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Re: Origen and Thomas 7: On Thomas 27 [23]

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  • Roger Mott
    Thanks for your work on Origen which has been posted on this list. I would like to forward a possible parallel of L 23 found in Pistis Sophia, Chapter 134.
    Message 1 of 7 , May 21 9:55 AM
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      Thanks for your work on Origen which has been posted on this list.

      I would like to forward a possible parallel of L 23 found in Pistis Sophia, Chapter 134.

      "The Saviour answered and said unto Mary: "I say unto you: They will find one in a thousand and two in ten-thousand for the accomplishment of the mystery of the First Mystery. This will I tell unto you when I have explained to you the expansion of the universe. For this cause, therefore, I have rent myself asunder and have brought the mysteries into the world, because all are under sin and all are in need of the gift of the mysteries."

      From what I have read, PS is later than the Coptic 114 sayings so one would conclude that the PS author got it from that saying. Also, I read where the PS folks may have gotten it from Ps 91:7 ...

      Roger Mott
      Waterloo, Iowa
    • Judy Redman
      Stephen, Again thanks for sharing these excerpts with us. I m sorry I m not going to be there when you present your paper! It sounds as though you re right
      Message 2 of 7 , May 23 2:57 PM
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        Stephen,

        Again thanks for sharing these excerpts with us. I'm sorry I'm not going to be there when you present your paper!

        It sounds as though you're right about the quote being more likely to be from Thomas than from Basilides, although you could argue that since only those in the inner circle will receive revelation of mysteries, Basilides's saying isn't out of the question. Of course, your case for Thomas over Basilides is strengthened by evidence that Origen has used Thomas in other places and would be weakened by evidence that he also uses Basilides in other places.

        I don't have your argument clearly in my head (a problem with only reading excerpts over a period of several weeks) but I am wondering what exactly you are trying to argue here, not because I disagree but because I think your paper will be strengthened if you are clear about it. I know that you are saying that Origen saw Thomas as a reasonable source of "historically useful and homiletically edifying info" about Jesus. Do you mean that you think Origen actually had a copy of Thomas that he used as a source for his preaching, or that he had read it at some stage and used some of the remembered concepts? It's also possible that he is simply using ideas that appear in Thomas that are in circulation in the general community that he doesn't find problematic although it seems that you have evidence for something more intentional than that. I would be looking at how often Origen actually acknowledges his sources? And how accurately? I know that when you're listening to a modern preacher who says "as it says in Scripture" you may well be about to hear something that "everybody knows" but that the Bible doesn't actually say. There are things that preachers check carefully and other things that they just rely on their memories for and memories are not necessarily accurate. Even something that "the apostle Paul says" might be cited from memory and be inaccurate or even wrongly attributed. Do you/we have evidence that Origen was a careful checker of his sources? If so, that would be a stronger case for your conclusion that he was using Thomas rather than Basiledes in this particular instance, and that he in general was intentionally using Thomas as a source, rather than just absorbing Thomasine sayings from the circles in which he moves.

        I hope this is reasonably coherent - it's very early in the morning and I am not at my brightest and best in the morning. :-)

        Regards

        Judy

        --
        Rev Judy Redman
        Uniting Church Chaplain
        University of New England
        Armidale 2351 Australia
        ph: +61 2 6773 3739
        fax: +61 2 6773 3749
        web: http://www.une.edu.au/chaplaincy/uniting/ and
        http://blog.une.edu.au/unitingchaplaincy/
        email: jredman@...


