Author Topic: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians  (Read 68380 times)

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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #225 on: May 02, 2017, 01:56:06 PM »
Gosh there's so much here -- has anybody mentioned Galen yet? He seemed a little obsessed with Christianity, which he conflated with Judaism in the empire, and referred to as a school of philosophy and medicine. He seemed admiring but very poorly informed. Epictetus also seems to have thought about and responded to Christian teaching but without explicating it as such.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #226 on: May 02, 2017, 02:17:31 PM »
Gosh there's so much here -- has anybody mentioned Galen yet? He seemed a little obsessed with Christianity, which he conflated with Judaism in the empire, and referred to as a school of philosophy and medicine. He seemed admiring but very poorly informed. Epictetus also seems to have thought about and responded to Christian teaching but without explicating it as such.

Thanks, Porter, for the information.
Quote
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus (September 129 AD – c. 200/c. 216), often Anglicized as Galen and better known as Galen of Pergamon,was a prominent Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire.

Further reading

Walzer, Richard (1949). Galen on Jews and Christians. London: Oxford University Press.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galen

Quote
Epictetus (c. AD 50 – 135) was a Greek-speaking Stoic philosopher.

The essence of divinity is goodness; we have all good that could be given to us.[49] The deities too gave us the soul and reason, which is not measured by breadth or depth, but by knowledge and sentiments, and by which we attain to greatness, and may equal even with the deities. We should, therefore, cultivate the mind with special care.[50] If we wish for nothing, but what God wills, we shall be truly free, and all will come to pass with us according to our desire; and we shall be as little subject to restraint as Zeus himself.
....
Quoting Epictetus, Stockdale concludes [his own] book with:

    "The emotions of grief, pity, and even affection are well-known disturbers of the soul. Grief is the most offensive; Epictetus considered the suffering of grief an act of evil. It is a willful act, going against the will of God to have all men share happiness."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus

What is interesting here is the reference to "God". Some modern people think that because the pagans had Polytheism (the gods mentioned above) that they didn't have the concept of God. I think that this is incorrect and that they did have such a concept. One possible explanation is "inclusive monotheism".

I intend to read more about Epictetus in relation to the Christians, as you pointed out.
May I please ask if there is anything specific that you have in mind or a book that referred to Epictetus' shared Christian teachings?

I found in the book "Discourses of Epictetus" a theory that Epictetus called the Christians the "Galileans".
https://books.google.com/books?id=aKsLAAAAIAAJ&pg=PR13&lpg=PR13&dq=Epictetus+christians&source=bl&ots=s0vLM4naRo&sig=IorYREfTtdH4WICNuDoxVosAzKw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVmMTt59HTAhWDTCYKHUaPBwgQ6AEIlwEwFA#v=onepage&q=Epictetus%20christians&f=false
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #227 on: May 02, 2017, 03:13:47 PM »
Dude.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #228 on: May 02, 2017, 03:19:02 PM »
The concept of God has been universal, I'd say, if in some places and periods obviously very unpopular with an official religious system. As for the Greeks, their theogony was very systematic and had a very well-understood series of progressions and regressions. Its apex is neoplatonism, so if you wish to know more, dally no longer but read the Enneads.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #229 on: May 02, 2017, 05:08:51 PM »
I am impressed with your knowledge, like how you knew about Epictetus.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #230 on: May 02, 2017, 06:33:00 PM »
The use in Epiktitos is not knowing of him but reading him. Or, rather, in doing and being as he teaches if that were possible.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 06:33:29 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #231 on: May 03, 2017, 09:24:08 PM »
It's a good question how much of the Gospel of Thomas comes from the mainstream apostolic church, and how much comes from gnostic circles. Another issue is that I read that there is a Greek version and a longer Coptic version. Perhaps the Greek version is from the mainstream church, whereas the Coptic version is the Gnostic one?

The opening begins:
Quote
"These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down."
The reference to hidden words sounds like it could be related to gnosticism. David Utsler, writing in Catholic exchange, sees them this way and calls it a Gnostic gospel:
Quote
The “Gnostic Gospel” informs the reader that it contains the “secret words” of Jesus written down by “twin Judas Thomas,” which, when their interpretation is known, grant immortality. This is a common Gnostic theme. The Apostles and their successors have always taught that the Gospel is a matter of public revelation, to be made known to the whole world. By contrast, almost all Gnostic heretics have preached a “salvation by secret knowledge” available to very few people.
... In the few places where this so-called “Gospel” is intelligible [in its message], salvation is often attributed to self-knowledge, as in Gnostic teaching, rather than the redeeming incarnation and life of God’s Son, as in orthodox Christianity.
http://catholicexchange.com/what-is-the-gospel-of-st-thomas

But then, Paul wrote that in Christ "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge lie hidden" (Col 2:3).

Utsler also objects:
Quote
Though some sayings appear similar to actual Gospel sayings, many sayings are nothing like Gospel sayings: “Where there are three gods, they are gods; where there are two or one, I am with him.”
This saying sounds quite strange. It turns out that this is from the Coptic version of the text. The Greek version is reconstructed by Doresse to say:
"Where there are [two (?) they are] not without God, and where there is one, I say <to you>, I am with him."


This resembles Jesus' words in Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

The reference to "Judas" Thomas in the opening section is curious for me. I don't know of Thomas having a second name of Judas, but I know that gnostics had a "Gospel of Judas" teaching about dualism and God v. the Demiurge, and Wikipedia notes that "the canonical Jude – if the name can be taken to refer to Judas Thomas Didymus – certainly attests to early intra-Christian conflict."

However, the Epistle of Jude doesn't show conflict with other apostles, it respects the church's authority and it even looks possibly anti-gnostic. The Epistle complains that "certain men have crept in unnoticed... ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ... these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries."



Quote
Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean "twin". Some critical scholars suspect that this reference to the Apostle Thomas is false, and that therefore the true author is unknown... Bishop Eusebius (AD 260/265 – 339/340) included it among a group of books that he believed to be not only spurious, but "the fictions of heretics". However, it is not clear whether he was referring to this Gospel of Thomas or one of the other texts attributed to Thomas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

Since it was buried at Nag Hammadi, I am inclined to think that it was rejected by the canonical Church. IIRC, all the documents buried were not canonical ones, and the burial's purpose would most likely be to dispose of them or hide them without destroying them.

I can see that Gosp. Thomas could have been in widespread use among early Christians because it was found at Oxyrhynchus where some other non-gnostic texts were found:
Quote
After the Coptic version of the complete text was discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, scholars soon realized that three different Greek text fragments previously found at Oxyrhynchus (the Oxyrhynchus Papyri), also in Egypt, were part of the Gospel of Thomas.[18][19] These three papyrus fragments of Thomas date to between 130 and 250 AD.

Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas, found in Oxyrhynchus are:

    P. Oxy. 1 : fragments of logia 26 through 33, with the last two sentences of logion 77 in the Coptic version included at the end of logion 30 herein.
    P. Oxy. 654 : fragments of the beginning through logion 7, logion 24 and logion 36 on the flip side
    P. Oxy. 655 : fragments of logia 36 through 39.

The wording of the Coptic sometimes differs markedly from the earlier Greek Oxyrhynchus texts.... This fact, along with the quite different wording Hippolytus uses when apparently quoting it (see below), suggests that the Gospel of Thomas "may have circulated in more than one form and passed through several stages of redaction." ... Paterson Brown... has argued forcefully that the three Coptic Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth are demonstrably not Gnostic writings, since all three explicitly affirm the basic reality and sanctity of incarnate life, which Gnosticism by definition considers illusory and evil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

Hippolytus (170 – 235 AD) quoted the Gospel of Thomas by saying that the Naassene sect speaks
Quote
of a nature which is both hidden and revealed at the same time and which they call the thought-for kingdom of heaven which is in a human being. They transmit a tradition concerning this in the Gospel entitled "According to Thomas," which states expressly, "The one who seeks me will find me in children of seven years and older, for there, hidden in the fourteenth aeon, I am revealed."
Refutation of All Heresies 5.7.20:

This has resemblance to Gospel of Thomas Saying # 4:
Quote
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."
Maybe the Naassenes corrupted the Gospel of Thomas.

In the 4th century, Cyril of Jerusalem wrote in his Catechesis:
Quote
The Manichæans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort... Let none read the Gospel according to Thomas: for it is the work not of one of the twelve Apostles, but of one of the three wicked disciples of Manes.

Mani lived in 216-276 AD in Iran and Iraq and was the founder of the gnostic school called Manichaenism. His disciples would have worked in c.240 or later. The Gospel of Thomas would not have been written by one of Mani's disciples, as the Oxyrhynchus copy dated to 130-250 AD, and because Hippolytus lived in 170 – 235 AD and said that the Naassenes used it.

There is a theory that John's gospel was reacting against beliefs found in the community that focused on the apostle Thomas. For gnostics, Jesus' physicality after the resurrection is at least in question, due to the way they looked at the body vs. the flesh. And in the Gospel of John, Thomas' achievement of faith centers on his ability to directly touch or see Jesus' body.
Wikipedia notes:
Quote
John's gospel is the only canonical one that gives Thomas the Apostle a dramatic role and spoken part, and Thomas is the only character therein described as having apistos (unbelief), despite the failings of virtually all the Johannine characters to live up to the author's standards of belief. With respect to the famous story of "Doubting Thomas", it is suggested that John may have been denigrating or ridiculing a rival school of thought. ... For [the Gospel of] Thomas, resurrection seems more a cognitive event of spiritual attainment, one even involving a certain discipline or asceticism. ... Pagels interprets this as signifying one-upmanship by John, who is forcing Thomas to acknowledge Jesus' bodily nature. She writes that "...he shows Thomas giving up his search for experiential truth – his 'unbelief' – to confess what John sees as the truth..."  The point of these examples, as used by Riley and Pagels, is to support the argument that the text of Thomas must have existed and have gained a following at the time of the writing of John's Gospel, and that the importance of the Thomasine logia was great enough that John felt the necessity of weaving them into his own narrative.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

Orthodox Wiki
also notes how John's Gospel depicts Thomas in a story that goes against gnosticism:
Quote
The Apostle Thomas should... be considered not merely as "Doubting Thomas", but rather, as someone whose faith did waver at one crucial moment, yet through the divine grace of Christ, this wavering was reversed into an opportunity for the demonstration of the actual bodily resurrection of the Lord, and for the concomitant scriptural refutation of Docetism and the Gnostic heresy.
https://orthodoxwiki.org/Apostle_Thomas

The essay notes other potential differences from the NT's POV and that it could have a Syriac origin:
Quote
In saying 13, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand the true significance or identity of Jesus. Patterson argues that this can be interpreted as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew...

Several scholars argue that Thomas is dependent on Syriac writings, including unique versions of the canonical gospels. They contend that many sayings of the Gospel of Thomas are more similar to Syriac translations of the canonical gospels than their record in the original Greek. Craig A. Evans states that saying 54 in Thomas, which speaks of the poor and the kingdom of heaven, is more similar to the Syriac version of Matthew 5:3... Klyne Snodgrass notes that saying 65–66 of Thomas containing the Parable of the Wicked Tenants appears to be dependent on the early harmonisation of Mark and Luke found in the old Syriac gospels. 
The Syriac origin would make sense because Thomas is considered to have evangelized in Syria and northern Mesopotamia.

The essay has a chart with differences:

Item ___________Synoptics _______________ Gospel of Thomas

New Cov._______Love God & neighbor_______ Secret knowledge & love friends
Other Disciples __________________________ Mariam
Jesus' theology_liberal Judaism______________proto-Gnostic

Ron Cameron writes about it in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 6:
Quote
Possible references to this gospel by its title alone abound in early Christianity (e.g. Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.25.6). But such indirect attestations must be treated with care, since they might refer to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Parallels to certain sayings in Gos. Thom. are also abundant; some are found, according to Clement of Alexandria, in the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Egyptians.
Cameron sees it as having a Syriac origin because
Quote
the peculiar, redundant name Didymus Judas Thomas seems to be attested only in the East, where the shadowy disciple named Thomas (Mark 3:18 par.; John 14:5) or Thomas Didymus (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2) was identified with Judas in the Syriac NT and called Judas Thomas (John 14:22)... Other documents [along with the Syriac early 3rd century Acts of Thomas] that invoke the authority of Judas Thomas by name are also of Syriac origin, such as the Teaching of Addai, the Abgar legend (Eus. Histl. Eccl. 1.13.1-22), and the Book of Thomas the Contender (NHC II, 7).
It is interesting for me when Cameron says that in the Gospel of Thomas, " Jesus was characterized as the embodiment of Wisdom; his words, which could harness the very power of the universe, offered her path of 'knowing' as an investment of the imagination. "
This reminds me - in mainstream canonical tradition, I think Jesus is not only equated with the Logos, but also with Sophia, Wisdom.

Quote
The Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God (Kiev), occupies an unique place in the Russian Orthodox Church. On the icon is depicted the Theotokos, and the Hypostatic Wisdom, the Son of God incarnate of Her. In Wisdom or Sophia, ponders the Son of God, about Whom in the Proverbs of Solomon it says: “Wisdom has built a house for herself, and has set up seven pillars” (9:1). These words refer to Christ, the Son of God, Who in the Epistles of Saint Paul is called “Wisdom of God” (1 Cor.1:30), and the word “house” refers to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, of Whom the Son of God is incarnate.



https://oca.org/saints/lives/2017/09/08/108957-icon-of-sophia-the-wisdom-of-god

1 Cor. 30 says: "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." Gregory of Nazianzus also identified Christ as Wisdom: "How can he be ignorant of anything that is, when he is Wisdom, the maker of the worlds, who brings all things to fulfilment and recreates all things, who is the end of all that has come into being?" (Orationes, 30.15).
Does this suggest that some modern western critics are seeing in the Gospel of Thomas a "gnostic" concept of Christ as Wisdom that in fact is not unique to gnosticism?


The Gospel of Thomas fact provides a distinction between the Gospel of Thomas and gnosticism:
Quote
t if you mean by Gnostic the religion upon which the Nag Hammadi texts are based, a religion that differentiates the god of this world (who is the Jewish god) from a higher more abstract God, a religion that regards this world as the creation of a series of evil archons/powers who wish to keep the human soul trapped in an evil physical body then no, Thomas is not Gnostic.
http://users.misericordia.edu/davies/thomas/faq.htm

The FAQ claims that there were two creations of man in Genesis, but I am skeptical about this:
Quote
the perspective of Thomas is that the Image of God in the beginning (Genesis chapter One) still exists and people can assume that identity, an identity that is neither male nor female. The image of God is differentiated from the fallen Adam of Genesis chapter Two. ... Thomas reads the first two chapters of Genesis in a straightforward way, there were two separate creations of mankind; the first is perfect, the second flawed. Rather than waiting for a future end-time Kingdom to come, Thomas urges people to return to the perfect Kingdom conditions of Genesis chapter one.
What do you think of this claim of two creations of man? Perhaps the FAQ is misreading the Gospel of Thomas?

The FAQ also says that the theorized sayings Document Q in the Synoptics differ in their view of the kingdom of God:
Quote
Thomas stresses the presence of the Kingdom of God now, within people and outside of them spread upon the world and that the Kingdom must be found by diligent search and inquiry. Q insists that the Kingdom of God will arrive at some future time, immediately visible to everyone, but that only a few will be allowed to enter.
Do you agree with this portrayal? It seems to me that some scholars think that according to the Synoptics, the Kingdom of God is both a present possibility and a future reality.

