Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

[gthomas] The Eschatology of Thomas

Expand Messages
  • Michael Grondin
    Eschatology is the branch of theology dealing with ultimate or last things . Assuming that there will be an end-times , however, it need not involve a
    Message 1 of 18 , Mar 28, 2000
    View Source
    • 0 Attachment
      Eschatology is the branch of theology dealing with "ultimate" or "last
      things". Assuming that there will be an "end-times", however, it need not
      involve a future "big bang" of an Apocalypse, and in Thomas it does not.
      Davies and Crossan read Thomas as envisioning a gradual rollback of
      creation. "Where the beginning is, there the end will be" and "The heavens
      and the earth will be rolled up in your presence." The following is from
      John Dominic Crossan's "Paradise Regained: A Commentary", in _Unearthing
      the Lost Words of Jesus_ (John Dart, 1998):

      The Gospel of Thomas begins by announcing that it contains *secret*
      sayings from Jesus. Since these utterances have been written down for
      anyone to read, however, their secrecy is not a matter of physical
      concealment, but of concealed meaning. What, then, is the hidden message of
      this gospel? What is the secret Jesus claims could protect one from tasting
      death and ensure eternal life?
      Even a cursory glance through the gospel reveals a profound distaste for
      anything related to the worldly life. Jesus comes with fire and sword,
      lashing out at a place full of blind, drunk inhabitants. He tells his
      disciples to guard against, fast from, and renounce that world -- its ways
      are as empty as a carcass:
      "He who has come to understand the world has found a corpse; and the world
      is not worthy of him who has found a corpse." (Saying 56)
      If you are radically disenchanted with some place, you can go, presumably,
      to another present location and find a better world. You can go, at least
      in imagination, beneath the earth, beyond the seas or above the stars, to
      discover somewhere a perfect utopia. But if the whole world seems truly
      corrupt, empty and dead, your only option may be to travel in time --
      forward to the future or back into the past. For a more fulfilling life,
      seek the beginning or the end, Eden or Apocalypse.
      The Q Gospel, a text now embedded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke,
      looks forward to the end, imagining a perfect world after all else is
      complete. But the Gospel of Thomas chooses the opposite path. It goes
      backwards to a perfect beginning, not to apocalypse consummated, but to
      paradise regained. Alienated within the world's present normalcy, it
      proposes a way to the dawn of creation.
      The first step on this backward journey shows Jesus as the incarnation of
      divine wisdom, admonishing a lost world to change its ways. This appeal not
      only emphasizes how perfect the created universe had originally been, it
      ridicules any yearning for a terminal solution. The Jesus of this Gospel
      knows all about alternatives that look forward to the End, and insists we
      avoid such misguided prospects. The theology he presents is not Eden *and*
      Apocalypse, or Eden *without* Apocalypse, but Eden *against* Apocalypse.
      When the disciples look ahead to the future consummation, Jesus tells them
      they have missed the new world already dawning in their midst. The ideal
      kingdom is not in the future.
      Jesus jeers at the idea of an apocalyptic kingdom appearing from the
      heavens -- if it does, he says, the birds will get into it first. Or maybe
      it will appear in the sea and the fishes will get in first. Don't be
      deceived, insists Jesus -- the kingdom is already with us. The first step
      back, therefore, is to see the absurdity of looking to the future.

      (part 2 tomorrow)
      Mike

      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
      http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
    • Kanefer@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/28/00 9:28:07 AM, Mike wrote:
      Message 2 of 18 , Mar 28, 2000
      View Source
      • 0 Attachment
        In a message dated 3/28/00 9:28:07 AM, Mike wrote:

        << If you are radically disenchanted with some place, you can go, presumably,
        to another present location and find a better world. You can go, at least
        in imagination, beneath the earth, beyond the seas or above the stars, to
        discover somewhere a perfect utopia. But if the whole world seems truly
        corrupt, empty and dead, your only option may be to travel in time --
        forward to the future or back into the past. For a more fulfilling life,
        seek the beginning or the end, Eden or Apocalypse.>>

        I greatly enjoyed reading this, will check out that book.
        Maybe, it's not so much going back to the past as it is going "full circle,"
        so that the end is at the beginning. Like, "The first shall be last, and the
        last shall be first." Sincerely, Patti
      • Michael Grondin
        We ve received some comments on the Crossan essay I posted which indicate that further remarks may be in order. 1. Although Crossan is a renowned scholar, his
        Message 3 of 18 , Mar 31, 2000
        View Source
        • 0 Attachment
          We've received some comments on the Crossan essay I posted which indicate
          that further remarks may be in order.

          1. Although Crossan is a renowned scholar, his essay "Paradise Regained"
          was not written in a scholarly way. It was intended for a mass audience,
          and so he writes in a way that is quite different from his usual style. If
          he were a participant in this forum, for example, he wouldn't write in that
          way. So the style of his essay is not something that should be emulated
          here. Only experts can get away with writing like that.