        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
        > Behalf Of Stephen C. Carlson
        > Sent: Thursday, 21 May 2009 11:15 PM
        > To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [GTh] Origen and Thomas 7: On Thomas 27
        >
        > In this excerpt, which will be the last of the excerpts I'm posting
        > here, we are looking at a saying from the Gospel of Thomas that also
        > has a parallel in the Gospel of Basilides.
        >
        > >--- Begin Excerpt ---
        > More problematic than the previous examples is Origen's possible
        > use of Thomas 23 in his treatise on the Passover. The possible
        > use occurs in a discussion of Exod 12:10, which reads: "You shall
        > let none of it remain until the morning, and you shall break no
        > bone of it. What remains of it until the morning shall be burnt
        > with fire." In this discussion, Origen identified the night with
        > the present world and the morning for the world to come, citing
        > Rom 12.13, and went to explain that "only a very few . . . will
        > be capable of leaving any flesh until the morning." Then Origen
        > added, "as he says, perhaps one from a thousand, and two from ten
        > thousand (hWS LEGEI, hEIS POU EK XILIWN KAI DUO EK MURIWN), among
        > whom the blessed apostles also were." The source for Origen's
        > quotation is unlikely to be the Old or New Testaments. The
        > closest passage is Deut 32:30, "How could one pursue a thousand,
        > and two put ten thousand to flight?" (PWS DIWCETAI hEIS XILIOUS
        > KAI DUO METAKINHSOUSIN MURIADAS), but unlike Origen's quotation,
        > the "one" and the "two" are not identified as coming from the
        > "thousand" and the "ten thousand," respectively. Also unlike the
        > quoted material, the context is about routing the enemy, not about
        > identifying the very few, such as the apostles. Indeed, the Old
        > Testament is a rather poor candidate for Origen's source, because
        > his mention of the "blessed apostles" suggests that the speaker of
        > the saying is Jesus, not the Old Testament. Thomas 23, on the
        > other hand, fits Origen's context for the quoted saying much better:
        >
        > >Jesus says, “I will choose you, one from a thousand and two from
        > >then thousand. And they will stand as a single one.”
        >
        > Unlike the Deuteronomy passage, the saying in the Gospel of Thomas
        > fits Origen's context very well. Origen went on to state that the
        > "blessed apostles" are included among the "very few," while Thomas
        > 23 explicitly identifies the "one" and "two" as being those whom
        > Jesus chose.
        >
        > Before concluding that Origen has used the Gospel of Thomas here,
        > however, it is necessary to exclude another plausible source for the
        > saying: the Gospel of Basilides. Both Irenaeus and Epiphanius
        > attest to Basilides's use of this saying. In an exposition of
        > Basilides's views, Irenaeus quoted Basilides to the effect that his
        > secret teachings were not for everyone: "However, the many cannot
        > know these things, but one from a thousand, and two from ten thousand"
        > (Adv. Haer. 1.24.6). The presence of this saying in Basilides is
        > confirmed by Epiphanius, who reports Basilides as teaching that his
        > mysteries are to be revealed "to one in a thousand and to two in ten
        > thousand" (Haer. 25.4.4). The difficulty is that, according to his
        > first homily on Luke, Origen too was familiar with the Gospel of
        > Basilides. Nevertheless, there are two reasons why the Gospel of
        > Thomas should be preferred as the source for Origen's saying. First,
        > the context of Origen and the Gospel of Thomas of the saying are both
        > about identifying the elect, while the context of Basilides is about
        > the revelation of mysteries. Second, both Origen and the Gospel of
        > Thomas attribute (indirectly and directly, respectively) the saying
        > to Jesus, while in the Gospel of Basilides, as least as witnessed by
        > Irenaeus and Epiphanius, the saying is one of Basilides's.
        > Accordingly,
        > Origen's quotation of the saying in his treatise of the Passover ought
        > to be considered as coming from the Gospel of Thomas. Indeed, his use
        > of the Gospel of Thomas here resembles his use of another saying in
        > the homily on Joshua: he cited the saying anonymously but without any
        > indication that it came from a source that was written "without the
        > grace of the Holy Spirit" (hom. in Luk. 1).
        > >--- End Excerpt ---
        >
        > Stephen Carlson
        >
        > --
        > Stephen C. Carlson
        > Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
        > Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark
        > (Baylor, 2005)
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
        > Interlinear translation:
        > http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
      • Stephen C. Carlson
        Thanks for your comments. We actually know something about how Origen composed his works. Eusebius tells us that Origen s patron supplied him with secretaries
        Message 3 of 7 , May 23 6:27 PM
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          Thanks for your comments.

          We actually know something about how Origen composed his
          works. Eusebius tells us that Origen's patron supplied
          him with secretaries who would take down his dictation in
          short-hand, in addition to various copyists "as well as
          girls skilled in penmanship" to make the final copies
          (Hist. eccl. 6.23.2). In other words, the primary mode
          of composition for Origen was dictation, which was then
          prepared for publication (ecdosis).

          For his Contra Celsum, I expect that he would have had a
          copy of Celsus, True Doctrine, present before him when he
          dictated his refutation. Whether he actually read the text
          from the work aloud or merely gave instructions for portions
          to be copied from it for the published version, I don't know.

          Now, most of Origen's works I've cited are homilies, which are
          church sermons given on a scripture that was read aloud to
          the congregation. These were probably dictated, perhaps
          even during the actual service. In this case, I would
          expect the only text physically present before him was the
          lection, and all other citations came from his memory.

          That citations to Thomas appear in his homilies indicates
          that he must have remembered portions of it. I doubt he
          conferred with an actual manuscript when he composed it
          (especially not our copies come from copies written down
          during his sermon) and his highly associative style of
          jumping from one scriptural citation to another strongly
          suggests that he was relying on his memory of the texts.
          Given how much Origen studied the scriptures, it is not
          surprising that his memory was pretty good. I'm sure
          there were some inaccuracies, but I'm not aware of any
          time he misattributed a quotation. For Thomas specifically,
          that Origen was relying on his memory of the text may
          account for the a little looseness in quotation (here,
          abbreviation) in the second use of Thomas 82 I discussed.

          As to explicit attribution, Origen's practice seems to be
          genre-dependent. In this work of speculative theology,
          On First Principles, he cites by name what we call Christian
          Apocrypha (e.g. the Teaching of Peter). For his homilies
          he seems less apt to cite them by name.

