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The background to saying 23

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  • Achilles37@aol.com
    The Gospel of Thomas contains a previously unknown saying attributed to Jesus concerning Divine election. Saying 23 of the Gospel of Thomas reads (Lambdin
    Message 1 of 22 , Feb 9, 2003
      The Gospel of Thomas contains a previously unknown saying attributed to Jesus concerning Divine election. Saying 23 of the Gospel of Thomas reads (Lambdin version): Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."

      When we look closely at GTh 23, it seems to contain three main concepts:

      (1) The idea that Jesus will choose people ("you," plural).
      (2) The chosen people will be relatively few in number (specifically, "one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand").
      (3) The chosen people will stand as one.

      The first aspect of GThomas 23, the idea that Jesus will choose people, is related to both the Jewish and Christian interpretations of the concept of election (including GThomas 49 & 50) and this rather large topic is beyond the scope of this message. The remainder of this message concentrates on the second aspect of GThomas 23 as outlined above: the chosen people will be relatively few in number. The third topic, the concept that the chosen people "will stand as one," is discussed here only in terms of the function it serves within GThomas 23 and not the function it serves within Syriac Christianity or within the Gospel of Thomas as a whole.

      In GThomas 23, Jesus indicates that the number of those he chooses is far less than the number of those he does not choose. Now a general saying concerning the proportion of those chosen to those not chosen was also attributed to Jesus within early Christianity in the form of Matthew 22:14 ~ "For many are called, but few are chosen." This same saying also occurs in the Epistle of Barnabas (Ep. of Barnabas, ch. 4 ~ "Many are called, but few are chosen") where it is called "scripture." So we see that a loose parallel to GThomas 23 was also circulating within early Christianity outside of the Gospel of Thomas.

      But what are we to make of the particular form that the saying takes in GThomas 23? While the use of the specific ratios of 1:1,000 and 2:10,000 are unique to GThomas 23 as a saying of Jesus, the appearance of these ratios is, at least to some extent, traditional. For example, the ratio of 1:1,000 is found in the following sources: Job 9:2,3 ~ "But how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand;" Job 33:23 ~ "Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him;" Ecclesiastes 7:28 ~ "I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all."

      The ratio of 1:10,000 is found in the Song of Solomon: 5:10 ~ "My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand;" and in 2 Kings 14:7 ~ "He was the one who defeated ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and captured Sela in battle, calling it Joktheel, the name it has to this day."

      The ration of 1,000(s):10,000(s) is found in 1 Sam. 18:7, 8 ~ As they danced, they sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands;" in Psalms 91:7~ "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you;" and in Michah 6:7 ~ "Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?"

      The ratios of 1:1000 and 2:10,000 are combined in Deuteronomy 32:20 ~ "How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?"

      The two ratios that appear in Deuteronomy 32:20 - 1:1,000 and 2:10,000 - are precisely the same as the two ratios we find in GThomas 23. While these two ratios do not appear in the New Testament writings, they do surface in the writings of Irenaeus, where they appear within a description of the teachings of Basilides - "Against All Heresies," Book 1, Ch. 24:6 ~ "The multitude, however, cannot understand these matters, but only one out of a thousand, or two out of ten thousand. They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence." (The way in which Basilides uses these ratios to signify the few who can "understand" the "mysteries" that are "secret" is reminiscent of certain sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, such as the Prologue and saying 62.)

      But there is yet another parallel to GThomas 23 that has a similar meaning and form, though it does not include mention of 1,000 or 10,000. Specifically, Jeremiah 3:14 reads ~ "I will choose you - one from a town and two from a clan - and bring you to Zion." In this quote, we find some of the aspects of the form of Thomas 23 that sets it apart from other Christian examples of Divine election. As in GThomas 23, the process of choosing is described in the first person, future tense, active voice and those chosen will be one from here and two from there. Furthermore, the ending of Jer. 3:14, "and bring you to Zion," is a brief prediction of the ultimate fate of the chosen ones, just as we find in the ending of GThomas 23, "they shall stand as a single one."

      In summary, GThomas 23 is a prediction of election made by Jesus that seems to be an interpretation or re-statement of Jer. 3:14 in which the "one from a town and two from a clan" specifications have been changed to "one out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand," possibly due to the influence of such traditional passages as Deut. 32:20 and Psalms 91:7. The ending of the saying in Jer. 3:14 has also been changed in GThomas 23, though the function it serves is similar in both cases. A different form of the saying was current in early Christianity (Matt. 22:14; Ep. Barn. 4) and Irenaeus attributes the use of the same ratios that appear in GThomas 23 to Basilides within the context of understanding secret mysteries. These, then, are the passages that form the background to an understanding of GThomas 23.

      - Kevin Johnson
    • Peter Kirby
      ... You may be interested in this parallel from the Pistis Sophia (3rd century?). PISTIS SOPHIA, Mead s translation, pp. 292-293 (Chap. 134) ... When then the
      Message 2 of 22 , Feb 9, 2003
        On Sunday 09 February 2003 10:59 pm, Achilles37@... wrote:
        > The Gospel of Thomas contains a previously unknown saying attributed to
        > Jesus concerning Divine election. Saying 23 of the Gospel of Thomas reads
        > (Lambdin version): Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a thousand,
        > and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."

        You may be interested in this parallel from the Pistis Sophia (3rd century?).

        PISTIS SOPHIA, Mead's translation, pp. 292-293 (Chap. 134)
        ----
        When then the Saviour had said this, Mary answered and said: "My Lord, who now
        then is the man in the world who hath not sinned at all, who is pure of
        iniquities? For if he is pure of one, he will not be able to be pure of
        another, so that he may find the mysteries which are in the Books of Yew?
        For I say: A man in this world will not be able to be pure of sins; for if he
        is pure of one, he will not be able to be pure of another."

        The Saviour answered and said unto Mary: "I say unto you: They will find one
        in a thousand and two in ten-thousand for the accomplishment of the mystery
        of the First Mystery. This will I tell unto you when I have explained to you
        the expansion of the universe. For this cause, therefore, I have rent myself
        asunder and have brought the mysteries into the world, because all are under
        sin and all are in need of the gift of the mysteries."
        ----

        Robert Funk quotes Pistis Sophia 134: "'There shall be found one among a
        thousand and two among ten thousand . . .' (Gartner: 229)" (New Gospel
        Parallels, v. 2, p. 123)

        --
        Peter Kirby (Student at Fullerton College, CA)
        11:26pm up 7:16, Mandrake Linux 9.0, kernel 2.4.19-16mdk on AMD Athlon 750
        Web Site: http://www.outofprintbooksearch.com/
        Web Site: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/
      • Achilles37@aol.com
        Peter - Thanks for the reference. I had forgotten that it could also be found in the Pistis Sophia. It is interesting that it appears there in connection with
        Message 3 of 22 , Feb 10, 2003
          Peter -

          Thanks for the reference. I had forgotten that it could also be found in the Pistis Sophia. It is interesting that it appears there in connection with the term "mysteries," just as it is does in the passage from Irenaeus describing the beliefs of Basilides.

          Regards,

          - Kevin Johnson
        • Tom Saunders
          Pistis Sophia..... Would someone please elaborate on this relationship to the GThom? What is the timeline between the two documents? What would differences
          Message 4 of 22 , Feb 10, 2003
            Pistis Sophia.....

            Would someone please elaborate on this relationship to the GThom? What is the timeline between the two documents? What would differences in mysteries be between 'Basilides' and say Manichees?

            Tom Saunders
            Platter Flats, OK



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • fmmccoy
            ... From: To: Sent: Monday, February 10, 2003 12:59 AM Subject: [GTh] The background to saying 23 ... Jesus
            Message 5 of 22 , Feb 11, 2003
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: <Achilles37@...>
              To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Monday, February 10, 2003 12:59 AM
              Subject: [GTh] The background to saying 23


              > The Gospel of Thomas contains a previously unknown saying attributed to
              Jesus concerning Divine election. Saying 23 of the Gospel of Thomas reads
              (Lambdin version): Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one out of a thousand,
              and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one."
              >
              > When we look closely at GTh 23, it seems to contain three main concepts:
              >
              > (1) The idea that Jesus will choose people ("you," plural).
              > (2) The chosen people will be relatively few in number (specifically, "one
              out of a thousand and two out of ten thousand").
              > (3) The chosen people will stand as one.
              >
              > The first aspect of GThomas 23, the idea that Jesus will choose people, is
              related to both the Jewish and Christian interpretations of the concept of
              election (including GThomas 49 & 50) and this rather large topic is beyond
              the scope of this message. The remainder of this message concentrates on the
              second aspect of GThomas 23 as outlined above: the chosen people will be
              relatively few in number. The third topic, the concept that the chosen
              people "will stand as one," is discussed here only in terms of the function
              it serves within GThomas 23 and not the function it serves within Syriac
              Christianity or within the Gospel of Thomas as a whole.

              Dear Kevin Johnson:

              That Jesus chooses these people does not necessitate that they are "chosen
              people" in the sense of being some elect group who pre-existed in the
              Beginning and will exist in the End. So, I doubt that 23 should be
              linked to 49 and 50.

              It doesn't even necessarily mean that these people are saved, righteous, or
              holy. Compare John 6:70, "Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And one of you
              is a devil."

              (Kevin)
              > In GThomas 23, Jesus indicates that the number of those he chooses is far
              less than the number of those he does not choose. Now a general saying
              concerning the proportion of those chosen to those not chosen was also
              attributed to Jesus within early Christianity in the form of Matthew 22:14 ~
              "For many are called, but few are chosen." This same saying also occurs in
              the Epistle of Barnabas (Ep. of Barnabas, ch. 4 ~ "Many are called, but few
              are chosen") where it is called "scripture." So we see that a loose parallel
              to GThomas 23 was also circulating within early Christianity outside of the
              Gospel of Thomas.

              (Frank)
              I doubt that GTh 23 relates to this other saying. Let us look, for example,
              at Barnabas 4:13-14, "Thus on no account should we slumber in our sins by
              relaxing as 'those who have been called'--and the wicked Archon will take
              advantage of his power over us and push us away from the Kingdom of the
              Lord. And finally, my brethren, understand this: When you notice what great
              signs and wonders were performed in Israel and still they have been
              abandoned, let us take heed lest we be found to be, as it is written, 'many
              called but few chosen.'"

              Judging by this passage, the meaning of "many called but few chosen" is that
              many are given an opportunity to be saved, but only a few get chosen to be
              saved because most people are comfortable remaining sinners.

              There is no indication of many called (i.e., many given an opportunity to be
              saved) in GTh 23, so I doubt that it is related to this other saying
              attributed to Jesus.

              The above cited .John 6:70 appears to be a more apt parallel. In each case,
              Jesus is the person doing the choosing and only a small number is chosen.

