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Fire burning up #13

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  • Andrew Smith
    13) Jesus said to His disciples, Compare me to someone and tell Me whom I am like. Simon Peter said to Him, You are like a righteous angel. Matthew said
    Message 1 of 11 , Sep 6, 2000
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      13) Jesus said to His disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell Me whom I
      am like."
      Simon Peter said to Him, "You are like a righteous angel."
      Matthew said to Him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
      Thomas said to Him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom You
      are like."
      Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become
      intoxicated by the bubbling spring which I have measured out."
      And He took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned
      to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
      Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you
      will pick up stones and throw them at me; ***a fire will come out of the
      stones and burn you up.***"

      I made an enquiry on a list devoted to the works of Moses Maimonides
      concerning the Judaic image of fire burning people up (especially connected
      with secret knowledge) and they came up with the parallels below. Scott
      Alexander came up with most of the parallels. I received his permission to
      edit and forward his post to this list.

      The Talmud tells the story of a child who, sitting in the house of his
      teacher, grasped the meaning of the word hashmal, whereupon a fire burst
      forth from the page and consumed him. The Talmud reports that there was
      a movement to suppress the Book of Ezekiel, saying that it contradicted
      the words of the Torah [Hagigah 13a].


      The case mentioned by David Bakan [above] occurs twice in the 2d
      chapter of the
      Babylonian Talmud Hagigah. Elijah and Enoch are both taken up to heaven,
      perhaps in an
      image of fire. Here is a passage in Numbers:

      Num 16:32
      And the earth opened her mouth, and
      swallowed them up, and their houses, and all
      the men that [appertained] unto Korah, and
      all [their] goods.
      Num 16:33
      They, and all that [appertained] to them,
      went down alive into the pit, and the earth
      closed upon them: and they perished from
      among the congregation.
      Num 16:34
      And all Israel that [were] round about them
      fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest
      the earth swallow us up [also].
      Num 16:35
      And there came out a fire from the LORD,
      and consumed the two hundred and fifty
      men that offered incense.

      And here is one from Leviticus:

      Lev 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his
      censer, and put fire therein, and
      put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he
      commanded them not.
      Lev 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they
      died before the LORD.



      The passage [Logion 13] purposely recalls the above mentioned incidents, but
      not only
      them. It calls to mind also the several passages about Moses and springs
      of water, and Isaac and springs of water. A spring of water is a well
      known biblical/kabalistic image of the sefirot. In Hagigah there is
      another famous and related passage about the four who went to heaven and
      how only one of them came out of the experience intact. The author of your
      text is familiar with all of this material.

      ********************
      Best Wishes

      Andrew Smith
    • Mike Grondin
      ... Andrew- I m not sure whether this instance of divine fire fits into the general pattern of the others (and Th13), namely, fire as divine punishment. Did
      Message 2 of 11 , Sep 6, 2000
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        > The Talmud tells the story of a child who, sitting in the house
        > of his teacher, grasped the meaning of the word hashmal, whereupon
        > a fire burst forth from the page and consumed him. The Talmud
        > reports that there was a movement to suppress the Book of Ezekiel,
        > saying that it contradicted the words of the Torah [Hagigah 13a].

        Andrew-

        I'm not sure whether this instance of "divine fire" fits into the
        general pattern of the others (and Th13), namely, fire as divine
        punishment. Did the child do something wrong (from the Talmudic point
        of view)? I don't know what the word 'hashmal' means, nor do I know
        how it relates to the Book of Ezekiel, so you're gonna hafta spell
        this out a little more.

        Mike
      • Andrew Smith
        ...  Well, I should mention that I like to pull up as many parallels as I can from historical material, and then let others sort them out on list.... Anyway,
        Message 3 of 11 , Sep 6, 2000
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          on 9/6/00 11:16 AM, Mike Grondin at mgrondin@... wrote:

          >> The Talmud tells the story of a child who, sitting in the house
          >> of his teacher, grasped the meaning of the word hashmal, whereupon
          >> a fire burst forth from the page and consumed him. The Talmud
          >> reports that there was a movement to suppress the Book of Ezekiel,
          >> saying that it contradicted the words of the Torah [Hagigah 13a].
          >
          > Andrew-
          >
          > I'm not sure whether this instance of "divine fire" fits into the
          > general pattern of the others (and Th13), namely, fire as divine
          > punishment. Did the child do something wrong (from the Talmudic point
          > of view)? I don't know what the word 'hashmal' means, nor do I know
          > how it relates to the Book of Ezekiel, so you're gonna hafta spell
          > this out a little more.
          >
          > Mike
          >
           Well, I should mention that I like to pull up as many parallels as I can
          from historical material, and then let others sort them out on list....

