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Friday, March 07, 2008

The Chuch of Allan - The Plain Truth About God

A serialization of the book, The Plain Truth About God.

Chapter 10. - Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up!


This leads us to another question: “Does the Gospel of Thomas really reflect the views of Jesus?” ……………..Maybe!

There was once a “Q” gospel and a Mark gospel. These were revised and combined into a Matthew gospel and a Luke gospel. Therefore, four interrelated texts testify to a single view of Jesus.

That in turn leads us to the further question of what is “Q” and what does it have to do with Thomas since none of this material existed in a written, coherent, or universal form for several decades after the death of Jesus.

At some point, scholars believe that a written text of only the sayings and teachings of Jesus was in circulation. This was probably in an effort to standardize the proliferating teachings attributed to Jesus in the oral tradition.

If you realize that Matthew and Luke are revised versions of Mark you will see that an extended set of sayings are in Matthew and Luke that do not occur in Mark.

Both Matthew and Luke, it is generally agreed to in scholarship, took those sayings from a mid-first century document that consisted of a list of Jesus’ sayings. That document, called “Quelle,” has come to be known as Q.

It does not exist any longer, but it can be recovered by analysis of Matthew and Luke. Simply put, Q was the written list of sayings that we find common and not too apocalyptic in Mark, Matthew, and Luke.

In other words, things that have a high probability of being said by the historical Jesus, instead of the apocalyptic sayings of “The Christ” that we find in the Gospel of John.

** At the end of the first century C.E. The “Alexandrian School of Thought,” of which Origin and Clement of Alexandria were part, taught that there were three possible approaches to be taken to the scriptures.

(That there were already discussions of this magnitude and significance tells us a lot of the early Christian movement.)

The first approach was the literal translation, the second was symbolic, or allegorical, and the third was spiritual.

1. The first/ literal was described as simplistic and solely for the un-educated.

2. The second/symbolic was the use of parables to convey a deeper meaning.

3. The third/spiritual transcended the mortal plane and bought us closer to God.

Unfortunately at that time, as now, the un-washed masses cried out for a ready-made, simplistic, popular faith. A faith that can best be described as closer to a romance novel than any serious attempt at theology, history and philosophy.

This is also the reason that the “Resurrection” was proclaimed as the basis for Christianity.

This version of the “Faith,” when combined with the Roman gift of organization and brute force, led to the “Christianity” that has been handed down to us.

It seems to be the consensus among New Testament scholars that “Jesus” preached a message that teaches a way of behaving and living that applied to a first century reality.

However, the words of “Christ” are another matter.

If the sayings and parables of “Christ” are examined closely with the purpose of separating those words that were actually uttered by “Jesus” from those that were later attributed to him, we see a vast difference in the context, meaning, and purpose between the two.

The sayings of “Christ” display a metaphorical and allegorical context that suggest someone slightly removed from the everyday world.

The biblical words of “Jesus,” however, were indeed a direct reflection of their place and time. (Just as today, we are all products of our own time and age)

The actual sayings of the historical “Jesus,” which upon close examination shows only a handful of thoughts and parables, are so simple and basic, with such underlying truth, that they can be applied to the human condition of any age.

The origin of Thomas is a question hotly debated by scholars. Many scholars say that it was written at about the same time, or even somewhat before, the gospels in the bible.

Their argument is that most of the sayings in Thomas show no signs of having any dependence on, or knowledge of the Biblical gospels and so Thomas’ sayings derive from oral tradition and not from written Biblical texts.

This does not seem to have been possible after the end of the first century. This is when the Biblical texts began to be authoritative.

Other scholars find bits of evidence that indicate Thomas was indeed dependent in part, on Biblical texts. They surmise that the author of Thomas must have edited out almost all indications of the particular styles and ideas of the Biblical authors.

(Those scholars date Thomas in the mid second century C.E. and are suspect.)

However, the choices for a compilation were made at this time, it could well have been that Thomas was unknown to those who made them.

Alternatively, there might have been elements of Thomas that were distasteful to them.

On the other hand, given a preference for narrative biographical gospels, Thomas might have been thought dry and irrelevant.

We know hardly anything about the process of Canonical gospel choice except that biblical canon is not open for debate, it is a closed entity.

A church that adds Thomas to its collection of scriptures would move outside the margins of orthodox Christianity and no well-known denomination has the slightest intention of adding Thomas to its scriptures.

If you take the set of sayings that are in common in Thomas and either “Q” or the gospels of Mark or Matthew or Luke (no sayings in Thomas are repeated in John) then you have a pared down set that could have come from Jesus himself.

These we will list at the end of the chapter.

The only thing that is known about Thomas for sure is that it will never be included in the Bible.

There is even more conjecture about the lost years of Jesus, between the time when he was in his late teens until he began his ministry at about the age of thirty.

During this time, it must be assumed that he followed the normal Hebrew custom of learning a trade and getting married.

Yes, married! It would have been highly unusual - even suspect, for him to be in that society and not be married!

Mary Magdalene, by the way, was his wife.

She was only drastically reduced in her role much later by the church hierarchy.

They could not stand the thought of a woman with that much influence on the “Son of God” so they reduced her to the status of a whore!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://God-101.blogspot.com

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