          2. Two key elements that Crossan identifies as being part of "the secret of
          Thomas" are not actually *in* Thomas - namely, celibacy and the notion of
          an androgynous Adam. These are inferences that Crossan draws from Thomas,
          based at least partially on his knowledge of other early non-centrist Xian
          writings.

          a. celibacy: Crossan seems to be on firm ground here, since it's hard to
          imagine how one can totally deny "the world" and still be producing and
          caring for children. (In those days, having sex pretty much meant having
          children.) However, this is certainly not the only way of interpreting what
          Thomas means when it says things like "make the male and female one and the
          same". Indeed, if we go too far in this direction, Thomas begins to appear
          like an encratite document. Nevertheless, it should be understood that
          Thomas is a *non-centrist* document - it does *not* express the views that
          eventually came to dominate and define Xianity. Celibacy had general appeal
          early on, when folks thought the end was near. When it became apparent that
          it wasn't, celibacy lost its centrality, and became acceptable only as a
          special rule for priests and monastics.

          b. androgynous Adam: As far as I know, this is entirely a gnostic idea,
          related to the intellectual notion that God "himself" must be androgynous,
          therefore "man" (his "image") must also be androgynous, at least at first.
          The notion of androgyny is prominent in the Apocryphon of John, for
          example. But note that when *Thomas* mentions Adam, not only does it say
          nothing that would indicate that he's being taken in that way, but in fact
          it rather clearly implies that he is *not* being taken in that way ("he
          [Adam] was not worthy of you"). Furthermore, the gnostic notion of
          androgyny (as expressed in ApocJn) is not gender-equal, but rather is
          male-dominated. (When the female acts without the consent of her male
          partner, she produces evil.) In addition, Thomas says some things which
          seem to indicate that it believes not in a single androgynous god, but
          rather in a father-mother scenario (the Holy Spirit being the mother).
          Finally, I would think that those who don't want to believe that Thomas is
          gnostic would be quite uncomfortable with this particular aspect of
          Crossan's interpretation. Even assuming that Thomas does envision a return
          to "the beginning", it's questionable whether this is the beginning that
          Thomas envisions. Again, as above, "make the male and female one and the
          same" need not be interpreted in the literal way that Crossan does.
          However, those who interpret it otherwise need to provide their own
          explanation of what it means.

          Regards,
          Mike

          The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
          http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
        • Jacob Knee
          Many thanks for these fascinating messages: 1 Celibacy. I think many NT folks are very reluctant to say that celibacy was an issue early on and tend to see
          Message 4 of 18 , Mar 31, 2000
          View Source
          • 0 Attachment
            Many thanks for these fascinating messages:

            1 Celibacy. I think many 'NT folks' are very reluctant to say that celibacy
            was an issue early on and tend to see it as arising in the second century
            and after. My guess is that many of the 'patristics folks' do pretty much
            the reverse. The 'institutionalisation' of asceticism into what we might
            even begin to recognise as 'orders' is a phenomenon of the fifth century and
            later.

            2. Androgynous Adam is, I believe, not uncommon as an exegesis of the
            Genesis story: that gender differentiation is in some sense 'secondary'. I
            seem to remember, for example, that such an exegesis is to be found in
            Gregory of Nyssa. I'm actually interested to know if it is to be found in
            Philo.

            Jacob Knee
            (Boston, England)
          • Mike Grondin
            ... secondary . ... in ... found in ... Yeah, me too. Based on what you say, I guess I stand corrected that this was not just a gnostic concept. But if you
            Message 5 of 18 , Mar 31, 2000
            View Source
            • 0 Attachment
              "jacob knee" <jkne-@...> wrote:

              > ... Androgynous Adam is, I believe, not uncommon as an exegesis of the
              > Genesis story: that gender differentiation is in some sense
              'secondary'.
              > I seem to remember, for example, that such an exegesis is to be found
              in
              > Gregory of Nyssa. I'm actually interested to know if it is to be
              found in
              > Philo.

              Yeah, me too. Based on what you say, I guess I stand corrected that
              this was not just a gnostic concept. But if you don't mind, I'd like to
              piggyback on your remarks to say something a little more about the
              concept of 'androgyny', for those who (like myself) may be somewhat
              confused about it.

              The Greek word 'androgynos' means roughly 'man-woman'. It has to do
              with containing the essence of *both* sexes, not *neither*. There's a
              fine line between 'both' and 'neither' which is often crossed in
              practice, but in theory it's relatively easy to differentiate the two:

              (1) With respect to physical sexual organs, 'both' would be a
              hermaphrodite, 'neither' would be a cartoon character or doll with no
              genitals.
              (2) With respect to sexual practice, 'both' would be a bisexual,
              'neither' would be an "asexual" (i.e., a celibate).

