessarily
                opposition - between the Peter Christians and those whom John
                assumes to be his audience, the so-called Johannine Christians, who
                regard 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' as their spiritual mentor."

                This is the idea that I was trying (poorly) to convey in my last
                post: that a group of Christians, distinct from the Petran group,
                though not necessarily in conflict with it, already espoused c. 100-
                150 AD the primacy of the Johannine view of Christ's divinity.
                Pagels goes even further than this - she says on p. 44 that "The
                author whom we call John probably knew that he was not the first -
                and certainly not the only - Christian to believe that Jesus was
                somehow divine." She goes on to site the hymn from Phillipians 2 as
                evidence of Pauline (and general early Church) interest in Christ's
                divinity.

                Whether or not you extend such views to Paul, the other apostles, or
                their followers, its hard not to accept that Irenaeus was merely
                advocating (and perhaps a product of) an antique school of thought
                with deep roots in the Christian movement: a school that held Christ
                to be divine. That leaves plenty of room to speculate - as Pagels
                does - that until Irenaeus, such views of Christ were at best
                controversial, and quite possibly a minority teaching.


                Now, as promised, let me try to address what I've been told is the
                common ground between John and Thomas. In a way, our present
                discussion about Irenaeus is a good first step towards assessing the
                common ground of Thomas and John. Pagels is inclined to see John
                and Thomas a gospels in conflict - that's even the name of one of
                her chapters in Beyond Belief. Therein, she says "I have now come
                to see that John's gospel was written in the heat of controversy, to
                defend certain views of Jesus and to oppose others." (p. 34). Such
                a view fits seemlessly with her understanding of Irenaeus and his
                struggle to deliniate orthodox doctrine, excluding gnostic thought
                and texts.

                I just don't think it's that simple. I agree that the soteriologies
                of John and Thomas are in conflict - John clearly favors a
                soteriology of faith in Christ, as opposed to the Thomasine notion
                of self-knoweldge. However, if John was truly written to confront
                Thomas or a Thomasine school, I find it hard to understand why the
                two Gospels share so much ground with respect to the consequences of
                salvation. For does not John 15.15 echo Thomas 13: "I no longer
                call you servents, because a servent does not know his master's
                business. Instead, I call you friends, for everything that I have
                learned from my Father I have made known to you." John very
                purposefully introduces Jesus as the only one who has seen the
                Father. However, as Jesus concludes his ministry and speaks
                privately to the disciples, he tells them (14:7): "From now on, you
                do _know_ [my Father] and have seen him."

                In John, as in Thomas, the followers of Jesus acheive a profound
                state of knowledge of God, and come to share in God's light in a way
                that transcends the eschatological promises of the synoptic
                gospels. Though they differ with respect to means (faith vs.
                gnosis) Thomas and John appear to me to share an understanding of
                the Kingdom that is not present in the Synoptics. Koester sites
                Thomas 13, 19, 24, 38, 49, and 92 as the passages that parrallel
                John. 13, 19, and 24 are direcly addressing the RESULTS of
                following Christ's teachings. (see his introduction in Nag Hammadi)

                Interestingly, Koester suggests that the oldest version of Thomas
                probably contained primarily eschatological and wisdom sayings of
                Jesus. He says that "Wheras Q emphasized the eschatological
                expectation of the future coming of the Kingdom of God, The Gospel
                of Thomas, in its oldest form, stressed the findings of wisdom, or
                the Kingdom of the Father, in the knowledge of oneself, guided by
                the sayings of Jesus." He points out that John, like Thomas,
                emphasizes the findings of truth and knowledge through the words of
                Jesus Christ, himself being quite literally the Word.

                Really, I'm just engaging in a glass half empty vs. half full
                disagreement with Pagels - for each substantive agreement between
                Thomas and John there's a substantive disagreement. But I think
                it's unfair to see their disagreements in light of late second
                century controversies that were undoubtedly more heated than those
                at the time the two gospels took form.

