RE: [gthomas] sons of God = angels of whom satan/the evil half god was one = ...
- 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>
Cleveland, Ohio, USA