In The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Fr. John Anthony McGuckin notes that one of the Coptic redactions of the earlier Greek text added terms like "one alone" and "single one" (monachos), which he considers a potential reference to monasticism. This would fit with how celibacy and monasticism was a known practice among some Egyptian Christians in around the early 2nd c. (See for example the Encratite sect). Fr. ohn McGuckin writes:
Quote
This early usage of the term suggests that St Anthony, traditionally remembered as the founder of eremetic monasticism, was preceded by nearly a century. Recent studies have challenged the traditional picture of the 'first' emergence of monasticism in Egypt. .... What Goehring discovered, to replace an older and more simplistic view that monasticism simply began with Anthony and Pachomius, was the earlier phenomenon of what he calls 'village monasticism in Upper Egypt.'

The Collected Commentary on the Gospel of Thomas has a verse by verse comparison of the Greek and Coptic versions, as well as scholarly commentaries on each:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas/
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 09:57:27 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #232 on: May 04, 2017, 02:46:46 PM »
Fr. Afanasiy Gumerov sees the Gospel of Thomas as Gnostic, writing that the gnostics taught "secret knowledge" and that the Gospel of Thomas opens in this vein with "These are the secret words that the living Jesus spoke..." Fr. Gumerov wrote that this "understanding of the savior's words fully differs from the Gospel's spirit, which is open to everyone. Jesus himself witnessed: 'I spoke openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where the Jews always gather, and I secretly didn't say anything'(Jn 18:20)."(http://www.pravoslavie.ru/6387.html)

I don't know, it seems like in the view of the NT there were things that Jesus shared only with his disciples and certain followers. One was the experience of the Transfiguration, which he told the three disciples who saw it not to share with anyone. Another was his identity as the Messiah, which some people (like someone he healed) recognized but he told them to keep quiet about publicly. A third example was some of the explanations of his parables, as Mark 4 says:
Quote
33. With many such parables Jesus spoke the word to them, to the extent that they could understand.
34. He did not say anything to them without a parable. But privately He explained all things to His own disciples.

Fr. Gumerov also notes that there are sayings in the Gospel of Thomas that contradict Christ's love, like Saying # 98:
Quote
The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a powerful man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know his hand would be strong (enough). Then he slew the powerful man.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas/gospelthomas98.html
First, I notice that this saying is in the Coptic version, but not the less gnostic, incomplete Greek version.
Second, the verse reminds me of Mark 3:
Quote
23. So Jesus called them together and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?
24. If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand.
25. If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand.
26. And if Satan is divided and rises against himself, he cannot stand; his end has come.
27. Indeed, no one can enter a strong man’s house to steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.

It reminds me a bit of Matthew 12:
Quote
28. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
Perhaps the "strong man" is Satan, the possessions are the demon-possessed people, and terminating demonic possessions is like plundering him?

In that case, it looks like in Matthew 12:28-29, Jesus is comparing the kingdom of God's arrival with tying the strong man and stealing his possessions, as a parable for driving out demons. Does this resemble the controversial passage of Saying 98 in the Gospel of Thomas enough to clear up the problem with it?

Fr. Gumerov sees no value in reading Gospel of Thomas, asking rhetorically what can be gained from Saying 14:
Quote
Jesus says to them: "When you fast, you will beget sin for yourselves; when you pray, you will be condemned; when you give alms, you will do evil to your souls! <But> when you enter any land and travel over the country, when you are welcomed eat what is put before you

I agree that this is a tough passage, because the basics of Judaism and Christianity do teach these things, especially prayer.
I notice that the passage is found only in the more gnostic, Coptic version.
Second, in case it is only criticizing a certain form of fasting or under certain conditions (like "when you enter any land"), the Saying does not make clear what it is talking about.
Third, it seems that it contradicts the Gospel of Thomas' Saying # 27:
Quote
Jesus said, "If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom of God. If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father."
Saying 27 is to fast regarding the world and to observe the Sabbath, but then Saying 14 seems to object to fasting and praying without explaining what the Saying is talking about.
In Matthew 6, Jesus says not to pray, fast, or give alms openly or publicly like hypocrites do to get a public reward, but to only do them in secret, so that God will reward you.
There was also the time in Mark 2 when
Quote
people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t Your disciples fast like John’s disciples and those of the Pharisees?” Jesus answered, “Can the guests of the bridegroom fast while He is with them? As long as He is with them, they cannot fast. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast.

Even with all that, it is still hard to see how he could have criticized praying in G.Thomas Saying #14. I mean, didn't gnostics pray?

One possibility is that when it says "When you fast, you will beget sin for yourselves; when you pray, you will be condemned; when you give alms, you will do evil to your souls!", it is not banning them from taking those things, but instead making a prediction that they will err by doing these things the wrong way (eg. by fasting publicly or ostentatiously), just as he made a prediction that they would abandon him in the Passion story. Still, this explanation does not feel reliable.

It could simply be a weird gnostic rejection of fasting and prayer:
Quote
R. McL. Wilson writes: "As Grant has pointed out, the condemnation at the beginning of this saying takes up three phrases from the Sermon on the Mount [Matt. vi. 16 (fasting), 5 (prayer), and 2 (alms)] in the reverse order; and such reversal of the order is characteristic of Naassene usage.
(Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 71-72)

Irina Sventsitskaya, on the other hand, sees the Gospel of Thomas as engaging in intra-Christian debates. She notes that many Christians saw fasting, prayers, alms, as means for salvation, whereas she sees the Gospel of Thomas perceived the external, outer side of these actions that weren't involved with a person's inner spirituality. In one Saying, they ask if they should fast and pray, and he replied not to lie or do what they hate. So she thinks this suggests that performing outer religious actions can lead to lying and hypocrisy. She notes the Saying in the gospel of Thomas that what goes into a person's mouth doesn't defile them, only what comes out of the mouth, and she concludes that the Gospel of Thomas' rejection of prayer is a rejection of asking God for help because in gnosticism, salvation is supposed to come from the light inside of the person. (http://www.sno.pro1.ru/lib/svenz/2-5-4.htm)

The Orthodox Stavros Center has an essay that takes the Gospel of Thomas to be from 140-170 AD.
The essay raises the point that there were in the early Church extracanonical "lists of the canonical books, confirming the existence of the NT canon.... Even in the heretical canon of the gnostic Marcion (c.140 AD) are included the Gospel of Luke and ten letters of Paul".(http://stavroskrest.ru/content/evangelie-ot-fomy) It seems that if the Gospel of Thomas was known to writers like Hippolytus in the early 3rd c., but not known to even the gnostic Marcion in the mid-2nd c., then it would tend to suggest that the Gospel of Thomas was not a 1st century work. Likewise, the essay points out that St Ignatius (c.110-115) cited Luke 24, that Polycarp cited the Synoptics, and the Didache cited the Synoptics. Still, I think it's worth pointing out that 2 Clement has a saying that exists in the Gospel of Thomas but not in the canonical Bible. The Stavros essay does note that some Gospel of Thomas sayings come from the Risen Christ, and so it concludes that the authors were aware of the Resurrection.

Irina Sventsitskaya in her book From a Community to a Church considers the Gospel of Thomas to be of an early origin, because of its references to the Kingdom of Heaven.
She points to Jesus' dismissive tone in his words: "If those who lead you say that the Kingdom is in the sky"... She thinks that this shows different ideas about the Kingdom in the Christian community. For me, this skeptical wording about "those who lead you" could be a sign that G. Thomas was written later, like in the 2nd c., against the leadership of the Church. She also mentions the saying where Jesus asks who he is like, Peter says an angel, Matthew says a philosopher, and Thomas whispers three words. The whispering, Svenitsitskaya says, reflects the gnostic way of secret teaching. For me, one possibility is that Jesus is said to be like God, but to say God's name is rarely done audibly in Judaism, so that could explain why Thomas whispered it.

She also quotes Saying 100 of the Coptic version: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, give to God what is God's, and what is mine give me!", noting that this separates Jesus from God, who is seen as the ultimate fatherly beginning. Still, this could just be a way of speaking, as in the NT Jesus is said to sit at the right hand of God. She mentions that in one of the Sayings, Jesus opposes circumcision, saying that if people were meant to be circumcised, they would be born that way in the womb. This indirectly goes against the demand that people observe the Sabbath in another Saying, since they are both rules that come from Torah. She thinks that in making this argument, the Gospel of Thomas was portraying the wise construction of the world, a concept that was foreign to gnosticism, whose physical vs. spiritual dualism saw the material world as inherently evil.

Sventsitskaya notices that one of the commands in Gospel of Thomas is to heal people, and that Jesus did this, so she concludes that it reflects how early this Gospel appeared. She says that later gnostic writings did not touch the subject of believers healing people. Another sign of early teaching she sees in that it says to spread the new Christian teaching, as one of the Sayings goes: "What you hear in the ear, announce to another from the rooftop". This conflicts with the Essenes' secrecy. I could add that it conflicts with gnosticism's sense of being a secret mystery school. She says that the Gospel of Thomas tended to want to share its ideas only with those it considered capable of accepting the truth.

She notices that it doesn't say to love one's enemies, and she thinks that this is because the author's sect's members were only brothers between each other. She concludes that this Gospel reflects the period of development when Christianity was being spread to gentiles, and that it reflects a process of making interpretations on some of the same sayings that the gospels had.

The Coptic Texts page at USC proposes that Saying 109 is a version of a rabbinical Midrash Canticle, and concludes that this saying could come from rabbinic tradition instead of Jesus:
Quote
Jesus said, ‘The kingdom is like a man who had a [hidden] treasure in his field without knowing it.  And [after] he died, he left it to his [son].  The son [did] not know (about the treasure).  He inherited the field and sold [it].  And the one who bought it went plowing and [found] the treasure.  He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.”

This saying appears to be a version of a story of the Midrash Canticles that was confused through oral transmission.  Midrash Canticles 4.12:

“It is like a man who inherited a place full of rubbish.  The inheritor was lazy and he sold it for a ridiculously small sum.  The purchaser dug therein industriously and found in it a treasure.  He built therewith a great palace and through bazaar with a train of slaves whom he had bought with the treasure.  When the seller saw it he could have choked himself (with vexation).”
http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/arc/nagham/gospelthomas.htm

I don't know why it couldn't have come into rabbinic tradition though from Jesus or Christian circles though.

In the journal Biblical Archaeology Review, S. Gathercole mentions another way some people could consider this Gospel gnostic:
Quote
Those who have thought that Thomas is Gnostic have seized upon the negative views of the body and the world evident in the book. And it is certainly true that the body and the world are seen in a negative light in Thomas. For example, in talking about the fact that the soul or spirit has come into the body, Jesus says: “I do marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty!” (Gospel of Thomas 28.3). The opposition of “wealth” and “poverty” shows up the sharp contrast between the precious soul and the worthless body. Jesus is similarly negative about the material cosmos: “Whoever has come to know the world has found a corpse” (Gospel of Thomas 56.1). ...

Nevertheless, it has always been something of an embarrassment for the “Gnostic” view of Thomas that there is no talk of an evil demiurge, a creation that is intrinsically evil, or of other familiar themes such as “aeons” (a technical term for the divine realms in the heavens). […] But neither does it work to see Thomas as simply a stone’s throw from the kind of Christianity or Christianities evident in the New Testament...
http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-versions-and-translations/the-sayings-of-jesus-in-the-gospel-of-thomas/

Here is a list of the Sayings lined up with the Coptic and Greek versions, with correlating Bible verses under them.
http://www.thenazareneway.com/thomasgospel.htm
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 02:55:40 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #233 on: May 04, 2017, 07:50:39 PM »
Saying 27 is found in both the Greek and Coptic versions:
Quote
Jesus said, "If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the kingdom of God. And if you do not keep the sabbath a sabbath, you will not see the father."
(Greek version)
This verse is tough to address, one reason being that the basis for this rule seems to be the Torah, and Gospel of Thomas elsewhere disagrees with the Torah rule on circumcision.
It's true that the Torah is strict about keeping the Sabbath, and that there was the time in Matthew 19 where Jesus talked about the commandments:
Quote
17. Jesus replied, “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18. “Which ones?” the man asked. Jesus answered, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness
But here Jesus seems to single out certain rules to be followed, whereas elsewhere Jesus seemed to have a laxer attitude about the Sabbath, considering that "the sabbath was made for man".(Mark 2)

Marvin Meyer finds analogies in the Church fathers to this saying:
Quote
"Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies ('Stromateis') 3.15.99.4, incorporates a beatitude with similar content: 'Those who have castrated themselves from all sin for the sake of heaven's kingdom are fortunate: They are the ones who fast from the world.' Fasting from the world means abstaining from the material things that the world has to offer; keeping the sabbath a sabbath seems to imply that one should rest in a truly significant way and separate oneself from worldly concerns. Thus 'Macarius' of Syria is cited by Aelred Baker ('Pseudo-Macarius and the Gospel of Thomas,' p. 220) as making the same sort of statement: 'For the soul that is considered worthy from the shameful and foul reflections keeps the sabbath a true sabbath and rests a true rest. . . . To all the souls that obey and come he gives rest from these . . . impure reflections . . ., (the souls) keeping the sabbath a true sabbath.' The words 'observe the sabbath as a sabbath' in saying 27 could also be taken to derive from the idiom 'keep the sabbath (in reference to) the sabbath,' as in the Septuagint. Further, since the Coptic employs two different spellings for the word translated 'sabbath' in saying 27 (sambaton and sabbaton), it is conceivable - but probably too subtle - that the text could be translated 'observe the (whole) week as the sabbath'; compare Tertullian, Against the Jewish People 4: 'We ought to keep a sabbath from all servile work always, and not only every seventh day, but all the time.'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 81-82)
One of my problems is that it sounds too strict, like if one fails to observe the Sabbath, then one is lost from heaven. But some other places in the NT sound very strict too, like how a rich man entering heaven is like a camel through a needle's eye.

F. F. Bruce writes:
Quote
"This saying (whose Greek text is preserved in P. Oxy. 1. 2) seems to have been widely known in the church of the second and third centuries; its substance appears in Justin, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. [Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 12.3; Clement, Miscellanies iii. 99.4; Tertullian, Against the Jews 4.] While literal fasting and sabbath-keeping are deprecated (cf. Sayings 14, 104), the spiritual counterpart to these religious exercises is recommended (cf. Saying 6)." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 125)

What do you think of Saying #27?

Saying 29 in the Greek version ("[. . .he dwells in th]i poverty.") is expanded in the Coptic version to refer to Jesus' dwelling in his physical body:
Quote
Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."
(Coptic version)
It's true that in the NT we have Jesus saying "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak", and Paul writes about the Spirit vs. the things of the flesh:
Quote
Gal 5:16-26
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication... (etc.)

Rom 8:1-8
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (etc.)
This seems to make Saying #29 not particularly gnostic.

Saying #30 is difficult too, as I mentioned earlier:
Quote


Greek version:
[Jesus sa]id, ["Wh]ere there are [th]r[ee] t[hey ar]e [without] God. And [w]here there is only o[ne], I say, I am with hi[m]. Li[f]t the stone and there you will find me. Split the wood and I am there." (Lambdin translation)

Jesus says: "Where there are [two (?) they are] not without God, and where there is one, I say <to you>, I am with him. Raise the stone, and there thou wilt find me; split the wood: I am even there!"
(Doresse translation)

Coptic version:
(30) Jesus said, "Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him."
(77b) ...Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
How might you translate the Greek above?