                Please please pretty please...if you know of anything that goes
                further down the avenues Koester highlights, or if you want to do so
                yourself, ___post___ :-)<<<

                Josh
              • lady_caritas
                ... would ... had ... PMCV, in light of our discussion, as an example, would you say that Irenaeus and Valentinus would have had the same goal? In another
                Message 7 of 21 , Apr 13, 2004
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                  --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                  >
                  > The difference of soteriological emphasis would seem the most prime
                  > amongst people who otherwised agreed with each other, and they
                  would
                  > be right in that disagreement. It would not matter if two people
                  had
                  > the same goal if thier means of attaining that goal was
                  > irreconcilable.
                  >


                  PMCV, in light of our discussion, as an example, would you say that
                  Irenaeus and Valentinus would have had the same goal? In another
                  example you give, Augustine was once a Manichaean, but he was an
                  Auditor, not one of the Elect. Would his eventual goal have been the
                  same as the Manichaean Elect? IOW, would the people in these
                  examples be envisioning the same goal, with the difference mainly
                  being soteriological emphasis? (I won't include the Testimony of
                  Truth illustration because I believe the soteriological emphasis was
                  probably still Gnosis.) Or could the difference in soteriological
                  emphasis indicate different goals?

                  Basically, how would you describe their goal(s)?

                  Thanks.

                  Cari
                • apx0n
                  ... Absolutely - the soteriologies of the two texts are at odds...as we have the texts today. But that s what started me down this thread - the possibility
                  Message 8 of 21 , Apr 13, 2004
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                    --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                    > Hello apx0n
                    >
                    >
                    > I think you have made some good points here on the similarities
                    > between John and Thomas, but as even you point out John is based on
                    > faith/pistis, while john is based on spiritual knowledge/gnosis, and
                    > this is a fundamental dichotomy between the Orthodox and the Gnostic
                    > position -- a fundamental difference basic to the Gnostic position.
                    >
                    > Regards
                    > --
                    > Mike Leavitt ac998@l...


                    Absolutely - the soteriologies of the two texts are at odds...as we
                    have the texts today. But that's what started me down this thread -
                    the possibility that Thomas, as we have it, is substantively
                    different from the text (and by extension its tradition) as it would
                    have been pre-100 AD.

                    My speculation is that, given the two gospels' striking reliance on a
                    shared 1st century sayings source other than Q, and given their
                    similarities in eschatology, the two could stem from a common circle
                    of first century Christian teachers and disciples. This, of course,
                    requires that we assign the conflicting soteriologies to a later
                    period - say, the early second century, the time in which the
                    Johannine group more or less goes on the anti-gnostic attack via the
                    Johannine epistles.

                    Just speculating...I have not a lick of argument beyond what
                    Koester's introduction to Thomas supplies me. Still - quite a
                    striking idea if it could be backed up.

                    Josh
                  • Mike Leavitt
                    Hello apx0n ... And then it may well have been the other way round, and that John, not Thomas was modified. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
                    Message 9 of 21 , Apr 13, 2004
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                      Hello apx0n

                      On 04/13/04, you wrote:

                      > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mike Leavitt <ac998@l...> wrote:
                      >> Hello apx0n
                      >>
                      >>
                      >> I think you have made some good points here on the similarities
                      >> between John and Thomas, but as even you point out John is based on
                      >> faith/pistis, while john is based on spiritual knowledge/gnosis,
                      >> and this is a fundamental dichotomy between the Orthodox and the
                      >> Gnostic position -- a fundamental difference basic to the Gnostic
                      >> position.
                      >>
                      >> Regards
                      >> --
                      >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
                      >
                      >
                      > Absolutely - the soteriologies of the two texts are at odds...as we
                      > have the texts today. But that's what started me down this thread -
                      > the possibility that Thomas, as we have it, is substantively
                      > different from the text (and by extension its tradition) as it would
                      > have been pre-100 AD.
                      >
                      > My speculation is that, given the two gospels' striking reliance on
                      > a shared 1st century sayings source other than Q, and given their
                      > similarities in eschatology, the two could stem from a common circle
                      > of first century Christian teachers and disciples. This, of course,
                      > requires that we assign the conflicting soteriologies to a later
                      > period - say, the early second century, the time in which the
                      > Johannine group more or less goes on the anti-gnostic attack via the
                      > Johannine epistles.
                      >
                      > Just speculating...I have not a lick of argument beyond what
                      > Koester's introduction to Thomas supplies me. Still - quite a
                      > striking idea if it could be backed up.
                      >
                      > Josh

                      And then it may well have been the other way round, and that John, not
                      Thomas was modified.

