Re: [GTh] #11
I personally find it very hard to see apocalyptic elements in Thomas. I
suppose one could read it into 11, 79(b) and 111. Are these the passages to
which you refer and are there others I have missed here?
How does 11 relate to 12? In part the two are a couplet- the heavens
passing away- and heaven and earth coming into being. In 12 "for whose sake
heaven and earth came into being" is supposed to be some Aramaic idiomatic
expression which designates someone who is "especially blessed". Is 11 to be
read like this? Is the passing away of the heavens or skies in 11 to be read
as an idiomatic expression, apocalyptic or as some similar poetic flourish?
What about 111- "the heavens and the earth will roll up in your presence"? I
don't think it is clear that these are necessarily apocalyptic.
As for eating and consuming, that element seems a common thread in logions
6-14, inclusive, with that strangely split logion, beginning at 6 with the
end in 14, forming a bracket. Only 12 (James the Just) seems to be an
interloper. I have no idea why these are so grouped, but they seem to be.
6- fasting, diet
7- eating lion, being eaten
8- wise fisherman choosing biggest fish (for supper? or was he looking for a
9- worms eating seeds
10- fire consumes or devours
11- eat what is dead
12- (out of place)
13- drink from spring
- fire will devour you
14- eat what is set before you
Are we looking at evidence for a sacramental meal, or are these merely
sayings assembled around "eating and consuming" themes?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Bauer" <jbauer@...>
To: "Gospel of Thomas" <email@example.com>
Cc: "Jerome H. Bauer" <JeromBauer@...>
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2001 8:41 PM
Subject: [GTh] #11
> The recent events in the war against terrorism couldn't have come at a
more opportune time--the Millennium--or place--the Middle East--for the
apocalyptic Fundamentalists. With this in mind I undertook a reading of GTh
looking for apocalyptic statements. There were many, but the following
(#11) was unique in the way it inverts the "making the two into one"
> "Jesus said, this heaven will pass away and the one above it will pass
away. The dead are not alive and the living will not die. In the days when
you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to
dwell in the light what will you do? On the day when you were one you
became two. But when you become two what will you do?"
> This is the only other saying than "the man which the lion eats" (#7)
where poetic repetition--"what will you do?"--is used to emphasize a point.
Also along this line GTh speaks of "what is consumed" mentioned in #7. IMO
it is possibly an early reference to a communion sacrament.
> Jim Bauer
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ron McCann" <ronmccann1@...>
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 11:41 AM
Subject: Re: [GTh] #11
> I personally find it very hard to see apocalyptic elements in Thomas. I
> suppose one could read it into 11, 79(b) and 111. Are these the passages
> which you refer and are there others I have missed here?
79, "Blessed is the womb which did not conceive and the breasts which did
not give milk" seems to be more of an ascetic saying than apocalyptic. It
reminds me more of Paul's "it is better to marry than to burn" than it does
something like the apocalypses, canonical or otherwise. 111 where it speaks
of "the heavens rolling up" seems to fit this category, too, except for
"whoever knows the living one will not experience death", which returns to
the beginning of Thomas.
This material appears to be more gnostic than Christian. A study of the
gnostic apocalypses may be in order. I wrote a paper on them for a class
once and if I can find it I'll post it up on the web. Mostly, unlike Rev,
the gnostics were more concerned with teaching than portraying elaborate
symbols. The densely packed metaphors of Rev, even as I write are becoming
fodder for the Fundamentalists seeing "the end of the world" in the current
> How does 11 relate to 12? In part the two are a couplet- the heavens
> passing away- and heaven and earth coming into being. In 12 "for whose
> heaven and earth came into being" is supposed to be some Aramaic idiomatic
> expression which designates someone who is "especially blessed".
The correlation between 11 and 12 as you have delineated doesn't seem too
clear to me. Although parts of it are apocalyptic, the main thrust of the
saying is "the one becoming two". This still appears to me to be a
delibarate reversal of "the two become one" foud in many eastern scriptures
and in alchemy as an underground counter-current to creeds like Christianity
and Islam which ruled on the surface.
