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Re: [GTh] Concerning Logion 98 and 57

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  • Michael Mozina
    ... Actually, I completely agree with you that our personal intepretations are bound to be influenced by our life experiences. We all wear a particular shade
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 10, 2002
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      Jim Bauer writes:
      > I don't know about this. One of the problems of doing symbolic
      > analyses--this post strikes me as assuming that Thomas is much closer to
      > systems of Eastern meditation than it actually is--is that no two people
      > ever read the same thing into the same set of symbols. Since this logion is
      > about the "Kingdom of the Father" ISTM that the "powerful man" is probably
      > Satan and the man who wants to kill him the Father incarnate as Jesus or
      > perhaps the Father himself. But then, maybe I'm also reading what I want
      > to see into this set of symbols.

      Actually, I completely agree with you that our personal intepretations are
      bound to be influenced by our life experiences. We all wear a particular
      shade of rose colored glasses that influence our understanding of the world.

      If you look at two interpetations with that understanding in mind, we
      ultimately both agree the "powerful one" refers to "satan", it's just that I
      don't externalize the notion of adversary here as you do.

      > Yet although one problem with parables is that they're deliberately
      obscure
      > it can be demonstrated by reading the NT in general that Jesus considered
      > himself an enemy of Satan and an emissary--in fact, THE emissary--of the
      > Kingdom of the Father as it exists/will exist on earth. As for "his own
      > house" he's probably talking about the Kingdom in its nascent form as the
      > community of believers. The church (in a generic sense) must be prepared
      > to deal with Satan before actually going out and destroying him.

      And I would suggest that one must be prepared to deal with ego, and
      selfishness and pride, before actually setting out to destroy it. Perhaps a
      "dry gulching" approach isn't such a bad idea either. :)

      Michael Mozina
      Mt. Shasta, CA
    • Grondin
      From: Jim Bauer ... is ... to ... There is that problem, of course, but the number of plausible alternatives can be decreased by
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 10, 2002
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        From: "Jim Bauer" <jbauer@...>
        > One of the problems of doing symbolic analyses ... is that no two people
        > ever read the same thing into the same set of symbols. Since this logion
        is
        > about the "Kingdom of the Father" ISTM that the "powerful man" is probably
        > Satan and the man who wants to kill him the Father incarnate as Jesus or
        > perhaps the Father himself. But then, maybe I'm also reading what I want
        to
        > see into this set of symbols.

        There is that problem, of course, but the number of plausible alternatives
        can be decreased by concentrating on the actual logic of the parable itself,
        and not getting carried away with incidental ideas that it might invoke in
        our minds. In the logic of this parable, I see nothing that would rule out
        Satan being considered the symbolic external adversary, but I do see
        something which would rule out the assassin being identified as either Jesus
        or "the Father". That something is the fact that the man sticks the sword
        into the wall to assure himself that his arm (or his will/intention) will be
        strong enough to carry out his plan. This implies that there is some
        question as to whether the man _will be_ strong enough. I'm quite sure that
        the originator of this parable would not have doubted that the will of
        either Jesus or "the Father" would be strong enough. Therefore, it's not
        plausible that "the man" in this parable symbolizes either of them. Most
        likely, it's the ordinary believer.

        Mike Grondin
        The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
        http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
      • Jim Bauer
        ... From: Grondin To: Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2002 2:01 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] Concerning Logion 98 and
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 11, 2002
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
          To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2002 2:01 PM
          Subject: Re: [GTh] Concerning Logion 98 and 57


          > From: "Jim Bauer" <jbauer@...>
          > > One of the problems of doing symbolic analyses ... is that no two people
          > > ever read the same thing into the same set of symbols. Since this
          logion
          > is
          > > about the "Kingdom of the Father" ISTM that the "powerful man" is
          probably
          > > Satan and the man who wants to kill him the Father incarnate as Jesus or
          > > perhaps the Father himself.
          >
          > the number of plausible alternatives
          > can be decreased by concentrating on the actual logic of the parable
          itself,
          > In the logic of this parable, I see nothing that would rule out
          > Satan being considered the symbolic external adversary, but I do see
          > something which would rule out the assassin being identified as either
          Jesus
          > or "the Father". That something is the fact that the man sticks the sword
          > into the wall to assure himself that his arm will be
          > strong enough to carry out his plan. This implies that there is some
          > question as to whether the man _will be_ strong enough. I'm quite sure
          that
          > the originator of this parable would not have doubted that the will of
          > either Jesus or "the Father" would be strong enough. Therefore, it's not
          > plausible that "the man" in this parable symbolizes either of them. Most
          > likely, it's the ordinary believer.

          Well, for one thing, I don't think assassinating Satan is in the ability of
          the "ordinary believer", but reserved for God at the Apocalyptic End of
          Time. You do, however, make a major assumption here in assuming that the
          originator of this parable is not Jesus himself or perhaps is an "ordinary
          Christian" who would see Jesus as Divine and hence not needing to test his
          strength as, being God he is supposedly all-powerful. Of course, for an
          early Christian this would have to be true, but for a Gnostic...? The
          Gnostic Jesus was a "Saved Saviour", not God but a man imbued with the
          Spirit of God which departed him on the cross, in which case your argument
          is fallacious; the Gnostic Aeon Christos would probably have many doubts.
          Though this would possibly indicate a late-dated Gnostic origin for this
          parable, it is also possible that Jesus himself said it, in which case,
          maybe Jesus was a man and not God, and only developed the idea that he was
          Philo's Logos AFTER he uttered this, or something like it and it got written
          down.

