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Fw: [GospelofThomas] Re: Salome: A Modest Proposal :#61

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  • Ron McCann
    Hello, all, Currently there is a discussion taking place on the general Gospel of Thomas list about logion 61, the Salome saying. I posted what follows, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2001
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      Hello, all,

      Currently there is a discussion taking place on the general Gospel of Thomas list about logion 61, the Salome saying. I posted what follows, and although not likely up to the scholarly standards for this list, I thought some of you might still find it of interest.

      I am grateful to Mike for having cleared up one mystery by pointing out that it was Josephus who gave the name of the dancer, Herodias's daughter, as Salome, the same name as the disciple Salome.

      Best Regards,


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Ron McCann
      To: GospelofThomas@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2001 7:33 PM
      Subject: [GospelofThomas] Re: Salome: A Modest Proposal :#61


      This is a bit out of step with the present discussions of 61 so I thought I would open a new thread. I've done a lot of thinking about this saying and I would like to propose something new about how we view it, and what it can teach us, apart from the meaning of Jesus' teaching in it.

      Firstly, let's deal with Salome. What do we know of her? #61 tells us she was a disciple. Mark, introduces her in Mk 15v40 as among those who witnessed the crucifixion.

      "40: There were also woman looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome."
      "41:These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there we many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem."

      In Mark 16, she is among those who bring spices to the tomb, discover it empty and see an "angel", who says Jesus had been resurrected.

      "1:When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of James, and Salome brought spices, so that they might go and anoint him."

      So Salome was also a witness to the Resurrection. She is a vital witness to the Christian cause.

      Now, BELIEVE IT OR NOT SHE IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN in the 4 Gospels. This is the ONLY reference to her; and yet here she is, in the 5th Gospel, Thomas. (This, I believe has some implications for DATING Thomas, as well.) And the incident recorded in Thomas, as we shall see, appears to be the Calling of Salome, as a Disciple, her Confession of Faith ("I am your disciple") and the confirmation of her acceptance by being given "a teaching".

      In Thomas, she is one important lady, as she is in Mark.

      (Let me dispel. at this juncture, the widely-held notion that the Gospels say that someone called Salome is the one who danced for Herod and demanded the head of the Baptist on a platter. I don't know where this comes from, but I do know it is not from the Gospels. They only refer to this dancer as the daughter of Herodias. If it comes from "tradition" it may be nothing more than an attempt to smear Salome's name by association- like they seem to have done with the second witness in this group, Mary Magdalene- by converting her into a prostitute- but I get ahead of myself).

      Matthew and Luke, when they later came to write their Gospels (about 80 CE and 90 CE, respectively), borrowed extensively from Mark, and it is almost inconceivable that they could have missed this double reference to Salome, and yet, neither includes her in their list of witnesses to these events. WHY NOT?

      Matthew in Mt 27v55,56 virtually quotes Mark 15v40,41 listing the two Marys but deletes Salome and substitutes "the mother of the sons of Zebedee" in her place. Further only the original two of this triumvirate of witnesses, the two Marys see the burial and are witnesses to the Resurrection. Salome has been utterly expunged, and we have to conclude this was deliberate. WHY?

      Luke also expunges her from the record, notwithstanding her prominence in Mark. In Luke 23v49 he follows Mark, by referring to the women who followed Jesus from Galilee as witnesses to the crucifixion, but doesn't name them. They also see the burial, but are not named there either. In Luke 24v10 he does name the names of the witnesses to the Resurrection, again naming Marly Magdalene and Mary the Mother of James, but deliberately ignores Mark's Salome and substitutes for the the third witness someone called Joanna. WHY?

      John (written 90-110 CE) doesn't include her either.

      Now Matthew and Luke composed their Gospels independent of each other and in different locations in the Christian world, and yet BOTH expunge Salome, knowing full well that Mark listed her. The only possible conclusion that I can see here, is that by 80 CE, Salome has APPARENTLY fallen into such notorious "bad odor" as far as the nascent orthodox (sorry, Chris) churches were concerned, that she dare not be mentioned, and had to be expunged from the record, both as a disciple of Jesus and a witness to the momentous events of the crucifixion and resurrection. (I have considered the possibility that these changes were made by later Church editors/redactors but rejected that since the references to Salome in Mark were left intact.)

