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The Cave of John the Baptist

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  • Tom Saunders
    Hi All, I am just finishing up the book, The Cave of John the Baptist by Shimon Gibson. Gibson writes describing the dig, and mixes personal notes and
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 17, 2004
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      Hi All,

      I am just finishing up the book, "The Cave of John the Baptist' by Shimon Gibson. Gibson writes describing the dig, and mixes personal notes and experiences in the body of the work, so as to give the read, something like Pagel's technique of doing the same. On the other hand Gibson writes like a good scholar, and has many experts look at his work.

      The cave is near Ain Karim, the place where John the Baptist is said to have been born from mother, Elizabeth, and father Zacharias. Zacharias was some sort of priest in the Temple, and it turns out that Elizabeth, was Mother Mary's "Kinswoman," possibly her cousin. Gibson's cave seems to have been converted in the Iron Age, plastered and used for water storage, originally. Then it was converted to a ceremonial cave. A symbolic likeness of the Baptist is carved on the wall.

      The cave features water storage areas, miqwa, and a special rock used to anoint the right foot. The entrance is built as to say, "This is a ceremonial cave.' Its use in the first century is apparent, and its continued use goes into the Persian era.

      I think Gibson gives some good insight into the influence that John the Baptist had on early Christianity. He does not paint any false illusion about proving with certainty that John and Jesus, had actually been shown or proven to have used the cave. There can be little doubt about a true association with Baptists and the cave in some very early capacity in my opinion. I don't go along with some of his speculation about all he says. I don't agree that the ossuary found with the inscription about 'James, brother of Jesus' is a forgery, lacking further evidence than when we discussed it in the past.

      I see the rock used to anoint as significant to Thomas, and Phillip in regard to understanding the process of Gnosis, as it might be aligned with early Christian ceremony. The Gospel of Phillip, and the Anointment
      as associated with the principles of Gnosis, or living resurrection, and can be shown as common to the Baptist cults, and is therefor pre-Christian Gnosticism, IMO. Do you think it can be said to be the primary influence to Jesus Wisdom, as a process and key to Gnosis?

      Tom Saunders
      Platter, OK





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    • Karl
      Hey Tom You stated..... I don t agree that the ossuary found with the inscription about James, brother of Jesus is a forgery, lacking further evidence than
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 17, 2004
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        Hey Tom

        You stated..... "I don't agree that the ossuary found
        with the inscription about 'James, brother of Jesus' is a forgery,
        lacking further evidence than when we discussed it in the past."

        Even after the arrest in the case and the practice inscriptions on
        other ossuaries you consider it real? I have to admit I am a bit
        surprized.

        Karl
      • Tom Saunders
        Hi Karl, Another piece that is included in this hoax is the Yoash inscription. And, he is known to have been the source for many important pieces that will
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 20, 2004
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          Hi Karl,

          "Another piece that is included in this hoax is the Yoash
          inscription. And, he is known to have been the source for
          many "important" pieces that will very likely be investigated more
          closely."

          I don't recall that Petina could be made in our past discussions of ossuaries. As I recall many members made good observations and we were leaning toward authenticity.

          Gibson's observations about The Cave of John the Baptist are probably safe from debunking I think. This leaves big questions on how and what influence the Baptists may have had on early Gnostic teachings, and what influence there is on the Gospel of John.

          Tom Saunders
          Platter, OK





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        • Karl
          Hey Tom... ... of ossuaries.
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 20, 2004
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            Hey Tom...

            >>>I don't recall that Petina could be made in our past discussions
            of ossuaries.<<<

            AH... Oh yes, a patina can very definately be made and it is really
            not all that difficult (it has been done in home kitchens). The test
            to see if there is a patina is quite simple, but determining the
            actual makup of the patina is expensive and time consuming... and
            often not done unless there is specific reason to believe the piece
            might be a hoax.

            If I understand the description of the patina overlap, it does not
            even go to the seams of the box. This makes the fact that the
            Biblical Archeology magazine still tried to debate it particularly
            odd in my view.

            >>>Gibson's observations about The Cave of John the Baptist are
            probably safe from debunking I think. This leaves big questions on
            how and what influence the Baptists may have had on early Gnostic
            teachings, and what influence there is on the Gospel of John.<<<

            That is an interesting question. I know that Mortin Smith is
            sometimes controversial, but he does raise the same question as
            well. Since the Gospel of Thomas is not definitively Gnostic, and
            neither is the Gospel of John, the connection in this group may be a
            little hard to bring into focus. However the notion of
            some "Gnostic" connection with John the Baptist is one that has come
            up in serious circles.

            I do think maybe I will wait for an ok from our moderator though
            before being involved in that topic, since I am not sure if this
            discussion is on topic here.

