The Cave of John the Baptist.
- Hi Karl,
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."
The statement about harmony was not my own, it is from a now unavailable source about the harmonizing of scripture. I understand your statement here but the ability to take a 'piece' apart and put it together in our minds, to me is like the statement in Phillip which says, 'faith receives and love gives.' It is like an analogy to the process of breath or pneuma as spirit. In this sense it is more than analyzing, and de-analyzing. I don't see it in a linear, exact, or mathematical type of analysis, completely. Gnostic works should be read as occult material.
The laws of musical harmony, are linear and fixed. The Gnostic harmonizes with a sagacious or occult harmony in his interpretation of Gnostic scripture, and it will not be linear in perspective or meant to be understood like the musical harmony point you make. This may be one point of why the Thomas Gospel is written as if in no particular form or order. There is an opposite side to it, maybe it is.
Gnostic works do not depend upon non-Gnostic ideas to harmonize with. Sympathize perhaps. This is in spite of the fact we may have a citation, or word for word parallel harmony with non-Gnostic works, as we see in Thomas. The harmonization of Gnostic works seems to be expressed with the elements and process of Gnosis, something absent in the Orthodox works. The presentation of these Gnostic ideas is arcane knowledge which is meant to be deviously hidden in secondary implications, and never completely spelled out in one single work.
" 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."
Herein lies the problem with this literary dependence thing. Karen King's list, page 110, the, "Gospel of Mary Magdala," is just one model, and we have more than it can comply with. Especially since there are some unique citation formula things going on with Gnostic works that need an extended explanation of the formula. Something in the NHL, like "Gnostic Interpretation for Dummies" would have been a great help.
What I am after is to clarify those elements which are common to the Gnostic process which can be thought of as parallel in other Gnostic works, and thus in harmony with Thomas. In other words how to get into 'harmony' with what Clement and others refer to as Pneumatics and Craftsmen. Understand that we can establish Pneumatics and Craftsmen as words relating to those who have achieved a high level of attainment in the Gnostic process. But we have not established a 'juris compendium' of what is and is not in Harmony with the aspects of Gnosis, relative to Thomas, or being a Pneumatic.
In other words, does the Gospel of Mary, Phillip, Truth, etc., comply with the harmony we see presented in Thomas? From the "Corpus Juris Secundum" "The first step in "looking up the law" is the formulation of the precise question the answer to which is sought." This is called 'fixing the question,' and it is what we have to do to establish the harmony or parallels we can qualify as "Gnostic." I actually think this very idea is underwritten in both Clement's work and some of the Gnostic scripture, concerning ideas of organization.
Fixing the questions seems to be approached easiest by looking at Gnosis from the end result first, the bonding process itself, and the elements of the process which are the body, mind, spirit, and soul, in the context of environment, psyche, all in and out of pure Pleromic existence.
Fixing the time for Thomas has to be done too, and scholars who cautiously put Christian Gnostics in the 2nd c. were not correct. They did not see the secondary implications in Thomas, relative to Gnostic thought and process, and therefor did not realize its significance to the process of Gnosis. They could not decide what Gnosis was. They did not see that probably John the Baptist, his father Zacharius, might as Levites, have hidden knowledge that Jesus expanded on. I am convinced that Heracleon's fragments tell us a lot about John the Baptist that can show Baptists as pre-Christian Gnostics, and the primary influence of Gnostic thought in the context of Thomas core Gnostic material. The smart guys in the first movements of Christianity had no literacy problems that would have prevented them writing while Jesus was alive.
Some claims by Mandaeans may have substance regarding the importance of John the Baptist, and I think support the idea that there were separate ministries that in some ways survived. Gnostic ones, which can be linked to the terms Craftsmen, Pneumatics, etc. My point here is that putting Gnostics out of the Jesus environment would not comply with factual data about them. Fixing the time for Thomas based upon the supposition that 2nd c. influence was in any way important to it is misguided. Thomas, Its damn early.