      Well, then what put Salome in "bad odor"? Why was she expunged from the record, and her witness status removed?. And the dates are interesting. Clearly, in Thomas as in Mark (written circa AD 70), she still has status and no "bad odor" so I think it safe to conclude that Thomas was written NO LATER than that date, AD 70, and further that Salome's "fall from grace" must have occurred between AD 70-80, but perhaps earlier, if these Gospels can be dated earlier.

      So did she "fall from grace" because of something she personally DID during the period AD 70-80 ? This doesn't strike me as likely. (Presumably she was an adult, conservatively, say 25 in AD 30 which would make her 65 to 75 in this period, IF STILL LIVING. What could she do at that age to get her epaulets ripped off, her buttons clipped and her sword broken as she was drummed out of the corps?). I think we have to look for another cause.

      Let's go back to Mark. Did you notice that he adds "and Salome" in 15v40 and 16v1. He takes some pains to specify the one Mary as Mary of Magdala, and the other as Mary the mother of James the less, but he does not further identify this Salome. It is as if his readers already know who she is. As if he has introduced her earlier in his narrative. But he hasn't. Or did he, and has it perhaps been expunged by others from his Gospel?

      Segue to The Secret Gospel of Mark, alluded to and partially quoted from in a letter from Clement of Alexandria. Clement claimed that Secret Mark had an insert in Mark 10v46. In our copy of Mark, and apparently Luke's and Matthew's copy, this reads:-

      "46: Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city..."

      Scholars have noted this gap. What happened in Jericho? Something had clearly been omitted or excised. But what? Matthew skips the conundrum in Matthew 20v29, by first having Jesus on the road to Jerusalem (Mt 20v17), then having him leave Jericho with the large crowd (Mt 20v29) for Jerusalem. Mark had nothing to report about what happened in Jericho, so Matthew skips it. Ever-creative Luke uses the gap here to insert his unique story of Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector, and the parable of the Talents, but they aren't there in Mark, or Matthew.

      Along comes Morton Smith with his Clement letter. Secret Mark had something in that gap, and guess who it mentions? Salome! Bingo! These are Clement's words to his correspondent:-

      "After 'and he goes to Jericho,' it (the Secret Gospel) adds ONLY, "...and the brother of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, as well as his mother and SALOME. And Jesus did not receive them."

      Taken at face value then, when Secret Mark was written (presumably earlier than Normal Mark) something transpired in Jericho involving Salome, and it was subsequently suppressed. Just WHAT, remains in issue.

      Frankly, I think that Clement is lying through his teeth, here. I very seriously question the statement that Mark's Secret Gospel read "And Jesus did not receive them". I think this is a bare-faced lie. Read the letter and you will see something quite appalling. In a Nixonesque series of instructions, Clement tells his correspondent to "lie, lie, lie" and "deny, deny, deny" that Secret Mark contains certain passages and material that the Carpocratians, a sect that allegedly had stolen a copy of Secret Mark, said they did. Even if they are there, the correspondent is to deny it! And I think he followed his own advice on this particular incident, and lied to his correspondent! And it had something to do with Salome, who in Clement's day (CE 100-CE 160) still "remained in "bad odor"- JUST POSSIBLY BECAUSE SHE WAS EMBRACED BY THE CARPOCRATIANS AND THEIR PREDECESSORS AS ONE OF THEIR OWN.

      Let me amplify. The Carpocratians were a sect that practiced sexual profligacy and deviancy (from the norm) as part of their Christian worship and practice. They are attacked in John's Revelation (CE 110?) quite expressly out of the mouth of Jesus, as "detestable" in practice. This sect is son or grandson to a still earlier Christian sect who allegedly engaged the same kind of "abominable" practices, some of which involved homosexuality. The name escapes me, but I recently saw it in a post on this or the scholar's list. These sects seriously embarrassed early Christians who were trying to present a pious and sober front to the world.

