(Question 1) Is the Greek version of the Gospel of Thomas non-gnostic, authored by a mainstream Christian circle, whereas the Coptic version is gnostic? My impression is that the gnosticism of the Greek version is more ambivalent than the later, Coptic version.
The opening begins: "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.
But then, Paul wrote that in Christ "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge lie hidden" (Col 2:3).
On the other hand, Jesus said in John's gospel: '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).
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:
Further, one of the Sayings in the Gospel of Thomas 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.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.
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. On the other hand, it could have been in widespread use among early Christians because it was found at Oxyrhynchus where some other non-gnostic texts were found.
According to Wikipedia:
Hippolytus quoted the Gospel of Thomas by saying that the Naassene sect speaksThe 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.
This has resemblance to Gospel of Thomas Saying # 4: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
The "Gospel of Thomas FAQ" provides a distinction between the Gospel of Thomas and gnosticism: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."
In the journal Biblical Archaeology Review, S. Gathercole writes:But 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.
(Question 2) Are some modern western critics seeing the concept of Christ being Wisdom/Sophia as "gnostic" in the Gospel of Thomas, when in fact the concept is not unique to gnosticism, but rather shared with orthodox Christianity?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/dail ... of-thomas/
Ron Cameron seems to include this concept what looks like a gnostic portrayal of the Gospel of Thomas. He says that in it, "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." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 6)
But in the mainstream canonical tradition, I think Jesus is not only equated with the Logos, but also with Sophia, Wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:30 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).
(Question 3) Does Saying 14's criticism or veiled warning about fasting, praying, and almsgiving (A) apply to doing so publicly (because it could be showy)? Or (B) is the author complaining that the disciples perform these actions in a sinful way, or (C) is the author suggesting that they shouldn't fast, pray, or give alms?
Saying 14 goes:
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)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; those who are ill in those places, heal them. For what enters into your mouth will not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, it is that which will defile you!"
The second part of Saying 14 probably comes from Jesus' instructions in Luke 10:7-9 about how to act when on a public ministry:
Saying 14 is found only in the more gnostic, Coptic version, rather than in the Greek version, which is incomplete.7. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
8. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
9. And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
(A) It seems unlikely that the author would forbid all fasting, because later, Saying 27 says:
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.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."
That is, Jesus 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.
(B) Another explanation could be that in the Saying Jesus is not banning the disciples from doing 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 Jesus made a prediction that they would abandon Him in the Passion story. Still, this explanation does not feel reliable.
(C) Maybe the author is suggesting that the disciples shouldn't fast, pray, or give alms; in case the Saying were only criticizing a certain form of fasting or under certain conditions (like "when you enter any land"), the Saying would probably have specified what form of fasting, etc. is talking about.
There was also the time in Mark 2 when
And there was the time when a woman put oil on Jesus' feet and Judas complained that the money could have been given to the poor (eg. as alms), and Jesus reproved Judas.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. After all, didn't gnostics pray?
Irina Sventsitskaya 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)
(Question 4) Does Saying 27 teach the Torah's standard rule on resting on the Sabbath (eg. as the Ebionites did), or does it teach only a spiritual behaviour on the Sabbath (eg. like the orthodox Church might)?
Saying 27 goes:
Eusebius wrote about some of the Ebionites in his book Church History: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."
Jesus seemed to have a lax attitude about the Torah's requirement about observing the Sabbath, and justified the laxity by saying that "the sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2). Ignatius, the late first - early second century bishop of Antioch wrote:The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them*, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated the Lord's days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Saviour.
[*A modern editor notes that the word "them" above isn't clear as to whether it refers to the Jews or to the rest of the Ebionites.]
“[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death” (Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110]). Marvin Meyer notes that in the early Church, the Sabbath was kept in a spiritual sense, eg. in avoidance of "impure reflections" and "servile work":
F. F. Bruce writes:'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.' ...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)
So it looks like Saying 27 refers to keeping the Sabbath in a spiritual sense, eg. avoiding impure thoughts."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)
(Question 5) How would you interpret the underlined part of Saying 11?:
Robert M. Grant thinks that this refers to Christian unity into Christ's one body vs. religious divisions: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?"
Another theory is that this refers to the division of the soul from the body after death:"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)
(Question 6) In what sense does the person in Saying 56 "find a corpse", and does this concept show up in mainstream Christian tradition?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/t ... mas11.html
Here are four translations of Saying 56 (we have only the Coptic version):
Without knowing Coptic, my guess is that the Coptic says "found", rather than "fallen into". It be comparable to Russian, where "found" (nashyol) etymologically means "went onto".
LAMBDIN'S TRANSLATION: Jesus said, Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world.
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.
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."
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. Saying 80 goes:
Hebrews 11:38 has the concept that the world is not worthy of the righteous:Jesus said, "He who has recognized the world has found the body, but he who has found the body is superior to the world."
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.(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 physical body was like a corpse, if that is what Saying 56 means, shows up in the Naassenes sect's beliefs. 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.