            PMCV
          • Tom Saunders
            Hi Karl, That is an interesting question. I know that Mortin Smith is sometimes controversial, but he does raise the same question as well. Since the Gospel
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 22, 2004
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              Hi Karl,

              "That is an interesting question. I know that Mortin Smith is
              sometimes controversial, but he does raise the same question as
              well. Since the Gospel of Thomas is not definitively Gnostic, and
              neither is the Gospel of John, the connection in this group may be a
              little hard to bring into focus. However the notion of
              some "Gnostic" connection with John the Baptist is one that has come
              up in serious circles."

              A fellow member of the group sent me an article, "The Lost Meaning of Death," Alvin B. Kuhn, 1935. (PDF, which I can't file change and post),,, Kuhn states, "The sagacious ancients were content to let a secondary implication of terms, more readily apparent on the surface, prevail in the exoteric understanding, while imparting to the Mystery Initiates an occult signification which bore the real purport of scripture, infinitely more informing and dynamic."

              This is what I see in the Thomas Gospel, a secondary implication built around harmonic parallels to the process and elements of Gnosis.

              Harmonizing represents a natural tendency of the human mind to resolve discord by drawing contrasting elements into a balanced composition. It is the opposite of analyzing: separating a composition into its constituent parts. The term harmonizing is used in biblical studies for blending two or more 'pericopes' into a composite version, preserving characteristic elements from each. 'Pericopes' are an extract or selection from a book, especially a reading from a Scripture....
              ( from: http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/harmony.html, no longer there, and the "American Heratige Dic.")

              Parallel harmonizing is when two or more versions of text are put side by side in a synopsis for easy comparison. This type of gospel harmony or comparison, is for both ascertaining the similarities and differences of the versions of a 'pericope.' This is one of the basic tools of modern biblical scholarship.

              In addition to parallel harmonization of similar text, is the question of literary dependence, or which version of a similar text was first. There are five basic indicators of literary dependence.....(Karen King.)

              1. Extensive word for word similarity. (citation)
              2. Similar arrangement or ordering of materials.
              3. Similar narrative context or setting.
              4. The use of a citation formula, between texts. (I have omitted Kings examples as I do not entirely understand them.)
              5. Use of language specific to the source work.

              The question has to be asked about the harmony, and literary dependence of the Gospel of Thomas, and not only concerning the Synoptic Gospels, but other Gnostic works found in the Nag Hammedi Library, and other Egyptian sources. In my view the Thomas Gospel is Gnostic, but specifically Christian Gnostic and the kinds of narrative parallels, and possibly citation formulas show and prove the relation of the Thomas Gospel to Mary, Phillip, and others.

              The harmonics and parallels of Gnostic works, regardless of even citation to canonized scripture, are not dependent upon the harmonic or literary purpose of non-Gnostic texts. The harmony and literary dependence of Gnostic works are based upon the elements and process of Gnosis. Both key terms, ideas, and the process of Gnosis in the Christian Gnostic context, can be shown to be formalized (IMO) in
              a citation formula, and harmony schema, relative to "Thomas" and the related texts to it.

              The purpose of Gnosis is devoid in Orthodox works, unless you try to separate out bits and pieces that 'could be Gnostic.' The purpose of learning 'Gnosis' in the Gospel of Thomas is obvious in the construction of the parables, and other sayings warning of a lack of Gnosis, like the Pharisees. I see the citation formula in the Gnostic texts as allegory aimed at implying the elements and process of Gnosis. The bonding with the Holy Spirit, and becoming a 'Craftsman,' or Pneumatic.

              In my opinion the obvious idea of literary use for the parables is to provide the reader with the task of correcting the flaws of parable characters with "Jesus Wisdom" available from the other sayings in the text. Thus we have a built-in literary formula which shows the Thomas parables and sayings as 'harmonically related to this literary formula.

              If Kahn is correct, the secondary interpretations of Thomas relate to their interpretation relative to the Orthodox views. The 'sagacious interpretation belongs to the Mystery meanings as explained in the Gnostic texts, the literary dependence. Perhaps another citation formula in Gnostic works is when a text uses or admits to the idea the work is 'secret.' (This 'secret' stuff is mentioned in Smith's letter, but Kuhn knew there had to be 'secret stuff,' as did Swete. This is before the NHL was found. )

              Thomas fits both the secondary formula that coincides with literary dependence on other traditional Gospel works, but shows a harmonic paralleling to the Gnostic works. Does the fact the Thomas parables are clearly in the literary formula for Gnosis, and the 'other' parables from other works, have lost this aim, show that the Thomas parables were first? Did the 'sagacious and Mystery ideas come from "Baptist" practices?

              Tom Saunders
              Platter Flats, OK







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            • Karl
              Hey Tom, I hope your Holidays have gone well... and the same for everyone else here. Tom, you state.... ... built around harmonic parallels to the process and
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 1, 2005
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                Hey Tom, I hope your Holidays have gone well... and the same for
                everyone else here.

                Tom, you state....

