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Gnostic Elements in Thomas?

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  • Michael Grondin
    Karl and Dave, You seem to be agreed that there are Gnostic elements in Thomas which are not also to be found in canonical writings. I d be most interested
    Message 1 of 30 , Mar 8, 2007
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      Karl and Dave,

      You seem to be agreed that there are "Gnostic elements" in Thomas
      which are not also to be found in canonical writings. I'd be most interested
      to know what these are - at least the clearest few, anyway. And may I
      assume that you would agree that there are _other_ common "Gnostic
      elements" not only _not in_ Thomas, but apparently contradictory to it?

      Mike
    • izzet çoban
      I think there is no gnostic elements in the Gospel of Thomas. I wrote abot it in order to prove my claim.That is: THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS
      Message 2 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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        I think there is no gnostic elements in the Gospel of Thomas. I wrote abot it in order to prove my claim.That is:





        THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS
        The Gospel of Thomas, which was found buried near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, not only has provided information about the development of Christian Theology, but also called scholars to think of some Christian doctrines and concepts again such as the Kingdom of God, the story of crucifixion, the creed of trinity, and so on. “The Kingdom of God”[1] is one of the concepts or doctrines in this gospel to which, until now, great attention has been paid by scholars, but almost all of them have interpreted this concept in the light of Gnostic view. For, according to them, these sayings have, in general, a gnostic character, and should be interpreted in gnostic terms. In short, they could not accept this new insight in this document. Of course, in order to be able to interpret this concept again in a more comprehensive way by taking account of this new find in addition to the synoptic gospels, we first need to know whether this document is a gnostic
        work or not, in other words, we should evaluate whether or not it is an authentic sayings of Jesus. So, it is the goal of this paper to, in a short way, analyze “the Kingdom of God” according to the Gospel of Thomas after I answer the question of whether or not Thomas is gnostic. But, in this research, I will not use the logia regarding “the parables of the kingdom”. Let’s, first, answer the question “Was Thomas gnostic?”
        WAS THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS GNOSTIC?
        Since its publication in 1958 the relationship of this gospel to the synoptic gospels has been one of the most important points of its critical discussion. On the one hand, it is a point of no small significance if this gospel is dependent upon the canonical gospels. On the other hand, if not, it might be possible either to think of Thomas Christianity as a small and relatively insignificant spur, diverging from the main stream of the Jesus movement or to think of the present Christianity as a distorted form of Thomas Christianity.[2]
        So far, many investigations have been done about the Gospel of Thomas. Many of them have come to voice the opinion that this Gospel represents an independent tradition[3], and thus that Thomas is Gnostic and heretical in the sense that he believed in “knowledge of secrets which reserved for the elite.”[4]Influential Thomas scholars, such as J. E. Menard and B. Dehandschutter, insisted that Thomas is dependent upon the synoptic gospels.[5] According to some scholars, like S. L. Davies, no one believes that all the sayings in this gospel are authentic sayings of Jesus, but as is the case with the traditions preserved in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the traditions preserved in Thomas combine sayings of Jesus with the sayings of other persons that were attributed to Jesus.[6] Several of those sayings in the Gospel of Thomas which are not paralleled in the canonical gospels are also Jewish Wisdom sayings.[7] So, for him, the canonical gospels are not more
        authentic than this gospel.
        As I say before, almost all of the scholars who have written about this gospel presumed that these sayings have a Gnostic origin. Their presuming has two main reasons. These are as follows:
        These sayings were discovered as a part of a collection of mostly Gnostic texts, that is, Nag Hammadi Library found buried near the town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. These Gnostic texts are in the Coptic language, and probably they were translated from their Greek originals. Prior to their burial in or about the year A.D. 350 they were probably used by monks in the nearby Pachomian monastery at Chenoboskion. Since the Gospel of Thomas was found within a collection of these Gnostic texts, the Gospel itself was also Gnostic.
        Thomas’ sayings were not dependent upon the canonical gospels. [8]

        And finally they judged that the Gospel of Thomas is Gnostic. This judgment that Thomas is gnostic is originated from their method they followed, and this fact can explain why they interpreted these sayings in Gnostic terms. Wilson describes this method in his introduction to Studies in the Gospel of Thomas as follows:
        “A convenient line of approach is suggested in the views expressed by Grant, which have been already mentioned: to examine first the gnostic element, both by way of confirming that this is a gnostic work and also to determine the modifications which are due to gnostic influences; then to examine the parallels to our Gospels, and finally to deal with other questions relating to the new gospel.”[9]
        But, Stevan L. Davies questioned this judgment, and claimed the opposite of it. According to him,
        a) First of all, the sayings in this gospel are, in no meaningful sense, gnostic.
        b) Then, these sayings have a comprehensible set of ideas which were mostly drawn from Jewish wisdom and apocalyptic tradition.
        c) Finally, it is a collection of sayings appeared to reflect an early form of Johannine preaching and probably came into being about the same time as the Q document. So, Thomas should be dated ca. A.D. 50-70, not ca. A.D. 140 in which most scholars claimed that it was written.[10]
        For me, in fact, Stevan has very strong arguments on his thesis. I will shortly sum up his ideas. Firstly, like Gaertner, Grant and Freeman, Sommers, Turner, Wilson, scholars based the conclusion that “Thomas is a gnostic” on the fact that “this document was found among a collection of documents, many of them gnostic”, which means this conclusion results from the premise or the supposition that Thomas is gnostic. What about if the Gospel of Mark has been found there? Then should they similarly have to conclude that it was gnostic? For example, the Sentences of Sextus was also found at Nag Hammadi with the same literary format as the Gospel of Thomas, but, according to Frederick Wisse, they cannot be considered gnostic treatises.[11] Secondly, these scholars concluded that this document was not based on the synoptic gospels by presupposing that there is a gnostic element in Thomas. With regards to this presupposition, it is based on the fact that this document was
        found among Nag Hammadi Library. As Stevan has said, the defense for this claim is simple. that doesn’t show that it is gnostic. Stevan explained the focal point of the shortage of this method as saying:
        “Generally, scholars following the method outlined by Wilson provide for their readers examples of Gnostic exegesis of Thomas both by ancient commentators and by themselves. The flaw in this method is obvious: later understandings of Thomas are not determinative in any way of the meaning of sayings in the original text. Every source used to show later Gnostic exegesis of Thomas also contains examples of Gnostic exegesis of such texts as the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the letters of Paul. No one thinks such later exegesis determines the original meaning of those texts.”[12]
        Consequently, those sayings in Thomas which are not paralleled in the synoptic gospels in addition to ones which are paralleled all were, for the most part, drawn from the Jewish Wisdom tradition. These sayings in Thomas might be as authentic as the sayings in the other Gospels.
        THE KINGDOM OF GOD
        For many scholars, in Thomas, Jesus explained the concept of the “kingdom” quite more different from his proclamation of the “kingdom of heaven” according to the New Testament. According to the Christian interpretation, this latter concept is completely connected with the person of Jesus. Thus, this gospel of the kingdom is the content of his teaching, in other words, “at every stage in his teaching the advent of this kingdom, its various aspects, its precise meaning, the way in which it is to be attained, form the staple of His discourses, so much so that His discourse is called the gospel of the kingdom”[13]. And its manifestation takes place in his appearance on earth, and its final dominion is to be established at his second coming.[14]For this understanding, the kingdom in the New Testament tradition has an apocalyptic character. This kind of relationship between the kingdom and the person of Jesus is missing from Thomas, but it does not reject
        the kingdom of God in the sense that it has an apocalyptic character.
        It is thought that, unlike Mark and Luke, Matthew used the term of the “Kingdom of Heaven” because he was writing to a Jewish audience who avoided using God's name as a sign of reverence. In Matthew, "heaven" stands for "God.[15] Thomas used just “the Kingdom” nine times, “the Kingdom of the Father” seven times, and “the Kingdom of heaven” three times. “The kingdom of the God” is commonly used in the New Testament instead of “the Kingdom of the Father”. In Thomas, “the kingdom of God” is not found at all.[16]
        For the Catholic dictionary, “the word “kingdom” means “ruling”, thus it signifies not so much the actual kingdom as the sway of the king” [17], in other words, the kingdom of God is not similar to the sway of the king in all details, even though both of them have common qualities, which means that kingdom is not in its usual territorial meaning. It rules everything, so that we can see the kingdom of God as becoming manifest everywhere as Thomas said: “Rather the kingdom is within you and it is outside you”[18], because God, according to the revelational religions, rules everything, even hearts of human beings, their bodies and souls. Additionally, with his remark “within you” Jesus might allude to a faculty of spirit called “conscience”, because a person, on the one hand, behaves his/herself inspired with this faculty which is under the rule of God and becomes manifest by His inspiration, and also, on the other hand, he/she behaves badly
        inspired with another faculty which becomes manifest by the way of being effected by Satan. So, Jesus seemed to, especially, emphasize spiritual development of human being. With his remark “within you”, he also might have alluded to the wisdom within a man which has a same meaning as the kingdom in the Jewish wisdom tradition[19] or to the ontological ego, the reality that makes one divine. Additionally, God reveals himself day by day all over the universe; He rules everything, creates, and accepts prayers of all his creatures, and so on. We watch his actions in the universe every minute, so that it is as though there is kind of kingdom of God which becomes manifest everywhere. Also, the kingdom might mean “wisdom” in accordance with the Jewish wisdom sayings. Thomas’ logion 113 can be interpreted in conformity with these two meanings:
        “Rather, the father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”[20]
        A wise person sometimes answers the questions of his followers in a way that they expect, and sometimes not in that way in order to show them things he/she considers most important for them. In Logion 113[21], Jesus, when being asked when the kingdom come will, answered his disciple’s question in a unexpected way, this means that they were expecting him to speak of the time of the coming of the kingdom, that is, the apocalyptic kingdom, but Jesus directed them to another thing he considered more important than things they considered most important for them self.
        The vast majority of scholars, somehow, tended to interpret Logion 3a in gnostic terms, and took his remarks completely out of context. For example, John G. Harris interpreted this logion as follows:
        “…But the contrary to some expectation Jesus declared that the coming of the kingdom was not an event to be located in time or place but was a matter of inner transformation which was the perfection of spiritual discipline and spiritual development.”[22]
        We could not obtain these remarks from Thomas, because, Jesus did not say literally that the coming of the kingdom was not an event to be located in time or place or that the kingdom of God would not take place in the future. We do not know whether or not he meant this remark I have quoted, but Logion 3a do not give us this quoted meaning. We can say only that Jesus encouraged them to develop their spirit. Likewise, B. Gartner also interpreted Logion 3a in gnostic terms as sayings:
        “The only place in the created world where this kingdom is to be found is in man. When in Lk. 17.21 we have two possible translations, “in the midst of you” or “within you,” it is not surprising to find the Gospel of Thomas using “within you,” the same interpretation as the of Christian gnosis, as expressed, e.g. in Clement of Alexandria…”[23]
        I wonder how he extracted the meaning “The only place…” from this logion. Since, as Stevan said, no one thinks later exegesis determines the original meaning of the preceding texts[24], Clement of Alexandria (d. C.210), could not determine the original meaning of Thomas (A.D. 50-70).
        In Logion 51, Jesus’ disciples asked him usual future-oriented question[25] as saying:
        “When will the rest for the dead take place,
        and when will the new world come?”[26]
        Their question accords with the eschatological aspect of the kingdom of God and the New Testament in the sense that it looks forward to the coming of the perfect kingdom.[27]But, their question was rejected by Jesus and taken to be evidence of their failure to understand. What is indeed already to be found in this world is “the rest for the dead”. The rest of the dead is, according to the Jewish wisdom tradition, equivalent to Kingdom, in the sense that “rest” is what one obtains when one obtains wisdom.[28] According to Logion 113, another time they asked him about the kingdom but this time they preferred using the term “the kingdom” clearly in their question as saying:
        “When will the kingdom come?” [29]
        Jesus answered their future-directed question as saying:
        “It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, “Look, here is,” or “Look, there is.” Rather, the father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”[30]
        The question resulted from the future-oriented eschatology. Once again, what is important in this question is not to find the kingdom of God, but the time of the coming of it. With regard to the answer, it emphasizes another meaning of the kingdom of God which was commonly used in the Jewish wisdom sayings. He might have meant “Wisdom of God” by the term “the kingdom of God”. The identification of kingdom and wisdom is one key to the interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas. The use of Kingdom for Wisdom is certainly not a feature of traditional Jewish Wisdom literature; it is a new move, a creative shift of the tradition. Since he claimed that it is already present in the world, the apocalyptic meaning of the kingdom of God can not be understood from this sentence.[31] However, he did not denied this second meaning of the kingdom of God, that is, the future directed eschatology. Logically, in order to deny a thing, it is necessary to, at least, speak of it, but he
        did not speak of the apocalyptic kingdom anything. That Jesus, being asked the time of the coming of the kingdom of God, answered the question according to their need by emphasizing spiritual discipline does not show us that Thomas rejects the eschatological kingdom.
        Finally, I will touch on the analysis of “self-knowledge” in accordance with the kingdom of God, because, in Thomas Christianity, there is very close relationship between each other. For Thomas, the kingdom of God is to know one’s own self, the ontological ego which can be attainable by a simple act of inner reflection[32] as “children of the Living Father”[33]. One cannot be a son of the living father without discovery of oneself.[34]Thomas Logion 2 and the other seeking and finding sayings have a strong background within the Wisdom tradition.[35]The idea that one finds Wisdom will “reign” is also common in the wisdom tradition. Discovery of Wisdom is the discovery of the kingdom.[36]At the same time, logion 2 might emphasize the spiritual development. Who knows one’s self very well will make comparisons between his/her imperfection and God’s perfection, and realize his God’s greatness and will be a real servant in the end of his finding.
        Consequently, in Thomas Christianity, the kingdom of God cannot be interpreted in Gnostic terms. More definitions stress the characteristic traits of Gnosticism, such as the concept that the world was created by a demonic demiurge, that Sophia the wisdom of God fell through her own error, and that the cosmos is dominated by a hierarchy of inimical aeons[37]. We could not find any of these gnostic characters in Thomas even though many scholars claimed that they found. The focal point of this discussion is based on the interpretation of Thomas’ sayings independently of its grammatical meaning. Many scholars took these sayings out of context, so that it resulted in the idea that Thomas is gnostic. In Thomas, the kingdom of God can be interpreted as “Wisdom” in accordance with the Jewish wisdom sayings. Additionally, we tried to analyze this word grammatically in the sayings of Thomas. Since the present Christianity from the beginning have been focused on the
        future-oriented kingdom, scholars who wanted to defend the present Christian doctrines rejected the original approach of Thomas to the kingdom of God, but I think that this apologist approach will be broken in the future and scholars will esteem this important gospel.

