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“The Gnostic Bible”
by
Tom Saunders

Part 1

 

Introduction:

The following informal study shows texts listed below, as core Gnostic texts. It reveals things not known about Christianity for nearly two-thousand years. It reveals the existence of Gnostic Christianity since the time of the Apostles. It reveals in part what may be the ‘Great Mysteries’ and ‘Secret Works,’ described by texts in the Nag Hammadi Library, and by Saint Clement of Alexandria.

Part 1. Gnostic Class-Forms, and Frameworks:

True Christian Gnosticism is ‘framed’ or understood from the basic concept of becoming a part of the ‘Pleroma,’ or ”Sophia,’ meaning ‘Wisdom.’  This bonding or function is called apokatastasis, or anastasis. This is what the “Gospel of Phillip” calls ‘living resurrection’ to achieve Gnosis (salvation) or ‘being one’ with the ‘All’ or Holy Spirit. The act of Gnosis is understood in two parts, the elements of the process, and the process itself.

Christian Gnosticism can be described as achieving the process of Gnosis with exclusive Jesus ‘Wisdom.’   One text, “The Gospel of Thomas” can be seen as the ‘hub’ or core text to a cohesive Gnostic set of elements and a cohesive process to Gnosis. The elements to achieve Gnosis are the Soul, Mind, Spirit, and Body, that bond with the Holy Spirit, in a process. The following outlines how the key elements merge with the process and how related texts to Thomas explain themes relative to Gnosis.

Logic Determined in a Frame, and A Tool Using A Frame for Logic  (Model and full explanation for the “Square of Opposition” is below, See Appendix, A)

Key elements can have different characteristics that can also be isolated to a set, or class-form.  Frameworks can be effected by logic, or applied to logic.  Consider the two frames: A. The (Devil) is good, and B. The (Angel) is good.  Logic dictates that A. is not true generally, while B. is true, generally.  When the element of logic is applied to class-forms, in a framework, we see a third element, or application that can be applied to show the nature of a ‘class form’ to the framework, both truth and logic.

For logic, the framework of the “Square of Opposition,” can be shown to virtually transfer the class-form and its frame, into the “frame or structure” of itself. When this happens both logic, and the class-forms, and frames, work in harmony. They can show either something is truth or fact, and logical. This is a variation of the original model of the ‘Square of Opposition.’

(The Square of Opposition was thought to be devised by Aristotle, and used after by many philosophers throughout the ages, see below, Appendix A. See Fries’ theory of frames that can be seen to work as other frames, or frameworks, in Part 2.)

“When two categorical propositions are of different forms but share exactly the same subject and predicate terms, their truth is logically interdependent in a variety of interesting ways, all of which are conveniently represented in the traditional “Square of Opposition.” Point A which is in this model in the upper left hand corner, is arbitrary to where it is used on different graphs.  The nature of the frame and the ‘class-forms’ within, determine the position of point A, within the corpus of the field, contingent upon the nature of the frame or graph.

The process of Gnosis, can be seen as a ‘class framework,’ and the “Square of Opposition” is a ‘class framework,’ in the same way, something like genus and species is a lexicon of a class types.  Class-forms are seen to work within ‘class frameworks,’ similar to the way the frames A. and B. above. These can be shown to fit into a ‘frame’ like the “Square of Opposition” to show logic, or other features. To show truth and logic we need to expand the device or model. First is the model for logic, then in example two, truth and logic.

“All S are P.”  (A)- – – – – – -(E)  “No S are P.”
| *           * |
*       *
|     *   *     |
*
|     *   *     |
*       *
| *            * |
“Some  S are P. (I)—  —  —(O)  “Some S are not P.”
A variation of the square can be seen to show both truth and logic…..

True and logical    (A)- – – – – – -(E)  “Not true, not logical
| *           * |
*       *
|     *   *     |
*
|     *   *     |
*       *
| *           * |
Logcial not true (I)—  —  —(O)  True not logical
Understanding this variation of the model helps to show what is related to a theme or key concept used to construct sets of like or thematically cohesive parts of texts with others, forming a set.

