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Thomas and the Synoptics

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  • Tom Saunders
    Hi Frank, You ask..... Why do you think that such an early kernel version pre-cursor to Matthew would have had the same parables as Thomas? I think that
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 2, 2004
      Hi Frank,

      You ask.....
      "Why do you think that such an early kernel version pre-cursor to Matthew would have had the same parables as Thomas?"

      I think that Thomas portrays the parables as the mysteries the Gnostic texts say they are. For instance the statement in the Apocryphon of James where Jesus is supposed to have waited from ascension for another 18 days to explain the parables. Pistis Sophia also relates that the parables are mysteries, and it makes it clear that both Thomas, and Matthew were writing down what Jesus said. Phillip is also mentioned.

      Mark is never mentioned in any of the Gnostic texts as a reference that I know of. Matthew is along with John and Paul's letters. ( In the GPhil, Jn 6:53, 8-32, 8-34, Mt. 3-10, 3-15, 15-13, 16-17, Paul, 1 Co 8-1, 1 P 4-8.) This suggests that Mark was not known or used during the time that the Gnostics were writing their texts. However, we do see redacted parables in both Mark and today's Matthew. I suggest that these redactions were made to delete the mystery quality from the Matthew and Mark texts.

      Frank asks:
      "However, for each, its sitz im leben is like a puzzle within a riddle
      within an enigma. When and where do you think each of these two was
      written?"

      Pistis Sophia was likely to have been written early before many of the other Gnostic texts. For one its form suggests a very 'folksy' or primitive kind of literature. The Apocalypse of Peter seems somewhat dependent on it. It mentions like characters, like Martha, Mariam, Levi, Matthew, etc. Pistis Sophia seems earlier than the GPhil also, which is after the texts of Matthew, John, and Paul.

      The Apocalypse of Peter seems to be a refutation piece against the Israelite Christian version of the Ap of Peter. The Israelite Christians obviously had their own agenda in writing and redacting texts and I think they altered Matthew to their own liking. Before that the parables would have been the same in both Thomas and Matthew.

      This is what makes the Gnostic works so dangerous for the Orthodoxy, as the original form of the parables, and Thomas sayings would give cause to question the ideology of the Israelites. And the Gnostic texts do cause questions to the motives of the redacted Matthew text. Pistis Sophia talks about Thomas and Matthew being the same. I think the Gnostics had a Matthew that was lots more like Thomas, or they would have critiqued Matthew like Haracleon critiques the Gospel of John. (There are two short explanations regarding Matthew and Luke in the Haracleon fragments) See:

      http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/heracleon.html

      Instead of rejection the Gnostics use Matthew, John, and Paul to enhance their epistemology. Their approach to critique is much different than the opposition's approach. The Israelites destroy and redact material that is older than Haracleon and Ballisides. The Gnostics don't redact the early works, they write other works to explain their position. The Gnostics act as if they have the original first works. They only seek to defend the interpretations known in their epistemology.

      Tom Saunders
      Platter, OK








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