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varia on GTh etc.

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  • Dr Simon Gathercole
    A couple of things: (i) low/high christology: one of the problems with the evolutionary christology hypothesis is that as far back as you go, we have a very
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 23, 2006
      A couple of things:

      (i) low/high christology: one of the problems with the evolutionary
      christology hypothesis is that as far back as you go, we have a very "high"
      christology. Virtually the earliest confession we have evidence for is the
      Aramaic 'marana ta', "come, our lord". Calling Jesus "our Lord" is not a
      confession of a merely human messianic figure.

      (ii) on Thomas' orthodoxy or unorthodoxy: in addition to the christological
      factor, which I won't labour here, there are a number of really problematic
      features in Thomas which raise questions over whether it can be regarded as
      a document that should be used by Christians. First example: it rejects the
      practice of prayer - something so outlandish that it hasn't even occurred
      to most theologians to discuss. Second, it rejects the authority of the OT
      as scripture. The prophets are dead (saying 52) in contrast to the "living
      one" (Jesus does have some titles in G.Th.). Severing the tie with Judaism
      and the OT is something that it is neither attractive nor possible for
      Christianity (cf. the same with fasting and almsgiving).

      cheers,
      Simon


      ------------
      Dr Simon Gathercole
      Senior Lecturer in New Testament
      University of Aberdeen

      01224 272374
    • benedictlo1
      ... Hi Simon: I agree with you that in some aspects Christianity is different from GThomas. In Buddhism/Zen development, fasting and almsgiving etc. are good
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 23, 2006
        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, Dr Simon Gathercole wrote:
        > A couple of things:
        > (i) low/high christology: ....
        > (ii) on Thomas' orthodoxy or unorthodoxy: ..., there are a number
        > of really problematic features in Thomas which raise questions
        > over whether it can be regarded as a document that should be used
        > by Christians. First example: it rejects the practice of prayer -
        > something so outlandish that it hasn't even occurred to most
        > theologians to discuss. ... that it is neither attractive
        > nor possible for Christianity (cf. the same with fasting and
        > almsgiving).

        Hi Simon:

        I agree with you that in some aspects Christianity is different from GThomas.

        In Buddhism/Zen development, fasting and almsgiving etc. are good work to practice, particular in "the jingtu zong". But later, Zen' masters advise people that one must completely forget what is called good work in order to return to "reality" – the high spirit. Once one returns to ones original stage, one will be with SELF unified with the highest spirit, and one will not use the world's form to think to practice.

        It seems that GThomas preached similar things but much earlier. Only
        very few people with some background in the old day would understand
        what "The Master" was talking about.


        Benedict
      • Ron McCann
        ... (i) ... deleted ... Now that depends. It depends on whether or not Christianity is a one-tier or two tier system. Practices relating to the attainment of
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 23, 2006
          At 02:42 AM 23/01/06, Dr Simon Gather wrote:
          >A couple of things:

          (i) ... deleted


          >(ii) on Thomas' orthodoxy or unorthodoxy: in addition to the christological
          >factor, which I won't labour here, there are a number of really problematic
          >features in Thomas which raise questions over whether it can be regarded as
          >a document that should be used by Christians. First example: it rejects the
          >practice of prayer - something so outlandish that it hasn't even occurred
          >to most theologians to discuss. Second, it rejects the authority of the OT
          >as scripture. The prophets are dead (saying 52) in contrast to the "living
          >one" (Jesus does have some titles in G.Th.). Severing the tie with Judaism
          >and the OT is something that it is neither attractive nor possible for
          >Christianity (cf. the same with fasting and almsgiving).

          Now that depends. It depends on whether or not Christianity is a one-tier
          or two tier system. Practices relating to the attainment of "salvation" for
          one tier need not be useful or applicable to the attainment of another
          level or tier of "salvation". I think we have to seriously consider
          whether Jesus
          actually gave an "open" teaching for "the many" and a "secret" teaching
          for the "few". As with Buddhism, there may be "big" and "little" baskets, the
          latter for those who wanted to press the Christian experince farther and
          deeper- who wanted a Realized Kingdom now, rather than wait for the
          "Kingdom to come". It is the contention of the Thomas author, that
          he did. Thomas, which seems to focus on that second tier and
          which, IMO, contains a higher density of the alleged "secret teachings" than
          do the Canonicals, may actually belong in modern Christianity, even though it
          may fail the tests of "Orthodoxy" by both modern and historical yardsticks.
          I cannot help believing, as apparently does Professor Jacob Needleman
          of San Francisco State University (author of "Lost Christianity") that
          we have only a partial transmission of the teachings of Jesus, and whereas
          the Churches may be delivering the essential grains of first-tier "salvation",
          something powerful has been lost. Historically. it may have occurred when
          the Church sought to purge itself of Gnostic "Secret-teaching" material. The
          baby was cast out with the dirty bath water.

