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99 Sheep, The Valintinian Explaination

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  • Tom Saunders
    The Gospel of Truth offers an explanation of the parable of the Lost Sheep. This Gospel is thought to have been written by Valentinus (100-180 C.E.).
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24 1:07 PM
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      The "Gospel of Truth" offers an explanation of the parable of the "Lost Sheep." This Gospel is thought to have been written by Valentinus (100-180 C.E.).

      Th-107. Jesus said, "The (Father's) kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, 'I love you more than the ninety-nine."

      Certainly if a parable is a story with a point the Thomas version leaves the reader to explain the point or resolve the mystery of its meaning. Versions of the parable are contained in Matthew and Luke, but in both cases the mystery is at least in part explained. Matthew adds that the Father will not abandon the 99 and let them perish........

      Mt 18- 12,14. "How think ye? if any man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and go unto the mountains, and seek that which goeth astray?
      13. And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth over it more than over the ninety and nine which have not gone astray.
      14. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."

      Line 14 in Matthew may be a later addition to the parable which would have mirrored Thomas without this addition. The question is when would this redaction have taken place, pre, or post the Vanlintinean explanation in the "Gospel of Truth?" Did the addition of line 14 to Matthew come about as the result of Valentinus' explanation?

      Luke offers a similar view of the parable as Valentinus with the addition of Luke 15-8,10 which is the story of the woman who lost the coin, cleaned her house and rejoiced at finding the lost item. Compare Luke to the Valintinus' explanation and we see they conclude similar explanations on the value of saving lost souls.

      Lk 15- 4,7. "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, and having lost one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
      5. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
      6. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and his neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.
      7. I say unto you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance."

      Valentinus explains: ("Gospel of Truth")

      "He is the shepherd who left behind the 99 sheep which were not lost. He went searching for the one which had gone astray. He rejoiced when he found it, for the ninety nine is a number that is in the left hand which holds it. But when the one is found the entire number passes to the right (hand). As that which lacks the one- that is, the entire right (hand) - draws what was deficient and takes it to the left hand side and brings (it) to the right, so to the number becomes one hundred. It is the sign of the one that is in their sound; it is the Father. Even on the Sabbath, he labored for the sheep which he had found fallen into the pit. He gave life to the sheep having brought it up from the pit in order that you might know interiorly - you the sons of interior knowledge - which is the Sabbath, on which it is not fitting for salvation to be idle, in order that you may speak from the day from above, which has no night, and from the light which does not sink because it is perfect."

      Clearly the Valentinian explanation shows us two things. One, Valetinus draws on several Thomas sayings in his explanation. Th-27 b, ...."if you do not recognize the Sabbath as the Sabbath....," and Th- 62 "Jesus said, "I disclose my mysteries to those [who are worthy] of [my] mysteries. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

      Secondly, to have drawn this explanation without the Gospel of Thomas as a guide the author would have to have derived the explanation from Mark, Luke, and Matthew, either contradicting or redacting their explanations of the 99 Sheep and related parallels Valentinus makes in his explanation. I find this unlikely. I think it shows Valentinus had the GThom, and used the parable of the 99 Sheep from that text, and Matthew and Luke's parables were later redacted with explanations from the more mysterious Thomas. All (including Valentinus) would have had reason to add an explanation to the mystery of the parable as we see it in the GThom.

      Can anyone in the group add to my contention (or destroy it) that Valentinus had the GThom, and the GThom's '99 sheep' parable was the earliest version of the parable?

      Tom Saunders

      Platter, OK

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