My guess is that Saying 56 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". I think that Jesus meant "Let the spiritually dead (those lacking desire or energy for what is holy) bury the physically dead (corpses)."
Let me break down how I understand this Saying, and then give some scholars' interpretations:
(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=%22sayi ... 8&oe=utf-8
Charles Hedrick proposes in his book Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel of Thomas that it means:
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:"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)"
Robert M. Grant and David Noel Freedman give a different interpretation than I mentioned, and they could be right, based on the context: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.
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: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 , 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 . '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)
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.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.
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.
So Saying 56 looks like a version of those verses from Matthew 10 and Hebrews 11.
(Question 7) Do the references to lying on a bed in Saying 61 and Luke 17 allude to sexual union?
Here is Saying 61 in Coptic and English:
Luke 17 goes: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: "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 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.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."
It looks like what the part about solitary vs. divided, light v darkness, would find analogous in the gospels is Matthew 6:22:
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.The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
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)
So I wonder if Saying 61 and Luke 17
(A) allude 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 (B) if being two in bed with one left could be a reference to the departure of the soul from the body.
Or (C) 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.
This kind of theme in patristic Christianity referred to the division between the Church and the "older brother", the Jewish community.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."
(Question 8) Is Saying 67 necessarily Gnostic? Does the substance of its teaching show up in mainstream Christianity?
Saying 67 (We have only the Coptic version) goes:
I take this to mean: A person who knows God but fails to know himself still misses everything.Jesus said, "If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient."
Jesus says: "He who knows the All, but has failed to know himself, has failed completely to know, <or: to find> the Place!"
Jesus said: He who knows the all, (but) fails (to know) himself, misses everything.
I see three issues:
(1) In Gnosticism, and maybe sometimes in Biblical Christianity, "The All" refers to God. Gerd Ludemann writes: "The 'All' is a technical term which relates to the universe, embracing the earth and the cosmos (compare Gospel of Thomas 2:4; 77:1)." (Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 624). In comparison, the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Logos holds the world together, is everywhere, is the first and the last, and His disciples without Him "can do nothing at all."
Saying 77 helps clear up the meaning of The All in Saying 67, as a reference to panentheism (God being in everything):
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.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."
Colossians 3:11 refers to Christ as "all and in all":
"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
But maybe the "all" refers to "all" Christians, not to all reality.
The concept that God is "All" shows 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!' 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 (equating God with reality/everything that exists). Do you think that "the All" is a Gnostic term for God or one that could be found in mainstream non-gnostic early 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.
(2) The structure of Saying 67 reminds me of Mark 8:36: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"
(3) "Know thyself" is a Greek pre-Christian philosophical maxim. Funk writes: "In this case, the saying recalls the famous dictum of Socrates, 'Know thyself.'"(The Five Gospels, p. 512)
Related concepts show up in Christian teachings, but I am not sure that their resemblance is so clear that its use in Saying 67 overlaps with them. Haggai 1:5 says: "Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways." Romans 12 says: "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."
Fr. Michael, an Antiochian priest, discusses this concept:
(Question 9)Does the ending of Saying 100 ("...give me what is mine") show that the Saying is Gnostic?"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/2012/1 ... yself.html
The ending of Saying (100) is in addition to what we find in the canonical gospels:
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.LAMBDIN's TRANSLATION:
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."
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)
(Question 10) Why in Saying 107's version of the parable of the lost sheep would the lost sheep be the largest?
Saying 107 goes:
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.'"
Compare this with Matthew 18:
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, and that the shepherd might "care for" this sheep because it's the largest. 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.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.
(Question 11) What do the heavens and earth rolling up and the person not seeing death refer to in Saying 111? Is this talking about the End of the World or is it a metaphor?
Saying 111 goes: "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 seems to bear a similarity:
Compare this with Hebrews 1:10-12:And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
See also Isaiah 34:4.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.
Saying 111 also reminds me of Mark 9:1: "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 Mark 9:1 refers to the second coming or to the Transfiguration. I am inclined to think that Mark 9:1 refers to the Transfiguration, because (1) unlike the apocalyptic Olivet Discourse, the passage does not include a discussion about how the world ends, and (2) it is followed by the narrative of the Transfiguration, which Peter and John who were in Jesus' audience in Mark 9:11 witnessed.
So one explanation could be that the author of Saying 111 took Mark 9:1 to refer to the End Times and meant that the Apocalypse would save believers from physical death.
And another explanation could be that Saying 111 (about the one who lives from the living won't see death) is allegorical. In that case, author might not mean that believers' bodies would avoid physical death, but rather that they would escape it in a spiritual sense since they are superior to the world.
(Question 12) Why does the author say in Saying 112: "woe to the flesh that depends on the soul?" How is it woeful for the flesh to depend on the soul?
Saying 112 goes: "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:
This reminds me that Saying 112 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. I am not familiar with any place in Christian literature that says that the flesh shouldn't be dependent on the soul.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).
Maybe this work is just proposing its own strict dualism where the flesh and soul shouldn't be dependent on each other.