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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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