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Re: [GTh] GTh 97: The Woman With the Jar that Breaks and GTh 98: the Man With a Sword

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  • Jim Bauer
    ... From: FMMCCOY To: Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 8:55 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] GTh 97: The Woman With the
    Message 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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