Thomas, Saying 13

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

6:50 a.m. Taking a day off from Thomas probably. But I entered the saying, and I can transcribe it into the computer, and I will be that far ahead. Nothing wrong with a day off, once in a while.

Saying 13:

Jesus asked his disciples: Make a comparison, what am I like? Simon Peter replied: You are like a righteous messenger. Matthew replied: You are like an intelligent lover of wisdom. Thomas replied: Teacher, I cannot possibly say what you are like. Jesus said to Thomas: I am not your teacher; you have drunk from and become intoxicated from the bubbling water that I poured out. Jesus took Thomas and they withdrew. Jesus said three things to him. When Thomas returned to the other disciples, they asked him: What did Jesus tell you? Thomas replied: If I tell you even one of the sayings that he told me, you would pick up stones and throw them at me, and fire would come out of those stones and burn you up.

11 a.m. All right, a couple of errands taken care of, might as well at least try to address this puzzling saying. Rather than my taking a crack at it, how about if you fine friends lead the way?

We can do that. Though, it would have been all right to take the day off. As you have been told before, ultimately it helps.

I understand. But, let’s do it anyway.

Your first question, in reading this one, was whether it was particularly important that the Saying specifically mention Simon Peter’s and Matthew’s responses before getting to Thomas. Surely you don’t think that a gospel of Sayings, the fruit of a long oral tradition and the material to be used to guide future discussions, could have any extraneous elements in it. Surely they would have been worn off in the many retellings before it was written, don’t you think?

I don’t know. Wouldn’t it depend upon the identity of the author of the written account? But no, come to think of it, I guess not. So why was it important to list those two responses? To show the relative incomprehension of the others? To recall two ways Jesus was seen?

You will remember, James the Just was to be their leader, yet Simon Peter was “the rock upon whom I will found my church.”

If that isn’t a later interpolation.

Interpolation or not, Peter’s influence on the early church can scarcely be disregarded.

And Matthew was the evangelist whose gospel is always placed first, though apparently not the first to have been written.

You are searching for plausible reasons for Peter and Matthew to be specifically cited here. What if they were the only ones to respond before Thomas, and of course no one would venture an opinion after Jesus took Thomas to the side and told him things.

So the significance of this is –?

Examine every part of a saying, or a scripture in general, as oral traditions, too. There are no irrelevancies in oral tradition, because although many seeming irrelevancies are included, it will be found that each illumines some aspect of what is to be told or it would not have been endlessly repeated.

Well, a “righteous messenger” indicates seeing Jesus as perhaps more the conduit of a message than as a phenomenon in himself.

Yes, very good. It misses the extraordinary nature of Jesus. Perhaps takes it for granted, but certainly puts the center of gravity elsewhere.

And “an intelligent lover of wisdom” seems more like a philosopher. Again, not wrong, but sort of missing the most important thing.

Yes.

But we then see Thomas saying he couldn’t possibly say. I assume that Jesus responds not so much to the statement as to something he sees of Thomas’ state of being.

Both, rather. To say he couldn’t say was a good answer, because of what lay behind it. Had he said the same words, but meaning “Beats me,” neither the meaning nor the result would have been the same.

And Jesus told him three things, which we never learn. Will we ever learn them?

Without answering that question directly, consider this. Why assume you have not already heard those things, perhaps many times. Perhaps as dogma or ritual responses?

That puts a different slant on Jesus saying that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

You could look at it that way. Time tends to uncover secrets, even as it renders the well-known obscure or even forgotten.

And then we come to the completely opaque: Thomas says to his inquiring fellow disciples that if he were to tell them even one of the things Jesus had said, (a) they’d try to stone Thomas, and (b) the stones would emit fire that would burn them up. What sense is to be made of this?

What does it seem to say to you?

Thomas thinks they would either be jealous, or, more likely, would think he was blaspheming. That’s (a).

Does this argue a lack of faith by Thomas in his fellow disciples? Remember, this is not a private letter, nor a journal entry. This was preserved to be part of an on-going oral commentary tradition, presumably for some constructive aim. So why include it?

When you put it that way, all I can think is that the future communities would be on record that Jesus had told Thomas secret things – secret even from the others, that might have been considered scandalous by them and might have tempted them to violence, either thinking themselves justified or losing control.

And what purpose would that serve?

It would increase Thomas’ stature, I suppose.

And you think that would be an appropriate sentiment in a scripture?

No, I don’t. But it would.

It would, but it was not inserted for that purpose. There’s a difference.

Maybe to reassure them that not even the disciples knew everything at the time, and that enlightenment (if we should call it that) is a process rather than one fast leap.

What about (b)?

I don’t have any idea. For this one, we really need you.

Isn’t it to say, in effect, that nature – or supernature, say – would defend Thomas if that were to happen? That the very weapons they intended to use against him would turn against them and destroy them?

