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[gthomas] John v. Thomas

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  • Michael Grondin
    ... First, let me make it clear that I believe Steve s Jesus the Healer to present as fine a case as could possibly be made for this point of view. IMO, it s
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 29, 2000
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      Tord Svenson writes:
      >What the possessed Jesus said could be the basis of the Gospel of John.

      First, let me make it clear that I believe Steve's "Jesus the Healer" to
      present as fine a case as could possibly be made for this point of view.
      IMO, it's an instant classic, and ought to be on every interested person's
      bookshelf. I can't imagine any subsequent discussions of the historical
      Jesus or the Gospel of John as proceeding without confronting the issues
      raised by this book.

      Having said that, I also must point out that GJohn presents Jesus as being
      godlike not only in speech, but in deed. (This is usually called 'high
      Christology'; I prefer 'high divinity'.) From beginning to end, Jesus is
      made to act like a manlike god, rather than like the godlike man of the
      Synoptics. Anything that suggests human weakness or a non-divine
      self-consciousness is expunged or denied. At the beginning, Jesus is around
      John the Baptist, but John the theologian refuses to say that he was
      baptized. At the end, J-the-T explicitly denies the Synoptics' claim that
      someone helped him carry his cross. In between, we have a Jesus speaking
      not so much like a real person possessed as like a fictional manlike god
      created by a writer with deep theological interests. And so, while what
      Tord says above is true - namely, that certain reported behaviors of Jesus
      might have been one of the kernels of truth behind GJohn - I find it
      impossible to believe that the specific content of the extended theological
      speeches attributed to Jesus in GJohn is even close to what the historical
      Jesus might have actually said, possessed or not. In other words, what STM
      to be behind GJohn is the heart of a theologian interested in then-current
      church issues, not the heart of a person anxious to set the record straight
      and present the "real" (i.e., spirit-possessed) Jesus.

      OK, so that's where I'm coming from. More importantly, as applied to GThom,
      what bothers me about Steve's latter-day views (especially in the
      uncareful, uncritical, and uninformed hands of others) is that they lead to
      the conclusion that Jesus himself might have said anything in GThom (except
      what's agreed to be anachronistic, of course). So while the uncritical
      layman is given implicit permission to go on his merry way accepting pretty
      much everything written anywhere about Jesus as historically accurate,
      where does that leave the historian who senses stratification and/or
      interpolation in the text?

      Mike
    • BrerFrase@aol.com
      Sunday 1.30.2000 Stupor Bowl Sunday And now... From the back row, a measly meekly grateful admirer must stand up and speak, begging humbly in advance your
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 30, 2000
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        Sunday 1.30.2000
        Stupor Bowl Sunday


        And now...

        From the back row, a measly meekly grateful admirer must stand up and speak,
        begging humbly in advance your pardon for the presumptuous and largely
        irrelevant interruption to follow perforce herewith, perforce because in
        response to your brilliant fascinating sharing, presumptuous because both in
        substance and in principal, I am in way over my head here among such a lofty
        cognoscenti as are wont to frequent this august frequenting board...

        Nonetheless, I feel I must speak up for the laity, however briefly, this
        early Sunday morning...

        Please to note that I do so in a spirit of true gratitude for the generous
        willingness of the scholarly regulars here to make public your fascinating
        sharings on this most interesting of all subjects...

        ...
        In a message dated 1/29/00 2:27:46 PM Eastern Standard Time, mgrondin@...
        writes:

        << And so, while what
        Tord says above is true - namely, that certain reported behaviors of Jesus
        might have been one of the kernels of truth behind GJohn - I find it
        impossible to believe that the specific content of the extended theological
        speeches attributed to Jesus in GJohn is even close to what the historical
        Jesus might have actually said, possessed or not. In other words, what STM
        to be behind GJohn is the heart of a theologian interested in then-current
        church issues, not the heart of a person anxious to set the record straight
        and present the "real" (i.e., spirit-possessed) Jesus.
        >>

        I can't quite agree with this otherwise beautifully crafted statement.
        There's got to be (no pun intended) more to it. More to John I mean.
        Admittedly whatever that "more to it" might be or mean -- common sense tells
        us "it" has got to be...well, frankly, weird... whether factually accurate
        and therefore representing something paranormal, or whether disingenuously
        contrived for literary/political/theological reasons. It's still going to be
        weird. Which leaves us with the bigger mystery of Why. Why a mystery
        regarding something so vital to begin with. Is that Why not a more
        interesting question? If you knew [or had known] the father you would know
        [have known] me. There has to be more to this than literary/theological
        politically motivated sleight of hand/leverage...