                      Regards
                      --
                      Mike Leavitt ac998@...
                    • lady_caritas
                      ... Well again, that depends on the interpretation. I would imagine that today there are neo-Valentinians who, as their predecessors, would use Gnostic
                      Message 10 of 21 , Apr 13, 2004
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                        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "apx0n" <apx0n@y...> wrote:

                        > Absolutely - the soteriologies of the two texts are at odds...as we
                        > have the texts today.


                        Well again, that depends on the interpretation. I would imagine that
                        today there are neo-Valentinians who, as their predecessors, would
                        use Gnostic interpretations of Thomas, John and some of Paul's
                        letters. As has been mentioned, Pagels' has written books discussing
                        Valentinian exegesis of Paul and John. And the particular passages
                        she talks about coincide directly to those found in the modern
                        versions of these works. These scriptures can be read on various
                        levels; Pagels provides both psychic and pneumatic exegesis, based on
                        writings of Valentinian teachers.




                        > But that's what started me down this thread -
                        > the possibility that Thomas, as we have it, is substantively
                        > different from the text (and by extension its tradition) as it
                        would
                        > have been pre-100 AD.
                        >
                        > My speculation is that, given the two gospels' striking reliance on
                        a
                        > shared 1st century sayings source other than Q, and given their
                        > similarities in eschatology, the two could stem from a common
                        circle
                        > of first century Christian teachers and disciples. This, of
                        course,
                        > requires that we assign the conflicting soteriologies to a later
                        > period - say, the early second century, the time in which the
                        > Johannine group more or less goes on the anti-gnostic attack via
                        the
                        > Johannine epistles.
                        >
                        > Just speculating...I have not a lick of argument beyond what
                        > Koester's introduction to Thomas supplies me. Still - quite a
                        > striking idea if it could be backed up.


                        I was wondering, Josh, how you might envision this first century
                        common circle. Would that be "a school that held Christ to be
                        divine," as you mention in your post #9384? Christ as divine can
                        take on different meanings. For a Gnostic, a docetic or adoptionist
                        portrayal of Christ is not at all the same as Jesus Christ being
                        God. And, how would Thomas be "substantively different" if a pre-100
                        C.E. version indeed existed? (Bentley Layton's introduction places
                        the date of composition before A.D. ca. 200. He says that one
                        qualified expert estimated that GTh was composed in the first century
                        A.D., but many others assign it to around the middle of the second
                        century.)

                        From Helmut Koester's introduction to _The Gospel of Thomas_ in
                        Robinson's _The Nag Hammadi Library_ (pages 125-6) ~
                        "Neither the Coptic translation nor the Greek fragments seem to have
                        preserved this gospel in its oldest form. Even the comparison of the
                        extant Coptic and Greek texts demonstrates that the text was subject
                        to change in the process of transmission. The oldest form most
                        likely contained wisdom sayings and eschatological sayings of Jesus,
                        including a number of parables. The sayings of this type, even those
                        which have no parallels in the gospels of the New Testament
                        (especially the parable 97 and 98), may belong to the oldest strata
                        of the tradition. Whereas `Q' emphasized the eschatological
                        expectation of the future coming of the `Kingdom of God,' _The Gospel
                        of Thomas_ in its oldest form, stressed the finding of wisdom, or of
                        the `Kingdom of the Father,' in the knowledge (_gnosis_) of oneself
                        (cf. saying 3), guided by the sayings of Jesus. This understanding
                        of salvation is similar to that expressed in many passages of the
                        Gospel of John in which the finding of truth and life is bound to the
                        words of Jesus (Jn 6:63; 8:51). The first saying of the _The Gospel
                        of Thomas_ states this programmatically: the interpretation of the
                        sayings is identical with the finding of eternal life.

