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[gthomas] Thomas - an introvert?

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  • Mats Winther
    I am new to this group and will initially try a psychological approach to the motivation of the author of the Thomas-Gospel. Incidentally, I am not a scholar
    Message 1 of 7 , Jan 1, 1999
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      I am new to this group and will initially try a psychological approach to the motivation of the author of the Thomas-Gospel. Incidentally, I am not a scholar and I haven't digested much of the Thomas-related material. I have, however, studied Comparative Religion for a year at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. In addition, of course, I have individually studied related subject matter.

      To me, the frugality of the Gospel of Thomas and the marked lack of interest in the actual life and deeds of Jesus are the typical hallmarks of a strongly introverted author. The author is almost exclusively interested in the learning which pours out of Jesus´ mouth (Jesus himself points out this fact in logion 13.) This is due to the fact that the introvert underestimates the object and overestimates the subject i.e. the effect which is aroused within the soul (Jesus puts it very aptly when he says that Thomas is intoxicated.)
      Comparatively, the evangelists are more extraverted and hence attributes more importance to the actual life of Jesus. To me, their narrative style is a concequence of their attitude type. Perhaps one can assign Mark the most extraverted attitude.

      Jesus made his point both by way of his lifework and by way of his teaching. The extravert will attach importance to the former i.e. his good deeds and the mythological aspects of the life of Christ. However, the marked extravert will arrive at a rather superficial understanding of the esoteric, spiritual side of the teaching. The introvert, however, will attach more importance to the latter. For instance, when Jesus brake the bread and gave it to the disciples the extravert will project the Kingdom of God which resides in his own soul upon this occasion. Accordingly, the extravert will stress this outer occasion and put it down in writing. However, since a projection has occured he is not necessarily aware of the fact that he himself carries the truth which he is projecting. The introverted Thomas, however, does realize that the Kingdom is within himself and around himself (i.e. neither in heaven nor in the future). This is evident from logion 3. Thomas also stresses the sayings of Jesus where he explains that "you must know yourself". This is understandable since the introvert realizes the existence of the interior fact. This is not evident to the distinctly extraverted person since the interior fact is projected.

      The ingenious Jesus of Nazareth probably did paint both an eschatological version of The Kingdom of God and an immanent Kingdom of God (or what has been denoted as immanent transcendence). Also, he made an example both with his life and with his sayings. Depending on attitude type the disciples would stress different aspects of the general Jesus-phenomenon. It is evident that many disciples did not understand the fact that the Kingdom had already arrived. Thomas, however, understood this fully. Sadly, he underestimated the object, i.e. the deeds of Christ and left us an arguably unfinished Gospel. In defence one can argue that, because of his introversion, he had fully probed the depths of Jesus´ preaching and like noone else comprehended his immense stature.

      The frugal style of Thomas is typical for an introvert that wants to stress the heart of the matter instead of embroiding around it. I personally believe that the sayings of Jesus actually were more estetically vigorous. The introvert is not very interested in objective detail, accordingly he will forget or omit factual details about Jesus´ sayings. To his advantage is, however, that he understands the kernel of the message. This enables him to be true to the heart of the preaching of Christ. The other evangelist, however, may be better suited to relaying the objective details in the story of Christ and in his sayings, but instead they miss the point to a certain extent. Incidentally, many followers even had immediate apocalyptic expectations. This was caused by the inabilty of the apostels to relay the true sense of the message because of a certain lack of understanding. The apostel Thomas was perhaps in a sense secluded because of his overly introverted interpretation of the teaching.

      Conclusively, I differ somewhat from the general understanding when interpreting the succinct style of Thomas. It is generally understood as a sign of pristine originality but I understand it as a consequence of the introverted attitude of the author.
      To me the text gives an original and authentic impression for other reasons. My impression is that it pictures the psychology of Thomas very distinctly, both regarding the actual contents and the style of the document and the actual description of Thomas in this document and in other documents.

      But, most importantly, I would like to point out the fact that this psychological interpretation explains why the author stresses a knowledge-based salvation of the individual. This has formerly been understood as Gnostic leanings. However, since the introvert is aware of the inner psychic facts he does stress the importance of acknowledging your own unconscious faults and leanings. By gaining knowledge of yourself you can actually control and purge away evil which resides within yourself. This, however, must not be understood as a Gnostic doctrine, since the Gnostics principally wanted to evade evil by renouncing both the body and the unconscious leanings. In fact, I understand the Gospel of Thomas as strongly anti-Gnostic since it stresses unity (two must become one). Jesus in the Thomas-Gospel encourages people to confront the body and learn to know the unconscious (i.e. know yourself). Jesus encourages them to undress and expose to the light of day what was hitherto hidden. He stresses that the world is essentially one because the Kingdom of God is within you and everywhere around you (neither in heaven, nor in the sea). This is an anti-Gnostic conception since it rejects dualism. Perhaps Jesus of Nazareth is the man whom the essénes called "The Scoffer". Why shouldn't he during his travels go down to Qumran, a day's walk from Jerusalem, and scold the Sons of Light for their silly cleansing rituals? It would certainly fit his temperament, and after all, according to Jesus one must clean the inside, not the outside of the cup.