It reminds me of Matthew 18:
Quote
19. Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.
20. For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.”

Crossan sees it as the reverse of Matthew 18 and as an endorsement of monasticism and hermitude:
Quote
Harold W. Attridge's recent study of that papyrus under ultraviolet light led him to the following restored translation: 'Jesus said, "Where there are three, they are without god, and where there is but a single one I say that I am with him."' He concludes that, 'instead of an absolutely cryptic remark about gods being gods, the fragment asserts that any group of people lacks divine presence. That presence is available only to the "solitary one." The importance of the solitary (monachos) is obvious in the Gospel. Cf. Sayings 11, 16, 22, 23, 49, 75, and 106. This saying must now be read in connection with those remarks on the "monachose."' (156)." (Four Other Gospels, p. 78)
Funk and Hoover write:
Quote
"the Gospel of Thomas is obviously anti-institutional: it rejects the community (the minimum requirement for which was two or three) as the basic unit in favor of the solitary individual.
" (The Five Gospels, p. 490)

Ephraem Syrus, in Exposition on the Harmony of the Gospel 14, had Christ discuss whether he was with one to three persons:
Quote
'Where there is one, there also am I, or someone might be sad from lonely things, since he himself is our joy and he himself is with us. And where there are two, there also shall I be, since his mercy and grace overshadow us. And when we are three, we assemble just as in church, which is the body of Christ perfected and his image expressed.'

In his Stromata, Clement of Alexandria takes up the question of what the references to one, two, three could be:
Quote
The agreement of many, which is indicated by the number "three," with whom the Lord is present, might also be the one Church, the one man, and the one race. Or could it mean this? The Lord when he gave the law was with the one, that is the Jew. Later when he inspired the prophets and sent Jeremiah to Babylon  and, moreover, called believers from the Gentiles by the teaching of the prophets, he brought the two peoples together. And was not the third the one which is made out of the two into a new man in which he walks and dwells, in the Church itself? And the law, the prophets, and also the gospel were brought together in Christ's name into a single knowledge.

He also considers other possible meanings:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book3-english.html
I can understand how if a gathering of three is a reference to a community that it could fit with the Biblical saying by God about the righteous faithful: "I will make you gods".

Robert Grant sees the Coptic version as perhaps a criticism of Trinitarianism by saying that the three are gods, rather than God:
Quote
The remark about the gods may possibly involve a criticism of Christian doctrine as tritheism; according to the Coptic text, Christians may be worshipping three (mere) gods. (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 149)

The first part of Saying 31 is in the gospels, but the second part sounds defective:
Quote
(31) Jesus said, "No prophet is accepted in his own country; no physician heals those who know him."
(Greek version)
Here is the passage in Matthew:
Quote
23. Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to Me: ‘Physician heal yourself! Do here in Your hometown what we have heard that You did in Capernaum.’”
24. Then He added, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
I can tell that God is a physician who wouldn't need to heal people who know him from spiritual sickness - knowing God, they would lack the sickness. But still, in the normal sense a sick person goes to a doctor he knows, so the parable or allegory sounds off, even if the underlying meaning about spirituality was right.

Saying 37 sounded off too, until I learned more about it:
Quote
Greek version:
His disciples said to him, "When will you be visible to us? And when will we see you?"
He said, "When you undress and are not ashamed."

Coptic version:

His disciples said, "When will you become revealed to us and when shall we see you?"
Jesus said, "When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid"
I can see how the "flesh" is like a robe, and putting off the flesh is like putting off robes, and there is the story in the NT about the youth that last his robe in Gethsemane and then a youth (maybe the same youth) showed up with a shining robe in the tomb. Plus, I know Isaiah walked naked while prophecying for a few years. But it still feels weird to me to talk about holy disrobing, since the literal allegory felt wrong. But then I read more:

Cyril of Jerusalem in his Lectures on the Mysteries, II. Baptism, states:
Quote
2.  As soon, then, as ye entered, ye put off your tunic; and this was an image of putting off the old man with his deeds (Col. iii. 9).  Having stripped yourselves, ye were naked; in this also imitating Christ, who was stripped naked on the Cross, and by His nakedness put off from Himself the principalities and powers, and openly triumphed over them on the tree(Col ii. 15.) For since the adverse powers made their lair in your members, ye may no longer wear that old garment; I do not at all mean this visible one, but the old man, which waxeth corrupt in the lusts of deceit.( Eph. iv. 22.)  May the soul which has once put him off, never again put him on, but say with the Spouse of Christ in the Song of Songs, I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on ?(Cant. v. 3)  O wondrous thing! ye were naked in the sight of all, and were not ashamed**; for truly ye bore the likeness of the first-formed Adam, who was naked in the garden, and was not ashamed.

NOTES:
**See Dict. Christ. Antiq. “Baptism,” § 48:  The Unclothing of the Catechumens:  Bingh. Ant. XI. xi. 1:  All “persons were baptized naked, either in imitation of Adam in Paradise, or our Saviour upon the Cross, or to signify their putting off the body of sin, and the old man with his deeds.”
https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.xxiv.html#fna_ii.xxiv-p9.1
............ :-\

Augustine talks about trampling on goatskins as part of the baptismal ritual in Sermon 216.10-11: 
Quote
"In such great masses of troubles, then, clothe yourselves with goatskin and humble your souls through fasting. What is denied to pride is restored to humility. Indeed, when you were examined and the one who instigates flight and desertion was duly rebuked by the omnipotence of the awesome trinity, you were not clothed with goatskin, yet your feet stood mystically upon it. Vices and skins of she-goats are to be trampled under foot; cloth from perverse kids is to be torn apart."

Meanwhile, R. Grant lines Saying 37 up with practices of the Naassenes and the Gospel of the Egyptians:
Quote
Here the disciples are to become 'naked' (Saying 21) by stripping off the body; they are to become 'like little children.' Such stripping is mentioned by the Naassenes (Hippolytus, Ref., 5, 8, 44); while treading on the grament of shame was found in the Gospel of the Egyptians (Clement, Strom., 3, 92, 2). The disciples will be 'sons of the Living Father' (see Saying 2)."
(The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 153)

One of the interesting things about Saying 37 in this "Gospel of Judas Thomas" is how the opening part (His disciples said to him, "When will you be visible to us? And when will we see you?") lines up with John 14:22, ascribed to "Judas not Iscariot":
Quote
Judas (not Iscariot) asked Him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?”
It is of special interest because the Gospel of Thomas generally does not overlap in its quotes with John's Gospel, but rather with the Synoptics. So this overlap in this Saying could be a sign of independent attestation.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 07:51:01 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #234 on: May 04, 2017, 10:49:46 PM »
It's interesting how many of the Gospel of Thomas sayings that aren't in the Bible show up in places like the Church fathers and other known early writings.

Take for example Saying #39:
Quote
[Jesus said, "The pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys] of [knowledge (gnosis) and] hidden [them. They themselves have not] entered, [nor have they allowed to enter those who were about to] come in. [You], however, [be wise as serpents and as] innocent [as doves]."
The first part sounds very unfamiliar to me, but the Saying is not necessarily in conflict with NT sayings that I knew, like "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 2.30.1 turns out to have the same basic idea:
Quote
"Similarly also he attacks the scribes and Pharisees during the last period of his teaching, charging them with improper actions and incorrect teaching, and with hiding the key of knowledge that they received, handed down from Moses, by which the gate of the heavenly kingdom may be opened."
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #235 on: May 05, 2017, 03:27:37 PM »
Having gone through the Greek version's most curious sayings, next I'll turn to the Coptic ones. I can see how the Coptic version gnosticized the Greek one.
For example, John 8:51 says: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if any one keeps my word, he shall never see death."
The Greek version of Gosp.Thomas says in Saying #1: "Whoever hears these words shall never taste death."
The Coptic version makes it more about finding a meaning, which connotates more secret knowledge:
<<And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.">>

So it seems to me in question whether the Greek version is Gnostic. Maybe it is just a Syrian compilation of what were seen to be Jesus' sayings and only a few of them are gnostic.

The Coptic version changes "wonder" to "be troubled" in Saying #2.

In Saying 6, Jesus could be answering the question "How do you want us to fast, pray, give alms?" by practically saying to do them without lying:
Quote
Greek POxy 6)
His disciples asked him and said to him, "How do you want us to fast? And how shall we pray? And how [shall we] give alms? And what kind of diet shall we follow?"

Jesus said, "Do not lie, and do not do what you hate, for all things are disclosed before truth. For there is nothing hidden which shall not be shown forth."
http://www.thenazareneway.com/thomasgospel.htm

Saying #7 looks enigmatic until one checks other ways this kind of concept was used:
Quote
Jesus says: "Blessed is the lion which a man eats so that the lion becomes a man. But cursed is the man whom a lion eats so that the man becomes a lion!"

Marvin Meyer writes:
Quote
"This saying may ultimately be based upon statements in Plato, for instance his comparison (in Republic) of the soul to a being of three parts: a many-headed beast, a lion, and a human being. Plato recommends that the human part of the soul (that is, reason) tame and nourish the leonine part (that is, the passion of the heart)." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 71-72)
Jean Doresse writes:
Quote
"No doubt the lion here represents human passions, or more precisely, the lying spirit of evil. This is suggested by a passage from a Coptic Manichaean Psalm (CCLVII): 'This lion which is within me, which defiles me at every moment, I have strangled it and cast it out of my soul. . . .'" (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 371)

Saying #10 struck me as strange:
Quote
Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes."
But then I saw Luke 12.49:
Quote
"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!
One theory is that while Luke puts it as a future event, Saying #10 has it as something that already started, and that this reflects how in the NT, the Kingdom of God is more apocalyptic and future.
Gerd Ludemann notes:
Quote
" In Logion 82 'fire' is connected with the nearness of Jesus. So the meaning seems to be that Jesus' presence will set on fire the world, understood in negative terms." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 595)

I can see how in the NT, the Kingdom of God is described as both something that is future and as something that can be present. For the latter, see:
Quote
Luke 17:21 "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 03:27:59 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #236 on: May 05, 2017, 09:10:07 PM »
Saying #11 says:
Quote
Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"
I don't know how to interpret the underlined part.
Robert M. Grant thinks that this refers to Christian unity into Christ's one body vs. religious divisions:
Quote
"The third part of the saying describes the condition of the Gnostic believer. Those who were formerly divided have been united; they have worked together (Saying 59); they are at peace (49); they have become one (103). Unfortunately, it looks as if becoming 'two' were regarded as the believer's goal. Perhaps it would be best to hold that the present unity of the believers represents their goal, and - in spite of the parallelism of the saying - that the becoming 'two' is something they should avoid. Jesus is not a divider (Saying 72), except in the sense that he divides families into Gnostics and non-Gnostics (Saying 16)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 130)

Another theory is that this refers to the division of the soul from the body after death:
Quote
This gospel talks about you becoming two, I believe this is when your body and soul separate and then you are one and your body dies then you go to another heaven where you no longer need to eat what is dead anymore.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas/gospelthomas11.html

Saying #12 has:
Quote
The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?"
Jesus said to them, "Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."
The saying means that James is the church's leader even when the other apostles missionize elsewhere (eg. Rome, Antioch, Alexandria).
The underlined part gives me some trouble.
I can see how James could be a stand in for the archetypcal concept of Jesus' brother, and that the world came into existence for the sake of Jesus' brother(s), or that God created the world for the sake of the righteous. James' title was "the righteous one", hence, "James the Just".

F. F. Bruce writes:
Quote
"in Jewish thought the world was created for the sake of the Torah, [Assumption of Moses 1.2; Genesis Rabbah 1.25.] although in one rabbinical utterance 'every single person is obliged to say: "The world was created for my sake."' [TB Sanhedrin 37b]" (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, pp. 117-118)

Robert M. Grant writes:
Quote
"The answer which Jesus gives is again related to the conversation in the Gospel of John, where Jesus tells the disciples that he is going away to prepare a 'place' for them (John 14:2-3). In Thomas, however, the 'place' is apparently earthly rather than heavenly; it is a place in which they are to go to James the Just, 'for whose sake the heaven and the earth came into existence.' This exaltation of James is characteristic of Jewish-Christian and Naassene tradition" (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 131)

Saying 13 was initially confusing:
Quote
Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out."
And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."
First, it's a bit confusing that he says he is not Thomas' master. I think Jesus meant that due to taking in too much teaching, he got drunk, and it's only when Jesus narrows things down and clarified it that the message works.
It bears major resemblance to John 15:
Quote
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Second, it's curious what the three words are. The three words I guess were אני מי שאני. They mean "I am that I am", and refers to God's words in the Torah to Moses identifying Himself. Jesus' assertion in the Passion story "I am" offended his judges whereupon they called for his death. This can explain why Thomas said that the words would make people stone him, but that out of the stones would come the punishing fire against the persecutors. That those were the three words would make sense because in Judaism, the name of God is normally ineffable - not spoken aloud. This would help explain the whispering, the passing of it in secret.

I think this is important because it contradicts the image of some scholars that in Gospel of Thomas Jesus portrayed himself as divine. Instead, it's shown to be a hidden teaching.

I disagree with Bruce's view:
Quote
As for the three words spoken secretly to Thomas, conveying Jesus's hidden identity, they are probably the three secret words on which, according to the Naassenes, the existence of the world depended: Kaulakau, Saulasau, Zeesar. [Hippolytus, Refutation v.8.4. Kaulakau, they said, was Adamas, primal man, 'the being who is on high' . . . Saulasau, mortal man here below; Zeesar, the Jordan which flows upward.]
(Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, pp. 118-119)
Simply saying those three words do not necessarily identify Jesus as them, and Jesus was apparently giving the answer to the apostles' discussion of his identity. Saying "I am that I am" would be an answer and identification of himself.

I want to make a note about Saying 14, that the negative talking above by Jesus ("I am not your master" and saying Thomas was drunk could set the stage for Jesus' negativity about fasting in the next passage. Jesus could be saying not "Don't fast", but rather making a criticism that their fasting was not done right. So he complained in the NT about hypocrites making a show of fasting, and he told people to eat what was served, and he said that when Jesus was with them it was like a banquet, so they shouldn't fast. But then he said to fast secretly in the NT and to fast from things of the world in Gosp. Thomas. So maybe #14 was a kind of riddle that was only talking about public fasting, especially because it's in the context of a passage on public healing and public missionizing.

Saying 18 and the beginning of 19 sound strange:
Quote
(18) The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be."
Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."

(19) Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being. If you become my disciples and listen to my words, these stones will minister to you. For there are five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not experience death."

F. F. Bruce's comments I think address the part in blue about "where the beginning is":
Quote
"This saying is reminiscent of 2 Esdras 7.30 ('the world shall be as it was at the first beginnings'), but perhaps it is to be understood in the sense of Revelation 22.13, where Jesus says: 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.'" (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 121)

As for the purple section, Funk and Hoover see this as related to gnosticism:
Quote
"The idea that one returns in the end to one's beginning has parallels in gnostic texts: the goal of the gnostic's existence is to escape the created world of evil and return to the state of primordial perfection that existed at the beginning. Aspects of this concept are also reflected in Thomas 49. The final phrase in 18:3 is particularly Thomean (compare Thom 1; 91:4; 85:2; 111:2).  (The Five Gospels, p. 483)
I think though that the concept of the return to the state that existed at the Beginning is not limited to gnosticism but existed in early mainstream Christianity. As I understand it, in Orthodoxy there is also a concept of returning to the original state of Man's creation before the Fall.

