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Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas

 
Ryan K.
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10/11/2006 01:03 AM
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Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
[link to www.misericordia.edu]

[link to en.wikipedia.org]

In the Thomas gospel, Jesus is a spiritual role model, and he is offering everyone the opportunity to become anointed (a Christ) as he is.

The Gospel of Thomas is the modern name given to a New Testament-era apocryphon completely preserved in a papyrus Coptic manuscript discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. Unlike the four canonical gospels, which combine narrative accounts of the life of Jesus with sayings, Thomas is a "sayings gospel". It takes the less structured form of a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, brief dialogues with Jesus, and sayings that some of his disciples reported to Didymus Judas Thomas. Thomas does not have a narrative framework, nor is it worked into any overt philosophical or rhetorical context.

The work comprises 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Some of these sayings resemble those found in the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Others were unknown until its discovery, and a few of these run counter to sayings found in the four canonical gospels.

When a Coptic version of the complete text of Thomas was found, scholars realized that three separate Greek portions of it had already been discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, in 1898. The manuscripts bearing the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas have been dated to about AD 200, and the manuscript of the Coptic version to about 340. Although the Coptic version is not quite identical to any of the Greek fragments, it is believed that the Coptic version was translated from an earlier Greek version.
Mr. Predictor

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10/11/2006 01:04 AM

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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
it's older than Matthew and Luke
:6473madburger:

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
It is wise to read Thomas, especially in these times. Alot of wisdom
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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10/11/2006 01:12 AM
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
1 And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
Anyone?
gooderboy

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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
Anyone?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 148270


... you betcha, "anyone".... and everyone as well.

The Gospel Of Thomas rocks... well, and it's a whole lot of fun too.
Peter
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
Excellent discussion.

See [link to www.divisiontheory.com]

and

[link to www.divisiontheory.com]



__________




The Gospel of Thomas

A Primer on 'Living' in Christ

In its opening words the Gospel of Thomas offers a stunning hermeneutic challenge: "whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death." Unfortunately, modern readers come to this incipit devoid of a technique of interpretive reading -- an hermeneutics -- that grants entry into the mysterious meaning vouchsafed by such words. Current academic studies respond to the challenge of the text with modest modern techniques of historical and sociological analysis, conceptual dissections of parallelisms, and suppositions about obscuring temporal stratifications within the compilation of the sayings. Unable to find any hermeneutic method for unlocking a coherent meaning in the Gospel of Thomas, some critics simply deny the organic function of this incipit relative to the remaining logion. In sum, they conclude the sayings of the living Jesus collected in the Thomas gospel are a hodgepodge with no integral, coherent intention. The question I pose is this: Was there an original tradition of interpretation ­ a hermeneutic technique ­ implicit in early transmissions of the Thomas tradition that gave an organic coherence to readings of the text, and if so, is that hermeneutic method still accessible? Can modern readers meet the challenge of the Thomas incipit? - Lance S. Owens(1)





The discovery of GThom may prove to be the biggest turning point in Christian history since Constantine's conversion. Thomas' gospel is the most significant early Christian manuscript ever found, and may be the richest source of historical data on the subject outside of the Bible itself. Long assumed lost, Thomas' work was once considered an authentic Christian Gospel, revered right alongside those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the first centuries of the church. Unfortunately, no copies had been thought to survive the Roman Church's censorship, until a Coptic version surfaced unexpectedly in Nag Hammadi Egypt in 1945. Ever since this ancient text reemerged from its long exile, all Christiandom has essentially been holding its collective breath over what revolutionary secrets it might contain.

Although the Nag Hammadi manuscript dates from the fourth century, no one knows exactly when the original was written. In fact, a rather heated academic debate has persisted over this issue; some scholars point confidently to the mid-second century, but others argue compellingly for the mid-first century. In any event, we know the Gospel of Thomas was written no later than 140 CE because portions of a second copy, written in Greek, were found about a hundred years ago in Oxyrhynchus Egypt, and these fragments have been confidently dated to about 140 CE .(2) This makes GThom roughly contemporary with the canonical gospels, and leaves open the intriguing possibility that Thomas' gospel could even theoretically provide a more authentic snapshot of Christ's original teachings than that found in the Bible. In fact, there seems to be growing agreement among scholars that GThom dates to the very earliest years of the church, and if this proves to be the case, it would radically revise modern assumptions about original Christianity.

