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Re: [GTh] Is Thomas Christian?

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  • Lee Edgar Tyler
    ... Hello, Mike, While I agree that a demand for orthodoxy even to the point of belief in the resurrection is not an appropriate litmus test for what should be
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 20, 2006
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      Michael Grondin wrote:

      >>From _The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions_, by Borg and Wright:
      >
      >"We are both committed to the vigorous practice of the Christian faith ...
      >we both acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as Lord ..." (p. viii)
      >
      >"For me, the historical ground of Easter is very simple: the followers of
      >Jesus, both then and now, contrinued to experience Jesus as a living reality
      >after his death. In the early Christian community, these experiences
      >included visions or apparitions of Jesus. I think Paul and others ... had
      >them. I think the community experienced the power of the Spirit they had
      >known in Jesus continuing to be and operate" (Borg, p.135)
      >
      >The phrase "living Jesus" of GThom seems to point to a view very much like
      >this. It's not J's death that matters (since his "mission" wasn't seen as
      >sacrificial atonement for the sins of humankind), but rather what he said
      >and (to their mind) continued to say. Some conservative Christians like
      >Witherington (in debate with Crossan) will virtually read liberals out of
      >Christianity, but Wright is a conservative (albeit somewhat unorthodox) and
      >he hasn't. So if one argues that Thomas isn't Christian on the grounds that
      >it displays no interest in more orthodox/conservative interpretations of
      >"resurrection", one would have a hard go of it, I'd think.
      >
      >Mike Grondin
      >Mt. Clemens, MI
      >
      >
      >

      Hello, Mike,

      While I agree that a demand for orthodoxy even to the point of belief in
      the resurrection is not an appropriate litmus test for what should be
      considered a form of ancient Christianity, the name itself implies an
      identification of Jesus as "Christ." That is, it seems to me that there
      were movements that followed Jesus and/or his attributed teachings that
      would not properly fit the term "Christian." Can we really consider the
      Thomas community "Christian" in the absence of evidence that they
      thought Jesus was Christ?

      Ed Tyler
    • Judy Redman
      ... Good point. OTOH, can we consider them *not* Christian in the absence of concrete evidence that they didn t? Given that Thomas displays no interest in any
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 20, 2006
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        Ed writes:
        >
        > Hello, Mike,
        >
        > While I agree that a demand for orthodoxy even to the point
        > of belief in
        > the resurrection is not an appropriate litmus test for what should be
        > considered a form of ancient Christianity, the name itself implies an
        > identification of Jesus as "Christ." That is, it seems to me
        > that there
        > were movements that followed Jesus and/or his attributed
        > teachings that
        > would not properly fit the term "Christian." Can we really
        > consider the
        > Thomas community "Christian" in the absence of evidence that they
        > thought Jesus was Christ?

        Good point. OTOH, can we consider them *not* Christian in the absence of
        concrete evidence that they didn't?
        Given that Thomas displays no interest in any other aspect of Jesus' life
        than his teachings and is essentially a sayings source rather than a gospel
        like the Christian canonicals, I think it is virtually impossible to know
        what Thomas' take on the resurrection is. What GThos says about
        understanding Jesus' words being the key to eternal life (fairly radical
        paraphrase, I know) would certainly move it outside the orthodox Protestant
        formulation of Christianity where salvation comes by grace through faith
        alone, although one might well argue that the role of the Spirit is to give
        knowledge so that understanding Christ's teachings might well be the result
        of the indwelling of the Spirit that comes with faith in Christ. The
        Catholic understanding gives, I think, more status to one's actions combined
        with faith but obviously both these formulations are far newer than GThos.

        However, the first ecumenical Council of the church, held in Nicaea in 325
        CE, formulated orthodox Christian belief as follows:

        "We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and
        invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father,
        that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light
        of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance
        with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made
        both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was
        incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended
        into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy
        Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not
        before He was begotten; and that He was made our of nothing (ex ouk onton);
        or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than
        the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to
        change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes."

        (I got this from the Catholic Encyclopaedia and I think that it would be
        equally or maybe even more legitimate to use lowercase and say "catholic
        church")

        Because I am fairly new to the study of GThos and I am investigating
        something other than this, I don't wish to be dogmatic but my impression is
        that GThos could not be definitively labelled "not Christian" on the basis
        of this creed. Or could it?

