Re: [GTh] Re: SOM in GOT 86
- I have enjoyed this debate very much and want to thank the contributors.
There is, however, one interpretation of this saying that has not been
discussed, which seems to have some merit so I thought I might weigh-in
with my two-cents worth.
One or two contributors to the debate have emphasized the need, when
interpreting these sayings, to ask what they originally meant to the Thomas
community who put this Gospel together. What was their 'take" on the
"hidden" meaning in this saying? Why did they select it for inclusion in
their Gospel- at whatever layer it was added? How did this saying buttress
their own peculiar theological stance? Whatever it might have meant
out-of-the-lips of Jesus, what did the Thomas community gather that he was
saying, rightly or wrongly? I think this is the correct approach. And I
think we have to collect the community's theological stance from within the
Gospel itself, as much as possible.
I do not see in Thomas very much "Son of Man" theology. Not as the Logos,
anyway. If anything, Jesus seems to be more of an incarnation or spokesman
for Divine Wisdom (Sophia) (Stephan Davies makes a good case for this). I
see no Messianic element and nothing that requires us to capitalize it into
a title- "Son of Man" as has been done in the other Gospels.
Given that, I submit that the Thomas Christians read "son of man" in Got 86
as "mankind, people, humanity, human beings", just as the Jesus Seminar has
suggested in their translation. Let's take that as a working thesis, in any
Several contributors have raised the point that this reading- that "people
have no place to lay their heads" is manifestly untrue. Humans have homes,
shelters, tents. Such a reading makes about as much sense as reading the
saying as Jesus complaining that as a person or prophet he hasn't got a
decent place to sleep.
I suggest that the saying needs to be read in the proto-Gnostic context of
Thomas to get the meaning the Thomas group gave it. This can be gathered
from "the world is not suitable" sayings 80,56, the "come from the light"
saying 50, the "came into being before" saying 19, the "children of the
Living Father" saying 3; but mostly from logion 49, which reads:-
"Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the kingdom. FOR YOU
ARE FROM IT, AND TO IT YOU WILL RETURN."
The key point here is that the Thomas Christian believed that he is not FROM
here and this is not his TRUE HOME. And I suggest L 86 was read and
interpreted in that fashion. ie.
"The foxes have their holes and the birds have their nests, but people have
no place (here) to lay their head and rest." In other words, human beings
at least their souls) are not part of the Natural World. They don't belong
here. There is no "place of rest" for them here. There is no home here to go
to. They are really not part of nature, part of the natural world of birds
That human beings are not part of the natural world, is surely the sort of
stunning, upset-the-apple-cart, reverse of ordinary expectations-type
teaching that the JS says marks the authentic teaching of Jesus.
I will be the first to agree that if we read "son of man" as "Son of Man",
the saying may also be read as Jesus saying, as
Logos/Sophia/Heaven-Sent-Redeemer, that HE is not part of the natural world
and doesn't belong here- in fact I think the "orthodox" church might have
read it is way- but that seems a rather pointless thing to say.
I suggest the Thomas authors read into it the meaning I have suggested and
thus included it as congenial to their world-view.
If this interpretation is correct, and if this is an authentic saying of
Jesus as the JS maintain, then perhaps Jesus' hidden teachings shared
something with the Gnostic world-view.
You wrote in re GThom86:
>This interpretation has three things going for it, in my view. First,<SNIP>
>it reveals GTh 86 to be pithy and powerful, two characteristics
>generally attributed to Jesus' aphorisms. . .
>Second, it echoes a common theme in Thomas, that of conflictingAnd I wrote in re a portion of your letter which ended with the above that I
>internal natures, the pre-Fall identity vs. the post-Fall identity.
>Third, if indeed Jesus was a mystic/teacher, you would expect that he
>would teach what for mystics everywhere is almost a truism: To find
>peace or "rest" you must identify with what is most divine in yourself
>and disconnect from everything that is not. So I see the Jesus of
>Thomas as more interested in this kind of "rest" than in the comfort
>of having a home or shelter.
found 'little to agree with' in it. I read in too much of a damn hurry for which
I apologize. I am in reasonably close agreement with all three of these
propositions and they are certainly worth noting. But in disagreement with the
snipped portion I fail to see how the excellent points you have made apply to
your interpretation of SOM as 'mankind' and not mine of SOM as a self reference
of Jesus as human being, his aphoristic self, to Jesus as prophet, who spreads
the word of the HS. Think about it. Its something of a gestalt.
Best wishes, Odell
Prof. Geology Em., W&L