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1376[gthomas] Re: Pre or post-Easter Jesus

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  • Stevan Davies
    Aug 7, 1999
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      > At 09:39 AM 8/6/99 , Mark wrote:
      >
      > >It seems to me that there are three options:
      > >(1). that Thomas is depicting a pre-Easter Jesus
      > >(2). that Thomas is depicting a post-Easter Jesus.
      > >(3). that Thomas is ambivalent, unclear about or uninterested in the
      > >distinction between pre and post-Easter Jesus.

      > >The most plausible option is thus some form of (3): the author either did
      > >not
      > >care or did not think about it or was deliberately ambiguous.

      I'd suggest option (4), that the question presupposes a worldview
      absent from Thomas and therefore it is meaningless. For an example
      of another meaningless question: "Is it the nirmanakaya,
      sambogakaya, or dharmakaya of Jesus who speaks in the Gospel of
      Thomas?" Such a question presupposes that Thomas is a text of
      Mahayana Buddhism, which it isn't. The question in question
      presupposes that Thomas is a text of resurrection-oriented
      Christianity, which it isn't. One cannot say of the Buddhist
      question that "Thomas is ambivalent, unclear about or uninterested
      in the distinction between nirmanakaya and sambogakaya Jesus,"
      for all of those options presuppose that Thomas is familiar with the
      terms. Rather, Thomas' standing in regard to the question is not
      a characteristic of Thomas in any way.

      > > As Koester
      > >says,Thomas is apparently indifferent to story-time.

      Again, I think this sort of statement is meaningless. Does it mean
      anything to say that the sayings of Lao Tzu, or Proverbs, are
      "indifferent to story-time?" Seems to me the same as if to say
      that the texts are "indifferent to the taxonomy of beetles."

      In both cases something absent from the text seems to be taken
      to be a definitive characteristic of the text. I suppose one can say
      "we have texts that concern themselves with story-time leading
      to an easter post-easter differentiation and Thomas isn't one of
      them" but that doesn't amount to much.

      > The fundamental theological tendency of the gospel is, as HK rightly notes,
      > "the view that the Jesus
      > who spoke these words was and is the Living One, and thus gives life
      > through his words" (quoted from "Gnomai Diaphorai", p. 139).
      >
      Joe Baxter
      > I am not sure if I agree with Koester's interpretation of the Living One
      > as one external being, i.e. Jesus.
      > IMO the concept may be very similar to Atman, or Self, i.e., that the
      > Living One is actually our self beyond ego. Being. Thus, we have the
      > explanation of this passage as " Does not Jesus say, 'Whoever finds himself
      > is superior to the world?' " Thus, one who finds himself is the Living One.

      I agree with Joe here. Indeed, there are a few question/answer
      segments of Thomas where disciples are "seeking Jesus" and are
      told rather to direct their efforts to their own present
      circumstances. That "Jesus gives life" is not what Thomas is
      about but, rather, it is about individuals finding life for themselves.
      "The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon." Thomas' sayings
      are the finger but Koester et al. seem to think them the moon.

      >> (1.)
      > 28. Jesus said, "I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared
      > to them in the flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them
      > thirsty. And My soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are
      > blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the
      > world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they
      > are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent."
      >
      > Funk and Hoover in their 5G say of this passage
      >
      > "Yeshu depicts himself as a redeemer who descends to earth and ascends to
      > heaven. . . . However, . . .there are specifically gnostic twists. The
      > spiritual state of humanity . . . is stupefied with passion and
      > drunkenness, blind to any spiritual understanding. The savior comes to
      > awaken such persons to their true origins. This complex . . . is a summary
      > version of gnostic redeemer myths that depict the human condition and the
      > possibility for salvation."

      There is nothing that can be done, so far as I can tell, about this
      sort of incompetence. NOWHERE in 28 is there any reference to
      "passion." NOWHERE in 28 is there any reference to "awakening" much
      less to "persons' true origins." This stuff just isn't in there. Why
      do they say it is? Because you have to have it in there in order to
      have it be a "summary version of gnostic redeemer motifs." This is
      reasoning on the abysmal level of John Meier. In fact, if F and H had
      bothered to read #28 they would discover that people "come into the
      world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty." Thus
      the desideratum is something in the world to be found there. It is
      not something folks arrive into the world with but don't know they
      have, as it would be for gnosticism.

      > (2.)
      > 12. The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that You will depart from us. Who
      > is to be our leader?"
      >
      > Jesus said to them, "Wherever you are, you are to go to James the
      > righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
      >
      >
      > I understand that this passage is sometimes taken as a creation of James's
      > followers. That, of course, is one of the possibilities. Whether or not
      > this may be the case, the passage seems to imply a post-Easter time frame.
      > There is nothing in the pre-Easter story line which suggests the immanence
      > of Jesus's departure.

      Mark is ENTIRELY focused on the immediacy of Jesus' departure so you
      can indeed have a "pre-Easter story line which suggests the immanence
      of Jesus's departure." The time-frame of the passage is prior to
      Jesus departure... presumably it was made-up afterwards though.

      Steve
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