              If these two passages are related, then, as John 6:70 regards Jesus choosing
              a group of twelve disciples, it is likely that GTh 23 regards Jesus choosing
              a group of disciples.

              Also, if these two passages are related, then, since one chosen in John 6:70
              was a devil, it is unlikely that GTh 23 refers to Jesus choosing a group to
              be saved..

              (Kevin)
              > But what are we to make of the particular form that the saying takes in
              GThomas 23? While the use of the specific ratios of 1:1,000 and 2:10,000 are
              unique to GThomas 23 as a saying of Jesus, the appearance of these ratios
              is, at least to some extent, traditional. For example, the ratio of 1:1,000
              is found in the following sources: Job 9:2,3 ~ "But how can a mortal be
              righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not
              answer him one time out of a thousand;" Job 33:23 ~ "Yet if there is an
              angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what
              is right for him;" Ecclesiastes 7:28 ~ "I found one upright man among a
              thousand, but not one upright woman among them all."
              >
              > The ratio of 1:10,000 is found in the Song of Solomon: 5:10 ~ "My lover is
              radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand;" and in 2 Kings 14:7 ~
              "He was the one who defeated ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and
              captured Sela in battle, calling it Joktheel, the name it has to this day."
              >
              > The ration of 1,000(s):10,000(s) is found in 1 Sam. 18:7, 8 ~ As they
              danced, they sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of
              thousands;" in Psalms 91:7~ "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand
              at your right hand, but it will not come near you;" and in Michah 6:7 ~
              "Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers
              of oil?"

              (Frank)
              There's also the Greek angle as respects one and 10,000. In Plant (76)
              Philo declares, "That is to say, while one is the starting-point of numbers,
              a myriad or 10,000 is the end." The editors, F.H. Colson and G.H. Whitaker
              make this comment, "'10,000 is the end.' Apparently because Greek has no
              name for other numbers, except such as are compounded with myrioi or lower
              numbers."

              (Kevin)
              >The ratios of 1:1000 and 2:10,000 are combined in Deuteronomy 32:20 ~ "How
              could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless
              their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?"

              (Frank)
              I think this is Deuteronomy 32:30. You make an mportant point here: for
              this is a clear precedent for the ratios of 1 out of
              1,000 and 2 out of 10,000 in GTh 23.

              (Kevin)
              > The two ratios that appear in Deuteronomy 32:20 - 1:1,000 and 2:10,000 -
              are precisely the same as the two ratios we find in GThomas 23. While these
              two ratios do not appear in the New Testament writings, they do surface in
              the writings of Irenaeus, where they appear within a description of the
              teachings of Basilides - "Against All Heresies," Book 1, Ch. 24:6 ~ "The
              multitude, however, cannot understand these matters, but only one out of a
              thousand, or two out of ten thousand. They declare that they are no longer
              Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all
              fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by
              preserving silence." (The way in which Basilides uses these ratios to
              signify the few who can "understand" the "mysteries" that are "secret" is
              reminiscent of certain sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, such as the Prologue
              and saying 62.)

              (Frank)
              From this evidence you give, I think it likely that Basilides knew of GTh 23
              and interpreted it to mean that Jesus chose one out of a thousand and two
              out of ten thousand to tell secret mysteries to be hid from everyone else.

              (Kevin)
              > But there is yet another parallel to GThomas 23 that has a similar meaning
              and form, though it does not include mention of 1,000 or 10,000.
              Specifically, Jeremiah 3:14 reads ~ "I will choose you - one from a town and
              two from a clan - and bring you to Zion." In this quote, we find some of the
              aspects of the form of Thomas 23 that sets it apart from other Christian
              examples of Divine election. As in GThomas 23, the process of choosing is
              described in the first person, future tense, active voice and those chosen
              will be one from here and two from there. Furthermore, the ending of Jer.
              3:14, "and bring you to Zion," is a brief prediction of the ultimate fate of
              the chosen ones, just as we find in the ending of GThomas 23, "they shall
              stand as a single one."

              (Frank)

              This is first that I've heard of a possible relationship between Jeremiah
              3:14 and GTh 23. On thinking it over, I think you are very insightful here
              and that, indeed, GTh 23 is, to a large extent, based on Jeremiah 3:14.. .

              In the LXX, Jeremiah 3:14 speaks of one from a polews (city) and two from a
              patrias (which can be a lineage running back to a common ancestor, such as
              the founder of a clan or tribe).

              I suspect that GTh 23 is a later version of an earlier saying attributed to
              Jesus in which he, in even closer harmony to Jeremiah 3:14, spoke of
              choosing one out of each city and two out of each tribe.

              What I find interesting is that there were 48 cities assigned to the
              Levites--see Numbers 35:7, "Ye shall give to the Levites in all forty-eight
              cities (poleis), them and their suburbs." One from each of these is a
              total of 48 people.

              Further, there were the twelve tribes of Israel. Two from each of these is
              a total of 24 people.

              Adding the two together gives us a total of 72 people.

              This is perhaps significant, for according to Luke, besides appointing a
              group of 12 disciples, Jesus also appointed a second group of 70 or 72
              disciples.

              So, I suggest, GTh 23 represents a later development in a saying, attributed
              to Jesus, in which he spoke of how he will be selecting the group of 72
              disciples by choosing one from each city (of the Levites) and two from each
              tribe (of Israel). Later, perhaps under the influence of Deut. 32:30,
              this was changed to him choosing one out 1,000 and two out of 10,000.

              It is noteworthy that, in his charge to the seventy(-two), Jesus begins by
              emphasising, to them, their fewness in numbers: see Luke 10:2, "The harvest
              is plentiful, but the laborers are few." This relates to GTh 23, where
              those who will be chosen by Jesus, he emphasises, will be few in number.

              It is also noteworthy that, in this charge to the seventy(-two), Jesus also
              tells them (Luke 10:16), "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you
              rejects me."

              This could relate to GTh 23, where those who will be chosen will stand as
              one. If these are the seventy-two, then they stand as one in the sense that
              represent one person, i.e., Jesus: so that to hear them is to hear him and
              to reject them is to reject him.

              So, to conclude, I suggest that GTh 23 is a later version of an earlier
              statement, attributed to Jesus, which roughly read this way, "I shall choose
              you, one out of each city (of the Levites) and two out of each tribe (of
              Israel), and they shall stand as one (individual, i.e., myself)." Later,
              most likely under the influence of Deut. 32:30, it became as it we now know
              it in GTh 23. In its original rendering, it referred to Jesus' choosing of
              the seventy-two and it was patterned, to a large degree, after Jeremiah
              3:14.

              Regards,

              Frank McCoy
              1809 N. English Apt. 17
              Maplewood, MN USA 55109
            • dagoi@aol.com
              In a message dated 2/10/3 6:07:13 PM, Tom wrote:
              Message 6 of 22 , Feb 14, 2003
                In a message dated 2/10/3 6:07:13 PM, Tom wrote:

                <<Pistis Sophia.....

                Would someone please elaborate on this relationship to the GThom? What is
                the timeline between the two documents? What would differences in mysteries
                be between 'Basilides' and say Manichees? >>

                Pistis Sophia is later, perhaps end of the III c and infers that the gnostics
                held three apocryphal gospels in high regard, Matthias, Phillip, and Thomas.

                The Manichees were later, mentioned after Mani who evidently had gThom or
                something like it. They were (are?) a late surviving gnosticistic group in I
                think Syria - did National Geographic once do an article on them?

                Bill Foley
                Woburn
              • klaus schilling
                ... Mani lived in the 3d century , before the PS. ... they spread til China, along the silk road. Klaus Schilling
                Message 7 of 22 , Feb 14, 2003
                  dagoi@... writes:
                  >
                  > The Manichees were later, mentioned after Mani who evidently had gThom or
                  > something like it.

                  Mani lived in the 3d century , before the PS.

                  > They were (are?) a late surviving gnosticistic group in I
                  > think Syria

                  they spread til China, along the silk road.

                  Klaus Schilling
                • swallison <dermarc@chartertn.net>
                  ... What is ... mysteries ... gnostics ... Thomas. ... gThom or ... group in I ... The National Geographic article must have been about the Mandeans. They are
                  Message 8 of 22 , Feb 14, 2003
                    --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, dagoi@a... wrote:
                    >
                    > In a message dated 2/10/3 6:07:13 PM, Tom wrote:
                    >
                    > <<Pistis Sophia.....
                    >
                    > Would someone please elaborate on this relationship to the GThom?
                    What is
                    > the timeline between the two documents? What would differences in
                    mysteries
                    > be between 'Basilides' and say Manichees? >>
                    >
                    > Pistis Sophia is later, perhaps end of the III c and infers that the
                    gnostics
                    > held three apocryphal gospels in high regard, Matthias, Phillip, and
                    Thomas.
                    >
                    > The Manichees were later, mentioned after Mani who evidently had
                    gThom or
                    > something like it. They were (are?) a late surviving gnosticistic
                    group in I
                    > think Syria - did National Geographic once do an article on them?
                    >
                    > Bill Foley
                    > Woburn

                    The National Geographic article must have been about the Mandeans.
                    They are the world's only surviving gnostic group. There are only a
                    few tens of thousands left if I remember correctly, originating in
                    Iraq and Syria. They are a baptist oriented group. They revere John
                    the Baptist more than Jesus. And may, though it is not certain, trace
                    their lineage back to John the Baptist. In medieval times they were
                    sometimes called "John Christians". They are a distinct group from
                    the Manicheans. "MandeanWorldResearch" is a Yahoo Newsgroup on the
                    subject. Has about 100 members.

                    Steve Allison
                  • David C. Hindley
                    ... originating in Iraq and Syria. They are a baptist oriented group. They revere John the Baptist more than Jesus. And may, though it is not certain, trace
                    Message 9 of 22 , Feb 14, 2003
                      Steve Allison says:

                      >>There are only a few tens of thousands left if I remember correctly,
                      originating in Iraq and Syria. They are a baptist oriented group. They
                      revere John the Baptist more than Jesus. And may, though it is not certain,
                      trace their lineage back to John the Baptist. In medieval times they were
                      sometimes called "John Christians". They are a distinct group from the
                      Manicheans. <<

                      They are currently in marshlands in the areas common the southern Iraq and
                      Iran. They did originate in Syria, possibly with some relationship to
                      Elchasites, another day-baptist group. Saddam drained their swamps after the
                      Iraq war (no, the other one, or else I'd have to be a time traveler).