              With this background in mind, and ignoring Crossan's views for the
              moment, I ask myself whether GTh is talking about 'both' or 'neither',
              or some confused mishmash of the two. Specifically, when it's claimed
              that in order to enter the kingdom, one must make it such that "neither
              the male be male, nor the female female", does that mean:

              (a) Each sex should be *both* male and female.
              (b) Each sex should be *neither* male nor female.

              On a literal interpretation, the male/female stuff in Thomas seems to
              be of type (b), which would be consistent with celibacy, which in turn
              would be consistent with world-negation. But "androgynous Adam" is by
              definition type (a). Thus, there seems to be a logical inconsistency in
              Crossan's view. One cannot derive both celibacy and androgyny from
              Thomas, it seems, unless Thomas itself is inconsistent. If Thomas
              recommends celibacy, then it recommends that one be *neither* male nor
              female, but if Thomas recommends that one return to the state of
              androgynous Adam, then it recommends that one be *both* male and
              female. Obviously, it ain't possible to be both 'both' and 'neither'.

              The conclusion that I would draw from this line of thinking is the same
              as was implied in my earlier note: Crossan is just simply wrong about
              the androgyny thingy. Thomas shows no awareness whatsoever of an
              androgynous ideal, so one can hardly be inferred from it. Logically
              speaking, its male/female ideal is not "type-both" (i.e., androgynous),
              but rather "type-neither". In point of fact, the "beginning" it
              mentions doesn't seem to be based on any well-thought-out exegesis of
              Genesis at all, but rather on a sort of simple (Platonic?) duality of
              spiritual world versus material world. If I can wax poetic for a
              moment: In the beginning, all was spirit. In the end, all will be
              spirit again. In the meantime, all of us human critters who are
              combinations of flesh and spirit, should yield to the (holy) spirit
              which is in us, and follow *its* dictates rather than the dictates of
              the flesh (with which it is naturally and always at war!) In that way,
              we can become (virtual?) members of "the kingdom" while we're
              physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become (actual?)
              members of the kingdom after our physical death, and forever. That's
              what *I* think is meant by Thomas's promise that one can bring it about
              that one will not "taste death".

              Regards,
              Mike
            • Kanefer@aol.com
              In a message dated 3/31/00 3:38:13 PM, Mike Grondin wrote:
              Message 6 of 18 , Mar 31, 2000
              View Source
              • 0 Attachment
                In a message dated 3/31/00 3:38:13 PM, Mike Grondin wrote:
                <<In the beginning, all was spirit. In the end, all will be
                spirit again. In the meantime, all of us human critters who are
                combinations of flesh and spirit, should yield to the (holy) spirit
                which is in us, and follow *its* dictates rather than the dictates of
                the flesh (with which it is naturally and always at war!) In that way,
                we can become (virtual?) members of "the kingdom" while we're
                physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become (actual?)
                members of the kingdom after our physical death, and forever.>>

                I think this is good analysis all the way through. There is that scripture
                in 1 Corinthians, 6:16-17, that maybe helps with thought of neither the male
                male & neither the female female. Because, after "joining with" God one is
                female or male in form, but not in spirit.
                Was thinking, on some level, Adam & Eve were already "married" in sense that
                they first existed as one flesh, then were riven. This theme of separation
                is echoed in forced departure from Garden.
                In a way, thinking of them as already "one flesh" - it is as if they were put
                assunder, and as if the creation of Eve itself represents sin - that the sin
                was already committed, and then represented by one flesh becoming "twain."
                Except, it is shown as God having separated the one into two.
                So, maybe, in consideration also of the expulsion from Garden, it is that the
                flesh was separated from the spirit? But it doesn't seem so.
                Adam: Flour & water baked in oven = bread.
                Eve: A part from the bread = bread

                So, it appears that the one flesh of the two was put assunder.
                Looking at theme of separation: (God separates light from dark, etc.) God
                separates Adam from Tree of Knowledge, God separates (creates) Eve from Adam,
                Eve separated from Adam by serpent/fruit, couple separated from God by
                awareness of nakedness, (nakedness as opposed to what?), God separates couple
                from Garden... Think there is a secret there.

                It should be kept in mind that Adam in Garden of Eden was not blissfully
                frolicking or walking about holy as "androgynous" spiritual being in
                paradisiacal environment, but tilling fields and tending orchards and taking
                care of animals, good hard work as mere laborer, he was a farmhand. (A
                farmhand sorely in need of a "help meet"). How can this possibly be
                construed as "Kingdom?" Thus, it truly is evident to me that return to
                Beginning cannot be return to Adam!