        Split the log and there I am [will be...you will find me]...any man who asks
        and the father AND I will come to him...(loosely paraphrased)

        These and other similar notions of loving intimacy at the level of the
        divine, of the divine at the level of inseparably loving intimacy, (when two
        or three of you ...there am I in the midst [middle?essence?] of you...etc)
        wonderful liberating essential mystical notions (and true I believe, and its
        truth more important than this other under discussion) wonderful notions of a
        metastasizing realm of subparticle mustardseed lateral-metastasizing
        liberation, literal-defying liberation, of self going out into Other in Love
        and back as Spirit, Peace, the Peace that passes all understanding, the
        Presence, the literal realm dying, its grasping for illusory closure going
        out of itself ("dying") and coming back transformed, the classic elastic
        parallel lateral movement of all life, all from this elliptical quark place
        of unplace this hidden kingdom of heaven this parabolic leavening unplace
        within...do such essential freeing divine mystical insights justify GOJ's
        alleged liberal fabling, we ask, justify or supersede or obviate such a
        troubling overweening alleged authorial heavy-handedness, this paralyzing
        manhandling parabolizing of historical fact as we are led to think occurs in
        GOJ? We are left to wonder this and to ask why, and more, why are we being
        left to wonder....... we are left rather to wonder that, it would seem...to
        wonder about the wondering...

        So what else is new you say...

        Nevertheless weird or no, simply unpalatable is the suggestion that John was
        a disingenuous though theologically inspired writer, a mystical literary hack
        like you or me as it were only more so with completely unscrupulous or
        delusional notions of self appointed theological importance selling out to
        some more or less political agenda. And furthermore the assumption that we
        can explain the lesser mystery of GOJ away (the problem of
        literary/historical distortion) by characterizing our own penchant for
        historicity as a kind of cultural divide or contextual pride just won't
        resonate with common sense or the intuitive, nor I suspect with textual
        scholarship though again I am in way over my head here...It just does not
        compute that the author of GOJ could be so distorted, disingenuous....sorry
        for my rambling...

        It just seems as likely to say the author of GOT or even Mark are fifty
        percent disingenuous, driven 50/50 by political agenda. Well maybe not Mark.
        It is just very troubling. Very mysterious.

        Always has been.

        I like the liberating Spirit possessing idea (descending dove lovers
        anonymous? :)) and when you read closely John with that new angle all sorts
        of new insights ensue, some quite consistent with GOT's Jesus I would
        suspect...again though I am ignorant for the most part...

        Anyone today *systematically* exploring the mystical parallels of GOT/GOJ in
        light of the Spirit "possessing" idea/Voice?

        Finally though and I apologize for having this much fun in school...

        I suppose this notion of heavy-handed literary manipulation regardless of
        motive moral or context or custom will always trouble us, when the content
        purports to be as literal and as vital as it does, rather than openly
        presenting itself as a poetic experiment in theological exegesis, especially
        when the content so downright significant...

        Thus as suggested above a more interesting and enduring, more familiar
        question would seem to emerge....one which we all have lived with all our
        lives...why the pervasive mystery at all at such a fundamental level on
        something arguably so central, so vital? What could be the meaning or
        purpose let alone the means of this almost subatomic resistance to rational
        reduction we live with daily, this encoded yet studied elusiveness at the
        subatomic level of the factual, like a jealously guarded resistance to
        scientific or critical closure, albeit a "tradition" perpetuated through
        apparently natural chance or selection as by anything (and by whose anonymous
        hand we must wonder, at whose behest?), some chaotic encoding written into
        the plan to forestall all definitive answers to questions inherently
        compelling and seemingly in inverse proportion to their degree of
        (perceived?) importance or to all questions the answers to which might in and
        of themselves suggest closure as a reasonable resolution to Mystery as
        Phenomenon .. to the Phenomenal as Mystery...as though to transmute or
        transliterate or transform somehow the essence or essential Mystery of a
        thing into its "inherited" phenomenological form or manifestation results in
        a dilution, a watering down, of its Essence the nature of which is and must
        ever be Mysterious and thus by its hidden nature must forbid closure and
        rather open itself only to further lateral translations,
        semi-revelations...Reality as a semi-nude dancer...the Maya of the Hindu
        tradition..half-revealing, half-concealing...hence platonic/greek/johanine
        notions of hierarchy, first causes, and creativity all seem so much in accord
        and even easy going and so hard to dismiss GOJ's theology or
        spirit-possessing idea ... something here about language, reality and the
        metaphorical nature of it all, the parabolic non-closure admitting nature of
        it all...reality as language, language as reality...the language of unspeak..
        th elanguage elliptical...reality as parable....i think that i shall never
        see a poem lovelier (nor more eloquent in its unspeak) than a tree...the word
        with god was always with god (and cannot be separated in its intimate love
        though we try and it tries or seems rather willing to extend itself in
        expression, to lean compass like as John Donne from his lover must and argue
        for its expansion, even as we like pathetic prufrock try but cannot say just
        what we mean we should have been pairs of claws scuttling across floors of
        silent seas...:)), but my Words [essential creative core] will not pass
        away... just as the tomb could not contain Life for long neither can the
        scholarly [human] rational ego which in this latter day looks like the old
        disciples wandering around in their rocky way their geeky fog demanding
        please master please just one more literal exegesis for everything remotely
        parabolic nonliteral the parables they are so maddening senor master(puns
        intended at last)...

