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

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  • Bob Schacht
    An interesting bit of exegesis, Mike. Thanks! A brief note below: ... This appeal to punctuation is interesting, because the punctuation occurs only in
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 28, 2011
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      An interesting bit of exegesis, Mike. Thanks!
      A brief note below:

      At 10:36 PM 2/28/2011, M.W. Grondin wrote:

      [Stephen Carlson]:
      > The interesting part is that Origen's own use of Thomas belies his explicit
      > statement about Thomas. I think he was more sympathetic to the text than
      > his contemporaries, and he knew it.
      Coincidentally, Pope Benedict has recently been the subject of some controversy
      for his use of Th108.1 ("Anyone who drinks from my mouth will become like me")
      in a non-pejorative way in the first volume of his book Jesus of Nazareth. Seems that
      there's an "Ignatius Press Blog" and the posting of Feb.25th (link below) was promoting
      the 2nd volume of JN (JN2). One reader persistently objected to the way that B16
      (Benedict XVI) used the Thomas saying in JN1. At one point, a member of the blogging
      team tried the following argument:
      "Do you see that an author can quote a document in support of his position
      without thereby endorsing everything [the] document says?"
      That didn't do it, however, since the questioner was convinced that TH108.1 was
      itself heretical. After some back and forth, the passage from JN1 was quoted,
      interspersed with comments [bracketed by me] from a member of the blogging team,
      concluding that the questioner's interpretation of Th108.1 was incorrect, and that,
      properly interpreted, the saying isn't heretical:
      "But now we must listen more carefully to the text. It continues: “As the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his body shall flow rivers of living water’” (Jn 7:38). Out of whose body? Since the earliest times there have been two different answers to this question. The tradition started by Origen, which is associated with Alexandria, though the great Latin Fathers Jerome and Augustine also subscribe to it, reads the text thus: “He who believes . . . out of his body . . .” The believer himself becomes a spring, an oasis out of which bubbles up fresh, uncontaminated water, the life-giving power of the Creator Spirit. Alongside this tradition there is another, albeit much less widespread, from Asia Minor, which is closer to John in its origins. It is documented by Justin (d. 165), Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Cyprian, and Ephraim of Syria. It punctuates the text differently: “He who thirsts, let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink it. As the Scripture says: out of his body rivers will flow.” “His body” is now applied to Christ: He is the source, the living rock, from which the new water comes.
      This appeal to "punctuation" is interesting, because the punctuation occurs only in translation, does it not? Are there any clues in how Greek or Coptic treats or links antecedents to the relevant text? It still is an interesting exegesis on a number of levels.

      Bob Schacht

      [So B16 refers to two traditions of interpretation re: Jn 7:38, one which applies it to the believer and one which applies it to Christ. After some discussion that further fills out the treatment, B16 writes:]

      "The application of this passage primarily to Christ—as we saw earlier—does not have to exclude a secondary interpretation referring to the believer. A saying from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas (108) points in a direction compatible with John’s Gospel: “Whoever drinks from my mouth shall become as I am” (Barrett, Gospel, p. 328). The believer becomes one with Christ and participates in his fruitfulness. The man who believes and loves with Christ becomes a well that gives life. That, too, is something that is wonderfully illustrated in history: The saints are oases around which life sprouts up and something of the lost paradise returns. And ultimately, Christ himself is always the well-spring who pours himself forth in such abundance."

      [B16 understands the saying he quotes from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas as pointing "in a direction compatible with" B16's reading of John's Gospel on the specific point of the believer becoming one with Christ in such a way that the believer becomes, subordinately and derivatively, a "well that gives life". He sees this principle illustrated by the saints. He does not understand the quote from the Gospel of Thomas in such a way as to imply the kind of equality with Christ you interpret it to mean.]
      I report this because it seems relevant on a number of levels.
      Mike (with thanks to Google Alerts)

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