        BIBLIOGRAPHY
        Davies, Stevan L. (1983) The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom,
        New York.
        Filoramo, Giovanni (1992) History of Gnosticism, translated by Anthony Alcock, Cambridge/USA.
        Gartner, Bertil (1961) The theology of the Gospel according to Thomas, translated by Eric J. Sharpe, New York.
        Harris, John Glyndwr (1999) Gnosticism beliefs and practices, Great Britain
        “Kingdom of God”, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_God>
        Kloppenborg, J.S., Meyer M.W., Patterson S.J., Steinhauser M.G. (1990)
        Q Thomas Reader, California.
        Meyer, Marvin (1992) The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden sayings of Jesus,
        New York
        Patterson, Stephen J. (1993) The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, California.
        Pope, Hugh T. (1910) “Kingdom of God”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII, New York. < http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08646a.htm>




        [1] In fact, the term “the kingdom of God” is not found at all in the Gospel of Thomas, but the meaning of this term can be understood indirectly from the whole text.
        [2] S. J. Patterson, The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, 9
        [3] S. J. Patterson, The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, 10
        [4] J. G. Harris, Gnosticism beliefs and practices, 4
        [5] S. J. Patterson, The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, 10
        [6] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 2
        [7] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 29
        [8] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 4
        [9] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 23
        [10] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 3
        [11] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 23-24
        [12] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 24
        [13] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08646a.htm
        [14] Bertil Gartner, The theology of the Gospel according to Thomas, trans. Eric J. Sharpe, 211
        [15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_God
        [16] Bertil Gartner, The theology of the Gospel according to Thomas, trans. Eric J. Sharpe, 212
        [17] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08646a.htm
        [18] Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas The Hidden sayings of Jesus, p.23
        [19] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 58
        [20] Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas The Hidden sayings of Jesus, 65
        [21] Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas The Hidden sayings of Jesus, 65
        [22] J. G. Harris, Gnosticism beliefs and practices, 165
        [23] Bertil Gartner, The theology of the Gospel according to Thomas, trans. Eric J. Sharpe, 214
        [24] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 24
        [25] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 60
        [26] Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas The Hidden sayings of Jesus, 43
        [27] Bertil Gartner, The theology of the Gospel according to Thomas, trans. Eric J. Sharpe, 217
        [28] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 60
        [29] Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas The Hidden sayings of Jesus, 65
        [30] Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of Thomas The Hidden sayings of Jesus, 65
        [31] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 58
        [32] Giovanni Filoramo, History of Gnosticism, trans. Anthony Alcock, 40
        [33] J. S. Kloppenborg, M. W. Meyer, S. J. Patterson, M. G. Steinhauser, Q Thomas Reader, 100
        [34] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 48
        [35] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 37
        [36] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 40
        [37] S. L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, 32



        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...>
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thursday, March 8, 2007 11:06:06 PM
        Subject: [GTh] Gnostic Elements in Thomas?

        Karl and Dave,

        You seem to be agreed that there are "Gnostic elements" in Thomas
        which are not also to be found in canonical writings. I'd be most interested
        to know what these are - at least the clearest few, anyway. And may I
        assume that you would agree that there are _other_ common "Gnostic
        elements" not only _not in_ Thomas, but apparently contradictory to it?

        Mike






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      • David Arbuckle
        Dave Arbuckle ? I don t see how you could read 114 and not think that it is Gnostic. I would add the 4th and 5th part of saying # 3 also 1,2 and 3 of saying
        Message 3 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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          Dave Arbuckle ?

          I don't see how you could read 114 and not think that
          it is Gnostic.

          I would add the 4th and 5th part of saying # 3

          also 1,2 and 3 of saying #14

          first part of saying 19

          part 4 of saying 22

          There are several more, but those come to mind. I am
          certainly not a scholar but the themes in those
          sayings for me seem to resonate a Gnostic feel of
          sorts.

          Not very scientific of course, and more less based on
          my own Gnostic filtering system.... If the same theme
          shows up in Gnostic text, mark it, go back and mark it
          off the Thomas list, until you find it in another text
          that is not Gnostic.

          My methods are not proven, but they make me feel warm
          and fuzzy late at night when I'm sipping Cognac.


          David Arbuckle

          Sarasota Florida


          --- Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:

          > Karl and Dave,
          >
          > You seem to be agreed that there are "Gnostic
          > elements" in Thomas
          > which are not also to be found in canonical
          > writings. I'd be most interested
          > to know what these are - at least the clearest few,
          > anyway. And may I
          > assume that you would agree that there are _other_
          > common "Gnostic
          > elements" not only _not in_ Thomas, but apparently
          > contradictory to it?
          >
          > Mike
          >
          >
          >




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        • Michael Grondin
          ... No, Dave Hindley. Sorry. ... A response like this just won t do. What I m looking for (and of course from Dave H. and Karl) is specifically what the
          Message 4 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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            > Dave Arbuckle ?

            No, Dave Hindley. Sorry.

            > I don't see how you could read 114 and not think that
            > it is Gnostic. ...

            A response like this just won't do. What I'm looking for (and of course
            from Dave H. and Karl) is specifically what the "Gnostic elements" are
            that they see - not simply where they see them. A list of sayings by
            itself is useless without specifying what "Gnostic element" is involved
            in each one. And really, I'm only asking for two or three clear examples,
            not a comprehensive inventory.

