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Re: [GTh] The division of the soul

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  • Michael Grondin
    Dear Andrew, I ve been pressing you for a more complete analysis of 22.4-5 - one that involves the pairs upper/lower and inside/outside - as a test of whether
    Message 1 of 16 , Jul 15 10:17 PM
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      Dear Andrew,

      I've been pressing you for a more complete analysis of 22.4-5 - one that
      involves the pairs upper/lower and inside/outside - as a test of whether
      it's true that the author(s) of Th 22 thought of "the two" as masculine and
      feminine. For in between "If you make the two one" and "so that the male not
      be male and the female not female" lies the talk of making the inside like
      the outside and the upper like the lower. So if the hypothesis is true, then
      we ought to be able to explain how inside/outside and upper/lower were
      believed to be gender-related. Let me try my hand at it. To begin with, I
      reproduce your table, somewhat amended, and concentrating on items that seem
      most relevant to GTh and allied texts:

      The Right The Left
      ---------------------- -----------------------------
      Male, masculine Female, feminine
      Good, truth Evil, falsehood
      Light Darkness
      Monad, unity Dyad, plurality
      Odd numbers Even numbers
      Rest, silence Motion, sound
      Spirit Body, flesh
      Heaven Earth
      Spiritual life Physical life (=death)

      Necessarily, there's some inexactitude here. What I hope to discover is
      whether the scheme is *basically* correct, i.e., whether it fairly well
      captures what we think lays behind the relevant Thomas sayings. We should
      not expect the authors to be completely consistent in the application of
      such a scheme, since no satisfactory scheme along such lines can possibly be
      worked out by anyone (since I regard it as basically incoherent), but it'll
      do, I think, to use this as a rough test. What I think is generally true is
      that (1) the elements of "the right" were thought to be *better* in some
      sense than those of "the left" - so they weren't thought to be completely
      equal - but (2) they were thought to be in some sense "brothers" of each
      other (as in the Gospel of Philip), and that (3) the gnostic scheme of
      personal and collective salvation was to resolve the dichotomies by in some
      sense "joining" them together (rather than say, choosing the one over the
      other).

      We may note that in the Apocryphon of John that precedes GTh in NH Codex II,
      the primal force is the Monad, which is said to be originally silent and at
      rest. This primal force or being is masculine, but its creative urge
      requires a feminine component. It does not, however, create a completely
      female agent of creation. Rather, it creates the Barbelo, which is said to
      be "the Mother-Father of the All". This androgynous force is comparable to
      the "living spirits" spoken of in Th 114 - people who are in some sense
      "neither male nor female". Not that we have any reason to believe that GTh
      shares the cosmology of ApocJn, but the author(s) of ApocJn evidently
      thought that their view wasn't inconsistent with the pre-existing GTh. In
      particular, the view of dichotomies seems to be consistent between the two
      texts.

      As to the specifics of 22.4-5, it seems clear that "the upper" would have
      been thought to be superior to "the lower", hence that "the upper" is of
      "the Right" and "the lower" of "the Left" - without our having to know
      exactly what "the upper" and "the lower" were. It's somewhat disconcerting
      at first that the author says that one should make the upper like the lower;
      one would think it should be the other way round. But it makes sense if we
      think in terms of the creation of a *third option* which is neither the one
      nor the other, but a joining of the two. Possibly relevant here is a passage
      early on in the First Book of Jeu:

      "Blessed is the man who has known these things. He has brought heaven down,
      he has lifted the earth and has sent it to heaven, and he has become the
      Middle, for it is nothing."

      (The text further explains that "to bring heaven down" is to know "the Word
      (which) existed in heaven before the earth came into existence", and "to
      lift up the earth" is for an earthly man to come to a "heavenly
      understanding". Thus, to understand "the Word" is to bring the heavenly down
      to earth and to lift the earthly man up to heaven. Sloppy metaphorical
      thinking, but there you have it.)