        Judy
      • Lee Edgar Tyler
        ... That judgment would depend upon several things. Could you really *expect* a definitive statement in Thomas to the effect Jesus said: I am not a
        Message 3 of 11 , Jan 20, 2006
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          Judy Redman wrote:

          >Ed writes:
          >
          >
          >>Hello, Mike,
          >>
          >>While I agree that a demand for orthodoxy even to the point
          >>of belief in
          >>the resurrection is not an appropriate litmus test for what should be
          >>considered a form of ancient Christianity, the name itself implies an
          >>identification of Jesus as "Christ." That is, it seems to me
          >>that there
          >>were movements that followed Jesus and/or his attributed
          >>teachings that
          >>would not properly fit the term "Christian." Can we really
          >>consider the
          >>Thomas community "Christian" in the absence of evidence that they
          >>thought Jesus was Christ?
          >>
          >>
          >
          >Good point. OTOH, can we consider them *not* Christian in the absence of
          >concrete evidence that they didn't?
          >
          >
          That judgment would depend upon several things. Could you really
          *expect* a definitive statement in Thomas to the effect "Jesus said: 'I
          am not a Christ'" the way Nixon said "I am not a crook"? I don't think
          so. So we would have to decide what constitutes convincing evidence
          that the Thomas community did not regard Jesus as the Christ. Would a
          complete absence of such an attribution in a text the length of Thomas
          constitute such evidence? While I'm inclined to think so, I wouldn't
          bet the farm on it.

          I am comfortable in asserting that given the present resources we have
          no warrant to label the Thomas community "Christian," if we define the
          term as a community that held Jesus to be the Christ. There is no
          problem that I can see in allowing for agnosticism on that point in our
          methodology. If next week another Mohammed Ali comes across another
          Coptic library that reveals the Thomas community thought Jesus was the
          Christ (whether they made his resurrection a dogma or not) then we'd
          need to reevaluate our taxonomy. But it seems to me to be at least
          potentially misleading or confusing to term a community "Christian" if
          we have no evidence that they believed in a Christ at all.

          Ed Tyler


          >Given that Thomas displays no interest in any other aspect of Jesus' life
          >than his teachings and is essentially a sayings source rather than a gospel
          >like the Christian canonicals, I think it is virtually impossible to know
          >what Thomas' take on the resurrection is. What GThos says about
          >understanding Jesus' words being the key to eternal life (fairly radical
          >paraphrase, I know) would certainly move it outside the orthodox Protestant
          >formulation of Christianity where salvation comes by grace through faith
          >alone, although one might well argue that the role of the Spirit is to give
          >knowledge so that understanding Christ's teachings might well be the result
          >of the indwelling of the Spirit that comes with faith in Christ. The
          >Catholic understanding gives, I think, more status to one's actions combined
          >with faith but obviously both these formulations are far newer than GThos.
          >
          >However, the first ecumenical Council of the church, held in Nicaea in 325
          >CE, formulated orthodox Christian belief as follows:
          >
          >"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and
          >invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father,
          >that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light
          >of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance
          >with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made
          >both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was
          >incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended
          >into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy
          >Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not
          >before He was begotten; and that He was made our of nothing (ex ouk onton);
          >or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than
          >the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to
          >change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes."
          >
          >(I got this from the Catholic Encyclopaedia and I think that it would be
          >equally or maybe even more legitimate to use lowercase and say "catholic
          >church")
          >
          >Because I am fairly new to the study of GThos and I am investigating
          >something other than this, I don't wish to be dogmatic but my impression is
          >that GThos could not be definitively labelled "not Christian" on the basis
          >of this creed. Or could it?
          >
          >Judy
          >
          >
        • Judy Redman
          ... I agree. In the case of the Thomas community, I don t think we have sufficient information to make a definitive statement either way. On the basis of the
          Message 4 of 11 , Jan 20, 2006
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            Ed writes:

            > But it seems to me to be at least
            > potentially misleading or confusing to term a community
            > "Christian" if
            > we have no evidence that they believed in a Christ at all.

            I agree. In the case of the Thomas community, I don't think we have
            sufficient information to make a definitive statement either way. On the
            basis of the evidence before us the Thomas may or may not have believed in a
            Christ and if they did, may or may not have believed that Jesus was the
            Christ. I guess this means that, if we are being careful about our
            labelling, we should refer to it as "a document of the early Christian era".

