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Re: [GTh] Re: Gnosticism

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  • Wade and April
    ... (Some material snipped.) ... have ... Whoops, I think I dashed that reply off too quickly! To be more precise: Karen King is a proponent of the idea that
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 2, 2003
      "Mike McLafferty" wrote:

      > M. Cormier wrote:
      >
      > > ... I recall reading somewhere that the word
      > > or expression "gnosticism" was not popularized
      > > much before the 11th century. In other words,
      > > prior to that date, what we call (Christian)
      > > gnosticism at least (whatever that really means,
      > > I guess) was simply considered part of "greater
      > > Christianity" in "the literature".
      >
      > Wade replied:
      >
      > > The proponent of this idea is Karen King and a
      > > detailed discussion of it can be found in her 2003
      > > book <What is Gnosticism?>.
      >
      > I haven't read King yet, but Michael Allen Williams went further in his
      > essential book, _Rethinking "Gnosticism": an argument for dismantling a
      > dubious category_, Princeton: 1996, (0-691-01127-3):
      (Some material snipped.)
      > (I do understand a distinction between 'gnosticism' and 'gnostic,' and
      have
      > no reason to doubt King's c11 etymology. Just thought I'd contribute.)
      >
      > Michael McLafferty
      > Portland, Oregon, USA

      Whoops, I think I dashed that reply off too quickly! To be more precise:
      Karen King is a proponent of the idea that Gnosticism is a term that became
      popularized in the middle ages or Renaissance and discusses that in her new
      book <What is Gnosticism?> I didn't mean to imply (though I can see I did)
      that she attributes the usage to the eleventh century, but only that she
      attributes it to a late date. I am not sure precisely which century she
      argues for. My understanding of this comes from a discussion Dr. King had
      with my wife and we have not gotten a copy of the book yet so I can't look
      it up now.

      Wade
    • jmgcormier
      ... wrote: (Snip, snip, snip ....) ... 1. The sects attacked by the heresiologists DID use the word gnosis prominently as a special term - which may explain
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 2, 2003
        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@c...>
        wrote:


        (Snip, snip, snip ....)


        > What subsequent notes have apparently shown is that:
        > 1. The word 'gnosticism' is of relatively recent coinage, and
        > 2. The word 'gnostikos/gnostikoi' may have been an invention of the
        > heresiologists, since the sects they describe may not have used the
        > term of themselves (other than Origen's evidence).

        > BUT, it's important to realize also that:

        1. The sects attacked by the heresiologists DID use the word
        'gnosis' prominently as a special term - which may explain the
        heresiologists' use of 'gnostikos/gnostikoi' (derogatory?), and
        2. Gnostic sects were NOT considered "part of 'greater Christianity'
        in 'the literature'" prior to the coining of the term 'gnosticism'.

        -------------------------------------------------------

        Hello Mike !

        Re #2 above, my point wasen't that "sects" were or were not considered
        "part of greater Christianity in the litterature prior to the coining
        of the term gnosticism" ... but rather that elements of Thomas' brand
        of gnosticism (duality, oneness, light etc) was certainly tolerated of
        (if not indeed promoted towards) people claiming to be Christians.

        The Evangilist John, for example, speaks in no uncertain terms of
        "oneness with the Father" ... he has Jesus claiming to be "the light"
        ... he has Jesus claiming to testify "to" the light, (in John's
        mind was Jesus a Thomasene gnostic ?) etc etc.

        In a similar vein, Paul the great "religion builder" himself, preaches
        much along the same lines, constantly refering to "the spirit" and its
        duality dimension with carnal man, as does James who even speaks of
        "wisdom from above", etc. ... sounds a bit Thomasish to me at
        times .... no ?

        The problem, of course, is that the purging of early Church documents
        deemed to be non compliant towards (post Iraeneus) dogma, coupled to
        the questionable "reworking" (by some scholars) of several Pauline
        texts, leave us in a difficult position to clearly understand how near
        or how far so-called "Christian gnostic beliefs" may have very early
        on (prior to canon) been part of adherents' (tolerated or advocated)
        belief systems.

