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McCoy on GTh97 & 98

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  • Michael Grondin
    ... Having thus far delineated two types of soul, you now say that the woman is a soul , without qualification. She must be of the type that doesn t hold
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 6, 2001
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      Frank McCoy wrote:
      > The woman is a soul.

      Having thus far delineated two types of soul, you now say that the woman is
      "a soul", without qualification. She must be of the type that doesn't hold
      epistemes, right? So epistemes(=pneuma=sophia) is like a soul that doesn't
      hold epistemes. Very nice.

      > This occurs while the soul is on "the road". As she loses the
      >words/virtues that are of the very self of the Spirit-Sophia, this is, I
      >suggest, the wrong road, i.e., the road of of vice and passion.

      Well, make up your mind. Either this soul loses the epistemes because it's
      the kind of soul that can't hold it, or because it's on the wrong road.
      Which is it?

      > At the end of her trip on this road, the soul reaches her house. Because
      >the passions reside in the body, this road of vice and the passions leads
      >the soul to the body: which body, hence, is this soul's house.

      How did this soul get out of its body in the first place? And wherein lay
      her mistake? That she didn't notice the leaky jar, or that she was trying
      to bring the flour back to her "house" at all? Also, it's really quite
      absurd to say that "this road of vice and passions leads the soul to the
      body", since the soul must already be subservient to the body in order to
      even venture out on that road. You're tripping up all over the place on
      your own equivalences.

      > The slaying of the "powerful man", i.e., the body, by "the man", i.e.,
      >the mind, is the mind severing itself from this body. So, in Ebr 70, Philo
      >declares, "Therefore we shall kill our 'brother'--not a man, but the soul's
      >brother the body; that is, we shall dissever the passion-loving and mortal
      >element (i.e., the body) from the Virtue-loving and divine (i.e., the mind).

      I suppose we may now look forward to your equating every occurrence of the
      words 'house' and 'brother' to the body. Such has been your invariable
      method of reasoning: first find a passage in Philo that compares X with Y,
      then every time you see the word 'Y', interpret it as an X. Do you really
      not see the fallacy of this approach? Even considering Philo alone, did he
      never use the word 'house', for example, OTHER than with respect to the
      body? But you've found ONE passage where he did so use it, and now, if
      you're true to form, every house (and probably every brother, too) will
      become a body. Nothing is as it seems in this McCoy-in-Wonderland world.
      Which is not to say that it's all bad, just that it's pretty much all
      subjective - and ever-changing. (I wonder if you're aware of the irony of
      your applying not only Philonic concepts, but Philonic methodology as
      well.) And in spite of your professed willingness to discuss objections to
      your analyses, you typically haven't done so. Instead, every three days or
      so, we get a Philonic-type interpretation of yet another saying, without
      adequate response to specific criticisms of prior ones. Tenacity is
      certainly admirable up to a point, but you seem to be largely sweeping
      aside, ignoring, and/or minimizing objections to your work, instead of
      meeting them head-on.

      BTW, when are you going to work 'pistis' (faith) into the picture? One
      could equally well argue that the woman is losing her faith. Are you going
      to equate that with pneuma and sophia? Or do we have to await your
      discovery of some passage in Philo before you commit yourself?

      Now in answer to the question you raised some time back: given that we CAN
      interpret anything in terms of anything else, SHOULD we? My answer is "No,
      not unless we can demonstrate that the arrangers of GTh had this
      interpretation in mind." So far, you haven't demonstrated that, and no
      amount of further McCoyan midrash will go any farther toward such a
      demonstration. Your efforts are only showing two things that we already
      know, namely that (1) any externally-oriented idea can be transformed into
      an internally-oriented one, and (2) any pluralistic system can be
      transformed into a monadic one, given enough equivalences.

      Mike
    • George Brooks
      Frank, Now you ve gone and done it! You ve made sense out of two items in GThomas that I ve always wondered about. Now you ve gone and made me think a
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 6, 2001
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        Frank,

        Now you've gone and done it!

