Good, Honest Scholarship

Here's an example of excellent scholarship for a translation of an ancient text:Gospel of ThomasHere are the reasons I like this type of translation so much:o It clearly shows the original. Any distpute over a word or phrase is easily referenced.o it eliminates as much as possible clear attempts at agenda-translations; that is, self-serving ways of translation.o It preserves the original syntax. Varying syntax is problematic, because of altering meanings and emphasis.Let's take a look at the fruits of this effort in the fifth saying:Recognize what is in your (sg.) sight, and that which is hidden from you (sg.) will become plain to you (sg.), for there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.(The justification for that particular translation is assiduously justified by a word-for-word translation of the original coptic)Compare that to this translation by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer:5 Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised."]Can you see any differences?

Excellent point.

Off topic, but:

I have quietly become a fan of the gospel of thomas.

In fact, without it I'm not sure I would have much interest in christianity. There's an emphasis on self-exploration there that I think speaks to modern, free-thinking people that the other gospels lack.

"I have quietly become a fan of the gospel of thomas. "So have I...in fact, it's the basis of why I may be considered a Christian."In fact, without it I'm not sure I would have much interest in christianity. There's an emphasis on self-exploration there that I think speaks to modern, free-thinking people that the other gospels lack. "Boy, you and I are awefully similar there. I simply cannot have an "orthodox" faith. Let me give you some examples that I find incredible nuggets (all from the Lambdin Translation:(13) 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." This 13th statement is a powerful refutation to the orthodox faith - people drunk on metaphor as if it were reality...and that the truth is too powerful for words. Almost every utterance Jesus ever gave was an analogy - a metaphor.(17) Jesus said, "I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind." (32) Jesus said, "A city being built on a high mountain and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."(39) 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 wish to. You, however, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves." This one is interesting, if one replaces "pharisees" with "orthodox faith".(51) His disciples said to him, "When will the repose of the dead come about, and when will the new world come?" He said to them, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it."

(70) 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." This 70th statement impacted me solidly...I've heard it spoken several ways. e.g. "if what is within you is brought forth, what is within you will save you. If what is within you is not brought forth, what is within you will destroy you."These sentiments are quintessential gnostic ideas - finding what lies within.

See, and here my off point mention of Thomas converges with your discussion of "good, honest scholarship":

Have you read Elaine Pagels new book "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas". You may recognize her name from her excellent book "The Gnostic Gospels".

Recommended reading if you haven't. She's not only informative, she's a scholar who writes well enough to keep you interested.

Much of what I've read on Thomas dips too much into corny mysticism for my taste-- I'm not against mysticism, just being corny and silly about it. Her book isn't like that at all, but does go into the early christian tradition of self-exploration and how Jesus' teachings can help discover your inner divinity.

ttt

"Have you read Elaine Pagels new book "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas". You may recognize her name from her excellent book "The Gnostic Gospels". "

I've seen it, but have yet to read it. I did, however, read her wonderful book, "The Gnostic Gospels", however.

"Much of what I've read on Thomas dips too much into corny mysticism for my taste-- I'm not against mysticism, just being corny and silly about it."

What I find amusing is Jesus Christ, himself, denouncing such sentiments...which he compares to being drunk.

"Her book isn't like that at all, but does go into the early christian tradition of self-exploration and how Jesus' teachings can help discover your inner divinity."

That doesn't surprise me. I've seen Pagels interviewed and she seems to be (as if I didn't already know this about her from reading her book The Gnostic Gospels) a perfectly cogent, sober woman.

I have to be comfortable with the material before I can "loosen up" and get into a more spiritual state of mind. Reminds me of when I went on stage at UCSD to be hypnotized. I tried to just "let go" and allow myself to go under, but could not do it. Good thing too. The guy made complete asses out of those who fell asleep.

I prefer a more comfortable environment for me reveries...

"I've seen it, but have yet to read it."

I believe the paperback is either just out or coming out soon. I couldn't recommend a book more strongly.

"I've seen Pagels interviewed and she seems to be (as if I didn't already know this about her from reading her book The Gnostic Gospels) a perfectly cogent, sober woman."