            Mike
          • Rick Hubbard
            [Dave Arbuckle wrote:] I don t see how you could read 114 and not think that it is Gnostic. [Mike Grondin wrote:] A response like this just won t do.
            Message 5 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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              [Dave Arbuckle wrote:]

              I don't see how you could read 114 and not think that
              it is Gnostic.
              <snip>
              [Mike Grondin wrote:]

              A response like this just won't do. What I'm looking for (and of course from Dave H.
              and Karl) is specifically what the "Gnostic elements" are that they see - not simply
              where they see them. A list of sayings by itself is useless without specifying what
              "Gnostic element" is involved in each one. And really, I'm only asking for two or
              three clear examples, not a comprehensive inventory.

              At the risk of beginning to repeat discussions that it seems to me have been hashed
              over many times in this forum, it would be most interesting to me to hear not just
              which elements in GTh are "gnostic" but, more globally, what is the proper definition
              of "gnostic" and how might one articulate this definition without making reference to
              Thomas?

              I'm not "setting a trap" for anyone by asking this question, but I have an authentic
              interest in identifying the perceptions that lie behind characterizations of ANY
              literature as "gnostic."

              Rick Hubbard
              Humble Maine Woodsman




              I would add the 4th and 5th part of saying # 3

              also 1,2 and 3 of saying #14

              first part of saying 19

              part 4 of saying 22

              There are several more, but those come to mind. I am
              certainly not a scholar but the themes in those
              sayings for me seem to resonate a Gnostic feel of
              sorts.

              Not very scientific of course, and more less based on
              my own Gnostic filtering system.... If the same theme
              shows up in Gnostic text, mark it, go back and mark it
              off the Thomas list, until you find it in another text
              that is not Gnostic.

              My methods are not proven, but they make me feel warm
              and fuzzy late at night when I'm sipping Cognac.


              David Arbuckle

              Sarasota Florida


              --- Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:

              > Karl and Dave,
              >
              > You seem to be agreed that there are "Gnostic
              > elements" in Thomas
              > which are not also to be found in canonical
              > writings. I'd be most interested
              > to know what these are - at least the clearest few,
              > anyway. And may I
              > assume that you would agree that there are _other_
              > common "Gnostic
              > elements" not only _not in_ Thomas, but apparently
              > contradictory to it?
              >
              > Mike
              >
              >
              >




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              with the Yahoo! Search movie showtime shortcut.
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            • David Arbuckle
              I think your taking my post out of context but I probably was not specific enough as well. I meant: any theme that is: 1)about females becomming males 2) the
              Message 6 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                I think your taking my post out of context but I
                probably was not specific enough as well.

                I meant:

                any theme that is: 1)about females becomming males
                2) the outer becoming the inner
                3) having to know yourself so you
                can be known
                4) not giving alms, not fasting, or
                praying
                5)anything that knocks the Jewish
                God 6) anything that suggests the
                body, the world, or anything physical is corrupt.

                I am sorry, as you didn't specify who you were
                talking to and I had just posted a email that included
                a mention of the gnostic elements of Thomas.


                David Arbuckle

                Sarasota Florida

                --- Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:

                > > Dave Arbuckle ?
                >
                > No, Dave Hindley. Sorry.
                >
                > > I don't see how you could read 114 and not think
                > that
                > > it is Gnostic. ...
                >
                > A response like this just won't do. What I'm looking
                > for (and of course
                > from Dave H. and Karl) is specifically what the
                > "Gnostic elements" are
                > that they see - not simply where they see them. A
                > list of sayings by
                > itself is useless without specifying what "Gnostic
                > element" is involved
                > in each one. And really, I'm only asking for two or
                > three clear examples,
                > not a comprehensive inventory.
                >
                > Mike
                >
                >





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              • StKilda@comcast.net
                An excellent question! What exactly characterizes Gnostic Theology? But a better question may be can we catagorize the major theologies that meld together to
                Message 7 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                  An excellent question! What exactly characterizes Gnostic Theology?

                  But a better question may be can we catagorize the major theologies that meld
                  together to form the 1st thru 4th century Christain writings?

                  I think there are three distinct theolgoies that can be separated and described;
                  they are the theologies of the three major groups in early Christian history;
                  the Jewish church, the Gentile Gnostic church, and the Gentile orthodox chruch;

                  o Jewish (the oldest being Jewish wisdom theology/logai )

                  o Gnostic (contemparary with Orthodox and most in
                  common with Orthodox)

                  o Orthodox (again contemporary with Gnostic and would
                  show the largest Hellenistic influence)

                  o Any others?

                  Of course there may not be good clean answers to all of the
                  above, but a chart could easily be made that shows the major
                  characteristics of each.

                  It is clear that the latter two groups, the Gnostic and Orthodox,
                  borrowed from one another and tended to edit one another's writings.
                  The Nag Hammadi texts show a great deal has been borrowed
                  from the Orthodox community, especially the later Gnostic works.

                  Toli




                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Rick Hubbard
                  [Tolli wrote:} But a better question may be can we catagorize the major theologies that meld together to form the 1st thru 4th century Christain
                  Message 8 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                    [Tolli wrote:}

                    <snip>

                    But a better question may be can we catagorize the major theologies that meld
                    together to form the 1st thru 4th century Christain writings?

                    No. But more than likely you will insist to the contrary. You could save yourself a
                    lot of misery and aggravation in trying to do so if you would take the time to read
                    the two books that Bill recommended. If you DO take the time, I think you will
                    conclude that you are proposing what is essentially a bankrupt approach to the issue.

                    Rick

                    I think there are three distinct theolgoies that can be separated and described;
                    they are the theologies of the three major groups in early Christian history;
                    the Jewish church, the Gentile Gnostic church, and the Gentile orthodox chruch;

                    o Jewish (the oldest being Jewish wisdom theology/logai )

                    o Gnostic (contemparary with Orthodox and most in
                    common with Orthodox)

                    o Orthodox (again contemporary with Gnostic and would
                    show the largest Hellenistic influence)

                    o Any others?

                    Of course there may not be good clean answers to all of the
                    above, but a chart could easily be made that shows the major
                    characteristics of each.

                    It is clear that the latter two groups, the Gnostic and Orthodox,
                    borrowed from one another and tended to edit one another's writings.
                    The Nag Hammadi texts show a great deal has been borrowed
                    from the Orthodox community, especially the later Gnostic works.

                    Toli




                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
                    Interlinear translation: http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm

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                  • pmcvflag
                    Hey Rick ... could save yourself a lot of misery and aggravation in trying to do so if you would take the time to read the two books that Bill recommended. If
                    Message 9 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                      Hey Rick

                      >>>No. But more than likely you will insist to the contrary. You
                      could save yourself a lot of misery and aggravation in trying to do
                      so if you would take the time to read the two books that Bill
                      recommended. If you DO take the time, I think you will conclude that
                      you are proposing what is essentially a bankrupt approach to the
                      issue.<<<

                      I can't speak for Toli, but I would like to point out that in my
                      case I am very familiar with both of these books that Bill
                      recommends. King's work had not come out yet, but Williams was
                      required reading for those of us studying Gnostic history here at
                      the local university.

                      Williams does an excellent job deconstructing the term.
                      Unfortunately his attempt to construct the term "Biblical Demiurgey"
                      stand up no better to his own argument. King, on the other hand is
                      not so much opposed to the term "Gnosticism" as she is opposed to
                      the way the category has been constructed and used by various
                      historians (and I believe her observations, and much of her work in
                      Nag Hammadi studies, is impeccable). She wonders if it would be
                      better to scrap the word, but admits that the category itself still
                      needs a descriptor. While the term has been abused from every
                      direction, neither of these people mean to imply that there is not a
                      set of movements in the late antiquities that are related by way of
                      certain attributes who have previously been called "Gnostic". In the
                      absence of another word for us to use, I can't see us dropping the
                      word from discussion about Thomas.

                      Karl Nygren
                    • pmcvflag
                      Rick ... me have been hashed over many times in this forum, it would be most interesting to me to hear not just which elements in GTh are gnostic but, more
                      Message 10 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                        Rick

                        >>>At the risk of beginning to repeat discussions that it seems to
                        me have been hashed over many times in this forum, it would be most
                        interesting to me to hear not just which elements in GTh
                        are "gnostic" but, more globally, what is the proper definition
                        of "gnostic" and how might one articulate this definition without
                        making reference to Thomas?

                        I'm not "setting a trap" for anyone by asking this question, but I
                        have an authentic interest in identifying the perceptions that lie
                        behind characterizations of ANY literature as "gnostic."<<<

                        Very fair points. I don't deny that the term has been confusing,
                        misused, or vague in some ways while overly specific (biased) in
                        others. Williams has certainly raise debate over what attributes
                        should really be considered accurate for the groups and texts in
                        question, and rightly so. For our discussion I don't think we need
                        to solve the academic debate about this subject. Instead, I think we
                        are pretty safe if we simply take the basic attributes that are
                        still generally accepted and discard the ones that are too
                        questionable.

                        Obviously we have to accept the groups that seem to emically define
                        themselves as "Gnostics", but I understand that is not so much your
                        contention. I think anyone would have a hard time denying that there
                        was a set of early Christian and maybe Jewish groups that are
                        different from what most people think of as "orthodox", but related
                        to each other in a few key areas.

                        One of these key areas (and maybe the most important) is their
                        soteriology, which is based on a notion of salvation via a special
                        kind of knowing rather than forgiveness of sins through faith. The
                        next attribute that they have in common is a middle-Platonist
                        cosmology.

                        These attributes in the particular cultural and literary syncretism
                        that seems so strange to the modern reader are in a vague way what I
                        would call "Gnostic". You may wish to call it "Biblical Demiurgy"
                        like Williams, or the "acute Hellenization of Christianity" like
                        Harnack, or Christian middle-Platonism, but whatever we wish to call
                        it my essential point remains the same. I believe there is an
                        underlying thread in Thomas that connects it to the beliefs
                        expressed in books like Allogenes, or the Valentinian Exposition.