          Put simply, I see Thomas as strong evidence (As I do the Clement Letter
          on Secret Mark) that Jesus left a non-gnostic- I emphasize "non-gnostic"-,
          upper level or "senior" teaching for those interested in its' pursuit.

          So my view is that it +is+ a document that should be used by Christians
          who seek a deeper Christian experience. Modern Christianity, IMHO,
          knows virtually nothing about this level, and Thomas is as good a
          place as any to start recovering it.

          Personally, I would like to see a scholarly effort to recover it too, but
          all I ever seem to see is a lot of tiptoeing around or an avoidance of
          any discussion of Thomas's "doctrines". The "cup" gets explored ad
          nauseum, but rarely the doctrinal "contents". And when they are, all
          we seem to get is "gnostic" interpretations. A "non-gnostic" secret
          teaching of Jesus, one deeply linked to Jewish thought and beliefs
          of that day, seems a subject not even on the radar.

          Thomas is deeply, almost inextricably, locked into the earliest roots of the
          "orthodox" Christian stream, IMO, and grew along with it and from it. One
          tends to forget or overlook that more than 50% of its' sayings have
          recognizable parallels in the Synoptics. Surely we should view the
          open teachings and the secret teachings as brother and sister in the
          same family.

          Ron McCann
          Saskatoon, Canada
        • Michael Grondin
          ... I think this needs clarification, Ron. It seems that you re contradicting what Simon had said about the relationship of GThom to Jewish thought and
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 23, 2006
            [Ron McCann]:
            > A "non-gnostic" secret teaching of Jesus, one deeply
            > linked to Jewish thought and beliefs of that day ...

            I think this needs clarification, Ron. It seems that you're contradicting
            what Simon had said about the relationship of GThom to "Jewish thought and
            beliefs", but you failed to discuss the apparent disagreement. What strand
            of Jewish thought do you see GThom as being linked to? Essene? Mystical?
            (Either of which would be a distinct minority, I think you'll agree.) And on
            what grounds?

            Mike G.
          • Judy Redman
            ... I am not sure that this is what he does. GThos talks about prayer in 3 places. L6, where the disciples ask if they should pray, fast, give to charity and
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 24, 2006
              Simon writes:

              > (ii) on Thomas' orthodoxy or unorthodoxy: in addition to the
              > christological
              > factor, which I won't labour here, there are a number of
              > really problematic
              > features in Thomas which raise questions over whether it can
              > be regarded as
              > a document that should be used by Christians. First example:
              > it rejects the
              > practice of prayer - something so outlandish that it hasn't
              > even occurred
              > to most theologians to discuss.

              I am not sure that this is what he does. GThos talks about prayer in 3
              places. L6, where the disciples ask if they should pray, fast, give to
              charity and they are told instead not to lie or do what they hate. in L14
              where he says with no context given "If you fast, you will bring sin upon
              yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to
              charity, you will harm your spirits." and in in L104 "They said to Jesus,
              "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast." Jesus said, "What sin have I
              committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the groom leaves the
              bridal suite, then let people fast and pray." So certainly in 104 he seems
              to be saying pray, but not now, there are more important things to do now.
              There are certainly contexts in which L14 would make sense without
              necessarily being rejection of prayer. If we look at the canonical gospels,
              the seems to have been an attempt to get Jesus to give them a nice simple
              recipe for getting into heaven - "What nice, religious rituals can we
              undertake that will get us into God's good graces". L6 & L14 could well
              both be responses to this kind of thing. I am not necessarily trying to
              argue that GThos is the quintessential Christian document, mind you, just
              that I don't see that we have definitive evidence that the Jesus of GThos
              rejected prayer.

              > Second, it rejects the
              > authority of the OT
              > as scripture. The prophets are dead (saying 52) in contrast
              > to the "living
              > one" (Jesus does have some titles in G.Th.). Severing the tie
              > with Judaism
              > and the OT is something that it is neither attractive nor
              > possible for
              > Christianity (cf. the same with fasting and almsgiving).