                Sincerely, Patti
              • Kanefer@aol.com
                In a message dated 3/31/00 3:38:13 PM, Mike Grondin wrote:
                Message 7 of 18 , Mar 31, 2000
                View Source
                • 0 Attachment
                  In a message dated 3/31/00 3:38:13 PM, Mike Grondin wrote:
                  <<In the beginning, all was spirit. In the end, all will be
                  spirit again. In the meantime, all of us human critters who are
                  combinations of flesh and spirit, should yield to the (holy) spirit
                  which is in us, and follow *its* dictates rather than the dictates of
                  the flesh (with which it is naturally and always at war!) In that way,
                  we can become (virtual?) members of "the kingdom" while we're
                  physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become (actual?)
                  members of the kingdom after our physical death, and forever.>>

                  I think this is good analysis all the way through. There is that scripture
                  in 1 Corinthians, 6:16-17, that maybe helps with thought of neither the male
                  male & neither the female female. Because, after "joining with" God one is
                  female or male in form, but not in spirit.
                  Was thinking, on some level, Adam & Eve were already "married" in sense that
                  they first existed as one flesh, then were riven. This theme of separation
                  is echoed in forced departure from Garden.
                  In a way, thinking of them as already "one flesh" - it is as if they were put
                  assunder, and as if the creation of Eve itself represents sin - that the sin
                  was already committed, and then represented by one flesh becoming "twain."
                  Except, it is shown as God having separated the one into two.
                  So, maybe, in consideration also of the expulsion from Garden, it is that the
                  flesh was separated from the spirit? But it doesn't seem so.
                  Adam: Flour & water baked in oven = bread.
                  Eve: A part from the bread = bread

                  So, it appears that the one flesh of the two was put assunder.
                  Looking at theme of separation: (God separates light from dark, etc.) God
                  separates Adam from Tree of Knowledge, God separates (creates) Eve from Adam,
                  Eve separated from Adam by serpent/fruit, couple separated from God by
                  awareness of nakedness, (nakedness as opposed to what?), God separates couple
                  from Garden... Think there is a secret there.

                  It should be kept in mind that Adam in Garden of Eden was not blissfully
                  frolicking or walking about holy as "androgynous" spiritual being in
                  paradisiacal environment, but tilling fields and tending orchards and taking
                  care of animals, good hard work as mere laborer, he was a farmhand. (A
                  farmhand sorely in need of a "help meet"). How can this possibly be
                  construed as "Kingdom?" Thus, it truly is evident to me that return to
                  Beginning cannot be return to Adam!

                  Sincerely, Patti
                • Onnawa@aol.com
                  In a message dated 3/31/00 5:38:05 PM Eastern Standard Time, mgrondin@tir.com writes:
                  Message 8 of 18 , Apr 1 3:00 AM
                  View Source
                  • 0 Attachment
                    In a message dated 3/31/00 5:38:05 PM Eastern Standard Time, mgrondin@...
                    writes:

                    << If I can wax poetic for a
                    moment: In the beginning, all was spirit. In the end, all will be
                    spirit again. In the meantime, all of us human critters who are
                    combinations of flesh and spirit, should yield to the (holy) spirit
                    which is in us, and follow *its* dictates rather than the dictates of
                    the flesh (with which it is naturally and always at war!) In that way,
                    we can become (virtual?) members of "the kingdom" while we're
                    physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become (actual?)
                    members of the kingdom after our physical death, and forever. That's
                    what *I* think is meant by Thomas's promise that one can bring it about
                    that one will not "taste death".

                    Regards,
                    Mike

                    >>
                    .......Maybe Tom means that when we identify our true natures as
                    spirit...actually experience ourselves as a spirit being,and recognise we are
                    not our male or female bodies of protiens and such we will recognise that we
                    never were our bodies and always were and always have been spirit beings.
                    Maybe the fact that Einstein proclaimed that no energy is ever lost....it
                    merely change form points this fact out also. If we are not male or female
                    but spirit or energy beings who change form, then we have and always will be
                    in the kingdom of heaven in that we see first hand directly that we are what
                    we are and cannot die ever. So is this what Tom was saying ...with a
                    Newtonion Einsteinian twist?
                  • Jacob Knee
                    In the ascetic writings that I know of, the androgyny theme is associated with an overcoming of procreation. That in some sense gender difference exists in
                    Message 9 of 18 , Apr 1 8:25 AM
                    View Source
                    • 0 Attachment
                      In the ascetic writings that I know of, the androgyny theme is associated
                      with an overcoming of procreation. That in some sense gender difference
                      exists in order to enable the birth of children. Sexual abstinence subverts
                      the necessity for gender and returns the ascetic to a 'primal state'.

                      However the 'primal state' is most often normatively 'male'. So that female
                      ascetics who overcome their gender 'become male' (at least in the eyes of
                      the male ascetics who wrote about them). You might tie this in with ancient
                      biological theory in which the female is 'secondary' or to a particular
                      interpretation of the Genesis story in which maleness (prior to its
                      bifurcation into male _and_ female) comes first.

                      Best wishes,
                      Jacob Knee
                      (Boston, England)
                    • Ronald David McCann
                      Recently. Mike wrote:- In that way, we can become (virtual) members of the Kingdom while we are physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become
                      Message 10 of 18 , Apr 1 11:09 PM
                      View Source
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Recently. Mike wrote:-
                        "In that way, we can become (virtual) members of "the Kingdom" while we
                        are physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become (actual?)
                        members of the Kimgdom after our physical death and forever. That is what
                        I think is meant by Thomas's promise- that (if) one can bring it about
                        that one will not "taste death"."

