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Re: [GTh] Hellenist Material in Thomas

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  • Ron McCann
    Frank wrote:- Ron, The Thomas community did not observe the Law of Moses. So why would they have added a logion about going to James the Righteous/Just if
    Message 1 of 31 , Aug 9, 2007
      Frank wrote:-
      "Ron, The Thomas community did not observe the Law of Moses. So why would they have added a logion about going to James the Righteous/Just if they defined this term to mean "strict Torah-Observant."

      Frank, I was using the logion to show, or at least argue, that the Thomasines were aware and knew or knew that James had the reputation of being a strict Torah-Observing Jew. It was known even to them. This, in the context of the argument as to the EARLIEST authorities we have being of one mind on that.
      The PURPOSE of the Thomasines for either penning or including this logion in their Gospel is a different issue. That addresses the question of what they were using this logion FOR. The question might be better framed as "Why on earth would they frame and/or include a logion apparently tying, linking or submitting themselves to a strict Torah-Observant figure, if they themselves were not only not Torah-Observant but evidence scorn and derision, if not contempt for those things that the Torah-Observant- the Jews, and (arguably) James, held most dear, central to their faith, important and precious?"
      Well, clearly, they cannot be using this logion as holding up James as an Stirling exemplar to be followed and emulated in his strict Torah Observance by all Thomasines. So what are they using it FOR?
      People generally seem to treat it, as I have already said, as a logion that was penned or simply found and included for the purposes of asserting the legitimacy and faultless pedigree of the Thomas "church"- as a church descended from none other than James, himself who thus functions for them, and their critics as a guarantor of the correctness of the Thomasine's beliefs and religious practices (or lack of them) as set out in Thomas. I have already suggested that if THAT was their intent in including this logion, then it seems evident, on it's face, that that claim is bogus. There is no evidence of the Daniel-Enochan belief set, in Thomas, that leading scholars now think characterized the earliest James crowd. These seems to be no trace of that theology there.Thomas also seems to be replete with logions which, if not actually anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish polemic, are on the cusp of it. How on earth could they be claiming that James either endorsed, originated, held or guaranteed or even tolerated such beliefs, even as a Jew, never mind his alleged strict Torah Observant stance. Circumcision marks and makes the Jews the very Chosen people of God in Jewish belief. And it's of "no benefit", it confers "no advantage" ??? The treasured 24 Prophets and their Writings ( including, presumably, Moses), their Prophecy, and the Law of the People of the Book, are to be ignored and treated "irrelevant" or "passé" or of no value??? I cannot conceive of any First Century Jew, even a Hellenized one, agreeing to those propositions or sanctioning them as "truths".
      And there's yet another strike against such a reading of the purpose of this logion. The Thomasines ALREADY have and have claimed another Apostle or disciple of Jesus as their guarantor- namely Jude Thomas- supposedly another brother or Jesus, and have done so quite directly and expressly. So the James logion was not needed for those purposes.
      When I was looking at this point, it dawned on me that one purpose for including it, might be the "sitz" of the Thomas community. One can read in Thomas an almost palpable tension between the Thomasines and a Petrine or Petrine-Pauline ( As well as a second possibly Matthean) community of Christians. It struck me that the purpose of including it might be just as a swipe against these other early Christian communities that were scuffling with them for the available "spiritual bucks". More specifically it was included to "one-up" and undermine a slur mounted by the Petrine group as to the legitimacy and provenance and authority of the Thomas group, and to function a direct assault on the Petrine-Pauline emergent Church's claim that Peter, their "guarantor", had been "given the keys to the Kingdom", that he was the exclusive and authorised "rock" upon which Jesus was to found his true church, and that it was Peter who was to protect and "feed his sheep'. Bluntly, the Thomasines invented the connection to James to offset this criticism and hit back by asserting that the mantle had passed to James, not Peter, and further claiming that they themselves were the true Church as a church descended (a lie) from Jesus' brothers.
      I'm not sure whether Deconick booted this logion out of the "kernal" or "core" based on this reasoning or another, but she clearly thinks it's redactive/accretive. I am not fully convinced of this view zeros in on the purpose for which logion 12 was included, as there is another alternative.

