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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
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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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.

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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.

  6. #96
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    The Gospel of Thomas.

  7. #97
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    aaaaa

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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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    Then said Daniel to Melzar [the steward], whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.—Daniel i., 11 to 17.

  10. #100
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    Saying 46. (7.11.21.)

    Jesus said, “From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted. But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the Father’s imperial rule and will become greater than John.”



    This saying seems to update the hierarchy among human beings; separating as it does, the old dispensation and the new. John the Baptist was the apex of the old system, and includes those “born of women,” a description which emphasizes the natural birth of those religious figures. However, whereas this may very much have been the case with John and with the Prophets, it certainly did not apply to Adam.

    The narrative on the averting of one's eyes suggests that this was the accepted posture or gesture of a less powerful person in the presence of divine or more powerful figures. Historically n many cultures this is very understandable and is invariably something taught in early age. Perhaps though an exception in incentive might have been taken in countries such as Japan & Korea, where the choice of not bowing, or averting one’s eyes, might have resulted in one’s head being chopped off by sword.

    But returning to the main body of the text, the saying by Jesus regards the children displaces the old dispensation.

    “Becoming a child” replaces the system inaugurated under the sign “born of woman.” It is a kind of rebirth that makes the old person someone new and better.

    I was also struck by the fact that this saying, was not, (as in so many instances in the Gospel of Thomas), in contradiction to Canon Testament, which is bursting with so many references to children and their qualities. For example; Matthew 18:2-6.

    “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

    The main message seems to revolve around being “humble,” which one could interpret as being: respectful, obedient, almost even fatalistic by placing yourself in the hands of others, whether they be; a deity, parents, or those that deserve our respect.

  11. #101
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    Saying 49.

    “Jesus said, Blessed are those who are alone and chosen, for you will find the Father’s domain. For you have come from it, and you will return there again.”

    This saying opens up a whole can of worms and one can understand that out of all the early Christian writings some were very much not in tune with the orthodox thinking of other Gaspels.



    It marks the seekers of truth under two distinct headings: those who are alone and those who are chosen. And it pronounces the blessing only upon those who are both alone and chosen. So much for the universality of man and redemption!

    Also note that those designated as “you” now understand themselves as having their origin in the Kingdom, and as having their goal to return to the Kingdom. Shades of reincarnation akin to Buddhist doctrine.

  12. #102
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    I saw a link between the previous saying and a contribution I made nearly a year ago when I explored the saying in Genesis 6: “the sons of God and daughters of men”. It’s an Old Testament theme, where “the Nephilim” were seen as the offspring of sexual relationships between the sons of God and daughters of men.

    There is much debate as to the identity of the “sons of God,” possibly fallen angels who mated with human females or possessed human males who then mated with human females. These unions that resulted in the offspring, “the Nephilim”, were described, somewhat strangely as “heroes of old, men of renown”. If as described in these latter glowing terms, there would appear to be a touch of Gnostics philosophy as in the Gospel of Thomas, incorporating a “spark of the divine” into sections of mankind?

    If, however, we are talking of fallen angels, was the motivation one of attempting to pollute the human bloodline in order to prevent the coming of the Messiah. God had promised that the Messiah would one day crush the head of the serpent, Satan (Genesis 3:15). The fallen angels in Genesis 6 thus were possibly attempting to prevent this and make it impossible for a sinless “seed of the woman” to be born. What then followed, it could be argued, was that the Nephilim were one of the primary reasons for the great flood in Noah’s time. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

    The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” So, the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them’”

    What followed was the flood of the entire earth, killing everyone and everything other than: Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. All else perished, including one would suppose the Nephilim. Or is there a twist in the tale; that it is possible that some traits of the Nephilim were passed on through the heredity of one of Noah’s daughters-in-law? What we must keep in mind is that originally the term “sons of God” denoted beings that were brought into existence by the creative act of God.

    Such were the angels, and in the Old Testament the title refers to angels. Men are not “sons” until they are redeemed and born again in the New Testament sense. The angels in heaven do not marry, nor are given in marriage. But, the “sons of God” in Geneses 6:1-4 were no longer in heaven, having left their own place, and came seeking after an unapproved alliance with the daughters of men.

    Finally, there is a school of thought that thinks in terms of modernist angels; spiritual placeholders, reminders that something has been lost, even if it is difficult to know exactly what this is. Unrealized manhood perhaps?

  13. #103
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    Well, I never studied the Old Testament, I hardly read it, but one association your post suggests to me is with the Greek mythology, with their sons and daughters of gods and goddesses frequently mixing with the merely humans. Could there have been an influence?
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  14. #104
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Very likely my friend. The themes from one culture to another can easily be picked up and incorporated.

  15. #105
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    Saying 50.

    Jesus said, “If they say to you. “Where have you come from?” say to them, “We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established and appeared in their image.” If they say to you, “Is it you?” say “We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.” If they ask you. “What is the evidence of the Father in you?” say to them, “It is motion and rest.”

    One might surmise that the faith expressed in the sayings was meeting a degree of both scepticism and perhaps even hostility. as it strove to establish itself in early Christianity. Thus, this saying was both a presentation and response to outsiders and not seekers.

    There are to my mind three explanations regarding the main concept of “light” as written in the saying.

    First, the light from which the seekers had come is a place where light created itself; a sort of primordial place where light preceded any other creation. One notes immediately that this is at variance with Genesis where God created light.

    Second, in the saying, light established itself in that place; suggesting perhaps that the light permanently set at bay the darkness; as for light to be established it needs to stand in opposition to darkness.

    Third, the light is projected into the image of the seekers.

    In the final part of the saying “rest and motion” involves proof of the relationship of the elect with the Father. Motion correlates to the activity which the sayings promote; whilst the goal of such activity is rest, or the disengagement from vain activity in the world. Both motion and rest mark the seekers as those who have the Father within them.

    The whole concept of light and darkness I find interesting. Does light in this context reflect wisdom, and darkness as evil?

    In the established Church canon, we have John 9:5 during the miracle of healing the blind, with Jesus saying “When I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Definitely a force for good.

    There is also in theology something called “divine light”: an aspect of divine presence and specifically an ability of angels or even humans to express themselves communicatively through spiritual means, rather than through physical capacities.

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