Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Gnosticism

Expand Messages
  • Mike 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. Michael McLafferty
    Message 1 of 18 , Aug 4, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      The moderator wrote:

      > I can't really express how angry and frustrated
      > I am that [John Lupia's] poisonous excrement
      > is still floating around unanswered, ...

      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.

      Michael McLafferty
      Portland, Oregon, USA
    • Scott Rhodes
      From: Mike McLafferty Reply-To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 11:04:38 -0700 To:
      Message 2 of 18 , Aug 5, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        From: "Mike McLafferty" <mikemclafferty@...>
        Reply-To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 11:04:38 -0700
        To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: [GTh] Re: 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):

        Just thought I'd share a pip from this great book. It's a quote from our
        dear tragically lost treasure, Ioan Culianu:


        "Once I believed that Gnosticism was a well defined phenomenon belonging to
        the religious history of Late Antiquity. Of course, I was ready to accept
        the idea of different prolongations of ancient Gnosis and even that of
        spontaneous generation of views of the world in which, at different times,
        the distinctive features of Gnosticism occur again.

        I was to learn soon, however, that I was a naif indeed. Not only Gnosis was
        gnostic, but the catholic authors were gnostic, the neoplatonic too.
        Reformation was gnostic, Communism was gnostic, Nazism was gnostic,
        liberalism, existentialism and psychoanalysis were gnostic too, modern
        biology was gnostic, Blake, Yeats, Kafka, Rilke, Proust, Joyce, Musil,
        Hesse, and Thomas Mann were gnostic. From very authoritative interpreters of
        Gnosis, I learned further that science is gnostic and superstition is
        gnostic; power, counter-power, and lack of power are gnostic; left is
        gnostic and right is gnostic; Hegel is gnostic and Marx is gnostic; Freud is
        gnostic and Jung is gnostic; all things and their opposite are equally
        gnostic."

        Thanks for the valuable lead Mike.

        S



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jacob Knee
        FWIW Thomist is usually used in scholarship to describe the school of thought inspired by Thomas Aquinas. Best wishes, Jacob Knee (Cam, Glos.) ... From: Tom
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 12, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          FWIW 'Thomist' is usually used in scholarship to describe the school of
          thought inspired by Thomas Aquinas.

          Best wishes,
          Jacob Knee
          (Cam, Glos.)

          -----Original Message-----
          From: Tom Saunders [mailto:tom@...]
          Sent: 12 January 2005 22:17
          To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [GTh] Gnosticism



          Hi Rogier,

          What if we go with "Thomist" and ditch Gnostic, and Christian. What
          coincides with 'Thomist' material, and makes another work, Thomist?

          Tom Saunders


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






          --------------------------------------------------------------------
          Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
          To unsubscribe from this group,
          send a blank email to gthomas-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          Yahoo! Groups Links
        • Tom Saunders
          Hi Rogier, What if we go with Thomist and ditch Gnostic, and Christian. What coincides with Thomist material, and makes another work, Thomist? Tom
          Message 4 of 18 , Jan 12, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            Hi Rogier,

            What if we go with "Thomist" and ditch Gnostic, and Christian. What coincides with 'Thomist' material, and makes another work, Thomist?

            Tom Saunders


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Tom Saunders
            IMO themes shared between the Gospel of Thomas and Alexandrian Gnostic traditions but not present in either the Acts of Thomas or Thomas the Contender are not
            Message 5 of 18 , Jan 13, 2005
            • 0 Attachment
              IMO themes shared between the Gospel of Thomas and
              Alexandrian Gnostic traditions but not present in either the
              Acts of Thomas or Thomas the Contender are not evidence
              for membership of the 'School of Thomas'.

              School is in session!

              Some texts attributed to Thomas are not going to be cohesive to what we can construct for the core ideals in the 'membership' of the body of texts related to Thomas. I don't think any of the creation myth texts can be seen to relate directly to the GThom, but I can't discount their content to be completely alien from Thomas.

              Mike is correct about his statement about me not being able to separate myself from being a martial artist. In my defense for using comparisons to this type of learning, I have become both structure and substance of the form I practice. I would contend this process is very much like what NHL texts refer to when using the symbol of the garment, or becoming a pneumatiphor, spirit bearer.

              I contend that becoming a pneumatic (Craftsmen, spirit bearer, Gnostic, gifted, etc.), requires you to become the structure and substance of the communion you seek. This leaves the GThom as the central instrument in 'School of Thomas' storehouse of knowledge for that 'form' which you seek to transcend into. That garment you need to learn to wear.

              The membership to what is related to Thomas has to be from, pardon the expression, Point A. That point where 'you' become the 'Wisdom' of the GThom. It is from here that the 'elements' must be examined to see how the core concepts of that 'membership,' relate, based upon the transition of the structure and substance of the text, to the substance and structure of the being.