        You've made sense out of two items in GThomas that
        I've always wondered about.

        Now you've gone and made me think a LOTTTTTtttt more
        about the "knowledge" theme.

        Your references to the soul "going up" sure sounds
        suitably gnostic to me, and Essene-like too, for that
        matter. And it fits Jesus' "Lazarus in Heaven" parable,
        and meeting his fellow Calvary victims in Paradise
        tonight.

        Not a bad hat trick.

        It'll take me some additional time to fit all this
        in with a scenario of a "symbolic" kingdom.

        George
      • Jim Bauer
        ... From: FMMCCOY To: Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 8:55 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] GTh 97: The Woman With the
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 6, 2001
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "FMMCCOY" <FMMCCOY@...>
          To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 8:55 PM
          Subject: Re: [GTh] GTh 97: The Woman With the Jar that Breaks and GTh 98:
          the Man With a Sword


          GTh 98 reads, "The Kingdom of the Father is like a certain man
          > who wanted to kill a powerful man. In his own house he drew his sword and
          > stuck it into the wall in order to find out whether his hand could carry
          > through. Then he slew the powerful man."
          > Underlying this passage, I suggest, is the Philonic idea that the mind is
          > the inner or real man and the body the outer man--with "the man" being the
          > mind and "the powerful man" being the body.

          Couldn't the "powerful man" be the devil? Even if J does not specifically
          state the existence of such a being in GoT it certainly was believed in
          enough for the NT authors to include a temptation scene.

          > In this case, then, the underlying thought to GTh 98 is that one's mind
          > cannot, on its own, sever itself from the body.
          > To summarize, GTh 97 and GTh 98 are, I suggest, a tale of a fall and a
          > rise. They begin with a fall down the road of vice and passion. In this
          > movement, the soul gradually relapses into total ignorance. As a result,
          > it is imprisoned in its house--the body.

          Consider #29: If the flesh came into being because of the spirit it is a
          wonder. But if spirit came into existence because of the body it is a
          wonder of wonders.

          I don't know Greek so I can't say whether or not this conflicts with Philo.
          Yet another concept to consider--probably Pauline--is the elaborate
          description of the church as being "the body of Christ" in I Corinthians.
          Christ being male in this view would negate the spirit=sophia=kingdom
          analogy which keeps cropping up in this thread.

          Jim Bauer
        • George Duffy
          I d like to preface my remarks on GTh 97 by saying that I think as scholars, we have a certain tendency to let our specialized knowledge overwhelm our capacity
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 6, 2001
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            I'd like to preface my remarks on GTh 97 by saying that I think as
            scholars, we have a certain tendency to let our specialized knowledge
            overwhelm our capacity for openness in other areas. Specifically,
            our
            practice or training has conditioned us to often approach an ancient
            text with the question, "what does this remind me of?" instead of,
            "what does this mean?" I speak as an amateur scholar, someone quite
            new to all this, and I don't want to sound critical of anyone in
            particular. I've noticed that same tendency in myself, many times.
            We read a line somewhere and immediately, our well read minds jump to
            the memory of some other text that provides an "interesting" parallel
            to that line. And maybe we remember other parallels and interesting
            points of context that we've read somewhere. And before we know
            what's happening, our focus has left the original text and settled
            somewhere else. Certainly comparison and context must play a central
            role in biblical scholarship. I only propose that we must look,
            really LOOK, at the passage under study first, let it sink in, spend
            some time with it. Something really new might reveal itself. Then,
            by all means, first compare it to other passages in the same text.
            Then, and only then, compare it to parallels elsewhere. William
            Arnal
            made a similar point in regard to concentrating on Thomas, a few
            months ago, in a post to this list. I'm sure others must agree.

            97) Jesus said, "The domain of the [father] is like a woman who
            was
            carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking along [a]
            distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind
            [along] the road. She didn't know it; she hadn't noticed a problem.
            When she reached her house, she put the jar down and discovered it
            was
            empty."

