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Re: [GTh] The Bridal Chamber

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  • Michael Grondin
    Tom- Leaving aside your general remarks for the time being, I ll first address the two passages you quote from the Gospel of Philip. It should be noted at the
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 26, 2004
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      Tom-

      Leaving aside your general remarks for the time being, I'll first address
      the two passages you quote from the Gospel of Philip. It should be noted at
      the outset, however, that neither of these passages state what you claimed
      was stated, namely that "Pneuma is breath". Unfortunately, your general
      analysis seems to be studded with, and largely based upon, a whole bunch of
      such factual errors. But anyway, taking the passages quoted in their order
      within the text (and adding the page+line reference number):

      > "The soul of Adam came into being by means of a breath." (70:22-23)

      This is a fairly straight-forward restatement of the latter part of Genesis
      2:7 ("then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed
      into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being" [RSV])
      that would have been unexceptionable to the orthodox mind. (In the sentences
      that follow this one, the author branches off into gnostic cosmology, but
      since you didn't quote them, I won't go into that.) What's pertinent is that
      the above statement fails to support your claim that:

      > The Gospel of Phillip uses breath (pneuma) and equates it with spirit....

      ... for in statement 70:22-23, 'breath' is in fact the Coptic word 'nive',
      not the Greek word 'pneuma'.

      Does your other quotation fare any better?

      > "By perfecting the water of baptism, Jesus emptied it of death. Thus we do
      > go down into the water, but we do not go down into death, in order that we
      > may not be poured out into the spirit of the world. When that spirit
      > blows, it brings the winter. When the Holy Spirit breathes, the summer
      > comes." (77:07-77:15)

      Unfortunately for your view, the verbs 'blows' and 'breathes' are both the
      Coptic word 'nive', now functioning as verb instead of noun. (In fact, the
      Coptic verb-phrase is exactly the same in the two cases - so that there's
      really no justification for the translator's having used two different
      English verbs.) Conceptually, spirits (good and bad) breathe (or blow). But
      the author does not (contrary to your assertion) equate pneuma with breath.
      Pneuma is here not the breath, but the breather - i.e., that which breathes
      (or blows).

      In connection with this passage, we might also consider the famous passage
      in GJn where the author of that work plays on the ambiguity of 'pneuma' by
      juxtaposing its meaning as 'spirit' with its meaning as 'wind'. Being moved
      by the spirit is likened there to "the wind blowing where it wills". But
      it's the wind that's the pneuma, not the blowing. (Although WE might say
      that the wind IS the blowing, the ancients were great believers in
      mysterious undetectable forces behind observable events, and our language
      continues to unconsciously reflect those assumptions. Hence "The wind blows
      where it will" still makes sense to us.)

      Finally, you mentioned hidden content. I do think there's a hidden subtext
      here, but it's probably not what you think it is. The subtext I have in mind
      is the Pauline view that to be baptized is to share in Christ's death. Not
      only above, but in several other places in GPhil, the author seems to be
      concerned with modifying (or perhaps denying) that view, although he doesn't
      mention Paul directly. (I perceive this as connected with an unorthodox view
      of J's death and resurrection.)

      Unfortunately, I don't have time tonight to address your general remarks.
      I'll just say that it has never been established that GThom is "gnostic" -
      in spite of the early attempts of various mostly-European scholars. Our
      group will continue to be officially agnostic on that issue, letting each
      member put forward his/her views for or against that proposition.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
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