          Jim Bauer
          Havre, Montana
        • Grondin
          ... of ... Yes, one could argue that since the assassin in the parable can t be God (since no one would imagine God doubting the strength of his own will), it
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 11, 2002
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            [Jim Bauer]:
            > Well, for one thing, I don't think assassinating Satan is in the ability
            of
            > the "ordinary believer", but reserved for God at the Apocalyptic End of
            > Time.

            Yes, one could argue that since the assassin in the parable can't be God
            (since no one would imagine God doubting the strength of his own will), it
            follows that the "powerful man" whom the assassin eventually slays can't be
            Satan, since no mere man can hope to slay Satan. So I was perhaps too hasty
            to admit that the "powerful man" might be symbolic of Satan, as far as the
            internal evidence of the parable goes. If so, we're back at where we should
            have been in the first place - that the parable of the assassin is a
            metaphor for the believer: if you want to fight evil in the world, make sure
            that you have eradicated it within yourself first. But maybe the man is
            Jesus? We'll see about that below.

            > You do, however, make a major assumption here in assuming that the
            > originator of this parable is not Jesus himself or perhaps is an "ordinary
            > Christian" who would see Jesus as Divine and hence not needing to test
            > his strength as, being God he is supposedly all-powerful. Of course, for
            > an early Christian this would have to be true, but for a Gnostic...? The
            > Gnostic Jesus was a "Saved Saviour", not God but a man imbued with the
            > Spirit of God which departed him on the cross, in which case your argument
            > is fallacious; the Gnostic Aeon Christos would probably have many doubts.

            Oh, my, how can I explain how wrong-headed this approach is? Do you see any
            evidence of a "saved savior" concept in Thomas? Are there any sayings in
            which Jesus is made to express doubts about himself? No? Then what is the
            nature of your argument? That Thomas is Gnostic and so it _must_ (contrary
            to all internal evidence) harbor a secret conformity to someone's definition
            of Gnosticism? This is too absurd for words. A saying must be interpreted
            within its own context, not within some extrra-textual framework which is
            clearly inapplicable to the text.

            > Though this would possibly indicate a late-dated Gnostic origin for this
            > parable,

            If the parable has a Gnostic meaning, then the parable has a Gnostic origin?
            OK, but you haven't given any reason at all to suppose that the parable has
            a Gnostic meaning. The Gnostic concepts you mention are simply not present
            in Thomas.

            > ... it is also possible that Jesus himself said it, in which case, maybe
            Jesus
            > was a man and not God, and only developed the idea that he was Philo's
            > Logos AFTER he uttered this, or something like it and it got written down.

            Sheer speculation. I see no reason to suppose that Jesus uttered any
            parables (a genre intended for the public, mind you) which would have
            expressed doubts about what he saw as his mission. This is precisely the
            sort of thing that would _not_ be uttered - still less in public - by a
            person wishing to build a following. Ockham's Razor demands that we prefer
            the simplest explanation, all things considered, and the simplest
            explanation in this case is that the parable refers to the necessity of the
            believer making sure that he/she is internally prepared to fight evil in the
            world before setting out to do so. If Jesus said this, then presumably he
            had prepared himself in like manner, but there's no indication that the
            message was intended to be applied, let alone restricted, to himself.

            Mike Grondin
            Mt. Clemens, MI
          • Ron McCann
            I think we have to determine who the powerful man is and why it is necessary for our bloke to drive a dagger or sword into a wall to test his own capacity to
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 13, 2002
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              I think we have to determine who the powerful man is and why it is necessary
              for our bloke to drive a dagger or sword into a wall to test his own
              capacity to accomplish the assassination. This is probably the missing
              element to an understanding of the OVERT meaning of the parable.

              To use a close contemporary scenario, it seems to me that the entire Roman
              Senate did not have to test their strength by driving their daggers or
              swords into a wall in order to dispatch Julius Caesar. Nor did they have to
              practice. They just stabbed him. I have heard stories about how hard it is
              to get a bayonette out of a speared soldier, but little on how hard it is to
              "do" him.

              Whatever, our assassin here is either the original feeble 97 pound weakling
              of Weeder Lore, or for some reason it is going to require a feat of
              considerable strength, FOR SOME REASON, to drive the blade home, and kill
              the man he is after. There seems to be no logical reason for our bloke to
              drive a sword or dagger into a wall to see if he can penetrate it, apart
              from the fact he is anticipating a problem in his blade effecting a killing.

              The parable makes no sense unless his target is ARMOURED. Caesar wasn't
              armored-he allegedly had only a Toga- but the soldiers of the day, in
              Palestine, were. Were they Temple Police or Roman Soldiers, our historical
              information was they wore breastplates and back of either thin bronze or
              boiled leather. The Roman Occupiers, if Hollywood can be believed, wore this
              armour on State Occasions-bronze or silvered on State occasions ,and formed
              pressed leather for day to day. The boiled leather was then the day to day
              armour of choice. It was hard to kill an armored person because the armour
              could not easily be penetrated. It took considerable force to pierce it. A
              weak person might not. One who tested their strength might. One who
              practiced could.

              I have always wondered then whether our "strong" or "powerful" man, of the
              Thomas log, was perhaps the best the Cop or Greek translators could do with
              perhaps an original Aramaic term that was unfamiliar- such as "Leathered"
              man- ie Armored Man. Mike G in private correspondence has assured me that
              the Greek and Coptic don't lend themselves to this, but I wonder about the
              Aramaic? Jack?

              It seems to me that this parable has a confused OVERT meaning, and before
              speculating on it's proper covert meaning we might try to restore that.

              Best,

              Ron McCann
              Saskatoon, Canada
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