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Discussion about the Parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas
A Bible and Beyond Discussion
Monday, January 27, 2020
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Presenter: Dr. Hal Taussig
Host: Shirley Paulson, PhD
Like many other canonical and extra-canonical documents from the first and second centuries, the Gospel of Thomas contains a number of parables. Gospel of Thomas has more or less three kinds of parables: those with almost exact parallels with Matthew, Mark, or Luke; those with similar story-lines to canonical gospels but with strikingly different meanings; and those that have little or no similarities to canonical gospels. This Monday Textual study examines the Gospel of Thomas parables from several different angles.
Good examples are available on the gospels.net website, and Early Christian Writings.
Parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas Transcript
We’d like to welcome everyone to the January, 2020, Tanho Monday Textual Study. I’m Hilary Barner, filling in tonight for Shirley Paulson of Early Christian Texts. And our presenter this evening is Dr. Hal Taussig. In this study, we’ll be talking about the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas. This gospel contains a number of parables, like many other canonical and extra canonical documents from the first and second centuries. Some of these parables are almost exact parallels with the gospels of Matthew, Mark, or Luke, but others have no similarity.
Just a gentle reminder that donations supporting the creation of these textual studies, study archives are greatly appreciated. $5 to $10 per session would be enough to keep us going. You can find the donation link, the text we’re studying tonight, more information about past and future study sessions, as well as other archive recordings on the Early Christian Texts website by clicking the button on the homepage that says, [The Bible and Beyond Discussions]. Okay, I think we’ll turn this over to Hal to get us started.
Thanks so much, Hilary, for subbing here and for all of your presence over the many months. So, I want to say just a few words about the Gospel of Thomas itself for those of you who may not have studied the Gospel of Thomas.
We did it as a Monday study session, we did study the overarching Gospel of Thomas about seven months ago. And so some of you have been with us on that. But we are, tonight, going to be focusing in on the parables of the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas was found in the Nag Hammadi find in central Egypt in 1945, as a part of 50 some, 52, more or less, early Christ movement texts. And probably the Gospel of Thomas itself has been of all those texts, the most studied since 1945. There are a number that have really attracted a lot of attention.
But in many ways, probably, the Gospel of Thomas is still the text that has been most available and most interesting to people over the last 70 years. We will see that the Gospel of Thomas is basically what one would call a ‘sayings gospel,’ or perhaps even more appropriately, a ‘sayings text’. That is, it only holds texts and only ‘sayings texts.’ In other words, there is no story in the Gospel of Thomas. It’s simply a whole series of sayings of Jesus. That doesn’t mean we necessarily think that all of these sayings are historically accurate. As we don’t think that necessarily of parables in the Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of Luke or Matthew. But there are many overlaps between these four gospels as they are primary in giving us a sense of what kinds of parables might be attracted from a larger set of practices.
The Gospel of Thomas, as I said, has been studied a lot, but I would have to say for myself, that the Gospel of Thomas continues to be a significant puzzle for all readers. It has a lot of similarities with canonical gospel sayings of Jesus. And on the other hand, because it’s a sayings gospel, it’s very difficult for moderns to think with a text that does not have a narrative or a story with it relative to Jesus. So, if you find yourself scratching your head about some of the parables tonight in the Gospel of Thomas, you need to know that probably three or four generations of scholars would join you in not being on top of exactly what’s going on in the Gospel of Thomas. One of the things that many scholars have said is, “This is a real strong indication that Jesus himself was primarily a teacher.”
In other words, what we have here are simply 14 short sayings or short teachings of some kind of Jesus. And what we, therefore, think is that the way, at least a number of scholars think that, what we find in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, especially, canonically, as sayings in the middle of a story or different stories – because Matthew, Mark, and Luke are somewhat different in their stories — really could be pointing back to a time in which the main way that people began to recognize Jesus as important was simply these 114 sayings. In other words, that Jesus was primarily known, first of all, as a teacher and probably a teacher from a fairly un-scholarly way of presentation, perhaps even someone who didn’t know how to read and who was not schooled himself.