                      Good luck trying to find anything about their literature in print, or even
                      finding a copy of the work of others in the past (e.g., "Lady" Drower). G.
                      R. S. Mead had published a book named _Gnostic John the Baptizer: Selections
                      from the Mandaean John Book_ (Montana: Kessinger, Undated, originally
                      published London: J.M.Watkins, 1924). This Mandaean book is not what many
                      think ... it really has precious little to say about early Christianity or
                      even Baptist groups. The stories are vague and suggest they are mythical.

                      Respectfully,

                      Dave Hindley
                      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                    • Achilles37@aol.com
                      Hi, Frank - ... What follows is my take on this topic: The concept that God chooses (Heb. = bachar, LXX = eklegomai, eklektos, and haireomai) people, places,
                      Message 10 of 22 , Feb 14, 2003
                        Hi, Frank -

                        Frank McCoy writes:
                        > That Jesus chooses these people does not necessitate
                        > that they are "chosen people" in the sense of being
                        > some elect group who pre-existed in the Beginning
                        > and will exist in the End. So, I doubt that 23
                        > should be linked to 49 and 50.

                        What follows is my take on this topic:

                        The concept that God chooses (Heb. = bachar, LXX = eklegomai, eklektos, and haireomai) people, places, and things is an ancient one. His chosen ones could be an entire people (see, for example, Deut. 7:6 - "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession") or a single individual (1Sam. 10:24 - "Samuel said to all the people, 'Do you see the man the LORD has chosen?' "), as well as places or things.

                        The idea of a "chosen people" seems to have been appropriated by early Christians and applied to themselves (Colossians 3:12 - "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;" 1 Peter 2:9 - "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light").

                        Likewise, the early Christians regarded Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, as being the chosen individual of God (Matthew 12:18 - "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him;" Luke 9:35 - "A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him;' " Luke 23:35 - "They said, 'He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One' ").

                        In similar fashion, early Christians held that the followers of Jesus had been specially chosen by him (Luke 6:13 - "When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles;" John 6:70 - "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?;" John 15:16 - "You did not choose me, but I chose you;" Acts 1:2 - "after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen").

                        Thomas #23, of course, seems to be another example of this last category - being chosen by Jesus. In general, GTh 23 agrees with the New Testament concept that Jesus chose his disciples. The idea that the disciples were specially chosen by Jesus may (or may not, as you point out) be related to such sayings as Thomas 49 & 50 and the broader topic of Divine Election. The relationship is probably debatable.

                        You also doubt whether the saying "Many are called but few are chosen," which is found in Matthew 22:14 and Barnabas 4, is related to Thomas #23. While there is a general similarity here, I grant you that this is also debatable. Arguments can probably be adduced in either direction.

                        I wrote:
                        >> The ratios of 1:1000 and 2:10,000 are combined in
                        >> Deuteronomy 32:20 ~ "How could one man chase a thousand,
                        >> or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock
                        >> had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?"

                        Frank responded:
                        > I think this is Deuteronomy 32:30.

                        Yes, quite so. I stand corrected.

                        > I suspect that GTh 23 is a later version of an earlier
                        > saying attributed to Jesus in which he, in even closer
                        > harmony to Jeremiah 3:14, spoke of choosing one out
                        > of each city and two out of each tribe.

                        > What I find interesting is that there were 48 cities
                        > assigned to the Levites--see Numbers 35:7, "Ye shall give
                        > to the Levites in all forty-eight cities (poleis), them
                        > and their suburbs." One from each of these is a total
                        > of 48 people.

                        > Further, there were the twelve tribes of Israel. Two
                        > from each of these is a total of 24 people.

                        > Adding the two together gives us a total of 72 people.

                        > This is perhaps significant, for according to Luke,
                        > besides appointing a group of 12 disciples, Jesus
                        > also appointed a second group of 70 or 72 disciples.

                        > So, I suggest, GTh 23 represents a later development
                        > in a saying, attributed to Jesus, in which he spoke of
                        > how he will be selecting the group of 72 disciples
                        > by choosing one from each city (of the Levites) and
                        > two from each tribe (of Israel). Later, perhaps
                        > under the influence of Deut. 32:30, this was changed
                        > to him choosing one out 1,000 and two out of 10,000.

                        That's one possibility, i.e., that the original saying was closer to Jer. 3:14 than Thomas #23. Another possibility is that Thomas #23 was intended to be a variation on Jer. 3:14, perhaps to indicate that cities and tribes are no longer to be considered as factors in this choice.

                        I should also point out that the verb used in Jer. 3:14 is not actually "choose" (bachar) but "take" (laqach), probably used here in the sense of 'taking' a wife.

                        > It is noteworthy that, in his charge to the
                        > seventy(-two), Jesus begins by emphasising, to them,
                        > their fewness in numbers: see Luke 10:2, "The harvest
                        > is plentiful, but the laborers are few." This relates
                        > to GTh 23, where those who will be chosen by Jesus,
                        > he emphasises, will be few in number.

                        Good point. This saying (and its parallels such as GThomas #73) is probably in the same league as "Many are called but few are chosen" - somewhat similar and may or may not be related.

                        > So, to conclude, I suggest that GTh 23 is a later
                        > version of an earlier statement, attributed to Jesus,
                        > which roughly read this way, "I shall choose you,
                        > one out of each city (of the Levites) and two out of
                        > each tribe (of Israel), and they shall stand as one
                        > (individual, i.e., myself)." Later, most likely
                        > under the influence of Deut. 32:30, it became as we now
                        > know it in GTh 23. In its original rendering, it
                        > referred to Jesus' choosing of the seventy-two and it
                        > was patterned, to a large degree, after Jeremiah 3:14.

                        We agree that Jeremiah 3:14 was influential in the formation of Thomas #23 and this alone may be important. Jeremiah 3:14 begins an interesting section which, in the midst of a verbal chastisement for unfaithfulness, the LORD issues a plea to his "faithless people" to return to him and then provides a description of the future that ultimately awaits them:

                        Jer 3:14-20 ~
                        14 "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD , "for I am your husband. I will choose you-one from a town and two from a clan-and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance. 19 "I myself said," 'How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.' I thought you would call me 'Father' and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel," declares the LORD.

                        Note that Jer. 3:14 introduces a section about an idyllic period in the future resulting from man's faithfulness to God. If Jer. 3:14 influenced Thomas #23, perhaps Thomas #23 was also meant to describe the process by which Jesus (or God) ushers in a new era of harmony between God and mankind, beginning with the ones who are chosen.

                        Regards,

                        - Kevin Johnson
                      • Michael Grondin
                        Kevin, Just out of curiosity (and certain irresistible psychological tendencies), I looked up the actual Greek word used in the various NT passages you cited.
                        Message 11 of 22 , Feb 14, 2003
                          Kevin,

                          Just out of curiosity (and certain irresistible psychological tendencies), I
                          looked up the actual Greek word used in the various NT passages you cited.
                          FWIW, here's the results, in mangled Greek (please feel free to correct):

                          > The idea of a "chosen people" seems to have been appropriated by early
                          Christians and applied to themselves (Colossians 3:12 - "Therefore, as God's
                          chosen people [EKLEKTOI - chosen ones], holy and dearly loved, clothe
                          yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;" 1
                          Peter 2:9 - "But you are a chosen people [GENOS EKLEKTON - a chosen race], a
                          royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may
                          declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful
                          light").
                          >
                          > Likewise, the early Christians regarded Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, as
                          being the chosen individual of God (Matthew 12:18 - "Here is my servant whom
                          I have chosen [haiRETISA - I chose], the one I love, in whom I delight; I
                          will put my Spirit on him;" Luke 9:35 - "A voice came from the cloud,
                          saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen [EKLELEGMENOS - one having been
                          favored/selected]; listen to him;' " Luke 23:35 - "They said, 'He saved
                          others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One
                          [EKLEKTOS]' ").
                          >
                          > In similar fashion, early Christians held that the followers of Jesus had
                          been specially chosen by him (Luke 6:13 - "When morning came, he called his
                          disciples to him and chose [EKLEksAMENOS - choosing] twelve of them, whom he
                          also designated apostles;" John 6:70 - "Have I not chosen [EksELEksAMHN]
                          you, the Twelve?;" John 15:16 - "You did not choose [EksELEksASthE] me, but
                          I chose [EksELEksAMHN] you;" Acts 1:2 - "after giving instructions through
                          the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen [EksELEksATO]").

                          Thomas uses the Coptic verb 'sohtep' (<soh-tep>, looks like 'CWTp', with
                          overstroke on pi indicating missing prefixed vowel 'e'), and its forms
                          'sotep' and 'setep'. The word is used in four sayings:

                          08: the fisherman chose (sohtep) the great/large fish
                          23: I will chose (setep) you (pl), and you will stand as a single one
                          49: Blest are the single-ones and chosen (sotep), for you will find the
                          kingdom
                          50: we are the chosen (sohtep) of the living father

                          Frank McCoy raises the question of whether these sayings are consistent with
                          each other. Th49 does seem to suggest pre-existence in "the Beginning" - but
                          it's the second part -49.2 ("For you are from it, and to it you will
                          return") - that does that. One could argue, I think, either that 49.2 was a
                          gnostic addition to 49.1, or that #49 itself was a gnostic addition to the
                          text. (The co-occurrence of 'find' and 'single-one' in 23 and 49.1 may be
                          taken to suggest either that 49.2 was a later addition, or that 49.1 was a
                          clever "hook" into 23).

                          Th50 also seems to have a non-synoptic bent, tying together the notion of
                          "the Light appear(ing) in their image" with Th28 ("I appeared to them in
                          flesh"). I _think_ that what we see here is evidence of a trajectory of the
                          Christian concept of election - from (1) the historical Jesus choosing
                          disciples during his lifetime, to (2) the post-execution Jesus choosing
                          selected Christians (such as Paul) after his lifetime, to (3) Jesus the
                          unbegotten "Word" or "Light" choosing souls from the beginning of time which
                          would later inhabit (some) Christian bodies. The latter stage was evidently
                          brought about by the desire to see Jesus as the penultimate embodiment of
                          just about everything "prophetic" in the OT. (With increasing Christology,
                          of course, came decreasing coherence.:-)

                          As to "Many are called, but few are chosen", I've mentioned a close parallel
                          to this from Plato several times over the years. I'm fairly well satisfied
                          in my own mind that the many who are called but not chosen were _not_
                          understood to be folks who _rejected_ the call. Rather, the suggestion seems
                          to have been that a small number were chosen _from among those who were
                          called_ (and who, by implication, accepted that call). In various contexts,
                          I think there's a distinction being made between either (1) the mass of
                          believers in the Jewish God, and the relatively few Christians (at the time
                          of writing), and/or (2) the mass of ordinary Christians, and the relative
                          few chosen for special favor - disciple, missionary, ascetic, gnostic, take
                          your pick.

