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Re: Thomas Sayings Most Disliked by a Methodist Sunday School class: Part 2 of a cas

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  • ianbrown6796
    Paul, I find your thread extremely fascinating and I look forward to more installments. I think it s a very interesting idea, presenting GThom to practicing
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 8, 2008
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      Paul,

      I find your thread extremely fascinating and I look forward to more
      installments. I think it's a very interesting idea, presenting GThom
      to practicing Christians in order to get their reaction to it.
      Hopefully projects like this will help to break with the notion that
      Christianity emerged in the first century BCE as some homogeneous,
      monolithic entity. For the most part the reactions to GThom that you
      have relayed to us didn't surprise me, but there were two passages in
      particular that I think need some reflection.

      > L.44
      > Reason disliked: "incomprehensible"
      > Truth found: sin against Father or Son is forgiven

      GThom 44(scholar's translation), Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes
      against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against
      the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy
      spirit will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven."

      Mark 3:28-30 (scholar's translation), "I [Jesus] swear to you, all
      offenses and whatever blasphemies humankind might blaspheme will be
      forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit is
      never forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin."

      These passages are very closely related thematically, thus I don't
      think it would be a leap to say that these students would have
      similar critiques leveled against the passage in Mark.

      > > L.101
      > Reason disliked: "hate"
      > Truth found: (none)

      GThom 101, "Whoever does not hate [father] and mother as I do cannot
      be my [disciple], and whoever does [not] love [father and] mother as
      I do cannot be my [disciple]. For my mother [...], but my true
      [mother] gave me life."

      Luke 14:26-27, "If anyone of you comes to me and does not hate your
      own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters--
      yes, even your own life-- you're no disciple of mine."

      Again we have a GThom saying, that is interpreted negatively, that
      has a parallel in Luke and Matthew. This observation could have real
      consequences on how people interpret the bible. It is one thing to
      reject the ideas of an apocryphal gospel, but it is another all
      together to challenge texts within the canonical bible.

      I would be curious to know how well these students know the bible,
      would they recognize GThom 44 and 101 as having strong parallels in
      Mark, Matthew and Luke?

      I wonder what other people think on this. This project could
      potentially bring biblical criticism to non-scholars (both insiders
      and outsiders) in a new and provocative way. Currently public
      discourse of the bible (especially literal readings of it) is
      polarized, theologians on one side, radical atheists (think Dawkins,
      Hitchins, Harris) on the other. GThom could provide a meaningful,
      accessible way for people to approach the bible, and rethink what it
      says, and how binding its words should be.

      Ian Brown

      University of Manitoba
    • Paul Lanier
      ... Christianity emerged in the first century BCE as some homogeneous, monolithic entity. Hi Ian, I hope so, too. This particular class seems especially
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 9, 2008
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        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "ianbrown6796" <ianbrown6796@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hopefully projects like this will help to break with the notion that
        Christianity emerged in the first century BCE as some homogeneous,
        monolithic entity.

        Hi Ian,

        I hope so, too. This particular class seems especially receptive. They
        view themselves as progressive and nearly all have a strong commitment
        to lifelong learning. Most are highly educated; all are independent
        thinkers. Most of the resistance has come from passages that, on the
        surface, appear to reject inclusivism (that's a strong Methodist
        principle). I won't spoil this week's Part 3 of the case study, except
        to say that today's open discussion on Saying 98 was especially
        productive. The entire class found their own solution to this saying
        and left with a very good feeling about their process, even though
        this saying was opposed by everyone at first.

        > I would be curious to know how well these students know the bible,
        would they recognize GThom 44 and 101 as having strong parallels in
        Mark, Matthew and Luke?

        I suppose that will always be an issue in Sunday Schools! LL 55 and
        101 were at first attacked, until one mentioned the Mt-Lk parallels.
        There was a question of whether "hate" is a mistranslation there, so I
        used this as an opportunity to introduce the Mt-Lk parallels, and
        Matthew's deletion of "hate". Basically I found the class truly
        receptive to the idea that modern scholarship has not filtered down
        the the Sunday School class, and this has been the case for decades.
        Some already knew this, and I think they truly strive for a much more
        informed approach to ther bible.

        > GThom could provide a meaningful, accessible way for people to
        approach the bible, and rethink what it says, and how binding its
        words should be.

        Borg (The Heart of Christianity) speaks of a new paradigm, one that
        emphasizes metaphor rather than literality. And of course Funk called
        for a lessening of canonical boundaries. I think Thomas is perfect for
        this. The many parallels to intracononical sayings may be the best way
        to introduce Thomas initially, with sayings that require much
        introspection coming later. I will have much more to say about this
        after I study more carefully today's process!

        regards,
        Paul
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