Re: [GTh] But I have said - GTh46.2
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Ron McCann <ronmccann1@...> wrote:
>Hi Ron, Mike:
> It's probably safe to assume that Luke saw it as some kind of an end-time saying and chucked it in > with the other ones he had on the subject in those several verses on the topic.
I think there are two other possibilities that explain, in general, why Thomas tends toward some flavor of realized eschatology, but Luke emphasizes future:
1 - Luke follows Mark in reframing "kingdom" as future;
2 - Luke follows Mark's amplification of "kingdom" as other than Roman kingdom. This seems like a natural way to avoid trouble!
I think too there is partial dependence of later Thomas on the synoptics, just as there is partial dependence on early gnostic themes. Both introduced more developed themes not originally presented.
I realize that is a very broad generalization. But I think that sort of development is to be expected among early competing Jesus communities. Early textual instability has long been recognized for Mark, and there seems to be decent support for it in Thomas as well. Of course it depends on analysis of technical terms and thematic parallels, both of which are less obvious than direct parallels.
- Ron -
I agree with you that the GTh logia that seem to refer to end-times are
few and far between. In fact, I don't think L61.1 is the strongest example,
although DeConick takes it to refer to "the End" (TGOTT, p.200). To my
mind, though, a stronger example is L57's "day of the harvest". I think
it's stronger because it's not so easily susceptible to an interpretation
in terms of individuals, rather than humanity as a whole.
On the other hand, I recognize that some sayings indicate the opposite
at least as strongly, perhaps even more so. A good example is L.51,
wherein it's stated that the "new world" has already come. How can that
be reconciled with the above? One possibility I'm attracted to is the
DeConick model, which allows for eschatological emphasis to have been
altered over time, such that what we find in CGTh is possibly the fading
remnants of traditional end-time thinking, coupled with an emerging
contrary view which had become ascendant. In particular, notice that
L.51 is a disciples' question, which to DeConick indicates a later
development, while L61.1 and L57 are simple Jesus-statements.
Interestingly, one of the Q-and-A sayings has seemed to serve as one
basis for the theory that (later?) GTh envisioned a different kind of
end-times, viz., one in which "where the beginning is, there the end will
be", i.e., a kind of rolling-back of history caused by (presumably) the
adoption of an ascetic life-style by the masses, resulting in progressively
fewer children until the world's population shrinks back to "the Garden".
As I recall, this was a view expressed by Steve Davies, and I think it
gets its plausibility actually more from other Thomasine writings (T. the
Contender, and the Acts of T.) than from GTh, though again there's
some stuff in GTh for that view. (A little something for everyone?)
Now on this "realized eschatology" thingy, my sense is that lumping
different things together and trying to reach a judgement on all of
them at once is counter-productive. In particular, I don't see that
much of a difference between the third century Thomas and the way
the canonicals were developing on the question of when the kingdom
would come, but I do see a big difference on the question of whether
there would be a parousia. The Synoptics at least were stuck with the
notion that Jesus was the messiah. Since he hadn't accomplished
what a messiah was supposed to do, it was necessary that he come
back "in power" to finish the job. The Thomasines don't seem to have
ever had this problem, but even if they did, they had the advantage
over the church in that their Jesus-gospel apparently continued to
develop after the canonical gospels had been pretty much locked-in.
Mt. Clemens, MI
> Mark and Luke use exclusively "kingdom of God," while MatthewThanks for noting that important point about Greek Thomas, Paul,
> employs "kingdom of the heavens." In Coptic Thomas it is simply
> "kingdom," however in Grk. GTh3 "kingdom of God" occurs.
but Coptic Thomas occasionally has "kingdom of the heavens" also.
(See 114, e.g.) That contravenes your suggestion:
> This suggests the original usage in Thomas, "kingdom," may haveOther than that, the deluge of data kinda obscured the theses for me.
> caused difficulties after the Jewish War ...
- --- In email@example.com, "Michael Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
> Coptic Thomas occasionally has "kingdom of the heavens" also.Woops! You're right. L.114 is very late but there are other instances of "kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God." I will need to rearrange my position!