She is indeed. And not sober in its conservative sense. Just thoughtful and considered.

You'll dig that book. It's books like this that has made me re-examine something I tossed in the trash heap years ago.

"It's books like this that has made me re-examine something I tossed in the trash heap years ago. "

I'll get it and let you know my thoughts.

Is it specifically focust on GoT, or does it go into the other gospels as well? To what extent does it put the gospel in an historical/social context?

The reason I ask the latter, btw, is that I wonder about the anarchic nature of early christianity - how there was no central "Gospel", but rather a series of communities with unique interpretations of the meaning of Jesus' words and his crucifixtion...the struggle to define the meaning.

Before the councel of Nicea convened, an influential Christian (whose name escapes me) didn't believe the OT god was the same as the NT god!

I find it curious that GoT doesn't mention resurrections and afterlives...how "the Kingdom of Heaven" is right here, right now...that Christ is not God. These are, of course, radical departures from the standard Gospel interpretations.

I've got to believe such enormous departures of thought had with them a strident and volitile social evolutionary consequence.

Interestin thread.

How do you Rastus interpret that 70th statement ?

From many angles one could view the 70th statement, but I'll give you three of my thoughts:

o It ties well with Henry David Thoreau's "living lives of quiet desperation". The answer to that spiritual delema lies within...and if it's retrieved, it will save us from the mire of ennui.

o Joseph Campbell talked about the calling...following of one's bliss. "what is inside of us" is the answer to that calling...yes or no. Do we have it in us to say an unambiguous "YES!!!" to life? Or do we crouch in the shadows...blinking in the dark?

o We cannot retrieve what is not there. In that sense, we must be wary of what goes inside of us - being careful that we are cultivating our spirits properly, so that when the critical moment arrives, we have put the right tools inside of us to deal with the situation. If we look inside ourselves and find nothing, our lack of preparedness has determined our demise...or victory.

These three themes are, to me, entirely Gnostic...and incalculably profound.

what are your opinions on #14? it sounds like it is agaist prayer....thoughts?

(14) Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits. When you go into any land and walk about in the districts, if they receive you, eat what they will set before you, and heal the sick among them. For what goes into your mouth will not defile you, but that which issues from your mouth - it is that which will defile you." I think he's warning his disciples when they travel amongst men...that their words can cause their undoing. Their prayers could be misinterpreted and twisted into blasphemy. If they fast, they will not be of sure wit, which could cause misstatements. Not sure why he would be against giving alms, but I suppose there is a specific context that's not understood.

i am at work so I am reading Thomas as I can....but what do you get from it as a whole compared to the other Gospels?

First off, it is more philosophical than religious. Jesus is more of a teacher than the "son of god", so it's not as taxing on one's credulity. It's more like an easter egg hung - searching the words carefully for hidden meaning. It's not critically hinged on the supernatural.

does it go against the other gospels??? from what I read I can see what you mean.....more about Jesus the man than Jesus the Son.....very interesting anyway....

its a very gnostic gospels, and the gnostics were not the apostles, they took an interpertation of the scriptures and some greek philosphy and reinterperted christianity as they saw fit. My problem with them is that they felt as if there were some secret knowledge one had to be iniatiated into, and so they were very selective.

Jesus said his kingdom was open to anyone. Paul wrote that we renouce secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting for the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

They run contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, so I reject gnosticism on that basis. Maybe it had some good things to offer, but distorting Gods word into meaning things it was never taken to me, denying the Christ, those are things gnostics did that were hersies.

its a very gnostic gospels, and the gnostics were not the apostles, they took an interpertation of the scriptures and some greek philosphy and reinterperted christianity as they saw fit. My problem with them is that they felt as if there were some secret knowledge one had to be iniatiated into, and so they were very selective.

Jesus said his kingdom was open to anyone. Paul wrote that we renouce secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting for the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

They run contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, so I reject gnosticism on that basis. Maybe it had some good things to offer, but distorting Gods word into meaning things it was never taken to me, denying the Christ, those are things gnostics did that were hersies.

thanks for your thoughts rastus