            In past discussions, some members have made the point that the image
            of the woman losing the contents of the jar on the road is in fact a
            positive one. Her burden became lighter. She arrived at home
            safely.
            The loss of the meal symbolized the loss of something deleterious,
            hence the parable's comparison of the fortunate loss to the kingdom
            of
            the father. However, my take on this logion is that it's a rather
            simple, straightforward story of the loss of worldly value. From the
            woman's standpoint, what happened to her was tragic. She put all her
            trust in that jar to get her load home. She trusted it so much that
            not once did she stop to check and see if everything was all right.
            Even as the jar lost its contents and became much lighter, she
            continued on, oblivious to what was really happening. If it wasn't
            so
            tragic, it would have been ridiculously funny, Laurel and Hardy
            stuff.
            But the tragedy is still obvious. Can you imagine how she felt when
            she arrived home and found out that despite her great efforts and
            stubborn confidence in the jar, she was left nothing. All was for
            naught. I think she would have been crushed. The story leads you to
            that conclusion.

            For symbols, I don't think it's necessary to reach too far. The
            woman
            is us. She travels along the road of life, trusting in the world and
            the things of this world (the jar). What she values, her material
            wealth, she carries on her back with great effort. However, her
            trust
            is misplaced. The world is utterly unworthy of trust, a common theme
            in Thomas. She discovers this only too late. We know this story
            because it is the story of us. We recognize that sense of
            frustration
            and futility that haunts us throughout our lives. That's the power
            of
            this parable. It's a warning and it's a rather fearful image, to be
            sure.

            Now, why is the story of this woman like the domain of the father.
            There are two possibilities, as I see it. First, having seen how
            foolish she had been to trust the jar (the world) and having lost her
            treasure (the meal), there is hope for her now to be awakened to the
            knowledge that real security can only be found in trusting the
            divine,
            spirit, God. Faith in the world has to be abandoned. Faith in God's
            domain can now take its place.

            The second possibility is that the phrase, "domain of the father" had
            originally read, "domain of the son," a change of one word. Of
            course, I realize that this sounds a bit off the wall. My
            suggestion
            is that a scribal error may have been responsible for the confusion
            produced by this logion, as we now have it. I must admit that I
            don't
            recall the phrase used anywhere in the NT by anyone. However, notice
            that when the word, "son" is substituted for "father," the parable
            holds together more tightly. The story is about the woman's absurd
            trust in the world, which leads to disaster. That doesn't describe
            God's domain, on the face of it. It would seem to describe a domain
            without God.

            In earlier posts, when discussing GTh 86, readers may remember that I
            suggested that the phrase, "son of man" in that logion represented
            the
            ego side of man's awareness as opposed to his divine or pre-Fall
            side.
            For example, if someone identifies with his ego mind, he will
            experience utter separation from God and trust implicitly in the
            world. If he chooses to identify with the divine, he will seek unity
            with God and put all his trust in the power of that union. GTh has
            many references to this dichotomy and to the value of seeking unity
            in
            what is true. I further suggested that HJ may have described this
            problem of identity in a manner that was totally misunderstood by the
            writers of the gospels. In this view, a "son of God" was one who
            realized his connection with God. A "son of man" is one who didn't.
            Thus in GTh 86, "the son of man has no place to lay his head and
            rest." Now taking that idea a bit further, how would Jesus have
            described the domains of these two? One would be the domain of truth
            or the domain of the father. The other would be the domain of
            ignorance or the domain of the son, the son choosing to be separated
            from his father.

            So here are these dichotomies: son of God versus son of man, domain
            of
            the father versus domain of the son. In this view of GTh 96, I
            suggest that the scribe, being confronted by the phrase, "domain of
            the son," considered it an obvious error and made the change to the
            more familiar, "domain of the father."

            So, why is the story of this woman like the domain of the father?
            The
            above two possibilities occurred to me. The former is probably more
            solid. The latter is certainly more speculative. But it's an
            interesting idea, I think, and I toss it out there for what it's
            worth.

