Re: [GTh] GTh 61
In some earlier posts, evidence is presented that, within GTh, is an earlier
document that can be called Proto-Thomas. It is found in GTh 2-10, 31-48,
61-65, and 89-99. It is written from the perspective of upper class
Gentiles and appears to have been written at Tyre..
There is only one named person in Proto-Thomas: a woman, named Salome, who
is mentioned in GTh 61.
In an earlier post, I suggested that she is the Syro-Phoenician woman of
Mark 8:24-30 and that she is the only person named in Proto-Thomas because
she was the founder of the Tyrian Church.
In this post, evidence is presented that she not only is the Syro-Phoenician
woman of Mark 8:24-30, but that the incident in GTh 61 took place not long
before the incident in Mark 7:24-30. Evidence is also presented that she
was upper-class and well-educated and a member of a net-work of Hellenistic
intelligensia, centered in the three cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Gadara, who
engaged in philosophical inquiries.
This, in turn, suggests that she is the only person named in Proto-Thomas
not because she founded the Tyrian Church but because she, being highly
literate, was the author of Proto-Thomas.
GTh 61, "Jesus said this, 'Two will rest on one couch. The one will die.
The other will live.' Said Salome, 'Man, who are you? While out of one,
you did climb onto my couch and did eat off my table.' Said Jesus to her,
'I am he who exists out of he who is equal. They gave to me out of that of
my father.' [Said Salome], 'I am your disciple!' [Jesus replied,] 'Because
of this I say this. When he should come to be destroyed, he will be full of
light. When, however, he should come to be divided, he will be full of
I suggest that the the setting for this scene is a triclinium: which is
thusly described by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed in Excavating
Jesus (p. 103), "These formal dining rooms were called *triclinia*
(singular *triclinium*), and that title tells us two very specific details
about them. First there were three (hence tri) favored dining couches, a
middle one for the host and others to right and left for his honored guests.
Second, the host and his most important guests reclined (hence clinia)--they
did not sit up on chairs as we do--and therefore they required servants and
attendants for the meal. To recline, in other words, is a statement of
I further suggest that the meal took place at Salome's residence, with she
on the host's couch, with Jesus on one of the other two couches, and two
others on the third couch.
In this case, Salome is an upper class woman with servants and attendants.
The scene opens, I suggest, with Jesus remarking that one of the two on the
third couch might die, but the other live..
This upsets Salome. Perhaps she is disquieted by the talk of death
while they are dining. This is especially likely if the two on the third
couch are loved ones--such as two of her children.
In any event, as she is upset, she rips into Jesus, questioning
whether he has sufficient social status to recline at a place of honor in
her triclinium, "Man, who are you? You out of one..." The tone is gruff.
I know you're a man. I know somebody is your father. The implied question
is this, "But, who is he?" She is upset and is ready to bounce him out of
his place of honor if he doesn't give her the proper answer (On the
embarassment and humiliation this would cause Jesus if he had to leave a
place of honor, compare Luke 14:8-9).
Possibly, she has heard rumors that Jesus is illegitimate and is ready to
make him leave the couch if he fails to identify his father. More likely,
though, she wants to know the identity of his father in order to determine
his lineage: for, at the time, lineage was *very* important in determining
one's status in society.
So, in Life (Sect. 1), Josephus demonstrates his high status in society by
stating, "Now I am not only sprung from a sacerdotal family in general, but
from the first of the twenty-four courses; and as among us there is not only
a considerable difference between the one family of each course and another,
I am of the chief family of that first course also; nay, further, by my
mother I am of royal blood; for the children of Asamoneus, from whom that
family was derived, has both the office of the high priesthood, and the
dignity of a king, for a long time together."
In response to Salome's implied question as to who is his father, Jesus
responds, "I am he who exists out of he who is equal. They gave to me out
of that of my father."
This is cryptic, but I think it is a response that he is an eternally
existing divine being whose Father is God and that he and God are equals in
that both of them eternally exist. In this case, it can roughly
paraphrased, "I am he who eternally exists out of out He who is equal to me
in the sense that He, too, eternally exists. That which my Father
possesses, I have been given."
