Re: [GTh] The Five Trees(19)
- I neglected to add, for those possibly interested, that The Gnostic Apostle
Thomas is also available on line through the Gnosis Archive. Chris Merillat
- James, further to my last post contained below, and your quote from the
writings of St. Hippolytus, I wonder if ascribing this to him is an error?
Did you perhaps have in mind material from St.Epipanius of Salamis who
penned his "Against Heresies" in 374 CE? I can't find that quote.
My information is that Hippolytus was born in 170 CE and died in 235 CE and
had thus been dead for 5 or more years when Mani first proclaimed his Gospel
in Persia in 242 CE. Someone suggested that Iraneus had also addressed
Manicheaism in his "Against Heresies", but he also was long dead when Mani
started (Iraneus- born 130 CE, died 202 CE).
Although it seems clear to me that Mani or the the Manicheans did not
compose Thomas (The Jesus Seminar dates one fragment of the Greek version
"to "around 200 CE".) they did adopt it, and may well have 'dicked' with it
such that our Coptic version may have 'contaminants" from Manichaeism,
particularly given it's late date (350 CE).
Egypt became an early hotbed of Manicheaism. The Manicheans expanded rapidly
reaching Judea in 274 CE- 3 years before Mani was killed, and subsequently
arrived early in Egypt (Alexandria) where in 296, they "having recently come
from Persia" were creating problems and the Proconsul of Africa complained
about them resulting in an Edict from Diocletian ( March 31, 296) ordering
their suppression. Even in 330 CE, St. Anthony is said to have forbidden all
intercourse with them.
According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, in the Eastern Roman empire
Manicheaism came to the zenith of it's power between AD 375-400 and then
rapidly declined. In Egypt the Edict of Theodosius I (AD 381) was directed
specifically to their suppression. During this time numerous authors
attacked the heresy. Thomas and the rest of the Nag Hammadi collection seem
to have been buried about 380 CE, possibly in response to this.
Given all this, especially since the Gospel of Thomas was a favorite of the
Manicheans, one indeed wonders whether the Coptic copy we have, didn't
earlier pass through the hands of Manichean editors such that our Coptic
copy may indeed show traces of Manichean concepts and thought. I resile from
my early comment. It may indeed be proper to consider them in relation to
those sayings in Thomas not found in the Greek.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ron McCann" <ronmccann1@...>
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2002 2:28 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] The Five Trees(19)
> Hello James,
> I liked your analysis.
> Just a comment or two on Hippolytus's statement:->" [note Hippolytus
> "Refutation of All Heresies": Let none read the gospel according to
> for it is the work, not of one of the
> twelve Apostle, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples]."
> I am sure most will agree that he is likely out-to-lunch on that. Mani was
> born in 215-216 AD and began proclaiming his gospel in 242 AD about age
> (He was crucified in 276-277).
> Whereas it is possible that Manicheans could have influenced our Coptic
> of Thomas (dated to about 350 CE), and may have used it, they certainly
> didn't create it. If I am not mistaken, the Greek copy we have dates to
> about 225 CE, and clearly cannot have been created or influenced by Mani
> This casts some doubt on the applicability of Manichean ideas and concepts
> to the "five trees" problem.
> Ron McCann
> Saskatoon, Canada
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "valjuk" <valjuk@...>
> To: <email@example.com>
> Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2002 4:56 PM
> Subject: Re: [GTh] The Five Trees(19)
> > Randall, I'm not 100% sure on this, and as this is my first time
> > posting in this group, please be kind, if this sounds ridiculous!
> > In the Greek version of the Acts of Judas Thomas, the story of
> > Gundaphorus and the celestial palace is related. When Gundaphorus
> > realises his mistake in imprisoning Thomas and Habban, he frees them
> > and asks to be made worthy of entering the service of God. Thomas
> > praises Jesus for the miraculous conversion, and asks Gundaphorus to
> > prepare for the ceremony of sealing. During the ceremony, Thomas
> > poured oil on the heads of Gundaphorus and his brothers, invoking the
> > names of the holy spirit. One of these names was "messenger of the
> > five members" it goes on to list these five members as: mind,
> > thought, reflection, consideration and reason. Certain Syriac
> > translations include "intention" or "volition".
> > The followers of Mani who had an intimate connection to Thomas Lore
> > [note Hippolytus "Refutation of All Heresies": Let none read the
> > gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the
> > twelve Apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples]
> > regarded the 'pentad of the mind' to be the dwelling place of the
> > father of greatness, their supreme godhead. The 'pentad of the mind'
> > as it is translated from Manichean texts is sense, reason, thought,
> > imagination and will.
> > I am not sure whether it is a logical extrapolation or not, but could
> > the five trees, or the five members possibly be that which is
> > required to achieve gnosis? That which Gnostics called
> > the "spark", "spirit", "soul" or "seed"? It says in GTh that "whoever
> > knows them will not taste death". Gnostics sought to evade death of
> > the spirit by gnosis. If the five trees/members are indeed
> > the "spark" which Gnostics sought, then that explains their apparent
> > permanence, that "they do not change, summer or winter, and their
> > leaves do not fall". It also explains how the stones will come to
> > serve those who pay attention to the saying - as gnosis will have
> > been achieved.