A pure sayings gospel, the Gospel of Thomas contains a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus of Nazareth without any accompanying narrative. Many of its sayings are slightly different, possibly earlier versions of well-known Biblical passages, while other sayings, some of which seem quite obscure, have no known parallels in Christian literature. GThom seems to contain forgotten traditions from the earliest years of the church, restoring teachings presumably lost during the church's infamous book-burning campaigns. If so, the Gospel of Thomas may provide the modern world with its first real window into a Christianity, and a Christ, that history turned its back on millennia ago.

The problem is, GThom contains many mysterious and obscure passages that have, until now, defied all attempts at interpretation. Although this lost work has been intensely studied since its reappearance 60 years ago, most scholars feel the hermeneutical key to unlocking the meaning of its passages has yet to be found. This is, apparently, as Thomas intended it. The very first words in the book warn the reader that it contains a mystery, a riddle not easily unraveled, but one with a huge payoff for those who successfully solve its challenge :

"These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke

and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.

And he said, "Whoever discovers the meaning

of these sayings will not taste death."

- The Gospel of Thomas 1

GThom reports that Jesus taught "secret sayings", which of course the Biblical gospels also hint occurred.(3) This archaeological confirmation of the existence of those legendary secret sayings suggests that there were indeed not one, but two separate sets of teachings taught by Christ, a position long denied by the Roman Church, but nonetheless held by many Christian sects over the centuries.

This gospel is accredited to a figure named "Didymos Judas Thomas". The word "didymos" is Greek for twin, and the word "thomas" is Aramaic for twin. The individual's name was Judas, but his nickname "the twin" is perplexingly given in two separate languages,(4) which leaves the book apparently authored by a figure named "Twin Judas Twin", or, perhaps, "Double Judas Double". Some critics hypothesize that this double entry of the term 'twin' was an error on the part of the author, but as we will see, there is good reason to suspect that Thomas' gospel was written before the fall of the original church in Jerusalem in 70 AD, when James the Just was still the head of the church. And at that early date, most if not all Christians would have still been Jews by birth, and the literate among them, those who would have been able to actually read Thomas's gospel, would have likely been familiar with both Greek and Aramaic, and so would have instantly recognized that these two words meant the same thing. It seems, then, that the author of this gospel may have intentionally referred to himself as a 'doubled double', or a 'twinned twin'.(5) This sort of repetition is an ancient, time-honored literary technique used to draw attention to a point of special significance. In the Old Testament, one finds numerous examples of this. Thomas' double use of this term is an obvious emphasis on the term "twin", and, by extension, on the whole idea of duality. Appearing as it does at the very beginning of the Gospel of Thomas, this doubled use of a word which itself means 'double' stands out like the proverbial sore thumb, and is the first clue to the author's hermeneutics. Indeed, since this work is entitled the Gospel of Thomas instead of the Gospel of Judas, perhaps the correct (i.e., originally intended) translation of the title should be the Gospel of the Twin, or the Gospel of the Two, or even the Gospel of Duality ... or, as we will see, perhaps it was meant to suggest the Gospel of the Binary Soul Doctrine.

And he said, "Whoever discovers the meaning

of these sayings will not taste death."

- The Gospel of Thomas 1

The first saying in GThom suggests that the whole book has but a single point to make, a single theme to explore, and all the rest of the passages in Thomas relate back to and elaborate on that same theme. Until now, no commentator has been able to demonstrate such a hermeneutical link between all the different passages in the Gospel of Thomas, but as we will see, they do have a common denominator : the binary soul doctrine.

If the text is to be taken at face value, this first passage must be seen as defining the entire intent, purpose, and message of Thomas' gospel. It is therefore apparently not intended as a discourse on social design. Nor are its passages meant to be read as a discussion on the principles of social interaction, politics, morality, familial obligations, or gender roles, and those who do come away from this work with such ideas, Thomas suggests, miss the point entirely. On the contrary, the Gospel of Thomas declares itself to be one thing and one thing only : a primer on how to avoid death.

