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Out of Jerusalem

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  • Tom Saunders
    Great Post Mike, Philip is the connecting link between these two momentous events that stand at opposite ends of the story of Saul/Paul in Jerusalem in Acts -
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 11, 2003
      Great Post Mike,

      Philip is the connecting link between these two
      momentous events that stand at opposite ends of the story of Saul/Paul in
      Jerusalem in Acts - a masterpiece of dramatic literature "based on a true
      story", as they say nowadays.

      Two important points that Acts mentions (first indirectly) is the fact that James assumes leadership, at the first Apostolic (Jerusalem) Council. And they confirm decision reflected in the GThom that you do not have to be Jewish to be Christian. These decisions are major departures from the ideas that have formulated with even some of the Gentiles who have been converted. They maintained a Jewish lifestyle, which Thomas does not reflect.

      Acts only hints at the degree of the problems Peter has caused, some of which are probably not all his own doing.

      Acts describes that citizens of Jerusalem would put their sick outside in order that they might be healed by Peter's shadow as he walked by. This was upsetting the aristocracy of the Temple. They have launched or agreed to the slaughter and scattering by Saul at this time. Peter has become a marked man. Peter has also been directly responsible for many things that have disturbed the new Christian community.

      In Peter's reign over the village, as the keeper of the keys, you don't get to own your own property. You submit to community and cult. In the GThom you gird your loins against the world, and protect your house from the robbers. Thomas is an unmistakable departure from 'Cephas Ministries.'

      The ideas clash too much with the descriptions in Acts about Jerusalem salvation not to suggest that Thomas went his own way, philosophically, geographically, and gladly. All the components of the GThom would have evolved into the first written texts by then. For any literate newcomer to the first community in Jerusalem, written information would have been extremely important. Lots of oral treatments of Jesus' words and stories were available for scribes.

      By the time James took over the Jerusalem leadership there were thousands of followers and some had been gathered for years. Crossan mentions a 5% literacy rate for the time and place, you do the math. In terms of the availability of the earliest texts for all you would need to write the GThom, this was it.

      Perhaps by this time there was enough written material for Thomas to gather up what he could and write the GThom. I think by this time the written material showed the differences from what Thomas thought about the sayings he had, and the practices at the village. Thomas saw the conflict and composed the Gospel.

      The Christianity of Acts is built on clearly differing ministries or epistemologies than the GThom. Perhaps the GThom mentions in a subtle manner (13, and 21, 114), of the issues causing conflicts with Peter. Also this conflict is mentioned in the Gospel of Mary. Peter was at issue over the equality of women. Acts simply does not relate enough to figure out all the reasons for dissent, it simply tries to avoid explaining cause and effect. Acts does not clarify how deeply the rifts must have been. This may have been very purposeful to avoid trashing one leadership over another.

      I see the relationship between Acts and Thomas as being one of differing ministries. I agree it is harder to figure out the ministry of Philip in Acts. But the differences in Thomas show more clarity to differences in philosophy and practices that must have caused more conflict than Acts portrays.

      Tom Saunders
      Platter Flats, OK






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    • Tom Saunders
      Mike states..... To which might be added that the houses mentioned in Thomas are all either metaphors themselves or occur within the context of parables.
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 14, 2003
        Mike states.....

        To which might be added that the "houses" mentioned in Thomas are all either
        metaphors themselves or occur within the context of parables. There's
        nothing to suggest actual private ownership of lands or houses on the part
        of the Thomasines. In fact, asceticism and abnegation from the world would
        seem to imply that one gets rid of as many ties to the physical world as
        possible.

        I would not agree on the point that there is nothing to suggest how Thomasines should view the aspect of wealth and ownership. The terms of house, storehouse, and problem of personal wealth and community are very difficult to figure. One parable stands out as the real explanation of how this aspect of life should be viewed. Saying 63,

        (Thomas 63) Jesus said : "There was a rich man who had a lot of money. He said : 'I shall put all my wealth to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my barn with harvest, with the result that I shall lack nothing.' Such were the thoughts of his heart, but during that night he died. He who has ears to hear, let him hear !"

        Saying 63 is in order with the parables of 64, and 65, and they are both addressed to the issue of wealth, and other commonalties. But a very important placement of saying 62, "I disclose my mysteries to those that are worthy of my mysteries," may indicate the authors attempt to emphasize the wisdom of saying 63. This and the addition of the 'he who has ears' catch phrase we see in other places besides Thomas, makes this saying centered to the issue of wealth, and distinguishes material wealth with spiritual wealth.

        There is a symbolic relationship to the idea of the 'storehouse idea' in regard to spiritual wealth. Thomas points this out in sayings regarding 'looking into yourself.' This is not the idea of wealth to Matthew.....
        (Mattthew 19- 21. Jesus said unto him, If thou wouldest be perfect, go, sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

        This line is in regard to the rich young man, who rejected the offer. The context in Matthew may be important to explain that this event was early in J's ministry when he was organizing Apostles. I think the account of Jesus sending out the Apostles with minimum gear, to approach others and live by his code and instructions should be seen as a learning task, or mission and not a standard of living.