            Judy

            --
            "One can easily understand a child who is afraid of the dark. The real
            tragedy of life is when grown men and women are afraid of the light." -
            Plato

            Rev Judy Redman
            Uniting Church Chaplain
            University of New England
            Armidale 2351
            ph: +61 2 6773 3739
            fax: +61 2 6773 3749
            web: http://www.une.edu.au/campus/chaplaincy/uniting/
            email: jredman@...


            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
            > [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Lee Edgar Tyler
            > Sent: Saturday, 21 January 2006 1:26 PM
            > To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: Re: [GTh] Is Thomas Christian?
            >
            >
            > Judy Redman wrote:
            >
            > >Ed writes:
            > >
            > >
            > >>Hello, Mike,
            > >>
            > >>While I agree that a demand for orthodoxy even to the point
            > >>of belief in
            > >>the resurrection is not an appropriate litmus test for what
            > should be
            > >>considered a form of ancient Christianity, the name itself
            > implies an
            > >>identification of Jesus as "Christ." That is, it seems to me
            > >>that there
            > >>were movements that followed Jesus and/or his attributed
            > >>teachings that
            > >>would not properly fit the term "Christian." Can we really
            > >>consider the
            > >>Thomas community "Christian" in the absence of evidence that they
            > >>thought Jesus was Christ?
            > >>
            > >>
            > >
            > >Good point. OTOH, can we consider them *not* Christian in
            > the absence
            > >of concrete evidence that they didn't?
            > >
            > >
            > That judgment would depend upon several things. Could you really
            > *expect* a definitive statement in Thomas to the effect
            > "Jesus said: 'I
            > am not a Christ'" the way Nixon said "I am not a crook"? I
            > don't think
            > so. So we would have to decide what constitutes convincing evidence
            > that the Thomas community did not regard Jesus as the Christ.
            > Would a
            > complete absence of such an attribution in a text the length
            > of Thomas
            > constitute such evidence? While I'm inclined to think so, I wouldn't
            > bet the farm on it.
            >
            > I am comfortable in asserting that given the present
            > resources we have
            > no warrant to label the Thomas community "Christian," if we
            > define the
            > term as a community that held Jesus to be the Christ. There is no
            > problem that I can see in allowing for agnosticism on that
            > point in our
            > methodology. If next week another Mohammed Ali comes across another
            > Coptic library that reveals the Thomas community thought
            > Jesus was the
            > Christ (whether they made his resurrection a dogma or not) then we'd
            > need to reevaluate our taxonomy.
            > Ed Tyler
            >
            >
            > >Given that Thomas displays no interest in any other aspect of Jesus'
            > >life than his teachings and is essentially a sayings source
            > rather than
            > >a gospel like the Christian canonicals, I think it is virtually
            > >impossible to know what Thomas' take on the resurrection is. What
            > >GThos says about understanding Jesus' words being the key to eternal
            > >life (fairly radical paraphrase, I know) would certainly move it
            > >outside the orthodox Protestant formulation of Christianity where
            > >salvation comes by grace through faith alone, although one
            > might well
            > >argue that the role of the Spirit is to give knowledge so that
            > >understanding Christ's teachings might well be the result of the
            > >indwelling of the Spirit that comes with faith in Christ.
            > The Catholic
            > >understanding gives, I think, more status to one's actions combined
            > >with faith but obviously both these formulations are far newer than
            > >GThos.
            > >
            > >However, the first ecumenical Council of the church, held in
            > Nicaea in
            > >325 CE, formulated orthodox Christian belief as follows:
            > >
            > >"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all
            > things visible
            > >and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only
            > begotten of the
            > >Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the
            > Father, God of
            > >God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the
            > >same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri],
            > through whom all
            > >things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our
            > >salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man,
            > suffered and rose
            > >again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the
            > >living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say:
            > There was a
            > >time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten;
            > and that
            > >He was made our of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain
            > that He is
            > >of another hypostasis or another substance [than the
            > Father], or that
            > >the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change,
            > [them] the
            > >Catholic Church anathematizes."
            > >
            > >(I got this from the Catholic Encyclopaedia and I think that
            > it would
            > >be equally or maybe even more legitimate to use lowercase and say
            > >"catholic
            > >church")
            > >
            > >Because I am fairly new to the study of GThos and I am investigating
            > >something other than this, I don't wish to be dogmatic but my
            > >impression is that GThos could not be definitively labelled "not
            > >Christian" on the basis of this creed. Or could it?
            > >
            > >Judy
            > >
            > >
            >
            >
            > --------------------------------------------------------------------
            > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
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            > send a blank email to gthomas-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
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            >
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            >
            >
            >
          • David Renfro
            If we use terms like Early Christian , proto-Christian , Thomasine Christian , don t we prejudice our discussion with a suggestion that somehow, someway,
            Message 5 of 11 , Jan 20, 2006
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              If we use terms like "Early Christian", "proto-Christian", "Thomasine Christian", don't we prejudice our discussion with a suggestion that somehow, someway, the GThom is Christian.
              Dave R.
            • Michael Grondin
              ... Let me push this a little further, if I may, and see if I can formulate a proposal for purposes of discussion. Although there s no titles given for Jesus
              Message 6 of 11 , Jan 20, 2006
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                [Ed]:
                > But it seems to me to be at least potentially misleading or confusing to
                > term a community "Christian" if we have no evidence that they believed in
                > a Christ at all.

