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Re: [GTh] The division of the soul

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  • 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 1 of 16 , Jul 15, 2004
      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 2 of 16 , Jul 16, 2004
        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 3 of 16 , Jul 16, 2004
          ----- 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 4 of 16 , Jul 20, 2004
            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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