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Core Constructions

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  • Tom Saunders
    By putting key words in a frame, as described below, it can be shown that certain core texts are relative to the Gospel of Thomas, and are part of a set. Key
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 19, 2004
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      By putting key words in a frame, as described below, it can be shown that certain 'core texts are relative to the Gospel of Thomas, and are part of a set. Key words are selected by their repetitive presence in the core texts, and have allegorical value in relationship with like or synonymous words. All are relative to explaining gnosis. I have suggested in past postings that the parables are in fact model frames.

      The main feature of Thomas parables is that they are devoid of human characters that have achieved Gnosis, or Gnostic insight. A parable is in fact a frame, not unlike the frame as described below, and like a picture. There are other references to frames in Gnostic works, and the process is suggested by Clement. Virtually it can be demonstrated that the Gnostic process can be described by filling the frames, and more or less, drawing a picture, written in the text of the frame.

      I am using the basis, or formula for 'class' to organize the Gnostic texts in a way as suggested by the "Dictionary of Linguistics" by (Littlefield, by Pie, and Gaynor,), {class:} "The totality of Linguistically, phonetically, morphologically, etc. comparable or equivalent elements," to organize the Gnostic texts on the basis of, "{class meaning:} That common feature of meaning which is prevalent in every lexical form (q.v.) within a given form-class."

      The same way words are formed into class-forms or 'form classes,' are by entering the word into a specific framework. This method was devised by Charles C. Fries. Words are arranged into classes on the basis of fitting into frames. For instance a word in any language can be classified on the basis of how it functions in a certain frame. An example in a frame is: Any word that can be inserted into: The (_____) is 'prunikus,' may be considered members of the same class. "The (_____) is good," was Fries original frame.

      The framework for Gnosticism is the process of Gnosis and the elements common to it from the texts of:

      Core Texts
      Gospel of Thomas, translated by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer
      The Prayer of Paul, translation by Dieter Mueller
      The Gospel of Mary, translation found at the Gnostic Society Library
      The Gospel of Phillip, translated by Wesley W. Isenberg
      The Gospel of Truth, translated by Robert Grant
      The Book of Thomas the Contender, translated by John Turner

      (Note) Different translations can alter how some of these entries fit into the frame, but with a common lexicon to Gnosticism this would be less likely.

      Key words are entered into the framework, and can be shown as 'class forms' within the structure and relationships between the forms, and the framework. The frame in this case is set, so the model looks like: The (insert 'key word') is a core class-form in the Gnostic framework. Several constructions showing this technique are below. Most key words are synomamous with other core class-forms. There are other constructions that can be made. I chose seven entries each in this example of the process. Their order in the set is chosen on the basis of how they seem to fit with one another.

      The (truth) is a core class-form in the Gnostic framework. (Note that the preceding statement is a model like that of Fries, mentioned above. Look for the key word in the examples from the core texts......
      1. Thomas 78. Jesus said, "Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, [like your] rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth."

      2. Gospel of Truth: This ignorance of the Father brought about terror and fear. And terror became dense like a fog, that no one was able to see. Because of this, error became strong. But it worked on its hylic substance vainly, because it did not know the truth.

      3. Prayer of Paul: I invoke you, the one who is and who pre-existed in the name which is exalted above every name, through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the King of the ages; give me your gifts, of which you do not repent, through the Son of Man, the Spirit, the Paraclete of truth.

      4. Ther Book of Thomas the Contender: The savior replied, "Listen to what I am going to tell you and believe in the truth. That which sows and that which is sown will dissolve in the fire - within the fire and the water - and they will hide in tombs of darkness.

      5. Gospel of Phillip: But truth brought names into existence in the world for our sakes, because it is not possible to learn it (truth) without these names. Truth is one single thing; it is many things and for our sakes to teach about this one thing in love through many things.

