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Reply by the "Heathen Gnostic"
Thanks for taking the effort to compile such an indepth reply to my post.
> It seems that we're branching out quite a
> bit from just the "canonicity" of
> the Gospel of Thomas.
Um. I don't know about that. All I've done is try to stick to the topic at hand. Which was The Gospel According To Thomas. And your subsequent replies to that.
In other words. My post needs to be read in reference to Thomas' Gospel.
> Just to state for the record, when we talk
> of certain manuscripts being
> "authoritative", this is in
> regards to the historicity of Jesus of
> Nazareth, both in the events of His
> life/death/resurrection and what he (and
> later His apostles) actually taught.
On a technicality... we will never know what he actually taught. We weren't there. We only have third hand accounts.
> As it is, the canonical Gospels are
> conservatively dated from AD 65-100, which
> is at least a preliminary indication that
> they could be more authoritative than the
> Gnostic texts.
This is an interesting point because according to the gnostic library website, Thomas' Gospel is considered the older.
Which adds another element to it. Instead of disagreement about content. There is disagreement about age.
While the manuscripts of both
> "camps" include
> doctrines/traditions that were around
> earlier, it is my understanding that the
> historical evidence points to that seen in
> the canonical Gospels appearing decades
> earlier than Gnostic teachings.
Now you're going off on a tangent. We are not talking about Gnostic teachings. We are talking about Thomas' Gospel.
> In addition, the canonical Gospels are both
> historically reliable and simply much closer
> to the authority of Jesus himself.
How do you know this?
> world-class (and non-Christian) historians
> like Michael Grant and A.N. Sherwin-White
> agree that, when judged according to
> standards of ancient historiography in terms
> of date & reliability on issues that can
> be compared to other known data, the
> canonical Gospels measure well and ought to
> be accepted as good sources for historical
> information about Jesus.
Hang on. When judged according to: standard of ancient historiography IN TERMS OF date & reliability on ISSUES THAT CAN BE COMPARED to other known data. Say what?
This is saying... based on the tiny bit written over there... and when compared to other tiny bits in the same compiled work, we see similarities.
This means nothing. It's almost circular logic. All of it must be true because that tiny bit there matches some other tiny bit from the same place and time.
Of course there is not going to be other works. Third party works. Commenting on what happened in someone else's "locale." They write about things that happen to them in their areas.
> N.T. critical scholar A.M. Hunter pointed
> out several reasons why the Gospels are
> trustworthy sources, which may be summarized
> as follows:
> 1) The earliest Christians were meticulous
> in preserving the tradition of Jesus' words
> and life.
If they were so meticulous, why such differences in the four main Gospels of the New Testament? And why were they written so long after his apparent death.
> 2) The Gospel writers were close to the
> eyewitnesses and pursued the facts about
This is also like circular logic. It's true because those who wrote it were close to others who saw it or knew more of it. How is that assumption jumped to with reason. How do we know what efforts the writers went to?
> 3) There are indications that these authors
> were honest reporters.
It's true because those who wrote it have evidence they were honest?
> 4) The overall composite of Jesus as
> presented in the four Gospels is essentially
> the same.
The OVERALL composite is ESSENTIALLY the same.
Give me a break. This is no proof of anything. All four Gospels could easily have been written based on one singluar other work.
> Of course, there are other considerations
> for determining authoritativeness, but I'll
> stop there.
I hope they are better than these four.
> First, this is a different kind of
> inconsistency. My statement was mostly in
> regards to ideas & doctrines within
> gnostic teaching that are/were incompatible
> with that of orthodox Christianity.
See. I was writing in regards to your unclarified statement of inconsistency. And showing that those teachings you say Thomas' Gospel is consistent with are also inconsistent within themselves.
> (Recognizing, of course, that there are/were
> various forms & brands of gnosticism.)
What does Gosticism have to do with this? It's all in reference to Thomas' Gospel. Not some other Gnostic teachings.