It's interesting how familiarity with Orthodoxy can provide some insights or analogies that other, non-Orthodox scholars might not notice.

One of my difficulties with Saying 19 about Pre-Existent Existence, something that is ascribable to Christ, is that it says "Blessed is...", which is the kind of language used in the Beatitudes that appears to refer to believers, not just to Christ Himself.

Jean Doresse writes:
Quote
"Cf. the Gospel of Philip (Coptic text of Codex X of Chenoboskion) where this formula also appears; and St Irenaeus, who quotes it under the form: 'Happy is He who was before becoming man.'" (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 372)

F. F. Bruce writes:
Quote
"Saying 19a is quoted by other early Christian writers: Irenaeus and Lactantius quote it as a prophetic utterance of Jeremiah. [Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching 43; Lactantius, Divine Institutions iv.8. The words may have occurred in an apocryphal work, no longer extant, ascribed to Jeremiah.]" (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 121)
I find that interesting. It makes it look like not a particularly gnostic saying, but something circulating among the mainstream early church in a now-lost form.

Irenaeus writes in that work:
Quote
This Jeremiah the prophet also testified, saying thus:

Before the morning-star I begat thee: and before the sun (is) thy name; and that is, before the creation of the world; for together with the world the stars were made. And again the same says: Blessed is he who was, before he became man. Because, for God, the Son was (as) the beginning before the creation of the world; [169] but for us (He was) then, when He appeared; and before that He was not for us, who knew Him not. [170]

[169] This is probably a reference to Prov. viii. 22: ho kurios ektise me aichen ton hodon autou.
[170] Justin (Dial. 88) quotes the Voice at the Baptism in the form "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Ps. ii. 7, and Luke iii. 22 in Codex Bezae, etc.).

The quote from  Lactantius (Divin. Inst. iv. 8). is:
Quote
"First of all we affirm that He was twice born, first in spirit, afterwards in flesh. Wherefore in Jeremiah it is thus spoken: Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee. Also: Blessed is he who was, before he was born: which happened unto none save Christ; who, being from the beginning Son of God, was reborn anew according to the flesh."
So in both cases, this saying refers only to Jesus, who alone "came into being [in the sense of his soul and spirit] before he came into being" in the sense of the flesh and public recognition. But based on the preceding Saying, 18, it seems like in some way this description might be intended to be about the blessed faithful.
What do you think of this part of the saying?
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #237 on: May 05, 2017, 09:42:47 PM »
You're finding pseudo-Gospels confusing (you don't say) and are asking Christians to make sense of them?
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #238 on: May 05, 2017, 10:20:04 PM »
As for the purple section, Funk and Hoover see this as related to gnosticism:
Quote
"The idea that one returns in the end to one's beginning has parallels in gnostic texts: the goal of the gnostic's existence is to escape the created world of evil and return to the state of primordial perfection that existed at the beginning. Aspects of this concept are also reflected in Thomas 49. The final phrase in 18:3 is particularly Thomean (compare Thom 1; 91:4; 85:2; 111:2).  (The Five Gospels, p. 483)
I think though that the concept of the return to the state that existed at the Beginning is not limited to gnosticism but existed in early mainstream Christianity. As I understand it, in Orthodoxy there is also a concept of returning to the original state of Man's creation before the Fall.

I think this depends on how you look at it. As far as I know St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 4.38.1-4) was the first to point out that Adam and Eve in the garden were more like infants or children, and needed to grow to perfection. In the garden they weren't in the state God intended for humans, but just at the beginning. So in terms of spiritual maturity, being like Adam and Eve, or returning to our state while in Eden, might be a step backwards rather than forwards. In essence, if we were like them (pre-fall) we'd be spiritual infants, which is obviously not ideal (cf 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 Cor. 13:11). On the other hand we will be similar in that we will have a less corporeal body, have no need of sleep or certain other bodily processes, and won't experience sickness, grief or death. Other Fathers (St. Gregory of Nyssa most famously) would also add that we, like them, will grow towards perfection, and not actually have it as an already-accomplished thing. I guess one of the reasons I bring up the caveat of comparing the afterlife to the life in paradise is that it's important to remember that God doesn't just want to return us to a naive innocence, but also wants to help us arrive at a spiritual maturity Adam and Eve never got to. This ties in, I think, with how Orthodox look at the happening of God as man, and what the reasons for it are: one being that the incarnation wasn't forced on him because humanity messed up and he had to band-aid it; rather he had a destiny in mind for us much grander than was (and possibly could be) accomplished in our original state. He came because he wanted to, because he loved us. He was always going to be our archetype and savior, whether we had fallen into sin or not.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 10:21:52 PM by Asteriktos »

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #239 on: May 05, 2017, 11:42:14 PM »
Good analysis and insights, Asteriktos.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 11:42:34 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #240 on: May 07, 2017, 12:24:20 AM »
In Saying #42:
Quote
Jesus said, "Become passers-by."
(Coptic version)
It's short and doesn't specify the meaning, so it raised for me the question of what it meant. A choir director told me once that "We are just passing through the world."

Note 1 Peter 2:11:
Quote
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,
He could be talking about Christians scattered abroad, but Philippians 3:20 has an idea of us being sojourners in the world:
Quote
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
A 12th c. author, Petrus Alphonsi, has in his Clerical Instruction: 'This world is, as it were, a bridge. Therefore, pass over it, only do not lodge there.'

F. F. Bruce writes:
Quote
"In other words, do not settle down here. These words are later ascribed to Jesus in some strands of Muslim tradition (although in other strands they are ascribed to Muhammad or to one of his companions). The most famous instance of their ascription to Jesus in Muslim tradition is on the main gateway of the mosque erected in 1601 at Fathpur-Sikri, south of Delhi, by the Moghul Akbar the Great; it bears the inscription: 'Jesus, on whom be peace, said: "This world is a bridge. Pass over it; but do not build your dwelling there."'" (Jesus and Christian Origens Outside the New Testament, p. 130)

Saying (47) goes:
Quote
Jesus said, "It is impossible for a man to mount two horses or to stretch two bows. And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters; otherwise, he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously.
I think it's unrelated, but it still brought to my mind the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem:

Quote
Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Matthew 21:5
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Matthew 21:7
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

Another new concept, in Sayings 48 & 106, was the idea of how two being united can work miracles:
Quote
(48) Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move Away,' and it will move away."
(106) Jesus said, "When you make the two one, you will become the sons of man, and when you say,  'Mountain, move away,' it will move away."
One question could be what "the mountain" refers to in the first saying. Perhaps "the mountain" refers to the big problem that the fighting people had. Or it could refer to the use of the idea of a generic mountain and mean that faith can move mountains. Some related verses are:
Quote
Matthew 18.19  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Mark 11.23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Saying 49 clearly promotes monasticism, and the part in 49-50 about coming from the light and the kingdom sounds unfamiliar:
Quote
(49) Jesus said, "Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return."

(50) Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"
Funk writes:
Quote
"Thomas 49 depicts Thomas Christians as those who have come into the world from another realm, to which they will one day return. This is a central tenet of the mythology of gnosticism." (The Five Gospels, p. 502)
I am not sure that being from outside the world is uniquely gnostic, since the earlier-cited quote from Philippians says we are citizens of another realm.
At the same time, the idea that the solitary and elect are from the kingdom sounds new to me, and I would be curious if it shows up in other sources. But it's interesting - in the NT Jesus is depicted as a father of Christians. So in a sense I can understand that a Christian writer really could talk about Christians as coming from the light.

The end of Saying 50 sounds strange:
Quote
Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"

One of Jesus' greetings was "peace", and an apocryphal saying ascribed to him was that a persona who "reigns" spiritually "will rest".
Robert M. Grant writes:
Quote
The 'rest' must be the rest characteristic of the kingdom (Sayings 1 [Greek], 52, 90); the 'movement' is ultimately that of the unmoved mover, according to the Naassenes (Hippolytus, Ref., 5, 7, 25)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, pp. 160-161)

Stevan Davies writes about this:
Quote
"The seven days of Genesis begin with the Spirit moving upon the waters, continue through six days of the movement of creation, and conclude with a day of repose. If the state of actualized humanity is that of the beginning--insofar as the beginning is movement and repose--then the sign of the Father in actualized humanity is the same." (http://www.misericordia.edu/users/davies/thomas/jblprot.htm)

Saying 51 appears to talk more about this "rest":
Quote
His disciples said to him: "On what day shall rest come to those who are dead, and on what day shall the new world come?" He said to them: "This <rest> that you wait for has (already) come, and you have not recognised it."
...
(Another translation)
His disciples said to him, "When will the repose of the dead come to pass, and when will the new world come?" He said to them, "That (repose) which you (plur.) are waiting for has come, but for your part you do not recognize it."

The concept of the dead finding rest could be reflected in Revelation 14:13:
Quote
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
It also brings to mind such mainstream Christian sayings as "With thy saints give rest Oh Lord" and "Rest in Peace".
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #241 on: May 07, 2017, 01:42:49 AM »
Someone mentioned a reasonable explanation of the end of Saying #13:
Quote
Thomas said to them, "If I say to you (plur.) one of the sayings that he said to me, you will take stones and stone me, and fire will come out of the stones and burn you up."
The first c. writer Josephus writes about how James, Jesus' brother, was thrown from the Temple wall and stoned. The physical Coptic text was found coming from the 4th c., and also in the 4th century there is a story of fire coming up from the Temple site when the Jews tried to rebuild it.

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #242 on: May 07, 2017, 10:47:06 PM »
Saying 53 says:
Quote
His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision beneficial or not?"
He said to them, "If it were beneficial, their father would beget them already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become completely profitable."
This is the kind of position that the patristic Church would endorse - the denial of circumcision's inherent benefit.
But this denial by Jesus is so direct and open that it seems much bolder than the kind of thing Jesus says about the Torah in the Gospel. It's true that Jesus seems to have a low view of following the Torah rituals strictly, eg. when his disciples gather grain on the Sabbath. He doesn't openly teach physical circumcision or demand the ritual purity rules of not touching the sick, the deceased, certain animals, those otherwise ritually impure, or women. Even the teaching that it's better for women to keep their heads covered only shows up in the NT in Paul's writings, IIRC.

So Saying 53 seems like the kind of thing Jesus could have said.

Marvin Meyer writes:
Quote
"According to a Jewish tradition, a governor of Judea once commented to Rabbi Akiba, 'If he (that is, God) takes such pleasure in circumcision, why then does not a child come circumcised from his mother's womb?'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 90-91)
Rabbi Akiba lived in 50-137 AD, so theoretically a Judean governor could have been one who picked up this saying from Christianity.

Saying 55 could sound strange, but it shows up in the Canonical gospels:
Quote
Jesus said, "Whoever does not hate his father and his mother cannot become a disciple to me. And whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me."

Matthew 10.37  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 10.38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Luke 14.26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 14.27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Another new, maybe odd sounding saying is in Saying 56:
Quote
Jesus says: "He who has known the world has fallen into a corpse; and he who has fallen into a corpse, the world is not worthy of him!"
Saying 80 is quite similar, but speaks of the world's body, rather than it as a corpse.

Hebrews 11:38 has the concept that the world is not worthy of the righteous:
Quote
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
The idea that the world is "dead" could show up in Jesus' saying in the gospels about being three days in the heart of the earth for the Passion. There is also the concept in Orthodoxy about being dead to the world and alive in Christ.

So in what sense, I wonder, does the person in the saying fall into a corpse, and does this concept show up in Orthodoxy?

The idea that the physical body was like a corpse, if that is what Saying 56 means, shows up in the Naassenes sect's beliefs:
Quote
F. F. Bruce writes: "... The Naassenes, according to Hippolytus, spoke of the spiritual body as a 'corpse'. [The reason for this strange use of 'corpse' was that the spiritual essence is 'buried' in the body as a corpse is buried in a tomb (Hippolytus, Refutation v.8.22).] But the analogy of Saying 111 ('as for him who finds himself, the world is not worthy of him') suggests that here 'corpse' means 'body' as used in the sense of 'self'. If so, we may have a cryptic parallel to the canonical saying about gaining the world and losing one's own self, or vice versa (Luke 9.24f.; Matthew 16.25f.), which follows a saying about denying self and taking up the cross (cf. Saying 55)." (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 135)
The distinction between the corrupt physical world and the spirit, the latter being good, was also a key theme in gnosticism.

Saying 57 brings up another issue that people might not have associated with Christianity:
Quote
Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a man who had good seed. His enemy came by night and sowed weeds among the good seed. The man did not allow them to pull up the weeds; he said to them, 'I am afraid that you will go intending to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them.' For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be plainly visible, and they will be pulled up and burned."
What it sounds like it is saying is that it's OK for those who have not grown to the extent of showing themselves to be mature heretics or enemies to be in the Christian community. That could sound like a proto-gnostic gospel saying that the church should allow proto-heretics.
This saying turns up though in Matthew 13.24:
Quote
Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 13.25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 13.26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 13.27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' 13.28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 13.29 But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 13.30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'

In Saying 60, the underlined part hints at the underlying meaning of the Saying:
Quote
(60) <They saw> a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea. He said to his disciples, "That man is round about the lamb."
They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it."
He said to them, "While it is alive, he will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse."
It is not normal to say that someone carrying an animal is round about it. So instead it shows up in the Saying that II Epistle of Clement ascribes to Jesus:
Quote
'The Lord said indeed: You shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves! Peter replied: And if the wolves rend the lambs? And Jesus said to Peter: After their death, the lambs have nothing further to fear from the wolves. You also, fear not those who kill you and cannot then make you suffer anything further.
So Saying 60 means that the lambs (righteous meek) are in the midst of enemies.
It also brings to mind the time in the NT that Jesus said not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. He is saying that the spiritual enemy doesn't eat the person until he has killed him spiritually and he becomes a corpse (speaking of the dead body).

Saying 61 and the Lukan passage resembling it are curious, especially the underlined parts:
Quote

 Jesus says: "Two will lie down there on one bed: one will die, the other will live." Salome says: "Who art thou, man; from whom hast thou <come forth,> that thou shouldst lie on my couch and eat at my table?" Jesus says to her: "I am he who has been brought into being by Him who is equal <to me:> I have been given what belongs to my Father!"
—"I am thy disciple!"
Because of that, I say this:
Quote
When <a person> finds himself solitary, he will be full of light; but when he finds himself divided, he will be full of darkness.

Luke 17
34  I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
35 There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left."
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37 And they said to him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
Luke 17 appears to describe apocalyptic Tribulations. The reference in Luke 17 to the eagles gathering to eat a body reminds me of the Romans, who battle standard was an eagle.

It looks like what the second underlined part about solitary vs. divided, light v darkness, would find analogous in the gospels is Matthew 6:22:
Quote
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Reclining at table was an ancient Judean practice, and in the gospels, Jesus is narrated as visiting people (including women's families) and being treated by them to dinner.

Funk proposes about Salome's words: <<This context is confirmed by the remark of Salome in v. 2: 'Who are you, mister? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table as if you are from someone.' Jesus is here represented as an intruder at a dinner party.">> (The Five Gospels, p. 507) Gerd Ludemann writes of 61:3: "Jesus comes from the One, who is equal. Jesus has a divine origin and is equal to God (cf. John 5.18)." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 620)

Sometimes a carrot is just a carrot, but references in the Saying and Lukan passages make me question whether there is an allusion to sexual union:
lying together on a bed/couch, two women grinding together, Jesus lying on Salome's couch and eating from her table, the necessity of being one and not divided.