              I think what belongs to the GThomas 'membership' defines the substance and structure/elements and process of the transition, conceived in the learning of the GThom. I see a strong relationship to it in the content of many of the NHL texts. The difference from apples and oranges is where you put Point A., but I see point A in the 'School of Thomas' schema as the real starting place to examine the 'membership.'

              If so, what is next to do to show this relationship?

              Tom Saunders
              Platter, OK










              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Tom Saunders
              Hi All, (I can give a more detailed analysis of the relation of ... The Gospel of Phillip outlines too many aspects of the transcendence of the soul in the
              Message 6 of 18 , Jan 17, 2005
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi All,

                (I can give a more detailed analysis of the relation of
                > the Gospels of Thomas and Philip if you like but that is
                > my conclusion put briefly)

                The Gospel of Phillip outlines too many aspects of the transcendence of the soul in the process of the Chrism and living resurrection to ignore in the relationship to Thomas. If the living resurrection is to accomplish the transition from hylic to Pneumatic, then the information of Phillip is vital to that end, as other related works to Thomas.

                On the other hand Phillip contains some information that may be beyond what can be gleaned from Thomas alone. There are some passages that seem very parallel to Thomas, and serve to explain some things in Thomas such as...
                The Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber. [...] he said, "I came to make the things below like the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the place." [...] here through types [...]and images. (Phillip)

                ..."When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]." (Thomas, 22)

                The concept of the garment, and nature of the soul, and other elements of the process of transition are all extended explanations in Phillip that seem relevant to those concepts in Thomas. If you are looking at the process of transition as 'ground zero' for understanding Thomas, Phillip seems vital to that end.

                There is also the question of order and form in Phillip, as there is in Thomas. Subjects or specific concepts are not in order in Phillip. Consider this....

                Tertullian states in his "Treatise of the Soul" that the 'soul came into man by the breath of God.' Tertullian rejects the Gnostic idea of Wisdom as Valentinians, and others see Sophia. It is not clear what the breath of God is to Tertullian's ideas. Consider what the GPhil says...

                "The soul of Adam came into being by means of a breath. The partner of his soul is the spirit. His mother is the thing that was given to him. His soul was taken from him and replaced by a spirit. When he was united (to the spirit), he spoke words incomprehensible to the powers. They envied him [...] spiritual partner [...] hidden [...] opportunity [...] for themselves alone [...] bridal chamber, so that [...]. "

                "Glass decanters and earthenware jugs are both made by means of fire. But if glass decanters break, they are done over, for they came into being through a breath. If earthenware jugs break, however, they are destroyed, for they came into being without breath."

                These passages from Phillip seem as though they should be in a better order in the text so the reader has a better idea of what relationship 'breath' has in the process of transition. The fact that the subjects or elements of transition are sporadic in the text may relate to the idea that we are to put these concepts together by putting them together in our minds, which would require we know these passages well. This seems to be at least in part the order, or lack of order in Thomas sayings.

                Consider now how to explain the 'Breath of God' in the context Tertullian means it, and the context that Phillip uses it. Keep in mind that the elements of transition and their nature, are different. Here is where Thomas serves as the main source of knowledge in determining what the "Breath of God" is in terms of the School of Thomas perspective.

                The concept of the Breath of God, has to be seen in Thomas as an allegory to the transition process. The term breath is not in the text of Thomas, and this leaves it out of the Thomas lexicon, those terms used in Thomas. This does not mean the Breath of God cannot be aligned with the Thomas ideals of spiritual transition. What we have to realize is the idea that the spiritual transition based upon Thomas makes it 'the' instrument of Jesus Wisdom.

                If Tertullian had Thomas, he would have realized that the Thomas text has to be the primary instrument which makes spiritual transition possible, with not just what Tertullian critiques as just Wisdom, but the Wisdom of Jesus. Tertullian can argue against unspecified Wisdom, but could he argue a transition based upon Jesus Wisdom? If the soul, the primary instrument or element in the transition process, is already there in man, what link does Jesus have in Tertullian's schema of spiritual transition?

                Phillip solves some of these questions, and seems very harmonic with Thomas transitions. Tertullian, simply does not grasp the idea of the Breath of God, in Phillip is perhaps being related to the living resurrection, Chrism, and 2nd Baptism, which Phillip, and the 'Treatise of the Resurrection' describes.

                Tertullian's work describes the soul as an instrument of the mind, body, and spirit. He effects these elements with evil, demons, and other instruments which do not exist in the Thomas school of perception about these elements. Where Phillip, with the instrument of Thomas can show a spiritual transition with the Wisdom of Jesus, Tertullian cannot or does not show a Breath of God explanation that can be realized without magic as a source of that transition and relation to the soul.