This will be done by showing that ‘class-forms’ are the key elements or concepts that are cohesive to a thematic pattern, in what I am calling the ‘Books,’ menaing sets These are from core texts related to the Gospel of Thomas. I have included one set below that deviates from the thematic model, called the ‘Book of Matters’ to show one non-cohesive set.  In other words the semantic meaning of the term ‘matter’ varies in this example. It is therefor not in harmony, and does not fit the intelligent design of the set.

Intelligent Design, may be one way of explaining creation in nature and language, that could satisfy both philosophy and religion. The relative aspect of what is intelligence, can be demonstrated as a natural progression from the polarities in nature, and not a supernatural being or entity, that has dominion over the universe, and mankind.

If we look at intelligent design as part of the process which enables matter to correlate in the balance and harmony of man and nature, then a theory of intelligent design can be seen as making a lot of sense.  In other words the universe of matter, could be seen to work like a universe of words in a language, which is called a lexicon.  If you had a stock of words, a lexicon, that you could distinguish as somehow separate from one another, but no natural system, or force to put these units into a system of understanding that would be chaos. No way to make this distinction would be a worse chaos, perhaps what the Gnostics called darkness.

If it is the point of the Gnostic to relate the theory of Gnosis in the schema of the design of the universe and to reflect the process of Gnosis as within the scheme of nature, then certain things would be expected to formulate a ‘class of forms’ in a set.  Balance is seen in the following constructions of sets, in that there are eight units that can be put together in the sets.  Octagonal forms are common in ancient philosophical constructions, like that of the I-Ching, and the compass of North, South, East, West, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest.  This is common for both the directions of heaven and earth, South being the primary direction of the heavens, and North being the primary direction on earth, thus polarity.

It should be mentioned that Carl Jung originated his Psychological Model of character types, useing a circular frame, and opposed, thinking, feeling, and sensation, intuition, to graph the relative characteristics to the indication of the point inside the frame. This puts point A, in this model where the personality type most relates to the polarity on the graph.

Jung is known to have possessed the first codex in the Nag Hammadi Library. The use of fields or the inside of frames for study is common in the use of models for Ethnography, and Sociolinguistics. These models use polarity within fields to determine common characteristics, the same as the above models. This polarity between points determines Point A, in models like Jung’s. ( See “Hidden Wisdom,” by Smoley, and Kinney, Penguin Press, 1999)

Gospel of Thomas, The Hub of Gnostic Core Texts

The core texts form a Gnostic lexicon, or Gnostic class-frame, becomes relative to key and set by the standard of, “class meaning.”  Class meaning is that common feature of meaning which is prevalent in every lexical form (q.v.) within a given form-class.” Like logic effects the ‘class forms’ inside the “Square of Opposition,” the Logic ‘class framework,’ the class forms inside the structure of Gnosis must be shown to have like characteristics, relative to the core text, (hub), the “Gospel of Thomas.”  Other Gnostic works can be seen to gravitate around it, if they share thematic cohesiveness. Not all Gnostic works in the Nag Hammadi collection do.

This means that to be most relative to ‘Thomas’ or be a core text to it, the contents of the text, and individual frameworks, must coincide with the  key (‘class forms’) of the set.  The ‘hub,’ is still ‘Thomas.’  Class-forms can be unrelated to the theme of the related texts.  This is not the point of showing class-forms.  The texts have to be thematically linked.  I suggest the following as core texts to the “Gospel of Thomas.”  All found in the Nag Hammadi Library, and the Berlin Codex, where the “Gospel of Mary” was also found.

Core Texts
Gospel of Thomas, translated by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer
The Prayer of the Apostle Paul, translation by Dieter Mueller
The Gospel of Mary, translation found at the Gnostic Society Library
The Gospel of Phillip, translated by Wesley W. Isenberg
The Gospel of Truth, translated by Robert Grant
The Book of Thomas the Contender, translated by John Turner
(On-line see the Gnostic Society Library, for other translations of the Nag Hammadi Library)
( See also, the “Nag Hammadi Library, by Robinson, Harper Press, 1979.)

The elements or ‘class-forms’ of the Gnostic process can be seen as characteristics of the elements of man, and relative to the Soul, Mind, Spirit, and Body, in the act or process of Gnosis, bonding with the Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to with a synonym, like “Sophia.”