                >>>"This is what I see in the Thomas Gospel, a secondary implication
                built around harmonic parallels to the process and elements of
                Gnosis.

                Harmonizing represents a natural tendency of the human mind to
                resolve discord by drawing contrasting elements into a balanced
                composition. It is the opposite of analyzing: separating a
                composition into its constituent parts."<<<

                Well, on a personal note, my first major back in my university says
                was music composition. I am well versed in the notion
                of "harmonizing" ;) *lol*. I can not only agree, but actually
                empathize with everything you said but one point... and that point I
                strongly disagree with.

                Harmonizing is in no way the opposite of analyzing. In music you
                cannot draw a line between the ability to take a piece apart from
                the ability to put a piece together.... and I think the same is true
                of critical understanding of a text like this. If we are attempting
                to understand without committing eisegesis (and this does not
                exclude initiatory or emotional response), we cannot put it together
                if we cannot take it apart.

                Ok, well, I do understand that I am simply speaking anecdotally,
                here, but I think the point is important all the same. You cannot
                harmonize an augmented scale with the "A-m" scale into unaltered
                chord structures... to connect the two you must instead "modulate".
                I think the distinction works as an observation of critical
                understanding of these texts as well.

                >>>"In addition to parallel harmonization of similar text, is the
                question of literary dependence, or which version of a similar text
                was first. There are five basic indicators of literary
                dependence.....(Karen King.)"<<<

                Since I was under the impression that Karen King agrees with Dr
                Williams in the view that there is actually no such thing
                as "Gnosticism" I am not completely sure I am understanding your
                point in her inclusion. However to deal with these points.....

                >>>"
                1. Extensive word for word similarity. (citation)
                2. Similar arrangement or ordering of materials.
                3. Similar narrative context or setting.
                4. The use of a citation formula, between texts. (I have omitted
                Kings examples
                as I do not entirely understand them.)
                5. Use of language specific to the source work.
                "<<<

                This only outlines literary dependence.... and literary dependence
                can actually be about opposition. So when you say……

                >>>"The harmonics and parallels of Gnostic works, regardless of even
                citation to
                canonized scripture, are not dependent upon the harmonic or literary
                purpose of
                non-Gnostic texts. The harmony and literary dependence of Gnostic
                works are
                based upon the elements and process of Gnosis. Both key terms,
                ideas, and the
                process of Gnosis in the Christian Gnostic context, can be shown to
                be
                formalized (IMO) in a citation formula, and harmony schema, relative
                to "Thomas" and the related
                texts to it."<<<<

                ….. it becomes important to point out that the concept of "Gnosis"
                does not necessarily even have a singular function WITHING the
                Gnostic works, and that at the very least we should be very careful
                about specifying such a direct literary dependence between works
                that were generally used without relation to each other. And
                inversely we should not assume relation where texts may have been
                used in conjunction. The reason I think it is important is because
                of your next part…..

                >>>>"The purpose of Gnosis is devoid in Orthodox works, unless you
                try to separate
                out bits and pieces that 'could be Gnostic.' The purpose of
                learning 'Gnosis' in
                the Gospel of Thomas is obvious in the construction of the parables,
                and other
                sayings warning of a lack of Gnosis, like the Pharisees. I see the
                citation
                formula in the Gnostic texts as allegory aimed at implying the
                elements and
                process of Gnosis. The bonding with the Holy Spirit, and becoming a
                'Craftsman,' or Pneumatic….. {snip}

                ….Thomas fits both the secondary formula that coincides with
                literary dependence
                on other traditional Gospel works, but shows a harmonic paralleling
                to the
                Gnostic works. Does the fact the Thomas parables are clearly in the
                literary
                formula for Gnosis, and the 'other' parables from other works, have
                lost this
                aim, show that the Thomas parables were first? Did the 'sagacious
                and Mystery
                ideas come from "Baptist" practices?"<<<

                You confused me a bit here. Could you tell me exactly what Gnostic
                texts you mean to refer to when you equate "Craftsman"
                with "Pneumatic"? Well, in truth it isn't important I guess, the
                real point I think is the importance you place on the concept of
                Gnosis in this literary dependence.

                I think it is very interesting that in Dr Logan's introduction to
                his book "Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy" he uses essentially
                the same argument as you to present the opposite opinion. I hope it
                is ok with you that I present a little criticism, not of the theory
                you offer so much as the fact that I think that in both Dr Logan's
                case and yours the methodology should maybe give less emphasis to
                the significance of ideological elements in the texts for literary
                dependence and dating. In truth, this implies very little concerning
                which came first. On the contrary, it is only the rhetorical
                linguistic usage of the term "lost this aim" that implies origin.
                You could have just as easily said "Added this aim" and reversed the
                two movements. Let me say that at this time I am more convinced of
                the theory you are trying to demonstrate than his, I simply think
                that perhaps there are some textual elements that you did not use
                that would have served you better.

                Karl
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