                        "In the further history and growth of the _The Gospel of Thomas_,
                        this wisdom interpretation of the sayings of Jesus is more clearly
                        developed under the influence of Gnostic theology, though it is not
                        possible to ascribe the work to any particular Gnostic school or
                        sect."

                        Koester might be inferring at least a proto-Gnostic reading of this
                        potential older version of Thomas (not really substantively
                        different), which could easily relate to a Gnostic exegesis of John.


                        Cari
                      • pmcvflag
                        Lady Cari.... ... Irenaeus and Valentinus would have had the same goal? In another example you give, Augustine was once a Manichaean, but he was an Auditor,
                        Message 11 of 21 , Apr 13, 2004
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                          Lady Cari....

                          >>>PMCV, in light of our discussion, as an example, would you say that
                          Irenaeus and Valentinus would have had the same goal? In another
                          example you give, Augustine was once a Manichaean, but he was an
                          Auditor, not one of the Elect. Would his eventual goal have been the
                          same as the Manichaean Elect? IOW, would the people in these
                          examples be envisioning the same goal, with the difference mainly
                          being soteriological emphasis? (I won't include the Testimony of
                          Truth illustration because I believe the soteriological emphasis was
                          probably still Gnosis.) Or could the difference in soteriological
                          emphasis indicate different goals?<<<

                          Good call, I was too vague with the term "goals". The term "goal"
                          here is contextually variable. For instance, we could compare
                          Basilides notion of the Source with that of the Manichaeans. If we
                          assume that Basilides seeks to rejoin that source (something that he
                          doesn't explicitely state) then we could say that the Manichaeans and
                          the Basilidians have the same goal, disolution into the source. On
                          the other hand, for Basilides the beginning is found in an absolute
                          infinite singualrity, where as in Manicaeism the source is an
                          absolute duality... so we can say that they don't have the same goal
                          at all.

                          Irenaeus and Valentinus obviously have goals that would be difficult
                          to compare in such a way. In plain language I guess we could say that
                          they both have the same goal of "salvation", but they are not the
                          same in either the means NOR the form... at least not so far as I can
                          see.

                          I think this difference is more difficult to outline in the John vs
                          Thomas debate, especially when we are talking about John as it is
                          most often translated in our English Bibles. I have seen translation
                          of passages that drop convention to striking effect. To me, the exact
                          effect of salvation seems less explicit in John, but the hints given
                          for the cosmology (the existance of the Logos as a being) and some of
                          the lingo used seems to imply that the effect of salvation could be
                          reconciled with Gnostic beliefs (or at least interperated that way as
                          opposed to the more literal heaven with pearly gates
                          of "orthodoxy")... this is what I mean by the "goal" in this case.
                          John does not seem to fight the Gnostics on this concept the way he
                          does on the concept of soteriology. Still, we can't be sure and I am
                          only giving theorhetic speculations here. In fact, I would also
                          caution against taking such similarities to mean TOO much (as I would
                          when examining people like Clement as compared to Gnosticism)

                          PMCV
                        • lady_caritas
                          ... he ... and ... goal ... difficult ... that ... can ... translation ... exact ... given ... of ... as ... am ... would ... Thanks for the clarification,
                          Message 12 of 21 , Apr 14, 2004
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                            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Good call, I was too vague with the term "goals". The term "goal"
                            > here is contextually variable. For instance, we could compare
                            > Basilides notion of the Source with that of the Manichaeans. If we
                            > assume that Basilides seeks to rejoin that source (something that
                            he
                            > doesn't explicitely state) then we could say that the Manichaeans
                            and
                            > the Basilidians have the same goal, disolution into the source. On
                            > the other hand, for Basilides the beginning is found in an absolute
                            > infinite singualrity, where as in Manicaeism the source is an
                            > absolute duality... so we can say that they don't have the same
                            goal
                            > at all.
                            >
                            > Irenaeus and Valentinus obviously have goals that would be
                            difficult
                            > to compare in such a way. In plain language I guess we could say
                            that
                            > they both have the same goal of "salvation", but they are not the
                            > same in either the means NOR the form... at least not so far as I
                            can
                            > see.
                            >
                            > I think this difference is more difficult to outline in the John vs
                            > Thomas debate, especially when we are talking about John as it is
                            > most often translated in our English Bibles. I have seen
                            translation
                            > of passages that drop convention to striking effect. To me, the
                            exact
                            > effect of salvation seems less explicit in John, but the hints
                            given
                            > for the cosmology (the existance of the Logos as a being) and some
                            of
                            > the lingo used seems to imply that the effect of salvation could be
                            > reconciled with Gnostic beliefs (or at least interperated that way
                            as
                            > opposed to the more literal heaven with pearly gates
                            > of "orthodoxy")... this is what I mean by the "goal" in this case.
                            > John does not seem to fight the Gnostics on this concept the way he
                            > does on the concept of soteriology. Still, we can't be sure and I
                            am
                            > only giving theorhetic speculations here. In fact, I would also
                            > caution against taking such similarities to mean TOO much (as I
                            would
                            > when examining people like Clement as compared to Gnosticism)
                            >
                            > PMCV