      That other alternative, which I will set out here, is one, that if proven true, will require me to eat my words that if this logion purports to set up James as guarantor of the Thomas group, then it is bogus and a lie. And here it is:-

      It wouldn't matter whether or not James was a strict Torah-observing Jew, personally, if he himself actually DID authorize THIS church to ignore the requirements of the Jewish law and exempt them from obedience to it, or to it's demands. And this he MIGHT just have done, if this was a GENTILE church. I am speaking of course of the decision and edict of the Jerusalem Council, where a big distinction is made between what is required of the Jewish followers of Jesus and what is required of the Gentile followers of Jesus. The Jewish Christian's, quite plainly, were, in James' view, fully under the Law as Jews and had to not only be Torah-Observant, but take on themselves all the normative trappings and requirements of Judaism.The gentile Jesus-people, unless they wanted to convert, and actually become practicing Jews, did not. And the decision of that council, quite clearly, extended itself NOT just to Churches evangelized and founded by Peter and/ or Paul, but to other groups of Gentile believers evangelized and organized into communities by other Apostles or Disciples such as Jude-Thomas. What we have in Thomas, may be the only writing or Gospel we have from a GENTILE church evangelized and founded by an Apostle or Disciple that was NOT of the Pauline/ Peterine line, who was appointed or sent out by James- such a church owing allegiance directly to James and holding their "charter" from him. The total absence of any Pauline themes or the distinctively Pauline theology or Pauline teachings in Thomas certainly suggests a DIRECT connection to the James crowd in Jerusalem, rather than some connection through Paul.
      The "catch-22" here is that nobody seems to think that Luke's account in Acts 15 of the Jerusalem Council and their decision or edict are historical facts or at all accurate,
      and I've been roundly criticised on other lists for proposing that the Thomas Group might have been a gentile church actually and subsequently established and authorized by James and his own emissaries pursuant to Acts 15. It seems to me, that this is the only way that the Jamesian logion can stand as other than bogus.

      In closing, Frank. Just one more point on the Jerusalem Council, the leadership of James and your suggestions that it was James sons of Zebbedee, not James the Just that lead it. I remember now reading something you posted about that and recall shaking my head at the time. How do you square that with the fact that Acts 12 tells us that James Zebedee was killed by Herod at about the same time that Peter was arrested by him and made his miraculous escape from Prison- something that occurs much much earlier and earlier in the account than the Jerusalem Council events?

      Ron



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    • Ron McCann
      Thanks, Frank. Clearly, I totally misunderstood you and the point you were making in your post, and further confused the references to James the son of
      Message 31 of 31 , Aug 9, 2007
        Thanks, Frank.

        Clearly, I totally misunderstood you and the point you were making in your post, and further confused the references to James the son of Alphaeus and James the son of Zebedee. Can't keep track of so many durned Jameses! Creeping Alzheimers, no doubt.. (grin). My apologies.

        Ron
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: FMMCCOY@...
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:47 PM
        Subject: Re: [GTh] Hellenist Material in Thomas


        Ron McCann writes, "In closing, Frank. Just one more point on the
        Jerusalem Council, the leadership of James and your suggestions that it
        was James sons of Zebbedee, not James the Just that lead it. I remember
        now reading something you posted about that and recall shaking my head
        at the time. How do you square that with the fact that Acts 12 tells us
        that James Zebedee was killed by Herod at about the same time that Peter
        was arrested by him and made his miraculous escape from Prison-
        something that occurs much much earlier and earlier in the account than
        the Jerusalem Council events?"

        Ron, if you re-read what I said, you will realize that what I maintain
        is that, Luke wants us to believe, the James of the Jerusalem Council is
        James *the son of Alphaeus*. Luke nowhere, in either Luke or Acts, ever
        states that Jesus had a brother named James. He names two James in
        Acts--one the son of Zebedee and the other the son of Alphaeus. Since
        the son of Zebedee was dead by the time of this Council, Luke implies
        that the James of this Council is the son of Alphaeus. It is only by
        illegitimate importation of ideas from outside the conceptual universe
        of Luke-Acts that anyone can conclude that the James of this Council
        meeting is a brother of Jesus. In any event, IMO, Luke's account of the
        Council meeting, including the edict, is bogus. IMO, if such an edict
        had ever been issued, Paul would have said something about it because it
        directly impacted on the Gentiles under his jurisdiction.

        Ron, you have an interesting line of argumentation in the rest of your
        post. I will be responding to it, but only after giving it much
        thought.

        Frank McCoy
        2036 E. Magnolia Ave.
        St. Paul, MN 55119









































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