                [Judy]:
                > I agree. In the case of the Thomas community, I don't think we have
                > sufficient information to make a definitive statement either way. On the
                > basis of the evidence before us the Thomas may or may not have believed
                > in a Christ and if they did, may or may not have believed that Jesus was
                > the Christ. I guess this means that, if we are being careful about our
                > labelling, we should refer to it as "a document of the early Christian
                > era".

                Let me push this a little further, if I may, and see if I can formulate a
                proposal for purposes of discussion. Although there's no titles given for
                Jesus in GThom, there is in the Book of Thomas the Contender. If this text
                belongs to the same community, then it's significant that therein he's
                referred to with two titles - 'Lord' (the Coptic word, not the Greek) and
                'Savior' (SWTHR abbreviated and overstroked as SWR - indicating a
                "sacred name"). But he's not called 'Christ' there either. Why not?

                One explanation that strikes me as plausible is that the Thomas community
                had rejected the notion of defining Jesus in terms of the Hebrew concept of
                Messiahship - hence avoided the title 'Christ' - even though it used other
                titles that were every bit as exalted - if not more so. The chief piece of
                supporting evidence for this view is saying 52, which I take as rejecting
                the process of proof-texting from the Hebrew scriptures. As Valantasis
                remarks about this saying:

                "The narrator portrays Jesus as rejecting the textualized prophecies of the
                Israelite Scriptures - these are dead writings - in favor of the narrator's
                own constructed 'living' voice from the 'living one' who speaks the sayings
                of Jesus." (_The Gospel of Thomas_, p.130)

                But the concept of Messiahship is contained in those scriptures and
                prophecies. To embrace Messiahship then, may have been seen as treating
                those scriptures and prophecies as 'living', not 'dead', and that was
                something that the Thomas community seems to have been unwilling to do,
                for whatever reasons (which I won't get into here.)

                Aside from whether the proposal is felt to have merit, let's think of it
                this way:: suppose that I'm a person whose notion of Jesus is
                every bit as elevated as any Christian, but for whatever reason, I don't
                want to associate him with messiahship. Maybe I think that concept is too
                limited or too provincial, for example (my reasons don't have to be good
                ones). Am I a Christian? Apparently not, strictly speaking. But should we
                speak strictly in this case? Because to say that I'm non-Christian
                doesn't sound right either - since that seems to imply that I don't share
                the Christian's view of Jesus as divine, which I do (in this hypothetical
                example). Is there any term that we could use so as to avoid lengthy
                circumlocutions? 'Yeshuine', perhaps? Or is this a problem for which there
                is no good solution?