So, we can return, I think, to some of those questions as we dip into the Gospel of Thomas‘s texts themselves, and particularly the parables. I think I’d like to spend a few moments talking about the study of parables in the last hundred years. And I would like to do this, really, as a way in. I would like us to look at just one of the texts — one of the parables in the Gospel of Thomas, which is text number 9. You’ll probably notice that this is, in fact, one of the, texts… one of the parables that’s most known from Jesus. And this is the Parable of the Sower. This version of the parable of the Sower in the Gospel of Thomas 9, and I’ll read that in case some of you don’t have it in front of you.
Jesus said, “Look, a sower went out with a handful of seeds and sowed them. Some fell on the road. The birds came and gathered them. Others fell on the rock. They did not take root in the soil or produce ears, and others fell among thorns. They choked the seed and were eaten by worms, and some fell upon good soil and produced fruit up to the sky, 60 per measure, 120 per measure.”
So you’ll notice that there is a little difference between that and the way the sower parable is presented in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But by and large, it’s the same short story. And, here, we can see that for the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Thomas represents it just as that story of someone who basically is doing a fairly bad job of sowing. And this probably helps us and we’ll get to this in a moment, to notice what a parable in and of itself is – this short, quirky story.
And in this case, as in many cases of parables, the story is surprising. So the first thing that is surprising about this parable is that the person whose job it is to sow seeds is messing it up, throwing the seeds in the wrong place, and that’s not going well. So that’s the first surprise in the story. And we as a hearer from this teller, think, “Wait a minute, stop that. You’re not supposed to be doing this.” And then, there’s another surprise at the end of the story, and that is that even though the sower has really messed up a lot and has done a poor job of sowing, it’s a spectacular harvest. So here I just want us to see, then, how surprising this parable is. It’s about surprise, and in one case, the surprise is disturbing. And in the other case, it’s surprising because the bad job has produced a great harvest.
I think that when we hear parables from the canonical gospels, one thing that is hard to do is be surprised because we’ve read them so often. So, I really like the Gospel of Thomas’s presentation of this because we see that. But also partly because if you read this in Matthew, Mark, or Luke, it is no longer surprising for two reasons. One, many of us have read it for a long time, and we kind of yawn to get through it because it’s not surprising. We have done it so much. But the second reason that it’s not surprising is that in Matthew, Mark, and Luke this story is then interpreted right afterwards by Jesus. And there, Jesus says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus says, he takes his disciples aside and says, “Hmm, the reason I’m telling you parables, and I’m telling the people in general, parables is because I don’t want them to understand.
And then Jesus proceeds to give the disciples only, a secret interpretation of the parable. And in this secret interpretation, and you may remember this, basically what Jesus says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is that you’re not supposed to understand it unless you get the secret interpretation. And in the secret interpretation, everything that happens to the seed is not about someone sowing seeds, but it’s a secret passage in which it’s about… it’s what happens to the teaching, or the word that is taught. In one case, if one bad thing happens, it’s because some people doesn’t understand the word for one reason or another. So in other words, what we see in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is that this parable is not meant to be surprising after you’ve got the secret teaching. So it’s almost impossible for us to be surprised by the gospel …by this parable.
Rather, if we follow the impression from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, what we want to do is get the secret reading of this. This is what we call an allegory, not a parable. So an allegory is always something that secretly interprets another text that couldn’t be interpreted that way unless you give another meaning to each section of the parable, or of the text that you’re making an allegory about. So, almost a hundred years ago, a little bit more than a hundred years ago, a number of scholars in Germany began noticing that most of the parables in the canonical gospels don’t have the secret…. They don’t have the secret interpretation, rather, they are by and large, sometimes funny and almost always surprising little stories.
