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Re: [GTh] "Why is the Gospel of St. Thomas dismissed by the Vatican as heresy?"

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  • M.W. Grondin
    Dick Harfield and I have been able to agree on the following wording for the answer to the question Why [is/was GTh considered] heretical? ... In the early
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 25, 2011
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      Dick Harfield and I have been able to agree on the following wording for
      the answer to the question "Why [is/was GTh considered] heretical?"
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      In the early centuries of Christian history, what we now know as the
      "New Testament" was not yet in place. As a result, fierce theological
      battles broke out over what Christians should believe. Orthodox
      writers such as Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons and his pupil Hippolytus of
      Rome, wrote in great detail against what they regarded as the heresy of
      "Gnosticism", linking many different belief-systems under that title.
      When the Gospel of Thomas became known, it was associated with
      Gnosticism by the heresy-hunters, since it was found to be in use among
      groups considered to be gnostic. It was furthermore not believed by church
      writers to have been a 1st century document, nor authored by the apostle
      Thomas. For all these reasons, and because Irenaeus expressed the view
      (wide-spread among the bishops) that the only authentic gospels were
      those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, other "gospels" such as those
      attributed to Thomas, Matthias, Philip, Bartholomew, etc., which expressed
      views considered by the bishops to be inconsistent with the tenets of
      Christian faith, were never considered for inclusion in the developing canon.
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       
      The wording is mine, and is exactly as I sent it to Harfield, except for several
      omissions that he suggested, and to which I have no great objection. I can also
      now see a couple improvements in wording that I might make before posting it
      to Answers.com, but I won't include them here.
       
      Any suggestions as to better wording or substance? Is there anything in this
      answer that could be construed as contentious, questionable, or flat-out
      wrong?
       
      Mike G.
    • Bob Schacht
      ... Mike, Looks good to me. One of the key things in these public answers is to avoid saying too much. Saying too much creates diversions and raises questions
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 25, 2011
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        At 11:50 AM 2/25/2011, M.W. Grondin wrote:


        Dick Harfield and I have been able to agree on the following wording for
        the answer to the question "Why [is/was GTh considered] heretical?"
        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        In the early centuries of Christian history, what we now know as the
        "New Testament" was not yet in place. As a result, fierce theological
        battles broke out over what Christians should believe. Orthodox
        writers such as Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons and his pupil Hippolytus of
        Rome, wrote in great detail against what they regarded as the heresy of
        "Gnosticism", linking many different belief-systems under that title.
        When the Gospel of Thomas became known, it was associated with
        Gnosticism by the heresy-hunters, since it was found to be in use among
        groups considered to be gnostic. It was furthermore not believed by church
        writers to have been a 1st century document, nor authored by the apostle
        Thomas. For all these reasons, and because Irenaeus expressed the view
        (wide-spread among the bishops) that the only authentic gospels were
        those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, other "gospels" such as those
        attributed to Thomas, Matthias, Philip, Bartholomew, etc., which expressed
        views considered by the bishops to be inconsistent with the tenets of
        Christian faith, were never considered for inclusion in the developing canon.
        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         
        The wording is mine, and is exactly as I sent it to Harfield, except for several
        omissions that he suggested, and to which I have no great objection. I can also
        now see a couple improvements in wording that I might make before posting it
        to Answers.com, but I won't include them here.
         
        Any suggestions as to better wording or substance? Is there anything in this
        answer that could be construed as contentious, questionable, or flat-out
        wrong?
         

        Mike,
        Looks good to me. One of the key things in these public answers is to avoid saying too much. Saying too much creates diversions and raises questions that obscures the main point. I think you stay on-message in this answer.

        But this is small potatoes and yet good practice for the Major Leagues. It is my impression that the heavy lifting occurs over at the Wikipedia page on the Gospel of Thomas
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Gospel_of_Thomas, where it appears that you have entered substantively in the Discussion tab but have so far refrained from changing the main article itself? You advanced notice about the Wikipedia page almost a year ago here on the list, and I supported one of your comments on the discussion page. But now the task is to make the relevant changes to the main entry. In trying to do so, you butted heads with Goethean. But the stakes there may be higher, because I think the Wikipedia gets more readers than Answers.com.

        At any rate, since it looks like you're heading towards resolution with Dick Harfield, perhaps its time to take up the cudgels with wikipedia again? Advancing to main article editorial status is daunting, but for good reasons-- they don't want people just changing anything, willy-nilly. But main article editorial status is something I aspire to, myself, for reasons connected with other entries where I have more expertise to bring to the table. In a sense, you have a pretty good editorial staff right here. Bring it on! :-)

        Bob Schacht
        Northern Arizona University


      • Stephen Carlson
        ... I disagree. I argue that Origen thought it was a first-century document that contained some reliable Jesus sayings. Stephen -- Stephen C. Carlson Graduate
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 25, 2011
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          On Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 1:50 PM, M.W. Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
          It was furthermore not believed by church
          writers to have been a 1st century document, nor authored by the apostle
          Thomas.

          I disagree.  I argue that Origen thought it was a first-century document that contained some reliable Jesus sayings.

          Stephen
          --
          Stephen C. Carlson
          Graduate Program in Religion
          Duke University
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