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Thread: Thomas' Gospel.

  1. #31
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Coptic Saying 6.

    His disciples ask him and say, "How should we fast? How should we pray? How should we give charity? What diet should we observe? Jesus says, "Don't lie and don't do what you hate, because all things are apparent before truth. After all, there is nothing hidden that won't be exposed."

    This does not cohere. Specific questions are asked and the response is only tenuously connected.
    1. Moralistic imperative not to lie, or do what one hates, ( knows to be wrong?)
    2. Repeat of a previous saying i.e work it out yourself.

    Is this deliberate, to force the seeker to think? If so, then there is the big probability that there is no definitive answer overall, only an individual one. But then perhaps this is the message. You are, each of you, intelligent enough to morally choose yourself on how to behave on specific issues. It's a bit like that saying about the priesthood, namely " Many are called but few are chosen," but which still leaves room for different types of priesthood and service, according to ones abilities and personality.

    Thus you do not have to starve in a horsehair shirt, on your knees in a cold cloister to be good. The saying neither recommends, nor rejects such observances.
    Internal performance takes precedence over external performance. It also seems almost to go against the orthodox saying, " Judge not, lest you be judged?"

    Or am I reading too much into it here i.e act according to your conscience, listen for any divine guidance within yourself, but be prepared for a final judgement. It brings to mind that quote from Churchill, " I am quite prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."

  2. #32
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    The repetition of the previous saying is not really a problem. The redactor likely placed them together to show various implications of the same saying. I don't see an inherent non sequitur between "How should we fast? How should we pray? How should we give charity? What diet should we observe?" and "Don't lie and don't do what you hate"; or between that and "...all things are apparent before truth. After all, there is nothing hidden that won't be exposed" I take the meaning to be something like:

    Do not play the hypocrite in these matters with sanctimonious acts of pietism and prayers that do not reflect your heart. God knows your heart, and nothing can or will be concealed.

    I don't think it is quite "you are, each of you, intelligent enough to morally choose yourself on how to behave on specific issues." We have already seen that the Gospel of Thomas is more exclusive in its beliefs than that. It's more like: pietistic gestures will get you nowhere because God knows the truth. All this begs the historically important question of who (in Thomas' view) IS playing the hypocrite. In other words: whose pietism is the text cautioning the disciple against?

    If the Gospel of Thomas is indeed a 1st-century document, then it is likely criticizing proto-othodox groups (such as the authors of the Didache) who were adding fasts, dietary rules, and liturgical prayer to their religious observations. Thomas may even be reflecting an original teaching of Jesus. The Synoptics sometimes portray Jesus as being at odds with the Jewish pietism of his day. He heals the sick and defends his disciples for gathering grain on the Sabbath, for example. There is also Matthew 6:1, which instructs:

    "And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men."

    These theological tendencies place the historical Jesus within in a long-established Hebrew Prophetic tradition valuing an individual's conscience before God over pietistic displays (it is not--as too many Christians pretend--a refutation of Judaism by Jesus). The presence of an apparently similar tendency in Thomas certainly raises questions. It is, of course, possible that the Thomas redactor and the historical Jesus both favored the anti-pietistic Prophetic tradition. This strikes me as probable, but it is impossible to tell given the surviving data.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 11-14-2017 at 07:10 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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