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“The Gnostic Bible”
Tom Saunders

Part 2

Part 2: Core Text Parallels, Constructions.

A ‘lexicon’ is a body of things, ‘stock,’ that are somehow together within the core or perimeter of that body.  Again, the perimeter of that body can be seen as a frame, and the inside of that frame is a field. This field has a polarity which in this case shows both logic and truth, when the sets are semantically cohesive.

Another way to understand a lexicon, is by looking at a picture.  The inside of the outer frame of the picture constitutes what forms and classes of forms, are inside that frame. All the things you can see in the picture, can be understood as ‘class forms.’  A picture or a grid acts like a map, where point A, is an actual point on the grid, or an idea formed by the action of the class-forms.

I am using the basis, or formula for ‘class’ to organize the Gnostic texts in a way as suggested by the “Dictionary of Linguistics”  (Littlefield, by Pie, and Gaynor, 1969, pg. 40), {class:} “The totality of Linguistically, phonetically, morphologically, etc. comparable or equivalent elements,” to organize the Gnostic texts on the basis of,  “{class meaning:} That common feature of meaning which is prevalent in every lexical form (q.v.) within a given form-class.”  Thematic cohesiveness is the objective here, to form both keys and sets.

The same way words are formed into class-forms or ‘form classes,’ are by entering the word into a specific framework.  This method was devised by Charles C. Fries.  Words are arranged into classes on the basis of fitting into frames.  For instance a word in any language can be classified on the basis of how it functions in a certain frame.  An example in a frame is: Any word that can be inserted into: The (_____) is ‘prunikus,’ may be considered members of the same class. “The (_____) is good,” was Fries original frame. (Ibed.)

The ‘class-forms’ can be given characteristics based upon what is said about them within the context of the core texts, in this case all relative to the “Thomas Gospel.”  A member of the class-form set can have different synonymous names that refer to the same functions, and same thing. It may also be implied.  For instance the term Pleroma, can be called, or referred to as the All, the Word, the Law, Holy Sprit, Light, Vision, Logos, Sophia, Wisdom, and others. We can see these are like ‘key words’ in the designation of the Pleroma as a class-form.

Class-form cohesiveness is determined by form and function, within the working of the framework’s polarity.  Establishing these parallels helps to show the relationship and values of the class-forms in core texts. It shows their direct relationship to one another.  Fries’ theory helps us show where Point A, is in regard to establishing the relation of the key to the set.

All the texts in the core set do not contain all the elements of the core class-forms.  The “Prayer of Paul” for instance is only three paragraphs long. It in part could be used in the ‘Book of Light,’ as an alternative to one of the entries in that set. The “Gospel of Thomas,” contains all the elements and primary class-forms in the Gnostic process, although all the ways to name the class-forms are not present.  Below is a cohesive set called the ‘Book of Light’ presented also in Part 4.

The (light, and vision, a function of light) is a the core ‘class-form,’ in the Gnostic framework:  (Note that the preceding statement is a model like that of Fries, mentioned above. (This construction is also below with others, see part 4.)

1.  “His disciples said, “Show us the place where you are, for we must seek it.” He said to them, “Anyone here with two ears had better listen! There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark.” (Gospel of Thomas, 24:)

2.  “And Thomas answered, “Therefore I say to you, lord, that those who speak about things that are invisible and difficult to explain are like those who shoot their arrows at a target at night. To be sure, they shoot their arrows as anyone would – since they shoot at the target – but it is not visible. Yet when the light comes forth and hides the darkness, then the work of each will appear. And you, our light, enlighten, O lord.” (The Book of Thomas The Contender:)

3.  “When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.” (Gospel of Phillip)

4. “Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure.  I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit?  The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is […]” (Gospel of Mary)

5.  Jesus said, “Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live.” Salome said, “Who are you mister? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table as if you are from someone.” Jesus said to her, “I am the one who comes from what is whole. I was granted from the things of my Father.” “I am your disciple.” “For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness.” (Gospel of Thomas, 61)