Or if being two in bed with one left could be a reference to the departure of the soul from the body.

Or if
the two women "grinding" together refers to religious divisions. There is a narrative in Genesis 25 where two infants are literally "crushing"(ratsats) against each other in the womb.
Quote
21. Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.
22. But the children struggled (ratsats) together within her; and she said, "If it is so, why then am I this way?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
23. The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger."
This kind of theme in patristic Christianity referred to the division between the Church and the "older brother", the Jewish community.

Saying 62 brings up the issue of Jesus' saying about the left vs. right hand and it connects it to the fact that Jesus tells some things publicly and others privately:
Quote
Jesus says: "When I tell my mysteries to [. . .] mystery: [what] your right hand does, let your left hand not know <that> it does it."
Another translation:
Jesus said, "It is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I tell my mysteries. Do not let your left (hand) know what your right (hand) is doing."
Compare this with Luke 8.10:
Quote
he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

Some comments:
Quote
F. F. Bruce writes: "...The second sentence in the canonical tradition (Matthew 6.3) enjoins secrecy in generous giving; here it forbids the spreading of the esoteric doctrine beyond the privileged circle."
...
Note: there are no words mentioning any "hands" in the Coptic text. Left and right are inner parts.
- Tomer
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas/gospelthomas62.html


Parables analogous to Saying 64 are in the gospels, but the ending that is underlined is much stricter here:
Quote
(64) Jesus said, "A man had received visitors. And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests.
He went to the first one and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said, 'I have claims against some merchants. They are coming to me this evening. I must go and give them my orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.'
He went to another and said to him, 'My master has invited you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a house and am required for the day. I shall not have any spare time.'
He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'My friend is going to get married, and I am to prepare the banquet. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from the dinner.'
He went to another and said to him, 'My master invites you.' He said to him, 'I have just bought a farm, and I am on my way to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.'
The servant returned and said to his master, 'Those whom you invited to the dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his servant, 'Go outside to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to meet, so that they may dine.' Businessmen and merchants will not enter the places of my father."
It does actually show up in the Shepherd of Hermas.
In the gospel of Luke, chp 12, there is this saying:
Quote
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
It doesn't ban merchantry, only not being rich to God while being materially wealthy.

Saying 67 looks hard to translate because of different translations I found:
Quote

Jesus said, "If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient."

Another translation:
Jesus says: "He who knows the All, but has failed to know himself, has failed completely to know, <or: to find> the Place!"

Or:
Jesus said: He who knows the all, (but) fails (to know) himself, misses everything.
I wonder if it is possible to even take this Saying as something other than gnostic.
"Knowing God" is important in the NT Beatitudes, and Paul says in 1 Corinthians: "I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some of them."

It reminds me a bit in its structure of Mark 8:36: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"

Gerd Ludemann writes:
Quote
"The 'All' is a technical term which relates to the universe, embracing the earth and the cosmos (cf. 2.4; 77.1).
(Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 624)
So this raises the question if knowing the All refers to knowing God or to knowing the world, or both.
I think that in Orthodoxy there is an idea that Jesus as Logos holds the world together, is everywhere, is the first and the last, and his disciples without him "can do nothing at all." Still, I don't know where the All itself or the world itself could be said to actually be Jesus or the Logos, and that would feel pagan in theology.

Gerd Ludemann makes this proposal in a gnostic context:
Quote
Jesus is the light and at the same time the All. Whoever knows himself is Christ and himself becomes a person of light." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 624)

Funk sees it as a gnostic reference:
Quote
"The first clause may refer simply to one who is very knowledgeable - a know-it-all. In this case, the saying recalls the famous dictum of Socrates, 'Know thyself.' However, the word for 'all' is also a technical term in gnostic circles and refers to the whole of cosmic reality; it is usually translated as 'All,' with a capital A. Elsewhere in Thomas this term seems to carry this technical sense (note 2:4 and 77:1). The Fellows took the term here to be technical gnostic language also. They gave it a black designation as the result. Thomas 70 is a related saying." (The Five Gospels, p. 512)
The "dictum" mentioned above refers to the ancient Greek philosophical saying "Know thyself".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_thyself

My conclusion is that it seems like a version of Mark 8:36, where instead of gaining the world and losing oneself the Saying is talking about knowing the world and not knowing oneself. And so I would want to see if there is someplace in mainstream Christianity that says to "know oneself".

Romans 12 says:
Quote
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Haggai 1:5 says: "Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways."

Fr. Michael, an Antiochian priest, discusses this concept:
Quote
Blessed is the man who knows his own weakness....
St. Isaac the Syrian
...
I know that I easily judge others, often before I realize that I am doing it, so I watch myself closely. And this careful watching of the self lest I fall into the same trap that I always fall into, St. Isaac says, "treasures up watchfulness" which delivers a person "from the laxity that dims knowledge [of self and of God]." In this patristic pattern, it is not the overcoming of weaknesses that helps us grow in our relationship with God and love of neighbor (although that is a gradual byproduct of growth in godliness). It is rather our increasing watchfulness as we become more and more aware of our weaknesses that makes us aware of the Grace of God in our life, increasing our experiential knowledge of God and love of neighbor. 
http://holynativity.blogspot.com/2012/11/know-thyself.html

Saying 68 goes:
Jesus said, "Blessed are you when you are hated and persecuted. Wherever you have been persecuted they will find no place."

I thought this comment was helpful:
Quote
The place where men cast stones from is perilous itself. Look around & listen, you will see how easy it is for dark clouds to gather.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas/gospelthomas68.html
It reminds me of how in another Saying the stones with which Thomas could be stoned would burn his persecutors.

Saying 69 is not very clear to me:
Quote
Jesus said, "Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves. It is they who have truly come to know the father. Blessed are the hungry, for the belly of him who desires will be filled."
This can be related to Mt 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
Maybe the "persecution" could be like a purification or cleansing of the heart.

On the other hand, Marvin Meyer writes:
Quote
"In Who Is the Rich Man? 25, Clement of Alexandria asserts that 'the most difficult persecution is from within,' from pleasures and passions: 'The one being persecuted cannot escape it, for he carries the enemy around within himself everywhere.'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 96)

R. McL. Wilson suggests that this order could reflect the Naassenes' style:
Quote
"In both cases [68 and 69] Grant and Freedman see only development from our Gospels; if they are right it is interesting, in view of the Naassene tendency to reversal of order, to note that we have in logion 69 elements from Matthew v. 10, 8 and 6 in that sequence. (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, p. 81)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 10:47:36 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #243 on: May 08, 2017, 01:18:20 PM »
I think that what I gave earlier for a translation of Saying 56 could be wrong when I gave "fall into" a corpse. Here are two other translations:
Quote


BLATZ
(56) Jesus said: He who has known the world has found a corpse; and he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him.
   
LAYTON
(56) Jesus said, "Whoever has become acquainted with the world has found a corpse, and the world is not worthy of the one who has found the corpse."
This is related to Saying 80, below.

Saying 70 has:
Quote


There are quite different translations of this:

Jesus said, "That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves. That which you do not have within you will kill you if you do not have it within you."

Jesus says: "When you have something left to share among you, what you possess will save you. But if you cannot share [among you], that which you have not among you, that [ ... ? ... will ...] you.
Which translation do you find best?

Compare this with Mark 4:24-25
Quote
And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

Some scholars found it a gnostic version of Jesus' teachings, but it seems like maybe just a paraphrase of Mark 4.

Another translation issue shows up in Saying 72, a dialogue between a man and Jesus. The word in question has two translations among scholars:
Quote


A man said to him, "Tell my brothers to divide my father's possessions with me."
He said to him, "O man, who has made me a divider?"
He turned to his disciples and said to them, "I am not a divider, am I?"

Or:
Some person [said] to him, "Tell my siblings to share my father's possessions with me." He said to that person, "My good fellow, who has made me into an arbitrator?" He turned to his disciples and said to them, "So am I an arbitrator?"

Compare with Luke 12:
Quote
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

Robert M. Grant write: "The final question is added by Thomas. Jesus is not really a divider (in spite of Sayings 16, 56, and 98); he comes to restore man's lost unity." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 175)

Saying 74 is a man's words to Jesus. It has a divergence in translations as to whether the well is empty of people or of water:
Quote


(74) He said, "O Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the cistern."

OR:
He said: Lord, there are many about the well, but no one in the well.

Gerd Ludemann writes:
Quote
"This ... has an equivalent in the anti-Christian philosopher Celsus (c. 180 CE), who read it in a writing with the title 'Heavenly Dialogue'. It was in circulation among the Gnostic group of the Ophites (serpent worshippers). There it runs, 'Why are there many around the well and no one in the well?' Evidently the aphorism is meant to encourage the Gnostic to stop being a bystander and enter, in order also to be able to drink the water of knowledge." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 627)

The talk about a well in a spiritual sense comes up in John 4 with Jesus' dialogue to a woman at a well:
John 4
Quote
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
...
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

2 Peter 2 complains about false prophets:
"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever."

If Saying 74 means there is nothing in the well, then the complaint would make sense. But to complain that there are no people in the well would not make much sense, since being in a well is dangerous and dirties the drinking water. I don't know how to translate the Coptic, whether the Ophite Dialogue was translated correctly, or if this saying was limited to gnostics. If so, maybe this is just a senseless gnostic saying.

Saying (75) is another endorsement of solitude:
Quote
Jesus said, "Many are standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber."
Compare it with:
Mt 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
It seems like the Thomas Sayings have some revisions of Jesus' sayings that make him endorse solitude more. It seems like Jesus could approve of lone hermits because of the prophets being that way in the OT, but to have so many such strong endorsements in ways that could rewrite known sayings seems more like revisions than direct quotes from Jesus.

Saying 77 helps clear up the meaning of The All in Saying 67, as a reference to panentheism:
Quote
Jesus said, "It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."
Here, Jesus is separate from the cosmos, above the cosmos, in the cosmos, and he is the cosmos.
Further, I think that "the All" is not just the world, the Creation, but also reality itself.

It's true that John's Gospel has Jesus being throughout the Cosmos, which he created, but I am not sure that this makes him to also be the cosmos that he created:
Quote
Jn 1:3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
Jn 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
1 Cor 8 says the same thing as the verses in John above:
Quote
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
There is similar language in Colossians 3:11, but that verse I think just refers to Christians:
Quote
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

The concept does show up in Acts of Peter, Chapter XXXIX: 'Thou art the All, and the All is in thee, and thou art! And there is nothing else that exists, except thou alone!'

What is especially interesting there is that the Acts of Peter were written in opposition to the gnostic Simon Magus, which suggests that the concept of Jesus being the All might not be particularly gnostic. On the other hand, equating Jesus with "The All" is not something that I found in the gospels and has a pantheistic feel (even if Jesus is still considered to be separate from the All as well). What do you think?

Saying 80 has a few different translations:
Quote

BLATZ
(80) Jesus said: He who has known the world has found the body; and he who has found the body, the world is not worthy of him.

LAYTON
(80) Jesus said, "Whoever has become acquainted with the world has found the body, and the world is not worthy of the one who has found the body."
   
DORESSE
Jesus says: "He who has known the world has fallen into the body, and he who has fallen into the body, the world is not worthy of him."
That is, by realizing the limited, material world for what it is, one becomes superior to it, and the same is true for the material human body, which is part of the material world.

Saying 82 goes:
Quote
Jesus says: "He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the Kingdom."

It resembles St Ignatius' words to the Smyrnaeans:
Quote
'Why have I given myself up to death, to fire, to sword, to wild beasts? But near sword is near god, with wild beasts is with God.'

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 88.3, says: 'When Jesus went down into the water a fire was kindled in the Jordan.'
The Gospel of the Ebionites says that they saw a light at His baptism.

Funk and Hoover write:
Quote
"This saying is also known from later writers such as Origen . . . However, the aphorism is thought by many scholars to approximate the proverb of Aesop: 'Whoever is near to Zeus is near the thunderbolt.' To approach the divine is to risk danger. Some of the Fellows [of the Jesus Seminar] were attracted by the short, aphoristic nature of the saying and its reference to the Father's domain. On the other hand, assigning popular sayings to Jesusis a common practice of the early Christian community. Further, Jesus speaks here of himself in rather exalted terms, as though he were equal to God. This aspect suggested to the Fellows an early Christian origin." (The Five Gospels, pp. 517-518)
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #244 on: May 08, 2017, 05:41:07 PM »
Saying 83 is a bit convoluted, depending on the translation:
Quote
Jesus said, "The images are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image of the light of the father. He will become manifest, but his image will remain concealed by his light."
Or:
Jesus says: "Images are visible to man, but the light which is in them is hidden. In the image of the light of the Father, it <this light> will be revealed, and his image will be veiled by his light."
This is related to the story in Genesis 1-2 where God makes Man in his image.

Jean Doresse writes:
Quote
"The doctrine of images is of Platonic origin; they are the models or primordial unattainable ideas, which exist in the mind of God. Here, however, it is the images which are visible, while the light which is within them is invisible. It becomes visible, however, through the Father's light, while his image remains veiled by his light." (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 377)

When it says: "In the image of the light of the Father, it <this light> will be revealed, and his image will be veiled by his light", the image of the Father could be Jesus, the man who is Son of God on earth.

The Gnostic Gospel of Phillip says (part 67): 'The truth did not come naked into the world, but came in types and images. It (= the world) will not (be able to) receive it otherwise.'

Saying 84 is also related:
Quote
Jesus says: "Now, when you see your appearance, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into being before you, which do not die and do not show themselves, how will you be able to bear such greatness?"
It goes back to Genesis 1: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:"

R. McL. Wilson writes:
Quote
"Like Irenaeus and some other Fathers, Thomas distinguishes between the 'image' and the 'likeness' in Genesis i. 26. Man on earth possesses only the likeness; the iamge (for Thomas) is his heavenly counterpart, the pattern on which he was made. Now we see only the likeness, as in a mirror (Doresse quotes 1 Cor. xiii. 12, 2 Cor. iii. 18), but when Christ shall appear we shall be like Him (1 John iii. 2)...  Logion 24 speaks of the light that is in a man of light (cf. Matt. v. 14, vi. 22-23), logion 50 of the disciples (or the Gnostics) as coming from the Light, and the Pistis Sophia (chaps. 2-6) of a light descending upon Jesus, so bright that the disciples were blinded and could not see Him. Christ is the image of God (Col. i. 15 etc.), and Paul speaks of 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor. iv. 4, 6, quoted by Grant and Freedman). Colossians iii. 3 speaks of our life as 'hid with Christ in God,'
 (Studies in the Gospel of Thomas, pp. 108-109)

I wonder if this underlined part about the prexistant images of people can be found in mainstream Christianity.
Man is made in the image of God's likeness in Genesis 1, but that is not the same as saying that God's images are man's.

Funk and Hoover write: "This saying is closely related to Thomas 83 and reflects the same early Christian attempt to employ Platonic categories. Some gnostics believed that each person has a heavenly twin, or image, which never perishes, but which awaits the moment of death, when the gnostic's soul is reunited with that twin." (The Five Gospels, p. 518)

Gerd Ludemann writes: "This verse introduces the eternal heavenly likenesses to which the readers have not yet become assimilated. Thomas raises the question how long the readers can bear it, i.e. can be reminded of their earthly existence, without failing." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 632)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 05:41:20 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #245 on: May 09, 2017, 02:02:46 PM »
I don't get Saying 56. Saying 77 is to me the most fascinating and debatable quote of this book.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #246 on: May 09, 2017, 03:23:05 PM »
I don't get Saying 56.
For this, note that other translations say:
"(56) Jesus said: He who has known the world has found a corpse; and he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him."

