RE: [GTh] Re: Are e-lists dying?
- Hi Mike--
||"Collective historical consciousness"? You're not going Jungian, are
Jungian, Eh? Well, I don't think I've gone around that particular bend, but
who knows. When I was growing bald, I didn't really notice that was
Maybe I should clarify what I meant by "collective historical
consciousness". In most societies there is a more or less shared
understanding about cultural foundations. Among those foundations, and
especially in the American tradition, is the almost subconscious conviction
that the truths of certain primal stories of origin are unimpeachable. You
know the ones I mean-George Washington slinging a silver dollar across the
Potomac, and such. I'd guess that another set of these "myths of origin"
probably includes communal beliefs that the Bible (66 books of it, no more
and no less) accurately describe the genesis of our broader religious
traditions (Christianity and Judaism). Since the closing decades of the
nineteenth century, when critical historical scholarship became prominent,
there seems to have been an increasing sense of un-ease about the way "that
old time religion" has been called in to question more and more. I'm
becoming increasingly interested about the social and cultural responses to
The mere presence of the Gospel of Thomas is undeniable evidence that the
legitimacy of conventional understandings of Western society's collective
are suspect. The Gospel of Thomas, as well as the substantial number of
other "non-canonical" texts that are more or less contemporaneous with it,
have become "the elephants in the room" - they are pretty damn hard to miss,
but nobody wants to admit they are there. What I find fascinating is the
contrived responses to this herd of pachyderms.
Lately I've been reading as much as I can find about North American
responses to the rise of evolutionary theory, critical historical (biblical)
scholarship and technological advances during the late nineteenth and early
twentieth century. These three things, among others, contributed to the
growth of a rabid fundamentalist movement in Christianity in the early
twentieth century here in the United States. The fortunes of Christian
fundamentalism have waxed and waned and the shape of the movement has
frequently been re-shaped during the course of the last hundred years.
Oddly, although fundamentalism has never been much more than a marginal
segment of society it seems to have exerted much more influence on our
collective historical consciousness than one would reasonably expect.
In any case, awareness of the Gospel of Thomas MAY be contributing to the
development of yet ANOTHER reactionary trend in the American religious
traditions. I'm very interested in how this plays out, but somewhat less
interested these days in the questions of GTh's compositional history or
precisely when it all happened. It's NOT that these are unimportant topics,
it simply that I find discussion about less compelling than in the past.
Humble Maine Woodsman
||From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf
||Of Michael Grondin
||Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 3:30 PM
||Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: Are e-lists dying?
||Rick Hubbard wrote:
||> It sometimes seems there is "nothing new under the sun". The topics
||> of discussion on many lists and blogs frequently seem to be endlessly
||> repetitive. Worse still, I have the impression (and I [emphasize] that
||> is only an impression) that many of the list participants pursue what
||> only be called an "apologetic" agenda. The redundancy itself is boring
||> but persistent efforts to commandeer empirical scholarship to score
||> theological points are nothing less than mind-numbing.
||I agree, Rick. I'd only add that one of the factors that seems to
||to repetition is the apparent love of scholars for undecidable
||(This is apart from questions that _are_ decidable on empirical grounds,
||but which some participants insist on regarding as open questions.)
||> Perhaps this discussion raises a legitimate question: What will it
||> reinvigorate e-list participation? Again, speaking strictly from my
||> perspective, I'd be more interested in discussions about BIG issues
||> than minutia. For example, I'd find it much more interesting to
||> WHY the Gospel of Thomas is an important artifact for the study of the
||> development of "early Christianity" and HOW it either confirms or
||> our collective historical consciousness instead of debating topics
||> the date of composition or the document's literary integrity.
||In any case, I wouldn't call the date of composition question 'minutia'
||much as one of those questions endlessly debated precisely because
||it's essentially undecidable, so no one's in danger of being shown to be
||conclusively wrong (except maybe Nicholas Perrin :-).
||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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