> As for eating and consuming, that element seems a common thread in logions
> 6-14, inclusive, with that strangely split logion, beginning at 6 with the
> end in 14, forming a bracket. Only 12 (James the Just) seems to be an
> interloper. I have no idea why these are so grouped, but they seem to be.
Although 6 and 14 have some common ideas, I don't really see 14 as
completing it. Stevan Davies once said about Thomas, "It looks like it was
written by a bunch of people sitting around and trying to remember things
that Jesus said or was supposed to have said". Bearing that in mind this
"couplet" may have been created randomly.
Also, here we are confronted by statements like "if you pray you will be
condemned" and "if you give alms you will do harm to your spirit". This
statement seems powerfully antichristian and perhaps could have been
originated by ascetic gnostics. Whatever the case, it sticks out like a
> 6- fasting, diet
> 7- eating lion, being eaten
> 8- wise fisherman choosing biggest fish (for supper? or was he looking for
> 9- worms eating seeds
> 10- fire consumes or devours
> 11- eat what is dead
> 12- (out of place)
> 13- drink from spring
> - fire will devour you
> 14- eat what is set before you
> Are we looking at evidence for a sacramental meal, or are these merely
> sayings assembled around "eating and consuming" themes?
The Christian eucharistic meal must have originated somehow, and seems to
have become a powerful idea in early Christianity, as "eating the body of
Christ" was among the reasons Christians were thrown to the lions. The RCC
still holds to "transubstantiation", insisting it is, through some
miraculous agency, "literally" the body and blood of Christ. If they just
would have told the Romans, "it's just another symbol" the entire course of
religious history may have been different.
- Ron McCann wrote:
> I personally find it very hard to see apocalyptic elements in Thomas.Like Ron, I find little clear apocalyptic eschatology in GThom. But I would
> I suppose one could read it into 11, 79(b) and 111.
at least add Th57.4 to the list of possibles ("On the day of the harvest,
the weeds will become apparent, and will be pulled up and burned.") Also, I
think Jim overly-minimizes Th79.3 when he says:
>79, "Blessed is the womb which did not conceive and the breasts which didThat it may seem so is probably more due to Jim's leaving off the introductory
>not give milk" seems to be more of an ascetic saying than apocalyptic.
clause, "There will be days when you will say ..." than to anything else.
With that clause (re-)attached, the ascetic reading is substantially
weakened, I would say. That leaves the list as: 57.4, 79.3, and the pair
11.1 and 111.1.
The other side of the coin, of course, is that there are other sayings
which seem clearly anti-apocalyptic, and so I think what we have here is
another instance of Bill Arnal's thesis of conceptual antipathy and
destruction within Thomas. Seeming deliberate self-inconsistency, if you will.
With respect to the other directions this thread is taking, I have nothing
to add, but I did want to make these brief remarks about the apocalyptic
- The co-existence of apocalyptic and gnostic elements in GTh, to
the extent that they can be demonstrated to exist at all, are not
altogether contradictory of one another (in my opinion).
Gnosis and apocalypticism share a common objective; each seeks to
resolve the contradiction between ideal expectations and the
actuality of experience. Both emanate from a profound sense of
alienation. Each seeks deliverance from a fractured existence by
locating ultimate meaning somewhere outside the sphere of the
ordinary. A state of marginalization is their common heritage.
Their shared destiny is the eschaton.
There are, of course differences between the two, as well.
Apocalyptic expectations presuppose that deliverance from the
dissonant conditions of existence will derive from external
intervention. Ordinarily, that intervention will be initiated and
executed by some cosmic power, but, in its most radical
expression, the authority of cosmic forces will be delegated to
In contrast to apocalypticism, gnosis does not expect external
soteriological intervention. Instead, the resolution to the
crisis of existence originates and operates within the self and
within the community. Deliverance from alienation depends on
intensified modes of cognition through which one's essential
unity with what is "really real" is actualized.
The question is, where do any of the fundamental characteristics
of apocalypticism manifest themselves in GTh 11, 57.4, or 79? It
seems to me there are some vague allusions to eschatological
concerns but I see nothing that presupposes salvation via divine
inversion, conversion, or subversion of the conditions of
Humble Maine Woodsman