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[gthomas] Pachomius the Enochian?

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  • Mike Grondin
    One of the historical questions surrounding the Coptic GThom is the mindset of Pachomius, the founder of a group of monasteries on the upper Nile which may
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 29, 1999
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      One of the historical questions surrounding the Coptic GThom is the mindset
      of Pachomius, the founder of a group of monasteries on the upper Nile which
      may later have been partially inhabited by the folks who gave us the NH
      "library". In the ancient work "The Life of St. Pachomius", we are told
      that he communicated with the heads of his monasteries by using a secret
      code unknown even to his successors. The latter part of this claim is
      virtually impossible to believe, but the fact that he used such a code may
      indicate that he wasn't so orthodox as otherwise presented - which would go
      far to explain why gnostic "heretics" came to find a congenial home in his
      monasteries.

      According to Robinson (NHLe, p.19):
      The Life of St. Pachomius narrates that a "philosopher" from Panopolis
      (Akhmim), where Pachomius built a monastery just 108 kilometers (67 miles)
      downstream from where the Nag Hammadi library was buried, came to test the
      monk's "understanding of the scriptures." Pachomius sent his assistant
      Theodore to meet him:

      "The philosopher queried him on something for which the answer was not
      difficult to find, 'Who was not born but died? Who was born but did not
      die? And who died without giving off the stench of decomposition?' Theodore
      replied that Adam was not born but died, Enoch was born but did not die,
      and Lot's wife died but, having become a pillar of salt, did not give off
      the stench of decomposition. The philosopher accepted these answers and
      departed."

      Enoch? Why not Elijah? (Or Enoch AND Elijah.) It's hard to see any
      plausible explanation for this omission other than that Pachomius and his
      cohorts were familiar with (or accepted) just the Pentateuch, not the
      entire Tanakh. Why would they have been essentially cut off at this late
      date (300-350 C.E.) from the post-Pentateuch development of Jewish thought?
      Or was it that they rejected just the writings of Elijah's school? Could
      that have been the real reason for the "philosopher's" interest?

      Mike

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      http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm

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    • Eric Dorsett
      Acctually, a more likely explaination for this is that Pachomius was, like most of the early church, familiar with the Books of Enoch. Many of the Leaders of
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 1, 1999
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        Acctually, a more likely explaination for this is that Pachomius was, like
        most of the early church, familiar with the Books of Enoch. Many of the
        Leaders of the Early Church considered the Books of Enoch to be inspired
        Scripture. They also portay Enoch as a messianic figure, which would have
        also kept him more in the mind.

        I hope that helps.

        Peace in the light,
        Eric Dorsett


        =======================================================
        "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
        safety
        deserve neither liberty nor safety."

        - Benjamin Franklin. 1706-1790.Historical Review of Pennsylvania

        > ----- Original Message -----
        > From: Mike Grondin <mgrondin@...>
        > To: <gthomas@egroups.com>
        > Sent: Monday, March 29, 1999 8:47 AM
        > Subject: [gthomas] Pachomius the Enochian?
        >
        >
        > > One of the historical questions surrounding the Coptic GThom is the
        > mindset
        > > of Pachomius, the founder of a group of monasteries on the upper Nile
        > which
        > > may later have been partially inhabited by the folks who gave us the NH
        > > "library". In the ancient work "The Life of St. Pachomius", we are told
        > > that he communicated with the heads of his monasteries by using a secret
        > > code unknown even to his successors. The latter part of this claim is
        > > virtually impossible to believe, but the fact that he used such a code
        may
        > > indicate that he wasn't so orthodox as otherwise presented - which would
        > go
        > > far to explain why gnostic "heretics" came to find a congenial home in
        his
        > > monasteries.
        > >
        > > According to Robinson (NHLe, p.19):
        > > The Life of St. Pachomius narrates that a "philosopher" from Panopolis
        > > (Akhmim), where Pachomius built a monastery just 108 kilometers (67
        miles)
        > > downstream from where the Nag Hammadi library was buried, came to test
        the
        > > monk's "understanding of the scriptures." Pachomius sent his assistant
        > > Theodore to meet him:
        > >
        > > "The philosopher queried him on something for which the answer was not
        > > difficult to find, 'Who was not born but died? Who was born but did not
        > > die? And who died without giving off the stench of decomposition?'
        > Theodore
        > > replied that Adam was not born but died, Enoch was born but did not die,
        > > and Lot's wife died but, having become a pillar of salt, did not give
        off
        > > the stench of decomposition. The philosopher accepted these answers and
        > > departed."
        > >
        > > Enoch? Why not Elijah? (Or Enoch AND Elijah.) It's hard to see any
        > > plausible explanation for this omission other than that Pachomius and
        his
        > > cohorts were familiar with (or accepted) just the Pentateuch, not the
        > > entire Tanakh. Why would they have been essentially cut off at this late
        > > date (300-350 C.E.) from the post-Pentateuch development of Jewish
        > thought?
        > > Or was it that they rejected just the writings of Elijah's school? Could
        > > that have been the real reason for the "philosopher's" interest?
        > >
        > > Mike
        > >
        > > ------------------------------------
        > > The Coptic GThomas, saying-by-saying
        > > http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
        > >
        > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > > eGroup home: http://www.eGroups.com/list/gthomas
        > > Free Web-based e-mail groups by eGroups.com
        > >
        >
        >