It is comparing this world to a corpse and saying that if you know what the physical material world really is, you will find it to be a corpse, dead matter. And someone who realizes that will be holy, distinct from the world, and thus this dead world with its sin is not worthy of this holy person.

See for example where Jesus predicts that the Son of Man will be three days in the heart of the earth, referring to his passion. In what way does "the heart of the earth" refer to his passion or death? It seems that the Bible verse is suggesting that the earth is dead, sinful, or suffering.

Notice also where Jesus says in one Bible story "Let the dead bury the dead".

Saying 77 is to me the most fascinating and debatable quote of this book.
Alot of gnosticism seems to be concepts from Polytheism. Things that were known to have been held by pagan Polytheists like Zoroastrians and Hindus before Christianity was spread to them. I think some scholars get it wrong when they think that gnosticism just started in the 1st century AD with a Christian sect going off the reservation, so to speak.

And so with the Gospel of Thomas, one of the things to look out for is whether the sayings are gnostic/polytheistic, etc. or can be found in Christianity.

With pantheism, God is the same exact thing as Reality or the World. Pantheism is Advaita ("Not two") Hinduism, meaning that God and the world are not two different things.

In Genesis 1 and IIRC Proverbs, God existed before the primordial waters of Creation. He existed before Matter. God is "the existing one" and "the becoming one" in Hebrew. It seems that, in a sense, before the Cosmos was created, God could be all of existence, as he alone existed and the world did not.

Saying 77 might not be strictly pantheistic. With Saying 77, God is not just "The All" (reality), he is also above reality, which he created. To be strictly pantheistic and Advaita, one would assert that God is the same as the All and no different from the All.

And then we have the fact that one of the main themes of the Acts of Peter is that Peter is fighting Simon Magus the gnostic, and Peter's last words in Chapter XXXIX include: 'Thou art the All, and the All is in thee, and thou art! And there is nothing else that exists, except thou alone!'
(http://gnosis.org/library/actpete.htm)
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 03:32:02 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #247 on: May 09, 2017, 05:00:58 PM »
Saying 85 goes:
Quote
(85) Jesus said, "Adam came into being from a great power and a great wealth, but he did not become worthy of you. For had he been worthy, he would not have experienced death."
Adam came into being from God's power, but having sinned he was not equal in righteousness to Christians, whose sins were cleansed. Were Adam been sinless, this would have only been before the Fall, and Paul writes that with the Fall, death entered the world.

Marvin Meyer sees the reference to "power" as something in gnosticism and Philo's Judaism:
Quote
"On 'great power' compare Acts 8:9-10, which refers to Simon the Magician, who was said to be 'the power of God that is called great.' The Nag Hammadi tractate Concept of Our Great Power also discusses the 'great power,' the Secret Book of John alleges that Yaldabaoth took 'great power' from his mother, Wisdom, and magical texts likewise employ the phrase 'great power' to refer to a supernatural force. In the tractate On the Creation of the World 148, Philo uses the same Greek word for 'power' (dynamis) that is used in the Coptic text of Gospel of Thomas saying 85 when he suggests that 'there was probably a surpassing power about that first human.'" (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, pp. 100-101)

Saying 87
sounds confusing:
Quote
(87) Jesus said, "Wretched is the body that depends upon a body. And wretched is the soul that depends upon these two."
But Macarius of Syria's Homily 1.11 helps to clear this up:
Quote
"Damn (or, Shame on) the body whenever it remains fixed in its own nature, because it becomes corrupt and dies. And damn (or, shame on) the soul if it remains fixed only in its own nature and relies only upon its own works, not having communion with the divine spirit, because it dies, not having been considered worthy of the eternal life of divinity."

Jean Doresse writes:
Quote
"No doubt this is to be explained by Luke IX, 57-60 and Matt. VIII, 21-2: 'Let the dead bury the dead.' In this case, 'the body which depends on a body' is a living person who, through care for earthly obligations, wishes to bury his dead person. 'The soul which depends on these two' is the soul of such a person, a living body depending on a dead body." (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, p. 377)

Saying  88 goes:
Quote
Jesus says: "The angels and prophets are coming to you; they will give you the things that belong to you. You, give them what you possess, and say: 'When will they come and take what is theirs?'"
This could be related to Luke 12.20
Quote
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Angels like Michael in apocryphal literature came to take people's souls to bring them to heaven, and the paragraph in Luke refers to a parable about a rich man who dies and his soul is brought to the afterlife.

On the other hand, "angels" in Greek means messengers, and the apostles were considered messengers and early Christianity had wandering "prophets". They gave holy messages to people and it was expected that some provisions would be given to the apostles in return by the audience.

In Saying (89),
Quote
Jesus said, "Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Do you not realize that he who made the inside is the same one who made the outside?"
God made both the inside and outside of a person (body and spirit), so one should clean both, not just focusing on the outside.

Note Luke 11:39
Quote
Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?

Saying (92) has:
Quote
Jesus said, "Seek and you will find. Yet, what you asked me about in former times and which I did not tell you then, now I do desire to tell, but you do not inquire after it."
I wondered what it was that they were asking Jesus and he didn't tell them before, but that he wants to tell them now but they stopped asking.

John 16:45 seems to give the answer:
"Those things I did not tell you from the beginning when I was with you. Now I am going to the one who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'"

They may have been asking where he came from. In the gospels, the crowds ask where Jesus got his knowledge, but Jesus didn't announce directly and openly that he had divine wisdom from God Himself. But then nearer to the Passion, he wanted to talk about this, but they weren't asking about his fate.

After reading the similar Bible verses I get a better sense of Saying (96):
Quote
Jesus said, "The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman. She took a little leaven, concealed it in some dough, and made it into large loaves. Let him who has ears hear."
Compare:
Quote
Mt 13:33 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

Lk 13:20-21 Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

Saying 97 goes:
Quote
Jesus said: The kingdom of the [Father] is like a woman carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking [on a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke (and) the meal poured out behind her on the road. She was unaware, she had not noticed the misfortune. When she came to her house, she put the jar down (and) found it empty.
The message could be to stay attentive and not lose what's important, such as one's spirit or saving teachings.

This reminds me of the story of sowing seeds along the fields and road as a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, where the seeds are the holy teachings and people. A vessel is compared to a person's body in the NT. The meal could be the spiritual information or the spirit.

Marvin Meyer writes:
Quote
"'Macarius' of Syria tells a somewhat similar story of a bag full of sand that is leaking out through a tiny hole in the bag." (The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, p. 103)

I talked about Saying 98 before:
Quote
Jesus said: The kingdom of the Father is like a man who wanted to kill a powerful man. He drew the sword in his house and drove it into the wall, that he might know his hand would be strong (enough). Then he slew the powerful man.
It resembles the parable in the Bible where a robber binds a powerful man to steal his possessions, a reference maybe to an exorcist binding the devil to take the possessed from his power.

Another parallel could be Luke 14:31:
Quote
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
This verse in Luke is talking about a king who prepares to take on another king in battle. The battle with Satan is considered a spiritual battle.

The ending of Saying (100) is in addition to what we find in the canonical gospels:
Quote
They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to him, "Caesar's men demand taxes from us."
He said to them, "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give God what belongs to God, and give me what is mine."
Some scholars see in this a reference to gnosticism, where God is seen as inferior to Jesus. They notice that Jesus is listed separately from God and that this Saying is the only place where "God" proper is named in the Gospel of Thomas. To this I can add that I read that reverse order was a feature of the Naassene sect, and here three powers are listed: Caesar, God, and Jesus, with Jesus listed last and the weakest (Caesar) listed first.

I do notice that Saying 73 mentions "The Lord": "Jesus said, 'The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Beseech the Lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest.'" The Lord refers to God, to whom the Christians pray to send apostles like laborers to the harvest.
Praying to God would go against gnostic opposition to the Old Testament demiurge God, if "God" is supposed to mean the demiurge in Saying 100. So we have a dilemma: Either Saying 100 isn't actually gnostically separating Jesus from God, or else if it is, then Saying 73, with its prayers to the Lord must have an origin that precedes the Gospel of Thomas' possible gnosticism.

Helmut Koester gives a simpler, non-gnostic explanation: "The last phrase in Thomas ('and give me what is mine'), on the other hand, is a later expansion emphasizing the commitment to Jesus." (Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 112) I wonder if the end of Saying 100 shows that this Gospel is gnostic, particularly Naassene.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 05:02:40 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #248 on: May 10, 2017, 12:28:27 AM »
I don't get Saying 56. Saying 77 is to me the most fascinating and debatable quote of this book.

Why are you trying to "get" it? When and how did you decide it could be got?
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #249 on: May 10, 2017, 12:33:03 AM »
I don't get Saying 56.

Why are you trying to "get" it? When and how did you decide it could be got?
I sympathize with what you are saying. A lot of the gnostic stuff is puzzling, confusing. Part of this is because the ancient mystery religions, and even ancient pagan polytheism have a lot of unfamiliar ideas. However, some of the verse's meaning clears up after one reads different scholars' explanations of it.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #250 on: May 10, 2017, 02:45:36 AM »
Maybe someone has a guess for what the writer meant by "he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him", it sounds (purposely) contradictory with the first part of the quote.
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #251 on: May 10, 2017, 05:27:20 AM »
Maybe someone has a guess for what the writer meant by "he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him", it sounds (purposely) contradictory with the first part of the quote.
Hello, Rapha.
The saying goes:
Quote
(56) Jesus said:
He who has known the world
has found a corpse; and
he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him.
(A) To know what the world really is entails understanding that the physical, material world is dead.
The Soul & Spirit vs. Matter & Body dualism was a major theme in gnosticism. But it has also been a theme to some extent in Christianity. The world by itself without spirit or God or souls would just be dead. In the gospels, Jesus predicts that he will be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. This referred to his passion and suffering, and so the phrase "heart of the earth" in this context suggests that the earth was dead. Contrast it with Jesus' saying about Lazarus who in the after life went to the "heart of Abraham".

(B) Once you understand that the world is dead matter, then you have found that this dead world is a corpse. A corpse is something dead.

(C) Someone who finds the world to be a corpse is the person I mentioned in A and B. The person has acquired important spiritual knowledge when he discovered the corpse (ie. the world). Previously, he was living in the world but didn't recognize it to be a corpse. But then he found that it was a corpse, so he achieved the spiritual knowledge of Spirit and Life vs. World and Death.

(D) The person described in A,B, and C is a spiritual person. So the dead world is not worthy of such a spiritual person who has achieved the right understanding.

This is what I take the passage of Saying 56 to mean. There are other scholars who have tried to solve the riddle.
https://www.google.com/search?q=%22saying+56%22+thomas+corpse&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Charles Hedrick proposes in his book Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel of Thomas that it means:
Quote
"the world is a dead place, a place bereft of life and light and hence unworthy of anyone who has come to know the world for what it really is (cf Heb 11:37-38)"
In Hebrews 11, Paul writes about the suffering of the righteous Israelite prophets in Old Testament times and how the world was not worthy of them:
Quote
37. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38. (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman give a different interpretation than I mentioned, and they could be right, based on the context:
Quote
write: "Knowing the world is equivalent to finding a corpse (or, in the parallel Saying 80, a body); this knowledge and this discovery are evidently regarded as good, for the world is not worthy of the discoverer (cf., Hebrews 11:38, and page 77). Knowing the world, then, must be truly knowing it for what it is. But we must also consider one more saying (109). The world is not worthy of the one 'who will find himself.' We conclude that Saying 57 [56], like these variants we have cited, is based on the verse which in Matthew (10:39; cf., Mark 8:34-35) follows the verses cited in Saying 56 [55]. 'He who finds his soul [life] will lose it, and he who loses his soul for my sake will find it.' Either Thomas simply mystifies his readers by speaking of a corpse or he uses 'corpse' as the equivalent for 'body' and hence for 'self.' The Naassenes used 'corpse' of the spiritual man (Hippolytus, Ref., 5, 8, 22)." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 164)

What they are proposing is that the Gospel of Thomas Sayings 55-56 are a version of Matthew 10 and Mark 6, and this ties in with the verses in Hebrews 11. I will cite them next to eachother to show you what I mean:
Quote
Sayings 55-56
Jesus said: He who does not hate his father and his mother cannot be a disciple to me. And (he who does not) hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross like me, will not be worthy of me.
Jesus said: He who has known the world has found a corpse; and he who has found a corpse, the world is not worthy of him.

Matthew 10
37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
In Matthew, people who find their lives lose it, but those who suffer and lose their lives for Jesus' sake become corpses, and as Hebrews 11 says, the world is not worthy of those righteous martyrs.

So Saying 56 looks like a version of those verses from Matthew 10 and Hebrews 11.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 05:28:25 AM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #252 on: May 10, 2017, 01:11:24 PM »
How long is this exercise going to go on? "How does blasphemous forgery make sense in orthodox terms?" This is what people used to have the vocabulary to call an exercise in futility.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #253 on: May 10, 2017, 01:15:40 PM »
How long is this exercise going to go on? "How does blasphemous forgery make sense in orthodox terms?" This is what people used to have the vocabulary to call an exercise in futility.

All stones must be turned. 
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #254 on: May 10, 2017, 01:26:58 PM »
Somehow, in Rakovsky's case, I get a visual of someone turning over marbles. And saying with each rotation, "I've found the flat spot" and giving a paragraph of description.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #255 on: May 10, 2017, 03:52:22 PM »
How long is this exercise going to go on? "How does blasphemous forgery make sense in orthodox terms?" This is what people used to have the vocabulary to call an exercise in futility.
Hello, Porter.
Christianity is inspiring for me, and so I want to look at the earliest writings by and about the Christians from all sides involved. So in the OP I listed accepted writings, writings with mixed acceptance, gnostic and pagan writings. I wanted to understand what they were saying, and also compare and contrast it with the Orthodox views. In the case of the Gospel of Thomas, which I don't find to be a precise, very reliable list of Christ's sayings, one thing that I find new and worthwhile is the instances when they line up with sayings in Early Church Fathers that I didn't know about.

So for example, when I see in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, "Blessed are they who have been persecuted within themselves. It is they who have truly come to know the father. Blessed are the hungry, for the belly of him who desires will be filled", it brings me to Clement of Alexandria, when he explained about Who Is the Rich Man that 'the most difficult persecution is from within,' from pleasures and passions. So it brings special attention to Clement of Alexandria statement and how this concept was already present among the early Christians in the first and second generation of Christians.

It's true that reviewing, questioning, and criticising these apocryphal materials is like not leaving a stone or marble unturned, but that carefulness reflects how interesting apostolic-era Christianity is for me. There's also a fair amount of Orthodox writings in English and Russian carefully reviewing and criticizing the early apocryphal writings, and the Church fathers themselves did this, so I think that it has value.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 04:24:42 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #256 on: May 10, 2017, 04:05:09 PM »
After the Gospel of Thomas, I wish to look at another four gnostic writings, along with 1st century nonChristian, non-gnostic writings like Josephus', Seneca's, and Epictetus' that you mentioned. If it's outside the bounds of the Faith Issues section, I could continue it in another section.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 04:07:21 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #257 on: May 10, 2017, 07:42:08 PM »
The Gospel of Thomas' Saying 101 has a translation issue: whether it includes the word "but" in the last sentence:
Quote


DORESSE translation
"He who has not, like me, detested his father and his mother cannot be my disciple; and he who has loved h[is father a]nd his mother as much as he loves me cannot be my disciple. My mother, indeed, has ______ because in truth she gave me life."