              Likewise L 52 says:
              52. His disciples said to him, "Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel,
              and they all spoke of you."
              He said to them, "You have disregarded the living one who is in your
              presence, and have spoken of the dead." I don't see this as rejecting the
              Hebrew Scriptures outright, but simply saying that they should listen to
              him. We have plenty of evidence that Jesus (or at least his followers)
              believed that the Jews were not at that time doing a particularly stunning
              job of living as God wanted them to. There were certainly times where Jesus
              taught things that were in contradiction to either common interpretation of
              Hebrew Scripture or even what it said. There his teaching had primacy.
              This comes across in the canonical material as well, but there we are given
              a context which makes it clearer what exactly is intended.

              Judy

              (PS for those wondering, I've use the Patterson and Meyer translation
              because that's the first electronic version I found that I could cut and
              paste. Lambdin may vary slightly.
              >
              > cheers,
              > Simon
              >
              >
              > ------------
              > Dr Simon Gathercole
              > Senior Lecturer in New Testament
              > University of Aberdeen
              >
              > 01224 272374
              >
              >
              >
              > --------------------------------------------------------------------
              > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
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            • benedictlo1
              ... Hi Judy: I agree with your comments of L52 - OT. Coptic atetN kw Mpet onx MpetN Mto ebol , currently English translation is You have disregarded the
              Message 6 of 10 , Jan 24, 2006
                > ...
                > Likewise L52 says:
                > 52. His disciples said to him, "Twenty-four prophets have spoken
                > in Israel,and they all spoke of you."
                > He said to them, "You have disregarded the living one who is in
                > your presence, and have spoken of the dead." I don't see this as
                > rejecting the Hebrew Scriptures outright, but simply saying that
                > they should listen to him. ...
                >
                > Judy

                Hi Judy:

                I agree with your comments of L52 -> OT.
                Coptic "atetN kw Mpet onx MpetN Mto ebol", currently English
                translation is "You have disregarded the living one who is in your
                presence". Here, I am not so sure that Yasuha was pointing to
                himself. I did study a bit about the meaning of "MpetN Mto ebol (in
                your presence out)" with care in Coptic and checked with Hebrew
                speakers about the expression.

                Totally, 6 places in GThomas show this important term "Mto ebol". I
                think we must carefully examine this non-specific but very special
                term in order to understand the true meanings of J's sayings at the
                6 occations and the implications on the GThomas as a whole.


                Benedict
                (PS: The 6 places - L5, L6, L21, L52, L91, L111)
              • Michael Grondin
                ... There s a syntactical connection between L14 and L6a that indicates as a distinct possibility that they are two parts of a whole which have been separated,
                Message 7 of 10 , Jan 24, 2006
                  [Judy]:
                  > GThos talks about prayer in 3
                  > places. L6, where the disciples ask if they should pray, fast, give to
                  > charity and they are told instead not to lie or do what they hate. in L14
                  > where he says with no context given "If you fast, you will bring sin upon
                  > yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to
                  > charity, you will harm your spirits."

                  There's a syntactical connection between L14 and L6a that indicates as a
                  distinct possibility that they are two parts of a whole which have been
                  separated, either intentionally or unintentionally. L14 begins "Jesus said
                  TO THEM...", but unlike any other saying which contains 'to them', there's
                  no "them" in sight asking a question. On the other hand, L6b is complete in
                  itself, without any 'to them', so L6a is separable from it, syntactically as
                  well as semantically.

                  > ... and in in L104 "They said to Jesus,
                  > "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast." Jesus said, "What sin have I
                  > committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the groom leaves the
                  > bridal suite, then let people fast and pray." So certainly in 104 he
                  > seems to be saying pray, but not now, there are more important things
                  > to do now.

                  Yes, but when is "now"? In the canonicals, the context provided indicates
                  that Jesus (the bridegroom) will leave the bridal chamber (the world) upon
                  his physical death, and at that point the disciples should start fasting and
                  praying. But for Thomas, Jesus is the ever-living one. It's always "now",
                  and J's physical death is inconsequential. If he himself needn't fast and
                  pray, according to L104 (and as opposed to his praying in the canonicals),
                  then neither need his disciples - even after his physical death - as long as
                  he (and/or the HS) is in the "bridal chamber" of their souls. But if it
                  should happen that he becomes "dead" to them - i.e., no longer a living
                  presence inside them - then and only then should they fast and pray, because
                  at that point they had been "defeated" and were in need of external help. By
                  implication, those who do fast and pray (e.g., orthodox Christians) may be
                  seen as either misunderstanding the nature of sin, or as evidencing a lack
                  of "the living Jesus" in their hearts.