                Regards,
                Mike Grondin
              • Judy Redman
                ... [Mike] ... Where I come from, the conservative Christians would be quite happy to include someone who names Jesus as Lord and Saviour as one of them - it s
                Message 7 of 11 , Jan 21, 2006
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                  > [Ed]:
                  > > But it seems to me to be at least potentially misleading
                  > or confusing
                  > > to term a community "Christian" if we have no evidence that they
                  > > believed in a Christ at all.
                  >
                  > [Judy]:
                  > > I agree. In the case of the Thomas community, I don't
                  > think we have
                  > > sufficient information to make a definitive statement
                  > either way. On
                  > > the basis of the evidence before us the Thomas may or may not have
                  > > believed in a Christ and if they did, may or may not have believed
                  > > that Jesus was the Christ. I guess this means that, if we
                  > are being
                  > > careful about our labelling, we should refer to it as "a
                  > document of
                  > > the early Christian era".

                  [Mike]
                  > Let me push this a little further, if I may, and see if I can
                  > formulate a proposal for purposes of discussion. Although
                  > there's no titles given for Jesus in GThom, there is in the
                  > Book of Thomas the Contender. If this text belongs to the
                  > same community, then it's significant that therein he's
                  > referred to with two titles - 'Lord' (the Coptic word, not
                  > the Greek) and 'Savior' (SWTHR abbreviated and overstroked as
                  > SWR - indicating a "sacred name"). But he's not called
                  > 'Christ' there either. Why not?
                  >
                  > One explanation that strikes me as plausible is that the
                  > Thomas community had rejected the notion of defining Jesus in
                  > terms of the Hebrew concept of Messiahship - hence avoided
                  > the title 'Christ' - even though it used other titles that
                  > were every bit as exalted - if not more so.

                  Where I come from, the conservative Christians would be quite happy to
                  include someone who names Jesus as Lord and Saviour as one of them - it's
                  one of their tests for orthodoxy. I am not sure that using the *title*
                  Messiah is essential if the understanding of the messianic *work* is there.
                  This would be especially true if the Thomas community were largely not
                  Hebrew or Aramaic speakers and largely non-Jewish in background. There
                  might be seen to be little point in insisting that people learned a new word
                  if they already had one that would work quite well in their own language.
                  So another explanation would be that the leaders of the community had simply
                  decided not to use a title that they would have to define to a group of
                  non-Jewish, non-Hebrew/Aramaic speakers. To a certain extent, this hinges
                  on what you understand to be the provenance and original language of GThos
                  (and Thomas the Contender) and there is still contraversy over this.

                  I don't know if this takes us any further forward, but I find it
                  interesting. :-)

                  Judy
                • David Renfro
                  Mike writes: Is there any term that we could use so as to avoid lengthy circumlocutions? Yeshuine , perhaps? Or is this a problem for which there is no good
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jan 21, 2006
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                    Mike writes:
                    Is there any term that we could use so as to avoid lengthy
                    circumlocutions? 'Yeshuine', perhaps? Or is this a problem for
                    which there is no good solution?

                    Mike,
                    As you know, I've been using the term "Yeshuaism" for a while now.
                    Before we can define what "Yeshuaism" is, we must decide what the
                    parameters of Christianity are. And if there is merit in coining a new
                    word that makes that distinction.
                    Christianity, as a term, has become a broad brush with which all
                    "Jesus Worship" is painted. This taints any "Thomasine Jesus Worship":
                    with a "Hellenized" prejudice.
                    I've been avoiding using "Yeshuaism" "Yeshuine" "Yeshuite" on this
                    forum until the soft edges of "Christianity" could be defined. As this
                    topic is under debate, I hope I'm not premature in suggesting,
                    Yeshuaism: Non-Christian worship of Yeshua Ben Yosef.
                    Dave R.
                    Sanford Fl.














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                  • David C. Hindley
                    ...
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jan 21, 2006
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                      --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Judy Redman" <jredman@p...> wrote:

                      <<Where I come from, the conservative Christians would be quite happy
                      to include someone who names Jesus as Lord and Saviour as one of
                      them - it's one of their tests for orthodoxy. I am not sure that
                      using the *title* Messiah is essential if the understanding of the
                      messianic *work* is there. This would be especially true if the
                      Thomas community were largely not Hebrew or Aramaic speakers and
                      largely non-Jewish in background. There might be seen to be little
                      point in insisting that people learned a new word if they already had
                      one that would work quite well in their own language. So another
                      explanation would be that the leaders of the community had simply
                      decided not to use a title that they would have to define to a group
                      of non-Jewish, non-Hebrew/Aramaic speakers. To a certain extent,
                      this hinges on what you understand to be the provenance and original
                      language of GThos (and Thomas the Contender) and there is still
                      contraversy over this.>>

                      Maybe I'm not paying sufficient attention, but hasn't this discussion
                      been glossing over the difference between a Jewish messiah
                      ("Christos" in Greek) and the LATER title applied to Jesus that
                      indicated he is a *divine redeemer* figure?