> > Ok, I'm sorry if this explanation seems really convoluted, and is
> > just a jumble of ideas, I did try to introduce some degree of logic
> > into it. I hope it's of some use?
> > James Valente
> > London, UK
> Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
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- James Valente wrote:
> [note Hippolytus "Refutation of All Heresies": Let none read theRon McCann responded:
> gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the
> twelve Apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples]
> ... your quote from the writings of St. Hippolytus,It is indeed. According to the Layton Brill edition of Codex II, vol.1,
> I wonder if ascribing this to him is an error?
p.105-6, the quote is from Cyril of Jerusalem, circa 348 C.E. As quoted
"This one (Mani) had three disciples: Thomas, Baddas, and Hermas. Let no one
read the _Gospel According to Thomas_, for he is not one of the twelve
apostles, but one of the three wicked disciples of Mani."
The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
If a human disciple is capable of "not tasting death" by "making the
two into one", entering a Kingdom transcending all opposites, a new
world without Summer or Winter Solstice, only Equinox, then one could
reasonably expect that within this Kingdom, even normally deciduous
plants/trees would no longer undergo their normal seasonal changes.
If, however, you believe seasonal plants/trees must be ruled out, I
would offer you an alternate hypothesis that the 5 trees represent
the 5 virtues as put forth by Philo. These 5 virtues may also be
correlated to the 5 Gnostic rites.
The following quotes are from _The Works of Philo - Complete and
Unabridged_, translated by C D Younge, 1993, Hendrickson publishers.
Allegorical Interpretation I, XVII and XVIII
"And God caused to rise out of the earth every tree which is pleasant
to the sight and good for food, and the tree of life he raised in the
middle of the Paradise, and also the tree of knowledge of good and
(Philo says)"He here gives a sketch of the trees of virtue which he
plants in the soul." ..."But the tree of life is that most general
virtue which some people call goodness, from which the particular
virtues are derived, and of which they are composed." ..."but as to
the other tree, that namely of the knowledge of good and evil, he has
not specified whether it is within or outside of the Paradise."
"And a river goes forth out of Eden to water Paradise...separated
into four heads...Pheison...Gihon...Tigris...Euphrates"
(Philo says)"In these words Moses intends to sketch out the
particular virtues. And they also are four in number."
"Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice."
"Now the greatest river from which the four branches flow off, is
generic virtue, which we have already called goodness."
The tree of Life would correspond to the ultimate culmination of
Gnosis or the "bridal chamber", while the elementary lessons of right
and wrong or "Justice" would correspond to repentance and "Baptism".
"Temperence" would refer to moderation in food and drinkk, thus
corresponding to the holy meal of the "Eucharist". "Prudence" would
be associated with Wisdom or Spiritual fire and annointing with the
oil of "Chrism", while "Courage" would be a necessity for confronting
the menacing archons in ascent through the heavens during the rite
--- In gthomas@y..., "Ron McCann" <ronmccann1@s...> wrote:
> I think the "Five Trees" of 19 cannot reasonably be the five
> you mention because the criteria that their leaves are unchangeable
> or winter, and do not fall, is not met. Something eternal and
> ie- immortal and 'divine" is being referenced.
> I cannot escape from the conclusion that 19 is about the Thomas
> re-entry to Eden (Paradise) and encountering it's 'trees", one of
> course is the Tree of Life, which according to Genesis a man "may
> never die"- that is- he will not, as Adam, who never got to eat of
> "taste death".
> Ron McCann
> Saskatoon, Canada
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "docgroove1017" <docgroove1017@a...>
> To: <gthomas@y...>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2002 7:26 PM
> Subject: Re: [GTh] The Five Trees(19)
> > My hypothesis is that the five trees in Saying (19) are the
> > five Gnostic rites of initiation and may have been associated with
> > actual plants as were the Greek gods and goddesses.
> > 1.) BAPTISM = LILY (WATER LILY) = JUNO
> > [goddess of childbirth- "born again"]
> > 2.) EUCHARIST = VINE (WINE) = BACCHUS
> > [another dying and resurrecting god!]
> > ??? and WHEAT (BREAD) = DEMETER
> > 3.) CHRISM = OLIVE (OIL) = MINERVA
> > [goddess of Wisdom/Sophia, "Spirit"]
> > ??? OR BALSAM
> > 4.) REDEMPTION = OAK = JUPITER
> > (god of the sky)
> > [meeting archons in ascent through heavens]
> > 5.) BRIDAL CHAMBER = LINDEN = PHILEMON & BAUCIS
> > [the eternal couple representing mutual love]
> Randall Wilson
> > Lebanon, IL
> > USA