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Gospel of Thomas - Class notes on sensus plenior

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#1 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 04:47 AM

As a spin off on the other Gospel of Thomas thread, here the GOT will be presented as notes someone took while being taught how to read the sensus plenior of scripture. The term 'sensus plenior' is being used to refer to the hidden meaning of scripture which God intended, but of which the human author was not aware.

 

You will find many opinions about sensus plenior along a spectrum from a denial of it's existence to an admonishment that if it exists, we are not permitted to read it because we are not apostles.

 

With the view that the genre of Biblical revelation is that of sublime childish riddle, the sensus plenior would be expected to teach doctrine in agreement with New Testament doctrine. It is the revelation of Christ which provides the clues to solve the "mystery which has been hidden from the beginning".

 

After I had been studying sensus plenior for many years, I stumbled on the GOT and recognized that it appeared to be teaching the methods I was using.  In order to have that background, I will briefly explain the rules used to constrain sensus plenior from being free-for-all allegory and then step through Thomas with interpretations which show that Thomas is consistent with sensus plenior. The discussion may include examples from scriptural sensus plenior using the notes from Thomas as the guide to interpretation.

 

I don't make the the claim that GOT should be scripture. But it would be similar to any modern book about the Bible. I will apologize in advance to those who may expect Gnostic or occultic teaching.  I believe that you will find the sensus plenior to be thoroughly orthodox in its doctrine of Christ but troubling to organized religion on all fronts.

 

 



#2 Jeff

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 04:52 AM

Hi Goatguy,

Could you describe the basis (or tradition) for your analysis? Who was doing the teaching that you took notes on? Also, was it an academic or spiritual environment?

Thanks,
Jeff

#3 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:12 AM

On the existence of sensus plenior:

Joh 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

 

Lu 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

 

Eph 3:9 And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

 

The scriptures (Old Testament) speak of Christ. He revealed the hidden meaning to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and Paul and the disciples primariliy taught from the Old Testament to show that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.  Luke mimicked sensus plenior in Acts 12 when he used the story of Jesus as an outline to tell the account of Peter miraculously getting out of prison. Here is the story of Christ that Luke hides in the account of Peter:

 


Jesus was vexed by Herod as a child when he fled to Egypt. He was arrested before Passover, hung between two prisoners, poked in the side, held by three barriers (2 days in death and the stone), the stone opened itself, saw Mary first who ran to tell the disciples and was told she was crazy, and after Jesus finished visiting his disciples, he went to another place.

 

Here is Luke's account of Peter:

 


The church (known as the body of Christ) was vexed by Herod, Peter was arrested before Pasover, chained between two guards, poked in the side, held by three barriers (two sets of guards and the gate), the gate opened itself, he went to see Mary, the woman ran to tell the disciples who said she was crazy, and after Peter was finished visiting the disciples, he went to another place.

 

 

There are many more parallels when we get into the details. I say that Luke mimicked sensus plenior because he was obviously taught to read sensus plenior in the Old Testament and had to be aware of it in his own writing. There is also a major difference between his writing and that of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament every verse of every chapter of every book participates in prophecy of Christ.  Though the same MAY be true of Luke, I can only find it occassionally, like intentional references to it in the OT.

 

I find that Thomas gives hints to help flush out the sensus plenior of the OT.  Next: the rules which are derived by using the same methods of interpretation which reveal sensus plenior (or which are used to interpret OT prophecy).

 

Hafta do something nasty now... go to work  ;-)


Edited by goatguy, 31 October 2013 - 05:00 PM.


#4 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:25 AM

...Who was doing the teaching that you took notes on?

 

I'm sorry that I did not state it more clearly. I am presenting the Gospel of Thomas as notes that someone, probably named Thomas, took while learning to read sensus plenior.  I present it in that fashion because I don't believe that all old texts should be scripture, even though they may have value.  Also it is presented in that fashion because I do not believe that GOT is Gnostic, and hope to demonstrate that it's value is in showing that the methods of sensus plenior taught by the apostles in the NT are contained in the GOT. So it is extra-biblical evidence that the NT authors used the same methods when they interpreted the OT in 'novel' ways, as some theologians would say.