                        This is a stunning synopsis of the main thrust of the earliest layers of
                        Thomas and what probably propelled it.

                        Later layering bought the Platonic immortality of the soul and the ideas
                        of pre-existence, I suggest.

                        The probably widespread idea that one was "smoked" at death gave way in
                        the Thomasine stream to the idea that one could avoid it- and not by
                        waiting for ressurection day. The Thomas material that deals with
                        pre-existence is late, proto Gnostic, I submit. The Edenic material,
                        dealing with the undoing of the fall of man, is probably more original.

                        Standing at the Beginning is a genesis reference- "In the Begining...".
                        The Androgyness references are to Adam before Eve became "spare ribs".
                        This is edenic speculation and probably not significant. Bluntly, some of
                        Thomas is garbage.

                        Anyway, I just want to thank those who post here, and I am extremely
                        grateful for the "epipanys" that people like Mike or Yuri generate.
                        Best Wishes,

                        Ron
                      • Jacob Knee
                        I m trying to describe a context in which Thomas may have been used or produced. It is in this context that becoming male is a thread of thought and practice
                        Message 11 of 18 , Apr 2 5:08 AM
                        View Source
                        • 0 Attachment
                          I'm trying to describe a context in which Thomas may have been used or
                          produced. It is in this context that becoming 'male' is a thread of thought
                          and practice that is worth exploring.

                          I have located this motif in ascetic advice, theology, and hagiography in
                          the Eastern Roman Empire in the fourth century. Since when have Egypt, Syria
                          and Turkey counted as 'Western'.


                          (Ascetics in Latin speaking North Africa (e.g. Augustine of Hippo) and the
                          Western provinces of the Empire were, often, very suspicious of both the
                          theology and practice of this 'thorough going' (Eastern) asceticsm).

                          Jacob Knee
                          (Boston, England)

                          > -----Original Message-----
                          > From: Onnawa@... [mailto:Onnawa@...]
                          > Sent: 02 April 2000 04:07
                          > To: jknee@...; gthomas@egroups.com
                          > Subject: Re: [gthomas] Re: Androgynous Adam
                          >
                          >
                          > In a message dated 4/1/00 11:26:04 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                          > jknee@... writes:
                          >
                          > << However the 'primal state' is most often normatively 'male'. >>
                          > well thats from the western perspective...in Tibetan Buddhist esoteric
                          > writings the polarity we experience is only on this
                          > level....there are even
                          > trilarities to evolve into
                          >
                        • Kanefer@aol.com
                          Ron wrote: well, I don t know. I get feeling of purity about the writing, though it is so stripped bare of
                          Message 12 of 18 , Apr 2 9:57 AM
                          View Source
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Ron wrote: <<Bluntly, some of Thomas is garbage.>>

                            well, I don't know. I get feeling of purity about the writing, though it is
                            so stripped bare of environment. almost like all the 'garbage' has been
                            tossed out... wish we could go back to File 13 and retrieve some of that,
                            what was considered 'garbage' back then. Probably, it's all mixed in with
                            the stuff in the other gospels.

                            sincerely, patti
                          • Michael Grondin
                            ... are ... Th 3.4-5 provides some support for this view: When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the sons
                            Message 13 of 18 , Apr 2 10:23 AM
                            View Source
                            • 0 Attachment
                              At 06:00 AM 04/01/00 EST, Onnawa@... wrote:
                              >.......Maybe Tom means that when we identify our true natures as
                              >spirit...actually experience ourselves as a spirit being,and recognise we
                              are
                              >not our male or female bodies of protiens and such we will recognise that we
                              >never were our bodies and always were and always have been spirit beings.
                              >Maybe the fact that Einstein proclaimed that no energy is ever lost....it
                              >merely change form points this fact out also. If we are not male or female
                              >but spirit or energy beings who change form, then we have and always will be
                              >in the kingdom of heaven in that we see first hand directly that we are what
                              >we are and cannot die ever. So is this what Tom was saying ...with a
                              >Newtonion Einsteinian twist?

                              Th 3.4-5 provides some support for this view:

                              "When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known,
                              and you will realize that you are the sons of the living Father.
                              But if you do not come to know yourselves,
                              then you exist in poverty and you are poverty."

                              At the same time, we have the saying about the impossibility of serving two
                              masters. So while the flesh is not part of our "true" nature, still our
                              spirit finds itself in it (#29), so in philosophical terms, it could be
                              said that it's at least an _accidental_ (though not an _essential_) part of
                              ourselves. Clearly Thomas believes that the body/flesh is as metaphorically
                              "dead" as the world of which it is a part, the thought being that the only
                              "real" life is (eternal) spiritual life. To discover the "secret" of the
                              true nature of the world and of ourselves is to discover a great treasure,
                              and once having discovered it, we (now identified with our spirit) can then
                              "rule" over our flesh, become a "light" to others, and finally come to rest.