        -----------------------------------------------------

        Mike Grondin ...

        This is not to say that I think that 'gnosticism' is a good
        umbrella-term. It's too broad and diffuse - as our discussions have
        shown. Nor is it to say that the time prior to the heresiologists
        wasn't characterized by tolerance of a wide variety of beliefs -
        though Paul didn't seem to be too tolerant of a sect which we might
        categorize as 'gnostic'.

        ------------------------------------------------------
        ... again you are refering to a "sect" whereas I was simply raising it
        as part of "Thomasene-like dogma" as embraced by individuals ....

        ------------------------------------------------------

        Mike continues ...

        In any event, however, I think it needs to be stated plainly - lest
        misunderstandings creep in - that disapproval of "the Gnosis" didn't
        await the coining of the term 'gnosticism'.

        --------------------------------------------------------

        Yup ! I think we pretty well all agree with you there ...


        Cheers !

        Maurice Cormier
      • Michael Grondin
        ... the ... Lupia didn t make his submittal on this list, so I don t know where you saw it. I am familiar with his theory, however, and I don t see a shred
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 2, 2003
          [Mike McLafferty]:
          > (For that matter, I also was surprised at the lack of reaction to John
          > Lupia's submittal back in March, likening GTh to the Toldoth Jeschu as
          > "purposefully anti-Christian propaganda." In his draft essay, he called
          the
          > GTh writings "comical derisions and parodies of Jesus' sayings,"
          > "cacography," and bawdy "hilarotragoedia," written by the Sadducees and
          > Pharisees. Talk about provocative! Interestingly, Lupia's thesis implies a
          > dating of them even earlier than many Thomas fans dare hope for: "early
          > 30's, or perhaps earlier.")

          Lupia didn't make his "submittal" on this list, so I don't know where you
          saw it. I am familiar with his theory, however, and I don't see a shred of
          evidence for it. He doesn't care if Thomas is early so long as he can
          discredit it as a source of authentic Jesus material and/or a legitimate
          (albeit unorthodox) Christian view.

          Mike G.
        • Michael Mozina
          I ll toss this idea out since it s been nagging at me for some time now. It seems to me that the notion of becoming like Christ may very well have been a
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 2, 2003
            I'll toss this idea out since it's been nagging at me for some time now.

            It seems to me that the notion of "becoming like Christ" may very well have
            been a point of contention between the apostles all along. In John17, Jesus
            seems to be suggesting that EVERYONE is capable of this unity in God that he
            experiences. I've seen many folks suggest that the things Thomas couldn't
            write about were along the lines of Thomas becoming "like Christ".

            It seems to me that their could easily have been a skism developing between
            the Thomasine community who believed they COULD achieve this "state of
            consciousness" as Jesus did, and others who saw Jesus as a "holier than
            thou" Messiah, more along the lines of "God incarnate". If this debate
            began with Thomas the apostle, it might explain why the GoT was left out of
            the cannonization process, even though it was authentic material. Maybe
            those who saw Jesus as UNIQUELY Messianic just didn't want to add
            credibility to the notion that others were capable of this same connection
            with God. Comments?

            Michael Mozina
            Mt. Shasta, CA
          • jmgcormier
            ... now. ... well have been a point of contention between the apostles all along. In John17, Jesus seems to be suggesting that EVERYONE is capable of this
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 3, 2003
              --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Mozina" <michael@e...> wrote:
              > I'll toss this idea out since it's been nagging at me for some time
              now.
              >
              > It seems to me that the notion of "becoming like Christ" may very
              well have been a point of contention between the apostles all along.
              In John17, Jesus seems to be suggesting that EVERYONE is capable of
              this unity in God that he experiences. I've seen many folks suggest
              that the things Thomas couldn't write about were along the lines of
              Thomas becoming "like Christ".

              It seems to me that their could easily have been a skism developing
              between the Thomasine community who believed they COULD achieve this
              "state of consciousness" as Jesus did, and others who saw Jesus as a
              "holier than thou" Messiah, more along the lines of "God incarnate".
              If this debate began with Thomas the appostle, it might explain why
              the GoT was left out of the cannonization process, even though it was
              authentic material.