      Mats Winther



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    • Jack Kilmon
      ... I see a few problems with this approach. First, it assumes GThomas to be the product of a single author whose motivation can be analyzed by style. The
      Message 2 of 7 , Jan 1, 1999
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        Mats Winther wrote:
        >
        > I am new to this group and will initially try a psychological
        >approach to the motivation of the author of the Thomas-Gospel.
        >Incidentally, I am not a scholar and I haven't digested much of
        >the Thomas-related material. I have, however, studied Comparative
        >Religion for a year at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. In
        >addition, of course, I have individually studied related subject matter.
        >
        > To me, the frugality of the Gospel of Thomas and the marked lack
        >of interest in the actual life and deeds of Jesus are the typical
        >hallmarks of a strongly introverted author.

        I see a few problems with this approach. First, it assumes
        GThomas to be the product of a single author whose motivation
        can be analyzed by style. The GThomas, like the synoptics,
        began with some distant autograph but in their present forms
        are the product of a community and generations of copyists,
        editors, interpolators and redaction often with disparate
        theological agendas. The Thomasine literature seems to have
        had its origin in Syria, probably Edessa, long before being
        adopted by Egyptian gnostics.
        The source material could be either written, oral tradition
        or a combination of both, each having a trajectory through
        the minds and pens of many transmissionists.

        I believe the very earliest GOT material hails back to
        the time of Jesus, perhaps being penned by a literate
        follower as sayings left his mouth. Other sayings may
        have been added from Oral tradition later. Motivation,
        therefore, can only be assessed against the community
        responsible for the extant rescension, that of the
        Coptic Gnostics. The Greek Thomas (POxy) probably
        hailed from a separate community altogether. For this
        reason, we can only attempt to look at the community
        rather than a single author.

        Jack

        --
        ______________________________________________

        taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

        Jack Kilmon
        jkilmon@...

        http://www.historian.net

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      • Mats Winther
        ... Från: Jack Kilmon Till: gthomas@egroups.com Datum: den 1 januari 1999 20:21 Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas - an
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 1, 1999
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          -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
          Från: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...>
          Till: gthomas@egroups.com <gthomas@egroups.com>
          Datum: den 1 januari 1999 20:21
          Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas - an introvert?


          >
          >I see a few problems with this approach. First, it assumes
          >GThomas to be the product of a single author whose motivation
          >can be analyzed by style. The GThomas, like the synoptics,
          >began with some distant autograph but in their present forms
          >are the product of a community and generations of copyists,
          >editors, interpolators and redaction often with disparate
          >theological agendas....

          I realize, of course, that the matter is more complicated than my personality-scheme. I adopted this extreme standpoint in order to make my point, namely that I personally believe that certain of the Gospels, including Thomas, are still true to their original form. One cannot assume that every religious community is so corrupt that it inevitably starts forging the texts into something else. Although the Egyptian Gnostics got hold of the Thomas-Gospel they didn't turn it into a Gnostic document. Neither did they burn it.

          Scholars have also underestimated the originality of Matthew until the three Matthew-fragments were found in Oxford, 1994. They have paleographically been dated to no later than year 63(?), probably before year 50. I believe it's true that some of the Gospels actually stem from their respective apostel and that the scriptures are rather unaffected by later editorial work.

          I have read some articles on Christology, et cetera, and I always get the impression that the diverse authors want to promote an air of scholarship by being overly disparaging towards the sources. And they always try to understand the morphology of the texts by trying to detect dependencies between them without caring about the original human behind it. They underestimate the effects of human nature e.g. how we look upon the world. Depending on typology different individuals will understand the teaching of a master very differently. Their way of relating what they've learnt will also be affected e.g. the style of their documents. For instance, to regard a document as more original because its language appears more succinct, is not a valid argument. The effect of the personality of the original author is much more important. And here we have both succinctness; appreciation of the subjective factor (e.g. Kingdom within); underestimation of the objective factor (e.g. actual deeds); and all the other facts which to me in a much clearer way hints at the originality of the text. But instead of trying to unveil the author behind the text psychologically, the diverse scholars start fantasizing about the Q-source, et cetera. But, if we can paint a coherent multi-level picture of an author personality, then we have a much better grip of the text. Then we can assume that there is only one author, perhaps with minor interpolations.