                        Karl Nygren
                      • William Arnal
                        ... I doubt that the adoption of a middle-Platonist cosmology is distinctive. And has been exemplified by several studies (including King s book on GMary, and
                        Message 11 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                          Karl Nygren writes:

                          >One of these key areas (and maybe the most important) is their
                          >soteriology, which is based on a notion of salvation via a special
                          >kind of knowing rather than forgiveness of sins through faith. The
                          >next attribute that they have in common is a middle-Platonist
                          >cosmology.

                          I doubt that the adoption of a middle-Platonist cosmology is distinctive.
                          And has been exemplified by several studies (including King's book on GMary,
                          and her book on Gnosticism, but also, e.g., Desjardins, _Sin in
                          Valentinianism_), the supposed "Gnostic" soteriology of knowledge can be
                          called seriously into question for some of the groups commonly so identified
                          (esp. the Valentinians; also for sure the Marcionites, who would at least
                          fit into Williams' category). Moreover, one can find appeals to such
                          knowledge in "orthodox" texts, so it's not a distinctive attribute either.

                          >These attributes in the particular cultural and literary syncretism

                          Again, I would think that this syncretism is a feature of ALL ancient Xian
                          lit. And the choice of grouping together the groups that possess any
                          particular set of attributes needs to be justified as well.

                          >would call "Gnostic". You may wish to call it "Biblical Demiurgy"
                          >like Williams, or the "acute Hellenization of Christianity" like
                          >Harnack, or Christian middle-Platonism, but whatever we wish to call
                          >it my essential point remains the same.

                          This -- and the previous post you made commenting on Williams and King -- in
                          my view does an injustice to the seriousness of the issue here, and to the
                          substance of both books. These are not simply arguments about terminology or
                          misuses of otherwise-fine categories. Both books are arguing, in one way or
                          another, that the entity normally intended by the term "Gnosticism" is not a
                          real entity. King is stronger on this point than Williams, and suggests that
                          instead of "Gnostic" we conceive of and think in terms of various
                          sub-categories such as "Valentinian," "Sethian," "Thomasine," and so forth.
                          This implies not simply a shift in terms, but in conception as well, since
                          it implies that, e.g., a Valentian text need not have much of anything in
                          common with a Sethian text -- whereas "Gnosticism" (or any term that one
                          uses as a simple synonym) lumps together all such texts and predisposes us
                          to think that they necessarily have more in common with one another any of
                          them have with "non-Gnostic" or "Orthodox" texts. Williams proposes
                          "biblical demiurgical traditions" -- not simply as alternative terminology,
                          but as a new concept, which likewise would link together items ACROSS the
                          Gnostic vs. non-Gnostic divide. For (I would argue) we would pretty much
                          have to classify John, Paul, and Philo as representing biblical demiurgical
                          traditions, while Thomas (arguably) contains no trace of such theology or
                          speculation (and yes, I know perfectly well that I've said in print that it
                          does -- I've changed my mind). So the concept really has been problematized
                          by these texts much more than could be fixed by simple shifts in
                          terminology. Ultimately, by my reading, both books mean we can't speak
                          unproblematically about "Gnosticism" any more. No, we won't solve this
                          problem on this list -- but let's recognize that it IS a problem, and a
                          fairly serious one. But don't take my word for it, folks -- read the books
                          and see what you think. Karl may be right: maybe I've read more into them
                          than was intended.

                          >I believe there is an
                          >underlying thread in Thomas that connects it to the beliefs
                          >expressed in books like Allogenes, or the Valentinian Exposition.

                          Now THIS is a very precise claim, and completely avoids the criticisms I've
                          been making. If the whole discussion of "Gnosticism" (I mean the whole
                          scholarly discourse, not simply the posts on this list) were as clear and
                          specific as this, there wouldn't be a problem.

                          Okay, that's ENOUGH for now. I've spent WAY too much time posting today, and
                          really have to work on other things. If I fail to get back to others'
                          responses to or critiques of points I've made in these various threads,
                          please forgive me. It's neither personal nor a lack of interest in the
                          topic, but absolute (but temporary) list burn-out.

                          cheers,
                          Bill
                          ______________________
                          William Arnal
                          University of Regina

                          _________________________________________________________________
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                        • pmcvflag
                          Hey Mike ... which are not also to be found in canonical writings. I d be most interested to know what these are - at least the clearest few, anyway. And may I
                          Message 12 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                            Hey Mike

                            >>>You seem to be agreed that there are "Gnostic elements" in Thomas
                            which are not also to be found in canonical writings. I'd be most
                            interested to know what these are - at least the clearest few,
                            anyway. And may I assume that you would agree that there are _other_
                            common "Gnostic elements" not only _not in_ Thomas, but apparently
                            contradictory to it?<<<

                            In truth, I have actually argued both sides of this debate. I have
                            generally conceded that we simply don't have enough info on the
                            origin of Thomas, and Thomas is not explicit enough internally for
                            us to be sure. Outside the separate issue of what Gnosticism
                            actually is, let me give you a couple of examples that I see in
                            Thomas and why I think they could imply Gnostic hermeneutic intent.

                            1. And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these
                            sayings will not taste death."

                            This stereological reference certainly looks like it is in accord
                            with that of, say, Gospel of Truth. It may seem like John 8:51, but
                            the emphasis goes quite a bit further. The notion of secret
                            instruction as an initiatory rite does not seem in line with most
                            other forms of Christianity.

                            3 ….. <snip> Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is
                            outside you.
                            When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will
                            understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do
                            not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the
                            poverty."

                            Again, if I picked out an ideological kinship with another text it
                            would be more with the Gospel of Truth rather than the canon texts.
                            The similar saying in Luke does not have this specific internal
                            spiritual reference.

                            7) Jesus said, "Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed
                            by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion
                            becomes man."

                            When taken in context with this other saying….

                            11. Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it
                            will pass away.
                            The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. During the days
                            when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in
                            the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you
                            became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"

                            I see the lion as a connection to the lion-headed god of the
                            material realm…. the realm of the dead. The multiple realms of
                            heaven could have cosmological implications.
                            15. Jesus said, "When you see one who was not born of woman, fall on
                            your faces and worship. That one is your Father."

                            Another possible reference to Gnostic cosmology.

                            18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be."
                            Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look
                            for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be.
                            Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know
                            the end and will not experience death."

                            Some Gnostic texts talk about melding back into the monad in the
                            end. I don`t recall canon sources talking this way, though it could
                            be a lapse in memory.

                            29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it
                            is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it
                            is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth
                            has made its home in this poverty."

                            Looks to me like the "spinther" of some Gnostic texts.

                            49) Jesus said, "Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will
                            find the Kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return."

                            When taken along with 29 above it looks very much like the Gnostic
                            anthropogeny.

                            50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say
                            to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came
                            into being on its own accord and established [itself] and became
                            manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?',
                            say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the Living Father.'
                            If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to
                            them, 'It is movement and repose.'"

                            More of the same. This could fit very easily with the ideas found in
                            the Valentinian Exposition.

                            51) His disciples said to Him, "When will the repose of the dead
                            come about, and when will the new world come?" He said to
                            them, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not
                            recognize it."

                            Again, just like the Gospel of Truth.

                            114) Simon Peter said to Him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not
                            worthy of Life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to
                            make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling
                            you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the
                            Kingdom of Heaven."

                            Outside Thomas, this scene is found in texts that are pretty
                            explicitly Gnostic. It also can be read to imply the fallen Sophia
                            motif.

                            Well, those are just a few examples. I know they depend on
                            interpretation, and many of these could be read in other ways.
                            Obviously I am not the only person to see so many possible Gnostic
                            references. As we are all aware, even many who argue against a
                            Gnostic origin of the texts will often concede Gnostic redaction
                            (though I actually doubt this is entirely true).

                            Karl Nygren
                          • Michael Grondin
                            ... Indeed. Rather than attempt to deal with your eleven examples, (some of which may be small-g gnosticism versus Gnosticism ) however, let me say this: what
                            Message 13 of 30 , Mar 9, 2007
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                              Karl wrote:
                              > Well, those are just a few examples. I know they depend on
                              > interpretation, and many of these could be read in other ways.

                              Indeed. Rather than attempt to deal with your eleven examples,
                              (some of which may be small-g gnosticism versus "Gnosticism")
                              however, let me say this: what concerns me as a logician is the
                              apparent lack of a "third term" in this discussion. What I mean by
                              that is that there ought to be some Christian writings which are
                              _neither_ orthodox nor "Gnostic". If there aren't, then "Gnostic" is
                              nothing more than a grab-bag which ought to be called 'unorthodox'.
                              Do you see what I mean? If there are only _two_ categories -
                              orthodox and "Gnostic", then the latter is simply a misnomer. But if
                              there are other categories, what are they and where are they? (Davies
                              proposed Christian-wisdom literature, but that category seems to
                              have been largely ignored here.) STM that only if one can fairly clearly
                              differentiate between "Gnostic" and "unorthodox, but not Gnostic"
                              (with sub-types and prototypical examples of each category) can one
                              then proceed to categorize difficult cases like Thomas. In other words,
                              we need to get our taxonomy right first (or at least agree on what it
                              will be).

                              Mike Grondin
                            • Michael Grondin
                              ... Well, of course, any two things are similar in some respect (as Bill once wrote, I believe). And so sure, one can find _some_ underlying thread (given
                              Message 14 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                Karl wrote:
                                > I believe there is an underlying thread in Thomas that connects it
                                > to the beliefs expressed in books like Allogenes, or the Valentinian
                                > Exposition.

                                Well, of course, any two things are similar in some respect (as Bill
                                once wrote, I believe). And so sure, one can find _some_
                                "underlying thread" (given the vagueries of interpretation) between
                                any two works. But the differences are vast. Wouldn't the Teachings
                                of Silvanus be more consistent with Thomas?