                          Regards,
                          Mike Grondin (Mt. Clemens, Michigan)
                          The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
                          http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
                        • fmmccoy
                          ... From: To: Sent: Friday, February 14, 2003 12:35 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23 (snip)
                          Message 12 of 22 , Feb 19, 2003
                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: <Achilles37@...>
                            To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Friday, February 14, 2003 12:35 PM
                            Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23


                            (snip)

                            (Kevin Johnson)
                            > In similar fashion, early Christians held that the followers of Jesus had
                            been specially chosen by him (Luke 6:13 - "When morning came, he called his
                            disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated
                            apostles;" John 6:70 - "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?;" John 15:16 -
                            "You did not choose me, but I chose you;" Acts 1:2 - "after giving
                            instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen").
                            >
                            > Thomas #23, of course, seems to be another example of this last category -
                            being chosen by Jesus. In general, GTh 23 agrees with the New Testament
                            concept that Jesus chose his disciples. The idea that the disciples were
                            specially chosen by Jesus may (or may not, as you point out) be related to
                            such sayings as Thomas 49 & 50 and the broader topic of Divine Election. The
                            relationship is probably debatable.

                            Dear Kevin Johnson:

                            It is interesting that all the examples you list above regard the Twelve.
                            This raises the question of whether Thomas 23, too, regards the Twelve.

                            (snip)

                            (Frank McCoy--initial statement)
                            > > So, I suggest, GTh 23 represents a later development
                            > > in a saying, attributed to Jesus, in which he spoke of
                            > > how he will be selecting the group of 72 disciples
                            > > by choosing one from each city (of the Levites) and
                            > > two from each tribe (of Israel). Later, perhaps
                            > > under the influence of Deut. 32:30, this was changed
                            > > to him choosing one out 1,000 and two out of 10,000.

                            (Kevin-response)
                            > That's one possibility, i.e., that the original saying was closer to Jer.
                            3:14 than Thomas #23. Another possibility is that Thomas #23 was intended to
                            be a variation on Jer. 3:14, perhaps to indicate that cities and tribes are
                            no longer to be considered as factors in this choice.

                            (Frank-reply to response)
                            What I wrote above was based on the assumption that GTh 23 regards the
                            choosing of the seventy[two]. If, though, it actually regards the choosing
                            of the Twelve, then you could very well be correct in your response. In
                            this case, the depiction of Jesus choosing one out of a thousand and two out
                            of ten thousand was a part of the original version of the saying inTh 23
                            rather than a late development..

                            In this regard, it is noteworthy that, in Mark, Jesus first calls four
                            disciples--Peter, Andrew, John, and James (1:16-20). Could they be those
                            chosen one out of a thousand, making them four chosen out of 4,000?

                            If so, the the remaining eight would be those chosen two out of ten
                            thousand, making them eight chosen out of 40,000.

                            I rather like this because it engenders the ratios of 1,000/10,000 and
                            4,000/40,000.

                            Also, it fits well with the twelve sons of Jacob as listed in Genesis
                            35:22-26. Four were born from Rachel and her handmaid Bilbah: Joseph,
                            Benjamin, Dan and Napthali. These correspond to first four disciples chosen
                            by Jesus, each chosen one out of a thousand. Eight were born to Leah and
                            her handmaid Zilpah: Reuben, Simeon, Lebi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulum, Gad,
                            and Asher. These correspond to the remaining eight disciples chosen by
                            Jesus, chosen two out each ten thousand.

                            (Kevin)
                            > I should also point out that the verb used in Jer. 3:14 is not actually
                            "choose" (bachar) but "take" (laqach), probably used here in the sense of
                            'taking' a wife.

                            (Frank)
                            Do you think that this is significant?

                            (snip)

                            (Kevin)
                            > We agree that Jeremiah 3:14 was influential in the formation of Thomas #23
                            and this alone may be important. Jeremiah 3:14 begins an interesting section
                            which, in the midst of a verbal chastisement for unfaithfulness, the LORD
                            issues a plea to his "faithless people" to return to him and then provides a
                            description of the future that ultimately awaits them:
                            >
                            > Jer 3:14-20 ~
                            > 14 "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD , "for I am your husband.
                            I will choose you-one from a town and two from a clan-and bring you to Zion.
                            15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with
                            knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have
                            increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say,
                            'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be
                            remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that
                            time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will
                            gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they
                            follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of
                            Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a
                            northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance. 19 "I
                            myself said," 'How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a
                            desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.' I thought you
                            would call me 'Father' and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a
                            woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house
                            of Israel," declares the LORD.
                            >
                            > Note that Jer. 3:14 introduces a section about an idyllic period in the
                            future resulting from man's faithfulness to God. If Jer. 3:14 influenced
                            Thomas #23, perhaps Thomas #23 was also meant to describe the process by
                            which Jesus (or God) ushers in a new era of harmony between God and mankind,
                            beginning with the ones who are chosen.

                            (Frank)
                            Apparently, the originator of GTh 23 got the inspiration for the formula of
                            one per x and two per y from Jer. 3:14. I don't see anything else in GTh 23
                            to link it to Jer. 3:14, e.g., there's no mention of God, no mention of
                            Zion, no mention of the Ark of the Covenant, no mention of Jerusalem, no
                            mention of the house of Judah or of the house of Israel, and no husband-wife
                            imagery. So, I think it *highly* unlikely that GTh 23 was meant to be
                            interpreted in terms of Jer. 3:14-20.

                            In the original sitz im leben for the creation of this saying, I think that
                            the basic idea was to portray Jesus as relating that he will be choosing the
                            Twelve by choosing four of them on the basis of one per thousand and eight
                            of them on the basis of two per ten thousand, and then relating that all
                            will stand as one in the sense that they will represent one person, i.e.,
                            Jesus: so that to hear them is to hear him and to reject them is to reject
                            him.

                            In this case, the saying came to the GTh community from outside: for there
                            is no evidence that they thought of Jesus having an inner circle of twelve.
                            Further, not knowing that it referred to Jesus' choosing of the twelve, I
                            suspect that they interpreted it in a radically different fashion than was
                            done by the people in its original sitz im leben. For example, the members
                            of the GTh community likely related the phrase "and they shall stand as a
                            single one" to the immediately preceding GTh 22, which speaks of making the
                            two one and the inside like the outside, etc..

                            This is one of the big problems with interpreting passages in GTh, i.e., the
                            original intended interpretation of a saying attributed to Jesus might have
                            been quite different from the later interpretation placed on it by the
                            members of the GTh community. For example, while (for reasons given above)
                            I do not think that the saying found in GTh 23 was originally intended to
                            interpreted in a Gnostic fashion, there is a distinct possibility that it
                            was interpreted in a Gnostic fashion by the GTh community--with them perhaps
                            taking it to mean that the enlightened ones will never be more than a very
                            small minority of mankind.

                            Regards,

                            Frank McCoy
                            1809 N. English Apt. 17
                            Maplewood, MN USA 55109
                          • Achilles37@aol.com
                            Hi, Frank - ... As you know (and as you later mention), the Gospel of Thomas does not contain any reference to the Twelve or to apostles. GThomas generally
                            Message 13 of 22 , Feb 21, 2003
                              Hi, Frank -

                              > It is interesting that all the examples you
                              > list above regard the Twelve. This raises
                              > the question of whether Thomas 23, too, regards
                              > the Twelve.

                              As you know (and as you later mention), the Gospel of Thomas does not contain any reference to the "Twelve" or to "apostles." GThomas generally uses "mathetes" - "disciples." Later Gnostic traditions put the number of male disciples at 12 and the number of female disciples at 7. But the question here is whether Thomas 23 refers specifically to the disciples or followers of Jesus (i.e., whether the idea of being "chosen" is associated with being a disciple) and I believe the answer is yes. For example, saying 18 associates being blessed with standing in the beginning and not tasting death. Saying 19 associates being blessed with pre-existence, being a disciple, listening to the words of Jesus, and going to Paradise. In the same vein, saying 49 associates being blessed with being solitary, being the elect, pre-existing in the Kingdom, and returning to the Kingdom. Saying 50 associates pre-existing in the place of the origin of light (there is a lacuna here but Mike Grondin restores "stood" in reference to the light), with being the sons and the elect of the Father, with the sign of movement and rest. GThomas 23 associates choice by Jesus (in very small numbers) with standing as one.

                              These examples shed light upon each other. The elect, the solitary, are blessed. They originated in the place of God from the beginning and they will return to the place of God at the end. They were chosen by God originally and they are chosen by Jesus now to become his disciples. Though they are few in number, they stand as a unity (the word "stand" is significant in that the angels were said to "stand" before God). If they will listen to the words of Jesus, creation will serve them, the trees in Paradise await them, they will rest in the Kingdom, and they will not taste death.

                              While there may have been a total of twelve males in the circle of Jesus’ closest disciples (the evidence is widespread that there was), the Gospel of Thomas does not fix an upper bound of twelve on the number of disciples, not does it ultimately restrict this group to males.

                              > I rather like this because it engenders the ratios
                              > of 1,000/10,000 and 4,000/40,000.

                              I tend to take the ratios used in Thomas 23 to be symbolic rather than literal. But don’t let me ruin your fun.

                              > Also, it fits well with the twelve sons of Jacob as
                              > listed in Genesis 35:22-26. Four were born from Rachel
                              > and her handmaid Bilbah: Joseph, Benjamin, Dan and
                              > Napthali. These correspond to first four disciples
                              > chosen by Jesus, each chosen one out of a thousand.
                              > Eight were born to Leah and her handmaid Zilpah:
                              > Reuben, Simeon, Lebi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulum, Gad,
                              > and Asher. These correspond to the remaining eight
                              > disciples chosen by Jesus, chosen two out each ten
                              > thousand.

                              Hmm... Against this is the fact that the four sons of Jacob born to Rachel and her handmaid were not the four eldest sons. In other words, we don’t have a correspondence between the first four sons born to Jacob and the first four disciples chosen by Jesus.

                              (Kevin)
                              >> I should also point out that the verb used in
                              >> Jer. 3:14 is not actually "choose" (bachar) but
                              >> "take" (laqach), probably used here in the sense
                              >> of 'taking' a wife.

                              (Frank)
                              > Do you think that this is significant?

                              It is significant in the sense that it differs. The correspondence between Jer. 3:14 and Thomas 23 may not be as close as we might assume at first glance. The fact that the verbs used ("take" vs. "choose") are different is one indication against the direct dependence of Thomas 23 on Jeremiah 3:14.

                              > Apparently, the originator of GTh 23 got the inspiration
                              > for the formula of one per x and two per y from Jer. 3:14.

                              Or is the 'formula' traditional, so that these two passages bear witness to the same 'formula,' but are not otherwise directly related? The same question arises with respect to the ratios in Deut. 32:30.