> Other than that, the deluge of data kinda obscured the theses for me.Me too. I am exploring the thesis that GMk and Q both depend on original GTh. I am looking for distinctive usages of technical terms (kingdom, child, small, and some others). This is, I think, made more complex by what appears to me to be insertion of later corrections into GTh to harmonize with the synoptics. Of course it may be that original GTh included all three usages of "kingdom." But the very distinctive usages by Mark and Luke ("kingdom of God") as opposed to Matthew ("Kingdom of the heavens") suggests polarization between the Mark-Luke trajectory and Matthew. That in turn would suggest an earlier shared usage, such as "kingdom" in original GTh. But I agree, in the case of "kingdom," the usage in Thomas is mixed.
Thank you for attempting to hold me to the same very high standards of this board!
- Hi Mike,
Thanks for the thoughtful response, Mike.
I agree [L.57] is a stronger example, and when first I encountered it, I
designated it as a clear Apocalyptic Saying. It has a single attestation
in Matthew's Gospel ( From Special Matthew) where it is unquestionably
presented as such, and the only significant variation is that in Thomas
no mention of the wheat being gathered into the barn, is made. I think
the original parable was simply about why God allows evil men and good
men to co-exist and why he does nothing about it right now- it would
uproot the intended and desired growth and development of the good men.
So wait until the desired crop is fully matured- harvest day. Matthew
may have changed it to an end-time separation of the sheep from the
goats, or the good fish from the bad on Judgment Day. That does not mean
we should be reading it that way in Thomas or that it was intended to be
read that way. I guess the question is what "the day of the harvest"
meant to the Thomasines.
I think the Thomas crowd also believed that a selection process for
entry to the Kingdom was involved. But since the Kingdom was here, the
sorting and selection for admission or entry to it was now going on. And
just like in the Matthew examples some would be found acceptable, and
some not. The spiritually mature or spiritually ready presumably get
admitted. The Wise Fisherman who nets the fish, selects the Fine Big
Fish ( mature, developed) and throws the smaller back. The Wise man of
understanding comes quickly when the crop is ripe (mature) and plies the
sickle. The Man who sowed good seed discards the weeds and gathers his
wheat. For the Thomasines, the Day of the Harvest might have meant that
day in which the individual is actually selected and taken into the
Kingdom. It's hard to say. But your point is taken.
I think Deconick's approach makes a lot of sense too. As expectations of
Judgment Day and the Parousia faded, as well they might have by the end
of the First Century and the beginning of the Second, thinking
Christian's may have gravitated to the "Kingdom is already here" sayings
of Jesus and focused their speculations on how to enter that kingdom in
the here and now, whereas the groups of Christians adhering to the old
Messianic/Parousia/Judgment Day scenario re-entrenched, stayed the
course, eventually becoming the modern Church. My point is that late or
early, there was a bifurcation with the Thomas crowd apparently on the
leading edge of "Realized Eschatology" exploration, speculation and
innovation, and going their own way.
Davie's idea is indeed interesting, but my own view on this logion and
others like it is that the Thomasines envisioned the process of entry to
the Kingdom as a return to the Pre-Fall state of Adam and Eve and a
consequent re-entry to Eden, and further, that they believed this was
accomplished one by one, individually.
In Thomas, individual, rather than collective "salvation" seems the
focus, and it's up to the individual, him or herself, to win entry to
I take your point about lumping too many things together- and perhaps I
have here- using Realized Eschatology to describe the Gospel of Thomas
position on the Kingdom. You are right. It might be more useful to
divide those elements up and look at each of them individually. My
problem with Thomas, is that we can get so easily get lost in the
minutia and the non-homogeneous and sometimes conflicting material that
we miss spotting the common overarching themes. So from time to time, I
try to stand back and try to view the sweep and thrust of Thomas and a
whole to see if I can discover what, in at least broad and general
terms, we can say about the beliefs the people this gospel served had in
common, and how these might have differed from the emerging Church's- no
easy task given the complexity of the material. So although my
conclusion is a generality, and only operates in overview, the
conclusion seems well grounded and useful- although, like any other
proposal about Thomas, some specific sayings can be found that argue
Thanks Mike. You always get me thinking.