Maybe. I can’t say I see the point or the helpfulness of this saying.

The sayings have been building one upon the other, each new one upon all the others together. The overall theme is still: What is the proper place of 3D in your lives. In that context, what does this saying add?

What I missed till now, re-reading it, is something I’d seen earlier and had forgotten. Thomas absorbed something from Jesus’ very presence that changed him and made him eligible to hear these very dangerous truths. Or, let’s say, truths that may be dangerous (and completely futile) to express to the uninitiated.

Exactly so. Jesus said I am not the one who taught you that: You picked it up on your own, as a side-effect of being in my presence. Not mere physical presence, for all of them had had that, and indeed still were having it. Call it, the non-3D-connected energetic presence of Jesus. Thomas, perceiving it, had graduated, one might say.

The point of this Saying, as all of them ultimately, is that humans are far more in potential than they are in actuality – but that situation can be changed, and Jesus had come to show them how.

And enough for now.

I’ll have to re-read this and think about it. thanks as always.

 

3 thoughts on “Thomas, Saying 13

  1. Hi Frank. I love how things often dovetail together. I had some vivid dreams this morning and upon waking was sorting it all out in my mind.

    The central concept that came out of that was, in making decisions, to put my focus (instead of on the individual decision) on the way of being or state of being. That is the important thing. Then let the individual decisions precipitate from that. In my journal I wrote, “Focus on the Primary Choice, which is a way of being, and let the individual decisions precipitate from that.”

    I then felt an inclination to check your blog today. The teaching continued. Thomas perceived in Jesus a way of being. We might call it an embodiment of the Christ, the Divine, God… As Thomas came into contact with that state of being, through the embodiment of it by Jesus, he chose it for himself.

    That is the essential choice. Any ideas, concepts, teachings, etc are then an expression of that. It’s not the philosophies or teachings themselves. Not the messages or intelligece & wisdom (Peter and Matthew).

    Re: the rocks of fire
    I can speculate about different ways to interpret that – the Truth is indestructible… and saying, “I am God” is blasphemous… but the important part for me today is the reinforcement and even enlarging of the teaching that was coming through to me today.

    Thanks much for your part in that, Frank.

  2. Blasphemy — disrespecting or insulting God or claiming to be God — was one of the offenses that would get you stoned to death in Jesus’ time. (You could also get stoned for other sins, including infidelity and sexual deviancy.) I’m guessing Thomas thought the others might stone him for blasphemy, specifically for claiming to be like God. Perhaps one of the things Jesus said to Thomas in private was that Jesus wasn’t his teacher any longer because Thomas had connected into the source — he had tasted the water — and he wouldn’t need Jesus to teach him any longer. Thomas was connected to God. He was now aware that the Father was in him, and he was in the Father. That would have pissed the others off, as they would not have known that applied to them too.

    It’s like what Jesus said about himself in the “ye are gods” passage from John’s gospel. Jesus is responding to the Jewish leaders’ questions of whether he’s the messiah. He says he’s already told them he is, and that he and the Father are one. They picked up stones to kill him, and he questions their actions. They say he, a man, is making himself God. He responds, isn’t it written in the Law, you are gods? “If those to whom the word of God came were called gods. . .can you say that the one whom the Father. . . sent into the world is blaspheming because I said I am God’s son?” He further challenges them to test him on the basis of his works, so as to know that the Father is in him and he is in the Father. Then he slips out of their hands and escapes. [John 10:22-39]

    [Incidentally, the Greek word for “one” in the “father and I are one” quote is a neuter not masculine noun. Jesus is not saying he and God are one person, which would have been indicated by a masculine noun. He and God are united in the work (neuter) that they do. Granted, Jesus probably spoke this in Aramaic, and it was translated into Greek. He was standing in the temple, talking to his countrymen, and would have spoken their native language. I don’t know ancient Aramaic and can’t say whether it conveyed the same meaning as the Greek. Maybe it wasn’t as precise, which is why the Jewish leaders misunderstood Jesus and got so angry.]

    1. That is a very perceptive interpretation. The notion that the rocks would burn them up could be interpreted as meaning because we each are God, the rocks would reflect back to them the anger they sent out.

      The other notion I got from reading this saying is that some are able to hear and are told, but those who are not, will not be told. You can see this in the response to Jesus’ question and what beliefs each held. Jesus saw that Thomas understood what Jesus was about, but the others only knew the superficial truths. Those who are not ready will react in ways that demonstrate their lack of understanding or inability to hear. In a way, not telling them is to protect them from themselves. Hence Thomas’ response. So this passage is saying not everyone should be told, not because you are hiding some new truth, but because they do not want to hear something that’s contrary to their truths. Many times, people who think of themselves as “good” want to “help” others by telling them their truths. But this can lead to issues. Only when someone is ready to accept other truths, will it be revealed to them, in many different ways.

Leave a Reply to Ruth Shilling Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *