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Re: [GTh] Toughest logion (13)

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  • Michael Grondin
    Dear Wade, As is probably obvious, I m far from convinced that the three words of logion 13 are the divine name - at least not in Hebrew (I ll get to that
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 30, 2003
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      Dear Wade,

      As is probably obvious, I'm far from convinced that the "three words"
      of logion 13 are the "divine name" - at least not in Hebrew (I'll get to
      that below). One thing I would like to see clarified, though: I take it that
      when April refers to the "divine name" as "secret" and "unutterable", what
      she means is not that it doesn't occur in the Tanakh (for it does, at Exod
      3:14), nor that it was such a tongue-twister that it couldn't be uttered if
      one had a mind to, but that when that portion of Exod was being read aloud,
      the three-word "name" was skipped over in silence. Is that right? And would
      that have held for the Greek Septuagint as well as for the Hebrew Masoretic
      text? That is, were public readers of the Greek version similarly barred
      from uttering the words in question? (This will have some importance below.)

      > I don't know that we can assu[m]e a particular rhetorical form here or
      > not, but I don't think we need to for the argument. The point is that
      > while there may have been other things Jesus could have told Thomas
      > that would have been blasphemous, that is not enough to explain the
      > passage. Thomas says that "If I tell you one of the words which he told
      > me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out
      > of the stones and burn you up."

      Let me pause here to reiterate one of the difficulties with April's theory.
      At first glance, it seems that what Thomas is made to assert is that if he
      tells the other disciples *any one* of the three words, they'll stone him.
      Under April's theory, Thomas' assertion would have to be understood as a
      claim that if he tells the other disciples *the first* (or third, reading
      from right to left) of the three words, they'll stone him - on the grounds
      that the first (or third) word is a synecdoche (per Hindley) for the entire
      thing. That having been said, I'll continue on with your interesting point:
      why would they stone THOMAS for repeating a blasphemy of JESUS?

      > Assuming that it would be blasphemous for Jesus to say "I am the light..."
      > (Logion 77), surely it would not have been a stoning offense for Thomas to
      > say "Jesus said 'I am the light...'" It would be the claim that is
      > blasphemous, not the words. In fact the folk would be perfectly within
      > their right to pat Thomas on the back, say "thank you good fellow," and
      > commence the stoning of Jesus. However Thomas says that if he says one of
      > the words they will stone *him*. This fits with Jesus having said the
      > Divine Name because simply saying the Name of God is a stoning offense.
      > If Thomas says "Jesus said [The Divine Name]" the people are perfectly
      > within their right to commence stoning Thomas. In the logion 77 situation
      > the claim may be blasphemous, but in the latter situation all you have to
      > do is say the words itself.

      The weakness of this argument, as I see it, is that it assumes that Thomas
      would have had to have repeated the words of Jesus verbatim in order to
      convey to the other disciples what Jesus had said to him. Why could he not
      have said, "He (Jesus) uttered the unutterable name"? On the contrary side,
      there's a reason available for the other disciples stoning Thomas - namely,
      that he might have said something which they took to be blasphemous *with
      respect to Jesus*. It all turns on what we assume to have been in the
      author's mind as to the beliefs of the other disciples mentioned in 13 -
      were they thought to be Hebrews or Christians? If Christians, then an
      offense against the repute of *Jesus* would have been considered
      blasphemous. Such an offense might be, for example, a claim that Jesus had
      not risen "in the flesh" - a view commonly ascribed to Thomists, but
      considered heretical (read 'blasphemous') in orthodox circles. April,
      however, regards the other disciples as Hebrews, I think, and it's difficult
      for me to reconcile that view with the strong anti-Judaic sentiments
      expressed elsewhere in the text.

      > Finally, a member of a Jewish community of the first century (or second,
      > even) would be well aquainted with this law and that the Divine Name can
      > be expressed as three words as in the Exodus passage. This passage
      > would therefore communicate something to such a person without much
      > ambiguity - namely that Jesus is claiming to be Yahweh.