              Maybe those who saw Jesus as UNIQUELY Messianic just didn't want to
              add credibility to the notion that others were capable of this same
              connection with God. Comments?
              >
              > Michael Mozina
              > Mt. Shasta, CA

              ---------------------------------------------------

              Hello Michael ....

              A few quick comments ...

              First, to me, it is not overly clear which conclusion you want to
              arrive at. Do you wish to demonstrate or explain (1) the reason why
              GoT was left out of the canonization process, or do you wish to
              (2) propose that the "pro Jesus messianic" crowd did not want to
              enhance the position of the "anti Jesus messianic" crowd. There is a
              slight difference on how one might arrive at either. The latter is
              perhaps easier to deal with, because one could almost use this kind of
              strategy as a "fill in the blanks" sort of exercise on any parallel
              question. For example, if circumcision were the issue here instead of
              the legitimacy of the Gospel of Thomas, then one could argue that the
              "anti circumcision" crowd simply became hostile towards the "pro
              circumcision" crowd at one point, and eventually beat them out of an
              opportunity to enhance their position. Or, one could "fill in the
              blanks" with "docetism", the validity of the Gospel of Mary, ... or
              almost any other issue where one faction lost out to another over
              time. (Sort of a "survival of the fitest" dynamic if you wish.)

              If, however, you are seeking to demonstrate why Thomas was never
              canonized, then you are dealing with a very specific challenge which
              cannot be resolved by way of the above.

              Personally I dont think such a claim will be easily demonstrable
              because of my current biases with regards to things which are going to
              be difficult to prove. For example, you are going to have to
              early on demonstrate that "the apostle" Thomas actually wrote GoT.
              (The Greek version, for example, tells us that someone called Judas -
              likely a "twin" wrote it ... and not necessarily an apostle or a
              disciple at that ...) Next you are going to have to demonstrate that
              there actually was "a" (or several) "Thomasene communities".
              (Personally I treat the "community" issue much like I do the "Gospel
              of "Q" issue .... unless and until we have proof of its existance,
              this is a "tough row to hoe.") Then there is the dating issue. You are
              going to have to satisfy arguments that GoT is "pre" canonical if it
              was withheld from it by design and volition. (The jury is still
              deliberating this one ... or at least I hope it is.) etc etc.

              Having said all of this however, the general thrust of your point is
              interesting and worth speculating on further for anyone who is not
              overly concerned with the above and other similar (historicity)
              issues. Wish I could add more ...

              Maurice Cormier
            • Michael Mozina
              Thanks for your comments Maurice. I m not sure I had a specific point in mind, I just tossed some ideas out there to get some feedback. I certainly couldn t
              Message 6 of 9 , Aug 3, 2003
                Thanks for your comments Maurice. I'm not sure I had a specific point in
                mind, I just tossed some ideas out there to get some feedback. I certainly
                couldn't hope to prove any of these ideas through the data I've seen to date
                at least.

                I guess my basic question stems from the notion that it does APPEAR to me
                from the work of Steven Davies and others, that Mark and other synoptic
                writers drew from the materials found in Thomas. ASSUMING (and we all know
                that's dangerous) that these writers actually DID draw from a preexisting
                Thomas, the "rational" (IMO) explanation for this is that this document was
                already circulating and had "credibility" within the various communities at
                that time. The "best" reason I can think of as to why this document was
                respected is that it is in fact an "authentic" document of actual quotes
                from Jesus that were written down by an apostle that spent time on the road
                with Jesus the man.

                *IF* that is so (a leap of faith to be sure), then I can't help but be
                curious as to WHY this document wasn't included in the cannonization
                process. It would APPEAR that there is an explanation here *IF*
                Thomas/Judas (whomever) believed that HE TOO was capable of MESSIANIC LIKE
                KNOWLEDGE as well, and others shunned him for the idea. It kind of ties in
                with the less than flattering portrayal of Thomas in the gospels, and might
                explain the part that Thomas claims he can't pen down for fear of ridicule.