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      • Eric Dorsett
        Enochians are Extremely differant from gnostics. Although many of the Church Father fall into this catagory. The only real difference the Enochians and the
        Message 3 of 11 , Apr 1, 1999
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          Enochians are Extremely differant from gnostics. Although many of the
          "Church Father" fall into this catagory. The only real difference the
          Enochians and the "mainstream" christians, is the Enochians emphesis an the
          angels. Particularly the Fallen. It is unclear what happened to the
          movement, it seems to have vanished after the sixth century for no expressed
          reason. Later in the Fifteen hundreds the movement appeared again. It is
          still around to this day.

          Peace in the light,
          Rev. Dr. Eric Dorsett


          =======================================================
          "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
          deserve neither liberty nor safety."

          - Benjamin Franklin. 1706-1790.Historical Review of Pennsylvania

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Mike Grondin <mgrondin@...>
          To: Eric Dorsett <ERIC@...>
          Sent: Friday, April 02, 1999 12:30 AM
          Subject: Re: [gthomas] Pachomius the Enochian?


          > At 02:45 PM 04/01/99 -0500, you wrote:
          > >Actually, a more likely explanation for this is that Pachomius was, like
          > >most of the early church, familiar with the Books of Enoch. Many of the
          > >Leaders of the Early Church considered the Books of Enoch to be inspired
          > >Scripture. They also portay Enoch as a messianic figure, which would
          have
          > >also kept him more in the mind.
          >
          > I was hoping for something like this, which is why I chose the title I
          did.
          > But why not post to the list? If you don't want to, can I quote you? (I'd
          > really like to know whether "Enochians" were closer to gnostic or centrist
          > Xians.)
          >
          > Regards,
          > Mike



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        • Mike Grondin
          ... I don t buy it, rev. Doesn t seem to me that this is a more likely explanation of Theodore s mentioning Enoch but not Elijah. Problem is that your
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 2, 1999
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            At 01:09 AM 04/02/99 -0500, Eric Dorsett wrote:
            > Actually, a more likely explanation for this is that Pachomius was, like
            > most of the early church, familiar with the Books of Enoch. Many of the
            > Leaders of the Early Church considered the Books of Enoch to be inspired
            > Scripture. They also portay Enoch as a messianic figure, which would have
            > also kept him more in the mind.

            I don't buy it, rev. Doesn't seem to me that this is a "more likely
            explanation" of Theodore's mentioning Enoch but not Elijah. Problem is that
            your hypothesis explains both too much, and too little:

            1. Explains too much: It isn't necessary to assume that Pachomius and
            Theodore were familiar with the Books of Enoch, because the reference to
            Enoch in the Pentateuch is sufficient in itself to explain Theodore's
            answer, without any familiarity with the Books of Enoch:

            Gen 5.21-24: When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he became the father of
            Methuselah. ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD. After the birth of Methuselah, he lived
            for three hundred years, and became the father of sons and daughters. In
            all, Enoch lived for three hundred and sixty-five years. ENOCH WALKED WITH
            GOD. THEN HE VANISHED, BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM.
            (trans from the Jerusalem Bible)

            I've capitalized the portions of this passage that would have stuck out in
            the minds of the readers. No other patriarch is described in such terms,
            not even Adam's son Seth, or Seth's son Enosh, who is said to have been the
            first to invoke the name of Yahweh. Anyone familiar with the Pentateuch -
            and with the Pentateuch alone - would have answered as Theodore did: the
            person who was born but didn't die was Enoch.