          Mats Winther






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        • Jack Kilmon
          ... An overwhelming amount of evidence disputes this view. Even the autograph Matthew and Luke were reworked Marks and themselves becoming a patchwork over
          Message 4 of 7 , Jan 1, 1999
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            Mats Winther wrote:
            >
            > -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
            > Från: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...>
            > Till: gthomas@egroups.com <gthomas@egroups.com>
            > Datum: den 1 januari 1999 20:21
            > Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas - an introvert?
            >
            > >
            > >I see a few problems with this approach. First, it assumes
            > >GThomas to be the product of a single author whose motivation
            > >can be analyzed by style. The GThomas, like the synoptics,
            > >began with some distant autograph but in their present forms
            > >are the product of a community and generations of copyists,
            > >editors, interpolators and redaction often with disparate
            > >theological agendas....
            >
            > I realize, of course, that the matter is more complicated than
            >my personality-scheme. I adopted this extreme standpoint in order
            >to make my point, namely that I personally believe that certain of
            >the Gospels, including Thomas, are still true to their original form.

            An overwhelming amount of evidence disputes this view. Even the
            autograph Matthew and Luke were reworked Marks and themselves
            becoming a patchwork over the decades following the autographs.

            >One cannot assume that every religious community is so corrupt that it
            >inevitably starts forging the texts into something else.

            You are looking at 1st century literary styles through 20th century
            literary rules. It's not a matter of corruption, it's a matter
            of theological agendas of various communities.


            > Although the
            >Egyptian Gnostics got hold of the Thomas-Gospel they didn't turn it
            >into a Gnostic document. Neither did they burn it.

            I would say the Gnostics adopted GOT because it was an ascetic work
            that did not challenge their own paradigms.

            >
            > Scholars have also underestimated the originality of Matthew
            >until the three Matthew-fragments were found in Oxford, 1994.
            >They have paleographically been dated to no later than year 63(?),
            >probably before year 50. I believe it's true that some of the Gospels
            >actually stem from their respective apostel and that the scriptures
            >are rather unaffected by later editorial work.

            I'm sorry, but Carsten Thiede is pregnantly wrong in his dating
            of the Magdalen papyri. The Zeitschrift style continued in use
            well into the 3rd century. The Gospel of Matthew clearly hails
            from the last two decades of the 1st century, probably shortly
            after the Birkhat ha Minim (and maybe in response to it) in
            85 CE.

            <snipped for brevity>

            > But instead of trying to unveil the author behind the
            >text psychologically, the diverse scholars start fantasizing
            >about the Q-source, et cetera. But, if we can paint a coherent
            >multi-level picture of an author personality, then we have a much
            >better grip of the text. Then we can assume that there is only
            >one author, perhaps with minor interpolations.

            In spite of the overwhelming evidence of literary, sourse and form
            criticism against such a proposition, I wish you well at it.

            Notice I have edited your word wrap to make the post easier
            to read. You may want to set your word wrap to avoid one
            single line 10 feet long.

            Jack
            --
            ______________________________________________

            taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

            Jack Kilmon
            jkilmon@...

            http://www.historian.net

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          • Andrew Bernhard
            Mats, I rather like your approach to looking at the Gospel of Thomas. It may not be what people on this list are looking for or used to, but I think it is
            Message 5 of 7 , Jan 2, 1999
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              Mats,
              I rather like your approach to looking at the Gospel of Thomas. It may not be what
              people on this list are looking for or used to, but I think it is definitely
              worthwhile. For me, your recent discussion with Jack has caused me to reflect on
              the meaning of scholarship on religious texts such as the Gospel of Thomas. Some
              people, such as Jack for instance, want to place the Gospel in its geographic
              location and define its relationship to the synoptic gospels and so on, and that's
              all well and good, but I have to ask myself: what's the point? I mean isn't the
              purpose of studying the Gospel of Thomas to understand it? Does the historical
              critical method help us understand it? Once, I would have said yes - in fact, it
              is the only way of understanding it. But now, I feel that it really doesn't help
              us understand it all that much at all. Maybe it does to a certain extent, but we
              can only know so much about the Gospel by locating it in time and space, and our
              tools don't even allow that great of precision in doing so. I think we need to
              start looking at the Gospel of Thomas from other perspectives as well. Now, I'm
              going to try to address Jack's criticism's of your proposed way of looking at the
              Gospel of Thomas.