                Now please understand that I realize this is PURE, UNADULTERATED speculation
                at this point, but it does seem to fit all the pieces of the puzzle pretty
                well, and it SEEMS logical to me. I have no way of demonstrating any of
                this other than logical speculation and stringing together tidbits of
                information. I'm quite aware it's ultimately nothing more than a theory,
                albeit an interesting one from my perspective at least.

                Anyway, I appreciate your feedback and any other ideas that come to mind.
                Thanks.

                Michael Mozina
                Mt. Shasta, CA
              • Michael Grondin
                ... Mike- I can t find it on the Jesus Mysteries list. I m trying to subscribe to the Johannine list in order to answer his essay, but it was posted last
                Message 7 of 9 , Aug 4, 2003
                  [Michael McLafferty]:
                  > Turns out it was "Jesus Mysteries" where I saw it [Lupia's essay] again...

                  Mike-

                  I can't find it on the Jesus Mysteries list. I'm trying to subscribe to the
                  Johannine list in order to answer his essay, but it was posted last April,
                  and they may not allow such a late response. Lupia also published his
                  vitriolic views (though in shorter form) back in April, 2001 on the
                  Synoptic-L list. When my attention was drawn to that several months later, I
                  signed up for that list and sent a response which can be viewed at:

                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/synoptic-l/message/6429

                  Lupia didn't respond. As I said in my earlier note here, Lupia has an axe to
                  grind. He's a rabid right-wing Roman Catholic who wants to discredit GThom
                  in any way possible so that scholars won't take it seriously, so that in
                  turn the canon will be regarded as the only legitimate early Christian
                  "voice". He makes a number of translational mistakes, but more importantly,
                  he interprets Thomas sayings in a twisted way that says more about him than
                  about Thomas - and as I say in the above note, he fails to realize that the
                  very same twisted interpretations can be constructed for canonical material.
                  I can't really express how angry and frustrated I am that his poisonous
                  excrement is still floating around unanswered, but if I ever catch up with
                  that SOB, I'd like to have a few words with him. <g>

                  Mike Grondin
                  Mt. Clemens, MI
                • Michael Grondin
                  ... No problem, Mike. I did in fact hesitate to accept your note at first, because it would direct members to what I felt was a thoroughly disreputable view,
                  Message 8 of 9 , Aug 4, 2003
                    [Michael McLafferty]:
                    > I'm sorry to have propagated it on your list. I didn't know you felt so
                    > strongly, and wasn't aware of your unanswered response to him.

                    No problem, Mike. I did in fact hesitate to accept your note at first,
                    because it would direct members to what I felt was a thoroughly disreputable
                    view, but it seemed best to let members read it, since you had referred to
                    it earlier. I'm still interested in whether Lupia has posted to the
                    JesusMysteries list. You said he had, but I can't find it there. Please let
                    me know one way or the other (offlist probably preferrable). As to the
                    John-Lit list, I have been accepted to membership there since my last note,
                    and my first note to that list has been posted. It's titled "Challenge to
                    Lupia", and can be found at:

                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johannine_literature/message/3376

                    I want to make it clear that this is not just an issue of whether Lupia's
                    "theory" (if you can call it that when one starts out with the intention of
                    discrediting the text by "proving" that it was authored by enemies of
                    Christianity) is correct or not. Of course, it's incorrect AFAIC - and badly
                    so. What makes me mad, however, is that he's dishonest about it. He pretends
                    to be impartial, but he isn't. Worse yet (if that's possible), his method of
                    discrediting the text is to come up with far-fetched and repulsive sexual
                    innuendos that make one cringe to even read them. Reminds me a bit of what
                    the old heresiologists used to do - the "icing on the cake" of an attack on
                    a non-orthodox sect was to claim that its members were guilty of sexual
                    lasciviousness. (This was sometimes true, but more often than not, it was
                    just vicious hyperbole on the part of the heresiologist.)

                    I'll let you know of further developments, if it seems worthy of list
                    attention.

                    Mike G.
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