#5 Jeff

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 08:07 AM

 
I'm sorry that I did not state it more clearly. I am presenting the Gospel of Thomas as notes that someone, probably named Thomas, took while learning to read sensus plenior.  I present it in that fashion because I don't believe that all old texts should be scripture, even though they may have value.  Also it is presented in that fashion because I do not believe that GOT is Gnostic, and hope to demonstrate that it's value is in showing that the methods of sensus plenior taught by the apostles in the NT are contained in the GOT. So it is extra-biblical evidence that the NT authors used the same methods when they interpreted the OT in 'novel' ways, as some theologians would say.


Thanks, that description is helpful. What about the quotes that you posted in your earlier post, are they from some biblical source? Or, are they also your senses plenior interpretation?

#6 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:02 PM

Thanks, that description is helpful. What about the quotes that you posted in your earlier post, are they from some biblical source? Or, are they also your senses plenior interpretation?

Ok.. reformatted... new interface for me... I have not had an indent before, and I now see the confusion of the quote. New tricks for old dogs...

 

They are paraphrases of the story of Jesus and that of Acts 12 stated in a way to make the parallels more obvious.  A detailed verse by verse account is possible but is tedious to read.


Edited by goatguy, 31 October 2013 - 05:03 PM.


#7 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:25 PM

Some rules for sensus plenior:  (I use the term 'shadow' based on Heb 10:1 and others)

  1. Since God has said that not a jot or tittle will pass away (Mt 5:18), until one knows why each jot and tittle is there, a complete understanding has not been derived. (This keeps us humble)

  2. Since man shall live “..by every word” (De 8:3, Mt 4:4, Lu 4:4), a doctrine is not sound until it sums up and includes all that God has said about it. (This keeps us searching)

  3. Since every word concerning life and death must be established by two or three witnesses (De 17:6, De 19:15, Mt 18:16, 2Co 13:1, 1 Ti 5:19, Heb 10:28), every shadow must have at least two supporting scripture witnesses. This means we cannot define a shadow (metaphor) with a single verse. (This keeps us rigorous in methodology)

  4. Since God’s word is established forever (Ps 119:89, 1 Pe 1:25, Is 40:8) , a shadow means the same thing everywhere is it used. So, since a donkey is a shadow of a prophet, everywhere there is a donkey, it is a shadow of a prophet. This rule alone makes the shadows humanly impossible to fabricate as it requires the interlocking of a double entendre found in all the scriptures. (This keeps us in awe)

  5. The riddle of Samson (Jud 14) tells us Christ is the answer to all the riddles. If the shadow doesn’t look like Christ, it isn’t a good shadow. (This keeps us focused) 

  6. And since we are to "let God be true, but every man a liar”, outside references are not required to solve the riddles and see the shadows. (This keeps us devoted)

These rules constrain any proposed hidden meaning so severely, that it makes the discernment of the solution to the riddles of sensus plenior verifiable, and self-correcting. 

 

An example is that of 'leaven'.  Some say that leaven represents sin, but since Jesus said that the Kingdom of God was like leaven (Mt 13:33) it just doesn't work. But the disciples understood it to represent 'teaching' (Mt 16:12) which works everywhere that leaven is used in scripture, and then sheds light on the nature of the kingdom of heaven. (It is teaching).  Ok it is in that context that I first read GOT. So I'll take them one at a time. 



#8 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 06:16 PM

(1) And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death." - GOT

 

The nature of the riddle (double entendre) is the confusion of cause and effect.. The reader misinterprets it. In order to find the secrets hidden in the scripture one must ask God (Mt 7:7, Lu 11:9) which God answers by opening the eyes to understanding (Jas 1:5). The act of acknowledging God as God and asking him for wisdom is the position of one who has life from God. So the one who finds the hidden wisdom has found it because of his life-giving relationship with God.