                              The question of whether Thomas was right or wrong on the issue of our
                              "real" nature gets into metaphysics or, worse, faith issues, so I would
                              avoid that question. I do see echoes of Platonism here, in that Plato held
                              that the only "true" reality is in things that are eternal and unchanging.
                              I happen to believe that Plato was wrong, but that's a separate issue.

                              Mike
                              (p.s.: Putting on my moderator hat for a second, I'd like to remind all
                              contributors that they must sign their names to these messages. Otherwise,
                              they won't be accepted.)
                            • Michael Grondin
                              ... Well, because you re wrong about that. Adam didn t have to work until the Fall. Also, it should be borne in mind that Androgynous Adam was not (usually?)
                              Message 14 of 18 , Apr 2 11:30 AM
                              View Source
                              • 0 Attachment
                                At 02:40 AM 04/01/00 EST, Kanefer@... wrote:
                                >It should be kept in mind that Adam in Garden of Eden was not blissfully
                                >frolicking or walking about holy as "androgynous" spiritual being in
                                >paradisiacal environment, but tilling fields and tending orchards and
                                >taking care of animals, good hard work as mere laborer, he was a farmhand.
                                >(A farmhand sorely in need of a "help meet"). How can this possibly be
                                >construed as "Kingdom?"

                                Well, because you're wrong about that. Adam didn't have to work until the
                                Fall. Also, it should be borne in mind that "Androgynous Adam" was not
                                (usually?) thought of as _physical_ Adam, but rather as that first
                                spiritual image of God which later became the physical Adam and Eve. This
                                involves a different reading of Genesis than we're used to.

                                Mike
                              • Ronald David McCann
                                Patti. It seems to me that homo sapiens novus. the new human is asexual because Spirit is asexual. The teaching about neither married or given in marriage
                                Message 15 of 18 , Apr 2 2:15 PM
                                View Source
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Patti.
                                  It seems to me that homo sapiens novus. the new human is asexual because
                                  Spirit is asexual. The teaching about "neither married or given in
                                  marriage" alludes to this. The "Making Mary Male" logion in Thomas refers,
                                  I submit, to the aquisition of spirithood by a female, something those
                                  blockheads thought was only a male perogative. This saying is surely
                                  corrective. Any soul can transform into spirit, and if one insists J can
                                  make her male so she can do it.

                                  I have a real problem taking this Androgeny debate seriously. Females
                                  seem to be one step removed from salvation. This, in my view, is nonsense,
                                  and I reieterate that some of Thomas is garbage.

                                  It always stuns me that people fail to see that SOULS, whaterever their
                                  gender physically, are asexual creatures. And so it is when they acquire
                                  spirithood. The appendages just polarize the identities. What you see
                                  hanging from your bodies you identify with. But this is your horse. That
                                  is all it is.

                                  Thomas, it seems to me, teaches that Souls can become Spirits, and
                                  thereby become immortal.

                                  Late Thomas material, I suggest, buys into the immortality of the
                                  human
                                  soul. This concept makes the importance of acquiring immortality
                                  redundant. If you already have it, why quest for it? More garbage.

                                  Late Thomas is either garbage because it urges us to quest for
                                  immortality
                                  when we have already have it or urges upon us a quest for what is already
                                  attained.

                                  I suggest that those parts of T that tell us we are smoked unless we
                                  acquire spirithood are the original. "Seek a place in the Rest lest you
                                  be eaten."

                                  Best Wishes

                                  Ron
                                • Michael Grondin
                                  ... Apologies to Patti for the above, which was obviously written by my evil twin, who took quite a fall himself. Patti reminds me of Gen 2:15 - The Lord God
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Apr 2 11:44 PM
                                  View Source
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    >Adam didn't have to work until the Fall.

                                    Apologies to Patti for the above, which was obviously written by my evil
                                    twin, who took quite a fall himself. Patti reminds me of Gen 2:15 -

                                    "The Lord God took the Man and put him in the garden to till it and keep it."

                                    So in Gen 2, Adam was the gardener, even before Eve. (Notoriously, of
                                    course, Gen 1 tells a different story, or at least a shorter one.) I guess
                                    then that what made the Eden of Gen 2 a "paradise" (in answer to Patti's
                                    question) was that all of Adam's needs were provided for. Evidently,
                                    tending the garden wasn't all that difficult, since the implication of 2:17
                                    ("cursed is the ground because of you") is that the ground that Adam would
                                    have to work after his explusion would be quite a bit less fertile ("thorns
                                    and thistles it shall bring forth to you"). Also, of course, it's at this
                                    point that death enters the picture ("to dust you shall return"). The fact
                                    that Adam was made of dust in the first place indicates that the authors of
                                    Gen 2 took Adam to be already a physical being, albeit an eternal one,
                                    before the Fall. In any case, I draw attention to the exact description of
                                    Adam's creation (Gen 2:7):

                                    "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
                                    and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
                                    and Man became a living being."