          As for whether he "he in general was intentionally using
          Thomas as a source, rather than just absorbing Thomasine
          sayings from the circles in which he moves," I think it is
          important to keep in mind that not only he had heard of
          Thomas but also claimed to have studied it. In one case
          (re Thomas 82), he even said that a saying came from a
          source he read. Once we can place a text in his hands--and
          for that matter a fairly short text--I think that it is
          uneconomical to suppose that he acquired these sayings
          not through his study of the text but through secondary
          orality instead. Even if he did hear Thomasine sayings
          in his (very literary) circles, he would have recognized
          they were contained in Thomas, as in the case of Thomas 74.

          Stephen Carlson

          --
          Stephen C. Carlson
          Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
          Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Baylor, 2005)
        • Judy Redman
          Hi Stephen, Thanks for this. Origen is one of the gaps in my knowledge of early Christianity caused by my discovering that the Early Church History course
          Message 4 of 7 , May 23 9:56 PM
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            Hi Stephen,

            Thanks for this. Origen is one of the gaps in my knowledge of early Christianity caused by my discovering that the Early Church History course taught by one of the poorest and most self-congratulatingly sexist teachers at my college was not compulsory for ordination, just recommended. I am now regretting my lack of familiarity with some of the material in his course but not the fact that I chose to do instead a course in early monasticism taught by an absolutely superb teacher. :-) This gap may explain why I didn't know that Origen claimed to have studied Thomas, but possibly not.

            Again, best wishes for the paper. I'd be quite keen to see a copy of it once you've presented it.

            Judy





            --
            Rev Judy Redman
            Uniting Church Chaplain
            University of New England
            Armidale 2351 Australia
            ph: +61 2 6773 3739
            fax: +61 2 6773 3749
            web: http://www.une.edu.au/chaplaincy/uniting/ and
            http://blog.une.edu.au/unitingchaplaincy/
            email: jredman@...


            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On
            > Behalf Of Stephen C. Carlson
            > Sent: Sunday, 24 May 2009 11:28 AM
            > To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: RE: [GTh] Origen and Thomas 7: On Thomas 27
            >
            > Thanks for your comments.
            >
            > We actually know something about how Origen composed his
            > works. Eusebius tells us that Origen's patron supplied
            > him with secretaries who would take down his dictation in
            > short-hand, in addition to various copyists "as well as
            > girls skilled in penmanship" to make the final copies
            > (Hist. eccl. 6.23.2). In other words, the primary mode
            > of composition for Origen was dictation, which was then
            > prepared for publication (ecdosis).
            >
            > For his Contra Celsum, I expect that he would have had a
            > copy of Celsus, True Doctrine, present before him when he
            > dictated his refutation. Whether he actually read the text
            > from the work aloud or merely gave instructions for portions
            > to be copied from it for the published version, I don't know.
            >
            > Now, most of Origen's works I've cited are homilies, which are
            > church sermons given on a scripture that was read aloud to
            > the congregation. These were probably dictated, perhaps
            > even during the actual service. In this case, I would
            > expect the only text physically present before him was the
            > lection, and all other citations came from his memory.
            >
            > That citations to Thomas appear in his homilies indicates
            > that he must have remembered portions of it. I doubt he
            > conferred with an actual manuscript when he composed it
            > (especially not our copies come from copies written down
            > during his sermon) and his highly associative style of
            > jumping from one scriptural citation to another strongly
            > suggests that he was relying on his memory of the texts.
            > Given how much Origen studied the scriptures, it is not
            > surprising that his memory was pretty good. I'm sure
            > there were some inaccuracies, but I'm not aware of any
            > time he misattributed a quotation. For Thomas specifically,
            > that Origen was relying on his memory of the text may
            > account for the a little looseness in quotation (here,
            > abbreviation) in the second use of Thomas 82 I discussed.
            >
            > As to explicit attribution, Origen's practice seems to be
            > genre-dependent. In this work of speculative theology,
            > On First Principles, he cites by name what we call Christian
            > Apocrypha (e.g. the Teaching of Peter). For his homilies
            > he seems less apt to cite them by name.
            >
            > As for whether he "he in general was intentionally using
            > Thomas as a source, rather than just absorbing Thomasine
            > sayings from the circles in which he moves," I think it is
            > important to keep in mind that not only he had heard of
            > Thomas but also claimed to have studied it. In one case
            > (re Thomas 82), he even said that a saying came from a
            > source he read. Once we can place a text in his hands--and
            > for that matter a fairly short text--I think that it is
            > uneconomical to suppose that he acquired these sayings
            > not through his study of the text but through secondary
            > orality instead. Even if he did hear Thomasine sayings
            > in his (very literary) circles, he would have recognized
            > they were contained in Thomas, as in the case of Thomas 74.
            >
            > Stephen Carlson
            >
            > --
            > Stephen C. Carlson
            > Ph.D. student, Religion, Duke University
            > Author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark
            > (Baylor, 2005)
            >
            >
            > ------------------------------------
            >
            > Gospel of Thomas Homepage: http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html
            > Interlinear translation:
            > http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/x_transl.htm
            >
            > ------------------------------------
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
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