            2. Explains too little: The real question, of course, is why Theodore
            didn't mention Elijah. As I take it, what you're saying is that anyone
            familiar with the Books of Enoch would have been so impressed by them, that
            he might simply have overlooked Elijah. This doesn't strike me as being at
            all likely. The folks of the time were more up on their religious readings
            than that. Even in the unlikely event that Theodore had overlooked Elijah,
            surely the "philosopher" who formulated the question would not have.

            No, I still think the most probable explanation of the absence of a mention
            of Elijah is that all three of "the philosopher's" questions were based
            solely on the Pentateuch. But that gets back to my earlier question: why
            are post-Pentateuch writings ignored in the little interchange between
            Theodore and "the philosopher"? One possibility I raised earlier is that
            the Egyptian Christians of Pachomius' circle (as opposed, perhaps, by the
            centrists in Alexandria) didn't accept these later writings. Post-Pentatech
            is, after all, post-Moses. Perhaps the Egyptian Christian monks of the
            Upper Nile accepted only the works ascribed (incorrectly, of course) to the
            Egyptian Moses. Other writings, being centered in Judea, may have been
            considered irrelevant to their religious beliefs. (I present this simply as
            a hypothesis - citations to the contrary are invited.)

            Mike


            ------------------------------------
            The Coptic GThomas, saying-by-saying
            http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm

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          • Paul Miller
            Mike wrote: Enoch? Why not Elijah? (Or Enoch AND Elijah.) It s hard to see any plausible explanation for this omission other than that Pachomius and his
            Message 5 of 11 , Apr 2, 1999
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              Mike wrote:
              Enoch? Why not Elijah? (Or Enoch AND Elijah.) It's hard to see any plausible
              explanation for this omission other than that Pachomius and his cohorts were
              familiar with (or accepted) just the Pentateuch, not the entire
              Tanakh. -------------------------

              The flow of the riddle would be disturbed if he gave more than one answer
              per question.

              'Who was not born but died? = answer
              Who was born but did not die? = answer
              Who died with no stench of decomposition? = answer

              If Elijah had been added:

              Question = answer
              Question = answer answer
              Question = answer

              When Oedipus answered the Sphinx's riddle he didn't list all possible
              answers, just one that answered, so Sophocles could maintain literary
              integrity.

              Enoch? Why not Elijah? Elijah? Why not Enoch? It's really impossible to
              infer anything from this.

              Paul Miller


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            • Mike Grondin
              ... Yeah, but it s so much fun to try! And it has been a slow week ... Seriously, though, there is this historical question of whether the folks who gave us
              Message 6 of 11 , Apr 3, 1999
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                At 05:11 PM 04/02/99 -0600, Paul Miller wrote:
                >Enoch? Why not Elijah? Elijah? Why not Enoch? It's really impossible to
                >infer anything from this.

                Yeah, but it's so much fun to try! And it has been a slow week ...

                Seriously, though, there is this historical question of whether the folks
                who gave us the NH "library" inhabited the Pachomian monasteries or not. I
                think that they did, but if they did, the question arises as to their
                relationship with other monks who also inhabited these monasteries. Were
                the other monks aware of the unorthodox beliefs of their fellows or not?
                Putting it the other way round, did the gnostic monks have to hide their
                beliefs from their fellow monks, or were they known and tolerated from the
                outset? The latter would seem to be plausible only if Pachomius, the
                founder of the monasteries, harbored some unorthodox views of his own. So
                you can see that any little piece of evidence that might be relevant to
                Pachomius's views is certainly of historical interest with respect to the
                provenance of the Coptic GThom. Nevertheless, I'm willing to take your
                advice and stop trying to wring something significant out of this little
                vignette from "The Life of St. Pachomius". It's served its purpose - which
                was to draw attention to the historical questions mentioned above.