So you’ll remember, for instance, two surprising parables that don’t have any secret interpretations; the sowing of the mustard seed, which is surprising in that mustard seeds are by and large, if you sow them, you’re really sowing weeds. And then, because no one’s really liking that much. And secondly, in the parable of the mustard seed at the end, the mustard seed growing is compared to the cedar of Lebanon, which is a giant tree, which holds so many birds in it because it’s so great. Similarly, you have another parable like the parable of the kingdom of God being compared to a woman who makes bread and puts leaven in it. And it grows to be very big. There the kingdom of God is compared to a woman – that’s surprising. And compared to leaven being put into the dough, that’s surprising, too, in the ancient world, because leaven is by and large considered to be dangerous. So if you look at all of the parables or many of the parables, both in Thomas and in the rest of the gospels, they’re generally quirky little surprise stories, often compared to the kingdom of God in ways that are surprising.
Why would compare the kingdom of God to a weed being sowed, or to a woman baking bread with leavening? Here in the Gospel of Thomas you have that in a parable, which Matthew and Mark and Luke have actually turned into an allegory. Okay, that’s a big mouthful. Some of you know this, but I want to stop here to have us take on the possibility that parables are quirky, surprising stories that have, by and large, for canonical readers been… It’s much more confusing because the first time Jesus teaches, for instance, a parable in the gospel of Mark, he does it by turning it into not a parable, but an allegory.
So let me stop here and have folks ask questions, have protests, or muse themselves on these three parables that I’ve opened up. And actually two are in Thomas straightforwardly and to a certain extent, three. So let’s see if we can catch up with a hundred years of parable scholarship. But I think that some of you will want to ask questions or protest this kind of approach.
I had a little question, not totally related to what you’ve talked about, but in researching some of this, I read an article about why possibly, this was not included in the Gospel of Thomas in with the other gospels in the the canonical Bible. And one of the comments was that clearly his approach is gnostic, which was not acceptable for… I mean, he was anti-marriage and anti-procreation, and that some of the opinions that came out in there would not have been acceptable. And I just was curious what you thought about that.
Hmm. Thanks. Yes, I think that there is… that goes along to a certain extent, with the contrast that I was saying earlier, that it does have seems to have some different approach to some of what one learns, from the canonical. We don’t, actually… in the ancient world, we don’t have people saying, “Boy, that Gospel of Thomas is so confusing”, because there’s so much wisdom literature in the ancient world that it seems to be a very… we know that it was widely distributed because we have it in multiple languages. You can feel us straining, can’t you, as moderns, in terms of some of the contrasting approaches. Let’s see if there are any other questions about the form of parables themselves, both in the gospels that are in the cannon and in this gospel.
I think that what makes the gospels interesting, you know, the parables and the allegories is that they’re open-ended. So you have an opportunity to come to your own conclusion. And, I think, you know, to have a whole gospel with parables and allegories without too many direct teachings takes the faith to a whole different level.
Yes, Stephanie, thank you so much. It really is. The open-endedness of the parables is striking. And I would say again, this makes some of us immediately a little nervous because I would say it is almost exactly the opposite of doctrine.
Doctrine is to nail down the meaning. Parables seem to have a strikingly open-ended approach to what the kingdom of God is and to what it means in any way. I would say however, that I think actually, allegories don’t have open-endedness. In other words, allegories also want to nail it down. They want to nail another text down and what it means. In this case, what the sower means, first of all, it kind of hijacks the possibility that the sower might be about a sower and might be this funny little thing that happens to somebody who messes up in sowing in which, all of a sudden, out of a disaster comes a really, wonderful result. And so I would really follow you I think, on seeing how the parables themselves are very open-ended. But I think that allegories actually, are trying to keep the open-endedness of the parable in check.