LAYTON translation
<Jesus said>, "Those who do not hate their [father] and their mother as I do cannot be [disciples] of me. And those who [do not] love their [father and] their mother as I do cannot be [disciples of] me. For my mother _____ But my true ______ gave me life."
One possibility I see is that the ending could be explaining that the Theotokos qualifies as loving Jesus as much as herself, because she gave him life. The other possibility that I see, if the word "but" is used, is that He is saying that His true mother is the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit is described in some early church writings.

The passage reminds me of Matthew 10, 12 & 13:
Quote
36. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
...
47. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
48. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
49. And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
50. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
...
54. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55. Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57. And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

It also reminds me of Mark 12:
Quote
21 And when those belonging to him heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.
...
31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.
32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?
34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

In Luke 1, Mary is called Blessed for giving birth to Jesus.
On the other hand, in his commentary on John 1.1–3, Origen points to Matthew 12.50, "which says that all who do the will of the Father are the brothers, sisters, and mother of Jesus. By arguing this also applies to the divine world, he reasons the Holy Spirit is called Mother because she has done the will of the Father." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Hebrews)

In Saying 105:
Quote
Jesus says: "He who knows father and mother shall he be called: Son of a harlot!"?
I took this to mean that when someone knows that their relatives are those who do the Heavenly Father's will, and treats and talks about their family the way that he does about their earthly family, the person's opponents will label him "Son of a harlot" for disengaging from his family this way.

The Saying relates to the pharisees' denunciation of Jesus in John 8:
Quote
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abrahams children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

Saying (107) does not seem as good as its parallel in Matthew to me because of the underlined part:
Quote
Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine sheep and looked for that one until he found it. When he had gone to such trouble, he said to the sheep, 'I care for you more than the ninety-nine.'"

Matthew 18
12 What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
It seems to me that Jesus cares for both the sinners and the saved as much, but that there is more rejoicing over finding someone who was lost. I understand that the largest sheep can make the most joy, but I don't know why the largest one would go astray. I could for example, see Peter being the largest of Jesus' sheep and him going astray with the threefold denial of Jesus during the Passion. Or the reference to it being large could just be a gnostic writer trying to rationalize why this sheep could cause more joy than others.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #258 on: May 10, 2017, 07:47:10 PM »
In re 101 -- the 'de' is clearly there and not in contention. The other textual problems, however, seem insuperable -- so all the more curious you noticed none of them. But caesuras are just as well when the message of the author is blasphemous contradiction of the Evangelists.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 07:49:05 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #259 on: May 10, 2017, 07:51:33 PM »
In re 101 -- the 'de' is clearly there and not in contention.
Thanks, Porter.
I found Strong's entry on De in Greek:
http://biblehub.com/greek/1161.htm
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #260 on: May 10, 2017, 08:34:04 PM »
In re 101 -- the 'de' is clearly there and not in contention.
Thanks, Porter.
I found Strong's entry on De in Greek:
http://biblehub.com/greek/1161.htm

Now this is chutzpah.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #261 on: May 11, 2017, 11:59:14 AM »
I wonder if Saying 108 could refer to a gnostic kissing ritual:
Quote
Jesus said, "He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him."
...
Jesus says: "He who drinks from my mouth will become like me. As for me, I will become what he is, and what is hidden will be revealed to him."
But the main meaning I get is that it refers to taking in Jesus' words that come from his mouth.
By comparison, Revelation says that a sword came from Jesus' mouth, and Odes of Solomon 30:1,5 says that living water comes from the Lord's lips.

Saying (109) is a version of Matthew 13:44, but it adds a part about lending at interest:
Quote
Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a man who had a hidden treasure in his field without knowing it. And after he died, he left it to his son. The son did not know (about the treasure). He inherited the field and sold it. And the one who bought it went plowing and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."

Matt 13:44
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Robert M. Grant writes:
Quote
"It might mean that the kingdom which the Jews, or people in general, could have known was given to others [cf. Mt 8:11-12, Lk 13:29] . . . The 'lending at interest' at the end of the story would then be spiritual, for taking interest is rejected in Saying 92. On the other hand, it might mean that unless you look for the treasure within your own field it will pass to others who will profit from it." (The Secret Sayings of Jesus, p. 194)

Funk and Hoover make an interesting claim:
Quote
"In Matthew, by covering up the treasure and buying the field, the man deceives the original owner. But he sells all his possessions in order to acquire the field with the hidden treasure. In Thomas' version, the ultimate purchaser of the field launches a despicable occupation: moneylender. Thomas 92 specifically prohibits moneylending as an acceptable practice. In both versions of the parable, the treasure comes into the possession of someone with dubious moral credentials. This is comparable to the behavior of the shrewd manager in another of Jesus' parables (Luke 16:1-8a), who swindles his master in order to provide for his own future. Surprising moves such as this, in which Jesus employs a dubious moral example, appear to be characteristic of Jesus' parable technique." (The Five Gospels, p. 530)
What do you think of this observation?

Saying 110 goes:
Quote
Jesus said, "Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world."
Finding the world can refer to discovering the world's true nature as dead, and becoming rich can mean being spiritually rich. So it says to renounce the world.

I wonder if Saying 111 refers to the Apocalypse:
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Jesus said, "The heavens and the earth will be rolled up in your presence. And the one who lives from the living one will not see death." Does not Jesus say, "Whoever finds himself is superior to the world?"
Revelation 6 says:
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And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

Compare this with Heb 1:10-12:
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And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
And also Isaiah 34:4.

Saying 110 also reminds me of Mark 9:1:
Quote
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
Scholars debate whether this refers to the second coming or to the Transfiguration.
I am inclined to think it means the Transfiguration. This is because unlike the Olivet Discourse, it does not include a discussion about how the world ends. And second, it is followed by the narrative of the Transfiguration, which Peter and John who were in Jesus' audience witnessed. So the other explanation could be that Saying 110 about the one who lives from the living won't see death is an allegory.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 11:59:42 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #262 on: May 11, 2017, 03:04:01 PM »
^Correction: in the last two paragraphs above, I meant Saying 111, not Saying 110.

Saying 112 goes:
Quote
Jesus said: Woe to the flesh that depends on the soul; woe to the soul that depends on the flesh.
I know the saying of Jesus from the gospels: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". So I can see that the soul is at a disadvantage if it relies on the flesh. But what is the problem with the flesh relying on the soul?

Stephen J. Patterson in his book "The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Origins" wrote that the Gospel of Thomas' authors:
Quote
would have read Genesis 2:7 and seen there the echoes of Plato's anthropology: that a person consists of both a body and a soul conjoined in an oft-troubled mixture (Thomas 87; 112) but that each person also posses a spirit (pneuma), a piece of the divine dwelling as a resident alien within the mortal human being (Thomas 29).
This reminds me that in Saying 112, it talks about the relationship between the soul and flesh, whereas Biblically there are three distinguishable concepts: spirit, soul, and flesh. This doesn't seem to clear up the problem for me. Maybe this work is just proposing its own strict dualism where the flesh and soul shouldn't be dependant on each other. I am not familiar with any place in Christian literature that says that the flesh shouldn't be dependent on the soul, only the other way around - the soul shouldn't be dependent on the flesh.

Saying 113 goes:
Quote
His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
<Jesus said,> "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
This kind of statement has been seen by some as gnostic because it says that the kingdom is here now, but is not "seen" (known) as such, whereas the conventional Christian understanding is that the kingdom will arrive at the future Second Coming. However, in reality both concepts of the Kingdom's present status and future arrival can be found in the gospels.

For example, Luke 17:20 has:
Quote
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 17:21 nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you."

Some scholars claim that Saying 114 is spurious, but I am unaware of any basis that they have for this other than it could run against an earlier Saying, is placed at the end of the text, and that the Coptic version sometimes changes things from the Greek one and moves things around:
Quote
Simon Peter said to them, "Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "See, I am going to attract her to make her male so that she too might become a living spirit that resembles you males. For every female (element) that makes itself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."
Saying 22 talks about entering the Kingdom "when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female".
However, just because two Sayings could be in conflict doesn't mean that only one of them is authentic to the document. The writer could in his mind harmonize the two concepts. For example, maybe he thinks that the male in the kingdom is not male in an earthly physical sense and that the male and female both become spiritually male. Men were figures of authority in the Old Testament, they were doers, hunters, warriors, priests, prophets, public figures, leaders, kings, writers. There were however some Biblical stories about righteous women like Sarah, Naomi, Ruth and Esther.

In Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching, Maurice Casey notes that
Quote
such notions [as rejection of womanhood and a woman returning to a primal perfection of androgyny] are found in Gnosticism of the second and third centuries. This saying also reflects ascetic practices in which women sought to appear more like men. Some cut their hair... dressed like men and entered monasteries as male monks. These customs were found among Christians who were not gnostics.
I am not aware of anyplace that Tradition considers Mary Magdalene or any other woman a disciple or apostle. I do think that there were women who learned from Jesus during his ministry, since the NT says that he stayed as guests of different women or had special preaching to them like the woman at the well. I think that there was an idea in ancient Jewish society that unrelated men and women were not supposed to fraternize or touch, and Jesus violated this custom by doing so.

So this Saying could be referencing conflict between male apostles who didn't want women near Jesus as Jesus' disciples or close audience, like how in the Gospels at one point the disciples want to keep children away and Jesus says "Let the little children come to me". Or it could be referencing conflict from a gnostic POV between mainstream Christianity and gnostic sects who had women figures.

It's true that Gal. 3:26-28 says: "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.... There is neither... male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ", not "You are all sons and daughters of God". But I don't want to make too much out of that.

Robert M. Grant writes in The Secret Sayings of Jesus:
Quote
As in the Gospel of Mary (pages 17-18 of the papyrus) and in Pistis Sophia (chapter 146), Simon Peter is not enthusiastic about the presence of Mariham (mentioned in Saying 21), just as in John 4:27 the disciples of Jesus are amazed because he is speaking with a woman. ... Ignatius of Antioch says that when he receives the pure light he will 'become a man' (Romans, 6, 2). ... We might be tempted to take this notion [of women becoming men] symbolically were it not for the existence of Gnostic parallels, for example in the Gospel of Mary (page 9), in Clement of Alexandria (Excerpta ex Theodoto 21, 3), and among the Naassenes.

He writes in Gnosticism & Early Christianity:
Quote
Indeed, Jesus says of Mary (presumably Mary Magdalene, as in most Gnostic revelations) that he will make her a male so that she may become a 'living spirit' like the male apostles: 'for every woman who makes herself a man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven' (114/112). According to the Naassenes, spiritual beings will come to 'the house of God'; there they will cast off their garments and all of them will become bridegrooms, having been made male by the virginal Spirit. [Hippolytus Ref. V. 8. 44.]
The question that this raises is: How much status can we reliably say that Mary Magdalene had during Jesus' ministry? It's true that Mary saw Jesus at the tomb in the gospels, that she and other women were myrrhbearers at the tomb, that a woman who anointed Jesus' feet before his Passion was especially honored, that he cast from Mary Magdalene seven demons. One can guess that he taught her specially just like he taught other women who are specially mentioned in the gospels. It's hard for me to say more than that.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 03:08:34 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #263 on: May 12, 2017, 02:48:40 PM »
Some scholars see the Epistle of Eugnostos the Blessed as just gnostic, not Christian:
Quote
The text is devoid of any specifically Christian themes or associations, and simply describes the esoteric cosmology of the gnostics. The similarity with the cosmology in Sophia of Jesus Christ led Douglas M. Parrott to conclude that that work was an adaption of this Epistle for a Christian audience.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_of_Eugnostos

Madeleine Scopello writes,
Quote
In Greek, eugnostos is an adjective composed of eu, 'good' or 'well,' and gnostos, 'known,' and so Eugnostos means 'well known,' 'familiar' (cf. Plato Lysias, frag. 17.3) or even 'easy to understand' (cf. Plato Sophist 218e). ...
Here in the title of our text, this adjective is treated as a proper name, indicating the name of the author of the tractate. The name Eugnostos also appears in another Nag Hammadi document, the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (NHC III,2; IV,2). In the final portion of this text (the colophon or copyist's note), the author introduces himself with his two names: Eugnostos, his spiritual name, and Gongessos, his ordinary, everyday name."
...
The original Greek text of Eugnostos the Blessed was probably composed in Egypt as early as the end of the first century. From Egypt this tractate circulated in Syria, and it was known in the school of Bardaisan in the beginning of the third century.

(The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 272)

Madeleine Scopello's information suggests a likely Christian aspect to the writing:
Quote
The author describes the divine realm inhabited by five beings, each having his own aeon and heavenly followers, angels, and deities. These five beings are the unbegotten or unconceived Father, the Human Father by himself, the immortal Human, the Son of Humanity, and the Savior.

Birger A. Person writes,
Quote
Two versions of the tractate Eugnostos the Blessed exist, the third tractate of Nag Hammadi Codex III and the first tractate of Codex V. The two versions are quite different from one another, and probably represent independent Coptic translations of a Greek original. The version in Codex III is usually taken to be an earlier version than the one in Codex V. (Ancient Gnosticism, pp. 211-213)

The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia says:
Quote
There is no significant evidence of Christian influence in the composition of Eug, although there is evidence of Christian influence in its later editing (e.g., the modification of the concluding prophecy in Eug III).
...
It is now generally accepted that the writer of SJC[Sophia of Jesus Christ] used Eug as a source. Most of the didactic material from Eug, along with that from other sources, was placed on the lips of Christ, who is pictured in SJC as appearing in angelic guise to his disciples and seven women after his resurrection, in order to answer their queries about the nature and purpose of existence. It seems likely that, by having Christ speak the words of Eugnostos, the writer wanted him to be seen as fulfilling the concluding prophecy of Eug.

James Robinson's The Nag Hammadi Library in English says:
Quote
the text, as it stands in the Nag Hammadi library, has an occasional but unmistakable Christian reference which, however, seems so external to the main thrust of the text that one may be inclined to think it was added by a Christian editor, translator, or scribe to what had been originally composed as a nonChristian text.

Douglas Parrot writes in his chapter in The Nag Hammadi Library in English that in Eugnostos the Blessed,
Quote
Inhabiting [the supercelestial region] are four principal divine beings: the unbegotten Father, his androgynous image, Immortal Man; Immortal Man's androgynous son, Son of Man; and Son of Man's androgynous son, the Savior.
...
In Codex III the Sophia of Jesus Christ immediately follows Eugnostos the Blessed, and a connection is made between the two at the end of Eugnostos. There it is predicted that one will come who will speak the words written by Eugnostos 'joyously and in pure knowledge.'
The scheme of thought in the original document (as reflected in Eugnostos the Blessed), with the unbegotten Father and the three divine men, resembles most closely the theology of the Sethian-Ophite Gnostics describes by Irenaeus.

