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RE: [gthomas] sons of God = angels of whom satan/the evil half god was one = ...

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  • David C. Hindley
    Tom Westbury said: [I have omitted Herold Helm s backquote from one of my posts about possible connections between gnosticism and magical traditions] ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 16, 2000
      Tom Westbury said:

      [I have omitted Herold Helm's backquote from one of my posts about
      possible connections between gnosticism and magical traditions]

      >>This [quote] is interesting in light of Stevan Davies' essay:
      http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/oracles.htm ORACLES OF
      in which he argues that the Gospel of Thomas is not a collection of
      wisdom sayings at all but rather an Oracles Text in which someone with
      a problem goes to a diviner (magician, fortune teller, etc) who gives
      him a set of dice to toss. A number comes up that corresponds with one
      of the "sayings" and the two try to figure out what it means in
      relationship to the problem.<<


      >>Going back and reading the entire collection [of sayings in the GoT]
      it does appear that most of them are obscure, opaque and can be
      interpreted in just about any way you desire. Since it appears to be
      stratified it is possible that the original was a pagan oracles list
      which was then "Christianized" somewhat to appeal to an Egyptian
      Christian audience with the assistance of the diviner.<<

      To think of the GoT as a set of oracular sayings is going in a
      different direction than I was implying by my original statement.
      Actually, the GoT is not overtly "Gnostic" at all (although a few
      sayings seem to have at least some connection with known gnostic
      doctrine), so my statements really relate more to the other, more
      obviously "Gnostic", books found at Nag Hammadi.

      Davies' suggestion that the GoT may be (in some early(?) recension,
      anywise) a set of oracular sayings is interesting, but there are
      problems. For instance, there is no key to allow quick interpretation
      such as there is with the Homeric oracles in PGM VII.1-148, which has
      three columns of numbers relating to dice combinations (and not the
      editor's convenient reference numbers).

      The sayings are stylistically separated from one another, which would
      perhaps be what might be expected if it was being used by mystics who
      spent a lot of time contemplating deep thoughts, one saying at a time.
      Is not one of the views being expressed a lot recently that the GoT
      originates among a Syrian "self awareness" movement? I think that
      examples of deep contemplation hinging around relatively obtuse
      sayings could be found in a number of meditative traditions.

      I did look at Davies' article, and though it was not clear it did seem
      as though he was casting doubt on the degree of structure that can be
      attributed to "Q." I do know that Kloppenborg (_Formation of Q_)
      leaves open the possibility that some of the sayings were not Jesus'
      but were appropriated from some less known collection and then
      attributed to him. Your suggestion that "it is possible that the
      original [GoT] was a pagan oracles list which was then 'Christianized'
      somewhat" could also describe an original "Q" (replacing "oracles
      list" with "chriae list"), whether or not a connection to oracular
      divination is correct. Motivations other than divination (such as a
      conscious attempt to cast Jesus in the mold of a harmless philosopher
      as opposed to the commonly held opinion, probably something more
      subversive) could readily explain such borrowing.

      Now it would be *really* interesting it *that* were adopted as the
      scholarly consensus! <g>


      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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