            Peace,

            George Duffy
          • Ron McCann
            George, I really, really liked your proposed meaning for GoT 97- Woman With Jar. Frankly, the saying had me baffled. Can t say I m satisfied with that domain
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 7, 2001
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              George,

              I really, really liked your proposed meaning for GoT 97- Woman With Jar.
              Frankly, the saying had me baffled. Can't say I'm satisfied with that
              "domain of the son" business, however.

              Sometimes I get the sense that "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..." should be
              read "Entry to the Kingdom of Heaven is like..." in most cases.

              In this case, the saying seems to be that the opportunity to enter may
              eventually be lost by inattention, neglect and/or ignorance. This has always
              struck me as some sort of "lost opportunity" saying.

              Ron McCann
              Saskatoon, Canada
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            • George Duffy
              ... Jar. ... that ... Thank you Ron, I m not particularly satisfied with the domain of the son business either. Intuitively, it seems to fit with a broader
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 8, 2001
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                --- In gthomas@y..., "Ron McCann" <ronmccann1@d...> wrote:
                > George,
                >
                > I really, really liked your proposed meaning for GoT 97- Woman With
                Jar.
                > Frankly, the saying had me baffled. Can't say I'm satisfied with
                that
                > "domain of the son" business, however.


                Thank you Ron, I'm not particularly satisfied with the "domain of
                the
                son" business either. Intuitively, it seems to fit with a broader
                theory that I'm working on, but I'll explain that some other time.
                I've got more thinking to do on it.

                >
                > Sometimes I get the sense that "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..."
                should be
                > read "Entry to the Kingdom of Heaven is like..." in most cases.
                >
                > In this case, the saying seems to be that the opportunity to enter
                may
                > eventually be lost by inattention, neglect and/or ignorance. This
                has always
                > struck me as some sort of "lost opportunity" saying.


                The woman was not only inattentive, she was absurdly inattentive. In
                losing the meal, the weight of the jar would have been a fraction of
                its previous weight by the time she neared home. Yet, confidently
                she
                strode on, never even looking behind her to check anything. She
                ignored the obvious evidence of her plight or perhaps rationalized it
                away by thinking that the jar was a good one and had never leaked
                before. By exagerating the foolishness of this woman, I think that
                Jesus was making the point that man's trust in this world is equally
                absurd. There are no jars that won't eventually break, no bodies
                that
                won't, sooner or later, dry up and die, that there is nothing in this
                world that is dependable at all.

                Now consider how the parable would have read had he had the woman
                stop
                to fix the broken handle, before reaching home. She would indeed
                have
                learned that she was remiss by not checking it earlier. She would
                have fixed it and learned the lesson that a simple patch job, a
                little
                dab of this or that, would be her salvation. And on she would go,
                still trusting in the world and her own devices to get her valuable
                contents home. We would today call this "coping."

                However, what I think the Jesus of Thomas is saying in this parable
                is
                that the *attention* she lacks is to the awareness that trusting in
                anything of this world, where nothing lasts, where death is
                guaranteed, is really an absurd misplacement of trust. Coping
                doesn't
                cut it, that only offers a temporary respite and a false sense of
                security. That's the bleak picture. Sorry if it depresses anyone.:-)
                The Gospel of Thomas doesn't teach coping skills, even on a spiritual
                level. It seems to aim for ultimate answers. It's radical theology.

                But then Jesus says in effect, ah, good news, this isn't the Kingdom
                of God, because in the Kingdom, nothing breaks and nothing dies. The
                Kingdom is characterized in another logion, GTh 76, "seek his
                unfailing and enduring treasure
                where no moth comes near to devour and no worm destroys." The
                awareness of the lesson of this parable is the entry into this
                Kingdom.

                So I think, Ron, that the "lost opportunity" you mention is only a
                possibility for this woman if she fails to realize the futility, or
                maybe "meaninglessness" is a better word, of the whole enterprise.

                Peace,

                George Duffy

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