      In this letter of Clement he is responding to someone who has written to him about the Carpocratians and their claim that their "deviant" sexual practices were supported by certain scriptures found in Secret Mark. One such passage involves the initiation of Lazarus into the Kingdom, by Jesus personally. where Lazarus comes to Jesus by night wearing only a sheet over his naked body, and spends the whole night with Jesus, being "initiated" into "the mysteries of the Kingdom". It is apparent that the Carpocratians were reading something sexual into this and using it to justify their practice. Clement points out:-

      "But the "naked man with naked man" and other things you wrote about are not found (in the account)."

      It is very likely, in my view, that the Carpocrations found another such "sexually suggestive" incident recorded in Secret Mark, namely whatever occurred in Jericho, which seems to have involved Salome. Clement deals with that one by denying that Jesus even saw Salome there. Or so he would have his correspondant believe. Whatever was originally there, was deleted from later Mark, because it was providing fodder for such "deviant" practices.

      So what was it? I propose it was a narrative incident involving Jesus and Salome containing the dialogue set out in Thomas Logion # 61.

      Why? Because it can be read "suggestively". It can be read as Salome "knowing the Lord" in the full biblical sense. It leaps to mind quite easily-as someone on this list recently put it "Jesus, You are a HOUNDDOG." I refer, of course to the passage that reads "You have climbed onto my couch (bed) and eaten from my table...."

      And let me say clearly that I do not read it that way at all. People in Jesus' time reclined on beds or couches for formal meals or banquets (contrary to DaVinci's picture of the Last Supper that has the disciples seated at a long trestle table), possibly even two to a couch so that one could lean back on the other's chest to speak to the other (Last supper). The setting here, is a formal meal, possibly in Jericho (but not likely, inspite of Mark's likely placement of it there), seemingly put on by Salome (MY couch, MY table) perhaps at her home. Nonetheless, the Caprocratians likely read the words as "suggestive". And they too may have adopted Salome at their champion causing her to fall into "bad odor" with the remaining churches.

      And I wonder too about the first saying in #61 and why it was placed here. Is it because of the catchword "couch" found in both sayings (a mnemonic device) or is it perhaps because it too is "suggestive" and the two were found together somewhere?

      In Thomas the saying has been softened and neutered. In Luke, the only other Gospel in which this saying or it's parallel is found, it has not been and can be read "suggestively". Thomas reads:-

      61a "Two will recline on a couch, one will die. One will live."

      In Luke 17: 33-35 it reads "I tell you that in that Night (Judgement Day) there shall be two men in one bed, the one shall be taken, and the other left..."

      Coincidence that both can be read suggestively and both are grouped in this logion? And if the original read "bed" and Thomas softened it to "couch" here, did the original word in the Salome portion read "bed" and was it too softened to "couch"? "climb on my bed"?

      Let me give you my take on the incident we've been treating. We are at a formal dinner at Salome's house. Salome spots an interloper, someone who has not been invited, a stranger. She approaches and demands:-

      "Who are you O Man, and whose son? (some translations). You have sat on my couch and eaten from my table as though you were an invited guest."

      Instead of the expected reply- "Why Yeshua, son of Joseph, Madam." he gives an answer that suggests he comes from God or is there by divine right or fiat. Salome, apparently understanding what he says is so deeply impressed by the Man and his answer she expresses her desire to be his disciple then and there. (She clearly couldn't have already been his disciple, or she would have recognized him at the outset.). This is her recognition of who or what he is, her confession of Faith, like Peter's or Thomas's. Jesus response accepting her as such probably once read like this:-

      "Very well, ...." or," So be it, ... " and he gives her a teaching, her first.

      I hope this has been of interest. This has gone on too long, and so I won't even venture comments on the teaching itself.


      Ron McCann
      Saskatoon, Canada.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: samuel
      To: GospelofThomas@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2001 8:05 AM
      Subject: [GospelofThomas] Saying #61 - discussion

      Saying #61 - discussion


      61 Jesus said,
      "Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live."

      Salome said,
      "Who are you mister? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten
      from my table as if you are from someone."

      Jesus said to her, "I am the one who comes from what is whole.
      I was granted from the things of my Father."

      "I am your disciple."

      "For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light,
      but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness."

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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