        tell us it isn't so master! tell us it isn't all a mystery rolling out as
        mystery upon mystery made manifest and meant to elude us all forever and
        ever! tell us please!! And tell us now, dammit, by the way...
        signed your pathetic disciples

        how long do I have to be around you hopelessly clueless jealous whining geeks
        anyway? he replies non elliptically....
        :)

        So...was John a typical exponent of some ancient half understood literary
        code of extravagant self-indulgent literary/theological license, a sort of
        quasi-occultic club characterized by a pan-cultural delusional psychosis we
        amiably refer to as a nonlinear or oriental or poetic or mystical tradition?
        I think not. Never could buy that...harder still to swallow the political
        idea...I mean if all this LYING were okay, then I as modern would be inclined
        to reject the whole bunch as bearded freaks needing baths more than
        understanding...:) I mean I get the Mystery thing... that's cool...but this
        idea that John writing a fable... too much Truth there for that!!

        But finally as suggested above and more to the (?) point, why are we still
        all like so many fish flopping on Peter's pier, frantic for an answer, or for
        even a frying pan, for any closure will do, when we're not even supposed to
        be out here drinking the air?

        :)

        Sorry...a little modern elliptical literary license there...much preferred
        medium btw if you ask me....:)

        Oh well

        I'm still pulling for Ms. Mystery ... her yin to win out over his yanking of
        yang...
        ...
        Sorry for the interruption from way back here up in the back
        row....Definitely out of my league here speaking of fish out of their
        element...just throwing a pinch of common sense maybe saltiness into the
        stew you boys been brewing..

        I'll be quiet now...
        Back to my silent seas...
        Many thanks, again...
        :)

        BrerFrase@...
        (Fraser Hubbard)

        a grateful and now humbled lurker shamelessly indulgent in his own modern
        metaphor stew-brewing...but harmless to the end!! believe me! :)

        PS I promise never to write again, if I can ... :)

        (Tarbaby he saying nothing...)
      • Michael Grondin
        ... Pretty well hidden in all that stupifyin mystifyin stream of consciousness stuff, huh? ... disingenuous To our modern minds, no. But take a look at some
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 30, 2000
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          At 09:20 AM 01/30/00 EST, BrerFrase@... wrote:
          >... just throwing a pinch of common sense ...

          Pretty well hidden in all that stupifyin' mystifyin' stream of
          consciousness stuff, huh?

          >It just does not compute that the author of GOJ could be so distorted,
          disingenuous

          To our modern minds, no. But take a look at some non-canonical texts where
          the Jesus-character is used - say "The Book of Thomas the Athlete
          [Contender]" in the same NH Codex II that contains Thomas. Did the
          historical Jesus say even the majority of things attributed to him in that
          book? No. But then why do we feel that GOJ must have been more scrupulous
          in "reporting" the actual words of Jesus? There are only two reasons I can
          think of: (1) because it ties in to the familiar life-story of Jesus, hence
          looks biographical, and (2) because it's canonical, hence familiar to us.
          Take away the canonicity, and I think we'd see it more for what it was. Or
          take a close look at those long, theological speeches put into J's mouth,
          and ask yourself whether they're primarily addressing some historical
          situation in early 1st century Judea, or whether they're more likely
          addressing some arcane theological and ecclesiastical issues of a later
          time and place, when GJohn was being written.

          Mike
        • Tom Saunders
          Hi All, I have a question regarding the differences between Thomas, and Johanian or Johnnite Christianity. If we can for the sake of comparison call the Nag
          Message 4 of 4 , May 18, 2004
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            Hi All,

            I have a question regarding the differences between Thomas, and Johanian or Johnnite Christianity. If we can for the sake of comparison call the Nag Hammadi and related texts such as Pistis Sophia etc., Alexandrian Gnosticism, what major differences do you see in the comparison of the two?

            Certainly one of the major differences is the influence of thought in regard to doceticism or spirit. Here are some fragments that describe what Clement and Heracleon termed as spirit.....


            Heracleon of Alexandria, Fragment 24, on John 4:24 (In John 4:24a, it says,) "God is spirit." Undefiled, pure, and invisible is his divine nature. (In John 4:24b, it says,) "Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. Worthily of the one who is worshipped, in a spiritual, not a fleshly fashion. For those who have the same nature as the Father are themselves spirit, and they worship in truth, not in error, as the Apostle teaches when he calls this kind of piety " a rational service." (Romans 12:2)."

            "Now the vital force, in which is comprehended the power of nutrition and growth, and generally of motion, is assigned to the carnal spirit, which has great susceptibility of motion, and passes in all directions through the senses and the rest of the body, and through the body is the primary subject of sensations. But the power of choice, in which investigation, and study, and knowledge, reside, belongs to the ruling faculty. But all the faculties are placed in relation to one -- the ruling faculty: it is through that man lives, and lives in a certain way. ( Stromata, Bk 6)"

            Did these ideas of spirit disapear from Christianity with the advent of the proto-orthodox?

            Tom Saunders
            Platter, OK



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