                                Mike Grondin
                              • Stephen C. Carlson
                                ... Your matrix actually comes closer to my point than communities, a word I did not use. Stephen -- Stephen C. Carlson
                                Message 15 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                  At 12:28 PM 3/12/2007 -0600, William Arnal wrote:
                                  >And, with all due deference to Stephen Carlson's excellent
                                  >comments about the classification of texts versus groups, we would not dream
                                  >(I would think) of, say, understanding the theology, intent, and original
                                  >matrix of the Gospel of Matthew (which was used by Valentinians, NB!) by
                                  >reference to the "communities" which cherished this text (whether that was
                                  >his point or not).

                                  Your "matrix" actually comes closer to my point than "communities," a word
                                  I did not use.

                                  Stephen
                                  --
                                  Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                                  Weblog: http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
                                  Author of: The Gospel Hoax, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481
                                • William Arnal
                                  ... But at least (in my view) comparing Thomas to some specific named works is a more testable proposition than associating it with a nebulous category which
                                  Message 16 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                    Mike Grondin writes:

                                    >Well, of course, any two things are similar in some respect (as Bill
                                    >once wrote, I believe). And so sure, one can find _some_
                                    >"underlying thread" (given the vagueries of interpretation) between
                                    >any two works. But the differences are vast.

                                    But at least (in my view) comparing Thomas to some specific named works is a
                                    more testable proposition than associating it with a nebulous category which
                                    everyone defines slightly differently. Nonetheless, it occurred to me after
                                    my last post on this issue that what I think really bugs me about this whole
                                    discussion (is Thomas Gnostic or not?) is that the question of Thomas'
                                    theology or ideology is not being raised for its own sake. No one
                                    approaches, say, redaction-criticism of Mark by beginning with the question,
                                    Is Mark Gnostic? (or Christian, or Jewish, or Orthodox, or whatever other
                                    theological typology you like.) Nor would anyone (I hope) imagine that we
                                    had adequately captured the essence of Mark by placing it in such a
                                    category. And, with all due deference to Stephen Carlson's excellent
                                    comments about the classification of texts versus groups, we would not dream
                                    (I would think) of, say, understanding the theology, intent, and original
                                    matrix of the Gospel of Matthew (which was used by Valentinians, NB!) by
                                    reference to the "communities" which cherished this text (whether that was
                                    his point or not). So the real question here, the issue of interest, is not
                                    the extent to which we can take a prior category and apply its criteria to
                                    Thomas (persuasively or unpersuasively), but rather the fundamental and
                                    obvious question of what ideas this text communicates or was composed to
                                    communicate. In a nutshell (and this is really the principle that has been
                                    informing all of my long-winded posts on this list for the last few days),
                                    Thomas must be assessed as evidence and analyzed in essentially the ways we
                                    would approach other texts of the period, including canonical ones.

                                    cheers,
                                    Bill
                                    ______________________
                                    William Arnal
                                    University of Regina

                                    _________________________________________________________________
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                                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                                    ... I was confident you intended them as scare quotes, but I wasn t sure that it would be as clear to others. (That s one reason I ve been working on
                                    Message 17 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                      At 12:53 PM 3/12/2007 -0600, William Arnal wrote:
                                      >Hey Stephen:
                                      >>Your "matrix" actually comes closer to my point than "communities," a word
                                      >>I did not use.
                                      >
                                      >Just to be clear here, the quotation marks I used around "communities" were
                                      >intended as "scare quotes," not as an indication that you had used this
                                      >word.

                                      I was confident you intended them as "scare quotes," but I wasn't sure
                                      that it would be as clear to others. (That's one reason I've been working
                                      on banishing scare quotes from my own usage.)

                                      Stephen Carlson
                                      --
                                      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                                      Weblog: http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
                                      Author of: The Gospel Hoax, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481
                                    • William Arnal
                                      ... Just to be clear here, the quotation marks I used around communities were intended as scare quotes, not as an indication that you had used this word.
                                      Message 18 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                        Hey Stephen:

                                        >Your "matrix" actually comes closer to my point than "communities," a word
                                        >I did not use.

                                        Just to be clear here, the quotation marks I used around "communities" were
                                        intended as "scare quotes," not as an indication that you had used this
                                        word.

                                        cheers,
                                        Bill
                                        ______________________
                                        William Arnal
                                        University of Regina

                                        _________________________________________________________________
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                                      • William Arnal
                                        ... Makes sense -- hopefully my response shored that up. ... It s a good idea, actually. Not only is there potential for misattribution as in this case, but it
                                        Message 19 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                          Stephen Carlson wrote:

                                          >I was confident you intended them as "scare quotes," but I wasn't sure
                                          >that it would be as clear to others.

                                          Makes sense -- hopefully my response shored that up.

                                          >(That's one reason I've been working
                                          >on banishing scare quotes from my own usage.)

                                          It's a good idea, actually. Not only is there potential for misattribution
                                          as in this case, but it also permits one lazy usages, while feeling
                                          virtuous. Instead of actually looking for a better word than "community"
                                          (quotes here because I'm quoting myself), I just fell back into that usage,
                                          but protected myself from criticism with the quotes. Karen King has said the
                                          same thing about "Gnosticism" (quotes because I'm citing a term) -- she
                                          complained that a lot of the folks who read her book and took it seriously
                                          responded by using the term just as before, except in scare quotes.

                                          regards,
                                          "Bill"
                                          ______________________
                                          William Arnal
                                          University of Regina

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                                        • David Hindley
                                          Mike, I *think* I was saying that GoT has elements that Gnostics liked. Just as the writings of Plato had elements that they liked, and adopted as their own
                                          Message 20 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                            Mike,

                                            I *think* I was saying that GoT has elements that Gnostics liked. Just as the writings of Plato had elements that they liked, and
                                            adopted as their own (e.g., the passage from Plato's Republic in the NHL that was obviously modified to give it a more "Gnostic"
                                            flavor), so may have Coptic GoT been hijacked and pressed into service for less than Orthodox purposes (bwoo haa haaa haa!).
                                            Actually, I do not think that the Canonicals share the kind of "gnostic-attractive" ideas that can be found in one form or another
                                            in GoT, whatever the language.

                                            Unfortunately I just don't have access to my personal library at the moment (I am currently moving and have no place to unpack it
                                            yet at our new place), and I apparently did not copy over some subdirectories of source texts to my new laptop computer when I
                                            upgraded a year ago (the old one is still at our original house where I only go once a week until the move is finalized), so I
                                            really can't get into specifics.

                                            Didn't the subject of the degree of "G/gnostic-ness" in GoT (Greek and Coptic) come up a few years ago? I'd think it should be in
                                            the archives.

                                            Respectfully,

                                            Dave Hindley
                                            Cleveland, Ohio USA

                                            -----Original Message-----
                                            From: Michael Grondin
                                            Sent: Friday, March 09, 2007 12:06 AM
                                            Subject: [GTh] Gnostic Elements in Thomas?

                                            <<You [Karl and Dave] seem to be agreed that there are "Gnostic elements" in Thomas which are not also to be found in canonical
                                            writings. I'd be most interested to know what these are - at least the clearest few, anyway. And may I assume that you would agree
                                            that there are _other_ common "Gnostic elements" not only _not in_ Thomas, but apparently contradictory to it?>>

                                            -----Original Message-----
                                            From: David Hindley
                                            Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 9:59 PM
                                            Subject: RE: [GTh] Thomas... Misogynist?

                                            <<The difference is perhaps as subtle as Clement of Alexandria's "gnostic" predilections (closer to when GT was probably written -
                                            presumably in Greek) and the much more developed Gnostic myths of the 4th century (the era in which the NHL codices were either
                                            copied from or translated into Coptic). I am quite aware that many folks want GT, or at least the forms of the sayings in it, to be
                                            very early. Gnostic-like dogma gets in the way of that.>>

                                            -----Original Message-----
                                            From: pmcvflag (Karl)
                                            Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 9:02 PM
                                            Subject: Re: [GTh] Thomas... Misogynist?

                                            <<I recall a number of scholars early on who tried to argue this. I have no doubt there may be a few who still do, but most of the
                                            arguments I have seen are not very convincing in my view. The contention doesn't hold well because the Gnostic elements are very
                                            visible in the surviving Greek as much as the Coptic. There are some, like Davies, who have even gone so far as to postulate the
                                            dating of Thomas based on whether or not it is "Gnostic", but this is not valid logic. I am not saying that it is impossible that
                                            Thomas may not have originally been Gnostic, or that these elements could not have been added (to the Greek as well), just that I
                                            think many of these specific arguments against the offending elements don't hold up to critical scrutiny.>>

                                            -----Original Message-----
                                            From: David Hindley
                                            Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 5:32 PM
                                            Subject: RE: [GTh] Thomas... Misogynist?

                                            <<Personally, I'd chalk that one up to whatever gnostic circles that adopted and adapted Thomas, much the way Plato was bowdlerized.
                                            If the translation from Plato's Republic in the NHL is any indication, the group or groups that produced the NHL were not afraid to
                                            tweak the wording to get a work to say something more in line with the Gnostic way of thinking about things (note the capital G).
                                            Obviously, I think the Coptic Thomas has more classical Gnostic concepts embedded into it than most feel comfortable with, although
                                            I'll speculate many of them are added by the Coptic translators. The meaning Gnostics attributed into the concepts of masculinity
                                            and femininity are so intense at times that a statement like the one you mention is not so surprising.>>

                                            -----Original Message-----
                                            From: Judy Redman
                                            Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 12:16 AM
                                            Subject: RE: [GTh] Thomas... Misogynist?