                                    The Greek word 'pneuma', used in Thomas (and multiple other Greek and
                                    Coptic texts) as part of the phrase 'holy spirit', is of feminine gender,
                                    and has actually a variety of meanings, including 'wind', 'air', 'breath',
                                    even 'life'. One can see, then, how natural it was to think of spirit as
                                    the thing that gave life to the body. Thus, aside from Platonic reasoning,
                                    spirit is the very essence of life. The wind (or a breeze) could be taken
                                    as the spirit of God - which explains the symbolism of the Pentecost story.
                                    There are all kinds of other connections involved with the word 'pneuma'
                                    (including the likely identification of the Holy Spirit as "the Mother"
                                    mentioned in Thomas), but I hope I've said enough to redeem myself from
                                    what my evil twin wrote.

                                    Note to evil twin: Next time, check your facts, buddy.

                                    Regards,
                                    Mike

                                    The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
                                    http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
                                  • Kanefer@aol.com
                                    Nope - see Genesis 2:15 - And the Lord God took the man and put him into
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Apr 2 11:47 PM
                                    View Source
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      <<Well, because you're wrong about that. Adam didn't have to work until the
                                      Fall. >>

                                      Nope - see Genesis 2:15 - "And the Lord God took the man and put him into
                                      the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it..."

                                      Sincerely, Patti
                                    • Robert Tessman
                                      ... My question is this. Would those who wrote and read Thomas endeavor into theory enough to make the differntiation? Like the idea of the snake that eats
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Apr 3 2:00 AM
                                      View Source
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        >The Greek word 'androgynos' means roughly 'man-woman'. It has to do
                                        >with containing the essence of *both* sexes, not *neither*. There's a
                                        >fine line between 'both' and 'neither' which is often crossed in
                                        >practice, but in theory it's relatively easy to differentiate the two:

                                        My question is this. Would those who wrote and read Thomas endeavor into
                                        'theory' enough to make the differntiation? Like the idea of the snake that
                                        eats its tail, does it anihilate itself or does it become full of itself?
                                        Does an entity that is both or neither male and/nor female have sex with
                                        itself or have sex with everybody or even not have sex? I wonder if you are
                                        not venturing upon an unanswerable question here that was intended by the
                                        Thomasines at least to remain unanswerable.


                                        >(1) With respect to physical sexual organs, 'both' would be a
                                        >hermaphrodite, 'neither' would be a cartoon character or doll with no
                                        >genitals.

                                        Or perhaps the idea was that the organs, existant or non existant no longer
                                        had the effect upon such an ascetic that they do on non-ascetics.

                                        >(2) With respect to sexual practice, 'both' would be a bisexual,
                                        >'neither' would be an "asexual" (i.e., a celibate).

                                        Here I think you leave out the possibility that such a being is united with
                                        their desire. There is, after all, no need to seek a wife or accidentally
                                        have children if, so to speak, your Adam is perpetually with your Eve. Now
                                        if by 'asexual' you mean 'self-contained' I can see this as a possibility
                                        even for the 'man-woman', yet I would use a term like 'autosexual'. The
                                        idea being, with reference to the Man of Gen 1, that such a man had
                                        everything he/she needed to be happy--before the seperation ever occured.
                                        'Self reliance' and 'independance' are implied here not 'bisexuality'.

                                        >With this background in mind, and ignoring Crossan's views for the
                                        >moment, I ask myself whether GTh is talking about 'both' or 'neither',
                                        >or some confused mishmash of the two. Specifically, when it's claimed
                                        >that in order to enter the kingdom, one must make it such that "neither
                                        >the male be male, nor the female female", does that mean:
                                        >
                                        >(a) Each sex should be *both* male and female.
                                        >(b) Each sex should be *neither* male nor female.
                                        >
                                        >On a literal interpretation,

                                        Literal interpretation doesn't seem reasonable. I doubt the author/s of
                                        Thomas or even the writers of Gen 1 cared to think on this level. I think
                                        it is by such literalizing that the entire analysis here becomes flawed.
                                        Should we think that the man-woman or neuter of Gen 1 was such because of
                                        some concern for literal genetalia? It seems more obvious that the concern
                                        is for a deeper bond--to 'wax poetic for a moment'-that lovers feel when
                                        they are seperated by distance and time: that they will not be truely happy
                                        until *THEY* are together again, not their genitals.

                                        the male/female stuff in Thomas seems to
                                        >be of type (b), which would be consistent with celibacy, which in turn
                                        >would be consistent with world-negation. But "androgynous Adam" is by
                                        >definition type (a). Thus, there seems to be a logical inconsistency in
                                        >Crossan's view.