In this response, Jesus makes the claim to have the ultimate status father:
God Himself. This, then, gives him the proper status to merit a place of
honor at even the table of an upper class person like herself.
Salome shows her acceptance of this claim to being an eternally existing
divine being who is a Son of God by responding, "I am your disciple!"
Implicitly, her response is also an acknowledgement that he is her superior
and, so, has a right to recline in a place of honor at her table.
He then makes a dark and enigmatic statement to her, "When he should come to
be destroyed, he will be full of light. When, however, he should come to be
divided, he will be full of darkness."
As this is his first lesson to her as his new disciple, he presumably went
on to explain the dark and enigmatic statement to her.
Why, then, does 61 abruptly end without Jesus' explanation of the of this
A clue comes from the next passage, 62a, "Jesus said, 'It is those who are
worthy of My mysteries that I tell My mysteries.'"
The explanation of this dark and enigmatic statement is not given, then,
because it is a mystery that the reader might not be worthy enough to
To conclude, it likely that Salome was an upper class woman, with GTh
61 taking place in the context of a dinner at her triclinium--with she on
the host's couch, Jesus on one of the other two couches, and two others,
possibly her children, on the third couch. Jesus upsets her by speaking
about the possible death of one of the two on the third couch. So, she
decides that she will make him leave the couch if he can't demonstrate that
he has sufficient social status to merit a place of honor at her table. She
tests him for social status by asking for the identity of his father. He
informs her that his father is God and that he is equal to God in that he
eternally exists, just as He eternally exists. He also tells her that what
God possesses has also been given to him. In response, she declares herself
to be his disciple. It closes with him telling her a dark and enigmatic
THE TYRIAN WOMAN
Mark 7:24-30 reads:
"And thence, having risen up, he went away into the borders of Tyre. And
having entered into the house, he wanted no one to know: and, (yet,) he
could not be hid. For a woman (of whom her little daughter had an unclean
spirit), having heard about him, having come, fell at this feet. Now, the
woman was a Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth, and asked him that he should
cast forth the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, 'Suffer
first to be satisfied the children: for it isn't good to take the bread of
children and cast (it) to the dogs.' But she answered, and says to him,
'Yea, Lord: for even the doggies under the table eat of the crumbs of the
children.' And he said to her, 'Because of this word (logos) go: the demon
has gone forth out of your daughter.' And having gone away to her house,
she found the demon had gone forth, and the daughter laid on the couch."
This passage begins with Jesus going to Tyrian territory. He enters into a
house and doesn't want anyone to know where he was. Yet, a Tyrian woman
hears of him and comes to him.
Why didn't he want anyone to know where he was? In Mark (p. 373), Robert H.
Gundry comments, "In only one other passage will Mark say that Jesus does
not want to be known, i.e., in 9:30-31: chai ouch ethelen hina tis gnoi.
There, Mark will give Jesus' teachings the disciples about his coming death
and resurrection as the reason why he does not want to be known. The
parllelism of phraseology with 7:24 (oudena ethelen gnwnai) suggests that
Jesus wants privacy to teach his disciples here, too."
If Gundry is correct, then there are two possible reasons as to how the
woman heard that Jesus was there. First, she learned of this through a
rumor or as gossip. Second, she was one of his disciples and Jesus
dispatched one of his disciples to her place to request her presence with
him and the other disciples while he taught them privately.
At first sight, this second option appears to be absurd: for how could Jesus
have had a Gentile woman disciple residing in Tyrian territory? Weren't all
of his disciples men and weren't they all Jews and weren't they all
However, this would be the case if she was Salome and if the incident
recorded in Gth 61 took place before the incident recorded in Mark 7:24-30:
for, in the incident recorded in Gth 61, Salome declared herself to be his
This is our first clue, then, that this Tyrian woman and Salome are and the
Mark describes this Tyrian woman as being "a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by
Syro-Phoenicia is a Roman-style way of referring to Phoenicia: which is
today called Lebanon. As its name implies, it was a part of the Roman
province of Syria at the time of Jesus. Tyre was one of the major cities in
Syro-Phoenicia. The native language was Phoenician.
She is one of the natives of the land: by birth a Syro-Phoenician. So, she
is not a Greek by race, but by culture.
