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Re: [GTh] Concerning Logion 98 and 57

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  • Grondin
    From: Jim Bauer ... is ... to ... There is that problem, of course, but the number of plausible alternatives can be decreased by
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 10, 2002
      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 2 of 6 , Aug 11, 2002
        ----- 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 3 of 6 , Aug 11, 2002
          [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 4 of 6 , Aug 13, 2002
            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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