              Jack:

              > I see a few problems with this approach. First, it assumes
              > GThomas to be the product of a single author whose motivation
              > can be analyzed by style.

              I want to modify the original suggestion - not the author, but the final REDACTOR
              was an introvert. The sources - the community, the oral tradition, the other texts
              - are irrelevant here. Maybe the compiler of the gospel wasn't the first one to
              record or pass on these sayings, but that's not the point; the point is that the
              person who put the gospel together in the end emphasized certain ideas and
              disregarded others and that the way he/she did so reflects his/her personality.


              > The GThomas, like the synoptics,
              > began with some distant autograph but in their present forms
              > are the product of a community and generations of copyists,
              > editors, interpolators and redaction often with disparate
              > theological agendas.

              But put aside the theological agendas and look at the personal agenda.


              > The Thomasine literature seems to have
              > had its origin in Syria, probably Edessa, long before being
              > adopted by Egyptian gnostics.

              That tells us nothing about what was on the redactors mind when he put it all
              together.

              > The source material could be either written, oral tradition
              > or a combination of both, each having a trajectory through
              > the minds and pens of many transmissionists.

              And which people were most likely to be transmitting the gospel - people with an
              introverted personality? In end, I think Jack's problem with this approach is that
              it doesn't answer the questions he wants answered. It may, however, answer
              different, and perhaps, more important questions about the nature of the text.

              My reflections for now,
              Andrew


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            • Mats Winther
              ... Från: Andrew Bernhard Till: gthomas@egroups.com Datum: den 2 januari 1999 10:05 Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas -
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 2, 1999
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                -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
                Från: Andrew Bernhard <cabern@...>
                Till: gthomas@egroups.com <gthomas@egroups.com>
                Datum: den 2 januari 1999 10:05
                Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas - an introvert?


                >Mats,
                >I rather like your approach to looking at the Gospel of Thomas. It may not be what
                >people on this list are looking for or used to, but I think it is definitely
                >worthwhile. For me, your recent discussion with Jack has caused me to reflect on
                >the meaning of scholarship on religious texts such as the Gospel of Thomas. Some
                >people, such as Jack for instance, want to place the Gospel in its geographic
                >location and define its relationship to the synoptic gospels and so on, and that's
                >all well and good, but I have to ask myself: what's the point? I mean isn't the
                >purpose of studying the Gospel of Thomas to understand it? Does the historical
                >critical method help us understand it? Once, I would have said yes - in fact, it
                >is the only way of understanding it. But now, I feel that it really doesn't help
                >us understand it all that much at all. Maybe it does to a certain extent, but we
                >can only know so much about the Gospel by locating it in time and space, and our
                >tools don't even allow that great of precision in doing so. I think we need to
                >start looking at the Gospel of Thomas from other perspectives as well. Now, I'm
                >going to try to address Jack's criticism's of your proposed way of looking at the
                >Gospel of Thomas.
                >


                Yes, it is the meaning we are after. If Jesus knew how much energy we waste on textual historical research instead of trying to understand it, he would have a fit of frenzy. But, of course, the scholars are mostly doing it for a living. The traditional method must underlie any psychological (or whatever) approach. But it is obvious that a certain understanding of the esoteric teaching in the text will be helpful to the researcher since he then can connect the different text not only by obvious reasons. For instance, different text may use a different symbolic language but the underlying meaning could be similar and thereby describing a similar paradigm. The psychological approach which I suggested may be used as a complement too. I really don't know how valuable it is, but there is no reason why we shouldn't use different approaches.

                I think that textual scholars can benefit from an improved symbolical understanding of the texts. That's why it is highly suitable to train this faculty by discussing the meaning of the different Jesus-words, which you do in this group.


                Mats Winther







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              • Mats Winther
                ... From: Jack Kilmon Till: gthomas@egroups.com Datum: den 2 januari 1999 01:25 Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas - an
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 2, 1999
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                  -----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
                  From: Jack Kilmon
                  <jkilmon@...>
                  Till: gthomas@egroups.com
                  <gthomas@egroups.com>
                  Datum: den 2 januari 1999 01:25
                  Ämne: [gthomas] Re: Thomas - an
                  introvert?


                  >> Although the
                  >>Egyptian Gnostics got hold of the Thomas-Gospel they
                  >>didn't turn it into a Gnostic document. Neither did
                  >>they burn it.
                  >
                  >I would say the Gnostics adopted GOT because it
                  >was an ascetic work
                  >that did not challenge their own paradigms.
                  >

                  This is because it is so easy to pick out certain sayings and emphasize them, and it is also a question of how good the reader's faculty of understanding is. But one could actually pick out sayings and prove otherwise, that Jesus actually speaks against Gnostic dualism. The Gnostic paradigm is none other than the Platonic dualism i.e. that there exists two spheres; the material and the spiritual (heavenly). The latter is the goal to be attained by overcoming the material world. But, for instance, in logion 3 Jesus is very clear: "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you. " Here Jesus contradicts the idea of a spiritual kingdom which is transcendent to the physical universe.