      6. Ther Book of Thomas the Contender: The savior answered, saying, "If the things that are visible to you are obscure to you, how can you hear about the things that are not visible? If the deeds of the truth that are visible in the world are difficult for you to perform, how indeed, then, shall you perform those that pertain to the exalted height and to the pleroma which are not visible?

      7. Gospel of Phillip: He who has believed in the truth has found life, and this one is in danger of dying, for he is alive.

      The (word) as a core class-form of in the Gnostic framework.

      1. Gospel of Mary: 4) When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the Savior.

      2. Gospel of Thomas 79. A woman in the crowd said to him, "Lucky are the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you." He said to [her], "Lucky are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, 'Lucky are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk.'"

      3. Gospel of Phillip: What is this which will not inherit? This which is on us. But what is this, too, which will inherit? It is that which belongs to Jesus and his blood. Because of this he said "He who shall not eat my flesh and drink my blood has not life in him." What is it? His flesh is the word, and his blood is the Holy Spirit.

      4. The Book ofThomas the Contender: Thomas replied, "You have certainly persuaded us, lord. We realize in our heart, and it is obvious, that this is so, and that your word is sufficient. But these words that you speak to us are ridiculous and contemptible to the world since they are misunderstood

      5. Gospel of Phillip: Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word "God" does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with "the Father" and "the Son" and "the Holy Spirit" and "life" and "light" and "resurrection" and "the Church (Ekklesia)" and all the rest - people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct.

      6. The Book of Thomas the Contender: The savior answered and said, "Truly I tell you that he who will listen to your word and turn away his face or sneer at it or smirk at these things, truly I tell you that he will be handed over to the ruler above who rules over all the powers as their king, and he will turn that one around and cast him from heaven down to the abyss, and he will be imprisoned in a narrow dark place.

      7. Gospel of Truth: This is the perfection in the thought of the Father and these are the words of his reflection. Each one of his words is the work of his will alone, in the revelation of his Logos.

      The (light, and vision, a function of light) is a the core 'class-form,' in the Gnostic framework:

      1. Gospel of Thomas, saying 24. His disciples said, "Show us the place where you are, for we must seek it." He said to them, "Anyone here with two ears had better listen! There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark."

      2. The Book of Thomas The Contender, "And Thomas answered, "Therefore I say to you, lord, that those who speak about things that are invisible and difficult to explain are like those who shoot their arrows at a target at night. To be sure, they shoot their arrows as anyone would - since they shoot at the target - but it is not visible. Yet when the light comes forth and hides the darkness, then the work of each will appear. And you, our light, enlighten, O lord."

      3. Gospel of Phillip, "When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."

      4. Gospel of Mary," Chapter 5- 9) Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure. 10) I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit? 11) The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is [...]

      5. Gospel of Truth, "As one's ignorance disappears when he gains knowledge, and as darkness disappears when light appears, so also incompleteness is eliminated by completeness. Certainly, from that moment on, form is no longer manifest, but will be dissolved in fusion with unity."

      6. Prayer of Paul "...your light, give me your mercy! My Redeemer, redeem me, for I am yours; the one who has come forth from you. You are my mind; bring me forth! You are my treasure house; open for me! You are my fullness {Pleroma}; take me to you! You are (my) repose; give me the perfect thing that cannot be grasped!

      7. Gospel of Thomas, saying 50. Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established [itself], and appeared in their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?' say, 'We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.' If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest."

      The (soul/mind) is a the core 'class-form,' in the Gnostic framework:

      1. Prayer of Paul: Give me authority when I ask you; give healing for my body when I ask you through the Evangelist, and redeem my eternal light soul and my spirit. And the First-born of the Pleroma of grace -- reveal him to my mind!

      2. Gospel of Thomas: 28. Jesus said, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty.

      3. Thomas Book of the Contender: "Then the savior continued and said, "O unsearchable love of the light! O bitterness of the fire that blazes in the bodies of men and in their marrow, kindling in them night and day, and burning the limbs of men and making their minds become drunk and their souls become deranged [...] them within males and females [...] night and moving them, [...] secretly and visibly. For the males move [...] upon the females and the females upon the males. Therefore it is said, "Everyone who seeks the truth from true wisdom will make himself wings so as to fly, fleeing the lust that scorches the spirits of men." And he will make himself wings to flee every visible spirit."

