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Gospel of Thomas, Saying 61

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  • James Bean
    This is a saying attributed to Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas, a new translation of Saying 61: Therefore I say: If someone becomes like God, he will become
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 22, 2000
      This is a saying attributed to Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas, a new
      translation of Saying 61:

      Therefore I say: If someone becomes like God, he will become full
      of light. But if he becomes one, separated from God, he will be
      full of darkness. ("The Fifth Gospel," Patterson, Robinson, Bethge,

      Trinity Press International)

      What kind of "Light" is this Saying talking about? In my view the Gospel
      of Thomas is in the tradition of contemplative or mystical Christianity
      and the "Light" of Thomas referred to here is not metaphor but mystical.
      Other teachings from the middle east about Light and God as Light.

      The Egyptian mystic Evagrius described that, for him, often his time
      of prayer was "interrupted" by the manifestation of "the Holy Light of
      the Trinity." He spoke of reaching a mystical level where it was no
      longer necessary to pray, because the Light of God engulfed his vision.
      In a stage of contemplative prayer that he called "Pure Prayer," Evagrius
      says, "Prayer ceases, and one becomes astonished, is caught up in wonder
      at the Light of God." "The person who has entered the Place of the Mysteries
      remains in wonder at them, and this is the true prayer which opens the
      Door to the Treasures of God." ("The Syriac Fathers On Prayer and the
      Spiritual Life")

      A Syrian Orthodox mystic once said:

      All the chambers of the heart are filled by that blessed Light,
      and there are no shapes or forms or anything material, or number
      or color; rather that Light Who cannot be separated out into
      shapes and forms is Single owing to the simpleness of the Faculty
      of Sight. ("The Syriac Fathers")

      In the New Testament is a parallel saying of Jesus to Thomas 61:

      If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of
      Light.

      James
      santmat@...
      http://www.egroups.com/group/spiritualawakening











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    • Victor Goldini
      ... Interesting that Grondin s Interlinear Translation shows # 61, when he should come to be destroyed, he will be full of light. When, however, he should
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 23, 2000
        --- James Bean <santmat@...> wrote:
        >
        > This is a saying attributed to Jesus from the Gospel
        > of Thomas, a new
        > translation of Saying 61:
        >
        > Therefore I say: If someone becomes like God, he
        > will become full
        > of light. But if he becomes one, separated from
        > God, he will be
        > full of darkness. ("The Fifth Gospel," Patterson,
        > Robinson, Bethge,
        >
        > Trinity Press International)
        >
        > What kind of "Light" is this Saying talking about?
        > In my view the Gospel
        > of Thomas is in the tradition of contemplative or
        > mystical Christianity
        > and the "Light" of Thomas referred to here is not
        > metaphor but mystical.

        Interesting that Grondin's Interlinear Translation
        shows # 61, "when he should come to be destroyed, he
        will be full of light. When, however, he should come
        to be divided, he will be full of darkness." The
        Scholar's Translation shows, "if one is whole, one
        will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one
        will be filled with darkness." How does one reconcile
        these differences?

        Vic

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      • Jim Bauer
        ... From: James Bean Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 12:27 AM Subject: [gthomas] Gospel of Thomas, Saying 61 ... In _The Cult of the
        Message 3 of 5 , Oct 23, 2000
          -----Original Message-----
          From: James Bean <santmat@...>
          Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 12:27 AM
          Subject: [gthomas] Gospel of Thomas, Saying 61


          >
          >This is a saying attributed to Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas, a new
          >translation of Saying 61:
          >
          > Therefore I say: If someone becomes like God, he will become full
          > of light. But if he becomes one, separated from God, he will be
          > full of darkness. ("The Fifth Gospel," Patterson, Robinson, Bethge,
          >
          > Trinity Press International)
          >
          >What kind of "Light" is this Saying talking about? In my view the Gospel
          >of Thomas is in the tradition of contemplative or mystical Christianity
          >and the "Light" of Thomas referred to here is not metaphor but mystical.
          >Other teachings from the middle east about Light and God as Light.


          In _The Cult of the Seer_, a massive study of the Desert Fathers of ancient
          Egypt, Violett McDermott maintains that these trance-forming states have a
          material basis in altered states of consciousness. The desert fathers, like
          many mystics, used food & sleep deprivation & self-inflicted pain to create
          visions. If it fit the orthodox system, it was selected for; if not, it was
          selected against.

          Indeed, even accepting your mystical ideation, "Light" can still be
          "metaphorical"; it is possible to perceive metaphors as literal statements
          while in altered states. I'm not saying faith is totally meaningless as I
          believe it is hard-wired into the human brain by evolution but the selection
          processes that led to this may simply have been a response to a complex
          environment. If one perceives oneself as immortal it can lead to higher
          levels of altruism & this in turn can be transmitted thru inclusive fitness.
          The latter term simply means the genes shared with kin. Kin altruism exists
          in animals (including man) as it indirectly passes one's genes along.