                                            <<Maybe it's because I'm so used to the Synoptics and Thomas is relatively new, but I find saying 114 shocking. It puts into Jesus'
                                            mouth a statement that the only way that a woman can have a place amongst Jesus' disciples is if she is made male. [...] Patterson
                                            and Meyer say that they believe this was added later and I am fairly sure that DeConick doesn't include in in Kernel Thomas (don't
                                            have the books with me to check). The rest of Thomas isn't so "in your face" and the Realm is twice referred to as a woman, so
                                            perhaps a case can be made for the early Thomas community not having socially engineered women to think of themselves as inferior,
                                            but this latter addition is a real doosey!>>
                                          • pmcvflag
                                            Mike ... (some of which may be small-g gnosticism versus Gnosticism ) however, let me say this: what concerns me as a logician is the apparent lack of a
                                            Message 21 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                              Mike

                                              >>>Indeed. Rather than attempt to deal with your eleven examples,
                                              (some of which may be small-g gnosticism versus "Gnosticism")
                                              however, let me say this: what concerns me as a logician is the
                                              apparent lack of a "third term" in this discussion.<<<

                                              As for the absence of a "third term", I understand what you mean. It
                                              is true that many people do seem to talk about "orthodoxy"
                                              and "Gnosticism" as if they are the two warring factions of the
                                              ancient world. This is exactly what Dr King is warning against.
                                              While it is important to get the point across to those who may be
                                              using the categorizations this way, I don't so hopefully it is a non-
                                              issue between us. Categories come in all shapes and sizes and
                                              overlapping functions. I this discussion I have also mentioned
                                              categories like "Roman" Christianity vs. Egyptian Christianity. If
                                              we are talking about a soteriology then we may talk about (or even
                                              make up) categories that draws a line between different
                                              stereological bases in various religious sects, such as "gnostic"
                                              vs. "pistic". If we are talking about theological, Christological,
                                              or cosmological categories we may talk about docetists, monarchists,
                                              processionalists, and then deal with any number of sects that my fit
                                              these categories.

                                              When I recently used the term "orthodox" I have meant one of two
                                              things (and I probably should be more clear which one I am talking
                                              about at a specific time). One, I am talking about the
                                              heresiologists, or two, I am talking about forms of Christianity
                                              that modern Christians would generally recognize. I can name many
                                              sects that are neither "Gnostic" nor "orthodox", in my view. Just a
                                              short list would include Manichaeans, Marcionites, Montanus,
                                              Ebionites, Elchasaites, and many more.

                                              When I am talking about Gnostics I am very specifically talking
                                              about sects that fit Schenke's categorization of texts that
                                              generally exhibit primary Sethian or Valentinian attributes,
                                              especially in the areas of cosmology and soteriology. BTW, just for
                                              the record these should not be confused with the Sethian and
                                              Valentinian SECTS, these are the Sethian and Valentinian CATEGORIES.

                                              >>>In other words, we need to get our taxonomy right first (or at
                                              least agree on what it
                                              will be).<<<

                                              Agreed. Do you have any reason to debate that the two subcategories
                                              I offer above, Sethians and Valentinians, are indeed related by way
                                              of the attributes I offered previously? If not, then we could either
                                              stick with a rather strict usage of the term "Gnosticism" (the
                                              stricter the better, in my view), or we can make up some other name
                                              if you feel more comfortable.

                                              After that, I contend that Thomas does have some of these important
                                              attributes in common with Sethian and Valentinian thought. I
                                              mentioned previously that some of the examples I mention depend on
                                              interpretation, but they are far from imaginative stretches. In fact
                                              there is a rather wide base of scholars that agree they are indeed
                                              there. I do not think I am committing eisegesis, at least not to a
                                              degree that is irrational.

                                              Karl Nygren
                                            • pmcvflag
                                              Hey Bill ... distinctive.
                                              Message 22 of 30 , Mar 12, 2007
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                                                Hey Bill

                                                >>>I doubt that the adoption of a middle-Platonist cosmology is
                                                distinctive.<<<

                                                In my view middle-Platonism is pretty distinctive wherever we find
                                                it.

                                                >>>And has been exemplified by several studies (including King's
                                                book on GMary, and her book on Gnosticism, but also, e.g.,
                                                Desjardins, _Sin in Valentinianism_), the supposed "Gnostic"
                                                soteriology of knowledge can be called seriously into question for
                                                some of the groups commonly so identified (esp. the Valentinians;
                                                also for sure the Marcionites, who would at least fit into Williams'
                                                category). Moreover, one can find appeals to such knowledge
                                                in "orthodox" texts, so it's not a distinctive attribute either.<<<

                                                It would not be logical to question the function of a category based
                                                on a faulty inclusion of an entity in the grouping. There are
                                                reasons to question this category, but the fact that the Marcionites
                                                don't accurately fit it is not one of them.

                                                >>>Again, I would think that this syncretism is a feature of ALL
                                                ancient Xian lit. And the choice of grouping together the groups
                                                that possess any particular set of attributes needs to be justified
                                                as well.<<<

                                                I was a bit more particular in stating that I was referring to a
                                                specific syncretism, not syncretism in general.

                                                >>>This -- and the previous post you made commenting on Williams and
                                                King -- in my view does an injustice to the seriousness of the issue
                                                here, and to the substance of both books. These are not simply
                                                arguments about terminology or misuses of otherwise-fine categories.
                                                Both books are arguing, in one way or another, that the entity
                                                normally intended by the term "Gnosticism" is not a real entity.<<<

                                                On the contrary, I am quite aware of the seriousness of the issue at
                                                hand. I am also aware of the issue itself enough to know that even
                                                though I largely agree with King and Williams, there are points that
                                                are debatable in these works.

                                                >>>King is stronger on this point than Williams, and suggests that
                                                instead of "Gnostic" we conceive of and think in terms of various
                                                sub-categories such as "Valentinian," "Sethian," "Thomasine," and so
                                                forth. This implies not simply a shift in terms, but in conception
                                                as well, since it implies that, e.g., a Valentian text need not have
                                                much of anything in common with a Sethian text --
                                                whereas "Gnosticism" (or any term that one uses as a simple synonym)
                                                lumps together all such texts and predisposes us to think that they
                                                necessarily have more in common with one another any of them have
                                                with "non-Gnostic" or "Orthodox" texts. Williams proposes "biblical
                                                demiurgical traditions" -- not simply as alternative terminology,
                                                but as a new concept, which likewise would link together items
                                                ACROSS the Gnostic vs. non-Gnostic divide.<<<

                                                You cannot have a subcategory without a category. While it is
                                                important to know the differences between Valentinian and Sethian
                                                thinking, I think it is hard to look at Allogenes and the
                                                Valentinian Exposition and not see that they are closely related.

                                                >>>For (I would argue) we would pretty much have to classify John,
                                                Paul, and Philo as representing biblical demiurgically traditions,
                                                while Thomas (arguably) contains no trace of such theology or
                                                speculation (and yes, I know perfectly well that I've said in print
                                                that it does -- I've changed my mind).<<<

                                                Sure, I have no problem talking about "Biblical Demiurgy" in various
                                                traditions. I do find it interesting though that you are willing to
                                                group together various sects via their cosmogony, but not their
                                                soteriology. Then to add to this you would accept connections
                                                between, say, Manichaeans and Sethians which are far less related
                                                than Sethians and Valentinians based on only a single attribute. I
                                                am sure there could be a reason to lump a grouping as wide
                                                as "Biblical Demiurgy", but frankly I think it is a bit too wide for
                                                this particular subject.

                                                BTW, while I would say that the demiurgic concept is not explicit in
                                                Thomas, I would not say there is no possible trace of it. I think
                                                the subject is still up in the air…. er…. so to speak. ;)

                                                >>>Now THIS is a very precise claim, and completely avoids the
                                                criticisms I've been making. If the whole discussion of "Gnosticism"
                                                (I mean the whole scholarly discourse, not simply the posts on this
                                                list) were as clear and specific as this, there wouldn't be a
                                                problem.<<<

                                                I'll take that as a compliment. I believe that part of the issue
                                                really is that King and Williams have pointed out an inexcusable
                                                sloppiness on the parts of many scholars. We should be careful,
                                                though, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Categorization
                                                serves an important function in academic discourse. It helps to
                                                prevent fallacies of definition and ambiguity, and helps to create a
                                                common lingo.

                                                Mike is right; we can't talk about where Thomas may have come from
                                                or what it may mean if we don't have some kind of taxonomy to help
                                                place it. We may then still disagree where it fits, but at least we
                                                can communicate how and why in more detail.

                                                Perhaps you would be more comfortable if we called it "Biblical
                                                middle-Platonism"? I would be ok with that, but I want credit for
                                                coining the term ;)

                                                Karl Nygren
                                              • William Arnal
                                                ... I should have been clearer with this statement. What I meant was, middle-Platonist cosmology (while certainly distinctive) is not unique to the groups or
                                                Message 23 of 30 , Mar 13, 2007
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                                                  Hi Karl -- you write:

                                                  > >>>I doubt that the adoption of a middle-Platonist cosmology is
                                                  >distinctive.<<<
                                                  >
                                                  >In my view middle-Platonism is pretty distinctive wherever we find
                                                  >it.

                                                  I should have been clearer with this statement. What I meant was,
                                                  middle-Platonist cosmology (while certainly distinctive) is not unique to
                                                  the groups or texts normally identified as "Gnostic." I think it's a fine
                                                  category, as a matter of fact, but one that will, if used carefully, end up
                                                  drawing in a much wider range of stuff, including much of the material
                                                  normally categorized as "orthodox."

                                                  >It would not be logical to question the function of a category based
                                                  >on a faulty inclusion of an entity in the grouping. There are
                                                  >reasons to question this category, but the fact that the Marcionites
                                                  >don't accurately fit it is not one of them.

                                                  Marcionites are one thing, Valentinians are another -- I think it's VERY
                                                  problematic for the notion of gnosticism as defined by GNOSIS that there is
                                                  some evidence that the Valentinians had a conception of sin.

                                                  >hand. I am also aware of the issue itself enough to know that even
                                                  >though I largely agree with King and Williams, there are points that
                                                  >are debatable in these works.

                                                  For sure, and my initial suggestion was not that we necessarily dump the
                                                  category (though that is indeed my own preference) but rather that we
                                                  acknowledge that it has been called into question.

                                                  >I'll take that as a compliment.

                                                  It was intended as one.

                                                  >I believe that part of the issue
                                                  >really is that King and Williams have pointed out an inexcusable
                                                  >sloppiness on the parts of many scholars. We should be careful,
                                                  >though, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Categorization
                                                  >serves an important function in academic discourse. It helps to
                                                  >prevent fallacies of definition and ambiguity, and helps to create a
                                                  >common lingo.