Thomas wastes no time in getting to the very heart of Christianity -- the promise of eternal life. But unlike modern "New Age" attempts to pacify readers by discounting the threat of death altogether with vacuous assertions that "there is no death", GThom instead holds that this promise is conditional -- some people would experience death, this first passage admits, while other people would not. This first saying may remind its Christian readership of similar promises given in the Gospel of John:

Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

- John 11:21-26

In both Thomas and John, Jesus makes a stunning and seemingly impossible promise : that it indeed is possible for a person to never die at all. This promise is contrasted, in John, with yet another, different option in which a person does die, but then is raised back up later via resurrection, as of course was the case with both Lazarus and Jesus. But the opening passage of Thomas' gospel only mentions the option of avoiding death altogether. This instantly alerts the reader that this book is discussing matters fundamentally alien to conventional Christian exegesis, which of course focuses exclusively on the hope of a future post-mortem resurrection, never even entertaining the possibility, briefly hinted at in John and stated more boldly in Thomas, that a person might be able to aoid death altogether.

The first saying in GThom issues a command : Find. Search. Look. It leaves the reader asking himself "How? How do I search?" The second saying addresses that question.

Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.

When he finds, he will become troubled.

When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and will be reign over all.

And after he has reigned he will rest."

- The Gospel of Thomas 2



Although this passage tends to be viewed as highly obscure by most commentators, its meaning is self-evident to the student of the binary soul doctrine. Humanity's primary spiritual problem, according to the BSD, is the division between the spirit and the soul, the alienation between the conscious and the unconscious. One wishing to heal this division will seek to remove the barrier dividing them. That barrier is comprised, Freud maintained, of nothing but pure resistence, but in The Lost Secret of Death I described this barrier in more familiar terms -- as being built out of grief :

This inner division often exists inside a person without ever being noticed; many would sincerely insist that they have no such inner wall, they have never lost anyone, they are not grieving! But grief is not so simple. Despite its public image, grief is not always a colossally obvious sadness; in fact, most of the time it is very subtle, insidious, and easy to overlook. Everyone has grief. It is an inescapable part of being alive. As we go through the years of our lives, most of us manage to accumulate a tremendous amount of unfinished business in our past, including all our disappointments in our lives, in ourselves, in our unfulfilled hopes and dreams and potentials, in our unrequited loves, in all the unaddressed, unchallenged, uncorrected injustices that life feeds us on a daily if not hourly basis. Every moment of every day, we remain aware that 'all this business still remains unfinished', experiencing this awareness as a sad draining fatigue in the backs of our minds.

Like the ever-present low-level radiation that astronomy calls "the background noise of the universe", our forgotten or ignored yet still active grief over these disappointments shows up everywhere, as self-judgment, fear, and guilt, as anger and blame (think 'road rage'), as a harsh mercilessness with ourselves and others, even as a hesitation to let the rest of the world in close enough to ever touch us again. Our unacknowledged grief shows itself in, and as, our fear of loss, our fear of rejection, our fear of death, our fear of everything new, our ever-present fear of each new unknown corner in life. Our tendency to hold and cling to things, as well as our tendency to judge and condemn ourselves and others, is the day-to-day voice of this hidden grief, screaming out from inside us about these unfulfilled needs that ache silently for satisfaction. All this repressed fear, grief, and anger is unhealthy to the extreme; many psychologists point to underlying tensions such as these as the true origin of a great many of our modern medical ailments. No one represses without consequences; there is always a price to pay. Indeed, many neurotics are highly functional, seeming to be just fine until a heart attack drops them like a bad habit in the prime of their lives. Hidden pressures in the mind take time to do their damage, but like dripping water, they just keep working away at our foundations until we finally plunge through.