Thus, in Hellenistic Civilization (pp. 160-61), W.W. Tarn, states, "Even at
Byblos and Tyre on the sea-coast Phoenician was still spoken at the
Christian era. But one result of the contiguity of races in life and trade
was the emergence of the so-called 'culture Greek', an Asiatic who 'went
Greek' so to speak, and adopted a Greek name and Greek speech and culture;
the 'Greek woman, a Syro-Phoenician by race' of Mark vii, 26 was such a
The clear implication of this woman being a Greek by culture is that the she
was from the upper class of Tyrian society and well-educated.
So, in The Method and Message of Mark (pp. 211-212), Augustine Stock states,
"In the Hellenistic city states the 'Greeks,' the Hellenes, constituted the
class of free citizens. Education and rights of citizenship,
constitutionally recognized, were closely connected, a liberal education
(gymnasium) being a pre-condition for full citizenship. The woman belonged
to such a family and was probably well-educated herself. The term Hellene
was applied to all the men and women in the Syrophoenician cities who
belonged to the privileged upper-class without regard to their ethnic origin
or extraction. The woman belonged to the privileged group of the Hellenes
although she was a Syrophoenician by birth."
That this Tyrian woman apparently belonged to the upper-class fits with
her being Salome: who, we have seen, had likely belonged to the upper
According to Mark, she threw herself at the feet of Jesus and asked him to
free her daughter of an unclean spirit.
This makes sense if she is Salome and if the incident in Gth 61 had happened
earlier. In this case, she, an upper class woman, throws herself at his
feet because, she recognizes, he is her social superior in that he is an
eternally existing divine being who has God as his Father. Such an exalted
divine being, further, would be able to cast out an unclean spirit from her
When she asks Jesus to free her daughter of a demon, he responds, "Suffer
first to be satisfied the children: for it isn't good to take the bread of
children and cast (it) to the dogs."
His words allude to Solomon 16:20-21, "Instead whereof Thou feedest Thine
own people with angels' food, and didst send them from heaven bread prepared
without their labour, able to content evey man's delight, and agreeing to
every taste. For thy sustenance declared Thy sweetness into Thy children."
As a result, in Jesus' statement, the "children" are God's children, i.e.,
the Jews, and the "bread" is the heavenly bread or manna. Therefore, the
"dogs" are the Gentiles.
Jesus' statement, thus, has two elements to it. First, he lets the woman
know, he has the heavenly bread or manna that can free her daughter of the
demon. Second, he tells her, he hesitates to do this for a mere Gentile
when he hasn't, as yet, given the Jews their fill of this heavenly bread.
Now, Solomon was not a part of Palestinian bibles, but was a part of the
Greek language Septuagint used in Alexandria, Egypt. Hence, that, Jesus
assumes, the woman will recognize his allusion to Solomon 16:20-21 is a
clear indication that, he knew, she possessed a copy of the Septuagint and
had read it.
Indeed, this fits well with her being a Greek by culture. As such, she
would have preferred to use a bible written in Greek and used by Jews who
were highly Hellenized. That is to say, as such, her bible of choice would
have been the Septuagint.
Now we come to this key question: What is the heavenly bread or manna that
Jesus possesses and that can free the woman's daughter of the demon, but
which he is hesitant to give to a Gentile?
A clue comes from the teachings of Philo: in which the words (logoi) of God
are a heavenly bread or manna and can, as personified in the angels, expel
demons from human souls.
So, in L.A. iii (162), Philo states, "'Behold I rain upon you bread out of
heaven, and the people shall go out and they shall gather the day's portion
for the day, that I may prove to them whether they will walk by My law or
not' (Exod. xvi. 4). You see that the soul is fed not things of earth that
decay, but with such words (logoi) as God shall have poured like rain...".
Again, in Som i (148-9), he declares that "in the understandings of those
who are still undergoing cleansing....there walk angels, divine words
(logoi), making them clean with the doctrines of all that is good and
beautiful. It is quite manifest what troups of evil tenants are ejected, in
order that One, the Good One, may enter and occupy."
