Re: [GTh] The Sectarian Thomas
- In a message dated 05/19/2003 3:20:54AM, kirby@... writes:
<< received this comment from a visitor:
Alas, these sayings have far too much of a sectarian attitude. These
tendencies are also present (in my opinion) in the Gospel of John, but here
they really stand out: it's "us" versus "the rest", and those others are
ignorant. The gospel of Thomas has its historic merits, but is too
narrowminded to be "believable" in these days.
What do you all think about the "sectarian-ness" of GThomas? >>
Study the Essenes for a counterpoint to Thomas. They have a really US
Mentality. Most Sects do.
Within their texts There is the "You have heard that you shall Bless those
that bless you and Curse those That curse you." It is not found in the Old
It is found in Essene writings.
It would appear that 1st century sects were rather Exclusive and all
carried the US versus them connotation.
Regards JOHN MOON
Springfield, Tenn. 37172
- Dear Peter, List
I've just read the 1st 100 pages of E. Pagels' new book, *Beyond Belief*,
just published a week or so, ago and it is mostly concerned with a
comparative treatment of 4G vis a vis GThom as to doctrine, historical
background, and the roles they have played in her own personal approach to
religious faith. Even though I have not finished the book, I think I can
say that she would disagree with your correspondent utterly.
She thinks both gospels date to the 90s and were probably composed in Syria;
that 4G came later and in part undertakes to discredit GThom and its
adherents and in part to belittle the Magdalen's priority of witness to the
resurrection and in part to trump Peter's (Mark's) messianic concept of
Jesus with a higher claim.
As to content, she contrasts the the GThom doctrine of the *way of search*
in one's own soul for the light that is God and achieve twinship with Jesus
and, of course, sonship of God; and the *way of belief* demanded in 4G, that
Jesus is very God, the primordial light of Genesis become flesh and the I AM
that spoke to Moses; believe it you pathetic mortals or perish in the dark.
To accuse a sect of sectarianism is is somewhat like accusing a wife of
marriage. But I guess one way to judge the *degree* of sectarianism of a
sect is to notice how well it plays in the modern ecumenical movement. On p
74. Pagels attributes the following to Richard Baker, former Bostonian, a
Zen convert and then Roshi of the Zen Center in San Francisco: "Had I known
the Gospel of Thomas, I wouldn't have had to [study in a Kyoto monastery
and] become a Buddhist." Can you imagine , say, a modern Sufi convert saying
something like that about 4G??
Pagels points out, and gives examples, that GThom anticipates many of the
associated with mediaeval and modern mysticism of all stripes. And as you
are doubtless aware, mystics and students of mysticism, of all stripes,
have played a leading role in conceptualizing meaningful forms that
ecumenical progress might take.
As sects go, I would say GThom is minimally sectarian. But if you haven't
already done so, do yourself a favor and read Pagels' book.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirby" <kirby@...>
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2003 3:37 AM
Subject: [GTh] The Sectarian Thomas
> I received this comment from a visitor:
> Alas, these sayings have far too much of a sectarian attitude. These
> tendencies are also present (in my opinion) in the Gospel of John, but
> they really stand out: it's "us" versus "the rest", and those others are
> ignorant. The gospel of Thomas has its historic merits, but is too
> narrowminded to be "believable" in these days.
> What do you all think about the "sectarian-ness" of GThomas?
> Peter Kirby (Student at Fullerton College, CA)
> 12:25am up 9:20, Mandrake Linux 9.0, kernel 2.4.19-16mdk on AMD Athlon 750
> Web Site: http://www.outofprintbooksearch.com/
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> Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
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