      4. Gospel of Phillip: Compare the disciple of God: if he is a sensible fellow, he understands what discipleship is all about. The bodily forms will not deceive him, but he will look at the condition of the soul of each one and speak with him. There are many animals in the world which are in a human form. When he identifies them, to the swine he will throw acorns, to the cattle he will throw barley and chaff and grass, to the dogs he will throw bones. To the slaves he will give only the elementary lessons, to the children he will give the complete instruction.

      5. Gospel of Truth: They lack nothing in any way, but they are given rest and are refreshed by the Spirit. And they listen to their root; they have leisure for themselves, they in whom he will find his root, and he will suffer no loss to his soul.

      6. Gospel of Truth: They were glorified and they gave glory. In their heart, the living book of the Living was manifest, the book which was written in the thought and in the mind of the Father and, from before the foundation of the All, is in that incomprehensible part of him.

      7. 25. Jesus said, "Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye."

      The ('Those that have ears'/one who hears) is a the core 'class-form,' in the Gnostic framework:

      1. Prayer of Paul: Grant what no angel eye has seen and no archon ear (has) heard, and what has not entered into the human heart which came to be angelic and (modelled) after the image of the psychic God when it was formed in the beginning, since I have faith and hope.

      2. The Book of Thomas the Contender: Now Thomas said to the lord, "Therefore I beg you to tell me what I ask you before your ascension, and when I hear from you about the hidden things, then I can speak about them. And it is obvious to me that the truth is difficult to perform before men."

      3. Gospel of Thomas 21: "....As for you, then, be on guard against the world. Prepare yourselves with great strength, so the robbers can't find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come. Let there be among you a person who understands. When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!"

      4. Gospel of Phillip: Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word "God" does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with "the Father" and "the Son" and "the Holy Spirit" and "life" and "light" and "resurrection" and "the Church (Ekklesia)" and all the rest - people do not perceive what is correct but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct.

      5. Gospel of Truth: He gave him his name which belonged to him - he, the Father, who possesses everything which exists around him. He possess the name; he has the son. It is possible for them to see him. The name, however, is invisible, for it alone is the mystery of the invisible about to come to ears completely filled with it through the Father`s agency. Moreover, as for the Father, his name is not pronounced, but it is revealed through a son. Thus, then, the name is great.

      6. Thomas Saying 17. Jesus said, "I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart."

      7. Gospel of Mary: (4-24) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

      The (sin/darkness) is a core class-form in the Gnostic framework.

      1. Gospel of Truth: The savior replied, "Listen to what I am going to tell you and believe in the truth. That which sows and that which is sown will dissolve in the fire - within the fire and the water - and they will hide in tombs of darkness.

      2.Gospel of Mary 19) The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath.

      3. Gospel of Thomas 104. They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast." Jesus said, "What sin have I committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the groom leaves the bridal suite, then let people fast and pray."

      4. Gospel of Thomas 14. Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits.

      5. Gospel of Mary: 25) Peter said to him, Since you have explained everything to us, tell us this also: What is the sin of the world? 26) The Savior said There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin.

      6. Gospel of Phillip: He who has knowledge of the truth is a free man, but the free man does not sin, for "He who sins is the slave of sin. Truth is the mother, knowledge the father. Those who think that sinning does not apply to them are called "free" by the world.

      7. Gospel of Truth: Speak concerning the truth to those who seek it and of knowledge to those who, in their error, have committed sin.

      The (garment/clothing) is a core class-form in the Gnostic framework.

      1.Gospel of Mary: "The soul answered and said, I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me."