                              > I don't see anything else in GTh 23 to link it to
                              > Jer. 3:14, e.g., there's no mention of God, no mention
                              > of Zion, no mention of the Ark of the Covenant, no
                              > mention of Jerusalem, no mention of the house of Judah
                              > or of the house of Israel, and no husband-wife imagery.

                              > So, I think it *highly* unlikely that GTh 23 was meant
                              > to be interpreted in terms of Jer. 3:14-20.

                              It is a given that Thomas 23 parallels Jer. 3:14 and not necessarily the following verses in Jer. 3:15-19. But when trying to ascertain the meaning of Thomas 23, we would be remiss if we did not at least consider the meaning of Jer. 3:14 as shown by Jer. 3:15-19. The fact that Thomas 23 makes no reference to Jer. 3:15-19 can be considered as further evidence against direct dependence here, though this evidence is not conclusive.

                              Jeremiah 3:15-19 is related to saying 23 and its parallels in the following ways: choice by God is associated with unity ("the house of Judah will join the house of Israel"), following God, being children of God, and ultimately dwelling with God. That is why the passage in Jeremiah speaks of the ark of the covenant not being missed nor another one made and why it says that they will call Jerusalem the Throne of the Lord. God will dwell directly in Jerusalem (and not above the ark) with His unified, chosen people - just as the chosen people will dwell with God in Paradise, in the Kingdom, in the parallel sayings in Thomas.

                              But you are probably correct in assuming that GTh 23 was not meant to be interpreted in terms of Jer. 3:14-20. Rather, the two passages seem to bear witness to the same general tradition.

                              > This is one of the big problems with interpreting
                              > passages in GTh, i.e., the original intended
                              > interpretation of a saying attributed to Jesus might
                              > have been quite different from the later interpretation
                              > placed on it by the members of the GTh community.

                              By the term "GTh community," do you refer to groups that used the Gospel of Thomas? While we know that certain Gnostic groups, such as the Naassenes, used the Gospel of Thomas, we know nothing of a "GTh community" and there is little we can say about such an entity with any degree of certainty.

                              As for interpretation, it seems to me that our best clues lie in the traditions that Jesus drew from and in the traditions that arose in relation to him. In the case of some of the sayings, as you suggest, the original meaning may indeed be lost, but in the case of others that meaning may be recoverable, provided we make the attempt.

                              Regards,

                              - Kevin Johnson
                            • fmmccoy
                              ... From: To: Sent: Friday, February 21, 2003 9:06 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23 ... contain
                              Message 14 of 22 , Feb 25, 2003
                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: <Achilles37@...>
                                To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                                Sent: Friday, February 21, 2003 9:06 AM
                                Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23


                                > Hi, Frank -
                                >
                                > > It is interesting that all the examples you
                                > > list above regard the Twelve. This raises
                                > > the question of whether Thomas 23, too, regards
                                > > the Twelve.
                                >
                                > As you know (and as you later mention), the Gospel of Thomas does not
                                contain any reference to the "Twelve" or to "apostles." GThomas generally
                                uses "mathetes" - "disciples." Later Gnostic traditions put the number of
                                male disciples at 12 and the number of female disciples at 7. But the
                                question here is whether Thomas 23 refers specifically to the disciples or
                                followers of Jesus (i.e., whether the idea of being "chosen" is associated
                                with being a disciple) and I believe the answer is yes. For example, saying
                                18 associates being blessed with standing in the beginning and not tasting
                                death. Saying 19 associates being blessed with pre-existence, being a
                                disciple, listening to the words of Jesus, and going to Paradise. In the
                                same vein, saying 49 associates being blessed with being solitary, being the
                                elect, pre-existing in the Kingdom, and returning to the Kingdom. Saying 50
                                associates pre-existing in the place of the origin of light (there is a
                                lacuna here but Mike Grondin restores "stood" in reference to the light),
                                with being the sons and the elect of the Father, with the sign of movement
                                and rest. GThomas 23 associates choice by Jesus (in very small numbers) with
                                standing as one.
                                >
                                > These examples shed light upon each other. The elect, the solitary, are
                                blessed. They originated in the place of God from the beginning and they
                                will return to the place of God at the end. They were chosen by God
                                originally and they are chosen by Jesus now to become his disciples. Though
                                they are few in number, they stand as a unity (the word "stand" is
                                significant in that the angels were said to "stand" before God). If they
                                will listen to the words of Jesus, creation will serve them, the trees in
                                Paradise await them, they will rest in the Kingdom, and they will not taste
                                death.


                                Dear Kevin Johnson:

                                All the passages you cite (i.e., 18, 19, 23, 49, and 50) come from what I
                                think is the third and latest strata of tradition in GTh: which consists of
                                11-24, 49-52, 80-88, 100-104, and 112-114.

                                It is only in this strata that we find a full-blown doctrine that there are
                                a select few who were at the Beginning and who will be at the End and whose
                                sojourn here is but a temporary departure from the Kingdom--which is where
                                they are from and to which they will return.

                                I perceive the roots of this doctrine in Alexandrian Judaism, especially as
                                expressed in the teachings of Philo.

                                In Philonic thought, before the creation of the corporeal Cosmos was the
                                creation of an incorporeal Cosmos and this incorporeal Cosmos was both the
                                ideal pattern for the corporeal Cosmos and the realm of the ideas. Thus, in
                                Op (16-17), Philo states, "So when He willed to create this visible world
                                He first fully formed the intelligible world, in order that He might have
                                the use of a pattern wholly God-like and incorporeal in producing the
                                material world, as a later creation, the very image of an earlier, to
                                embrace in itself objects of perception of as many kinds as the other
                                contained objects of intelligence. To speak of or conceive that world which
                                consists of ideas as being in some place is illegitimate."

                                According to Philo, the creation of the incorporeal Cosmos is the subject of
                                Genesis 1:1-2:3, while the creation of the corporeal Creation is the subject
                                of 2:4-25. This is his solution to the problem of what appears to be two
                                separate creation stories in the first part of Genesis.

                                In the creation of the incorporeal Cosmos, there is the creation of a man in
                                the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Since this incorporeal Cosmos is the realm of
                                ideas, this man is an idea. So, in Op (134), Philo states, "He that was
                                after the (Divine) image was an idea or type or seal, an object of thought,
                                incorporeal, neither male nor female, by nature incorruptible."

                                In the creation of the corporeal Cosmos, there is the creation of a man out
                                of the dust, into whom God breathed the breath of life.(2:7). This man
                                consists of both a body, made out of the dust, and a soul, made out of that
                                which God breathed into him. He is, by nature, mortal. So, Ibid, Philo
                                states, :"For the man so formed is an object of sense-perception, partaking
                                already of sush or such quality, consisting of body and soul, man or woman,
                                by nature mortal."

                                While this man, as a total being is mortal, his soul, at least the part of
                                it that is mind, is immortal. However, this immortality of his soul is only
                                a potential immortality because many things can happen that will lead to it
                                losing its immortality.

                                What this means is that there are two races of men. Those belonging to the
                                first race are a part of the incorporeal Cosmos and came into being before
                                the beginning of the corporeal Cosmos. They are incorporeal in nature,
                                ideas. As they are in the image of God, who is Mind, they are minds. They
                                are immortal. Those of the second race are a part of the corporeal Cosmos.
                                They consist of bodies and souls. Their souls are potentially immortal.

                                Those belonging to the first race can enter into the corporeal Cosmos,
                                temporarily becoming members of the second race. In such a case, a baby
                                will be born with a soul consisting of such a pre-existing pure mind. Being
                                immortal minds, when the time comes for bodily death, they return from
                                whence they came. So, in Conf (77-78), Philo states, "This is why all whom
                                Moses calls wise are represented as sojourners. Their souls are never
                                colonists leaving heaven for a new home. Their way is visit earthly nature
                                as men who travel abroad to see and learn. So when they have stayed awhile
                                in their bodies, and beheld through them all that sense and mortality has to
                                shew, they make their way back to the place from which they set out at the
                                first.".

                                Compare the last part of 18, "Blessed is he who will take his place in the
                                beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death." A blessed
                                person will be in the Beginning of the corporeal Cosmos. That is to say, a
                                blessed person will belong to the first race of men: who came into being
                                within the incorporeal Cosmos before the creation of the corporeal Cosmos
                                and, so, already were in existence at the Beginning of the corporeal Cosmos.
                                A blessed person will know the End of the corporeal Cosmos and will not die.
                                That is to say, a blessed person belongs to the first race of men, who are
                                immortal, and, so, will be in existence at the End of the corporeal Cosmos
                                and will never die.

                                Also compare the first part of 19, "Blessed is he who came into being before
                                he came into being." That is to say, blessed is he who belongs to the first
                                race of men who came into being in the incorporeal Cosmos before he came
                                into being as a member of the second race of men within the corporeal
                                Cosmos--for such a person is an immortal mind and, so, simply returns from
                                whence he came at the death of the body..

                                BTW, I think you make a good point in noting that the word "stand", as used
                                in GTh, is of special significance..

                                Certainly, there are first century CE instances of it having a special
                                significance.

                                For example, according to the Clementine literature and Hippolytus, Simon
                                Magus (a Samaritan who was active by c. 38 CE) claimed to be a divine figure
                                he called the Standing One. Interestingly, according to this literature, he
                                claimed to be, as such, he who stood, stands, and will stand. This reminds
                                us of the elect of GTh 18: who were in the Begiining, exist now, and will
                                exist at the End. Do you or any other listers think there might be some
                                sort of connection here?

                                Too, in the teachings of Philo, to "stand" means to participate in the
                                immutability of God. So, in Som ii (222), he states, "And Moses too gives
                                his testimony to the unchangeableness of the deity when he says, 'they saw
                                the place where the God of Israel stood' (Ex. xxiv. 10), for by the standing
                                or establishment he indicates his immutability." Again (Ibid., 228), he
                                states, "For that which draws near to God enters into affinity with what is,
                                and through that immutability becomes self-standing. And when the mind is
                                at rest, it recognizes clearly how great a blessing rest is". Note that,
                                according to Philo, when the mind is standing, i.e., is immutable, it is
                                also at "rest". "Rest" or "repose" is another key concept in GTh. Because
                                Philo links this "rest" or "reposing" to "standing", might it not be that
                                these terms are also linked in GTh?

                                Regards,

                                Frank McCoy
                                1809 N. English Apt. 17
                                Maplewood, MN USA 55109
                              • Achilles37@aol.com
                                Hi, Frank - ... With all due respect to Bill Arnal and other proponents a strata theory of the Gospel of Thomas, I remain unconvinced. For one thing, the
                                Message 15 of 22 , Feb 27, 2003
                                  Hi, Frank -

                                  You wrote:

                                  > All the passages you cite (i.e., 18, 19, 23, 49, and 50)
                                  > come from what I think is the third and latest strata of
                                  > tradition in GTh: which consists of 11-24, 49-52, 80-88,
                                  > 100-104, and 112-114.

