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Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23

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  • fmmccoy
    ... From: To: Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2003 9:41 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] The background to saying 23 ... Dear
    Message 1 of 22 , Mar 3, 2003
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      ----- 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 2 of 22 , Mar 3, 2003
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        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 3 of 22 , Mar 5, 2003
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          ----- 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 4 of 22 , Mar 5, 2003
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            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 5 of 22 , Mar 6, 2003
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              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 6 of 22 , Mar 6, 2003
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                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 7 of 22 , Mar 6, 2003
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                  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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