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Thomas and John Z

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  • Tom Saunders
    The following from the Ap of John Z, reveals an ordering schema of the soul and body, and attributes some emotional characteristics to these parts. The Thomas
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 4, 2005
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      The following from the Ap of John Z, reveals an ordering schema of the soul and body, and attributes some emotional characteristics to these parts. The Thomas perspective to the relation of the soul and body is 'damn the two that depends on them both.' This is the John Z schema....

      "And the powers began: the first one, goodness, created a bone-soul; and the second, foreknowledge, created a sinew-soul; the third, divinity, created a flesh-soul; and the fourth, the lordship, created a marrow-soul; the fifth, kingdom created a blood-soul; the sixth, envy, created a skin-soul; the seventh, understanding, created a hair-soul. And the multitude of the angels attended him and they received from the powers the seven substances of the natural (form) in order to create the proportions of the limbs and the proportion of the rump and the proper working together of each of the parts. (Ap of John Z)

      The powers are: goodness, foreknowledge, divinity, lordship, (the fifth is just cited as a kingdom of blood), envy, understanding.

      The physical structures are bone, sinew, flesh, marrow, blood, skin, hair. These I presume are the seven substances of natural form. This reference is probably connected with the ideas of Solomon, and the natural order of the "Wisdom paradigm" postulated by the idea that Wisdom has the natural power to order things in the universe.

      The association of the soul with the body is problematic in regard to Thomas. The construction of body 'kingdoms' connected with the soul is a false construction in that today we know the emotional attributes of say envy, come from the mental, not the physical "kingdoms.' Kingdoms in this case means systems like the nervous, skeletal, etc.

      Clement would see the John Z model as flawed also, as he postulates a model of the 'carnal spirit' and 'ruling faculty.' Hair, bone, sinew, etc. indirectly would be seen to be connected in Clement's system, but not functional in a way that hair gives the power of understanding.

      I find the following very curious.....

      "This is the number of the angels: together they are 365. They all worked on it until, limb for limb, the natural and the material body was completed by them. Now there are other ones in charge over the remaining passions whom I did not mention to you. But if you wish to know them, it is written in the book of Zoroaster. And all the angels and demons worked until they had constructed the natural body. And their product was completely inactive and motionless for a long time."

      Two important clues exist as to the origin of the ApJnZ. The reference to Zoroaster would point to the origins for the text being aligned with Zoroastrian philosophy, or say an alignment with Zoroaster's theory on the organization of the universe, with Wisdom. Sort of like Solomon's assertion that Wisdom has an organization effect over the corpus of man, and "kingdoms." This document aligns a Christian (Basilidian?) explanation of man's origin with Zoroaster.

      The above is the second reference to 365, which may mean the author is trying to align the construction of man with the cycles of the universe, or cosmology. All or most of the conclusions about the nature of man and body-soul, in the text link the origins of man and his attributes to a creation mythology, not common in most other Christian texts. (It does fit the profile of Basilides, according to Hyppolitus.)

      We have to conclude that Thomas is not following the ApJnZ creation mythology in the context of spiritual transition. Nowhere in Orthodox, or other Gnostic texts does it say 'know yourself,' and transcend with the Wisdom of Zoroaster. The Alpha-Omega of Thomasine transition, is with the Wisdom of Jesus.

      I am not saying that this document would not be of great interest to the Thomasines. There is an underlying parallel in the transition to the 'light.' Epinoia is the symbol of 'wisdom of death.'

      "This is the first one who came down, and the first separation. But the Epinoia of the light which was in him, she is the one who was to awaken his thinking."

      I can align this sentence with the idea of evil and darkness as it is used in Thomas. However, the ApJnZ, gives the darkness the power to present emanations into the Kenoma. This is not in the Thomas model of evil. The difference is an evil independent of the power of God, and the organization of the 'Wisdom Kingdom' and this 'monad' of creation. In Thomas, evil is not independent of man. We have a "storehouse'' of both good and evil. The ApJnZ has to be thought of as independent from Thomas in the respect that it is based upon similar but different principles of spiritual transcendence, to the light.

      As to the Thomas, JohnZ, and Phillip trilogy, I would suggest that Thomas is the 'monad' between the wrong of John, and the right of Phillip.

      Tom Saunders

      Platter, OK

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