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[gthomas] Stimata, the video (part 2)

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  • Michael Grondin
    To folks who saw Stigmata and don t know much about Thomas: Well, I ve finally seen the movie, and I must say that I agree with most of the critics who
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2000
      To folks who saw "Stigmata" and don't know much about Thomas:

      Well, I've finally seen the movie, and I must say that I agree with most of
      the critics who panned it. There's very little subtlety to it at all,
      though it does have its good points (namely, the presence of Aramaic
      expertise, and the wind and doves symbolism of the holy spirit). But ...

      1. The hidden gospel of the movie is said to be the words of Jesus at the
      last supper, giving his disciples instructions on how to carry on without
      him. This is a fictional invention of the movie-maker with no basis in
      reality - not only is there no suggestion in the actual Gospel of Thomas
      that it has any connection with "the last supper", but the specific content
      of many of the sayings indicates conclusively that they could not have been
      uttered on that occasion.

      2. The written message at the end of the movie says that "a scroll" was
      found at Nag Hammadi. No such thing. It was books, not scrolls, and there
      were twelve of them, containing many texts, not just the Gospel of Thomas.
      (English translations of all these texts are contained in James Robinson's
      "The Nag Hammadi Library". It should be noted that early Christians rather
      pioneered the book-form called 'codex'.) Most of the texts can be
      classified as "gnostic" of one stripe or another, hence the suggestion that
      Thomas itself is gnostic. But Thomas is clearly one of the earliest texts
      of the collection, and its connection with later gnosticism is tenuous at
      best. (BTW, fragments of a Greek version of Thomas were also found at
      another location in Egypt.)

      3. The saying I mentioned yesterday is the only one made explicit in the
      movie (unless someone can read the Aramaic dialect written on the wall). I
      believe I heard several variations of it, but basically the movie-maker has
      taken the liberty of creating an anti-church saying by combining parts of
      two Thomas sayings with a clause of his own making ("not in buildings of
      wood and stone"). This anti-church message is further amplified in various
      ways, including conspiratorial scenes involving several lower-level
      officials in the Vatican, and the one-dimensional figure of the evil
      "Cardinal Houseman" (=churchman?), who not only tries to suppress the new
      gospel, but even, in a bit of over-the-top caricature, attempts to strangle
      the stigmata-girl herself! (I can see why the RCC would be upset.)

      Aside from the above inaccuracies and exagerations, how far was the
      movie-maker right about Thomas? I think it can be said that Thomas is in
      some sense strongly anti-establishment. But what is that sense? We've
      touched on it in the past, though far from exhaustively. The question
      presented to us by the movie might be posed thus: is Thomas "anti-church",
      and if so, in what sense? I'm not sure that this question has ever been
      clearly addressed or answered here.


      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
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