So it goes ...
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- London UK
An interesting conversation we’re having.
Oh, I'm not knocking him ...Helmut Koester may not be above criticism, but he was a very influential and highly regarded New Testament scholar
You can't blame him for that!He was Elaine Pagels’ professor at Harvard as well.
OK.let’s consider the absence of apocalyptic sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, and sayings where Jesus speaks of himself as the Son of man.
That's a rather large assumption, though, isn't it? I don't think we have evidence to support it. A possible supposition, of course.It may be these sayings were revealed in resurrection appearances to one or more disciples of Jesus within the Q community, after the common oral tradition had spilt between his Gnostic and proto-orthodox followers, and were added to Q but not Thomas.
I'm not sure we can, or should, assume a distinction on those terms.Theology evolves over time for both Gnostics and Orthodoxy.
There was certainly a distinction between 'the Gnostics' (a whole range of circa 2nd century cosmologies) and 'the orthodox' – but take the opposition of Cerinthus and John, without going into too much detail, Cerinthus is regarded as 'a gnostic' but to suggest that his opponent John was not, is clearly erroneous.
We'd have to draw a distinction between the Gnostic teachings and gnosis as such.
From hereon, I'll use the term jnani from the Hindu tradition, to avoid confusion.
As did the Gnostics, to be fair.Unfortunately, the orthodox have always taken a dim view of those who refuse to accept their creeds. “Anathema sit” as the saying goes.
Which both sides adhered to 'religiously'This stems to some extent from the idea that believing the correct doctrine is essential for salvation ...
Now we're getting into a whole other argument, and frankly I'm not interested in that. Again, the argument applies both sides.... but also reflects the need of the powerful to control peoples’ minds.
The same goes for faith, though, doesn't it?Gnosis cannot be conveyed in words and doesn’t come from reciting a creed.
And yet, the right word at the right time ... and the Gnostics have their credo.
I rather say it as Jesus taught salvation. Being who He is, there is inherently stuff for the jnani, for the bhakti ... He's addressing humanity as such, rather than a particular inclination ...I’ll revise to say Jesus was a wisdom teacher who taught salvation through Faith and Gnosis. Not every Christian will achieve Gnosis; not every Buddhist will achieve enlightenment, yet Jesus and Buddha offer salvation to all who follow their path.
I think that's a rather large statement, and I rather this it's mistaken. I have met the 'simple faithful' who are saints and have tasted the parousia.For those Christians who receive Gnosis from Jesus, the Kingdom of God is a present reality, and his Second Coming is less of a concern; they already dwell in His Kingdom as perfect light, just as a living Buddha dwells in Nirvana. Hence the lack of an apocalyptic interest in Thomas.
As for Thomas, that's a hypothesis, but really without evidence.
I'm not decrying the jnani, I rather reject the idea that the jnani path is superior to the bhakti, that's all.
Some of our best mystics show both jnani and bhakti in balance, really you can't have one without the other – it's just that the jnani likes to organise, classify and put words on the experience, whereas the bhakti is not so inclined ...
René Guénon was undoubtedly a gnostic – but lived the life of a bhaktic – a rather mundane existence, a European Muslim living in a quiet Cairo backstreet...
It's curious that in the so-called Gnostic Gospels, Jesus is always taking someone or other aside for special education ... I think it says more about the author than about Jesus.Compare these sayings from Paul, in his (authentic) letter to the Corinthians, and Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas:
Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!
- I Corinthians 4:8 (RSV)
Cf. Apocryphon of James:
He [The Savior] said, 'Verily I say unto you, no one will ever enter the kingdom of heaven at my bidding, but (only) because you yourselves are full. Leave James and Peter to me that I may fill them.' And having called these two, he drew them aside and bade the rest occupy themselves with that which they were about.
- NHC I, 2,29-40 (Translation Francis E. Williams)
I came to Christian Gnosis by way of the Sophia Perennis.- Disclaimer alert: I came to Gnostic Christianity by way of Buddhism and Yoga.
If it does, it's wrong.This seems to suggest if you don’t have Gnosis, you don’t get in.
Yes.Surely ordinary Christians like you and me who establish a sincere relationship with Jesus and strive to follow his teaching will also be saved.
Yes.Jesus died for us too.
That's a whole other discussion right there.But great holy men such as St Anthony and the Desert Fathers, who achieve Gnosis and become “full” abide at a higher level.
I go with the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
So each produces fruit according to their measure – some 100, some 60, some 30 – but all enter paradise, and for them, the experience of the beatitude is 100% ... what matters is I give my 30 everything I've got. That's what counts, not the 30.
Well none of us is perfect!- Bear in mind, I’m a heretic.
Indeed.Let us continue our search in fellowship.