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Re: [GTh] Arnal on Data.....

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  • sarban
    ... From: William Arnal To: Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2004 3:43 AM Subject: RE: [GTh] Arnal on Data..... ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 7, 2004
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "William Arnal" <warnal@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2004 3:43 AM
      Subject: RE: [GTh] Arnal on Data.....


      >
      > Hi all again. Tom Saunders wrote:
      >
      > >In light of this fact, that there was gnosticism which could and would
      have
      > >entered into the >thinking of first century Christians, should we really
      be
      > >trying to make gnosticism an add-on? ( I
      >
      > Bingo. I'd go further than this, in fact. Both Williams and King have
      > written book-length arguments recently to the effect that "Gnosticism" is
      an
      > artificial category imposed on diverse materials. Now, I'm all for using
      > artificial and constructed categories as conceptual tools to highlight
      > similarities and differences. But if they ARE artificial, we can't treat
      > them as if they referred to real entities. In short, to argue that "Thomas
      > is Gnostic and Gnosticism is only possible in the second century" is to
      > engage in a grotesque reification of an artifical conceptual framework.
      It'd
      > be like saying, "the Gospel of Mark is socialist, and socialism really
      only
      > emerges in the 18th century, so Mark must've been written sometime after
      > 1780 or so." Category confusion, non sequitur, ridiculous results.
      >
      IMO there are reasons for dating the present form of the Gospel
      of Thomas well after AD 70 which are not based on its alleged
      'gnostic' character.
      Reasons based on its relation to the textual tradition of the
      canonical gospels.
      Eg if some of the parallels between Matthew and Thomas are
      redactional in Matthew then Thomas is later than Matthew.
      As to whether or not Thomas is Gnostic in a way requiring a
      2nd century date, it depends on how gnostic Thomas is. Thomas
      is clearly soteriologically gnostic, teaching salvation through
      esoteric knowledge, but I agree that this is compatible with a
      date well before AD 70. If however, Thomas is cosmologically
      gnostic, teaching that the material universe is a place of evil, under
      the domain of hostile spiritual powers, then IMO this probably
      does require a 2nd century date.
      Whether Thomas is gnostic in this sense depends on how certain
      sayings are interpreted. Eg is saying 50 about giving the correct
      answers to hostile powers during a heavenly ascent before or
      after death, or is it about answering human opponents ?
      Although discussions on this group have made me less certain
      about the answer, I still think that Thomas is probably gnostic in
      the cosmological sense and hence involves ideas not found before
      the 2nd century.

      Andrew Criddle
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