                                  > It is only in this strata that we find a full-blown
                                  > doctrine that there are a select few who were at the
                                  > Beginning and who will be at the End and whose
                                  > sojourn here is but a temporary departure from the
                                  > Kingdom--which is where they are from and to which
                                  > they will return.

                                  With all due respect to Bill Arnal and other proponents
                                  a strata theory of the Gospel of Thomas, I remain
                                  unconvinced. For one thing, the keyword associations
                                  between individual sayings that can be found throughout
                                  the Gospel of Thomas are just as strong in those sections
                                  of Thomas that you deem to belong to "the third and
                                  latest strata" as they are in the other sections of the
                                  Gospel (all of which presumably belong to the first and
                                  second stratas). Since these 'third strata' sayings also
                                  contain the keyword connections, which are mnemonic devices
                                  indicative of an oral tradition, there are no objective
                                  grounds for relegating these sayings to the "third and
                                  latest strata" based on form. To be sure, there are
                                  subjective grounds for wanting to remove these sayings
                                  from an original Thomas (an Ur-Thomas, if you will); i.e.,
                                  these sayings may be difficult to understand or may contain
                                  expressions that we are unfamiliar with or that do not
                                  usually occur in the canonical gospels. But perhaps we
                                  should make more of an effort to comprehend some of these
                                  difficult sayings before we cast them aside as spurious.
                                  In some respects, the strata theory becomes a convenient
                                  method of explaining away those sayings that may otherwise
                                  be difficult to understand or explain.

                                  > I perceive the roots of this doctrine in Alexandrian
                                  > Judaism, especially as expressed in the teachings of
                                  > Philo.

                                  I don't believe we have to wander so far beyond the
                                  borders of Palestinian Judaism to find 'the roots of
                                  this doctrine,' as you put it.

                                  In his book, 'The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Revised
                                  and Extended Fourth Edition, Penguin, 1995),' Geza Vermes
                                  writes that the Essenes insisted "on the individual election
                                  of each sectary... Also, believing in divine foreknowledge,
                                  they considered their adherence to the 'lot of God' as the
                                  effect of grace, as having been planned for each of them
                                  in heaven from all eternity."

                                  In the Dead Sea Scroll known as The Community Rule (1QS),
                                  we find the following:

                                  "From the God of Knowledge, we find all that is and shall be.
                                  Before ever they existed He established their whole design,
                                  and when, as ordained for them, they come into being, it is
                                  in accord with His glorious design that they accomplish their
                                  task without change."

                                  The document then describes those who have their origin in
                                  light and those who have their origin in darkness, as well
                                  as their ultimate fates, beginning with the sons of light:

                                  "And as for the visitation of all who walk in this spirit,
                                  it shall be healing, great peace in a long life, and
                                  fruitfulness, together with every everlasting blessing and
                                  eternal joy in life without end, a crown of glory and a
                                  garment of majesty in unending light."

                                  But as for those whose origin was in darkness, the Community
                                  Rule states:

                                  "And the visitation of all who walk in this spirit shall be
                                  a multitude of plagues by the hand of all the destroying
                                  angels, everlasting damnation by the avenging wrath of the
                                  fury of God, eternal torment and endless disgrace together
                                  with shameful extinction in the fire of the dark regions.
                                  The times of all their generations shall be spent in
                                  sorrowful mourning and in bitter misery and in calamities
                                  of darkness until they are destroyed without remnant or
                                  survivor."

                                  Vermes makes the point that the Essene writings show that
                                  the concept of election had moved from the nation or people
                                  as a whole down to the level of individual. This is, of
                                  course, also the case in the Gospel of Thomas. Furthermore,
                                  we see that the Essenes believed in a type of election that
                                  was pre-destined or fore-ordained, which is also the type
                                  of election we see in Thomas. Finally, it is clear that the
                                  Essene understanding of election concerned both the ultimate
                                  origins and the ultimate fate of those who were 'chosen'
                                  and those who were 'rejected.' All this is not to say that
                                  we cannot benefit from consulting Philo's writings on the
                                  subject, but merely that we do not need to look to Philo
                                  for the "roots" of the "doctrine" of election as we find
                                  it expressed in the Gospel of Thomas.

                                  > What this means is that there are two races of men.
                                  > Those belonging to the first race are a part of the
                                  > incorporeal Cosmos and came into being before the
                                  > beginning of the corporeal Cosmos.

                                  In their views about the children of light (truth, etc.)
                                  and the children of darkness (falsehood, etc.), the Essenes
                                  also indicate a conceptual division of people into two
                                  general groupings.

                                  > the word "stand", as used in GTh, is of special
                                  > significance..

                                  > Certainly, there are first century CE instances of
                                  > it having a special significance.

                                  > For example, according to the Clementine literature
                                  > and Hippolytus, Simon Magus (a Samaritan who was
                                  > active by c. 38 CE) claimed to be a divine figure he
                                  > called the Standing One. Interestingly, according to
                                  > this literature, he claimed to be, as such, he who
                                  > stood, stands, and will stand. This reminds us of
                                  > the elect of GTh 18: who were in the Begiining, exist
                                  > now, and will exist at the End. Do you or any other
                                  > listers think there might be some sort of connection
                                  > here?

                                  > Too, in the teachings of Philo, to "stand" means to
                                  > participate in the immutability of God. So, in
                                  > Som ii (222), he states, "And Moses too gives his
                                  > testimony to the unchangeableness of the deity when
                                  > he says, 'they saw the place where the God of Israel
                                  > stood' (Ex. xxiv. 10), for by the standing or
                                  > establishment he indicates his immutability." Again
                                  > (Ibid., 228), he states, "For that which draws near
                                  > to God enters into affinity with what is, and through
                                  > that immutability becomes self-standing. And when the
                                  > mind is at rest, it recognizes clearly how great a
                                  > blessing rest is". Note that, according to Philo,
                                  > when the mind is standing, i.e., is immutable, it is
                                  > also at "rest". "Rest" or "repose" is another key
                                  > concept in GTh. Because Philo links this "rest" or
                                  > "reposing" to "standing", might it not be that
                                  > these terms are also linked in GTh?

                                  Thank you for summarizing Philo's use of "stand" and its
                                  theological implications. Anyone who is further interested
                                  in the Judaic, Samaritan, and Gnostic uses of this term
                                  can refer to the following books for more information:

                                  'The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and
                                  Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of
                                  Gnosticism' by Jarl E. Fossum (Coronet Books, 1985)

                                  The Immovable Race: Gnostic Designation and the Theme of
                                  Stability in Late Antiquity (Nag Hammadi Studies, No 29)
                                  by Michael A. Williams (Brill, 1997)

                                  As for the question you raise, whether or not the themes
                                  of standing and resting are related in the Gospel of
                                  Thomas, I believe the answer is no. While both terms have
                                  significant theological implications in Thomas, and while
                                  these implications may be related on some levels, the
                                  terms themselves do not appear together in any of the
                                  sayings. That is to say, the author(s) of the Gospel
                                  of Thomas has not made any explicit effort to link
                                  these terms and, therefore, it is logical to believe
                                  that this author did not feel that the terms were
                                  closely related.

                                  In this connection, however, the combination of sayings
                                  51 and 52 is extremely interesting. We note that while
                                  Thomas 51 does contain "rest" ("anapausis"), Thomas 52
                                  does not contain any reference to standing. However, the
                                  close parallel to Thomas 52 that appears in Augustine
                                  does indeed seem to contain a reference to standing:

                                  Augustine Contra adversarium legis et prophetum II 4.14
                                  “But when the apostles (so he said) asked what was to be
                                  thought of the Jewish prophets who, as men assumed, in
                                  the past proclaimed His coming, our Lord answered, under
                                  the impression that they still cherished such opinions:
                                  ‘You have rejected the Living One who stands before
                                  you and talked fables (prattled) about the dead.’”

                                  Note that I haven't examined the Latin behind the
                                  passage in Augustine here, so I can't say at the moment
                                  that it definitely contains "stands," but it certainly
                                  seems to, to judge from the English translation. And
                                  if it does, it may be an indication that these terms
                                  once stood (no pun intended) in close connection
                                  within the Gospel of Thomas.

                                  Regards,

                                  - Kevin Johnson
                                • fmmccoy
                                  ... From: To: Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2003 9:41 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23 ... Dear
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Mar 3, 2003
                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                    From: <Achilles37@...>
                                    To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                                    Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2003 9:41 AM
                                    Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23


                                    > Hi, Frank -
                                    >
                                    > You wrote:
                                    >
                                    > > All the passages you cite (i.e., 18, 19, 23, 49, and 50)
                                    > > come from what I think is the third and latest strata of
                                    > > tradition in GTh: which consists of 11-24, 49-52, 80-88,
                                    > > 100-104, and 112-114.
                                    >
                                    > > It is only in this strata that we find a full-blown
                                    > > doctrine that there are a select few who were at the
                                    > > Beginning and who will be at the End and whose
                                    > > sojourn here is but a temporary departure from the
                                    > > Kingdom--which is where they are from and to which
                                    > > they will return.
                                    >
                                    > With all due respect to Bill Arnal and other proponents
                                    > a strata theory of the Gospel of Thomas, I remain
                                    > unconvinced. For one thing, the keyword associations
                                    > between individual sayings that can be found throughout
                                    > the Gospel of Thomas are just as strong in those sections
                                    > of Thomas that you deem to belong to "the third and
                                    > latest strata" as they are in the other sections of the
                                    > Gospel (all of which presumably belong to the first and
                                    > second stratas). Since these 'third strata' sayings also
                                    > contain the keyword connections, which are mnemonic devices
                                    > indicative of an oral tradition, there are no objective
                                    > grounds for relegating these sayings to the "third and
                                    > latest strata" based on form. To be sure, there are
                                    > subjective grounds for wanting to remove these sayings
                                    > from an original Thomas (an Ur-Thomas, if you will); i.e.,
                                    > these sayings may be difficult to understand or may contain
                                    > expressions that we are unfamiliar with or that do not
                                    > usually occur in the canonical gospels. But perhaps we
                                    > should make more of an effort to comprehend some of these
                                    > difficult sayings before we cast them aside as spurious.
                                    > In some respects, the strata theory becomes a convenient
                                    > method of explaining away those sayings that may otherwise
                                    > be difficult to understand or explain.