                  Mike Grondin
                  Mt. Clemens, MI
                • Ron McCann
                  ... Yes, you re right. I wasn t very clear. Sorry. ... mandated by the Law) , with all due respect to Judy Redman s approach, this logion (which in my view is
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jan 24, 2006
                    At 01:12 AM 24/01/06, you wrote:
                    >[Ron McCann]:
                    > > A "non-gnostic" secret teaching of Jesus, one deeply
                    > > linked to Jewish thought and beliefs of that day ...
                    >
                    >I think this needs clarification, Ron. It seems that you're contradicting
                    >what Simon had said about the relationship of GThom to "Jewish thought and
                    >beliefs", but you failed to discuss the apparent disagreement.

                    Yes, you're right. I wasn't very clear. Sorry.


                    >On the matter of prayer, almsgiving, dieting, fasting (most of which are
                    mandated by the Law) , with all due respect to Judy Redman's approach, this
                    logion (which in my view is the Answer to the question posed in
                    logion 6, and which
                    was accidentally displaced) clearly repudiates prayer, along with the rest.
                    IMO there is no "wiggle room" on that, no matter how "horrific" to
                    religious sensibilities
                    or injurious to the credibility of Thomas this is. Those religious
                    practices are being given
                    the boot. I don't think those other logions redeem that.
                    But that demands some explanation.

                    Similarly, I consider that Logion 52, (although there is greater room
                    for debate here)
                    repudiates the OT Scriptures (And note- these 24 Prophets, by count, include
                    not only the minor 17, but also Moses himself, and by implication,
                    his writings
                    (eg The Law)). On this reading, and I think it's the correct one,
                    this logion is
                    offensive to to the religious beliefs of Jews and Christian's alike.
                    What's going
                    on here?
                    Some explanation is also demanded.

                    So, on the surface, I think Dr. Gathercole is reading them right.

                    As to the religious practices- eg prayer, I was trying to tell him that these
                    practices (including, one suspects- circumcision) are completely
                    useless and not productive +in+ +pursuing+ the +Second-Tier+ +"salvation"+
                    Benedicto seems to grasp this point as it relates to Zen-Buddhism.

                    As to the practice of reading, studying, searching and venerating the Old
                    Testament Scriptures and/or Prophets, something similar obtains. These
                    do not contain and are useless as sources or for guidance +in+pursing+
                    the +Second-Tier+ "salvation". It' like circumcision "is not beneficial".

                    These practices divert the Thomas student and send him down the wrong road as
                    they are of no benefit to +him+ on the road +he+ is travelling or about
                    to travel.

                    This is not a universal repudiation. I don't think Thomas intended it to be.
                    Others may, can and/or should pursue them, if they wish..
                    For a Christian or Jew heading for Tier-One salvation the practices, including
                    reading scripture are supposedly beneficial, and in some cases may be
                    de-rigeur.
                    I don't read this as a call to +all+ Christians to abandon those practices.

                    That's my take.

                    Logion 52 actually has and "ideational" but still recognizable parallel in
                    John's Gospel- which, I'm sure will surprise Dr. Gathercole.
                    John 5 39 reads:-

                    "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you
                    have Life; and it is they that testify of me. Yet you refuse
                    to come to me for that Life."

                    This is, IMHO, part of the Second Tier Teaching concerning the
                    individual's this-lifetime entry of the Realized (for him) Kingdom of
                    Heaven, and the consequent obtaining of an immediate grant of
                    eternal Life-which seems to be the object of pursuit on the Second
                    level.

                    I'm sure you can see the parallel without me drawing it out.

                    I hope this clarifies. Please let me address the rest of your post in
                    another e-mail.