                                        ...based upon a literalizing of the symbol. In Gen 1 we are dealing with a
                                        divine Man, He is androgenous not because he possesses both phalus and
                                        uterus, but because he has everything that he will ever desire contained in
                                        himself (i.e., a 'herself') Thus there is no reason for this Man to stray
                                        from God--God had not yet put him to sleep; God had not yet seperated her
                                        from him.

                                        Of course I am basing all this upon Freudian-like psychology that assumes
                                        that every ambition in the male gender, for money and gain, fame or renown,
                                        that is not meant to satisfy ones survival is for the ultimate purposes of
                                        winning a mate.

                                        True Freud is modern-thought, but so too is this literalizing logic.

                                        One cannot derive both celibacy and androgyny from
                                        >Thomas, it seems, unless Thomas itself is inconsistent.

                                        The inconsistency is in your assumption that the Thomasines had the concept
                                        of literal genitalia in mind when referencing Gen 1. That they even cared
                                        about what the anatomy of such a figure would be. The idea however is that
                                        the andro-gynos had no need to desire external things/persons/gains.
                                        Whether this implied 'celibacy' or 'autoeroticism' and perhaps both may be
                                        a better question.

                                        If Thomas
                                        >recommends celibacy, then it recommends that one be *neither* male nor
                                        >female, but if Thomas recommends that one return to the state of
                                        >androgynous Adam, then it recommends that one be *both* male and
                                        >female. Obviously, it ain't possible to be both 'both' and 'neither'.

                                        The way you have set the logic up, yes I have to agree with you. The
                                        literal premise however is where I disagree with you (i.e., if genitals
                                        exist they must necessarily exist for the purpose of having sex with people
                                        OTHER than the one who possesses these two genitals, and because this is a
                                        literal picture we cannot of course imagine that they would exist on the
                                        androgyne in perpetual union--because that is literally and anotomically
                                        absurd).

                                        >The conclusion that I would draw from this line of thinking is the same
                                        >as was implied in my earlier note: Crossan is just simply wrong about
                                        >the androgyny thingy. Thomas shows no awareness whatsoever of an
                                        >androgynous ideal, so one can hardly be inferred from it. Logically
                                        >speaking, its male/female ideal is not "type-both" (i.e., androgynous),
                                        >but rather "type-neither". In point of fact, the "beginning" it
                                        >mentions doesn't seem to be based on any well-thought-out exegesis of
                                        >Genesis at all, but rather on a sort of simple (Platonic?) duality of
                                        >spiritual world versus material world.

                                        But by literalizing the androgyny thingy, you have automatically relegated
                                        this type to the 'material' world.

                                        If I can wax poetic for a
                                        >moment: In the beginning, all was spirit. In the end, all will be
                                        >spirit again. In the meantime, all of us human critters who are
                                        >combinations of flesh and spirit, should yield to the (holy) spirit
                                        >which is in us, and follow *its* dictates rather than the dictates of
                                        >the flesh (with which it is naturally and always at war!) In that way,
                                        >we can become (virtual?) members of "the kingdom" while we're
                                        >physically alive, so that our spirits (or souls) will become (actual?)
                                        >members of the kingdom after our physical death, and forever. That's
                                        >what *I* think is meant by Thomas's promise that one can bring it about
                                        >that one will not "taste death".

                                        My conclusion is that while the Tomasine ascetics might have practiced
                                        chastity there is no evidence for the kind of hatred of flesh and hatred of
                                        genitals that you assume here with your idea of "type-neither". First why
                                        does a union of male and female necesarily lead us to a literal picture?
                                        Second, if we cannot conceive of that picture does it mean we should try?
                                        Or is something else intended with the symbol that does not call into
                                        question whether the figure likes to have sex with everybody or nobody?
                                        Rather it seems obvious that a man who is also his female counterpart is
                                        100% self-reliant, he does not need the world, he/she is a complete person,
                                        married, and thus immune to the seductions of the world. Why should
                                        genitals even come into the equation?

                                        It seems that your logic is based more upon a freek show than any actual
                                        meaning inherent in Thomas.

                                        Let me just add another point to all this. Ascetics and Philosophers often
                                        make their ideal out to be what is opposite their own sex. In Proverps for
                                        instance you have Wisdom depicted as a female (i.e., this literature was
                                        directed toward men). This type of teaching of course engages all 'parts'
                                        of the students in their quest for the ideal. Now when you have ascetics
                                        who are torn between seeking god and the pleasures of the opposite sex you
                                        have many ascetics that become ex-ascetics. Unless of course you tell
                                        them, "look here, what you are seeking, if you attain it, will be as if you
                                        were perpetually with a woman, united in the act of love. If you stray you
                                        will never have that. If you have sex with women temporarily it will
                                        always be temporarily and you will be more unhappy than you are happy. But
                                        if you seek the kingdom you will not ever disire the opposite sex because
                                        you will fully possess all that you desire now."

                                        Robert.
                                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.