                                    Dear Kevin Johnson:

                                    The three postulated strata are derived by looking for mathematical
                                    regularities as repects the placement of sayings units and dialogue units.
                                    Their relative dating is supported by several different dating techniques.
                                    I refer you to an eight-part posting (posts 4987-94) and the first is found
                                    here:

                                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gthomas/message/4987

                                    I advise that you look at them, so that you can determine for yourself
                                    whether I created the third strata in order to discredit sayings I found to
                                    be difficult to explain.

                                    That a saying falls in the third strata does not mean that it is spurious.
                                    It is a decidedly negative factor in trying to determine whether or not a
                                    given saying is genuine. But, if there are strong enough indications of
                                    genuiness, then it can be over-ridden. For example, the parable of the
                                    sower comes from the third strata. However, because it is simple in
                                    structure, and since it appears that the real Jesus frequently spoke in
                                    parables, and since it is multiple attested (for it is also found in the Q
                                    and Markan traditions), I think that it probably is genuine.

                                    I think it significant that it is only in the third strata that we find a
                                    full-blown doctrine that there are a select few who were at Beginning and
                                    who will be at the End and whose sojourn here is but a temporary departure
                                    from the Kingdom--which is where they are from and to which they will
                                    return. To me, it is a clear indication that it was a late development in
                                    the evolution of the Thomas belief system. This doesn't necessarily mean
                                    that it is an invention of the Thomas community, nor does this necessarily
                                    mean that the sayings attributed to Jesus which contain this doctrine are
                                    spurious. For example, it might have been espoused by Jesus and remembered
                                    by one or more early Christian communities and then transmitted to the
                                    Thomas community rather late in the game.

                                    (Frank)
                                    > > I perceive the roots of this doctrine in Alexandrian
                                    > > Judaism, especially as expressed in the teachings of
                                    > > Philo.

                                    (James)
                                    > I don't believe we have to wander so far beyond the
                                    > borders of Palestinian Judaism to find 'the roots of
                                    > this doctrine,' as you put it.
                                    >
                                    > In his book, 'The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Revised
                                    > and Extended Fourth Edition, Penguin, 1995),' Geza Vermes
                                    > writes that the Essenes insisted "on the individual election
                                    > of each sectary... Also, believing in divine foreknowledge,
                                    > they considered their adherence to the 'lot of God' as the
                                    > effect of grace, as having been planned for each of them
                                    > in heaven from all eternity."

                                    (snip)

                                    > Vermes makes the point that the Essene writings show that
                                    > the concept of election had moved from the nation or people
                                    > as a whole down to the level of individual. This is, of
                                    > course, also the case in the Gospel of Thomas. Furthermore,
                                    > we see that the Essenes believed in a type of election that
                                    > was pre-destined or fore-ordained, which is also the type
                                    > of election we see in Thomas. Finally, it is clear that the
                                    > Essene understanding of election concerned both the ultimate
                                    > origins and the ultimate fate of those who were 'chosen'
                                    > and those who were 'rejected.' All this is not to say that
                                    > we cannot benefit from consulting Philo's writings on the
                                    > subject, but merely that we do not need to look to Philo
                                    > for the "roots" of the "doctrine" of election as we find
                                    > it expressed in the Gospel of Thomas.

                                    (Frank)
                                    Are you saying that the Essene concept that some are predestined to be
                                    saved is the same thing as the Thomistic concept that the saved were in
                                    existence in the Beginning?. ISTM that they are two quite different
                                    concepts, but philosophy is hardly my forte, so perhaps on a formal
                                    philosophical basis they are, at some level of understanding, one and the
                                    same concept. Could you expand on your understanding of the relationship
                                    between pre-destination and pre-existence?

                                    (snip)

                                    (Kevin)
                                    > Thank you for summarizing Philo's use of "stand" and its
                                    > theological implications. Anyone who is further interested
                                    > in the Judaic, Samaritan, and Gnostic uses of this term
                                    > can refer to the following books for more information:
                                    >
                                    > 'The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and
                                    > Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of
                                    > Gnosticism' by Jarl E. Fossum (Coronet Books, 1985)
                                    >
                                    > The Immovable Race: Gnostic Designation and the Theme of
                                    > Stability in Late Antiquity (Nag Hammadi Studies, No 29)
                                    > by Michael A. Williams (Brill, 1997)

                                    (Frank)
                                    Thanks for the tips. The second one sounds particularly worthwhile.

                                    Regards,

                                    Frank McCoy
                                    1809 N. English Apt. 17
                                    Maplewood, MN USA 55109
                                  • BitsyCat1@aol.com
                                    In a message dated 03/03/2003 8:43:52AM, FMMCCOY@email.msn.com writes:
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Mar 3, 2003
                                      In a message dated 03/03/2003 8:43:52AM, FMMCCOY@... writes:

                                      << However, because it is simple in
                                      structure, and since it appears that the real Jesus frequently spoke in
                                      parables, and since it is multiple attested (for it is also found in the Q
                                      and Markan traditions), I think that it probably is genuine.
                                      >>

                                      John Asks Frank

                                      Perhaps dividing it into Strata(Per se) is an error, if I read the other
                                      post correctly.?

                                      That is perhaps some of the original thought was modified for the Ascetics
                                      (Or Gnostics) that used Thomas. BUT Its "all original".

                                      The Job if that were true would be to unravel what was modified and what
                                      was not,
                                      Rather than to decide part was earlier or later, or original or non original.
                                      for the purposes of 'not considering it',(Because it might be difficult to
                                      reconcile)

                                      To determine what the original kernel was, rather than dismiss the Saying
                                      entirely.
                                      That might be a trap?

                                      Perhaps then it is a matter of the decision to scrap what is considered
                                      Later that
                                      should be questionable?

                                      What would these sayings (Later) Sound like if you distilled them into
                                      their basic form or rearranged them? Might that not also be Yeshuan? But the
                                      Saying itself merely
                                      an ascetic interpretation.( Of that Yeshuan saying)

                                      JOHN MOON
                                      SPRINGFIELD,TENN

                                      Regard sjohnmoon3717@...
                                    • fmmccoy
                                      ... From: To: Sent: Monday, March 03, 2003 8:57 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23 ... Ascetics
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Mar 5, 2003
                                        ----- Original Message -----
                                        From: <BitsyCat1@...>
                                        To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                                        Sent: Monday, March 03, 2003 8:57 AM
                                        Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23


                                        >
                                        > In a message dated 03/03/2003 8:43:52AM, FMMCCOY@... writes:
                                        >
                                        > << However, because it is simple in
                                        > structure, and since it appears that the real Jesus frequently spoke in
                                        > parables, and since it is multiple attested (for it is also found in the Q
                                        > and Markan traditions), I think that it probably is genuine.
                                        > >>
                                        >
                                        > John Asks Frank
                                        >
                                        > Perhaps dividing it into Strata(Per se) is an error, if I read the other
                                        > post correctly.?
                                        >
                                        > That is perhaps some of the original thought was modified for the
                                        Ascetics
                                        > (Or Gnostics) that used Thomas. BUT Its "all original".
                                        >
                                        > The Job if that were true would be to unravel what was modified and what
                                        > was not,
                                        > Rather than to decide part was earlier or later, or original or non
                                        original.
                                        > for the purposes of 'not considering it',(Because it might be difficult
                                        to
                                        > reconcile)
                                        >
                                        > To determine what the original kernel was, rather than dismiss the
                                        Saying
                                        > entirely.
                                        > That might be a trap?
                                        >
                                        > Perhaps then it is a matter of the decision to scrap what is considered
                                        > Later that
                                        > should be questionable?
                                        >
                                        > What would these sayings (Later) Sound like if you distilled them into
                                        > their basic form or rearranged them? Might that not also be Yeshuan? But
                                        the
                                        > Saying itself merely
                                        > an ascetic interpretation.( Of that Yeshuan saying)

                                        Dear John Moon:

                                        Good to hear from you!

                                        You are too kind in not mentioning the parable. I meant the parable of the
                                        mustard seed but I wrote the parable of the sower. A little brain-hand
                                        disconnect there!

                                        I agree with you that the GThomas community modified some of the sayings
                                        attributed to Jesus that they possessed. I also agree with you that we
                                        ought to try to spot these modifications so as to recover the original forms
                                        of these sayings as known to the GThomas community.

                                        Assuming that this is possible for us to accomplish (and this is a big if),
                                        then we will, at some date in future, know the original forms of these
                                        sayings as known to the GThomas community.

                                        You suggest that these original forms of these sayings *as known to the
                                        GThomas community* might go back to the historical Jesus.

                                        Certainly, this is possible.

                                        However, to be thorough about it, we need to analyze each saying attributed
                                        to Jesus in GTh in terms of all these questions:
                                        (1) Does it appear to be the invention of the GTh community? If it does,
                                        then it needs to be rejected as probably false.
                                        (2) Does it appear to be the invention of some other early Christian
                                        community? If it does, then it needs to be rejected as probably false.
                                        (3) Does it appear to be modified by the GTh community? If so, then what
                                        does it look like with these modifications removed?
                                        (4) Does it appear to be modified by some other early Christian community?
                                        If so, then what does it look like with these modifications removed?

                                        John, do you have any reason for thinking that only the third step is really
                                        necessary? Do you, for example, think that the forms of these sayings, once
                                        the Thomas community modifications are removed, are all based on the witness
                                        of those who heard Jesus and were written down very early?

                                        Regards,

                                        Frank McCoy
                                        1809 N. English Apt. 17
                                        Maplewood, MN USA 55109




                                        On this, you and I have no disagreeement.

                                        >
                                        > JOHN MOON
                                        > SPRINGFIELD,TENN
                                        >
                                        > Regard
                                        sjohnmoon3717@...
                                      • BitsyCat1@aol.com
                                        In a message dated 03/05/2003 12:37:30PM, FMMCCOY@email.msn.com writes:
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Mar 5, 2003
                                          In a message dated 03/05/2003 12:37:30PM, FMMCCOY@... writes:

                                          << ohn, do you have any reason for thinking that only the third step is really
                                          necessary? Do you, for example, think that the forms of these sayings, once
                                          the Thomas community modifications are removed, are all based on the witness
                                          of those who heard Jesus and were written down very early?
                                          >>

                                          John observes

                                          I have noticed that in general many of the sayings (If distilled down) could
                                          be
                                          a primitive Pauline.( Perhaps Pre Pauline wisdom literature)
                                          Consider saying 114?
                                          Generally considered an addition as well as late.( I would say almost all
                                          would agree)

                                          The Theme of 114 could well be the same essence of That there is neither
                                          Male nor Female /( No Slave or Freeman) in Christ Jesus. ( say
                                          Galatians(3::26-29)

                                          In 114 there are all the elements of the Pauline Admonition. SO That one
                                          would suspect that if it is an addition it might be some type of metaphorical
                                          Play, Which puts forth the same elements with the addition of" Living
                                          Spirit"( As
                                          perhaps a Gnostic influence)
                                          You have a Male (Peter) And Female (Mary) You have Jesus And you have male
                                          and Female becoming the Same.( Last verse Galation becoming One)
                                          All the elements of Thomas are then present in the Pauline
                                          Except the addition of becoming a Living Spirit.( Like a male)?