                      In the former case "christian" (small "c") would mean
                      essentially "messianist," and cannot necessarily be restricted to
                      followers of Jesus alone. Others may also have claimed to be, or had
                      been ascribed, the mantle of Jewish messiahship, and they would have
                      had followers too. This concept can be applied to any formally
                      anointed ruler figure, including the Jewish High Priest or perhaps
                      one of the Herodian client kings. This has significance when
                      considering what kind of people an author like Tacitus means when he
                      speaks of "christians". In Roman eyes, "messianism" is tantamount
                      to "rebellion against the Roman order" (except perhaps in the case of
                      an officially recognized client king or High Priest). This is
                      apparently what folks are referring to as "low" christology. While
                      there is difference of modern opinion about how "high"
                      the "christology" of early Jewish followers of Jesus was, I'd be
                      inclined to think that the earliest followers, both Jewish and
                      gentile, would have been strictly messianists, and thus best
                      described as "christians" (small "c").

                      The later use of the term "christos" seems to be associated with
                      followers of Jesus *as some form of redeemer*. This is apparently
                      what folks are referring to as "high" christology. Followers of Jesus
                      the divine redeemer would thus be "Christians" (big "C"). When WE
                      think of "Christian", we are thinking of the latter use. Those
                      followers of Jesus who re-thought the concept of messiahship and
                      transformed it from a distinctly Jewish title of earthly authority to
                      a title of divine redeemership, would be "Christians". Probably also
                      Gnostics (big "G") would belong in this latter class. Even after
                      Jesus' death, many of his followers probably did not immediately
                      elevate him to divine redeemer status, and some may never have. Maybe
                      we could tuck Ebionites into this last category and treat them
                      as "christians" (small "c").

                      The author of Gospel of Thomas does not seem to put itself into
                      either camp. Jesus is someone who they believed said profound things.
                      Mikes' suggestion of something like "Yeshuan" (or simply a "follower"
                      of Jesus, or collectively a "Jesus movement") seems good. If the
                      term "gnostic" (small "g") is taken to be those who love profound
                      truths (in writings) not readily seen on the surface, as opposed to
                      Gnostics (big "G") who believe in (a) divine redeemer figure(s), then
                      the Thomas community would be "gnostics" and not "christians"
                      or "Christians."

                      Respectfully,

                      Dave Hindley
                      Cleveland, Ohio USA
                    • David Arbuckle
                      Hello all, I have not posted on this list much as I have been busy on other yahoo groups, but have followed this thread with great interest. I have always
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jan 21, 2006
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Hello all,


                        I have not posted on this list much as I have been
                        busy on other yahoo groups, but have followed this
                        thread with great interest.

                        I have always thought that the sayings in Thomas
                        that have parallels in the NT seem to the laymen (me)
                        to be more primitive then their counterparts in the
                        NT. I have always filed that in my brain as proof that
                        Thomas was earlier at least in part then the NT. It
                        seems that if I am right, and the fact that Acts is
                        quite late, and that it is generally regarded as the
                        the source that most use as the origin of that term
                        (christian) that maybe the term 'christian' had not
                        even been coined as yet when Thomas was first penned.

                        It would seem to make sense that the followers of
                        Yeshua of the Thomasine community and the author(s) of
                        Thomas may not have been even aquainted with the term.


                        At any rate, I personally like the term Yeshuines,
                        Yeshuaism over christian or christianity as it brings
                        the focus back to the man instead of the deity that
                        would appear to be a late invention.

                        my two cents.