                With respect to Elijah, I have to keep reminding myself (and perhaps
                others) that he wasn't just another prophet - he was THE prophet par
                excellence. Among other things, he was a symbol of the long struggle
                between Yahwists and Baalists in Jewish history, demonstrated by his
                reported actions against the queen Jezebel. He had a "school", which was no
                doubt responsible for the fantastic story of his life. It's no accident
                that he was chosen to be with Moses and Jesus at the transfiguration scene.
                To this day, it's the Jewish belief that he must return before the Messiah
                can arrive. A place at the table is reserved for him. Christians, of
                course, took John the Baptist to be the returning Elijah, and, so it seems
                likely that the thinking among Christians was that Elijah (in the person of
                J-the-B) had indeed (finally) died. This would be one plausible explanation
                (in addition to yours) of why he wasn't mentioned in Theodore's answer to
                "the philosopher's" second question. (Indeed, the second question might be
                considered a test of Christian belief - if one answered that Elijah hadn't
                died, it might be taken as a sign of lack of belief that J was the Messiah!)

                Mike
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                http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm

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              • Mike Grondin
                ... Thanks, Sam. This is really a first-rate argument against the initial inferences I attempted to draw from Theodore s answer to the philosopher s riddle.
                Message 7 of 11 , Apr 4, 1999
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                  At 01:30 AM 04/05/99 -0500, Sam Thrope wrote:
                  >If St. Pachomius and his followers were Christians (as I believed they were),
                  >would not acceptance of the entire TN''Ch be a prerequisite to the
                  >acceptance of Jesus' preaching? Even if the NT had not been canonized by
                  >350-400 (the date I believe you cited in your email), with its many
                  >references to both prophets and writings, it was my impression that the
                  >message of Jesus' death as fulfilling prophetic vision was a central part of
                  >Christian doctrine.

                  Thanks, Sam. This is really a first-rate argument against the initial
                  inferences I attempted to draw from Theodore's answer to the philosopher's
                  riddle. Sorry I didn't think of it myself. How glad I am that I gave up on
                  that line of thought in my response to Paul Miller!

                  (BTW, this is the first time I've seen <TN''Ch> for 'Tanakh'. I assume this
                  is a Hebraic representation. This may be a stupid question, since I'm not
                  familiar with Hebrew, but shouldn't it be <T'N'Ch>?)

                  Mike
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                • Sam Thrope
                  -- [ From: Sam Thrope * EMC.Ver #3.1a ] -- Mike- If St. Pachomius and his followers were Christians (as I believed they were ), would not acceptance of the
                  Message 8 of 11 , Apr 4, 1999
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                    -- [ From: Sam Thrope * EMC.Ver #3.1a ] --

                    Mike-
                    If St. Pachomius and his followers were Christians (as I believed they were
                    ), would not acceptance of the entire TN''Ch be a prerequisite to the
                    acceptance of Jesus' preaching? Even if the NT had not been canonized by
                    350-400 (the date I believe you cited in your email), with its many
                    references to both prophets and writings, it was my impression that the
                    message of Jesus' death as fulfilling prophetic vision was a central part of
                    Christian doctrine. Perhaps there is something in the word Enochian of the
                    title that I do not grasp the meaning of, and I am unable to come up with a
                    better explanation of the reference.
                    Samuel Thrope

                    Having Nothing Leads to Profit
                    Not Having Leads to Use
                    Wu chic i wei yung

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                  • Eric Dorsett
                    ... that ... It is not a mere assumption that they were familiar with the Book of Enoch. The Book was used almost continually until 625 AD, and was still
                    Message 9 of 11 , Apr 9, 1999
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                      > I don't buy it, rev. Doesn't seem to me that this is a "more likely
                      > explanation" of Theodore's mentioning Enoch but not Elijah. Problem is
                      that
                      > your hypothesis explains both too much, and too little:
                      >
                      > 1. Explains too much: It isn't necessary to assume that Pachomius and
                      > Theodore were familiar with the Books of Enoch, because the reference to
                      > Enoch in the Pentateuch is sufficient in itself to explain Theodore's
                      > answer, without any familiarity with the Books of Enoch:

                      It is not a mere assumption that they were familiar with the Book of Enoch.
                      The Book was used almost continually until 625 AD, and was still alluded to
                      until the eleventh century AD. It would be a greater assumption to say that
                      they were not familliar with the works than to say they were.