So, I suggest, Jesus knew of and accepted the idea, found in the teachings
of Philo, that the words (logoi) of God are a heavenly bread or manna and
can, as personified in the angels, expel demons from a human soul. This
explains why, in his statement to the woman, he implies that he has the
heavenly bread or manna that can expel the demon from her daughter, but is
hesitant to give it to Gentiles, when the Jews still have not received their
fill of it. In this case, what he, in effect, tells the woman is that he
possesses the words of God that, as personified in the angels, can free her
daughter from the demon, but that he hesitates to share these words of God
with Gentiles when the Jews, God's chosen people, still haven't had their
fill of them.
Significantly, he assumes that the woman is aware of, and accepts, this idea
that is found in the teachings of Philo. Indeed, as a Greek by custom
(i.e., as one who has probably been given a Classic education), she could
very well have been interested in the Greek language works of such a
distinguished philosopher. Further, with a major sea lane between Tyre and
Alexandria (the Tyrian harbor facing south was even called the harbor of
Egypt), and with her being a woman of means, it would have been easy for
her to have obtained his works.
Next, she replies to Jesus, "Yea, Lord: for even the doggies under the table
eat of the crumbs of the children."
Here, she turns the table, so to speak, on Jesus. Well, if the Jews are
children and the Gentiles are dogs, then, as dogs sitting under a table get
crumbs from children eating bread, certainly he, a Jew, cannot refuse to
give a few "crumbs", i.e., words of God, to the Gentiles!
Her imagery is that of a meal at a table in which the children drop crumbs
on the floor: which crumbs are then eaten by some pet dogs (likely,
This would have been most appropriate if she and Jesus had just recently had
a meal at her place in which her children had participated in the meal and
during which her family's pet dogs had rested under the table.
This would be the case if (1) she was Salome, and if (2) Jesus' meal with
Salome in GTh 61 had recently taken place, and if (3) Salome had some
children and they, too, had participated in the meal.
In any event, Jesus responds, "Because of this word (logos) go: the demon
has gone forth out of your daughter."
Ironically, what the woman states (i.e., that Gentiles, even though they are
not God's chosen people, deserve to hear the words of God) is, itself a word
of God. Further, as personified in an angel, it has expelled the demon out
of her daugher. This is why Jesus tells her that "because of this logos
(word)...the demon has gone forth out of your daughter" rather than "I have
sent this demon out of your daughter."
According to Mark, when the Tyrian woman returned to her home, her daughter
was lying on the bed/couch (klinen)."
This is another indication that she was upper class. Stock (pp. 214-15)
states, "Here a nicety of Greek style confirms our heroine's high station.
The word kline is a high-toned word as compared with the word krabattos
('straw sack') that Mark used elsewhere and is used by Matthew and Luke."
This is another linkage between this Tyiran woman and Salome as well: for
Salome, too, possessed at least one such a bed/couch.
To conclude, it could be that the Tyrian woman in Mark 7:24-30, who is a
culture Greek and from the upper class and well-educated, is the Salome of
GTh 61: with Mark 7:24-30 taking place not long after GTh 61. In this case,
the Tyrian woman learns of Jesus being in the house because she, as a
disciple of Jesus, has been summoned there by him: probably for him to
privately teach to her and the other disciples. However, what is uppermost
in her mind is a problem of apparent demon possession of her daughter and,
so, when she arrives at the house, she asks Jesus to free her daughter from
the demon. She wins a verbal battle of wits with him. Ironically, her
final saying was a word who, as personified in an angel, expelled the demon
from her daughter: so Jesus did not have to expel the demon himself.
After the above incident in 7:24-30, Mark relates in 7:31-32, "And, again,
having come out from the territory of Tyre, he came through Sidon towards
the Sea of Galilee within the territory of the Decapolis."
The destination of Jesus, which was within the territory of the Decapolis
and near the Sea of Galilee, was probably Hippus or Gadara. Gundry (pp.
382-83) relates, "'Between the borders of Decapolis' gives the most natural
meaning of ana meson plus the following genetive and indicates, not the
location of the Sea of Galilee, but the region through which Jesus travelled
to arrive there. In agreement, the Damascene part of the Decapolis bordered
on the region of Sidon; and the parts of Decapolis which centered in in
Hippus and perhaps Gadara lead to the east shore of the Sea of Galilee...".
