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4106Re: [GTh] #11

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  • Jim Bauer
    Oct 4 3:47 PM
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Ron McCann" <ronmccann1@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 11:41 AM
      Subject: Re: [GTh] #11


      > Jim,
      >
      > I personally find it very hard to see apocalyptic elements in Thomas. I
      > suppose one could read it into 11, 79(b) and 111. Are these the passages
      to
      > which you refer and are there others I have missed here?

      79, "Blessed is the womb which did not conceive and the breasts which did
      not give milk" seems to be more of an ascetic saying than apocalyptic. It
      reminds me more of Paul's "it is better to marry than to burn" than it does
      something like the apocalypses, canonical or otherwise. 111 where it speaks
      of "the heavens rolling up" seems to fit this category, too, except for
      "whoever knows the living one will not experience death", which returns to
      the beginning of Thomas.

      This material appears to be more gnostic than Christian. A study of the
      gnostic apocalypses may be in order. I wrote a paper on them for a class
      once and if I can find it I'll post it up on the web. Mostly, unlike Rev,
      the gnostics were more concerned with teaching than portraying elaborate
      symbols. The densely packed metaphors of Rev, even as I write are becoming
      fodder for the Fundamentalists seeing "the end of the world" in the current
      war.
      >
      > How does 11 relate to 12? In part the two are a couplet- the heavens
      > passing away- and heaven and earth coming into being. In 12 "for whose
      sake
      > heaven and earth came into being" is supposed to be some Aramaic idiomatic
      > expression which designates someone who is "especially blessed".

      The correlation between 11 and 12 as you have delineated doesn't seem too
      clear to me. Although parts of it are apocalyptic, the main thrust of the
      saying is "the one becoming two". This still appears to me to be a
      delibarate reversal of "the two become one" foud in many eastern scriptures
      and in alchemy as an underground counter-current to creeds like Christianity
      and Islam which ruled on the surface.

      >
      > As for eating and consuming, that element seems a common thread in logions
      > 6-14, inclusive, with that strangely split logion, beginning at 6 with the
      > end in 14, forming a bracket. Only 12 (James the Just) seems to be an
      > interloper. I have no idea why these are so grouped, but they seem to be.
      >
      Although 6 and 14 have some common ideas, I don't really see 14 as
      completing it. Stevan Davies once said about Thomas, "It looks like it was
      written by a bunch of people sitting around and trying to remember things
      that Jesus said or was supposed to have said". Bearing that in mind this
      "couplet" may have been created randomly.

      Also, here we are confronted by statements like "if you pray you will be
      condemned" and "if you give alms you will do harm to your spirit". This
      statement seems powerfully antichristian and perhaps could have been
      originated by ascetic gnostics. Whatever the case, it sticks out like a
      sore thumb.

      > 6- fasting, diet
      > 7- eating lion, being eaten
      > 8- wise fisherman choosing biggest fish (for supper? or was he looking for
      a
      > door-stop?)
      > 9- worms eating seeds
      > 10- fire consumes or devours
      > 11- eat what is dead
      > 12- (out of place)
      > 13- drink from spring
      > - fire will devour you
      > 14- eat what is set before you
      >
      > Are we looking at evidence for a sacramental meal, or are these merely
      > sayings assembled around "eating and consuming" themes?

      The Christian eucharistic meal must have originated somehow, and seems to
      have become a powerful idea in early Christianity, as "eating the body of
      Christ" was among the reasons Christians were thrown to the lions. The RCC
      still holds to "transubstantiation", insisting it is, through some
      miraculous agency, "literally" the body and blood of Christ. If they just
      would have told the Romans, "it's just another symbol" the entire course of
      religious history may have been different.

      Jim Bauer
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