> The "inconsistencies" you refer to
> here are largely related to details in a
Details in narrative? The whole Bible is a narrative. It relies on details. Without details there is no narrative.
And besides. I thought those who recorded all this kept meticulous records. With such meticulous record keeping how could there be these inconsistencies?
> Second, I don't think a reasonable person
> would find it odd that 3 or 4 different
> people telling the same story (especially
> several years after the fact) would remember
> or choose to include a few different
No. A resonable person would find it strange that four people told the same story exactly.
But that's is just it. The stories are different. BUT only selective stories are presented as "common knowledge" of the events.
If you want to pick a specific
> example, I'll take a shot at explaining it.
Sure. I'll pick two. You explain them.
Jesus Birth - what we all know as the nativity scene. Not all four Gospels have Jesus in a barn in a food trof.
Jesus' ressurection at the cave. Different people. Different numbers. Important people left out some times and other have them there.
These "details" are fundamental and paramount to the narrative.
> Ignoring the cynical tone for the moment,
What cynical tone? All I do is ask questions. Questions seeking satisfactory answers backed up with other than circular logic. But this is being all blown wide of the original topic. Which was Thomas' Gospel.
> believe I've already touched on the illogic
> of such a thing.
No you haven't. Not that I am aware of.
Ok. In Thomas' Gospel (have you read it?) it says "God is within."
Now. In a church just getting started. Trying to "control" the populace, this statement canNOT become common knowledge. It doesn't fit with the Church's claim of divine right. Without Divine right their is no legitimacy to the Pope. And as that can be considered the oldest church, they have a fundamental interest in keeping this document out of sight.
Yes it is not consistent with their teachings. But being against their claims is what leads the church to call it heretical. In other words... it disgrees with the Church so it is Bad.
The bottom line is you
> can't be a true Christian and a true Gnostic
> at the same time.
I don't understand this line at all. Or at least, what you mean by it.
Of course you can't. Being a Gnostic means you constantly seek knowledge and truth. Being a Christian means to not doubt the teachings put forth by the Church as True. They have intrinsic differences.
> I have to admit I'm a bit confused here as
> to the connection. Was there a Gnostic
> teaching against physical circumcision?
It's in Thomas' Gospel.
As I said. Everything I wrote was in relation to Thomas' Gospel and your comments on it. Nothing more nothing less.
As I said in my post to Phil. Debating... to the point of presenting evidence and whatnot, is a fruitless exercise. Those who firmly believe will still believe. Those who don't, won't suddenly "find religion." And those who sit on the fence not knowing one way or the other, will still sit on the fence.
And each camp will view things like a one-eyed fan. Seeing no wrong from their team but all little indiscretions from the other side.
For instance. We can say, "Jesus is the world of the Lord."
Then whenever we see "And the world of the Lord was in..." we can then re-insert who The World of The Lord refers to. In this case, Jesus.
So when reading Acts and we see The Word Of The Lord Was in... we can thus read it as "And Jesus was in..."
BUT... he was supposed to be dead and raised back up to heaven. Not wandering around being anywhere.
Now. A firm believer will have reasons to come up with what Word of The Lord actually means. While a non-believer will look it as proof JC didn't go up to heaven. The firm believe cannot entertain the notion because it would undermine the foundation of their faith. If Jesus was just a normal man and did not die as believed, the religion loses its reason for existing. - Regardless of the beauty of the message.
And no-one changes their mind.
For instance. The Imam at the Mosque near where I live, gave me a book called "The Choice" which is by Ahmed Deedat.
Basically, it is a book of arguements as to why the Bible predicts Muhummed. And why he is also the successor to Jesus. (Who is viewed as one of the Great Profits by Is-lam.)
The book uses the Bible texts against itself. I think in an effort to show fence sitters that Is-lam is the final teaching of God (Al-lah). So if you need to pick what to believe, become a Moslem.