Since both Hippus and Gadara lay to the *southeast* of Tyre, it is strange
that Jesus went to the territory of one of these two cities by, first of
all, going to Sidon: which was *north* of Tyre. Certainly, this was highly
inefficient! So, why did he go about his journey in this fashion?
A clue comes from Community of the New Age, by Howard Clark Kee, where
(p.105) he states, "Hengel has assembled an impressive array of evidence
that there was vigorous philosophical activity in the Hellenistic period in
Syria and in the cities of the Decapolis, especially Gadara, Tyre, and
Sidon, with leading Stoic figures originating there or trained there or
So, Tyre (from where Jesus began his journey) and Sidon (to where Jesus
went next) and Gadara (which is one of the two most likely destinations for
his journey) have in common this: each city had a highly educated
Hellenistic intelligensia interested in philosophy.
I do not think this an accident: especially when Jesus had just had contact
with a Tyrian woman who apparently was highly educated and apparently knew
the teachings of at least one philosopher, i.e., Philo.
So, I suggest, the Tyrian woman had been been a member of a network of a
highly Hellenized intelligensia who were well educated and deeply
interested in philosophy. Further, this network had three centers: Tyre,
Sidon, and Gadara. Even further, the members of this intelligensia network
kept in contact with each other through personal journeys, messengers and
correspondence. Finally, she asked Jesus to act as her messenger to members
of the network in Tyre and Gadara, perhaps to convey correspondence she
wrote to them, and he agreed to do so: especially since this gave him the
opportunity to let these other members of the network know that she believed
in him and to try to convince them to believe in himself as well.
That the Tyrian woman had been a cultural Greek supports this idea that she
belonged to a network of people interested in philosophy: for cultural
Greeks sought after wisdom and knowledge. So, in Plato's Gift to
Christianity (p. 6), Jerry Dell Ehrlich states, "To become cultured in all
the Greeks had to offer and to speak Greek was to become a Greek, all others
were considered barbarians. Hellenizing (making people Greek in thought and
language) was the divine call of the Greeks and its service to mankind, just
as Socrates had received a call from God to prod his fellow Athenians to a
more virtuous life, both personal and political. *Their personal quest for
wisdom and to know all things completely and perfectly* (my emphasis) became
their mission to the barbarians."
Incidentally, that, in this case, the destination of Jesus had been Gadara
is of special importance because Gadara had been a center for the Cynic
school of philosophy. So, in The Lost Gospel (pp. 57-58), Burton L. Mack
states, "Gadara produced famous philosophers and poets of the Cynic school,
including Meleager (100 B.C.E.), Phildemus (110-40 B.C.E.), and
Oenomaus (120 C.E.)."
In light of evidence, produced by Mack, of a possible heavy influence of
Cynic thought on the historical Jesus, perhaps the historical Jesus did,
indeed, come into contact with philosophers from that city before and/or
during his ministry period..
There is evidence that the Salome of GTh 61 is the Tyrian woman of Mark
7:24-30, with the incident in GTh 61 taking place shortly before the
incident in Mark 7:24-30. If so, then Salome was an upper-class woman who
was a cultural Greek and who, as such, was well educated. Indeed, judging
by Mark 7:31-32, she likely had been a member of a network of a highly
Hellenized intelligensia, centered in the three cities of Tyre, Sidon, and
Gadara, deeply interested in philosophy.
In this case, she likely was the author of Proto-Thomas
First of all, if this is correct, then, as she was well educated, she was
fully capable of writing a document like Proto-Thomas.
Second, if this is correct, then, as she was both upper class and Gentile,
she is a logical candidate for writing Proto-Thomas because it reflects an
upper class and Gentile perspective.
In this case, she wrote 61 to describe the circumstances under which she
became a disciple of Jesus.
If this case, and this is a key point, Proto-Thomas was written by someone
who had personally known
Jesus and talked to him.
