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Re: [GTh] pantheism

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  • Jim Bauer
    ... From: Paul Lanier To: Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:24 AM Subject: Re: [GTh] pantheism Here is a
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 31, 2006
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Paul Lanier" <jpaullanier@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:24 AM
      Subject: Re: [GTh] pantheism


      Here is a quick outline of sayings which support the idea that GTh
      expresses a panenthestic approach.
      A. God in everything and everything in God.
      Several sayings suggest God is both immanent and transcendent, that
      dividing the One is an illusion:

      50. If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to
      them, 'It is motion and rest.'"

      I don't understand how this supports panentheism over pantheism. I detect
      no ontological elements here, & like many of the "koan-like" sayings you
      quote, really doesn't bolster your argument. This could mean just about
      anything. It says nothing about the relationship of the transmundane to the
      mundane.

      70. Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will
      save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within
      you [will] kill you."

      Actually, I've always thought of this as an example of the ways psychedelic
      drugs affect you, & there is evidence (cf. _The Cult of the Seer_ by Violet
      McDermott) that some early X-ians used non-drug altered states to achieve
      their revelations.

      108. Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself
      shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."

      This sounds more Gnostic than panentheistic. Someone (the reference is in
      the first chapter of Hans Jonas' _The Gnostic Religion_) defined Gnosticism
      as "acosmic dualism against a backdrop of pantheism". How does your
      analysis of these sayings differ from that?

      Jim Bauer
    • Paul Lanier
      ... Hi Jim, I agree with those who identify GTh (at least the original) as pre-Gnostic or proto-Gnostic. I also agree with those who say these terms, and also
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 1, 2006
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        > This sounds more Gnostic than panentheistic.
        >

        Hi Jim,

        I agree with those who identify GTh (at least the original) as pre-Gnostic or proto-Gnostic. I also agree with those who say these terms, and also the term 'Gnostic,' are problematic! It may not be a self-designation (although the Mandeans have an equivalent term). To me GTh is earlier than the more developed Gnostic writings. For example, there is no mention of demiurge or other Gnostic technical terms. I think thise squares with a composition of GTh c. 50-70 CE, before the composition of the more fully developed Gnostic writings.

        I think too some of the early church fathers lumped a lot of distinct traditions under the label 'Gnostic' (including apparently some Hindu thought); to identify something as Gnostic is perhaps always risky business!

        I will admit the process theology approach may not be right for GTh, since it was composed before formal proces theology, but I think it expresses the same basic concept.

        > Someone (the reference is in
        the first chapter of Hans Jonas' _The Gnostic Religion_) defined Gnosticism
        as "acosmic dualism against a backdrop of pantheism". How does your
        analysis of these sayings differ from that?
        >

        I would think Gnostics had several cosmological concepts. For example, passwords to pass to the next cosmic realm. But I wouldn't quarrel with the characterization, 'acosmic dualism.' It's certainly dualistic and lacks many cosmological features. I'm not sure about the patheism, I will have to look at that and get back to you. I am wondering if you would equate the Roman respect (and sometimes worship) of local deities as political expediency. One way I view GTh is in terms of its rejection by Roman Christianity.

        I should probably also define and explore GTh as panentheistic too. I think there is promise in this but it may not be provable. To me it seems to fit, but that may be my imagination!

        regards, Paul






        Jim Bauer <jbauer@...> wrote:

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Paul Lanier" <jpaullanier@...>
        To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:24 AM
        Subject: Re: [GTh] pantheism

        Here is a quick outline of sayings which support the idea that GTh
        expresses a panenthestic approach.
        A. God in everything and everything in God.
        Several sayings suggest God is both immanent and transcendent, that
        dividing the One is an illusion:

        50. If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to
        them, 'It is motion and rest.'"

        I don't understand how this supports panentheism over pantheism. I detect
        no ontological elements here, & like many of the "koan-like" sayings you
        quote, really doesn't bolster your argument. This could mean just about
        anything. It says nothing about the relationship of the transmundane to the
        mundane.

        70. Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will
        save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within
        you [will] kill you."

        Actually, I've always thought of this as an example of the ways psychedelic
        drugs affect you, & there is evidence (cf. _The Cult of the Seer_ by Violet
        McDermott) that some early X-ians used non-drug altered states to achieve
        their revelations.

        108. Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself
        shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."