          Anyway, to paraphrase a post from the Maimonides list,
          "Hashmal" is apparently to be found in the 27th verse of the first chapter
          of the Book of Ezekiel -- "ein hashmal," a fountain of hashmal. The word
          doesn't appear anywhere else in Jewish scripture (though it is used for
          electricity in modern Hebrew) and is esoterically interpreted as the holy
          semen of God, hence, presumably, the child being burnt up. I found it to be
          an interesting parallel because of the connection to "secret knowledge." In
          GoT 13, if Thomas tells the others, then they will throw stones at him and
          fire will come from the stones and burn them up, so the result of their
          learning the three sayings or words would be that fire will burn them up
          (along with them stoning Thomas in reaction); similarly, the child in the
          Talmud story understood the secret meaning of "Hashmal" and fire came from
          the page and burnt him up. I'm not suggesting any direct relationship
          between the two, but I like the connection between fire and esoteric
          knowledge (perceived as illegitimate knowledge?) The Leviticus and numbers
          episodes seems similar to me: there is something illegitimate in the incense
          that they offer up. It also reminds me of Paterson Brown's suggestion that
          the three words in GoT 13 were the divine name.

          Andrew
        • Mike Grondin
          ... Depending on how one reads Th13, ISTM the fire can be seen either as a punishment for stoning Thomas, or as something that prevents the stoning in the
          Message 4 of 11 , Sep 6, 2000
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            --- Andrew Smith wrote:
            > I found it to be an interesting parallel because of the connection
            > to "secret knowledge." In GoT 13, if Thomas tells the others, then
            > they will throw stones at him and fire will come from the stones
            > and burn them up, so the result of their learning the three
            > sayings or words would be that fire will burn them up (along with
            > them stoning Thomas in reaction);

            Depending on how one reads Th13, ISTM the fire can be seen either as
            a punishment for stoning Thomas, or as something that prevents the
            stoning in the first place (by making the rocks "too hot to handle").
            In either case, the text suggests a causal connection between the
            two, not just that one occurs "along with" the other.

            >... I like the connection between fire and esoteric knowledge
            > (perceived as illegitimate knowledge?)

            I think it would help your case to suggest that the view might have
            been that esoteric knowledge destroys those who are not ready for it.
            Hence, the child, and perhaps also Thomas's "companions", who are
            presumably not as prepared as he is to hear the three words. Plus,
            this would also explain why J is made to say that he's brought "fire
            into the world". "Fire" = secret, hidden, esoteric knowledge? Maybe -
            but there's another view that needs to be confronted, namely that
            fire represents divine intervention and/or punishment. This latter
            view is what suggests itself to me in Th13, for example - and also in
            other cases.

            > The Leviticus and numbers episodes seems similar to me: there is
            > something illegitimate in the incense that they offer up.

            In both cases, some folks incurred God's wrath. But I don't see any
            suggestion that the reason for that wrath was that they had come upon
            some bit of esoteric knowledge.

            > It also reminds me of Paterson Brown's suggestion that
            > the three words in GoT 13 were the divine name.

            Well, I don't think much of that suggestion either. Among other
            things, none of the three words in themselves is such that Thomas
            would be stoned for attributing it to Jesus. Same weakness that my
            theory had. Also, the "divine name" is hardly a piece of esoterica in
            itself, so we're back to blasphemy again.

            Mike
          • Jon Zuck
            ... Well, personally, I think that that themes of theosis or divinization/deification (becoming God) are the primary distinguishing feature of Thomas
            Message 5 of 11 , Sep 6, 2000
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              Mike Grondin wrote:

              > but there's another view that needs to be confronted, namely that
              > fire represents divine intervention and/or punishment. This latter
              > view is what suggests itself to me in Th13, for example - and also in
              > other cases.

