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Androgenous ideal

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  • joe lieb
    Thank you to those who have been communicating about androgenous Adam etc in GOT. I have found the discussion to be fascinating. I ask now about GOT 101 where
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 4, 2000
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      Thank you to those who have been communicating about androgenous Adam etc in GOT. I have found the discussion to be fascinating.
      I ask now about GOT 101 where it is stated that it is necessary to hate one's father and mother. Also GOT 15 and 105 have a related theme. Are we being told to hate the sexual aspect of our nature?
      If so this certainly answers the question discussion members have asked about whether 'androgeny' means lack of sex or both sexes at once. In the sense that we all have a mother and father we are both sexes at once. And we are told to hate this situation.
      Is the implication meant to be that we have some other mother and father of a spiritual nature?
      I would appreciate any comment on this.

      - Joe.



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    • Michael Grondin
      ... For the moment, I ll concentrate just on 101 and 55, which are the pair of sayings that mention hating one s parents. Although certainly one s sexual
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 5, 2000
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        At 05:22 PM 04/04/00 -0700, joe lieb wrote:
        > I ask now about GOT 101 where it is stated that it is
        > necessary to hate one's father and mother. Also GOT 15
        > and 105 have a related theme. Are we being told to hate
        > the sexual aspect of our nature?

        For the moment, I'll concentrate just on 101 and 55, which are the pair of
        sayings that mention hating one's parents. Although certainly one's sexual
        nature is part of the world, and therefore is one of the things from which
        Thomas recommends abstaining, I wouldn't think that *these sayings* were
        directly related to that. One interpretation of them is that they derive
        from an early stage of Xianity, when to be a Xian often involved cutting
        oneself off from one's (non-Xian) family. But even if so, they would have
        been reusable in a later and different historical situation - one in which,
        say, one's parents were Xians, but one wanted to leave them anyway and go
        off and be an ascetic monk. Or join a group of wandering "teachers".

        > If so this certainly answers the question discussion members
        > have asked about whether 'androgyny' means lack of sex or both
        > sexes at once. In the sense that we all have a mother and father
        > we are both sexes at once. And we are told to hate this situation.

        I don't think this line of reasoning holds up. If the authors of Thomas
        believed that everybody was *already* androgynous in some sense, it would
        hardly be necessary for them to *recommend* that folks become so. A
        recommendation (or commandment) implies the ability to fail to follow it.

        > Is the implication meant to be that we have some other mother
        > and father of a spiritual nature?

        Oh, my, yes! Here, 105 and 101 are relevant, as well as a couple of others:

        101: Of course we're all familiar with the love-hate relationship that one
        has with one's parents, and there may be echoes of that here, but in light
        of other sayings in Thomas, what I think is being said is that one ought to
        hate (or cast off) one's *natural* parents, and love one's "real" (i.e.,
        heavenly) parents. This is made explicit in 101.3: "For my mother brought
        me forth, but my true mother gave me Life." (You may recall what I said
        recently about the female-gender Greek word 'pneuma' connoting spirit,
        breath, and even life itself. This is one indication that the phrase "my
        true mother" in this saying refers to "the Holy Spirit".) (Also, insofar as
        one's parents are considered one's "masters", the saying about the
        impossibility of serving two masters may be relevant.)

        105: ("He who will know the Father and the Mother will be called 'The Son
        of the Harlot'.") I guess what's most controversial about this saying is
        whether it refers to Jesus or not. I believe that it does echo historical
        charges of illegitimacy, and that that is what made it serviceable for
        another purpose in Thomas, namely (and this is arguable) that Thomas
        expresses the view of a group of early Xians who took the "Holy Spirit" to
        be a female aspect of the godhead, and that this group was subjected to
        ridicule and insult by other Xians who were staunchly patriarchal. This
        ridicule and insult would have reminded this female-Spirit group of the
        insults to which Jesus was subjected either before or after his death, and
        they thus made appeal to that other historical situation in order to
        vindicate themselves.

        Now two others that I think are crucial:

        44: (Whoever blasphemes against the Father or the Son will be forgiven, but
        whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.) Why not?
        Well, there may be a number of reasons, but I believe that one of them must
        be that the "Holy Spirit" is taken in Thomas to be a female element. You
        simply don't insult one's mother. (And this is not an anachronism.)

        85: "Adam came into being from a great power and a great wealth..."
        One is tempted to take it to be a meaningless coincidence that Adam is said
        to derive from *two* different things. I think it's neither meaningless nor
        coincidence. The word for 'power' is the Greek word 'dynamis', while the
        word for 'richness/wealth' is a Coptic feminine form deriving from a
        masculine root word. I believe that the implication here is that Adam came
        from both a Father and a Mother, rather than from a Father alone. This,
        together with the other sayings above, leads me to believe that the
        cosmology of Thomas is basically that of a family group: Father, Mother,
        Son, with Mother yet being subservient to Father. "The Mother" (i.e., the
        Holy Spirit) is elevated in Thomas to a position of near (but not total)
        equality with the Father. Rather than being the source of evil (as the
        insult "Son of the Harlot" implies), the female element is seen as being
        the source of eternal life - provided, however, that it can't work alone.
        (The Apocryphon of John apparently seized on some of these ideas, and built
        them into an elaborate myth; there we find a Mother-Father figure called
        'Barbelo', which is said to be the first creation of "the Monad".)

        Insofar as the canonical gospels agree with Thomas' view of the importance
        of the Spirit, it can be said that Thomas won out over its opponents,
        though it may have won the battle only to lose the war, since the implicit
        gender of the Holy Spirit seems to have been mostly lost. Looked at in this
        way, Thomas may have preserved a historical moment when the outcome of the
        battle over the Spirit was very much in doubt. But Steve Davies knows much
        more about this, and will, I hope, tell me where I've gone astray.

        Regards,
        Mike

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