                      > I've capitalized the portions of this passage that would have stuck out in
                      > the minds of the readers. No other patriarch is described in such terms,
                      > not even Adam's son Seth, or Seth's son Enosh, who is said to have been
                      the
                      > first to invoke the name of Yahweh. Anyone familiar with the Pentateuch -
                      > and with the Pentateuch alone - would have answered as Theodore did: the
                      > person who was born but didn't die was Enoch.

                      Is it not a great assumption that they had no exposure to the other books of
                      the Tanakh?

                      > 2. Explains too little: The real question, of course, is why Theodore
                      > didn't mention Elijah. As I take it, what you're saying is that anyone
                      > familiar with the Books of Enoch would have been so impressed by them,
                      that
                      > he might simply have overlooked Elijah. This doesn't strike me as being at
                      > all likely. The folks of the time were more up on their religious readings
                      > than that. Even in the unlikely event that Theodore had overlooked Elijah,
                      > surely the "philosopher" who formulated the question would not have.

                      I did not mean to imply that Elijah was over looked. It was a deeply held
                      belief that Elijah had died in the person of John the Baptist. So, frankly,
                      for a member of the church to say that Elijah did not die would not have
                      been accurate.

                      Peace in the light,
                      Eric Dorsett


                      =======================================================
                      "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
                      deserve neither liberty nor safety."

                      - Benjamin Franklin. 1706-1790.Historical Review of Pennsylvania




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                    • Eric Dorsett
                      ... First of all I hope that you read the ethiopian version of the Book of Enoch, it is, in my opinion the most reliable. Actually, todays interest in Angels
                      Message 10 of 11 , Apr 9, 1999
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                        > Would you say the heightened interest in angels today is a reflection of
                        > Enochian influence or are you speaking of another group? I downloaded and
                        > read 1 Enoch some time ago. Fascinating in parts, long and boring (most
                        > likely due to my ignorance) in other parts.

                        First of all I hope that you read the ethiopian version of the Book of
                        Enoch, it is, in my opinion the most reliable.

                        Actually, todays interest in Angels is partially as a result of the triving
                        Enochian Movement that is alive and doing well to this day.

                        Unfortunately, the majority of the people in the enochian movement today are
                        lost and miss guided.

                        Peace in the light,
                        Eric Dorsett


                        =======================================================
                        "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
                        deserve neither liberty nor safety."

                        - Benjamin Franklin. 1706-1790.Historical Review of Pennsylvania



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                      • Eric Dorsett
                        ... There has been a long tradition of a second Christian Church that co-existed along side the orthodox church. This second church was not implicently
                        Message 11 of 11 , Apr 9, 1999
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                          > Seriously, though, there is this historical question of whether the folks
                          > who gave us the NH "library" inhabited the Pachomian monasteries or not. I
                          > think that they did, but if they did, the question arises as to their
                          > relationship with other monks who also inhabited these monasteries. Were
                          > the other monks aware of the unorthodox beliefs of their fellows or not?

                          There has been a long tradition of a second Christian Church that co-existed
                          along side the orthodox church. This second church was not implicently
                          heterodoxical, but was atleast more investigative in nature. I believe,
                          from my own research on this subject, that the other monastraries were
                          probably aware of the beliefs of this group of people and more than likely
                          they were not shocked.

                          > Putting it the other way round, did the gnostic monks have to hide their
                          > beliefs from their fellow monks, or were they known and tolerated from the
                          > outset?

                          I think a better question is, Were the Nag Hamedi papers truly from a
                          gnostic school. The Gospel of Thomas itself was considered Heterodoxical,
                          but so was the Gospel of John, and the Book of Hebrews. Although many of
                          the documents have a gnostic origin, the works of Paul were also widely used
                          by the gnostics. With the diversity of texts that exist in the collection,
                          It might have been a school that was investigating the liturature of the
                          day.

                          Peace in the light,
                          Eric Dorsett


                          =======================================================
                          "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
                          deserve neither liberty nor safety."

                          - Benjamin Franklin. 1706-1790.Historical Review of Pennsylvania



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