      I think that this satisfactorily explains "upper/lower" (at least in general
      terms), but what about "inside/outside"? At its most obvious level, I think
      that "the outside" must have been that part of a person or object that would
      normally be visible - e.g., the body or flesh. Would the "inside" be the
      light hidden within - i.e., the spirit? But the soul is inside as well, so
      perhaps the second mention of inside/outside was intended to suggest that
      "the inside" also itself had an inside and an outside (rather like a large
      ball having a medium ball inside of it, and that medium ball in turn having
      a small ball inside it.) Frank McCoy has developed some thoughts along this
      line, and so I'll leave it at that, except to address the gender question:
      IF upper and lower were considered gender-related, then it seems that "the
      upper" must have been thought to be masculine (conceptually, not
      grammatically), and IF "the inside" and "the outside" were considered
      gender-related, then I'd venture to say that "the inside" (being the better)
      must have been thought to be masculine. This would be consistent with the
      saying that "the Kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you" - i.e., it's
      both hidden and visible in some sense, i.e., it's androgynous.

      Afterword: In the Greek version of saying 2, the sequence of events ends
      with the person being "at rest" - which according to the above is a
      masculine state. But the Coptic version of saying 2 doesn't have that
      clause - it ends with "rule over everything", which doesn't appear to be a
      restful state. Is that because the Copts saw that the clause referring to
      rest would suggest that the ultimate goal was a masculine state, whereas
      they wanted the ultimate goal to be an androgynous state - as in "What is
      the sign of the Father within you?" answered by "Motion and rest " - a
      combination of masc and fem elements? This may be a case of Coptic tinkering
      to make GTh more gnostic - more consistent with ApocJn.

      Mike Grondin
      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
      http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas in Context
      http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/index.htm
    • Michael Grondin
      ... ... While I appreciate the compliment, I want to make clear that I did not approve this note, and that I don t much like its stream-of-consciousness style.
      Message 2 of 16 , Jul 15 11:45 PM
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        F. Hubbard wrote about one of my remarks:

        > This strikes me as a brilliant if not seminal point in the present thread
        ...

        While I appreciate the compliment, I want to make clear that I did not
        approve this note, and that I don't much like its stream-of-consciousness
        style. The task of seeking to understand ancient esoteric texts is very
        difficult; it requires the utmost attempt at clarity of thought and
        expression, the eschewing of metaphorical/poetic language wherever possible,
        and a determined focus on scholarly analysis. For purposes of this list,
        it's not relevant what *our* philosophy is, or whether we think the Thomists
        had a correct world-view, or even how that view relates to contemporary
        systems of thought. Unfortunately, the posting of Peter Novak's notes seems
        to have been taken by some to indicate that his own contemporary theory was
        being opened for discussion. As a result, it stimulated a number of
        responses that were way too wide-ranging for the list. Peter's historical
        analysis is open for discussion, but the question of whether his soul/spirit
        theory is true or not should be addressed to him offlist.

        Mike Grondin
      • Stephen
        Note - if you received an earlier garbled version of this post please ignore it - I pressed send prematurely! ... I found this a fascinating post but I would
        Message 3 of 16 , Jul 16 8:59 AM
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          Note - if you received an earlier garbled version of this post please ignore
          it - I pressed send prematurely!

          > Again, as with Thomas 22 and the except from Philip, the two becoming one
          > refers to the absorption of the soul by the spirit, turning the two into a
          > one of pure spirit.
          >
          > In any event, that's my current read on these three passages.
          >
          > Frank McCoy


          I found this a fascinating post but I would like to offer a simpler
          perspective. The authors of Thomas had a two part model of the human
          being - the 'body', which included the conscious 'ego' mind, and the
          soul/spirit. The soul/spirit is one entity with two states - the soul state
          variously represented as being as dead or sleeping and the spirit state
          which is 'living'. The soul/spirit dwells in the heaven immediately above
          the earth and is in perilous danger of corruption at the hands of the other
          inhabitants of this heaven - the fallen shepherd angels who have been
          appointed to rule over mankind. The soul is sometimes represented as being
          a harlot because it has been seduced by these demons. When it is reborn as
          a spirit the soul becomes a chaste bride, 'the pearl'.