          In any case I'm not sure if Thomas does belong in "the contemplative
          mystical tradition" of X-ianity. Such schools are usually more organized
          than the almost random enumerations of Thomas.

          Jim Bauer
        • Michael Grondin
          ... Although your interest lies with the divine light aspect, a few corrections to your citation are in order. In the first place, this is not the entirety
          Message 4 of 5 , Oct 23, 2000
            Victor Goldini wrote:
            >Interesting that Grondin's Interlinear Translation
            >shows # 61, "when he should come to be destroyed, he
            >will be full of light. When, however, he should come
            >to be divided, he will be full of darkness." The
            >Scholar's Translation shows, "if one is whole, one
            >will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one
            >will be filled with darkness." How does one reconcile
            >these differences?

            As I wrote to James offlist:
            ---------------------------
            Although your interest lies with the "divine light" aspect, a few
            corrections to your citation are in order. In the first place, this
            is not the entirety of #61, but rather only the last part (61.5 in
            standard numbering). More importantly, you've left out the very
            important symbols in the original that indicate translator
            insertions. Th61.5 actually appears as follows:

            "Therefore, I say: If someone becomes <like>* (God), he will become
            full of light. But if he becomes one, separated (from God), he will
            become full of darkness."

            *The manuscript reads, "If someone is destroyed..."
            (translator's footnote)

            The insertion by the translators of the phrases '(God)' and '(from
            God)' is unjustified, IMO. In any case, it's interpretation, and not
            part of the translation proper. ...
            -----------------------------------

            The following exchange then occurred:
            ------------------------------------
            [James B]:
            > It sounds like you might not care for the Fifth Gospels
            > translation, what they've done with certain sayings.

            Unfortunately for me, what I care for doesn't always prevail. The
            Patterson/Robinson/Bethge translation is a modification of that of
            the Berlin Working Group for Coptic Studies, which appears in the
            highly-respected SQE (Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum). The SQE
            contains translations of the gospels, and is sponsored by a religious
            organization, so my guess is that there would be a bias toward making
            Thomas sound orthodox wherever possible. Like Paterson Brown's
            translation, I like it because it generally adheres very closely to
            the literal meaning, but where it deviates, it does so rather badly.
            One has to pay close attention to the material in parentheses (not
            only in this translation, but others as well), cuz that's where the
            translator has inserted his own material. In most cases I've looked
            at in various translations, the inserted material reveals translator
            bias more than anything else. I guess we should count our blessings
            that the scholars are at least conscientious enough to use some
            device to indicate where strict translation ends and interpretation
            comes into play (altho there is still, of course, some element of
            interpretation involved in the choice of words, e.g., 'suffered' in
            #58 instead of 'troubled').
            ------------------------------

            As to your (Vic's) question about the word 'whole' in the "Scholar's
            Translation", instead of 'destroyed', note that the word 'whole' is
            enclosed in pointed brackets, i.e. '<whole>'. This device is sometimes used
            when the translator feels that the copyist has made an error, or when some
            material is, or appears to be, missing. The explanation in "The Five
            Gospels" is this:

            "Pointed brackets enclose a subject, object, or other element implied by
            the original language and supplied by the translator." (pg.XX)

            The Coptic word in question looks rather like this: 'WHy'. At 61.3, J is
            made to say (in the SVT): "I am the one who comes from what is whole",
            where the Coptic word for 'whole' looks something like this: 'WHW'.
            Apparently, the SVT translators felt that the copyist made a mistake in
            61.5. The very next letter is 'y' and the copyist may have been thinking
            ahead and inadvertantly wrote that letter after 'WH' at that point in the
            manuscript instead of properly completing the word as 'WHW'. Personally, I
            hold out the possibility that the mistake was intentional, and that the
            reader may have been intended to "destroy him" by changing the 'y' (which
            is the prototypical masculine grammatical element in Coptic) to 'W'. But
            whether regarded as intentional or not, the assumption that a mistake was
            made favors the SVT reading. <whole> The sense and symmetry of the saying
            seems to be lost otherwise.

            Mike

            The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
            http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
          • Lorna Wilson
            LLW rely to James questions on light in GT (61): My studies to GT are limited so ... I assume GT influenced by 4G and wisdom literature..if so, I would like to
            Message 5 of 5 , Nov 1, 2000
              LLW rely to James questions on light in GT (61):
              My studies to GT are limited so ... I assume GT influenced by 4G and wisdom
              literature..if so, I would like to make the following observations regarding
              use of "light" in 61.

              Compare Jn. 1:4, "in him was life and the life was the light of men" and
              Prov. 20:27, "the human spirit is the lamp of the Lord."
              These two vv. establish a link between "life and light", light in 4G implies
              the revelation which reveals the "life" that is in Jesus.
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