                                                  I agree -- and there is no argument here on the value of categories. On that
                                                  issue I'm a huge fan of Jonathan Z. Smith: categories are how we think. But
                                                  this makes it all the more important to ask ourselves where our categories
                                                  are coming from, what they're based on, and what work they do for us.

                                                  >Mike is right; we can't talk about where Thomas may have come from
                                                  >or what it may mean if we don't have some kind of taxonomy to help
                                                  >place it.

                                                  On the other hand, as I said, trying to make sense of Thomas' theology in
                                                  its own right strikes me as a necessary first step to understanding it; then
                                                  maybe we can find an appropriate category for it.

                                                  >Perhaps you would be more comfortable if we called it "Biblical
                                                  >middle-Platonism"? I would be ok with that, but I want credit for
                                                  >coining the term ;)

                                                  Actually, I think I'm fine with that, as long as the members of the category
                                                  are carefully considered, and not simply equated with the usual "gnostic"
                                                  materials. King does something similar for GMary in her book on that text
                                                  (but you still get the credit for the term), and it worked for me.

                                                  cheers,
                                                  Bill
                                                  ______________________
                                                  William Arnal
                                                  University of Regina

                                                  _________________________________________________________________
                                                  Take A Break From The Cold And Have Some Fun Indoors
                                                  http://local.live.com/?mkt=en-ca/?v=2&cid=A6D6BDB4586E357F!142
                                                • Jordan Stratford
                                                  ... Amen. Hello all - Thought I should introduce myself and this seems like a good opportunity (as a comment I d made on Loren s blog was recently quoted
                                                  Message 24 of 30 , Mar 13, 2007
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                                                    On 12-Mar-07, at 10:13 PM, pmcvflag wrote:

                                                    > I believe that part of the issue
                                                    > really is that King and Williams have pointed out an inexcusable
                                                    > sloppiness on the parts of many scholars. We should be careful,
                                                    > though, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

                                                    Amen.

                                                    Hello all -

                                                    Thought I should introduce myself and this seems like a good
                                                    opportunity (as a comment I'd made on Loren's blog was recently
                                                    quoted here). I'm an ordained priest in Victoria BC Canada and a
                                                    DMin. student at Wisdom U. in San Francisco. I work with individuals
                                                    who connect with GoThomas on a more-than-academic level, those called
                                                    to extract personal and spiritual significance from its poetry. My
                                                    only claim to fame was that I was recently interviewed in US News &
                                                    World Report where it does seem like I was "called out" by NT
                                                    Wright. ;-)

                                                    As you can probably appreciate, I have a "stake" in the Kings/William
                                                    approach to this debate. I think Williams asks an important
                                                    question; "What the hell is Iranaeus talking about?" And he rightly
                                                    concludes that Iranaeus' "Gnosticism" is his own personal boogey-man,
                                                    who likely never existed.

                                                    However, in my opinion he goes too far in dismantling this very
                                                    useful term: as Ehrman states, if we discard the word Gnosticism,
                                                    nobody will know what we're talking about. I reject "biblical
                                                    demiurgical" as soggy andit makes far too big a deal out of the
                                                    demiurge, who is a minor character with shifting roles; from the
                                                    Platonist "fabricator" who assembles but does not create, to the
                                                    Sethian creature whom Blake called "Old Nobodaddy" and the Cathars
                                                    identified with Satan. It would be terribly convenient if the
                                                    demiurge played a central and consistent role in classical Gn, but
                                                    unfortunately he's not that cooperative, and therefore makes a poor
                                                    identifying element.

                                                    Rather than emphasize a century of poor scholarship and millennia of
                                                    cranky heresiologists, my work focuses on exegesis of the texts
                                                    themselves and the people who connected to them. This is why I
                                                    advocate an intelligent and deliberate use of the word Gnosticism,
                                                    and capitalize it. Who were these mythographers, and where do these
                                                    ideas come from? I see a very strong continuity from the "cafe
                                                    societies" of Hellenized Jews in second century BCE Alexandria,
                                                    those syncretizing Hermetic beatniks, and the later Sethian/
                                                    Valentinian/Thomasine continuum. I maintain that there IS a
                                                    continuum, and that it can be identified by the four dominant themes
                                                    which Loren posted recently.

                                                    Plese also seems to support this idea, that we can move beyond
                                                    Williams' deconstruction or de-littering of the term without
                                                    dispensing with it entirely, by looking at the commonalities of those
                                                    who either were identified as Gnostics (S/V/T continuum) as well as
                                                    those who referred to themselves as Gnostics (St. Clement of
                                                    Alexandria).

                                                    I see the NHL as a *predominantly* Christian and Jewish restating/
                                                    exploration of these themes, which have their roots in Plato, in the
                                                    CH, in Wisdom and Enoch. And yes, I include the prologue of John in
                                                    this corpus of Gnostic texts. It does seem to me that Raymond
                                                    Brown's "Secessionists", responsible for the earlier "core" of John,
                                                    were Gnostic.

                                                    Rather than attempt to impose a modernist revision upon these texts
                                                    (as has so often been implied), modern Gnosticism recognizes that the
                                                    texts are expressions of a distinct yet syncretic experience that is
                                                    at once Christian, and Pagan, and Jewish. We seek to honour this
                                                    experience and incorporate it into 21st century spiritual and
                                                    religious practice. Most of this work is happening WITHIN
                                                    Christianity and Judaism rather than as a third-party alternative,
                                                    although some - myself included - throw a third circle of "not either
                                                    but still this" into the Venn diagram.

                                                    I apologize for my inexcusable long-windedness!


                                                    Father Jordan Stratford+
                                                    Apostolic Johannite Church
                                                    Regina Coeli Parish, Victoria BC Canada
                                                    www.johannite.org
                                                    egina2.blogspot.com

                                                    Opinions expressed in this e-mail are in no wise to be considered
                                                    official statements, and reflect my personal opinion only.




                                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  • pmcvflag
                                                    Bill ... middle-Platonist cosmology (while certainly distinctive) is not unique to the groups or texts normally identified as Gnostic. I think it s a fine
                                                    Message 25 of 30 , Mar 13, 2007
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                                                      Bill

                                                      >>>I should have been clearer with this statement. What I meant was,
                                                      middle-Platonist cosmology (while certainly distinctive) is not
                                                      unique to
                                                      the groups or texts normally identified as "Gnostic." I think it's a
                                                      fine
                                                      category, as a matter of fact, but one that will, if used carefully,
                                                      end up
                                                      drawing in a much wider range of stuff, including much of the material
                                                      normally categorized as "orthodox."<<<

                                                      Ah, ok. You are right that middle-Platonism is an attribute of other
                                                      categories and movements besides what we have been calling "Gnostic".
                                                      Unlike you, however, I am for making categories tighter and stricter
                                                      rather than wider.

                                                      >>>Marcionites are one thing, Valentinians are another -- I think
                                                      it's VERY
                                                      problematic for the notion of gnosticism as defined by GNOSIS that
                                                      there is
                                                      some evidence that the Valentinians had a conception of sin.<<<

                                                      Marcionites believed that salvation came by way of faith.
                                                      Valentinians did believe in sin, and a function of faith. I am not
                                                      sure I am following what you are driving at there. Maybe we should
                                                      bring it back to Thomas. What do you believe the soteriological
                                                      foundation of Thomas seems to be?

                                                      >>>For sure, and my initial suggestion was not that we necessarily
                                                      dump the
                                                      category (though that is indeed my own preference) but rather that we
                                                      acknowledge that it has been called into question.<<<

                                                      In that case, I don't think there was ever an issue. I never
                                                      questioned that there is good reason to debate the category.

                                                      >>>It was intended as one.<<<

                                                      Well then, I thank you. ;)

                                                      >>>On the other hand, as I said, trying to make sense of Thomas'
                                                      theology in
                                                      its own right strikes me as a necessary first step to understanding
                                                      it; then
                                                      maybe we can find an appropriate category for it.<<<

                                                      No debate there. We need the whole picture, including Thomas in and
                                                      of itself and the schools of historical thinking in and of
                                                      themselves, and how they inter-relate. Maybe instead of thinking in
                                                      terms of first or second steps we should think in terms of equally
                                                      important subjects that feed off of each other. I mean, yes we have
                                                      to know what kind of theology, cosmology, soteriology, hermeneutic
                                                      intent, etc, that Thomas exhibits before we can place it. On the
                                                      other hand we also have to know about the groups that it may fit
                                                      within before we can start to pick it out in Thomas. What
                                                      could "Bridal-chamber" mean in Thomas. Is it a generic reference, or
                                                      is it a reference to a Valentinian ritual? See what I mean? It has to
                                                      go both ways.

                                                      >>>Actually, I think I'm fine with that, as long as the members of
                                                      the category
                                                      are carefully considered, and not simply equated with the
                                                      usual "gnostic"
                                                      materials. King does something similar for GMary in her book on that
                                                      text
                                                      (but you still get the credit for the term), and it worked for me.<<<

                                                      Perhaps then we are on the same page. I would be more specific in
                                                      saying that I see what may be Valentinian (or proto-Valentinian)
                                                      elements in Thomas. I also see textual connections with Sethian
                                                      materials.

                                                      Karl Nygren
                                                    • William Arnal
                                                      ... I m simply saying that trying to define gnosticism by reference to a soteriology of knowledge (or intuition, or whatever) misses the subtleties of the
                                                      Message 26 of 30 , Mar 13, 2007
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                                                        Hi Karl:

                                                        >Marcionites believed that salvation came by way of faith.
                                                        >Valentinians did believe in sin, and a function of faith. I am not
                                                        >sure I am following what you are driving at there.

                                                        I'm simply saying that trying to define gnosticism by reference to a
                                                        soteriology of knowledge (or intuition, or whatever) misses the subtleties
                                                        of the various groups involved. The Valentinians, as far as I can tell, had
                                                        soteriological beliefs akin to other Christians: a mix of
                                                        knowledge/intuition, faith, and behavior. I think that's true of the groups
                                                        normally categorized as orthodox, the groups normally categorized as
                                                        gnostics, and the various early NT documents that probably shouldn't be
                                                        categorized as either (e.g., Paul).