6.  Jesus said, “It is in light that light exists.” Thomas, spoke, saying, “Lord, why does this visible light that shines on behalf of men rise and set?” (The Book of Thomas the Contender)

7.  Jesus said, “If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’ say to them, ‘We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established [itself], and appeared in their image.’ If they say to you, ‘Is it you?’ say, ‘We are its children, and we are the chosen of the living Father.’ If they ask you, ‘What is the evidence of your Father in you?’ say to them, ‘It is motion and rest.”  (Gospel of Thomas, 50)

8.”As one’s ignorance disappears when he gains knowledge, and as darkness disappears when light appears, so also incompleteness is eliminated by completeness. Certainly, from that moment on, form is no longer manifest, but will be dissolved in fusion with unity.” (Gospel of Truth)

Constructions can also be made that look correct but violate the cohesion between the key class-form, and the unity of the text.  Unity depends upon the semantic content of the set, with the meaning of the key.  In the following set of ‘matters’ the meaning of the term varies from matters, meaning affairs, and matter meaning composition. This would violate the idea of the framework of truth and logic, and the idea of balance and harmony, in the above explanation of the frames of logic, and also truth and logic.

The (matters) is a key ‘class-form’ in the Gnostic framework.

1. The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?” Jesus said to them, “No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.” (Gospel of Thomas, 12)

2. Will matter then be destroyed or not? The Savior said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. (Gospel of Mary)

3. By means of unity each one will understand itself. By means of knowledge it will purify itself of diversity with a view towards unity, devouring matter within itself like fire and darkness by light, death by life. (Gospel of Truth)

4. The world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire. For the world never was imperishable, nor, for that matter, was he who made the world. For things are not imperishable, but sons are. (Gospel of Phillip)

5. Now that which changes will decay and perish, and has no hope of life from then on, since that body is bestial. So just as the body of the beasts perishes, so also will these formations perish. (The Book of Thomas the Contender)

6. There are some who neither will nor have the power to; and others who, if they will, do not profit; for they did not act since […] makes them sinners. And if they do not will, justice will elude them in both cases: and it is always a matter of the will, not the act. (Gospel of Phillip)

7.  For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  (Gospel of Mary)

8. For this reason, the Father loved his aroma; and it manifests itself in every place; and when it is mixed with matter, he gives his aroma to the light; and into his rest he causes it to ascend in every form and in every sound. For there are no nostrils which smell the aroma, but it is the Spirit which possesses the sense of smell and it draws it for itself to itself and sinks into the aroma of the Father. He is, indeed, the place for it, and he takes it to the place from which it has come, in the first aroma which is cold. It is something in a psychic form, resembling cold water which is […] since it is in soil which is not hard, of which those who see it think, “It is earth.” Afterwards, it becomes soft again. If a breath is taken, it is usually hot. The cold aromas, then, are from the division. For this reason, God came and destroyed the division and he brought the hot Pleroma of love, so that the cold may not return, but the unity of the Perfect Thought prevail. (Gospel of Truth)

Outside Sources Relating to the Core Texts

Some core or key class-forms have characteristics that can be gleaned from other sources not in the core texts.  Some known Gnostic works like the “Letter To The Greeks” by Tatian, and “Stromata” by Clement of Alexandria, and Heracleon’s Fragments, can contribute to the understanding of key class forms. The Apocalypse of Peter, and the Apocryphon of James (1),  also seems related to the core texts. (See also the “Jesus Sutras” by Palmer, Wellspring, 2001. and see also, “Acts of Thomas,” for like keys or elements.)

Using Orthodox sources of scripture to determine ‘class-form’ values can add characteristics that are not in the core texts.  Things like magic and the nature of spirit, can be very different, and like the set of ‘matters this violates the cohesion between the key and the set.  In this work Orthodox sources, and outside sources are not used, because they contaminate the core models. Other texts in the Nag Hammadi Library, contain material and ideas that do not fit into the schema of the core texts.