      2. Thomas the Contender: "And the darkness rose for you like the light, for you surrendered your freedom for servitude! You darkened your hearts and surrendered your thoughts to folly, and you filled your thoughts with the smoke of the fire that is in you! And your light has hidden in the cloud of [...] and the garment that is put upon you, you [...]. And you were seized by the hope that does not exist."

      3. Gospel of Thomas 36. Jesus said, "Do not fret, from morning to evening and from evening to morning, [about your food--what you're going to eat, or about your clothing--] what you are going to wear. [You're much better than the lilies, which neither card nor spin. As for you, when you have no garment, what will you put on? Who might add to your stature? That very one will give you your garment.]"

      4. Goepel of Thomas 47. Jesus said, "A person cannot mount two horses or bend two bows. And a slave cannot serve two masters, otherwise that slave will honor the one and offend the other. Nobody drinks aged wine and immediately wants to drink young wine. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil. An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear."

      5. Gospel of Thomas 78. Jesus said, "Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, [like your] rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth."

      6. Some are afraid lest they rise naked. Because of this they wish to rise in the flesh, and they do not know that it is those who wear the flesh who are naked. It is those who [...] to unclothe themselves who are not naked. "Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God"

      7.. Gospel of Truth: Oh, such great teaching! He abases himself even unto death, though he is clothed in eternal life. Having divested himself of these perishable rags, he clothed himself in incorruptibility, which no one could possibly take from him.

      The (tree-plants/Paradise) as a core class-form in the Gnostic framework.

      1. Gospel of Phillip: Before Christ came, there was no bread in the world, just as Paradise, the place were Adam was, had many trees to nourish the animals but no wheat to sustain man. Man used to feed like the animals, but when Christ came, the perfect man, he brought bread from heaven in order that man might be nourished with the food of man.

      2. Gospel of Thomas 45. Jesus said, "Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit. Good persons produce good from what they've stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they've stored up in their hearts, and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil."

      3. The Book of Thomas the Contender: For if the sun {light} does not shine upon these bodies, they will wither and perish just like weeds or grass. If the sun shines on them, they prevail and choke the grapevine; but if the grapevine prevails and shades those weeds and all the other brush growing alongside, and spreads and flourishes, it alone inherits the land in which it grows; and every place it has shaded it dominates. And when it grows up, it dominates all the land and is bountiful for its master, and it pleases him even more, for he would have suffered great pains on account of these plants until he uprooted them. But the grapevine alone removed them and choked them, and they died and became like the soil."

      4. Gospel of Phillip: There are two trees growing in Paradise. The one bears animals, the other bears men. Adam ate from the tree which bore animals. He became an animal and he brought forth animals.

      5. The Book of Thomas the Contender: The savior replied, "Listen to what I am going to tell you and believe in the truth. That which sows and that which is sown will dissolve in the fire - within the fire and the water - and they will hide in tombs of darkness. And after a long time they shall show forth the fruit of the evil trees, being punished, being slain in the mouth of beasts and men at the instigation of the rains and winds and air and the light that shines above."

      6. Gospel of Truth: For then a breath is drawn only through the power which he has. But the one who is without deficiency - one does not trust anyone beside him nor does one pour anything out. But that which is the deficient is filled again by the perfect Father. He is good. He knows his plantings because he is the one who has planted them in his Paradise. And his Paradise is his place of rest.

      7. Gospel of Thomas: 19. Jesus said, "Congratulations to the one who came into being before coming into being. If you become my disciples and pay attention to my sayings, these stones will serve you. For there are five trees in Paradise for you; they do not change, summer or winter, and their leaves do not fall. Whoever knows them will not taste death."

      More constructions are possible. So many it appears that the building within a framework is a core technique in the learning of Gnosticism. The empty frame technique has other applications. It can go outside the range of core texts. However I think the standard for Gnositicism is in the range of what can be determined as core texts, and core text ideas which correspond to that framework. (You've been framed!)

      Tom Saunders

      Platter, OK









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