I mean, I get what you’re saying with that, but with the sower, in the Gospel of Thomas, it depends on which seeds you are, right? So the sower goes out and he throws the seeds around. And so I only… you know, my father used to use this parable to describe my behavior. So you know, you decide, I think the sower is one part of it, but the seed is another, right? And so my father said, you’re like the seed, you know, I was a teenager, you’re like the seed that falls in between the rocks. You know, you grow up a little bit (laughing). And I would be like what? And so (laughing), what kind of seed do you wanna be? And so, yes, it kind of nails it down, but it’s still a way of looking at it from a different perspective. And so, I wanted to be the seed that fell on the fertile soil.
Instead of in between the rock, you know. (laughing).
And so when your father said you’re the one that falls between the rocks, what did that do to you?
Oh, I was offended, but…
I was a good church girl. How dare he say, oh, I’m falling between the rocks, but I get where he was going. But, in reading that I didn’t just remain the seed that fell between the rock. I worked hard to become the seed that fell on the good soil. You know?
What I like about what your father was doing is that he wasn’t going for the allegory. He stayed with the story of the seeds. And that even opened up some ways of thinking for yourself. So, yes. I think that’s really important. Now there are lots of good things to work on with Thomas, but let me see if there are any other questions right here at the beginning about the open-endedness of meaning in the parables.
I guess I would say one other thing when you look at this story just as a story, I would want to suggest that one of the primary fields of meaning, shall we say, about the parable of the sower is that something that is really not going well, all of a sudden goes, well. In other words, what if that is part of the heart of what this parable is meant to make people think about? “Oh, I, it looks like things are in my life in this or that way, are not going so well.” Actually don’t then think in a predicted way, but let yourself be surprised by something good happening, even when it looked like it wasn’t.
Just following up Stephanie’s thought a bit further about how the canonical gospels tie things down. Doesn’t that betray a real nervousness in those gospel communities that we need to control this? And therefore, you know, if that’s the case, does that indicate the Gospel of Thomas being much earlier or being in… somehow in a community that’s far more trusting and allowing of multiple interpretations?
Yes, that’s a great question, Adrian. And let me stay in the two directions that you’re aiming in. Yes, I think that it’s very much the case that parables make people nervous. Not by saying an exact meaning but by putting us in a story that is surprising. And yes, it does seem to me that the canonical gospels, and even though I really love Mark as a gospel, I think Mark probably started it. And Mark was nervous about this parable, and needed to make it a little bit less open-ended. Thomas never gives an allegory of a parable. So most scholars of parables in the last hundred years have really gone towards the fact that a number of other parables… not a lot of them, but some of them. There are a couple of others that also do have an allegory attached to them in the canonical.
So, yes, that would tend to say Adrian, that at least Thomas reflects an earlier, non allegorical approach to having meaning from these surprising stories. The problem with taking that conclusion too far is that there is other indication within Thomas that even though they don’t mess with the parables, they do mess with some other of the sayings. So it looks like there are additions added by Thomas to other kinds of sayings there. So that would be the one thing that would make me not want to say it looks like Thomas is the pure text. It feels to me like as soon as anybody starts writing down the stories or the teachings of someone who can’t even read, Jesus, and who is a clever oral storyteller, as soon as the people that are writing down … you know, the characters like me and all these writers…I think that that is to a certain extent, a controlling mechanism. So what seems to be the possibility still, though, in your direction about Thomas, many scholars now are thinking that Thomas may actually have not only one way of interpreting. But Thomas is comfortable with having somewhat competitive ways of interpreting the teachings of Jesus.
So let me go a little step further and look at the last parable in the Gospel of Thomas. And that is 113, and I’ll read that out as well. His follower said to Jesus, “When will the realm come?” So this is the larger… in Thomas, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Most often the parables are associated with the idea of the coming of the realm of God or of the kingdom of God. So his follower said to Jesus, “When will the realm come?” And then Jesus says, “It will not come by looking for it. It will be not be a matter of saying, “here it is, or, look, there it is” Rather, the realm of the Father is spread out upon the earth, but people just don’t see it.”