              Well, personally, I think that that themes of "theosis" or
              divinization/deification (becoming God) are the primary
              distinguishing feature of Thomas comapared to the four gospels, and that 13
              is one of the clearest illustrations of it. Both the Orthodox and Catholic
              churches teach theosis, (the Cathoic church rather obliquely) and both
              strongly tie the idea to faith in Christ. Paul also has far more theotic
              passages than Jesus does in the canonical gospels. (I treat this in more
              depth at http://surf.to/frimmin/faith/theosis.html . Jesus in Thomas seems
              to be saying in many places that theosis is already part of the human
              nature, though it is to be realized/fulfilled. This may be part of why this
              gospel became perhaps less popular with the bishops.

              To me, theosis is the only interpretation of 13 that seems to make sense.
              My reasoning: Jesus asks the disciples what he's like, and Thomas CAN'T say.
              To describe him is to describe the indescribable [ie, God]? Or is it that
              he's afraid of saying what he thinks, and commiting blasphemy? Either way,
              Jesus draws Tom aside and says three things to him. What these things are,
              Thomas won't say, but he can't resist giving a hint. If he did say them,
              the others would attempt to stone him,
              (blasphemy seems the most logical reason.) Now if Jesus had told Tom "I
              [Jesus] am God," the disciples' wouldn't be turning against Tom, so that
              doesn't make sense to me. I think the sayings might have been along the
              lines of "You are God." Tom dares not repeat it, but can keep it all in.
              He lets the others know that they couldn't understand. "You'd pick up
              stones to stone me," [for blasphemy], but "fire would come out of them and
              devour you" [for messing with this little God.]

              So is it divine punishment? I think only to the sense that Tom is divine
              there.

              ---
              Shalom v'Tovah,
              Jon Zuck
              Web URL: http://surf.to/frimmin
            • David C. Hindley
              ... whom I am like. Simon Peter said to Him, You are like a righteous angel. Matthew said to Him, You are like a wise philosopher. Thomas said to Him,
              Message 6 of 11 , Sep 6, 2000
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                >>13) Jesus said to His disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell Me
                whom I am like." Simon Peter said to Him, "You are like a righteous
                angel." Matthew said to Him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas
                said to Him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom You
                are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk,
                you have become
                intoxicated by the bubbling spring which I have measured out."<<

                Does any one else come away with the impression that the relative
                value of three gospels are being compared?

                Gospel of Peter: Two immense angels carry off Jesus who towers above
                them (as an even greater angel).
                Gospel of Matthew (probably refers to the sayings materials not
                contained in Mark or to Matthew's reputed collection of sayings in the
                "Hebrew tongue"): Jesus speaks wisdom sayings, etc.
                Gospel of Thomas: Jesus speaks not so much wisdom sayings but esoteric
                doctrines.

                If this is anywhere near correct, this might indicate saying #13
                represents an addition to an existing (Greek?) gospel of Thomas. This
                redactor sought to emphasize the superiority of Thomas' gospel over
                (real or imagined) competitors.

                Regards,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
              • Michael Grondin
                ... Yeah, I ve put forward that view here a couple times, and was told that one of the big names (Koester?) also held that view. As a candidate for Peter ,
                Message 7 of 11 , Sep 7, 2000
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                  >Does any one else come away with the impression that the relative
                  >value of three gospels are being compared [in 13A]?
                  >
                  >Gospel of Peter: Two immense angels carry off Jesus who towers above
                  >them (as an even greater angel).
                  >Gospel of Matthew (probably refers to the sayings materials not
                  >contained in Mark or to Matthew's reputed collection of sayings in the
                  >"Hebrew tongue"): Jesus speaks wisdom sayings, etc.
                  >Gospel of Thomas: Jesus speaks not so much wisdom sayings but esoteric
                  >doctrines.
                  >
                  >If this is anywhere near correct, this might indicate saying #13
                  >represents an addition to an existing (Greek?) gospel of Thomas. This
                  >redactor sought to emphasize the superiority of Thomas' gospel over
                  >(real or imagined) competitors.

                  Yeah, I've put forward that view here a couple times, and was told that one
                  of the big names (Koester?) also held that view. As a candidate for
                  "Peter", I've also looked at the Apocalypse of Peter, which may fit better,
                  cuz there's both righteousness and angels (it's not so clear that there's
                  "righteousness" in the Cross Gospel). Patterson, of course, argues for the
                  relative lateness of #13 on independent grounds.