                Thomas and Phillip are 'members' or Phillip has to be disproved, or to be shown as unrelated to the spiritual transition, and 'ground zero' cause and effect of Thomas as an instrument. Thomas as an instrument is the primary tool in the spiritual transition process, and both Phillip and Mary address the nature, form, substance, and structure of the soul, spirit, mind, and body, and offer an explanation I do not think can be separated from Thomas.

                Tom Saunders

                Platter, OK













                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Tom Saunders
                Hi Frank, (Note: I m puzzled by the phrase, and a fire shone on him that day. In the context of this passage from Philip, I suspect that this fire is
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 19, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  Hi Frank,

                  (Note: I'm puzzled by the phrase, "and a fire shone on him that day."
                  In the context of this passage from Philip, I suspect that this "fire" is
                  Knowledge (Gnosis), but this is but a guess.

                  "It is from water and fire that the soul and the spirit came into being. It is from water and fire and light that the son of the bridal chamber (came into being). The fire is the chrism, the light is the fire. I am not referring to that fire which has no form, but to the other fire whose form is white, which is bright and beautiful, and which gives beauty." (GPhil)

                  I think what light, chrism, and fire represent are what can be thought of as Gnosis, or bonding with the Spirit, (Holy Spirit). There is a difference between spirit, and Spirit in the process. Spirit represents the Pleromic figure or idea of God, and 'spirit' represents the soul, or the realization of the soul as spirit, which can be seen as a concentration of energy. Both Spirit and spirit, are concentrations of energy which can be united.

                  So the spirit of the 'light of man' is united with the "Light" in the bridal chamber. Thomas relates to this process in sayings which stress self realization, and going back to the light. Thomas also speaks of a man of light (Light), which indirectly suggests the living resurrection, to become a man of light. Thomas also suggests that if you do not find Jesus while alive you won't find him, and that makes the process of becoming the "Light" vital to accomplishing the Thomas understanding. I think this aspect of understanding makes Thomas and Phillip married in the bridal chamber of understanding Gnosis.

                  Steve Davies on the last pages of his introduction from his new "Christian Wisdom' book takes pride in coining the term, "Thomasine." If Davies invented the term can we use it to mean, or be in regard to the School of Thomas? I think what we are talking about in the process of becoming the "Light" could be qualified as "Thomasine Gnosis.' This would be different from pre-Christian Gnostics, Johnite Gnostics, and others that can be seen to have Gnostic characteristics.

                  Tom Saunders

                  Platter, OK







                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Michael Mozina
                  That was a REALLY nice post Tom. Thanks. I tend to agree with your assessment of what the Thomasine brand of Christianity was trying to convey. To me
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 19, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    That was a REALLY nice post Tom. Thanks. I tend to agree with your
                    assessment of what the "Thomasine" brand of "Christianity" was trying to
                    convey.

                    To me these ideas are not unlike the passages in canonized literature that
                    describe the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In John 14 and 17, Jesus also
                    describes our UNITY in God in "Spiritual", quantum energy type terms as well
                    when he states that "in the end, we would know that I am in you, you are in
                    me, and we are all one in God." The canonized literature also talks about
                    finding the KINGDOM of God within in reference to this INDWELLING of the
                    Holy Spirit that you describe. There does seem to be FAR more emphasis
                    within the Thomasine community that suggest believed that UNITY between
                    human being and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was the GOAL to be
                    "achieved" by this concept of "gnosis", or more generically KNOWNING ONESELF
                    as being unified with God. I hesitate to suggest this suggests a "Gnostic"
                    influence however, since even canonized literature support these same ideas.

                    It seems to me that in the Thomasine view of life, one's "divinity" was
                    achieved by CONSCIOUSLY experiencing this indwelling of the presence of God
                    in EVERY moment, 24/7. The Thomasine community seemed more inclined to
                    attept to achieving a "conscious union" with the divine via the indwelling
                    of the Holy Spirit. That's not necessarily unique to the Christian movement
                    of that time however.


                    Michael Mozina
                    Mt. Shasta, CA
                  • Tom Saunders
                    Michael Mozina writes..... It seems to me that in the Thomasine view of life, one s divinity was achieved by CONSCIOUSLY experiencing this indwelling of the
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 20, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Michael Mozina writes.....

                      "It seems to me that in the Thomasine view of life, one's "divinity" was
                      achieved by CONSCIOUSLY experiencing this indwelling of the presence of God
                      in EVERY moment, 24/7."

                      I think this is what is meant with the symbology of the 'garment.' There is a relationship that I think can be explained concerning the bridal chamber and the treasure, storehouse, and garment. In time we'll get to them in this group.