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
- Grondin wrote:
>Thank you Mike for demanding that I do so. The task of formulating a
> James Lambert writes:
> > Surely, if [Salome] were a midwife, she would have said something to the
> > effect that though she was a midwife perhaps the fact that she hadn't
> > directly contributed any children of her own might lessen her guilt. The
> > response that she does give is in keeping with what one would say if one
> > had never given birth, and the fact that her response makes no mention
> > of her ever serving as a midwife, when the nature of the issue in
> > question centers around the question of childbirth, implicitly negates
> > such an identification. It is absurd to demand that she explicitly state
> > that she was not a midwife. Clearly her response indicates that she
> > considers herself free from any question of guilt in this regard and
> > such would not be the case if she had ever served as a midwife.
> Well, I think this is a fine argument. Since I can't find any fault with it,
> I have to agree with it. Thanks for taking the time to spell out your
> reasoning in more detail.
rational justification was no small challenge.
>One Salome. The other two views were intentionally incorrect.
> > This section preserved from the Egyptian Gospel effectively denies the
> > validity of the two traditional attempts to identify Salome the
> > disciple. No, she is not the mother of the children of Zebedee, and no,
> > she is not one of the midwives who witnessed the birth of Jesus. I
> > maintain that this is no accident, that the author was contradicting
> > these traditions purposely.
> Because he felt that the other two views were historically incorrect? Or
> because he didn't want his Salome to be confused with others of the same
> name? (In other words, do you think there were several Salome's in question,
> or just the one from Mark differently identified by different writers?)
Furthermore, the Matthew text identifying Mary, Mary, and the mother of
the sons of Zebedee was crafted specifically to support the incorrect
identification of Salome with the mother of the Zebedee boys. On the
other hand, Luke's version of events was designed so as to provide
certain clues as to Salome's social station without actually mentioning
her by name.
> The major question, I guess, is whether the originator of Th61 identifiedLater than what? There is no reason to suppose that Thomas is not
> her as the same person who was to become the childless Salome of what I take
> to have been later Gnostic writings.
contemporary with the Egyptian Gospel. Later gnostic writings would be
the Pristis Sophia or the surviving Egyptian gospel, but these are not
Thomistic works but are rather works of classic gnosticism.
> (And here I have to enter apologies toClearly the author of the Egyptian Gospel did not believe Salome to have
> John Moon and Frank McCoy for assuming that there was no question but that
> the two Salome's were the same.) Whoever Salome is in Th61, the "two resting
> on a bed" in 61A may be her and Jesus, but if she was thought to be the
> mother of the brothers Zebedee by the originator of 61, it opens up the
> additional possibility that the "two resting on a bed" might be her two
> sons, the one of whom that supposedly lived (John) we know to have been a
> favorite of some Gnostic writers (e.g., Apocryphon of John).
had children. It has also been shown that the Egyptian Gospel contains
terminology straight out of Thomas: 'When you have trampled on the
garment of shame and when the two become one and the male with the
female (is) neither male nor female', which gives us reason to suppose
that the Egyptian Gospel was within the Thomist tradition. Therefore it
follows that the author of Thomas took Salome's lack of children as a
> This John wasI am afraid that I don't see your point. It is enough that the author
> also thought to have been a childless "virgin" in some circles, so I'm not
> sure how to rule out that possibility. Even if we assume that Salome is
> well-to-do in Th61, that doesn't seem to quite do it, unless we also assume
> that Zebedee could not have been well-to-do.
identifies Salome as childless. Once that is acknowledged, it becomes
clear that at least one tradition, and one closely associated to that
which created the Gospel of Thomas, denied the identification of Salome
with the mother of the Zebedee boys.
That is all that it takes to validate a line of inquiry which takes
Salome's lack of children as a given.
Also, there is nothing in #61 which indicates that the two who will lie
on the couch are the sons of Salome. Notice, if you will, that #61
speaks of an inheritance. Jesus speaks of receiving the things of his
father. The one who is destroyed will be filled with light, in other
words, will inherit the quality of the father, while the one who is
divided will be filled with darkness, will not inherit the quality of
the father. The destroyed/divided perceived error works well to
highlight the fact that Jesus, as his father's heir, is by necessity
undivided and he is also scheduled to soon be destroyed. His opposite,
the other who is destined to recline upon the couch, will become
divided, and therefore will not inherit the father's light.
> I'm sure these assumptions willThe case, then, is still open.
> strike others as being reasonable, but they strike me as being too weak to
> clinch the case.