                                          One might argue that you could distill that (from the Reference to
                                          Abraham
                                          to the coming of Christ in Galatians) A continuous living Spirit of some
                                          sort.( But that is merely an observation in Passing) The Ruack, the living
                                          spirit of God

                                          In 114 Jesus addresses a Favorite topic The Kingdom of Heaven? Surely not
                                          Late
                                          and yet the Troubling Gnostic influence. That is, in how it is arranged and
                                          the conclusion we are supposed to reach? Appears to be Gnostic and Late.

                                          I merely suggest that All the elements are present but in a Pageant or
                                          play form of some sort.
                                          There may well be other examples.( And Better examples) But since 114 is
                                          considered A) both Gnostic and b) Late, I Have used it.

                                          And yet the clear and Polished Pauline Statements contain essentially the
                                          same
                                          thought and yet highly polished. With that Pauline absolute Statement Style.
                                          That surety and comparison that indeed they will be one in Christ Jesus. And
                                          with the Addition of Greek, Servant or Free to the male and Female.
                                          Far more developed in thought and how it should fit into Hebrew history.

                                          So which might come first?

                                          The Pauline highly styled and Polished form. Or the (Supposed) Later less
                                          Polished more or less Jesus Said? Or has the ascetic or Gnostic Group merely
                                          rearranged an Existing Jesus said to their own liking?
                                          To lead one to conclude that a living spirit and Male are the same in
                                          Jesus
                                          eyes.( And to that group)?

                                          If 114 were not comparing the aspect of "living spirit resembling you
                                          Males"
                                          and suggest that Jesus personally was going to lead her (Mary) to being male
                                          (see the above
                                          Would we then suggest that it was later or Gnostic?

                                          Of course then if we remove the Gnostic comparison we are faced with
                                          which is first? The Thomasine(Wisdom literature) or the Pauline?
                                          Or do they come from a common Literature source which we no longer
                                          have?

                                          I merely observe that rather than dismiss a Group for apparently falling
                                          into a strata? That there may be another explanation for that.

                                          Perhaps it merely comes from a Common source?
                                          An Original wisdom Literature which both Early Christian authors (Such
                                          as Paul) drew from. And Perhaps a historical teacher may have uttered (In
                                          another form).

                                          If we are to believe some of the early Historians such as Papius.
                                          That Original source did exist. The Ta Logia. Yet was non existent by his day.

                                          It would appear that we are merely looking at two differing
                                          perspectives of the same thought.

                                          Paul uses his slant to insert his commentary. The Author of the
                                          Thomasine Verse
                                          uses it as a vehicle of his "living spirit, and union thereof" as the result
                                          of the Common thought.

                                          But in the end. They are both in agreement that the result is a union
                                          and becoming One.( See GAlations 3-29).

                                          My question then stands is there not another explanation, Both coming
                                          from a common earlier source?

                                          regards John Moon
                                          Springfield,Tenn

                                          johnmoon3717@...
                                        • Tom Saunders
                                          Sorry the History Channel did not show the James the Just presentation. Nobody is more disappointed than me, and I am sorry if you made arrangements to see
                                          Message 20 of 22 , Mar 6, 2003
                                            Sorry the History Channel did not show the 'James the Just' presentation. Nobody is more disappointed than me, and I am sorry if you made arrangements to see it, only to be disappointed.

                                            John Moon suggests that 114 is a late addition and Pauline. Being that 114 is the last saying may be in fact the only late part about the addition of the saying. What I mean is that the parts of other texts that went into composing the GThom came together in an order of availability. It was re-ordered and it stopped at 114.

                                            Perhaps the addition of 114 is to qualify the thematic place of women and the issues of purity, according to Thomas. These issues are associated with Paul and the Apostolic Council, which decided that Gentiles did not have to adhere to Jewish laws and customs. Crossan points out in "Birth of Christianity" that the issues of the Pauline era where issues Jesus was known to have put down his opinion, in his lifetime.

                                            Another point that Crossan makes is that the GThom is too early to be Gnostic. It is likely that is was kept in very closed circles, then it was picked up later in Gnostic sects. I think it is likely that Paul never saw or knew about the GThom, and those who had Thomas had it a long time before any of them saw the Pauline letters. One reason is the fact that Jerusalem and the Jewish state, as such, was completely destroyed by 70 C.E.

                                            Long before that Phillip had been the first Apostle to leave the community, but others followed. Then, Peter left. 'John the Just' took over as head of the village. Although Acts is vague about some of the problems that may have occured in this first community, it could have been worse than any historical information has revealed. The point is there is no window of opportunity to obtain the known written elements of the GThom, except in the earliest of times.

                                            There is no reason to believe that a later redactor would focus on issues from the earliest of times. Secularists anytime past 70 C.E. posed lots bigger issues, mostly based upon the ideas surrounding virgin birth and ressurection. The 'list' gospel Thomas, like Q does not address these issures. If it did it would be Gnostic. As is, it is only Gnostic from the standpoint that you can use the information contained within the text for salvation and circumvent the collection plate.

                                            Saying 114 is thematically linked with 21, "male becomes female." Without this 'harmonic' link there would be no other 'doublet' to explain or bring up that particular theme. In terms of harmonics and thematic elements this kind of link seems very well done in the literary sense. This may be another cause for 114, but if it was added to the text as an afterthought, it was likely done by an original author.

                                            We can divide up the GThom into specific parts, aligned with types of scripture, like parables, beautifications, and parallels with Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We have to look at the notion of window of opportunity, to assemble these parts. This leaves the notion of saying order, other scriptural norms common to early Christian writing, and the primary motives for composing the text. That is a lot to explain.

                                            Many of you have mathematical notions of the order and composition of the GThom. Do they fit in with the ideal of the first century writer? What other scriptural commonalities does the GThom follow besides those I have mentioned? (Can I get a version with 666 lines? I love that idea.)

                                            One last thing. The primary motive for the GThom is salvation. I would call that its primary economy ("E" factor). The first heretic was Simon Magus who wanted to sell the Holy Spirit, or in fact wanted to sell salvation. If the primary economy of the GThom is to provide the means to salvation by understanding the words of Jesus, then the primary motive for its conception is related to this first heresey.

                                            If the "E" factor holds true to the primary motive, the GThom was written in reaction to this first Christian community rift, and the ones that shortly followed. All the parts for the GThom would have existed in the Apostle's village before Saul became Paul, and Christianity had spread. I give the Apostle's village a 5% literacy rate, or higher if there were Essenes converted. If there were Sicarii converted there may have been assassins. Perhaps Thomas was Sicarii or from that sect, which might account for the sword parable.

                                            Tom Saunders
                                            Platter Flats, OK

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                                          • BitsyCat1@aol.com
                                            In a message dated 03/06/2003 10:44:09AM, tom@cherokeetel.com writes:
                                            Message 21 of 22 , Mar 6, 2003
                                              In a message dated 03/06/2003 10:44:09AM, tom@... writes:

                                              << John Moon suggests that 114 is a late addition and Pauline. Being that
                                              114 is the last saying may be in fact the only late part about the addition
                                              of the saying. What I mean is that the parts of other texts that went into
                                              composing the GThom came together in an order of availability. It was
                                              re-ordered and it stopped at 114. >>

                                              John observes

                                              Actually my point was that although counted as Gnostic and Late.( Possibly
                                              considered the latest) by consensus in the past.
                                              It actually shows up in a more polished form in Paul's Galatian Letter.
                                              ( Or so it would appear) and perhaps other parallels (better than this)
                                              could be made to other sayings.

                                              If we go by the Idea that the more Developed theologically and polished
                                              presentation is Later. Then Paul's adaptation and presentation is the
                                              Later Verse.It is Crisp and Comprehensive and connected to Israel's history.
                                              Whereas the same thought in 114 is a back and forth between individuals?
                                              More primitive.

                                              The point might be that there is no Guarantee that Saying 114 is either
                                              late
                                              or Gnostic If the same thought occurs in the earliest of Christian Writings?

                                              Therefore the difficulty in assigning dates and Strata based on Certain
                                              streams of thought? IS it Late is it Gnostic? IS it an early strata or a Late
                                              strata?

                                              I believe we may come back to what is the definition of Gnostic.AND did
                                              it pre exist the Yeshuan ministry?( Thomas as well as Paul) A common Wisdom
                                              Literature that may be proto Gnostic?
                                              If this Wisdom literature was in evidence during the time of Yeshau bar Yosef.
                                              , then it might change the way we order the strata. And how we classify them.


                                              Regards,

                                              John Moon
                                              Springfield, Tenn37172
                                            • Tom Saunders
                                              John Moon states: I believe we may come back to what is the definition of Gnostic.AND did it pre exist the Yeshuan ministry?( Thomas as well as Paul) A common
                                              Message 22 of 22 , Mar 6, 2003
                                                John Moon states:

                                                I believe we may come back to what is the definition of Gnostic.AND did
                                                it pre exist the Yeshuan ministry?( Thomas as well as Paul) A common Wisdom
                                                Literature that may be proto Gnostic?

                                                Based on Crossan's idea that Q is apochalyptic and the GThom is ascetic, don't you think this means that Thomas was written as possibly the first sectarian text? I have no problem with Thomas being 'the' proto- Gnostic element that started the various movements.

                                                I think Marcion, Valentinus, and Tatian all had Thomas and understood the fact that it was the result of heretical acts in the first few years of the Apostle's village. This is where the stakes on salvation became the highest. Consider this from Acts: 5-

                                                9. But Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out.
                                                10. And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband.
                                                11. And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things.

                                                Between the first heresey with Simon Magus, and the fear caused by 'spirit killings' associated with Peter I see the straw that broke the camel's back on trying to pull the community together. Too many people would have drifted away from Peter, and I think Thomas is likely one of them. This may well stand as the motivation to point out James the Just as the one to follow. Here is another clue.....Acts 5-12.

                                                12. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.

                                                They were not in accord on the porch. Then or now. Not Thomas' porch where the "Jew loves the fruit and hates the tree" or visa versa. On Solomon's porch they get circumcised and observe the rules of Solomon. I think this verse in Acts reveals Luke's preference for Jewish practices, and community. It also shows how diverse the GThom is in regard to these issues.

                                                I think Thomas had every reason to write the GThom at this point, so he could go his own way like Phillip.

                                                Tom Saunders
                                                Platter Flats, OK

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