                  When discussing the ascetic aspect of the text there is much here that contradicts ascetism. In logion 6 the disciples ask about fasting and what to eat but Jesus merely demands of them that they shall not lie, et cetera. And in logion 14 he even says: "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves..."
                  But Jesus wanted the disciples to understand what the true fasting and the true sabbath is. It is not about some silly fasting rules or cleansing rituals. That's why he says in logion 27 "If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath you will not see the Father."

                  Obviously, the Gnostic monks could find support for a kind of ascetic life style in the Thomas-Gospel. However, it is clear that to Jesus the usual ascetism is not good at all. He is anti-ritualistic, in a sense. He wants people to be fasting in the spirit, not in the flesh.
                  Anyway, The Gospel of Thomas cannot really be seen as promoting ascetism.

                  >>
                  >> Scholars have also underestimated the originality of Matthew
                  >>until the three Matthew-fragments were found in
                  >>Oxford, 1994....
                  >
                  >I'm sorry, but Carsten Thiede is pregnantly wrong in his dating
                  >of the Magdalen papyri. The Zeitschrift style continued in use
                  >well into the 3rd century. The Gospel of Matthew clearly hails
                  >from the last two decades of the 1st century, probably shortly
                  >after the Birkhat ha Minim (and maybe in response to it) in 85 CE.
                  >

                  I don't have the cunning to understand this debate. But in cases like this I tend to be suspicious about the motives of the defenders of the old truth. I mean, they have invested so much in the old truth of Mark as the source, et cetera.

                  >
                  >> But instead of trying to unveil the author behind the text
                  >>psychologically, the diverse
                  >>scholars start fantasizing about the Q-source, et cetera. But, if
                  >>we can paint a coherent multi-level picture of an author personality,
                  >>then we have a much better grip of the text. Then we can
                  >>assume that there is only one author, perhaps with minor
                  >>interpolations.
                  >
                  >In spite of the overwhelming evidence of
                  >literary, sourse and form criticism
                  >against such a proposition, I wish you
                  >well at it.
                  >


                  I don't see why the methods can't complement each other. Let's take another example. The author of the Revelation is probably the same as the apostel John. This we can conclude from the following. His horrid vision on Patmos can partly (note: only partly) be understood as a result of ascetic living and a true goodness that is unfathomable to modern people. The horrid revelation can be understood psychologically as a compensation for John's goodness. All evil, fornication, violence, lust et cetera, strikes back violently since John cannot even allow himself to be slightly angry. Note that I am not trying to reduce the revelation to a psychological text, since it certainly has an immense meaning above that. But it is important to understand the personality behind the text.
                  Comparatively, St. Paul could allow himself to be harsh and downright mad sometimes, so consequently he didn't experience any outpouring of evil from his unconscious.

                  Why does John have this personality trait? Well, in the Gospel of John we can see that he like noone else emphasizes the message of love. Jesus is even concerned about his mother when he is hanging on the cross. He tells the disciples to love each other. The Gospel of John is the gospel of love and rightousness. John does not regard himself as being of this world. He probably overdoes it a little and does what many monks have done during the middle ages; an Imitatio Christi. John was one of the most important founders of Christianity. The Christian interpretation of his is situated somewhere between Gnosticism (world-denial) and the Thomasine interpretation.


                  From all this we can conclude that the author of John is probably the author of the Revelation. Note that I have no scholarly knowledge at all about the actual texts. Nevertheless I dare making this assumption. I maintain that it is sometimes feasible and worthwhile to discuss the personality of the author. The reason then why the Gospels are different is because their respective personalities have understood the teaching of Christ differently. Well, perhaps I should soften this extreme standpoint and say that it is partly the reason.

                  >Notice I have edited your word wrap to make the
                  >post easier to read. You may want to set your word wrap to
                  >avoid one single line 10 feet long.
                  >

                  Since all people use different word wrap it nevertheless causes problems. I use no word wrap at all (except for new passage). This makes the job easy for me. But they who use word wrap will have to edit the cited text anyway, at most instances , as I understand it. I would like to hear peoples opinion on this. Is there a problem in your software when I have ten feet long lines? In that case I will start using wordwrap.


                  Mats Winther








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