          The reason for the female imagery is that the soul/spirit was also regarded
          as being contra-sexual - a man had a female soul/spirit whereas a woman had
          a male soul/spirit. It would seem that this contra-sexual nature of the
          soul was based upon Gnostic mystical experiences rather than any rational
          argument. The whole Wisdom movement can best be understood in terms of the
          devotees of Wisdom (who were of course men) experiencing a mystic female
          something that Paul might later have called the spirit. (Whether we
          interpret these experiences as being in some way spiritually valid or as
          just an interesting psychological phenomenon is irrelevant to the argument.)

          Being Jewish they still had to justify their beliefs from scripture which
          they did by a Midrash on Genesis. Man was separated from woman in the
          garden of Eden. It is this separation, and the resultant ignorance of the
          soul/spirit that brings death. The relevant passage in Genesis is mentioned
          in Mark 10:6-9 -

          ---------------
          But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For
          this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
          And the two shall be one flesh: so that they are no more two but one flesh.
          What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
          --------------

          Note how this echoes the 'make the two one' theme of 22 in particular the
          'so that they are no more two but one flesh' which is an addition to what is
          found in Genesis and which may have been taken from a proto-Thomas version
          of 22. The same theme occurs in 1 Corinthians 11:11 -

          ---------------
          but neither [is] a man apart from a woman, nor a woman apart from a man, in
          the Lord,
          ---------------

          This statement is apparently inexplicable in terms of Paul's philosophy
          since in the same letter he advises against marriage! But again we can see
          a connection with 'when you make the male and the female into a single one,
          that the male be not male and the female female'.

          In 1 Corinthians 9:5 is a cryptic reference to a sister, a wife -

          --------------
          Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles,
          and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
          --------------

          This is normally translated in the sense of 'have authority' but could
          equally mean 'have ability'. Also Paul appears to give this as part of his
          'defence' for being an apostle - 'Am I not an apostle? Am I not free?' he
          asks. The first item Paul gives in his defence concerns the power to eat
          and to drink, and eating and drinking are used elsewhere by Paul in a
          spiritual sense. Is the wife and sister meant to refer to the accompaniment
          of a spiritual wife and sister which is a necessary qualification for being
          an apostle and for being 'free'? The rest of the section seems to make
          clear a literal interpretation is intended but Paul in his own words is 'all
          things to all men'. He may be giving a literal message to 'those under the
          law' and 'the weak' and a spiritual message to those 'without the law' who
          like Paul are free.

          If the idea of walking with a spiritual sister and wife seems crazy we can
          see a similar metaphor in The Shepherd of Hermas. At one point the narrator
          is left to spend the night chastely with a group of virgins.
          ----------
          "You will sleep with us," they replied, "as a brother, and not as a husband:
          for you are our brother, and for the time to come we intend to abide with
          you, for we love you exceedingly!"
          -----------
          Later he asks about the identity of the virgins -
          -----------
          And these virgins, who are they?" "They are holy spirits, and men cannot
          otherwise be found in the kingdom of God unless these have put their
          clothing upon them: for if you receive the name only, and do not receive
          from them the clothing, they are of no advantage to you.
          -----------
          The connection with the Gnostic 'garment' is obvious. The narrator later
          asks about 'stones' which represent the prophets and apostles -
          ---------------
          "Why, then, sir," I asked, "did the virgins carry these stones also through
          the gate, and give them for the building of the tower?" "Because," he
          answered, "these were the first who bore these spirits, and they never
          departed from each other, neither the spirits from the men nor the men from
          the spirits, but the spirits remained with them until their falling asleep.
          And unless they had had these spirits with them, they would not have been of
          use for the building of this tower."
          --------------
          We can see how this would have emerged from the idea that a spiritual wife
          and sister is a requirement to be a prophet or apostle.

