- Apr 1, 2001I am a new member writing on GTh 7, "Blessed is the lion which
becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion
comsumes, and the lion
becomes man." I suggest that, underlying this saying, are some early
Christian ideas based on certain elements of the teachings of Philo--a
Jewish contemporary of Jesus and Paul.
In Philionic thought, a human being is composed of three things. First,
there is the body/flesh. Second, there is sense or sense-perception. It is
the irrational part of a human's soul. It also grades into the body/flesh
because it includes the organs of sense. Third, there is the mind, which is
the rational part of the soul. It is potentially immortal. So, in Cong.
97, Philo states that "not only for the wooden and earthen mass of the body,
not only for the unreasoning creatures, the senses, are we taught to praise
the Benefactor, but also for the mind which may be truly called the man
within the man, the better part within the worst, the immortal within the
Note that, in this statement by Philo, "man" has two meanings. First,
it means "the mind". Second, it means "the body/flesh", within which
resides the mind. I suggest that this directly relates to GTh 7--where
"man" is mentioned four times. In the first three times, I suggest, it
means the inner man, i.e., the mind In the last time, though, it means
the outer man, i.e, the body/flesh..
Note, too, that, in this statement by Philo, the senses are called
"unreasoning creatures". I think that this directly relates to GTh 7,
which refers to an unreasoning creature, i.e., a lion. This lion, then,
represents the unreasoning creatures, i.e., the senses, taken together as a
unity, i.e., as one single unreasoning creature.
In Philionic thought, the proper role of mind is to be the ruler and the
proper role of sense-perception to be the subject. So, in LA iii (222), he
states, "Most profitless is it that mind should listen to sense-perception,
and not sense-perception to mind; for it is always right that the superior
should rule and the inferior be ruled; and mind is superior to
I think this directly relates to GTh 7, where first the man eats the
lion and where, next, the lion eats the man. In the first case, we have the
the inner man (i.e., the mind) ruling over the lion (i.e., sense-perception)
and, in the second case, we have the lion (i.e., sense-perception) ruling
over the inner man (i.e., the mind)..
In Philionic thought, these two situations lead to radically different
outcomes. So, in LA iii, 50, he states, "For when that which is superior,
namely mind, becomes one with that which is inferior, namely,
sense-perception, it resolves itself into the order of flesh which is
inferior, into sense-perception, the moving cause of the passions. But if
sense the inferior follow mind the superior, there will be flesh no more,
but both of them will be mind." So, when mind rules sense-perception, then
sense-perception merges into mind and, thereby, becomes a part of mind.
However, when sense-perception rules the mind, then mind merges into
sense-perception which, in turn, welds itself to (and, so, becomes a part
of) the body-flesh.
This directly relates to GTh 7."Blessed is the lion which becomes man
when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion comsumes, and the
lion becomes man." It begins by speaking of how, when the inner man (i.e.,
the mind) eats (i.e., rules over) the lion (i.e., sense-perception), this
lion (i.e., sense-perception) becomes a part of the inner man (i.e., the
mind). Then it speaks of how, when the lion (i.e., sense perception) eats
(i.e., rules over) the man (i.e., the mind), then the lion (i.e.,
sense-perception) welds itself into (thereby becoming a part of) the outer
man (i.e., the body/flesh). In the first, case, sense-perception is blessed
because, by becoming a part of the mind, it, too, can become immortal. In
the second case, the inner man (i.e., the mind) is cursed because it has
lost its opportunity for immortality by becoming a part of the lion (i.e.,
sense-perception), which then merged into (thereby becoming a part of) the
perishable outer man (i.e., the body/flesh).
In the New Testament, the Philionic triad of body/flesh,
sense-perception, and mind becomes a triad of body/flesh, psyche, and pneuma
(spirit) in those situations in which psyche and pneuma are differentiated.
So, in Mark's account of the agony at Gethsemane, Jesus says, "Very
sorrowful is my psyche, even unto death." and "The pneuma (spirit) indeed is
ready, but the flesh (is) weak." The psyche is sorrowful because it is the
irrational sense-perception, while the pneuma (spirit) is ready to face
death because it is the rational mind. Also see I Thess. 5:23, which refers
to "your psyche, pneuma (spirit), and body".
In I Corinthians, Paul takes this one step further, dividing mankind into
those who are ruled by their pneumas (minds) and those who are ruled by
their psyches. When the pneuma rules, the psyche merges into the pneuma,
making them pure pneuma. Such a person is a pneumatikos man. When the
psyche rules, then the pneuma merges into psyche, making the whole soul
psyche, and the psyche merges into the flesh. Such a person is a psychikos
man, a man of the flesh.
So, I Cor. 2:14-3:3, Paul states, "The psychikos man, receiving not the
things of the Pneuma (Spirit) of God, for they are folly to him, and he
cannot know (them) because they are pneumatikos (i.e., by the pneuma)
discerned. But the pneumatikos man judges all things, but he by no one is
judged. 'For who did know (the) mind of the Lord? Who shall instruct him?'
But we have (the) mind of Christ. And, I brethren, was not able to speak to
you as pneumatikos, but as to fleshly, as to babes in Christ.
I gave you milk to drink, not food; for not yet were you able; but neither
yet are you able--for you are yet fleshly."
Since the psychikos man has a soul of pure psyche, he cannot perceive the
Pneuma (Sprit) and the things it imparts, for they are perceived
only by the pneuma (spirit). Since the pneumatikos man has a soul of pure
pneuma (spirit), he judges all things and is judged by no one because he can
perceive (and, so, has) the Mind = the Pneuma (Spirit) of the Christ. The
Corinthians, rather than being pneumatikos men whose souls are pure pneuma
(spirit), are psychikos men whose souls are pure psyche and have merged into
the body/flesh, making them men of the flesh.
The bottom line: what we have in GTh 7 is the blessing of a pneumatikos
man whose inner man (i.e., the pneuma) has "eaten" his psyche, making his
whole soul pure pneuma and the cursing of a psychikos man whose psyche has
"eaten" his inner man (i.e., the pneuma), making his whole soul pure psyche
and whose whole soul of psyche has merged into his outer man (i.e., the
body/flesh), making him a man of flesh.
To conclude, GTh 7 is based on the Philionic notion that a human being
consists of the body/flesh, sense-perception, and mind and related Philionic
ideas regarding the relationships between sense-perception and the mind. In
the New Testament, when psyche and pneuma are distinguished from each other
(an important qualifier, for they are frequently treated as synonyms), the
Philionic triad of body/flesh, sense-perception, and mind becomes the triad
of body/flesh, psyche, and pneuma. Judging by Mark's account of the agony
at Gethsemane, this was first done by Jesus himself--who, in this case, had
some familiarity with Philionic thought and decided to alter Philo's
mind-senseperception division into a pysch-pneuma division. This triad of
body/flesh, psyche and pneuma was known to Paul by the time he and Silvanus
wrote I Thess (i.e., c. 50 CE). In I Corinthians,. Paul used it to develop
his concept of the division of mankind into the psychikos men of the flesh
and the pneumatikos men. In GTh 7, the pneumatikos men are blessed, but the
psychikos men of the flesh are cursed. Because of this, it is possible that
GTh 7 either arose in the Corinthian church or else reached its final form
Maplewood, MN USA
- Next post in topic >>