Over time, all this holding, clinging, condemning, and judging hardens around our grief like barnacles on a ship. When we hold on to our grief, anger, and guilt, they don't simply go away on their own. When we don't express them, when we don't allow ourselves to fully experience our own grief, sadness, and disappointments, they are prevented from falling away naturally, and are instead preserved intact, going into 'cold storage' inside our minds where they can exert an invisible but potent effect on our lives, behaviors, and attitudes. When we avoid confronting and addressing these feelings directly, we prevent their emotional energy from being discharged; to deny their existence is merely to hold them back, preventing ourselves from releasing them and letting them go. Like cars in gridlock, these emotions won't just dissipate on their own; they don't have anywhere else they can go. These emotions have a single destination -- our consciousness, and will not turn off that road until they arrive, no matter how long it takes. So like cars in a traffic jam, they just wait, piling up, building an obstruction. And their emotional energy piles up too. Prevented from dissipating naturally, these unacknowledged feelings are forced to accumulate silently and invisibly within us, becoming ever more solid and formidable, growing dense roots deep into our psyches, burrowing their toxic tentacles into our attitudes and behaviors.

This grief, in effect, builds a logjam within us that cuts us off from an authentic experience of our own beings. So long as that wall remains in place, we are cut off from any truly authentic sense of feeling fully human, cut off, to at least some degree, from our own present -- from our own normal moment-to-moment feelings and emotions. With the wall in place, we don't feel fully 'here'. This logjam also cuts us off from our own past as well; inside that wall, all the traumas, feelings, and emotional reactions that we never allowed ourselves to fully release and experience in our past remain, still in their original condition, still waiting to be released so we can finally consciously experience them.

And of course, this inner heaviness, this thick accumulation of unexperienced bitterness, unfelt grief, and unintegrated heartache, this looming unpaid emotional debt we owe to ourselves, has become the epitome of all we fear most, causing us to resist it all the more, causing a self-repetitive cycle of avoidance begetting avoidance :

By the time we are adults, most of us have gone through years of bitterness and frustration in life, often never letting ourselves fully experience, express, and thereby release this grief, never realizing that this avoidance just allows that grief to accumulate into something far worse -- a sort of sediment that hardens around our hearts, eventually becoming compressed as hard as a rock. Like clogged veins, this psychological sediment severely restricts the healthy exchange of communication between the head and heart, between the conscious and unconscious. All this baggage, all these thick layers of disowned, unexpressed, examined feelings of guilt, grief, and disappointment that we carry around inside us every moment of every day, this lifetime of armoring that builds up around our hearts, cannot help but exhaust us, draining our energy, draining our available resources that we're supposed to be using for coping with the 'here and now'. (6)



Sooner or later, the persevering spiritual seeker will discover this mountain of repressed pain and fear buried within their own psyche, and, as GThom warns us, that find is always very surprising and troubling, because we usually do such a successful job of repressing those feelings and memories that we have no idea they are even there. But the dedicated spiritual seeker will stumble across that inner wall of pain eventually, and confronting that inner blackness has been aptly named "the dark night of the soul". The greatest danger is that the spiritual seeker will be so troubled by this first glimpse of the magnitude of his own inner darkness that he will immediately turn away from it again in disgust and horror, with no thought except a frantic hope to forget what he just saw. But one who is fortified with courage and faith can persevere through this wall of fear, fully exploring, experiencing, and thus neutralizing this inner psychological content, and when he does, he will emerge from this inner journey in a state of complete astonishment -- astonished first that he was even able to make it through that soul pain which had frightened him so -- astonished later that he had ever allowed the fear of that pain to control his life so completely -- and astonished later still by all the riches that lay hidden within his soul behind that wall.

Once a spiritual seeker has thus dismantled his own inner wall, he will indeed, just as Jesus predicts, "reign over all". With the lines of communication restored between the two halves of his being, with his conscious spirit and unconscious soul functioning at long last in harmonious union, he will feel unified, whole, and complete. Finally master of his own psychological kingdom, he will be in total control of all his own actions and reactions and completely aware of and at peace with his own mental content. Having integrated his inner being in this way, he finds he is no longer wasting any of his energy fighting against himself, no longer spending his precious psychological resources trying to repress his soul's own natural feelings, insights, and memories from emerging spontaneously into his consciousness. And, no longer fighting against himself, no longer lying to himself, no longer betraying himself, he enjoys true repose, a natural, restful inner peace beyond all imagination.
Anonymous Coward
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10/11/2006 04:47 PM
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
doubting thomas who had to stick his finger into jesus peirced side to believe it was him.uhuh
Anonymous Coward
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10/11/2006 04:51 PM
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
wave
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
wave
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 73941

