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Thread: Thomas' Gospel.

  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    Coptic Saying 39.

    Jesus says, "The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge; they themselves have hidden them. Neither have they entered, nor have they allowed those who want to enter, to do so. As for you, be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves."

    This saying seems to stereotype the characteristics of the "Pharisees and scholars." A bit surprised no mention of "hypocrites," so prevalent in Matthew.

    But still a bad press holding the keys to a knowledge they have not understood themselves, nor enabled others to acquire it.

    There is also an irony in the advice to keep a low profile in spiritual seeking; ( mild and non confrontational like a dove, and stealthy like a snake.) The figure of Jesus seems not to have followed his own advice in this instance.
    This is a parallel with Jesus' famous Commission of the Twelve in Matthew 10:16: Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. On the surface, Thomas is using the saying in a similar way, although his notion of wolves may be different. Scholars and Pharisees would have been two kinds of Jewish authorities at the time. These figures are being criticized for not following a wisdom tradition as the Thomas community does (they will not help you and they will mislead others). It's not clear, though, that this advice is being given to missionaries as is in Matthew 10:16. The metaphor of sly serpents is striking since snakes were sometimes associated with gnostic traditions. But the overall meaning of the saying seems similar to the version in Matthew: be ready to outwit the wolves without becoming a wolf yourself. For the record, Matthew 10:16 is an important saying to me--something of a life verse, I suppose.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-20-2018 at 11:06 AM.

  2. #92
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    We now move onto the Coptic version of the Gospel of Thomas, which consists of 114 sayings and were discovered hidden in jars in the desert near Nag Hammadi.

    Additional dimensions to this find are that this is only part, ( or in this case, the Second Tractate) bound into the second codex ( or book.) This codex in fact seems to bear witness to a comprehensive diversity of interests, of those producing this work.

    The full codex contains the following:
    1. The Apocryphon of John (Tractate 1), a revelation dialogue between the Saviour and the disciples about the creation, human condition and the salvation of humanity.
    2. The Gospel According to Philip (Tractate 3), a collection of short discursive treatments of primarily Valentinian Christian sacramental theology.
    3. The Hypostasis of the Archons (Tractate 4), a revelation dialogue that interprets the first six chapters of Genesis.
    4. A Treatise Without Title on the Origin of the World (Tractate 5), an exploration of the nature of the cosmos, the nature of humanity, and the end of both.
    5. The Expository Treatise on the Soul (Tractate 6), a narrative describing the fate of the soul in the world.
    6. The Book of Thomas the Contender Writing to the Perfect (Tractate 7), a revelation dialogue between Jesus and his twin brother Thomas.

    Current judgement seems to be that this collection into one codex does not necessarily indicate that they were considered to be similar or related. What is agreed is that this Coptic version presents the most complete extant text of the Gospel of Thomas.

  3. #93
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    The Coptic Version of the Gospel of Thomas.
    Tractate 2.
    Saying 3.

    Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, "Look the (Father's) imperial rule is in the sky," then the bird's of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, "It is in the sea, then the fish will precede you. Rather the (Father's) imperial rule is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

    My first impression is that this early Christian writing problematizes leadership. The narrative already invests the reader with a kind of full authority to find the community's interpretation of the sayings. Now there appears a seemingly new empowerment, (perhaps even at variance with the community's understanding.)

    True leadership directs the seeker inward to a new understanding of self, and outward to a new understanding of the world in which God's imperial rule is manifest.

    This very much seems to reflect what was an ongoing debate among early Christians about authority and power. (an apocalyptic rule of God / the church community itself / personal value judgement ?)

    The self-knowledge aspect reflects the connection to the Father, not as an external adoption by a distant heavenly entity, but as a Father who is present and vital.

    It is certainly refreshing to see the thinking on poverty in a spiritual sense; especially in today's social climate where there is such an emphasis on material wealth, and an obscene gap between the haves and have nots.

  4. #94
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    The Coptic Version of the Gospel of Thomas.

    Saying 4.

    Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live. For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one."

    Out of the mouths of babes? Once a man, twice a child? The simplicity of situations and life as seen through the eye of a child? These immediately come to mind. It seems that children constitute a consistent sub-theme of a wide assortment of early Christian groups, perhaps with good reason.

    This saying revolves around a reversal of conventional expectations: that children should be led by adults, children need guidance. It even goes that step further by an implication that an elder will indeed "live" as a result of being led by a child. The child leads towards life, not knowledge alone.

    The beginning and the end will be inverted, the former will find themselves the latter, the older will become the younger: a unification of the polarities old and young, elder and child, first and last. Divergence, difference and distinction will ultimately meld into singularity, union, and solidarity.

  5. #95
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    Saying 40.

    “Jesus said, “A grapevine has been planted apart from the Father. Since it is not strong, it will be pulled up by its root and will perish.”

    My first impression is that the grapevine could refer to at least two different phenomena:

    1. The world at large. This would suggest a sort of dualism between creation under divine authority and creation by some other authority. It also seems to come across as rather exclusive; a problem so prevalent in different religions across generations.

    2. Another religious community. Another sect whom the community finds unacceptable? Whoever the weak ones are, this saying condemns them to destruction as being weak and vulnerable. Not exactly Christian love and tolerance is it?

    In a lot of the other sayings, one can discern links, or familiar grounds with the canonical gospels. This one to my mind has a blinkered approach, seeking credence by associating it as spoke by Jesus.

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    The Gospel of Thomas.

  7. #97
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    aaaaa

  8. #98
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    How about the Gospel according to St. Philip? Mary M. and Jesus appear to have a promising relationship.

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