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Re: [GTh] Gthomas "Premises" : (Is Gth a Literary Work?)

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: Rick Hubbard To: Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 6:31 AM Subject: RE: [GTh] Gthomas Premises :
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 7, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 6:31 AM
      Subject: RE: [GTh] Gthomas "Premises" : (Is Gth a Literary Work?)


      > [Tom Wrote]
      > "I would argue that the GoT is in affect a literary work based upon
      > its very
      > planned configuration ....."
      >
      > The first part of what you say is probably representative of the view
      > of the majority of people, i.e., that it is "in affect [sic] a
      > literary work..." There are, I suppose, dozens of reasons why this
      > notion is embraced and the idea that Gth has some "planned
      > configuration" (organizational structure) is certainly one of the
      > reasons.

      It just struck me that the GoT would have been a liturgical document. The
      logia
      would have been read as part of a church service. It may be interesting to
      look
      at it in "blocks" of logia to see if a calendrical structure can be seen.

      Jack
    • Rick Hubbard
      [Jack Wrote:] It just struck me that the GoT would have been a liturgical document. The logia would have been read as part of a church service. It may be
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 7, 2001
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        [Jack Wrote:]
        It just struck me that the GoT would have been a liturgical document.
        The
        logia
        would have been read as part of a church service. It may be
        interesting to
        look
        at it in "blocks" of logia to see if a calendrical structure can be
        seen.

        It seems to me that a recall a similar suggestion has been made. I
        can't remember where, however. Maybe it was on this list.

        Examining Gth for evidence of a "calendrical structure" would be an
        interesting exercise, but I'm not sure it would be productive. What
        kind of calendrical structure would one look for? A liturgical one
        perhaps? Which liturgical calendar do you think would be a good model?

        Rick Hubbard
        Humble Maine Woodsman
      • Tom Saunders
        ... Thank you Rick and Jack. I have had a little time to think about explaining the GoT as a literary style. I quite imagine that artists, say the Bellini
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 7, 2001
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          > Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 6:31 AM
          > Subject: RE: [GTh] Gthomas "Premises" : (Is Gth a Literary Work?)
          >
          >
          > > [Tom Wrote]
          > > "I would argue that the GoT is in affect a literary work based upon
          > > its very planned configuration ....."

          Thank you Rick and Jack.

          I have had a little time to think about explaining the GoT as a literary
          style.

          I quite imagine that artists, say the Bellini School, had the same kind of
          fascination the first time they ever saw a triptych. Instead of a singular
          rectangle containing synergies inside the rectangle, the triptych's center,
          or internal chamber has its synergies both from the center painting and the
          external paintings.

          What a dangerous concept for a religious painting. Its heresey in the first
          order. An external in synergy with an internal theme. Does this make the
          triptych void and delete as a work of art produced by Gnostics? No, it makes
          it a more complex work of art, which requires a different approach to the
          painting's mesage.

          Many triptychs fold up into a case. Whether or not the GoT can correlate
          with a calendar it can be compared to the triptych in the sense that it does
          seem to unfold and correlate in many ways with the works of many others.

          I don't know a literary term synonomous to the artistic term triptych, but
          some of you might.

          Tom
        • Jeffrey Glen Jackson
          ... While it may not have internal structure of higher order than an individual saying and lower than the list which is the work as a whole, I think it does
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 7, 2001
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            > The first part of what you say is probably representative of the view
            > of the majority of people, i.e., that it is "in affect [sic] a
            > literary work..." There are, I suppose, dozens of reasons why this
            > notion is embraced and the idea that Gth has some "planned
            > configuration" (organizational structure) is certainly one of the
            > reasons.
            >
            > Interestingly, the *absence* of organizational structure is frequently
            > invoked as evidence that Gth is *not* a literary work, in the sense
            > that it does not reflect the creativity of an "author." The
            > alternative is that it simply a list (or in other terminology, a
            > "database") of Jesus sayings.

            While it may not have internal structure of higher order
            than an individual saying and lower than the list which is
            the work as a whole, I think it does have a unifying
            principle controlling the selection and redaction of sayings.

            From the "Scholar's Translation":

            > These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus
            > spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.

            > 1 And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation
            > of these sayings will not taste death."

            For "secret" other translations have "hidden" or "obscure", which
            I think better captures the intent of the author. It is not the sayings
            themselves that are secret, but the understanding of them that is.
            This knowledge, presumably only obtainable from the cult that
            produced the book, is what grants salvation according to saying 1.
            The sayings are selected and redacted to remove anything
            self-interpretive, hence the alleged "more primitive form" often noted.