So here you’ll notice how this links to what we are talking about in terms of the parable of the leaven, and the parable of the sower, and the parable of the mustard seed. Here, Jesus is saying, “Trying to find the realm of God is probably not the way you would approach it. Just notice or know that the realm of God is spread out on the whole earth, and people aren’t just seeing it.” So there again, it’s relaxed into the possibility of being surprised about where the realm of God is in your life. This is in some ways, 113 has often been thought of as kind of the key interpretive gesture in Thomas of all of the parables, because this is now not just one parable about where the realm of God is in a particular story, but it’s a story of the realm of God itself is just spread out everywhere, if you would only see it. This is not unlike the first parable in the gospel of Mark where… or it’s a summary of the parables in which Jesus says “the realm of God is at hand. Change your life and receive it.” … in chapter one of Mark.
So I will stop and just see if there are other thoughts as we proceed.
Well, this is Joy, and I was noticing the difference between Luke’s version and Thomas’s version was that they both say you can’t see it with your eyes, but one says it’s within you, where the other says it’s everywhere, and it’s such a good…. I like that. I like Thomas because it really makes me think. And probably for me, because it’s new and different, but I wonder whether it made people think at that time, because did they understand what he was saying in some of these sayings? Was this some deep teaching that you had to be in and already know all these things before you could understand it? And for me, it just really makes me think about it.
Mm. Thank you, Joy. Yes. I think you’re onto something really important here. And so if we take Thomas as just this bundle of sayings, I think you’re quite close. And there, I think it’s very important to at least consider “describealising” or taking these out of the context of writing. What you can note about parables is you don’t have to know how to read or write to tell a parable or to listen to one. There are almost …hardly any of them are more than three sentences long. And this is an oral culture, and this kind of teacher is a peasant teacher. And it doesn’t use big words. It doesn’t use guiding concepts. It uses surprising stories to reorient one. So, yes I would want to say, I’m following my colleague John Dominic Crossan on this. He said, “when people would hear the peasant teacher Jesus, say a parable, there would be three or four of them listening to it, and three or four having a different interpretation.”
So in other words, again, not a dogmatician but someone who wants to pop open the way one lives. I think the other thing to know, Joy, about Luke, and it’s an interesting comparison to Thomas in the coming of the realm of God, is the translation of “is within you”. A bunch of folks have wondered whether that’s a mistranslation because the word translated ‘in’ is literally the Greek word ‘in’. But that also means ‘among’. It doesn’t mean ‘in’ like singular, and then ‘you’ is not singular. So it’s not ‘is within you’ singular, it’s ‘among you’ plural. So, in other words, I would want to say, I think that Luke is closer to Thomas in this case than our interpretations have led us, because to a certain extent, much of the interpretation of that Luke parable has privatized it.There’s simply no way that ‘you’ in Greek is singular. And then also the fact that ‘in’, well, that is really true also in English, isn’t it? One can use ‘in’ as meaning ‘among’.
I think here, as I said in the notice for this study, it’s probably appropriate for us to stop. And especially since there’s so many of these parables in Thomas, some of which we know about before, and some of which we only know of from Thomas; to just begin to think about letting Jesus get out of the book and into the world of the peasant teacher. In other words it’s curious what books do for us and how books actually clamp us down. So here, you have an oral culture in which only 5%, and most scholars think no more than 5% of people can read or write at this time. And Jesus probably,… I mean, there’s Jesus only in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus only reads once. And doesn’t read at all in Thomas. I think there’s a really fun possibility that the way Thomas, even in his writing, treats the parables is it loosens them up and doesn’t let them have to be guided by a larger creed or a larger religion.
What do you all think about the possibility of letting Jesus’ parables be a primary way of encountering him today? Okay, well, pop in on these thoughts as we go along. But I want to now go to…, and obviously, we can’t take all of these parables, but one of the ones that helps us understand the surprising character of Thomas’s parables is 97. And I’ll read 97 for those of you who don’t have it, Jesus said, “The realm of the Father is compared to a woman carrying a jar filled with flour while she was walking on the road, a ways out, the handle of the jar broke, the flour emptied out on the road, but she did not realize it or recognize a problem.” End of story, (laughing).