^^^^^^^^


for 152851 'Peter's ' post...
Peter
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10/11/2006 05:29 PM
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
doubting thomas who had to stick his finger into jesus peirced side to believe it was him.uhuh
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 149921


The conventional "doubting Thomas" interpretation of Thomas' rerquest to stick his finger in Jesus' side is completely at odds with the earlier episode with Lazarus, in which Thomas was the FIRST and ONLY apostle to say "Let us go and die with him", thus demonstrating total faith in Jesus' ability to resurrect the dead. It makes no sense at all that, after Thomas expressed such faith, and then that he was right to have had such faith when Jesus in fact DID resurrect Lazarus, it makes no sense that later he would have had such little faith in Jesus.

Thus, the conventional interpretation of that later episode, conclusing that Thomas had no faith in Jesus, must be incorrect.

In fact there was another, very different reason why Thomas demonstrated such unique curiosity about Jesus' resurrection body - because THOMAS WAS JESUS' TWIN BROTHER, who knew that he too would one day go thru the very same resurrection.

Just like Jesus, so too His twin brother Thomas was also put to death by a spear in the side, and later his body as well was found missing from the tomb it was lain in.

See [link to www.divisiontheory.com]

Why is the Gospel of Thomas so important? Because it was written by Jesus Twin Brother, His co-Messiah, the only person who fully understood Jesus' message.

- Peter
Elicarius
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
I know somebody out there will hear this and understand. This seems like just the right thread to bring up the topic. So if you are reading this then I hope you will share your thoughts.

Certain events have been shapping up in an undeniable pattern since 9/11, the most recent major event and particularly moving into a new realm of thought with the death of the Pope on 04/02/05. Now we have the Katrina disaster, North Korea and Iran both considered a disaster in looming, occurrences of new awareness by those who are not blind to all there is to see.

The sayings in the Gospel of Thomas are almost prophetic in nature if read properly. Yeshua telling us how it will be, not how it should be. The End Times are upon us, but this is just the beginning of those times.

Anyone here ever heard of the time traveler John Titor? JT?
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Discussion: The Gospel Of Thomas
Apocryphal Works, particularly from the second century A.D., have developed an immense body of writings making claim to divine inspiration and canonicity and pretending to relate to the Christian faith.

Frequently referred to as the “Apocryphal New Testament,” these writings represent efforts at imitating the Gospels, Acts, letters, and the revelations contained in the canonical books of the Christian Greek Scriptures.

A large number of these are known only through fragments extant or by quotations from them or allusions to them by other writers.

These writings manifest an attempt to provide information that the inspired writings deliberately omit, such as the activities and events relating to Jesus’ life from his early childhood on up to the time of his baptism, or an effort to manufacture support for doctrines or traditions that find no basis in the Bible or are in contradiction to it.

Thus the so-called Gospel of Thomas and the Protevangelium of James are filled with fanciful accounts of miracles supposedly wrought by Jesus in his childhood. But the whole effect of the picture they draw of him is to cause Jesus to appear as a capricious and petulant child endowed with impressive powers. (Compare the genuine account at Lu 2:51, 52.)

The Apocryphal “Acts,” such as the “Acts of Paul” and the “Acts of Peter,” lay heavy stress on complete abstinence from sexual relations and even depict the apostles as urging women to separate from their husbands, thus contradicting Paul’s authentic counsel at 1 Corinthians 7.

Commenting on such postapostolic Apocryphal writings, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 166) states: “Many of them are trivial, some are highly theatrical, some are disgusting, even loathsome.” (Edited by G. A. Buttrick, 1962) Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary (1936, p. 56) comments: “They have been the fruitful source of sacred legends and ecclesiastical traditions. It is to these books that we must look for the origin of some of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Just as the earlier Apocryphal writings were excluded from among the accepted pre-Christian Hebrew Scriptures, so also these later Apocryphal writings were not accepted as inspired nor included as canonical in the earliest collections or catalogs of the Christian Greek Scriptures

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