            This path to salvation contrasts starkly with the faith of Paul's
            teaching and the faith revealed by works of James' teaching. I
            would thus argue that GTh postdates that period. Since it has
            parallels to Gospel of John and one of the Gospel of Hebrews
            (Ebionite? Gospel) as well as the Synoptics, and because I think
            its forms of those sayings are redacted to its purpose, I think
            it likely that it is ultimately dependent on those works, and
            thus dates to the second century.

            The lack of order corresponding to the sources' order is,
            I suggest, because the compiler is not the redactor. That is,
            the compiler of the sayings is recording sayings he was taught
            orally by the cult leader/founder who was the actual redactor.
          • Rick Hubbard
            What Jeffrey says here is a remarkable insight, in my opinion. [Jeff wrote:] For secret other translations have hidden or obscure , which I think better
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 7, 2001
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              What Jeffrey says here is a remarkable insight, in my opinion.

              [Jeff wrote:]
              "'For secret" other translations have "hidden" or "obscure", which
              I think better captures the intent of the author.'"

              It is appropriate that focus should be shifted away from the
              conventional "genre" discussion to the broader, and perhaps more
              relevant question, "What was the intent of the compiler?" In short,
              why was this document assembled?

              {Jeff wrote:]
              "It is not the sayings themselves that are secret, but the
              understanding of them that is. This knowledge, presumably only
              obtainable from the cult that
              produced the book, is what grants salvation according to saying 1."

              The central element of gnosticism is arguably the process of
              redemption (akin to "salvation," but which bears a slightly different
              connotation from a technical perspective).

              [Jeff wrote:]
              "This path to salvation contrasts starkly with the faith of Paul's
              teaching and the faith revealed by works of James' teaching."

              This is an obvious, but to my mind, consistently ignored, fact that
              has lead to an over-emphasis on how Gth "parallels" orthodox
              Christianity, instead of how it differs from it.

              No doubt, all of this will stimulate further discussion along these
              lines.


              Rick Hubbard
              Humble Maine Woodsman
            • Ron McCann
              On the subject of whether the GoT is a literary work, a liturgical work, or a simple collection of wise sayings, it seems to me that I read somewhere quite
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 7, 2001
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                On the subject of whether the GoT is a literary work, a liturgical work, or
                a simple collection of wise sayings, it seems to me that I read somewhere
                quite some time ago that wandering teachers of those times carried such
                sayings-collections about, and used them as proof texts or aide memoires for
                an accompanying Oral teaching. The sayings in Thomas are so bereft of
                context that without such an accompanying Oral exposition they are virtually
                unintelligible. They beg for an Oral expositor. It seems to me that we have
                such difficulty with Thomas that the document must have been intended to be
                accompanied by a Teacher who would explain the sayings. The Teachers
                vanished and regrettably, we have only the document. So I don't think it was
                intended as a literary work or liturgical one, and it certainly isn't a
                Gospel.

                Ron McCann
                Saskatoon, Canada

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...>
                To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 6:08 AM
                Subject: Re: [GTh] Gthomas "Premises" : (Is Gth a Literary Work?)


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              • Rick Hubbard
                [Ron wrote:] On the subject of whether the GoT is a literary work, a liturgical work, or a simple collection of wise sayings, it seems to me that I read
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 8, 2001
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                  [Ron wrote:]

                  "On the subject of whether the GoT is a literary work, a liturgical
                  work, or
                  a simple collection of wise sayings, it seems to me that I read
                  somewhere
                  quite some time ago that wandering teachers of those times carried
                  such
                  sayings-collections about..."

                  If you can recall where you saw the writing to which you refer, it
                  would be enlightening to read, I'm sure.

                  [Ron Wrote:]
                  "So I don't think it was intended as a literary work or liturgical
                  one, and it certainly isn't a Gospel."

                  On the question of whether Gth should be defined as a gospel, Helmut
                  Koester suggests, "This corpus [the writings that are candidates]
                  should include all those writings which are constituted by the
                  transmission, use and interpretation of materials from and about Jesus
                  of Nazareth." _Ancient Christian Gospels_. Philadelphia: Trinity Press
                  International, 1990 (p47). In fact, in the opening pages of the book,
                  there is a relatively lengthy treatment of the whole issue of "what's
                  a gospel?" Good reading and thought provoking.


                  Rick Hubbard
                  Humble Maine Woodsman
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