 

If one misreads it and believes that by the act of searching the scriptures he will find life, he is motivated to read God's word. (Joh 5:39) But he will not find the interpretation without asking God for it. It is the relationship with God which gives life, not the act of looking for or finding hidden interpretations.

 

So in the end, not all people who have life will find the hidden interpretations, but all people who find the hidden interpretations already have life.

 

The same confusion applies to the interpreation of faith vs. works. It is intentional on God's part that there should be confusion. Those who misunderstand that works produces salvation will do good works and attempt to avoid bad works. This makes the world a better place. Those who correctly understand that all good works that we do are produced by God in us, still do good works.  The double entendre is intentional.

 

This saying of Thomas is mirrored in the Bible:

 

Ec 7:12 For wisdom [is] a defence, [and] money [is] a defence: but the excellency of knowledge [is, that] wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

 

Lost in translation is that in this verse תחיה which is translated 'life' actually is the form 'is keeping alive' which supports the interpretation given to Thomas.  Those who have life get wisdom which 'keeps them alive' since they will never die. (Joh 11:26).

 

Thomas included his riddle in the list to remind himself of the nature of this kind of riddle in scripture.



#9 goatguy

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 10:16 PM

... timed out...


Edited by goatguy, 31 October 2013 - 10:17 PM.


#10 Brian

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 11:05 AM

I'm really enjoying this, goatguy!

 

For long posts, it is often helpful to compose content in some sort of text editor local to your computer and then paste and fix formatting as needed after drafting is complete...



#11 Jeff

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 11:18 AM

To put your reference from John in context...

 

John 11:20-27 (KJV)

 

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

 

The section above seems to say the same kind of thing... Pay attention to Jesus (and what he has to say)... :)

 

(1) And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."



#12 goatguy

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 04:56 PM

I'm really enjoying this, goatguy!

 

For long posts, it is often helpful to compose content in some sort of text editor local to your computer and then paste and fix formatting as needed after drafting is complete...

 

Brian . Thanks for the feedback. When you post a bunch of stuff quickly it feels like you're just dumping it in a black hole.

 

 

(1) And he said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death."

 

Jeff, I am glad you brought it around and back to Christ.  Since Jesus said that he was the Truth, then He is the interpretation of these sayings, and anyone who finds Christ will not experience death.  Right there in front of me and I missed it on the first pass.



#13 PLB

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 06:46 PM

If I may, I would like to talk about being a poverty that was not touched upon before.

 

The idea that the best possible condition is already availble is a harsh lesson.

This condition sucks in so many ways.

Most people interested in Christianity start there.



#14 goatguy

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 08:36 PM

If I may, I would like to talk about being a poverty that was not touched upon before.

The idea that the best possible condition is already availble is a harsh lesson.
This condition sucks in so many ways.
Most people interested in Christianity start there.



Cool, happy to hear what you have to say.  From the perspective of sensus plenior, #3 cannot be understood until the Kingdom of Heaven is understood.  This is a cool riddle:

 

 

(3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.

 



As seen before, the Kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which we saw was 'teaching'. The Kingdom of heaven is teaching. It starts small and spreads. 'Jerusalem' means 'teaching of peace' and the New Jerusalem, which is equated with the Kingdom of heaven, is 'the new teaching of peace'.  

When Jesus started teaching with the sermon on the mount, he said, "You have heard it said, .... but I say...".  He introduced the new teaching of peace.

Peter said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God", and Jesus said that no man had taught him that but that the Father had shown it to him. He continued saying that he would give him the keys to the kingdom... the keys to teaching... and he started to show him the places in the scriptures that said he must die and be raised from the dead.