        It is these contrasts that make it difficult to determine what J's real intent for followers. This is compounded by the trials and tribulations of the Jerusalem Christian community. If we look at standard ethnological and sociological model of elements, (pool or field) and apply them to the Jerusalem community, which was largely peasant, the likelihood of the village being composed of like thinkers is very suspect.

        Jesus put together a family unit. Jerusalem was a community. It was a fast growing, multi-cultural, religious and socio-political 'thing' that outgrew itself. Its attraction is unmistakable for those in the need of better or different social identity, that their old community did not offer.

        This must have been a lot bigger nightmare than Acts portrays. Peter, it appears has developed a philosophy of community that parallels Mat. 19-21. It fails. James the Just takes over presiding the village. We know from Thomas and the general ruling of the Jerusalem Council that supposedly the rules of Jewish law can be laid aside, but many do not see it that way. 70 C.E. the Romans sack the Jewish state, and finding out what happened after 62 when James is killed is next to impossible.

        Then, there is Paul, Barnabus, and the minions of the Didache, and a host of Gnostics (in the historical sense). Picture Marcion in Paul's or Luke's eyes and you see why everyone in Christianity becomes a heretic in everyone else's eyes. But this horror did not begin with these Christians, it all happened in Jerusalem, during Peter's rein. This includes the horror of explaining the concepts of 'pnuemataphori,' virgin births, and physical resurrections. (The genius of Thomas is his explanation of the light, which can be applied to any known concept of spirit. )

        If Ayn Rand is correct in thinking that irrationality is true evil, I think that is what motivated the writing of the GThom. The elements of the sayings are rooted in the earliest known Gospel scripture, and all the problems of the Jerusalem 'experiment' are addressed. It brings order to chaos.

        I see the Nag Hammadi Gospels as reactionary to the issues after Jerusalem, but Mary may have been a deliberate attempt to reinforce, and explain the concepts of Thomas. Philip is directly reactionary to concepts of spirit and resurrection. It seems to mirror Tatian (Letter to the Greeks) a little in its treatment of pnuema, and its importance to explain. There are huge differences in the perception of spirit in any community old or modern. It seems a rational response to irrational ideas.

        Thomas is reactionary to the problem of explaining the issues which caused the earliest dissent in the Peter Community. It is written to adjust the individual to the concepts of self, but does not violate the aspect of community or the individual ascetic. I do not think its intent is to formulate community, but to help those in one, starting at the family level.

        Thomas lets you be you, with the mandate to look inside and view the 'evil storehouse' and know what is in yourself." 'Clear your own eye before you try to clear your brother's.' "Gird your loins against the world."

        The Jerusalem 'experiment' has fostered the irrationalities within Jerusalem we see in the concepts in Luke, Paul, Matthew, and Peter. Thomas circumvents the problem explanations to issues that caused all the continuing differences. These disagreements started in the Jerusalem community, and do not seem to give up their ghost today. (Consider what happened in all the years Thomas was buried where nobody knew what it really said.)

        How much did the Christian friction between the Temple and the Christian community prompted the trouble that caused the destruction of Jerusalem?

        Thomas is the rational response to all these early volatile issues. The historical Thomas is thought to have shown up and started churches in Essene and India. Does anyone have thoughts on whether these could be the forming of landmarks or central locations for worship, or more like communities? Acts of Thomas suggest a bohemian individualist who was far more interested in the idea of person rather than community.

        Tom Saunders
        Platter Flats, OK

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      • Tom Saunders
        (You yourself have done some of this, but I think you re too anxious to move on to the big picture to give proper attention to the details.) Learning the
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 16, 2003
          (You yourself have done some of this, but I think you're too
          anxious to move on to the big picture to give proper attention to the
          details.)

          Learning the proper attention to details, should be one of the aspects to this group. I have learned a great deal about doing that. I have also learned that I need to avoid jumping to conclusions, but on the other hand, my mistakes, when they get corrected, at least teach me.

          I have a fraction of exposure to the amount of textual knowledge in this group concerning Christianity and related material to Thomas. I wish 'they' would 'correct me' more. In your own model of the group being the "student lounge' of teachers and students, I'm happy to be the student.

          'In general, it
          seems to be a good rule of thumb to match the size of one's hypotheses to
          the extent of one's actual competence in relevant matters textual and
          historical.'

          Absolutely. How am I doing with the discussion with Frank about the ossuary? You went to the convention, did you see it? What percentage of this group do you think knew the Philip of Acts was not the Apostle?

          Please if you did not know that or you can put the kind of evidence forth that can clarify the matter......

          (Just raising your hands probably will not 'match the size of the hypotheses to the extent of relevant matters in the perspective to competently ascertain a meaningful statistical analysis with any meaningful rule of thumb...... to this 'PHILIP' question .")

          What exactly did I miss that Phillip wasn't Phillip, when I read that part of Acts. What would have let me know that? Would this provide me a model or paradigmatic rule of thumb? Could I apply this model to the idea, (hypotheses) that both archeological, textual, historical, etc., evidence puts the Apostle's Village in the S.E. suburbs of 1st Century Jerusalem.? No Rule of Thumb and I'll Look Dumb. I promise to be more fun.


          Tom Saunders
          Platter Flats, OK

































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