Here, of course, it’s really important, not always does Thomas’s version compare in a parable… compare the short little story to the realm of God or the kingdom of God, but here, this one does. So for me, this is very much like the sower who screws up and doesn’t do his job right. And what he does is compared to the kingdom of God. Basically, it’s not unnoticeable that Thomas has basically the same story or the same kind of story at the beginning of Thomas in 9, and at the end, or near the end in 97. And this may help us get outside of the allegorizing of the parable of the sower, because basically that’s the same thing – or very similar kind of mini plot with this woman who goes to get her flour and on the way home doesn’t notice that she loses all the flour she got. And this is even less pedantic than the sower. Because what this says is something like, and there I hope that some of you have other interpretations, but this says “the realm of God is like somebody who lost something that they really liked.”
In other words, there for instance, Joy, I would want to say, as you said, then you think about that. (laughing), What would it be like to have a storyteller who put right alongside each other, something that was valuable and got lost, and the experience of the realm of God. That, I guess, for me, that’s really interesting since larger stories in the early Christ movements are very interested in all kinds of things going wrong, including Jesus’ crucifixion. In other words, often in the early Christ movements, people whose lives are full of loss associate Jesus’s own loss with getting a new start. But here it probably even more easily claimed… I mean I ask in classes, I ask people “So what went wrong today?” And then to say, “Could you compare that to the realm of God in your life?” And Joy is shaking her head “no”. I see her. (laughing) But I would say it might, if one made a had a spiritual practice of even consulting the screw ups in our day as a source of experiencing God’s realm, it might be transforming.
Hal, if I may, I really like that parable because it’s so visual. You hear it and it’s like a cartoon. Where there’s a trail of something, gunpowder or something. But in this case, it’s flour which is useful to people. I hear that, and immediately it’s one interpretation, but it’s God’s generosity, you know, that flour’s available now. It’s all over… It’s all over the place. And in a sense, it’s a bit like the previous parable, “Look around you, it’s just there. It’s available.” So I think that there’s a real profound religious naturalism. It’s bringing things down to earth. You don’t need fancy doctrine. God’s intention is generosity, or something like that.
Yes, that’s exactly where I go on it. And I’m reminded of Robert Funk who compared Jesus to a comic. And so to think about this kind of teaching as basically a standup comic which tells a tiny little story that makes one reassess what’s going on and ends up… I love, Adrian, your possibility that this is really about a charged generosity of life itself. Or as in 13, it’s spread out all over the place and people just don’t see it
Now, you know, when I first read this parable many years ago, it reminded me of a poem in the play For Colored Girls by -inaudible- and so the poem says, “somebody almost ran off with all my stuff.” And so I read this from a womanist perspective, that you can lose all your stuff, (laughing) that could still be in the realm of God, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a happy thing. Oh, you know, your stuff got took. that “somebody almost walked away with all my stuff”. And it’s a poem about relationships, and that you almost gave your whole self away and didn’t even realize it.
So, you know, I don’t see it as the generosity of God, but I see it as… that God’s realm is still present even when you almost lose, or when you do lose all your stuff. And so, one of the reasons why I love the Gospel of Thomas, because you could look at it in so many way. And so you can see the generosity, can see the cartoon in it, but you can also see the near tragedy of it and know that God is still present even in tragedy.
Oh, that’s so powerful, Stephanie, and so for me, I mean, when I think of Sean Gaye’s work, I mean that whole play has such beauty and vibrancy in it, even though it keeps bumping right into really hard and violent and scary parts of life. And again, as we’ve said a couple of times in previous months, being aware of all of the loss and hurt in the first century at the hands of really violent rulers is one of the ways you start getting… and the open-endedness of the teaching of Jesus. In other words, if Jesus is only kind of a middle class seller of a doctrine, that’s way different than being someone who is right in the middle of all of these messes and saying, “Oh, Yes, you just lost all your flour. – inaudible -Think about it again. How about that?”