          Coming back to the Gospel of Thomas we can see the instruction in saying 2
          about seeking, finding, being troubled, being amazed and ruling as the quest
          for making contact with the soul/spirit. The initial contact is with the
          dead or harlot soul, the consort of demons, which results in 'being
          troubled'.

          To be saved a Christian needs to be reborn and before they are reborn Paul
          tells us that they must die with Christ. By dieing with Christ the soul is
          resurrected into its spirit state. The stories in the gospels of
          resurrections, such as that of Lazarus, would seem to relate to this change
          of state from the dead soul to the living spirit.

          Stephen Peter
          www.bridalchamber.com
        • sarban
          ... From: Michael Grondin To: Sent: Friday, July 16, 2004 6:17 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] The division of the
          Message 4 of 16 , Jul 16 2:27 PM
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>
            To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Friday, July 16, 2004 6:17 AM
            Subject: Re: [GTh] The division of the soul


            >
            >>
            <SNIP Very Interesting Stuff I basically agree with>

            > I think that this satisfactorily explains "upper/lower" (at least in
            general
            > terms), but what about "inside/outside"? At its most obvious level, I
            think
            > that "the outside" must have been that part of a person or object that
            would
            > normally be visible - e.g., the body or flesh. Would the "inside" be the
            > light hidden within - i.e., the spirit? But the soul is inside as well, so
            > perhaps the second mention of inside/outside was intended to suggest that
            > "the inside" also itself had an inside and an outside (rather like a large
            > ball having a medium ball inside of it, and that medium ball in turn
            having
            > a small ball inside it.) Frank McCoy has developed some thoughts along
            this
            > line, and so I'll leave it at that, except to address the gender question:
            > IF upper and lower were considered gender-related, then it seems that "the
            > upper" must have been thought to be masculine (conceptually, not
            > grammatically), and IF "the inside" and "the outside" were considered
            > gender-related, then I'd venture to say that "the inside" (being the
            better)
            > must have been thought to be masculine. This would be consistent with the
            > saying that "the Kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you" - i.e.,
            it's
            > both hidden and visible in some sense, i.e., it's androgynous.

            There are various erferences eg Clement's Excerpta ex Theodoto
            and in Valentinianism more generally to masculine angels (above)
            compared to feminine human spirits (below) so I'm quite happy
            with upper being masculine and lower feminine.

            I'm less certain about inside and outside. I suspect you're right
            that inside represents the superior right hand masculine side and
            outside the inferior left hand feminine side but I find it hard to be
            sure.

            One possible argument is that inside and outside refers to Luke
            17 20-21 (kingdom of heaven inside you) but I'm not sure
            whether the parallels in GTh 3 and 113 support an emphasis in
            Thomas on the inwardness of the kingdom.

            A better 'gnostic' parallel may be Gospel of Mary page 8 'The Son of
            Man is within you'

            On the whole I think your basic interpretation of inside and outside
            is probably sound but I can't find conclusive evidence.
            >
            > Afterword: In the Greek version of saying 2, the sequence of events ends
            > with the person being "at rest" - which according to the above is a
            > masculine state. But the Coptic version of saying 2 doesn't have that
            > clause - it ends with "rule over everything", which doesn't appear to be a
            > restful state. Is that because the Copts saw that the clause referring to
            > rest would suggest that the ultimate goal was a masculine state, whereas
            > they wanted the ultimate goal to be an androgynous state - as in "What is
            > the sign of the Father within you?" answered by "Motion and rest " - a
            > combination of masc and fem elements? This may be a case of Coptic
            tinkering
            > to make GTh more gnostic - more consistent with ApocJn.
            >
            Later (neo)-Platonism refers to a spiritual realm which simultaneously
            possesses opposing pairs of qualities. This is the realm of Nous
            immediately below the ultimate One to whom no qualities can be
            ascribed. Whether these ideas could have influenced Thomas I'm not
            sure. Such ideas seem to develop first in the Pythagorean tradition (eg
            Moderatus of Gades) which may support the idea of the influence of
            Pythagorean categories on Thomas.

