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Re: [GTh] Logion # 46

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  • Achilles37@aol.com
    ... Two points here: 1.) This same argument was used by a follower of John in the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions to assert that John was the Messiah. Here is
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 4, 2003
      Maurice Cormier wrote:

      > Logion #46 has Jesus saying that "of those born of woman",
      > none is superior to John the Baptist.

      > Does anyone out there have a theory (doctrinal) as to
      > why Jesus, himself born of Mary (a woman), would suggest
      > by way of this logion that John the Baptist is
      > (by extension) even "greater" than himself ?

      Two points here:

      1.) This same argument was used by a follower of John in the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions to assert that John was the Messiah. Here is that argument and subsequent rebuttal:

      "And, behold, one of the disciples of John asserted that John was the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus Himself declared that John was greater than all men and all prophets. `If, then, 'said he, `he be greater than all, he must be held to be greater than Moses, and than Jesus himself. But if he be the greatest of all, then must he be the Christ.' To this Simon the Canaanite, answering, asserted that John was indeed greater than all the prophets, and all who are born of women, yet that he is not greater than the Son of man. Accordingly Jesus is also the Christ, whereas John is only a prophet: and there is as much difference between him and Jesus, as between the forerunner and Him whose forerunner he is; or as between Him who gives the law, and him who keeps the law."

      2.) The saying, as phrased in the Gospel of Thomas, is as follows (Lambdin's translation): (46) Jesus said, "Among those born of women, from Adam until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to John the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered (before him). Yet I have said, whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted with the kingdom and will become superior to John."

      Now, quite aside from the disputed meaning of what Lambdin translates as "his eyes should not be lowered (before him)," the argument can be made that Jesus is speaking only of those who existed "from Adam until John the Baptist" which does NOT include Jesus since, according to the canonical Gospels, Jesus was born AFTER John (i.e., the mathematical set of those people existing from Adam until John excludes those people born after John). Hence, Jesus is not saying that John was greater than himself, if we are speaking only of the Gospel of Thomas version of this saying.

      Aside from the technical argument of birth order, the saying itself promises that "whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted with the kingdom and will become superior to John" and it is difficult to imagine how Jesus could teach his disciples how to become "superior to John" if he considered himself to be inferior to John.

      Regards,

      - Kevin Johnson
    • jmgcormier
      ... (snip, snip ...) ... pseudo-Clementine Recognitions to assert that John was the Messiah. ... the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus Himself declared
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 4, 2003
        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, Achilles37@a... wrote:


        (snip, snip ...)

        >
        > Two points here:
        >
        > 1.) This same argument was used by a follower of John in the
        pseudo-Clementine Recognitions to assert that John was the Messiah.
        Here is that argument and subsequent rebuttal:
        >
        > "And, behold, one of the disciples of John asserted that John was
        the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus Himself declared that
        John was greater than all men and all prophets. `If, then, 'said he,
        `he be greater than all, he must be held to be greater than Moses, and
        than Jesus himself. But if he be the greatest of all, then must he be
        the Christ.' To this Simon the Canaanite, answering, asserted that
        John was indeed greater than all the prophets, and all who are born of
        women, yet that he is not greater than the Son of man. Accordingly
        Jesus is also the Christ, whereas John is only a prophet: and there is
        as much difference between him and Jesus, as between the forerunner
        and Him whose forerunner he is; or as between Him who gives the law,
        and him who keeps the law."
        >
        > 2.) The saying, as phrased in the Gospel of Thomas, is as follows
        (Lambdin's translation): (46) Jesus said, "Among those born of women,
        from Adam until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to John
        the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered (before him). Yet I
        have said, whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted
        with the kingdom and will become superior to John."
        >
        > Now, quite aside from the disputed meaning of what Lambdin
        translates as "his eyes should not be lowered (before him)," the
        argument can be made that Jesus is speaking only of those who existed
        "from Adam until John the Baptist" which does NOT include Jesus since,
        according to the canonical Gospels, Jesus was born AFTER John (i.e.,
        the mathematical set of those people existing from Adam until John
        excludes those people born after John). Hence, Jesus is not saying
        that John was greater than himself, if we are speaking only of the
        Gospel of Thomas version of this saying.
        >
        > Aside from the technical argument of birth order, the saying itself
        promises that "whichever one of you comes to be a child will be
        acquainted with the kingdom and will become superior to John" and it
        is difficult to imagine how Jesus could teach his disciples how to
        become "superior to John" if he considered himself to be inferior to
        John.
        >
        > Regards,
        >
        > - Kevin Johnson

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

        Thank you Kevin .... very interesting ...

        I am not familiar with the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions, but I can
        appreciate the argument as stated. Hmmmmm !