        This sounds more Gnostic than panentheistic. Someone (the reference is in
        the first chapter of Hans Jonas' _The Gnostic Religion_) defined Gnosticism
        as "acosmic dualism against a backdrop of pantheism". How does your
        analysis of these sayings differ from that?

        Jim Bauer






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      • Jim Bauer
        ... From: Paul Lanier To: Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 1:51 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] pantheism ... It s
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 1, 2006
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Paul Lanier" <jpaullanier@...>
          To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 1:51 PM
          Subject: Re: [GTh] pantheism

          > Someone (the reference is in the first chapter of
          > Hans Jonas' _The Gnostic Religion_) defined
          > Gnosticism as "acosmic dualism against a backdrop
          > of pantheism". How does your analysis of these
          > sayings differ from that?
          >
          > I wouldn't quarrel with the characterization,
          > 'acosmic dualism.' It's certainly dualistic and
          > lacks many cosmological features.

          It's not a matter of possessing or lacking "cosmic" concepts. The idea is
          that God is "acosmic", ie, S/He is totally removed from the material world,
          which is regarded as evil. But you're right, there seems to be little of
          this in Thomasine thought. While "acosmic dualism" perhaps doesn't fit
          Thomas, we're back to the issue of pantheism. Is your panentheism such as
          the acosmic void is the transcendent element which makes Thomas
          panentheistic? If so, why are the Gnostics not themselves panentheistic?
          Also in Jonas we find Gnosticism defined as "the acute Hellenization of
          Oriental philosophy", & traces it to the Alexandrian Empire. Has this
          theory been refuted?

          Jim Bauer
        • Paul Lanier
          ... this in Thomasine thought. ... I think so also. No mention of demiurge; God is referred to as Father. This seems consistent with Jewish thought rather
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 2, 2006
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            > The idea is that God is "acosmic", ie, S/He is totally removed from the material world, which is regarded as evil. But you're right, there seems to be little of
            this in Thomasine thought.
            >

            I think so also. No mention of demiurge; God is referred to as "Father." This seems consistent with Jewish thought rather than the later Gnostic concept of the Jewish God as incomapetent or malicious.

            > Is your panentheism such as
            the acosmic void is the transcendent element which makes Thomas
            panentheistic? If so, why are the Gnostics not themselves panentheistic?

            I think the concept of emanations from the One prevent a panentheistic view. But again this seems not to be present in GTh.

            I am thinking a good way to identify pantheistic and panentheistic elements of GTh might be to use a list of generally accepted traits of both, then score each GTh saying using this. I will see if I can locate a list like this.

            > Also in Jonas we find Gnosticism defined as "the acute Hellenization of
            Oriental philosophy", & traces it to the Alexandrian Empire. Has this
            theory been refuted?
            >

            I'm not familiar with that, I'll look for it. But I would say in general the origin of Gnosticism (if that is a meaningful concept) and its relation to the earliest church has never been answered with confidence. It's difficult, for exampe, to identify a time when one existed without the other. There appear to be Gnostic references in Paul, so that's very early if those passages are authentic. Again the main difficulty is that the term is not a self-designation. If Hippolytus is correct in including Hindu concepts in Gnosticism, then Gnosticism would seem to be either an extremely diverse movement or else simply a misnomer.

            regards, Paul





            Jim Bauer <jbauer@...> wrote: ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Paul Lanier" <jpaullanier@...>
            To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 1:51 PM
            Subject: Re: [GTh] pantheism

            > Someone (the reference is in the first chapter of
            > Hans Jonas' _The Gnostic Religion_) defined
            > Gnosticism as "acosmic dualism against a backdrop
            > of pantheism". How does your analysis of these
            > sayings differ from that?
            >
            > I wouldn't quarrel with the characterization,
            > 'acosmic dualism.' It's certainly dualistic and
            > lacks many cosmological features.

            It's not a matter of possessing or lacking "cosmic" concepts. The idea is
            that God is "acosmic", ie, S/He is totally removed from the material world,
            which is regarded as evil. But you're right, there seems to be little of
            this in Thomasine thought. While "acosmic dualism" perhaps doesn't fit
            Thomas, we're back to the issue of pantheism. Is your panentheism such as
            the acosmic void is the transcendent element which makes Thomas
            panentheistic? If so, why are the Gnostics not themselves panentheistic?
            Also in Jonas we find Gnosticism defined as "the acute Hellenization of
            Oriental philosophy", & traces it to the Alexandrian Empire. Has this
            theory been refuted?

            Jim Bauer






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