The Nag Hammadi Library in English has an interesting format, because it lines up the passages in Eugnostos the Blessed with the matching ones in Sophia of Jesus Christ so that the reader can easily see the differences and matches.

https://books.google.com/books?id=L9Y3AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA207&lpg=PA207&dq=%22eugnostos+the+blessed%22+OR+%22epistles+of+eugnostos%22+christian&source=bl&ots=YHQAJm28eG&sig=c2qGTs289nol7D7JL_ZUShs1y9Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi4rL235OrTAhUT24MKHZseCOoQ6AEIdTAR#v=onepage&q=%22eugnostos%20the%20blessed%22%20OR%20%22epistles%20of%20eugnostos%22%20christian&f=false


Philip Harland explains that in the super-celestial realm,
Quote
beings include the “Self-Father” (the image of the Forefather as if viewed in a mirror), the “Immortal Androgynous Man” (who emerges in the beam of light as the Forefather views his/her image), the “Son of Man” (who is the first-begotten–the others were not begotten), and the “Saviour” (who is “revealed” as a “great androgynous light” by the Son of Man). Each of these figures are androgynous and have their corresponding “female” portion, usually called “Sophia” (Greek for Wisdom).
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2005/10/13/sophias-mistake-the-sophia-of-jesus-christ-and-eugnostos-nt-apocrypha-16/

Rene Falkenburg in Snapshots of Evolving Traditions sees "John as Implied Author of Codex III" based on an opening statement, or colophon, in the Codex. She notes that
Quote
"John is, in the epilogue of the Apocryphon of John, presented as the writer of both that text and the Wisdom of Jesus Christ. When we take the colophon into considertation he may also be construed as the author of the Gospel of the Egyptians, if Eugnostos the loving one in fact refers to the beloved disciple of the Gospel of John. If Eugnostos in the colophon is John, the author of the following text, Eugnostos the Blessed, can be identified with John as well.  The fact that the colophon also presents Eugnostos as a spiritual person in the flesh matches a similar idea (proposed by the implied author of the Wisdom of Jesus Christ) in a passage referring to the transfiguration account in the synoptic gospels, where the third disciple is John. So even if John is explicitly identified only as the author of the first text in Codex III, the scribe also seems to identify him as the author of the following three texts.
...
That John was regarded as the author of all the texts of the codex is also indicated by the fact that the Apocryphon of John carries a title prominently on the back of the front flyleaf as the only two lines written on that entire page.
...
The... title, Eugnostos the Blessed, refers to John as role model for readers who should strive to reach such divine blessedness themselves.
Doesn't the fact that this book was included in a Codex titled "Apocryphon of John" suggest that Eugnostos the Blessed, Sophia of Jesus Christ, and the Apocryphon of John were all written in around the same time or century? Apocryphon of John is commonly dated to 120-180 AD. The other are dated:
50-150    Eugnostos the Blessed
50-200    Sophia of Jesus Christ

I found that Archbishop Demetrios of America (GOA) wrote a book on this topic called The Transcendent God of Eugnostos (1991). He seemed to think that ideas in it resembled what was known by church fathers about gnostic ideas. He says that scholars have different opinions on whether the book has Christian influence or elements. Quispel thinks that the Christian elements are minimal, Wilson says that there can be different assessments. Wilson
Quote
adds, however, that the very same data "seem to demand at the very least, a due measure of caution over against assertions that Eugnostos is entirely non-Christian or shows no sign of Christian influence. Finally a position diametrically opposed to the views of Doresse and Krause is taken by H.M. Schenke, who argues that in the teaching of Eugnostos there exist well-rooted Christian themes.
My opinion is that it would not be a surprise if Eugnostos the Blessed lacked overt Christian themes because that lack would fit with its message. It is saying that Eugnostos is delivering a message and that a future figure (shown in Sophia of Jesus Christ to be Jesus) will explain the teachings. So since Jesus is portrayed as a figure coming after this Epistle, there is not a need or much place to narrate Christianity overtly in it.





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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #264 on: May 12, 2017, 03:15:28 PM »
Do you not know that Gnosticism was a Christian sect? A reference to "a Savior" does not make a writing orthodox or non-Gnostic.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #265 on: May 12, 2017, 03:55:07 PM »
Do you not know that Gnosticism was a Christian sect? A reference to "a Savior" does not make a writing orthodox or non-Gnostic.
Yes. The way that the writing talked about the "Savior" suggested to me that it was more likely written by a gnostic nonorthodox Christian sect.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #266 on: May 13, 2017, 03:03:44 PM »
The Epistle of Eugnostos talks about the relationship between the Begotten Perfect Mind who is full of light and Sophia, which reminds me of the question of the relationship between The Word - Logos and Wisdom - Sophia:
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The First who appeared before the universe in infinity is Self-grown, Self-constructed Father, and is full of shining, ineffable light. In the beginning, he decided to have his likeness become a great power. Immediately, the principle (or beginning) of that Light appeared as Immortal Androgynous Man. His male name is 'Begotten, Perfect Mind'. And his female name is 'All-wise Begettress Sophia'. It is also said that she resembles her brother and her consort. She is uncontested truth; for here below, error, which exists with truth, contests it.

...

Afterward another principle came from Immortal Man, who is called 'Self-perfected Begetter.' When he received the consent of his consort, Great Sophia, he revealed that first-begotten androgyne, who is called, 'First-begotten Son of God'. His female aspect is 'First-begotten Sophia, Mother of the Universe,' whom some call 'Love'. Now, First-begotten, since he has his authority from his father, created angels, myriads without number, for retinue.
...
Then Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous Light. His masculine name is designated 'Savior, Begetter of All things'. His feminine name is designated 'Sophia, All-Begettress'. Some call her 'Pistis' (faith).
In mainstream Christian literature, Christ is the Word, the Logos, Begotten of the Father "before all ages". The gnostics talk about "aeons" of time, so maybe there was some interaction between those two ancient philosophical circles.
Also in Christian and Biblical thought is the concept of Holy Wisdom, Sophia. Hence in Exodus and Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom is called a "spirit". And in Proverbs, Solomon writes about Wisdom as one who existed before the creation of even the waters of the world. In Hebrew, Wisdom is feminine.

Here is Exodus 28:3:
Quote
And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom

Proverbs 8 talks about wisdom as speaking and saying that the Lord possessed her before the creation of the earth.:
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1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
...
22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.

25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

Now, one can say that this is just allegorical language when it talks about Wisdom as a Spirit. However, some early mainstream Christian writings called Christ the Logos also Sophia, Wisdom. And so if it's true that Sophia or Wisdom is feminine and a "Spirit", then what becomes the relationship to Christ the Logos, which is masculine? Are they consorts that are united into one being, or is the whole "feminine" aspect really purely an issue of Hebrew and Greek grammar that the author of the Epistle of Eugnostos and other gnostics took too far? The latter seems most likely to me.

One scholar I read considered the reference to 360 days to point to an Egyptian origin of this work, because of the 360 days of the Egyptian calendar:
Quote
Then the twelve powers, whom I have just discussed, consented with each other. <Six> males (and) females (each) were revealed, so that there are seventy-two powers. Each one of the seventy-two revealed five spiritual (powers), which (together) are the three hundred and sixty powers. The union of them all is the will.

Therefore our aeon came to be as the type of Immortal Man. Time came to be as the type of First Begetter, his son. The year came to be as the type of Savior. The twelve months came to be as the type of the twelve powers. The three hundred and sixty days of the year came to be as the three hundred and sixty powers who appeared from Savior.

At the end, he writes:
Quote
But this much is enough. All I have just said to you, I said in the way that you might accept, until the one who need not be taught appears [or: "is revealed"] among you, and he will speak all these things to you joyously and in pure knowledge.
What I get from this is that the author did not mention Jesus because he was writing in the way that they might accept, while Christ the Logos ("who does not need to be taught") is revealed to his audience. He is writing to a non-Christian audience who might accept these gnostic ideas in a form that does not mention Jesus. He has in mind that once they have Jesus revealed to them, then Jesus will convey these same ideas.

And this explains why in the next work (Sophia of Jesus Christ), Jesus speaks the ideas in the text. This suggests to me that we are talking in both cases of a gnostic Christian work, but it's just that in the first text (Eugnostos' Letter), the author doesn't say directly that he is Christian or mention Jesus openly.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #267 on: May 14, 2017, 05:45:26 PM »
St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies noted how there were gnostics who wrote about Christ as having Sophia as his consort:

Quote
When all the seed shall have come to perfection, they state that then their mother Achamoth shall pass from the intermediate place, and enter in within the Pleroma, and shall receive as her spouse the Saviour, who sprang from all the Æons, that thus a conjunction may be formed between the Saviour and Sophia, that is, Achamoth. These, then, are the bridegroom and bride, while the nuptial chamber is the full extent of the Pleroma. The spiritual seed, again, being divested of their animal souls, and becoming intelligent spirits, shall in an irresistible and invisible manner enter in within the Pleroma, and be bestowed as brides on those angels who wait upon the Saviour. The Demiurge himself will pass into the place of his mother Sophia; that is, the intermediate habitation.
...
For they maintain that the whole besprinkling of light rushed to him, and that Christ, descending to this world, first clothed his sister Sophia [with it], and that then both exulted in the mutual refreshment they felt in each other's society: this scene they describe as relating to bridegroom and bride. But Jesus, inasmuch as he was begotten of the Virgin through the agency of God, was wiser, purer, and more righteous than all other men: Christ united to Sophia descended into him, and thus Jesus Christ was produced.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103107.htm
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103130.htm

This shows up in gnostic writings that we have:
Quote
Whenever Sophia receives her consort and Jesus receives the Christ . . . then the Pleroma will receive Sophia joyfully and All will be unified. [Val. Expo. 39]

Jesus’s consort is the Great Sophia, who from the first was destined for union with him by the self-Begotten Father. [Sophia of Jesus Christ 228/101]
...
Sophia is also called Bride, because of the joy of her who gave herself to him in the hope of fruit from the union. . . . Sophia is also called Queen. [Tripartite Tractate 93]

The Pleroma
Quote
(Greek πλήρωμα) generally refers to the totality of divine powers. The word means fullness from πληρόω ("I fill") comparable to πλήρης which means "full",[1] and is used in Christian theological contexts: both in Gnosticism generally, and by St. Paul the Apostle in Colossians 2:9
...
The Gnostic writers appeal to the use in the NT (e.g. Iren I. iii. 4), and the word retains from it the sense of totality in contrast to the constituent parts; but the chief associations of pleroma in their systems are with Greek philosophy, and the main thought is that of a state of completeness in contrast to deficiency (hysterema, Iren. I. xvi. 3; Hippol. vi. 31), or of the fulness of real existence in contrast to the empty void and unreality of mere phenomena (kenoma, Iren. I. iv. 1). Thus in Cerinthus it expressed the fulness of the Divine Life out of which the Divine Christ descended upon the man Jesus at his baptism, and into which He returned (Iren. I. xxvi. 1, III. xi. 1, xvi. 1). In the Valentinian system it stands in antithesis to the essential incomprehensible Godhead, as 'the circle of the Divine attributes,' the various means by which God reveals Himself: it is the totality of the thirty aeons or emanations which proceed from God, but are separated alike from Him and from the material universe. It is at times almost localized, so that a thing is spoken of as 'within,' 'without,' 'above,' 'below' the Pleroma: more often it is the spirit-world, the archetypal ideal existing in the invisible heavens in contrast to the imperfect phenomenal manifestations of that ideal in the universe. Thus 'the whole Pleroma of the aeons' contributes each its own excellence to the historic Jesus, and He appears on earth 'as the perfect beauty and star of the Pleroma' (teleiotaton kallos kai astron tou pleromatos, Iren. I. xi. 6). Similarly it was used by writers as equivalent to the full completeness of perfect knowledge (Pistis Sophia, p. 15).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleroma
Colossians 2:9 uses the word Pleroma:
"For in Christ all the fullness [Pleroma] of the Deity lives in bodily form"

David Marshall uses the Sophia of Jesus Christ to help disprove hardcore Skeptics' claims that Jesus didn't exist. He says that the gospels reflect historical facts, not mythmaking out of whole cloth, and that it is the common gnostic texts that are like Sophia of Jesus Christ that are rip-offs or later versions of the gospels. He writes the underlined part with a sense of humor:
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The Gnostic myth which both Eugnostos and Sophia relate, is a carbon copy of the same myth, in words that grow tediously familiar as you read through the Nag Hammadi library, in numerous texts like The Tripartite Tractate, The Apocryphon of John, The Hypostasis of the Archons, and the Paraphrase of Shem.  This is how I lost my hair, reading through these texts, and looking in vain for something new or fresh or full of life. 

But that brings up a question, or a gross disanalogy to Carrier's analogy.  Why do we have so many Gnostic texts, preserving the stale clichés of their school, which we can point to along with Eugnostos the Blessed, to explain Sophia?  And yet we have no such pre-Christian collection, preserving the infinitely greater and more interesting sayings of Jesus, before he appeared.

If anything, the analogy begs the question, "Who is this man?"

http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-sophia-of-jesus-christ-not-of.html
I also think he raises a good point: The uniqueness of Jesus and Jesus' teachings, in order to show that Jesus was a real person, not an assembly of pre-existing myths and sayings.

Marshall finds that the gospels do a better job presenting themselves as real narratives. In contrast, he says:
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Like the so-called Gospel of Thomas and many other Gnostic texts, the dialogue in Sophia barely pretends to relate any real conversation, but is purely a didactic device.
...
Douglas Parrott claims that Sophia may even be 1st Century, which would make it the earliest known "Christian Gnostic" writing.  His reasons for making this bold claim are extremely weak, however.  The Stoics, Epicureans, and astrologers are called "all the philosophers," a characterization that Parrott claims... only fits the 1st Century.  But it seems to me the Alexandrian school spoke in such terms much later.  He thinks the works "relatively non-polemical tone" also supports an early date, a weak reed if ever there were one.  The truth is, no one has the faintest idea when Sophia was written, only that it must have appeared by the 4th Century, when the Nag Hammadi collection was preserved.   
He goes through and lists many ways in which the gospels sound like a much more realistic narration of Jesus' life than the "Sophia of Jesus Christ" does.

The website "Mirrored Bridal Chamber" compares the Biblical concept of the Holy Spirit with the reference to the "Interpreter" in this work:
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In the body of the work is mentioned “the interpreter” who was sent in seemingly to refer to Christ.  This may have been where “the Comforter” came from in John that actually was a neutral way of referring to the feminine Holy Spirit.
In the Bible, Christ sends the Holy Spirit to accompany the apostles and it provides gifts. For example, the ability to interpret tongues is considered by Paul to be a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also spoke through the Prophets according to Biblical Christianity.

Therefore, I can see how this work could associate the Holy Spirit with the concept of an "Interpreter." Thus in Sophia of Jesus Christ, it is written that, "through that Immortal Androgynous Man they might attain their salvation and awake from forgetfulness through the interpreter who was sent, who is with you until the end of the poverty of the robbers."

In some of the gnostic literature, one of the distinctions is the heightened role of women. So in "Sophia of Jesus Christ", not only are there 12 male apostles, but there are 7 female apostles, who share in the great Commission to spread the gospel.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #268 on: May 14, 2017, 06:37:55 PM »
This thread has moved far away from the stated purpose, if it ever attempted that purpose at all. I hope no site visitors come and mistake these six pages of Rakovsky's gnostic rifraff for a legitimate exposition of Faith Issues.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #269 on: May 14, 2017, 06:48:59 PM »
This thread has moved far away from the stated purpose, if it ever attempted that purpose at all. I hope no site visitors come and mistake these six pages of Rakovsky's gnostic rifraff for a legitimate exposition of Faith Issues.

If they have even bothered to read this far, let me set the record straight: it isn't. 
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