            Andrew Criddle
          • Michael Grondin
            Hi Andrew, ... Firstly, I haven t claimed that there s an emphasis in Thomas on the inwardness of the kingdom . Although it does seem clear that the inside
            Message 5 of 16 , Jul 20 11:55 AM
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              Hi Andrew,
              You wrote:
              > I suspect you're right that inside represents the superior right hand
              > masculine side and outside the inferior left hand feminine side
              > but I find it hard to be sure.
              >
              > One possible argument is that inside and outside refers to Luke
              > 17 20-21 (kingdom of heaven inside you) but I'm not sure
              > whether the parallels in GTh 3 and 113 support an emphasis in
              > Thomas on the inwardness of the kingdom.

              Firstly, I haven't claimed that there's "an emphasis in Thomas on the
              inwardness of the kingdom". Although it does seem clear that "the inside" of
              an individual was regarded as superior to the outer flesh/body, it doesn't
              follow that the Kingdom was thought to be "mostly inside" (which is another
              way of saying "emphasize inwardness"). In line with what I believe to be its
              "third way" posture, GTh presents "the Kingdom" as being both inside and
              outside, so that to embrace it was to become in some sense androgynous. I
              wouldn't say that GTh "refers to" GLk, because that wording presupposes a
              textual dependence that I believe to be questionable, but Lk 17:20-21 does
              capture the same two distinct thoughts as Th3 and 113, namely that (1) the
              Kingdom isn't *geographically* distant, and (2) the Kingdom isn't
              *temporally* distant, from the contemporary earth and its inhabitants. In
              other words, it's here and then-now. So why don't (uninitiated) men see it?
              Presumably, because it exists within folks who believe in it. Uninitiated
              folks do see the people of the kingdom, but they don't *know* that they're
              people of the kingdom, so "the kingdom" is both visible and hidden, as it
              were. (I think this reconstruction of the thinking behind 113 is consistent
              with other parts of the text.)

              > On the whole I think your basic interpretation of inside and outside
              > is probably sound but I can't find conclusive evidence.

              It seems that the mind of a person is presented as being torn between the
              physical desires of the external body and the spiritual desires of the inner
              spirit. The "light" within a person is hidden from normal sight. Again, it
              doesn't follow that GTh recommends an exclusively-inward turn toward
              self-contemplation and isolation. I think that the Thomaines' "third way"
              was to act in such a way as to become "light to the world", i.e., to make
              one's "inner light" manifest to others. The decision of which "master" to
              follow, i.e., how to act in the world, seems clearly to be inner-directed,
              which is to say that "the inside" of a person is the active, "live" (read
              'male') force. The outer flesh/body is part of the "corpse" of the material
              world.

              One thing that's been nagging me about this whole picture is that certain
              sayings don't seem to conform to it, and methodologically, no analysis can
              be considered complete if it fails to confront and explain textual evidence
              which appear to place it in doubt. . To take one example, Jesus is made to
              recommend that the disciples find a place of rest or repose for themselves
              so that "the world" wouldn't "kill" and "eat" them. Given that we've
              stipulated that the concept of "rest" was generally a feminine concept, what
              sense does it make to suggest that all disciples seek a feminine element?
              Did the author of this saying assume that the disciples were male, and thus
              that this "repose" constituted a female component needed for them to become
              androgynous? (Whereas the passive female would need to be led to action, as
              in 114, to androgynize her inherent female passivity?) OK, but what about
              the notion of unity (oneness)? The author thinks that that's desirable, but
              we've labelled it a masculine element, so how does that fit with the ideal
              of androgyny? It may be that "the one" that "the two" were to become was
              thought to be an androgynous unity (reflective of "the realm of the Nous"
              you mentioned?), somewhat different than the ideal oneness of God or the
              Monad, but I confess to being somewhat confused on this issue.

              Regards,
              Mike Grondin
              Mt. Clemens, MI
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