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Historical Matthew

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  • Tom Saunders
    1. The placement of Matthew with both Orthodox and Gnostic tools (scripture) is difficult. Did he realize that his writings were being used in both camps?
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2005
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      1. The 'placement' of Matthew with both Orthodox and Gnostic tools (scripture) is difficult. Did he realize that his writings were being used in both camps? I think he must have as no matter where he died, both Orthodox (of the time) and Gnostic practices where in full swing.

      We have to also consider what influence non traditional belief systems in and around Jewish settlements played in the Christian formation of philosophy. Shimon Gibson had a History Channel program on Easter about his "John the Baptist Cave" and one expert after another stated, "I never saw anything like this." Matthew was by all accounts present during the time of Jesus' relationship with John.

      2. Matthew's connection to the GThom is very real, but if we can only make assumptions about the nature of Matthew's knowledge of 'secret teachings' then we cannot learn much. I do not see him in a bad light in the texts that mention his name in the NHL.

      3. Another connection to Thomas is the GPhil, which explains to a large degree the 'bridal chamber' ideal of sacred union. This explanation is void in Matthew, and I do not think it was Matthew who made this redaction. It is clear that Matthew is no clue to the concept of Holy Union, in the sense that Clement, Valentinus, and Origen would mean it. The bridal chamber idea is a part of Thomas that has to be explained and Phillip seems to be the tool for that.

      If Philip in Acts is the Phillip then a connection can be made to Alexandria and Simon Magus, through Basilides. Could the GPhil, be from remnants of 'the' Phillip, brought to Alexandria by Basilides?

      Basilides: (?-138) An Alexadrian Gnostic who formed sects around 120 to 138. Known to be associated with Valentinus, and Mathias, and other early Christian leaders. May have also had knowledge of Dositheos and others associated with Simon Magus, or Gnosticism in Samaria. Thought to have had knowledge of both mystical and Hellenistic philosophy. (My G.)

      4. Later followers of Origen like Evagrius Ponticus, Gregory the Great, Dionysius, John the Scot, and William of St. Thierry, all tried to align the bridal chamber idea to Origen's idea of ascension to the "Word Incarnate." (McGinn, Early Christian Mystics) This ascension was based on the bridal chamber, related to Solomon, and the GJohn, as the McGinn text relates. This transcendence was also based upon the idea of the Trilogy.

      Thomas seems to be more aligned to the transcendence related in the creation myth of the Apocryphon of John. In both schematics of Origen's plan and the creation myth plan, one is introduced to the notion of Pleromic to kenomic transcendence. Gnostics believe the transcendence is in the form of spirit, while the Johnites contend a resurrection back into corporeal matter. (Jerome, Letter LXXXIV)

      Another difference between Gnostics and the proto-Orthodox of the first centuries, is the idea present in Pauline Christianity, (Davies) that salvation can be obtained in the body of Christ which is the corpus of the Earthly Church. This is a position maintained by Augastine, and most of the proto-Orthodox. (McGinn)

      These differences were in existence in the earliest parts of Christian history. It shows there was very different practices and beliefs going on, both legitimately Apostolic succession practices.

      5. The huge amount of references to Presocratic thought in the NHL, and Alexandrian writings suggests that these philosophies where addressed in the earliest formations of Christianity. Many of these ideas or paradigms where well known in both Eastern and Western Philosophy. Many of these ideas like the 'tree of knowledge,' and the 'tree of life' both mentioned in GPhillip, could be explained as Jewish or Pythagorean principles. This holds for most of the concepts in the NHL.

      Jewish, 'Baptist' and Gentile philosophies in Thomas do not seem to conflict, where like philosophies can be found, but some Jewish dogma, like the importance or significance of the Sabbath, fasting, praying etc., is questioned. In spite of this the text of Thomas seems to be directed at unification of ideas between Jewish and Gentile ideas, especially monadologies.

      6. The I Ching, the "Pythagorean Table of Numbers," and the Gospel of Thomas can be seen as monadologies.

      Because both the I Ching and Pythagoreans used geometric values for numerals and numerical sets, we can see some possible ways to examine Thomas as such a tool. One concept I think should be applied to Thomas is to clarify it as a descending type tool. It is not that hard to explain, if Origen can have an ascending tool.

      Many crafts associated with the teachings of the I Ching, are taught in the manner of a descending tool. A famous Taoist story explains the concept of using a descending contemplation. I think this explains Thomas in a very intuitive way.....

      "Think of a calm body of water at night with the ripples of the water breaking up the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water. The reflection of the moon is (the monad). When the winds calm, the water calms and the moon's reflection becomes a single clear picture."

      The Pythagorean model and the I Ching model of monadologies work in such a manner. To go from the forms of the Yin and Yang to the sets of eight essential principles of the symbolic octagon around the model of Hsi Fu, (5000 B.C. ) is seen as ascending, because you add meanings in sets of eight up to 64. In the "Table of Numbers" you go from one to ten, and as you go, you add multiple meanings to the ascending order of the numerical values.

      Thomas is a descending tool on the basis that we have to go through or descend into 114 units, and break it down to decipher it. That 'Jesus said' is the monad somehow, there is little question.

      7. I see two ways to interpret the body of Thomas by breaking it down, into separate units. Either drop 114, or consider saying number one as the monadic power of the text and like for most Pythagoreans this would make the monad, a separate entity.

      8. The thirteen Parables of Thomas are also a special entity, in the body of Thomas. Clement stresses the importance to solving the 'mysteries' in Stromateis 6, through the Parables, and each Thomas Parable refers to the concept of 'kingdom.' (Kingdoms are mentioned outside the parables also)

      This breaks down or descends into Thomas and we have a triad, at this level. We have the monadic direction of saying No. 1., thirteen parables, and one hundred 'Jesus saids.' I am sure it breaks down further all the way back to the monadic force of saying No. 1., somehow.

      9. Because the first century Christians where South between Samaria, and Syria, we must consider that both Jewish and Presocratic thought dominated the philosophic influences of the time. The Persian (Eastern) knowledge in the Pythagorean camp is clear, Empedocles was taught by Anaxagoras and Anaximander, known Persians that would be acutely familiar with the I Ching, and using it as both a descending and ascending tool. (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

      By the first century there was a lot of variations of this tool. The possibilities are many at how to examine the triad, and the parables, and hundred 'Jesus saids,' of Thomas.

      If all of us, and all the people mentioned in this post where to stand and watch two space shuttle disasters, where one rocket blew up on its ascent, all would understand this as the 'ascending explosion.' If the next rocket exploded on its way down to earth all would see this as the descending explosion. Right?

      10. Thomas can be seen as an ascending device when other texts are compared to it. This is because when you do that you add to the body of the Thomas text, to compare and contrast to its content, and use it as the 'monad.' But, remember the 'pond' of water with a thousand broken pieces of the moon.

      Make 'two' the 'one.'

      Thomas Saying 2. Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]"

      Tom Saunders
      Platter Flats, OK

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