        With respect to the age of John vs that of Jesus, I guess that is
        reasonably solid, although some might argue that it is somewhat "thin
        ice" to skate on. (... very comfortable here sitting on the fence for
        the moment)

        One of the interesting points to add, of course, is that in The Matt
        (11:11) and the Luke (7:28) versions of this story, there are/is no
        mention of Adam or of "from Adam". (Not sure what this means if
        anything).

        Also, Thomas #46 seems to suggest that one "will" (future) "become
        superior to John", whereas in Matt and Luke it is those who are
        "presently" in the Kingdom who are "presently" greater than John. If
        the author of Thomas used Matt and Luke as a "guide" in his logion
        (and thus disagrees with them on the timeline),then one has to wonder
        why he would seem to later agree with the two evangilists on this
        point (in logion # 113) wherein he acknowledges that "The Kingdom of
        the Father" ... is "presently" (not in the future) spread out upon the
        earth. Hmmmmm ... "what a tangled web we weave ...."

        By the way, regarding your point on "lowering one's eyes", do you
        think this is just a popular cliche or figure of speech of the times
        ... a Rabbinic saying perhaps, or do you read more into it ????

        Maurice Cormier
      • Achilles37@aol.com
        Hi, Maurice - ... The pseudo-Clementines are early Jewish-Christian writings consisting of two works, the Recognitions and the Homilies, that were purportedly
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 5, 2003
          Hi, Maurice -

          You wrote:

          > I am not familiar with the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions

          The pseudo-Clementines are early Jewish-Christian writings consisting of two works, the Recognitions and the Homilies, that were purportedly written by Clement, a disciple of Peter.

          > One of the interesting points to add, of course, is that
          > in The Matt (11:11) and the Luke (7:28) versions of this
          > story, there are/is no mention of Adam or of "from Adam".

          Yes, compared to the versions in Mt. & Lk., Thomas adds a mention of Adam. Beyond this, the qualification for becoming superior to John in Thomas is to become a child and be acquainted with the Kingdom instead of being the "least" in the Kingdom as in Mt. & Lk. There are also some smaller details of comparison, such as the fact that John is "the Baptist" in Mt. & Thomas but not in Lk. or in the passage I quoted from Recognitions, and so on.

          > Also, Thomas #46 seems to suggest that one "will"
          > (future) "become superior to John", whereas in Matt
          > and Luke it is those who are "presently" in the Kingdom
          > who are "presently" greater than John. If the author
          > of Thomas used Matt and Luke as a "guide" in his logion
          > (and thus disagrees with them on the timeline), then
          > one has to wonder why he would seem to later agree with
          > the two evangilists on this point (in logion # 113)
          > wherein he acknowledges that "The Kingdom of the Father"
          > ... is "presently" (not in the future) spread out upon
          > the earth.

          I am not one of those who believes that Thomas was dependent on the canonical gospels. That being said, the whole question of whether the eschatology of Thomas is future or "realized" in comparison to the synoptics and John is somewhat of a broad topic that extends beyond saying 46 (though 113 is very important in this regard). But your point here is well-taken.

          > By the way, regarding your point on "lowering one's eyes",
          > do you think this is just a popular cliche or figure of
          > speech of the times ... a Rabbinic saying perhaps, or do
          > you read more into it ????

          The meaning of the text here is uncertain. While I don't have Mike Grondin's interlinear version in front of me at the moment, I seem to recall that the literal Coptic text here reads: " ...that his eyes should not be broken." Lambdin's guess that "broken" means "lowered" (in deference to John) seems to be a good one, but I think it is only a guess. This passage has confused translators so I don't think it was a popular cliche or figure of speech or Rabbinic saying (as some other passages in Thomas are, such as "for whose sake heaven and earth came into being" in Thomas 12 or "Sabbatize the Sabbath" in Thomas 27). But it is always possible that a common phrase was somehow mistranslated here.

          Regards,

          - Kevin
        • Jacob Knee
          Just to let you know I bought Uro s new book on Thomas. It is a slim volume and completely outrageously priced (I paid £17.50 with a conference discount - and
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 6, 2003
            Just to let you know I bought Uro's new book on Thomas. It is a slim volume
            and completely outrageously priced (I paid £17.50 with a conference discount
            - and even it is expensive for what it is).

            For those interested I would recommend ILL but here are the details for
            those with money to burn:

            Risto Uro, Thomas: The Gospel of Thomas in Historical Context, T and T Clark
            2003. Normal price $85 (USA) or £45 (UK).

            I will probably not have opportunity to read it for a few weeks but if
            anyone would like a brief report in due course, let me know.

            With best wishes,
            Jacob Knee
            (Cam, Glos.)
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