Date: Wed Jan 22 2003 - 08:12:43 EST
In a message dated 1/22/03 12:08:04 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> But it seems to me that interpreting Biblical teachings through
> non-canonical works is essentially a contradiction. Most (all?) writings
> like the Gospels of Thomas and Philip were eliminated precisely because
> they were not consonant with the core consensus of the voices of the canon.
> It’s not inappropriate to read them for context of the times and
> understanding of various groups’ beliefs, but the Gospels of Thomas and
> Philip in particular were passed over when making the several canonical
> cuts [Gospel of Thomas specifically excluded by Origen, for example, and
> the Gospel of Philip doesn’t seem to have been in the running]. So, why
> would one look to them for clarification and subtle meanings of passages in
> the canon itself. I’m not even talking about inspiration here, just logic.
> Case in point: “Then on page 227, "Man and God are each only a half
> finished, incomplete form.”
You are quite right to question my use of these sources, but whether or not
a political decision was made to include these texts in the canon, it is not
historically correct to ignore them completely and to refuse to find their
place in the development of religious thought. In this particular instance,
the philosophical thread that begins with the Kabbalah and ends with the Nag
Hammadi texts is instructive in the story of Adam and Eve. You can see
yourself what Jesus is talking about in the coptic texts so perfectly if you
examine his words in light of the Jewish philosophy. Because the thread
helps me to understand the allegorical nature of the story of Adam and Eve I
share it. It is not dogma or canon but real history and real philosophy and
it doesn't mar the story of Adam and Eve but reveals it.
I believe you do see the utility of understanding the development of such
texts in light of our own accepted texts.
I want to know as surely as you do what was "not consonant with the core
concensus of the voices of the canon." That's why I try to understand the
origin and development of that "core concensus."
There is little more in our canon that helps elucidate the story of Adam and
Eve than a "rib."
as for your right remark re: p. 227 - Jews believe they are on a par with God
in a way Christians do not. They try to "trick" God using his own law. But
then I can see that aspect of their philosophy and account for it in the
remarks because I know Jewish philosophy. What I didn't have from our texts
was the notion that perfection/unity was a combination of male and female
principles which we find in Jewish and gnostic religious philosophy that
developed around the same time as the canon and in roughly the same area.
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