Yes. No, Sean Gaye is just wonderful.
Hal, we have a request in the chat that you discuss verse 114.
Now that we’re down the last few minutes.
…Really exciting. That’s really exciting. And whoever that is, thank you because you broke out of the parables but no one should read… No one should read Thomas without coming to terms with 114. So I’ll do that. And, we’ve only got a few minutes left, but let me… I can say a little bit about that. Simon Peter said to them, “Let Mary leave us, for women do not deserve life.” “Ah,” Jesus said, “look, I will lead her so that I might make her male, which will make her into a living spirit resembling you males for any woman that makes herself male will enter the realm of heaven.” Well. (laughing)
So, yes, and that’s the way the gospel ends for me, on a really down note. So I just want to first of all say, “I wish it weren’t there.” But it is, so we have to deal with it quickly. And this really whoever you are, we really deserve a whole hour on this. The first thing for me to do is to notice the male perspective and the disaster of that in this saying. The second thing is when you know more about gender in the first century, you can see something happening here. So you see here, basically Peter, who says, women aren’t even really worthy of life, so get them out of here. But then Jesus’ response at least for us, moderns and postmoderns is really also pretty disastrous in that he says, the way to help women participate in the realm of God is to make them into male.
For me, that’s unacceptable. What many scholars have pointed out is that in fact, that is a culture in which the only real humans are males. And so what Jesus is doing there in that kind of language, he is saying women belong to the realm of God and belong to what we’re doing. So they need to be elevated to male status. Again, disastrous strategy, as far as I’m concerned. That’s what folks are saying, that that is going on. As we see, of course, in a lot of texts inside the canon and out, real creative ways of including women. So this might be one. The other thing that some scholars say, and I frankly don’t… I wish this were true, and I’m afraid I disagree with it. Other scholars say that, 114 really doesn’t belong to Thomas. So I wish that were true, and there’s a little bit of rationale for it, but I’m afraid for myself that it’s better to look at the patriarchy head on in all of these texts because the patriarchy is in all of these texts and come to terms with it. Don’t give it credit, but come to terms with it. And if anybody can figure out why 114 wouldn’t belong please do.
Hal, I have a question. One of the interpretations I read of it was that the gnostics were celibate and they felt … they were against having children because of bringing the, they thought the world, the human existence was evil. And so this was Jesus bringing Mary into celibacy and no childbearing. And in so doing that makes her a man like them.
Mm-hmm. Yes, I think, there’s some of that language because a number of us don’t think that gnosticism existed. That has some problems, but I do think that it is… that what you have here is part of a larger early Christ movement interest in making gender much less stable than it was. You see that in all kinds of ways, especially when gender really means for the patriarchal world, that only men are real humans. So yes, anybody that tries to, to get us out of the 114 mess deserves credit. And I am aware that we’re past our time. We only got through five of Thomas’s parables and there are more than a dozen. So, I apologize for us not going any further. Maybe we’ll need to come back in a month or two and do some more. Thanks everyone for being here.
Thank you all. For those that came on late, Shirley couldn’t be with us tonight so she asked me to host this for her. This was the January, 2020 Tan Ho Monday textual studies discussion on the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas, led by Dr. Hal Taussig. Once a month from 8:00 to 9:00 Eastern time on Monday nights, generally the fourth of the month, the Tan Ho Center sponsors a discussion of one of the early Christian texts. Each session is led by a trained scholar who shares a well framed overview of the particular text and allows discussion participants time to share their insights as well. Donations supporting the creation of these textual study archives are greatly appreciated. To donate, simply click on the Tan Ho Monday textual studies button on the Early Christian Text homepage. You’ll also find the donation button directly to Early Christian Texts so that we can keep on hosting the website. Thanks so much. Thank you too, Hal, for another stimulating and wonderful discussion about the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas.
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