                    Best Wishes,

                    Ron McCann
                    Saskatoon, Canada





                    > What strand
                    >of Jewish thought do you see GThom as being linked to? Essene? Mystical?
                    >(Either of which would be a distinct minority, I think you'll agree.) And on
                    >what grounds?
                    >
                    >Mike G.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
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                  • Dr Simon Gathercole
                    Mike, I totally agree. Loader, who has written one of the major studies on the Law in Thomas, relates the rejection of prayer to the radically immanentist
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jan 25, 2006
                      Mike,

                      I totally agree. Loader, who has written one of the major studies on the
                      Law in Thomas, relates the rejection of prayer to the radically immanentist
                      nature of Thomas: if you're completely at one with the Living One, why
                      bother to pray?

                      Simon


                      At 14:02 24/01/2006 -0500, you wrote:
                      >[Judy]:
                      > > GThos talks about prayer in 3
                      > > places. L6, where the disciples ask if they should pray, fast, give to
                      > > charity and they are told instead not to lie or do what they hate. in L14
                      > > where he says with no context given "If you fast, you will bring sin upon
                      > > yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to
                      > > charity, you will harm your spirits."
                      >
                      >There's a syntactical connection between L14 and L6a that indicates as a
                      >distinct possibility that they are two parts of a whole which have been
                      >separated, either intentionally or unintentionally. L14 begins "Jesus said
                      >TO THEM...", but unlike any other saying which contains 'to them', there's
                      >no "them" in sight asking a question. On the other hand, L6b is complete in
                      >itself, without any 'to them', so L6a is separable from it, syntactically as
                      >well as semantically.
                      >
                      > > ... and in in L104 "They said to Jesus,
                      > > "Come, let us pray today, and let us fast." Jesus said, "What sin have I
                      > > committed, or how have I been undone? Rather, when the groom leaves the
                      > > bridal suite, then let people fast and pray." So certainly in 104 he
                      > > seems to be saying pray, but not now, there are more important things
                      > > to do now.
                      >
                      >Yes, but when is "now"? In the canonicals, the context provided indicates
                      >that Jesus (the bridegroom) will leave the bridal chamber (the world) upon
                      >his physical death, and at that point the disciples should start fasting and
                      >praying. But for Thomas, Jesus is the ever-living one. It's always "now",
                      >and J's physical death is inconsequential. If he himself needn't fast and
                      >pray, according to L104 (and as opposed to his praying in the canonicals),
                      >then neither need his disciples - even after his physical death - as long as
                      >he (and/or the HS) is in the "bridal chamber" of their souls. But if it
                      >should happen that he becomes "dead" to them - i.e., no longer a living
                      >presence inside them - then and only then should they fast and pray, because
                      >at that point they had been "defeated" and were in need of external help. By
                      >implication, those who do fast and pray (e.g., orthodox Christians) may be
                      >seen as either misunderstanding the nature of sin, or as evidencing a lack
                      >of "the living Jesus" in their hearts.
                      >
                      >Mike Grondin
                      >Mt. Clemens, MI
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
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                      ------------
                      Dr Simon Gathercole
                      Senior Lecturer in New Testament
                      University of Aberdeen

                      01224 272374
                    • Dr Simon Gathercole
                      I m a bit confused by the posting below. mpemto ebol is not a very special term - it s a standard Coptic idiom used all the time in Sahidic texts. (And it s
                      Message 10 of 10 , Jan 25, 2006
                        I'm a bit confused by the posting below. mpemto ebol is not a "very special
                        term" - it's a standard Coptic idiom used all the time in Sahidic texts.
                        (And it's no help consulting Hebrew speakers - Coptic is a very different
                        language.)

                        It seems to me that if Jesus is talking about the one in their midst, or
                        the one in front of them, he's a prime suspect!

                        SG

                        >I agree with your comments of L52 -> OT.
                        >Coptic "atetN kw Mpet onx MpetN Mto ebol", currently English
                        >translation is "You have disregarded the living one who is in your
                        >presence". Here, I am not so sure that Yasuha was pointing to
                        >himself. I did study a bit about the meaning of "MpetN Mto ebol (in
                        >your presence out)" with care in Coptic and checked with Hebrew
                        >speakers about the expression.
                        >
                        >Totally, 6 places in GThomas show this important term "Mto ebol". I
                        >think we must carefully examine this non-specific but very special
                        >term in order to understand the true meanings of J's sayings at the
                        > 6 occations and the implications on the GThomas as a whole.
                        >
                        >
                        >Benedict
                        >(PS: The 6 places - L5, L6, L21, L52, L91, L111)
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
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                        ------------
                        Dr Simon Gathercole
                        Senior Lecturer in New Testament
                        University of Aberdeen

                        01224 272374
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