                  Mike
                • Andrew Smith
                  ... The URL doesn t seem to be working. Andrew
                  Message 8 of 11 , Sep 7, 2000
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                    on 9/6/00 5:34 PM, Jon Zuck at frimmin@... wrote:

                    > (I treat this in more
                    > depth at http://surf.to/frimmin/faith/theosis.html .

                    The URL doesn't seem to be working.

                    Andrew
                  • Jon Zuck
                    I m sorry, I shouldn t have used the redirect URL for a specific page. The Theosis page is http://users.exis.net/~frimmin/faith/theosis.html Sorry for the
                    Message 9 of 11 , Sep 7, 2000
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                      I'm sorry, I shouldn't have used the redirect URL for a specific page.

                      The Theosis page is http://users.exis.net/~frimmin/faith/theosis.html
                      Sorry for the error.
                      ---
                      Shalom v'Tovah,
                      Jon Zuck
                      Web URL: http://surf.to/frimmin

                      It is more important to love much than to think much.
                      Always do that which most impels you to love.
                      --St. Teresa of Avila
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Andrew Smith <asmith@...>
                      To: <gthomas@egroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2000 12:39 PM
                      Subject: Re: [gthomas] Re: Fire burning up #13


                      > on 9/6/00 5:34 PM, Jon Zuck at frimmin@... wrote:
                      >
                      > > (I treat this in more
                      > > depth at http://surf.to/frimmin/faith/theosis.html .
                      >
                      > The URL doesn't seem to be working.
                      >
                      > Andrew
                      >
                      >
                      > -------------------------------------------------
                      > To post to gthomas, send email to gthomas@egroups.com
                      > To unsubscribe, send a blank email to gthomas-unsubscribe@egroups.com
                      >
                    • Andrew Smith
                      ... This is an excellent point. I didn t really have a case to present, just some intersting parallels that I was playing around with. ... I think that the
                      Message 10 of 11 , Sep 19, 2000
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                        on 9/6/00 1:04 PM, Mike Grondin at mgrondin@... wrote:

                        > I think it would help your case to suggest that the view might have
                        > been that esoteric knowledge destroys those who are not ready for it.

                        This is an excellent point. I didn't really have a case to present, just
                        some intersting parallels that I was playing around with.

                        > Hence, the child, and perhaps also Thomas's "companions", who are
                        > presumably not as prepared as he is to hear the three words. Plus,
                        > this would also explain why J is made to say that he's brought "fire
                        > into the world". "Fire" = secret, hidden, esoteric knowledge? Maybe -
                        > but there's another view that needs to be confronted, namely that
                        > fire represents divine intervention and/or punishment. This latter
                        > view is what suggests itself to me in Th13, for example - and also in
                        > other cases.
                        >
                        >> The Leviticus and numbers episodes seems similar to me: there is
                        >> something illegitimate in the incense that they offer up.
                        >
                        > In both cases, some folks incurred God's wrath. But I don't see any
                        > suggestion that the reason for that wrath was that they had come upon
                        > some bit of esoteric knowledge.

                        I think that the significance of the incense is that they are adding
                        something alien to the fire, so the fire burns them up. Not really connected
                        to GoT 13 but interesting nonetheless.

                        One more observation: in the Torah passages it is fire from the Lord. In GoT
                        and the Talmud the fire is from the book and from the stones respectively.
                      • Andrew Smith
                        Does anyone know how many fine press editions of Thomas there have been? I m familiar with a book by the Petrarch Press of New York printed in the late 80s (I
                        Message 11 of 11 , Sep 24, 2000
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                          Does anyone know how many fine press editions of Thomas there have been? I'm
                          familiar with a book by the Petrarch Press of New York printed in the late
                          '80s (I have an association with the now-defunct Petrarch Press) It was a
                          limited edition of around 200 copies, using the Brill translation, hand
                          typset, printed letterpress on all-cotton paper, with a beige-pink cover; 10
                          copies were printed on parchment.

                          I was wondering if there would be a market for another fine press edition of
                          GoT. Would the Coptic text be required? (Coptic fonts are available in metal
                          type.) Have there been any other fine editions, whether letterpress or no?

                          As a separate question, do any of the existing translations of Thomas create
                          a combined text, translating the Greek POxy versions of logia where they
                          exist, and only using th Coptic where the Greek is lacking?

                          Best Wishes

                          Andrew Smith
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