                        dave

                        --- Lee Edgar Tyler <leeedgartyler@...> wrote:

                        > Judy Redman wrote:
                        >
                        > >Ed writes:
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >>Hello, Mike,
                        > >>
                        > >>While I agree that a demand for orthodoxy even to
                        > the point
                        > >>of belief in
                        > >>the resurrection is not an appropriate litmus test
                        > for what should be
                        > >>considered a form of ancient Christianity, the
                        > name itself implies an
                        > >>identification of Jesus as "Christ." That is, it
                        > seems to me
                        > >>that there
                        > >>were movements that followed Jesus and/or his
                        > attributed
                        > >>teachings that
                        > >>would not properly fit the term "Christian." Can
                        > we really
                        > >>consider the
                        > >>Thomas community "Christian" in the absence of
                        > evidence that they
                        > >>thought Jesus was Christ?
                        > >>
                        > >>
                        > >
                        > >Good point. OTOH, can we consider them *not*
                        > Christian in the absence of
                        > >concrete evidence that they didn't?
                        > >
                        > >
                        > That judgment would depend upon several things.
                        > Could you really
                        > *expect* a definitive statement in Thomas to the
                        > effect "Jesus said: 'I
                        > am not a Christ'" the way Nixon said "I am not a
                        > crook"? I don't think
                        > so. So we would have to decide what constitutes
                        > convincing evidence
                        > that the Thomas community did not regard Jesus as
                        > the Christ. Would a
                        > complete absence of such an attribution in a text
                        > the length of Thomas
                        > constitute such evidence? While I'm inclined to
                        > think so, I wouldn't
                        > bet the farm on it.
                        >
                        > I am comfortable in asserting that given the present
                        > resources we have
                        > no warrant to label the Thomas community
                        > "Christian," if we define the
                        > term as a community that held Jesus to be the
                        > Christ. There is no
                        > problem that I can see in allowing for agnosticism
                        > on that point in our
                        > methodology. If next week another Mohammed Ali
                        > comes across another
                        > Coptic library that reveals the Thomas community
                        > thought Jesus was the
                        > Christ (whether they made his resurrection a dogma
                        > or not) then we'd
                        > need to reevaluate our taxonomy. But it seems to me
                        > to be at least
                        > potentially misleading or confusing to term a
                        > community "Christian" if
                        > we have no evidence that they believed in a Christ
                        > at all.
                        >
                        > Ed Tyler
                        >
                        >
                        > >Given that Thomas displays no interest in any other
                        > aspect of Jesus' life
                        > >than his teachings and is essentially a sayings
                        > source rather than a gospel
                        > >like the Christian canonicals, I think it is
                        > virtually impossible to know
                        > >what Thomas' take on the resurrection is. What
                        > GThos says about
                        > >understanding Jesus' words being the key to eternal
                        > life (fairly radical
                        > >paraphrase, I know) would certainly move it outside
                        > the orthodox Protestant
                        > >formulation of Christianity where salvation comes
                        > by grace through faith
                        > >alone, although one might well argue that the role
                        > of the Spirit is to give
                        > >knowledge so that understanding Christ's teachings
                        > might well be the result
                        > >of the indwelling of the Spirit that comes with
                        > faith in Christ. The
                        > >Catholic understanding gives, I think, more status
                        > to one's actions combined
                        > >with faith but obviously both these formulations
                        > are far newer than GThos.
                        > >
                        > >However, the first ecumenical Council of the
                        > church, held in Nicaea in 325
                        > >CE, formulated orthodox Christian belief as
                        > follows:
                        > >
                        > >"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker
                        > of all things visible and
                        > >invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only
                        > begotten of the Father,
                        > >that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the
                        > Father, God of God, light
                        > >of light, true God of true God, begotten not made,
                        > of the same substance
                        > >with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom
                        > all things were made
                        > >both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our
                        > salvation descended, was
                        > >incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose
                        > again the third day, ascended
                        > >into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the
                        > dead. And in the Holy
                        > >Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was
                        > not, and He was not
                        > >before He was begotten; and that He was made our of
                        > nothing (ex ouk onton);
                        > >or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or
                        > another substance [than
                        > >the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or
                        > mutable, or subject to
                        > >change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes."
                        > >
                        > >(I got this from the Catholic Encyclopaedia and I
                        > think that it would be
                        > >equally or maybe even more legitimate to use
                        > lowercase and say "catholic
                        > >church")
                        > >
                        > >Because I am fairly new to the study of GThos and I
                        > am investigating
                        > >something other than this, I don't wish to be
                        > dogmatic but my impression is
                        > >that GThos could not be definitively labelled "not
                        > Christian" on the basis
                        > >of this creed. Or could it?
                        > >
                        > >Judy
                        > >
                        > >
                        >
                        >
                        >
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