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Re: [GTh] The division of the soul

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  • 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 1 of 16 , Jul 16, 2004
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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 2 of 16 , Jul 16, 2004
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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 3 of 16 , Jul 20, 2004
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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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