      If by "Jewish community", you mean a group of ethnic Jews who had pretty
      much left their old beliefs behind, I guess I could agree with that. Let's
      assume that they retained a memory of, and reverence for, the "divine name",
      in spite of having jettisoned almost every other vestige of Judaism. This
      may be the appropriate time to mention what I promised earlier in this
      note - a non-Hebrew version of the "divine name" which occurs in the text.
      At 61.3, Jesus is made to say to Salome (in parte), ANOK PE PET-$OOP ("I am
      he-who-exists"). This is tempered by the following clause "from
      he-who-is-the-same", but on my theory of intentional rearrangement, the
      separation of any part of the text from its immediate context wouldn't be
      surprising. Furthermore, it would satisfy my intuition that whatever the
      "three words" are, they must be in the text. The presumed relationship to
      the Hebrew is that IF the Greek version of the "divine name" was considered
      just as "unutterable" as the Hebrew, then it would seem that a presumed
      Coptic equivalent would be likewise "secret" and "unutterable". To one who,
      like Thomas, had become like Jesus, "what is hidden will be revealed", and
      here the presumed Coptic equivalent of the "divine name" is hidden from
      immediate view (i.e., within the confines of #13), only to be later
      revealed to Salome in a saying the positioning of which (61) is almost
      exactly halfway between 13 and 108. What I'm saying, then, is that my own
      intuitive biases do provide some support for associating the words ANOK PE
      PET-$OOP with the "three words" - whether in whole or in part being not yet
      clear to me.

      > Well, a transformation into the divine is basically what April thinks is
      > being suggested here. A bit later she says "What then does Thomas
      > understand that the other disciples do not? That Jesus is Yahweh, the
      > Name of God, and thus is God's manifestation or kavod. Furthermore
      > Jesus proclaims that Thomas has undergone a mystical transformation.
      > As in Logion 108, he has drunk the divine drink and so has been deified."
      > (Seek to See Him, p. 113.) That seems to be the goal of the mystical
      > experience for the Thomas community. The development of that point
      > of view is a large part of that book. It will be developed further in
      > April's next book (tentatively) titled The Original Gospel of Thomas:
      > A History of the Gospel of Thomas and its Community).

      Less expensive, I hope <g>. But here again, although I generally agree with
      April, "transformation into the divine" is problematic in light of the
      text's separation of "the divine" into Father, Mother (= the HS, presumably)
      and Son. All are made of the same spiritual "stuff" -and hence may be
      regarded in some sense as being a single one, but yet many locutions seem
      inconsistent with that - as in #61, where J is made to say "I was given from
      the things of my Father". It seems that we have to posit a background
      theology of both sameness and difference. Thus, if the "three words" are as
      supposed in April's theory, it seems that the "divine name" cannot be
      presumed to be that of "the Father" alone (as in Judaic theology?), but
      rather a corporate name for various conjoined spiritual entities. That may,
      however, not be an undesirable result, since one wouldn't expect to find an
      unalloyed Judaic concept in Thomas - at least to my way of thinking.

      Mike G.
    • Rick M. Sumner
      Michael Grondin wrote: ... Rick replies: Uttering the name of God was blaspheme, whether you were the first to say it or simply repeating
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 30, 2003
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        Michael Grondin wrote:
        That having been said, I'll continue on with your interesting point:
        > why would they stone THOMAS for repeating a blasphemy of JESUS?

        Rick replies:
        Uttering the name of God was blaspheme, whether you were the first
        to say it or simply repeating another--according to the Rabbis, it
        was the only blaspheme (San.7.6).

        We find in the Community Rule:

        "If any man has uttered the [Most] Venerable Name even though
        frivolously, or as a result of shock or for any other reason
        whatever, while reading the Book or blessing, he shall be dismissed
        and shall return to the Council of the Community no more."(1QS VI.27-
        VII.1, G.Vermes' rendering).

        In the list of rules and consequences in 1QS VI.25-VII.18, it is the
        only one punished by immediate expulsion.

        Rick Sumner
        Calgary, Alberta Canada
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