The pictures of the cross in the Old Testament are the keys to the kingdom of heaven or the keys to the new teaching of peace.

So where is the kingdom? It is within you if you understand and live the new teaching of peace. If you do not have the new teaching of peace, you are in great desolation and poverty.


Edited by goatguy, 01 November 2013 - 08:37 PM.


#15 goatguy

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 09:03 PM

(2) Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."


This has just a small riddle, most of it is straight forward concerning the process of 'enlightenment'

 

When you seek you will find. The second usage of the word 'find' invokes the phonetic pun and riddle. 'Find' is מצא matsa, and it sounds like מצה matseh which is unleavened bread. Unleavened bread is bread that has no leaven or teaching. Bread is the body... Jesus said "This is my body", and unleavened bread is one owho has put away old teaching and is ready for new teaching.  When you have found the truth, you put away the old things you thought you knew and begin again.

When you find, you are confronted with your sin and sin nature which makes you 'troubled'. The second usage of troubled invokes the second meaning of the word troubled חמר which is wine and which represents grace. One becomes astonished at the grace which covers his sin.

The word for rule משל is also the word for 'to speak in a proverb'. When one is truly astonished he will speak in a proverb (the language of the wisdom of God) of "the all"which is God.  We do not rule over God, we speak his wisdom.

 

Ps 78:2  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings [riddles] of old:
Pr 1:6  To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings [riddles].
Eze 17:2  Son of man, put forth a riddle [riddles], and speak a parable unto the house of Israel;

 

One of the hints for interpretation that Thomas is recording is that when something is repeated twice, it has two meanings
 



#16 goatguy

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 06:08 AM

(4) Jesus said, "The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live. For many who are first will become last, and they will become one and the same."

 

The man old in days is the Ancient of days.

 

The small child is Jesus who was the “smallest seed” or the “least of men” because he served them all.

 

Genesis 1 is a table of contents to the rest of the Bible, which is split into six portions representing six days.  The man (Christ) obtained his bride (the church) on day six covered by the New Testament. The conversation takes place on the seventh day.

 

The “place of life” takes a bit of explaining. Before the creation there was nothing but God. There was no place, since there is nothing bigger than God to contain him. When he created, he opened a void within himself in which to place all of the heavens and the earth. (The earth was void…)  This is where it gets fun.  In heaven שמים  ש is the Spirit, מ is the Father, and ם is the Son.  See the yud י in there? It’s not required to make the word heaven but it represents the first speck of the void created. It contains everything that was made. We are made of tiny voids within God. We are made of nothing. 

 

Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

 

This is the way it works. The smallest particle that exists, maybe something like a Plank particle is a void in the “substance” of God. The voids are gathered together into larger stable clusters. So imagine a film negative in 3-d. Everything you think is black is white. In the universe what you think is a void is what is the substance of God (He’s what’s left when you remove everything else). And what you think is solid are really voids within him.

 

All of the properties of physics are redefined as properties of the geometry surrounding the voids. When the geometry creates tension is a charged particle, when the geometry creates compression, it is the opposite charge. The two will attract in order to reduce stresses in the surrounding substance.  Gravity is really a push away from the substance in lower energy levels which tends to cluster the voids as though they were attracted to each other. All the properties of physics are explained by the geometry of the substance, and a unified field theory is derived from the analysis. The 'place of life'is the existence within the void... the place within himself that God made room for us...actually 'many rooms'.

 

When the Son became incarnate, his existence moved from being the substance to being the voids that made up his body. 

 

So what could God-the-Father learn from God-the-Son?  The stuff that the Son learned. Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

 

After having the conversation, the Son remains in the flesh (“he lives”) “married to the flesh” so to speak.

The Son will be pre-eminent among the many, who were the expressions of God before creation, and they will all be one again. (The Son was separated on the cross).

 

As odd as it sounds when stated this way, it is what most Christians believe. There is a physical resurrection where we live with Christ physically forever.







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