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Re: [GTh] Timelessness

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  • fmmccoy
    ... From: Mark Goodacre To: Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 3:16 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] Timelessness ... Dear
    Message 1 of 20 , May 19, 2003
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Mark Goodacre" <M.S.Goodacre@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 3:16 PM
      Subject: Re: [GTh] Timelessness

      > Thanks for that. I suppose "timelessness" is a bit of a useless word
      > -- too ambiguous. What I was thinking of was the lack of what
      > Koester calls "historicizing" in Thomas, but I don't like that word
      > because it could be taken to imply that the concrete historical
      > realia in other texts are secondary. The interesting point you make
      > here is that the lack of additional information about the characters
      > in Thomas in a way limits Thomas to a more specific time-frame and
      > assumed in-group -- it is not trying to introduce these characters
      > for people who have never heard of them. This is actually quite a
      > stark contrast with, say, Luke, who often introduces new characters
      > with "there was a certain . . . ." etc.
      > Perhaps the term I am looking for is something like de-historicizing.
      > Does Thomas have a de-historicizing tendency?

      Dear Dr Mark Goodacre:

      Does not the phrase "a de-historicizing tendency", when applied to GTh,
      imply that it is later than the canonical gospels--which have a greater
      emphasis on history? If so, is not as "loaded" a phrase as "lack of

      In any event, I agree that, relative to the canonical gospels, there is less
      of an emphasis on history in GTh.

      Each canonical gospel is chronologically arranged. That is, it begins
      with the earliest time frame and continues in chronological order until
      ending with the latest time frame. Too, there are temporal brackets for
      Jesus' ministry: with John the Baptist being alive when his ministry begins
      and Pontus Pilate being the Prefect when his ministry ends. Further, Jesus
      not only moves around, but geographical markers are given so that we always
      know at least in a general sense where he is. So, at any given point in the
      gospel, we have a fairly decent idea of where Jesus is, both temporally and
      geographically. Finally, Jesus is identified as being from a town called
      Nazareth, as being from the province of Galilee, and as being a Jew.

      In contrast, the sayings/dialogue units in GTh do not appear to be given in
      chronological order. Too, there are no temporal brackets given for Jesus'
      ministry period. Further, it is never said what town, city, province, or
      country Jesus is in. So, at any given point in the gospel, we have no good
      idea of where Jesus is, either temporally or geographically. He departed
      (12), but the circumstances and manner of that departure are not given.
      His home town is never mentioned, his home country or province is never
      mentioned, and even his ethnic identity is never mentioned.

      ISTM that these contrasts arise out of the world-perspective of the Thomas

      As I perceive it (a big qualification), in this world-perspective, there is
      the Kingdom and the Cosmos. The Kingdom is a spiritual realm. The Cosmos
      is a material realm. The Kingdom is an eternal realm. The Cosmos is a
      temporal realm. The Kingdom is a realm of Life. The Cosmos is a realm
      of Death. In the Kingdom are God, the Son, the Spirit, angels, and human
      spirits. In the Cosmos are beings with body/flesh. Since this is the realm
      of Death, all such beings of body/flesh are mortal and die.

      One class of being of body/flesh is unique--mankind. Within each human
      of body/flesh is a human spirit which has pre-existed in the Kingdom, but
      now exists within the body/flesh. Unless it can re-gain contact with the
      Kingdom, even while it is yet in the body/flesh, it will share in the death
      of the body/flesh.

      From the Kingdom, the Son entered into the body-flesh by being born of a
      human woman. He revealed to a select group of disciples the sayings which,
      if properly understood, enables the spirit to re-gain contact with the
      Kingdom, even while yet in the body/flesh, so that, when the body/flesh
      dies, it regains eternal life in the Kingdom. Then, when came the time for
      the death of his body/flesh, the Son, as he had maintained contact with the
      Kingdom, resumed his eternal life in the Kingdom.

      From this world-perspective, what is essential is recording these sayings
      uttered by the Son--for it is by understanding them that one's spirit can
      re-gain eternal life in the Kingdom. All the rest of his existence in the
      body-flesh is only of idle curiousity interest--for it is of no real
      importance. Hence, there is no need to mention when or where he was born,
      or to mention the ethnic group to which he belonged, or to mention where he
      lived, or to mention where or when he taught, or to mention where or when
      or how he died, etc..

      So, I suggest, GTh, unlike the canonical gospels, is a saying/dialogue
      gospel with almost no historical information on Jesus because the
      world-perspective of the Thomas community was radically different from the
      world-perspective of the canonical gospel communities.

      The suggested world-perspective of the Thomas community raises questions.
      Why is the Cosmos the realm of death? Why is there even death? Why do
      pre-existing human spirits enter into body-flesh? Why are they in ignorance
      of their pre-existence? Why was it necessary for the Son to come and give
      the sayings which, when properly understood, can enable a human spirit to
      avoid participating in the death of the body/flesh? Etc. Etc. Out of
      these sorts of questions, I suggest, Gnostic systems arose. So, while I do
      not deem GTh to be a Gnostic text, I, yet, think that the world-perspective
      underlying it had a lot to do with the rise of the various Gnostic systems.


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