                      Steve Davies book, "Christian Wisdom" explains in his introduction about the male and female aspects of "being like male," and how the term male is a station, or rank rather than a term meaning sexuality. This makes sense with what Mike Grondin is saying about it. (Note to Mike, what is 'IS' and I am not clear on some things yet, but I think you are definitely on to something.)

                      You are correct in thinking that some ideas are related to the Orthodox. "The Thomasine community seemed more inclined to attempt to achieving a "conscious union" with the divine via the indwelling
                      of the Holy Spirit. That's not necessarily unique to the Christian movement of that time however."

                      I am sure that Johnite Christians thought of themselves on some sort of path to the union with the Holy Spirit. I am also sure that Thomas is an instrument of that union, and differs in the epistemology of transcendence. Consider this.....

                      "The cup of prayer contains wine and water, since it is appointed as the type of the blood for which thanks is given. And it is full of the Holy Spirit, and it belongs to the wholly perfect man. When we drink this, we shall receive for ourselves the perfect man. The living water is a body. It is necessary that we put on the living man. Therefore, when he is about to go down into the water, he unclothes himself, in order that he may put on the living man." (Gospel of Phillip)

                      Consider that what Phillip is talking about is the Eucharist, and transubstantiation of the Holy Spirit in the wine. This is the ceremony of the Orthodox church as it is described by Phillip. The difference is that if the priest is not transcended the ceremony might not be seen to be valid in the actual transubstantiation of "spirit" because......
                      "The priest is completely holy, down to his very body. For if he has taken the bread, he will consecrate it. Or the cup or anything else that he gets, he will consecrate. Then how will he not consecrate the body also?" (Gospel of Phillip)

                      How can a priest be Holy without the proper transcendence of the "Wisdom" of Jesus, if like Tertullian, you don't have Thomas? Tertullian came up with the soul being the "Breath of God" but that is not the "Wisdom of Jesus," that you bond with. If we try and explain how the "Word" is allegorical to "Light" then we might see "breath" as an instrument of the voice, and producing words. Then we might try relating "Word" to 'Wisdom' and explain the Thomasine Gnosis in those terms.

                      I think as we examine Phillip, Mary, Contender and more we will come to realize more and more, bits and pieces of the Thomas puzzle. We have yet to explore the relationship with the human faults that are there in Thomas. Now that we have some idea that Thomas is linked with a process of transcendence, we have to see what perspective the flaws have on the transcended. I think we need a lot of clarification to the process and the elements and goals of this transcendence. We have to realize that this perfection of the self entails the psyche, and the kenoma, which in this case means the flawed environment, Unholy Priests and all.

                      Tom Saunders

                      Platter, OK









                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Tom Saunders
                      Hi Frank, The use of concentrations of energy is my own interpretation of what both spirit and Spirit must be, if not a magical inclination to the term
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jan 21, 2005
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Hi Frank,

                        The use of "concentrations of energy' is my own interpretation of what both 'spirit and 'Spirit' must be, if not a 'magical' inclination to the term spirit. Spirit can mean magical entity(s) in the Orthodox explanations of John, Luke, and Mark. I think there is no magical inclination in Thomas, Phillip, or Mary, and this is an important distinction that the Gnostic Gospels have in common.

                        Theodotus explains that passions are called spirits: " The passions that are in the soul are called spirits,--not spirits of power, since in that case the man under the influence of passion would be a legion of demons; but they are so called in consequence of the impulse they communicate. For the soul itself, through modifications, taking on this and that other sort of qualities of wickedness, is said to receive spirits."

                        What Theodotus is calling 'spirits of power' would be demons capable of operating in the kenoma, and able to operate out of the pleroma. In my opinion this is what we can determine as a magical entity, which we can see as primarily fictional. Consider Mary's forms: "The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath."

                        Both Theodotus and Mary are talking about 'emotions' as spirits, and my use of 'concentrations of energy' is meant to convey this type of meaning to spirit, rather than the magical interpretation to the term. Clement's use of the terms 'carnal spirit' and 'ruling faculty' I think are also directed to explaining the function of what Mary is calling forms and Theodotus is calling the reception of 'spirits.'

                        Frank notes:
                        I interpret this "fire" to be, as in Acts 2:3, the Spirit.

                        Acts 2-1. And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.
                        2. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
                        3. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. 4. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

                        It seems you are correct in the interpretation of Spirit as Holy Spirit, as they are used in 2-4, as such. There is however a possible difference in the power of Spirit, and the power of spirit, and how they may effect one another.

                        "It is from water and fire that the soul and the spirit came into being." This is a puzzle, and one that we may never make clear because there are too many possible connotations to what the author of Phillip actually meant here. Is the statement meant to be literal, or allegorical to some process?

                        Tom Saunders
                        Platter, OK



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.