                                                        >Maybe we should
                                                        >bring it back to Thomas. What do you believe the soteriological
                                                        >foundation of Thomas seems to be?

                                                        The best answer would be: I don't know. In a way, this is what I've been
                                                        trying to say all along. I don't think we yet understand Thomas on its own
                                                        terms sufficiently to categorize it accurately. To be more honest, though
                                                        (as opposed to strategic), I suppose I see in Thomas a soteriological
                                                        amalgam of interests in: progressive insight into community teaching (how
                                                        might one characterize this? as gnosis? or as faith? or something altogether
                                                        different), an ascetic praxis of world-renunciation, and (more arguably) a
                                                        commitment to the group which advocates this teaching. I won't take the time
                                                        to justify this now, and am not even certain I've got it right -- it's
                                                        something to think about. But if I am right about this, it suggests that
                                                        Thomas has about the same amalgam we see in, e.g., Paul, or Matthew, or
                                                        Valentinus, or Irenaeus: personal insight, correct belief, ethics, and
                                                        commitment to the group (which is how I'd understand Paul's language of
                                                        faith: pistis as fidelity or some such thing). Which is really what one
                                                        expect of commitment to just about any ancient philosophical school. And if
                                                        I'm NOT right about this, then the next question is: so what IS Thomas'
                                                        soteriology. Only once we've answered this in a clear and solid way is it
                                                        appropriate to move on, and I submit that this has not happened yet.

                                                        >In that case, I don't think there was ever an issue. I never
                                                        >questioned that there is good reason to debate the category.

                                                        But rather than saying that this whole interesting discussion was futile,
                                                        let's say our views have converged. :-)

                                                        >What
                                                        >could "Bridal-chamber" mean in Thomas. Is it a generic reference, or
                                                        >is it a reference to a Valentinian ritual? See what I mean? It has to
                                                        >go both ways.

                                                        Sure, but one can apply exactly the same question to Matthew. Of course,
                                                        though, I agree that some a prioris are necessary for any analysis or
                                                        thinking. But I find too many scholars are more interested in categorizing
                                                        Thomas than in understanding it.

                                                        best regards,
                                                        Bill
                                                        ______________________
                                                        William Arnal
                                                        University of Regina

                                                        _________________________________________________________________
                                                        Have Some Fresh Air Fun This March Break
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                                                      • pmcvflag
                                                        Hey Bill ... to a soteriology of knowledge (or intuition, or whatever) misses the subtleties of the various groups involved.
                                                        Message 27 of 30 , Mar 23, 2007
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                                                          Hey Bill

                                                          >>>I'm simply saying that trying to define gnosticism by reference
                                                          to a soteriology of knowledge (or intuition, or whatever) misses the
                                                          subtleties of the various groups involved.<<<

                                                          No doubt. Any category would certainly be better served if it
                                                          included a precise set of well defined attributes. I agree,
                                                          soteriology alone is not doing us a favor. Then again, I am also
                                                          saying that cosmology alone is no better.

                                                          >>>The Valentinians, as far as I can tell, had soteriological
                                                          beliefs akin to other Christians: a mix of knowledge/intuition,
                                                          faith, and behavior. I think that's true of the groups normally
                                                          categorized as orthodox, the groups normally categorized as
                                                          gnostics, and the various early NT documents that probably shouldn't
                                                          be categorized as either (e.g., Paul).<<<

                                                          I agree with Mike on this one, and it sounds like you do as well, in
                                                          that I think it is not a question of some Gnostic vs. Orthodox
                                                          dichotomy. There are many other categories and groupings as well,
                                                          and the lines between them are sometimes fuzzy. This does not,
                                                          however, imply that the categories have no use.

                                                          Again, however we wish to designate "Gnosticism" in this discussion,
                                                          I am more specifically talking about possible Valentinian and
                                                          Sethian undertones in Thomas.

                                                          >>>The best answer would be: I don't know. In a way, this is what
                                                          I've been trying to say all along. I don't think we yet understand
                                                          Thomas on its own terms sufficiently to categorize it accurately. To
                                                          be more honest, though (as opposed to strategic), I suppose I see in
                                                          Thomas a soteriological amalgam of interests in: progressive insight
                                                          into community teaching (how might one characterize this? as gnosis?
                                                          or as faith? or something altogether different), an ascetic praxis
                                                          of world-renunciation, and (more arguably) a commitment to the group
                                                          which advocates this teaching.<<<

                                                          I get the impression that in spite of intending to argue the
                                                          opposite, you may be setting up an arbitrary mutual exclusivity
                                                          between these attributes in the soteriologies. A soteriological base
                                                          in gnosis does not imply that praxis would not have been important
                                                          within the soteriological framework. Likewise a soteriological
                                                          emphasis on pistis need not imply a lack of a concept of gnosis
                                                          within the soteriological framework.

                                                          The question isn't which ones are present, they likely all will be.
                                                          Instead the question is how they are emphasized. If you find
                                                          yourself listening to a sermon at a Four Square church you may here
                                                          elements of praxis and some kind of gnosis, but there will be no
                                                          question that pistis is functionally emphasized.

                                                          Does Thomas imply elements of pistis and praxis within what seems
                                                          to be the soteriological outline? Very likely. I am arguing
                                                          something a bit more specific, though.

                                                          >>>Sure, but one can apply exactly the same question to Matthew. Of
                                                          course, though, I agree that some a prioris are necessary for any
                                                          analysis or thinking. But I find too many scholars are more
                                                          interested in categorizing Thomas than in understanding it.<<<

                                                          Perhaps, but I don't think that is true of most scholars. Yes, it is
                                                          true that some people seem to either want to assume Thomas is from a
                                                          hypothetical Thomasine school (as yet not proven to have existed),
                                                          or Gnostic, or to specifically remove any Gnostic reading so as to
                                                          connect it to an early church via a sort of Eusebian paradigm (like
                                                          S. Davies does). But correctly used, categorization is simply one
                                                          tool of many in textual criticism or historiography that can help to
                                                          give context to what one is extracting from the text.

                                                          Your example from Matthew (9:15) demonstrates my point. It seems
                                                          obvious to me that Matthew is not using the term "bridal-chamber" in
                                                          the Valentinian context. Thomas l04 seems to be comparable. What
                                                          about 75? That seems a bit less clear, and very easily could be read
                                                          in a way that would agree with the Valentinian usage. I am not
                                                          saying that it necessarily SHOULD be read this way, BUT, that the
                                                          categorization here could have profound effects on possible meaning
                                                          in the text. I would like to see a side by side hermeneutic
                                                          criticism of what passages would mean if they were seen in the light
                                                          of schools of thought that Thomas could be reasonably connected
                                                          with. Are there any passages in Thomas that could be seen as
                                                          definitively connected to one or other school of thought that make
                                                          less sense outside that school? If so, then could connection to that
                                                          school of thought have implications about other passages that may
                                                          have meant different things in different schools? I don't think we
                                                          can afford to ignore these questions.

                                                          Karl Nygren
                                                        • smithandp
                                                          ... or to specifically remove any Gnostic reading so as to ... Hi Karl, This doesn t much resemble Steve Davies views on Thomas. Andrew
                                                          Message 28 of 30 , Mar 23, 2007
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                                                            --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "pmcvflag" <pmcvflag@...> wrote:
                                                            >
                                                            or to specifically remove any Gnostic reading so as to
                                                            > connect it to an early church via a sort of Eusebian paradigm (like
                                                            > S. Davies does).

                                                            Hi Karl,

                                                            This doesn't much resemble Steve Davies' views on Thomas.

                                                            Andrew
                                                          • pmcvflag
                                                            Hi Andrew ... I will be the first to state that I am less familiar with Davies work, and that I picked up my perception of his theories from brief overviews
                                                            Message 29 of 30 , Mar 26, 2007
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                                                              Hi Andrew

                                                              >>>This doesn't much resemble Steve Davies' views on Thomas.<<<

                                                              I will be the first to state that I am less familiar with Davies'
                                                              work, and that I picked up my perception of his theories from brief
                                                              overviews and observation of online discussion. I know the topic
                                                              came up briefly between us, but I don't recall a resolution. Since
                                                              you seem familiar with his works perhaps you could clarify more
                                                              specifically where I may be inaccurate.

                                                              Here is one specific example that I used to draw my conclusion. I
                                                              believe you are familiar with it.

                                                              http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/arnal.htm

                                                              If I have misrepresented Davies' stance then I should not have
                                                              listed his name (especially after Mike was nice enough to retract an
                                                              assumption about my stance, I surely would not want to be a
                                                              hypocrite) though it does not undermine my essential point in the
                                                              post it comes from. I will try to refresh my memory and reread this
                                                              conversation in the next few days in case I misunderstood or misread
                                                              something.

                                                              On a side note, the following comes from your site but I don't know
                                                              if it was you who wrote it;

                                                              "But if you mean by Gnostic the religion upon which the Nag Hammadi
                                                              texts are based, a religion that differentiates the god of this
                                                              world (who is the Jewish god) from a higher more abstract God, a
                                                              religion that regards this world as the creation of a series of evil
                                                              archons/powers who wish to keep the human soul trapped in an evil
                                                              physical body then no, Thomas is not Gnostic."

                                                              This relates to Frank's most recent post to me.

                                                              Karl
                                                            • pmcvflag
                                                              Hi Andrew Back to your previous post.... ... ... I finally got the chance to go back and read the sources I mentioned previously. Sorry it took so long. I have
                                                              Message 30 of 30 , Mar 31, 2007
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                                                                Hi Andrew

                                                                Back to your previous post....

                                                                >>>This doesn't much resemble Steve Davies' views on Thomas.<<<

                                                                ... I finally got the chance to go back and read the sources I
                                                                mentioned previously. Sorry it took so long. I have to admit I am
                                                                still getting the same impression, but I do welcome any correction you
                                                                may feel necessary.

                                                                Karl
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