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Thread: Thomas' Gospel.

  1. #46
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Here's the commentary I'm also reading: http://www.earlychristianwritings.co...lthomas27.html

    Some of the comments in the link I provided suggested the part about the sabbath meant that every day should be viewed as the sabbath. This would go with the part about fasting from the world better as I see it. I also don't know what it means to fast from the world.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  2. #47
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Coptic Saying 28.

    Jesus says, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul aches for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see."

    This attributed saying by Jesus reveals, (unlike in other sayings) a lot about himself and how He sees His mission, ( a divine figure who has entered the world to lead others.)

    The main points that I get out of this saying are:

    1. The need and decision to appear to the world, bodily, ( in the flesh.) If one believes in the concept of the Trinity, this process / linkage in itself is something to get ones head around.
    2. The mode of entry into the world, "took my stand," which implies an element of keeping His distance, (a solid presence.)
    3. The metaphor of "drunk" ( those that have over indulged in their engagement in the world.)
    4. The metaphor of "thirsty," ( those that did not yearn for the true meaning of life.)
    5. Both seem to cause Jesus to feel a mixture of disappointment and a need for action. The drunken and satiated world ought not to be left to its own devices. Thus though disappointed, He does not reject the world.

  3. #48
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    Drunk and so not thirsty is a good description of those who are not interested in hearing what he has to say.

    Here is the commentary I am also reading: http://www.earlychristianwritings.co...lthomas28.html

    This seems more like the Greek rather than the Coptic version. The Coptic version also had "and they do not see that they came empty into the world, (and) empty they seek to leave the world again". This emptiness (even though drunk) seems relevant.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    I never got to wishing all my fellow Lit Netters a Merry Christmas, but allow me a mitigating wish to you all for a fruitful and enjoyable 2018.
    Yes, a belated merry Christmas and happy new year. We'll take a cup o' kindness yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    If you do not fast from the world, you will not find God's domain. If you do not observe the sabbath day as a sabbath day, you will not see the Father."
    On the surface this is just more Thomas asceticism. Fasting from the world means not participating in the sin of the world, which is a difficult thing to do outside of an ascetic community. There may be an inherent criticism of early Christian groups who were advocating fast days and other restrictive dietary practices. The Thomas Gospel's response is no, you need to abstain form the way of the world rather than make little pietistic gestures. If some version of this saying came from the historical Jesus, it was probably aimed at pietistic Jewish practices of the day with the implication that more a personal devotion was called for. The subversive quality you note in the Thomas version was surely aimed at the Greco-Roman world at large.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    Jesus says, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul aches for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see."
    Yes, "in flesh" is quite a concession from the Thomas community. It's a reason, I suppose, to regard its members as not quite radical gnostics but merely gnosticizing Christians (although we are still centuries before Trinitarianism). You are right that it is an unusually personal/autobiographical saying for Thomas. I don't have much else to say about it. I find it quite moving.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  6. #51
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Coptic Saying 29:

    Jesus says: "If the flesh was produced for the sake of the spirit, it is a miracle. But if the spirit was produced for the sake of the body, it is a miracle of a miracle. But for myself I marvel at that because this great wealth has dwelt in this poverty."

    An interesting piece, that, (as in Coptic Saying 3) draws attention to poverty; not a poverty in a lack of material riches, but of a spiritual dimension.

    I have however difficulty in the authenticity of this being a "Jesus saying." More likely a spin put on it by a writer of Gnostic leanings. My reasons are as follows:

    Firstly, it has all the hallmarks of asceticism, so prevalent in the Thomas Gospel. Not that such sentiments are not expressed elsewhere in early Christian literature; (Gal 5:16. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.") However, an historical Jesus who seemed to mix willingly with others of many social classes; including those perceived as unclean; and one who partook of many a glass of wine and a good meal, is at odds with this saying.

    Secondly, in the whole debate as to whether the soul enhances the body, or vice versa, how can Jesus express the characteristic of amazement on this issue when presumably He knew the answer?

    What is apparent in this period, and which lingered for quite some time in history, is this general debasement of the body vis a vis the soul by the Church. A far cry from the pre-Christian Roman religion, where unofficial mystery cults sprang up, and where individuals would come into contact with the divine through a state of trance, often leading to all sorts of excesses.

    On a personal basis; if there is an excess of superiority of the soul over the body, is this any reason to denigrate halcyon days when, "Bliss it was that very dawn to be alive," ( and fit!!!!)
    Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.

  7. #52
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    Here is commentary I am also reading: http://www.earlychristianwritings.co...lthomas29.html

    It is possible that both possibilities are rejected by Jesus--both flesh produced for the sake of the spirit or spirit produced for the sake of flesh. This could lead to a third possibility that there is no flesh. It is how spirit at another level appears to us. It needs redemption as well because it is also spirit. That would explain why Jesus is surprised by both miracles.

  8. #53
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Tell me more please, as what you have raised is a complete new dimension.

    Are we talking about a scenario in which all of mortal life is an illusion.

    It certainly is hard to grasp as I find the bodily senses remarkably acute. One assumes having a mortal existence, and striving for a greater spiritual understanding.

    Also following your logic, there is a fourth alternative, namely no soul.

    What was Hobbs phrase re life being " nasty, brutal and short?"

  9. #54
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    It is unlikely that there would be no soul, because we can experience our awareness implying we are conscious. If we weren't conscious the possibility of no soul would make sense, but then we wouldn't be able to know that.

    What I am describing would be philosophical idealism. George Berkeley would be one representative of that view who created a Christian perspective on it. I don't know much about gnosticism nor this text, so I might be projecting my own beliefs onto the text. In this view we do experience bodily senses, but it is many levels of conscious reality involved to make that experience possible, ours being one of them. There is no "unconscious" objective reality. It is all mind. Creation from nothing makes sense because after creation there is still no unconscious thing.

  10. #55
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    Coptic Saying 30.

    Jesus says, "Where there are three, they are without God, and where there is only one, I say, I am with that one. Lift up the stone and you will find me there. Split a piece of wood, and I am there."

    The main point that comes to mind with this saying is it's contrast with Matthew 18. 20 where we get "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." We are back with that familiar Thomas theme, that stipulates the need for solitary, as the basis for the seeking of the truth. It does not deny community association with like minded seekers, but rather empowers the individual as the basis for enlightened living. Thus it would appear from the saying that, loose association, even in the name of God, does not lead to revelation.

    Polytheistic thinking comes to the fore, where one mans search for the truth is as valid as the next mans.

    The reference to lifted stone and split wood reinforces this point of view, in that you do not have to seek God in a church or community collaboration.

  11. #56
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    This one is puzzling, but your interpretation makes sense. The other versions puzzle me as well: http://www.earlychristianwritings.co...lthomas30.html

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