One problem with aligning other texts to Thomas is the time-line question. When were these other texts needed to explain the Gnostic allegories within the teachings? This puts a different reasoning to the ideas of when say Mary, or Phillip would have been written. Somebody please explain to me why "Pistis Sophia" is not early as the Gospels? They didn't need Pistis Sophia in the 3rd c.
Somewhere, the line can be drawn where we can determine the Gnostic 'harmonics' relevant to Thomas, and with caution figure out how it works. Kuhn, Swete, and Smith were all right in thinking there is a hidden Christianity and I think there is a lot not seen yet.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>>>"I understand your statement here but the ability to takea 'piece' apart and put it together in our minds, to me is like
the statement in Phillip which says, 'faith receives and love
gives.' It is like an analogy to the process of breath or pneuma as
spirit. In this sense it is more than analyzing, and de-analyzing. I
don't see it in a linear, exact, or mathematical type of analysis,
completely. Gnostic works should be read as occult material.
The laws of musical harmony, are linear and fixed. The Gnostic
harmonizes with a sagacious or occult harmony in his interpretation
of Gnostic scripture, and it will not be linear in perspective or
meant to be understood like the musical harmony point you make. This
may be one point of why the Thomas Gospel is written as if in no
particular form or order. There is an opposite side to it,
maybe it is."<<<<
I understood that, Tom, which is partly why I chose music as the
example. I don't think you mean to imply that music is strictly an
anylitical process either, do you? In fact, music is an "occult"
practice in the truest meaning of the term.
Usually when somebody uses the term "harmony" in conjunction with
the study of Christian history, they are talking about the type of
early liturature called a "Harmony" in which the Gospels are spliced
together in attempt to make a cohesive whole. However, the problem
is that these Gospels were never intended to be read this way, so
these harmonies are based on certain assumptions of cohesion that
don't exist in the original works.
The same can be said of "Gnostic" works.
However, I get the impression that you are drawing a larger line
between "Gnostic" and "Orthodox" than actually historically existed,
while assumeing a greater "harmony" between Gnostic texts than
actually exists. While I do understand that you would like to
explore an outline that lends greater clarity to the points
that "Gnostic" beliefs had in common, I think that this line of
literary interaction may have less meaning on that front than it may
be tempting to see in them.
The case becomes more difficult when we are talking about literary
dependence. The reason there is no "Gnostic Interpretation for
Dummies" (as you call it) is because hermaneutic outlines are given
within the confines of a group. This is even more true in the kind
of initiatory group you are talking about. In fact, this becomes so
much the case that literary origins, and even the liturature itself,
can often say very little about what a group actually believes.
Consider how different Jewish and Christian groups that use the very
same liturature are in their beliefs.
BTW, can you point out exactly where you are equating "Pneumatics"
with "Craftsman"? Since Clement is not Gnostic, in the way Sethians
are "Gnostic", I am a little bit thrown of by the equation you are
>>>"In other words, does the Gospel of Mary, Phillip, Truth, etc.,comply with the harmony we see presented in Thomas? From the "Corpus
Juris Secundum" "The first step in "looking up the law" is the
formulation of the precise question the answer to which is sought."
This is called 'fixing the question,' and it is what we have to do
to establish the harmony or parallels we can qualify as "Gnostic." I
actually think this very idea is underwritten in both Clement's
work and some of the Gnostic scripture, concerning ideas of
Fixing the question sounds, in this particular case, like a short
step from the logical fallacy of "Begging the question" and doing
this never yields accurate results. Sure, if you want to take
specific attrubutes that you desire to highlight in common with
certain texts, you could do it with ANY texts. But this fails to
deal with whether those attributes are in fact the primary concerns
of the texts involved, or whether we are creating meanings through
And, ALL this must be based on whether or not Thomas is even
technically "Gnostic". It is one thing to theorize that it is, it is
another thing to start bassing other theories on this as a base
assumption. At this point, it is like building a house on a
foundation of sand. I still think that there are other evidences you
could use to make your same case that would offer you better results.