                            Thanks for the clarification, PMCV. You bring up an interesting
                            point. This discussion seems to be focusing on a possible early
                            version of Thomas in comparison to John. However, as Mike has
                            suggested, we also could speculate on possible different ancient
                            versions of John that didn't survive intact.

                            In any case, the Valentinians did not see just one possible
                            interpretation of John. They were aware of hylic, psychic, and
                            pneumatic readings of the same text. Regarding soteriology you
                            mention, PMCV, I'll share a section Pagels wrote about "Psychic
                            salvation and gospel history" in _The Johannine Gospel in Gnostic
                            Exegesis_, since I'm aware some members have had difficulty finding
                            copies of this book for purchase. Here we see Pagels describing a
                            different emphasis from that in her most recent book.
                            ____________

                            "The psychics' error, however, is not only that they reify
                            the 'image' of the creator. In the same way they also reify the
                            figure of Jesus Christ and the events narrated of him in, for
                            example, the fourth gospel. The Valentinians see the same error
                            involved in psychic exegesis. The Valentinians, of course, in common
                            with all Christians, agree that the gospel cannot be read _as
                            revelation_ so long as it is read only literally. Literal (or in
                            their terms, "hylic") exegesis, would read it simply as the
                            historical account of the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth. But,
                            the Valentinians add, in distinction from `the majority,' neither is
                            the gospel to be interpreted only `psychically,' that is, as
                            revelation actually given _in_ and _through_ historical events. Such
                            a reading, in their view, reifies and absolutizes the _events
                            themselves_ as being the actual revelation of the demiurge given `in
                            history.' What the psychics fail to apprehend is that the events of
                            the oikonomia, such as Jesus' birth and death, are
                            themselves `images.' Psychic Christians, reifying these, insist that
                            salvation comes to them only _because_ these events actually
                            occurred, only because the son of the demiurge actually entered into
                            human history. They fail to realize that these events can only be
                            understood `spiritually' as signs and symbols of a spiritual process
                            that is not bound to specific time and place.

                            "This does not mean that the Valentinians deny the historical
                            actuality of the events narrated in John. On the contrary, Heracleon
                            apparently assumes that the events _did_ happen historically. Yet
                            their historical actuality remains irrelevant and meaningless apart
                            from the higher levels of exegesis. Indeed, the `hylic level' of
                            historical narration can be worse than irrelevant. Improperly
                            understood, it can serve as an obstacle to understanding, since its
                            historical form allows the possibility of reading the account on the
                            historical level alone, and thus reading it in `error and ignorance.'

                            "The psychics, although they are not literalists, nevertheless
                            consider the historical actuality of the events to be the criterion
                            of the validity of their preaching. So Justin, for example, warns
                            against reading the gospels except as witnesses to the events
                            themselves. The Valentinians insist, on the contrary, that only when
                            all the objects, events, and persons described in John are
                            interpreted as `images of things in the pleroma,' that is, symbols of
                            a reality that transcends space, time, and nomos, is the gospel
                            read `in spirit and in truth.' Only by such an exegetical process
                            does the written _become_ revelation for the reader."
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