Anyway. As *I* read it, I see flaws in the argument. In other words. While Ahmed tries his darndest to put forth a convincing arguement, his reasoning is flawed.
As an example. He will prove a piece of text to be wrong. Then use that wrong text as proof of something else.
Well. Either the text is right or it isn't. It cannot be right when it serves your purpose and wrong when it doesn't.
All I am getting at with that Work is... it helps Moslems reinforce their belief, but probably does little if anything at all, to make a Christian change their mind and become a Moslem. And because I am neither, I can view it more objectively.
Anyway. For your reading pleasure. I present Hank... :o)
This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:
"Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."
Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's a** with us."
Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss his a**?"
John: "If you kiss Hank's a**, he'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, he'll kick the sh*t out of you."
Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"
John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do what ever he wants, and what he wants is to give you a million dollars, but he can't until you kiss his a**."
Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."
Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the a**?"
Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."
John: "Then come kiss Hank's a** with us."
Me: "Do you kiss Hank's a** often?"
Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."
Me: "And has he given you a million dollars?"
John: "Well no, you don't actually get the money until you leave town."
Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"
Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and he kicks the sh*t out of you."
Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's a**, left town, and got the million dollars?"
John: "My mother kissed Hank's a** for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."
Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"
John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."
Me: "So what makes you think he'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"
Mary: "Well, he gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty dollar bill on the street."
Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?
John: "Hank has certain ‘connections.'"
Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."
John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's a** he'll kick the sh*t of you."
Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to him, get the details straight from him..."
Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."
Me: "Then how do you kiss his a**?"
John: "Sometimes we just blow him a kiss, and think of his a**. Other times we kiss Karl's a**, and he passes it on."
Me: "Who's Karl?"
Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's a**. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."
Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss his a**, and that Hank would reward you?"
John: "Oh no! Karl's got a letter Hank sent him years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."
John handed me a photocopy of a handwritten memo on From the desk of Karl letterhead. There were eleven items listed:
1.Kiss Hank's a** and he'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
2.Use alcohol in moderation.
3.Kick the sh*t out of people who aren't like you.
5.Hank dictated this list himself.
6.The moon is made of green cheese.
7.Everything Hank says is right.
8.Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
10.Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
11.Kiss Hank's a** or he'll kick the sh*t out of you.
Me: "This would appear to be written on Karl's letterhead."
Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."
Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."
John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."
Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"
Mary: "Not now, but years ago he would talk to some people."
Me: "I thought you said he was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the sh*t out of people just because they're different?"
Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."
Me: "How do you figure that?"
Mary: "Item 7 says ‘Everything Hanks says is right.' That's good enough for me!"
Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."
John: "No way! Item 5 says ‘Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says ‘Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says ‘Eat right,' and item 8 says ‘Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."
Me: "But 9 says ‘Don't Drink,' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says ‘The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."
John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."
Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."
Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."
Me: "I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon came from the Earth has been discounted. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."
John: "Aha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"
Me: "We do?"
Mary: "Of course we do, Item 5 says so."
Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying ‘Hank's right because he says he's right.'"
John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."
Me: "But...oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?"
Mary blushes. John says: "Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong."
Me: "What if I don't have a bun?"
John: "No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong."
Me: "No relish? No Mustard?"
Mary looks positively stricken. John shouts: "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!"
Me: "So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?"
Mary sticks her fingers in her ears: "I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la."
John: "That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..."
Me: "It's good! I eat it all the time."
Mary faints. John catches her: "Well, if I'd known you where one of those I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the sh*t out of you I'll be there, counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's a** for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater."
With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.
PS. As I read back over this, I see the point (If there ever was one) is totally gone. And now I don't really know what we are talking about. Too many topics for a single post, for me.
And I don't think we will ever know either way... what was or was not written by Church founders and passed off as Gospel, or even other people. We won't know all the writings which never made it into the compilation we know as The Holy Bible. And we will never have a single way to interpret the writings. (but we can have fun in the meantime :o))
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