Soul, Mind, Body, Gnosis, Holy Spirit, are all, ‘class forms,’ in the Gnostic lexicon, which as a process forms the ‘class-framework. The class-forms can be thought of as key terms associated with the framework, which has like concepts, and in most cases a key word is used, but must at least be implied in the set.  (There is a form of modern study known today as ‘Phase-Structure Analysis’ that can be applied to the way class-forms, and frameworks are observed. It too, is a framework. This model has often been used with mathematics, but has no inherent polarity.)

Time, Space, and the Pleroma

Another factor effects the Gnostic ‘class-forms’ and ‘framework(s),’ time and space. These too, must be seen as both ‘class forms’ and part of the ‘Gnostic class-framework’ and they are the concepts or ‘forms’ of the psyche, the kenoma, (See below, definitions) and the Pleroma. These elements can be seen to effect the way, class-forms, effect the Gnostic ‘class-frame.’

Relative to the “Time and Space” framework of Gnosis are the concepts of “rest and motion.” Time and space, rest and motion all take place in three distinct ‘class forms,’ of the psyche, the kenoma, and the Pleroma, in regard to harmony and balance.  Balance in the Gnostic sense is not just juxtaposition in a duality, but also in regard to kyclos, or cosmological movement like the moon and sun around the earth.

The Empty Frame

Picture a parable, as an ’empty frame.’ Imagine a picture as a frame, and a picture, drawn from the process of the class-forms in those sets of class-frames.  Starting with the idea that the characters in the parables are class- forms  devoid of Gnosis, we can see the usefulness of filling the ‘ parable frame’ with ‘Jesus Wisdom.’  In our own frameworks, (lives) we can see our psyche, kenomic condition, and Pleromic cohesiveness, as class-forms. This is relative to achieving Gnosis by most descriptions, and seems to be the obvious application to the existing parables in the Gospel of Thomas. In other words you fill the void of agnosia in the ‘character’ of the characters in the parables.

Being devoid of Gnosis, the class-forms, (characters) in the parables do not provide any adequate estimation of the comparable or equivalent elements, for the class-forms, to enter the Gnostic class-framework, in the Gnostic process.  Using core elements which are the Soul, Mind, Spirit, and Body, the values or characteristics have to be formulated from elements or influences outside the parables.  There are two possible sources for these elements, and that is within the text of the Gospel of Thomas as ‘the core text,’ and the other thematically related texts.

The Gnostic framework for the process of Gnosis is clear, it is the characteristics of the class-forms that differ.  A set is achieved when the class-forms, are shown to work the same way in the framework.  The framework is effected by the state of the frame in regard to the class-forms of the psyche, the kenoma, and the Pleroma.  These class-forms relate to the time and space of the frame in all aspects of the framework.  The Pleroma is a class form unlike all others, as it is seen to exist in all forms, and frames, everywhere.

The core texts individually may not represent all the characteristics of a particular class-form. The core class-forms, and their comparative values have to be established within the framework of the core texts, to bring further understanding to all.

One way to give specific value to Gnostic class-forms is to show traditional biblical paralleling of word for word similarity, or citation, arrangement and ordering of material, with similar settings or narratives.   Allegorical and synoptic connections also exist for ‘class-forms’ where for instance the term storehouse, allegorically represents the ‘class-form’ of the mind. A host of these analogous terms exist in all Gnostic works, and is characteristic of the Gnostic class-forms. These forms can be contaminated if thematic relationships are breached.

A way of how class-forms can be effected, exists in how authors or scribes who misinterpret their work,
or the translation between languages, can change meaning or the characteristics.  Establishing the Gnostic termanology as the same in all the core texts would reduce these adverse effects.

Parables About Craftsmen  (Craftsman is another name for Pneumatic, and sometimes even Apostle. References to the Craftsman or gifted can be found in 1 Corinthians, by Paul, and Clement’s “Stromata.”)

The main feature of Thomas parables is that they are devoid of human characters that have achieved Gnosis, or Gnostic insight. A parable is in fact a frame, not unlike the frame as a field like inside a picture.  Another model for this same application of class-forms working in a framework, exists in the Thomas parable 98….. Jesus said, “The Father’s kingdom is like a person who wanted to kill someone powerful. While still at home he drew his sword and thrust it into the wall to find out whether his hand would go in. Then he killed the powerful one.”

