Re: [GTh] Arnal on Data.....
----- Original Message -----
From: "William Arnal" <warnal@...>
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
> >entered into the >thinking of first century Christians, should we really
> >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
> 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.
> be like saying, "the Gospel of Mark is socialist, and socialism really
> 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
Reasons based on its relation to the textual tradition of the
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.