In this parable the ‘wall’ is clearly a representative frame which the class-forms of man and sword are used to test his hand.  This is a class-form, which must operate in the frame. To a modern martialist this act is like doing a ‘kata’ or specific technique, also understood as a form.  The class-form of thrusting the sword, can be very complex. There is in fact much to know to be a ‘craftsman’ at it. The parable does not relate how much knowledge of sword-craft the character has, this posing another void that must be reasoned.

Another Thomas parable, ‘the woman who baked bread,’ saying 96, is another where the woman could be considered a ‘Craftsman’ also. Here there are key ‘class-forms’ and a framework for baking bread, could be reasoned into the parable.

The “Gospel of Truth” explains Thomas Saying, 107…… Jesus said, “The (Father’s) kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, ‘I love you more than the ninety-nine.'”  The “Gospel of Truth” explains……

“He {Jesus the Savior} is the shepherd who left behind the ninety-nine sheep which had not strayed and went in search of that one which was lost. He rejoiced when he had found it. For ninety-nine is a number of the left hand, which holds it. The moment he finds the one, however, the whole number is transferred to the right hand. Thus it is with him who lacks the one, that is, the entire right hand which attracts that in which it is deficient, seizes it from the left side and transfers it to the right. In this way, then, the number becomes one hundred. This number signifies the Father.

…He labored even on the Sabbath for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding. It is a day in which it is not fitting that salvation be idle, so that you may speak of that heavenly day which has no night and of the sun which does not set because it is perfect. Say then in your heart that you are this perfect day and that in you the light which does not fail dwells.”

What the “Gospel of Truth’ allegorically says here is the sheep, signifying man, can achieve salvation, through the ‘Light’ or ‘Wisdom’ of Jesus. Perfection is analogous to the Pleromic state.  There are other kinds of analogies notable in the above two paragraphs, but the primary goal here is to show that what the purpose of the parables are. This is to understand the Gnostic class-forms, elements, and how they work in the Gnositic class-framework, process, and fill the frame with this information.

Man’s Hierarchy In the Gnostic Schema

Important to Gnostics is the hierarchy of man.  Man while alive is always thought to be ‘hylic.’

Some comparative values can be made, as some sets of class-forms of man, are known in Gnostic lore.  From the definition of kenoma, as being a flawed state we can determine from some of the characteristics given to the flaw named characteristics. These concepts are from a number of texts, but seem very applicable to the core idea of the flaws of man. The core texts have a number of comparatives that can be done. (See Pt. 2)

Agnosia is the first type of flaw, which means without, Gnosis. (See Thomas Parable-Th- 63)  Agnoia is another known characteristic of man associated with the flaw, agnoia literally means “ignorance” or not paying attention. (See GTh-97)  Aponoia is a state of “unreason” like the misuse of thought. This is different than simply not having thought, as the inability to “put things together” can be worse than not even knowing they do in fact fit. These characteristics are present in the class-forms of the characters in Thomas parables 64, and 65.

The lower forms of the hylic state, are as above, and sometimes are stated as terms, ‘choikus,’ ‘beast,’ ‘robber,’ ‘saklas,’ meaning fool, ‘sarkic,’ meaning of the flesh, or carnal man.  A level known to be higher in this chain of characteristics to the class-form, man, is the ‘Psychic’ which is one who has wisdom, but has not achieved the level of ‘knowledge’ to acheive Gnosis.

The highest level in the chain of ‘class-forms’ above, is the ‘Pneumatic,’ or  Gnostic Craftsman, which   means one who has achieved Gnosis.  There are several terms that identify the “Pneumatic” including, ‘Pneumatophoroi,’ which means…  “One who has united his soul with the ‘light’ (Sophia, Wisdom)    achieving Gnosis which is thought in Christian Gnosticism to be a union with the Holy Spirit.”

Another common name for those who have reached this state are ‘Spirit Bearers.’  Those having reached this state are mentioned in “Acts” and Pauline works. ‘Craftsmen,’ are explained as Gnostics in Clement of Alexandria’s work, “Stromata.”  Literally, man can change his status in the polarity of low hylic, to Pneumatic. This change is a key feature of Gnosticism, and relates to man’s own power with the divine.

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