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ecclesia semper reformanda

Jesus (the) Christ :
a theology

To the Jesus-page

* Jewish prayer & Ancient Egyptian verbalism
* the revolution of Jesus (the) Christ
 * the Kingdom
 * the bi-polarity of Christianity

© Wim van den Dungen
Antwerp, 2014.

Jewish prayer and Ancient Egyptian verbalism

the characteristics of the Jewish "berakoth"

The concept that certain spiritual words give (eternal) life was not uncommon to Jewish spirituality before Jesus' time. When a Jew blessed, he did so unlike a neo-Platonist or a (Persian) magician. For the "berakah" -the Jewish prayer-, unlike the Graeco-Roman magical incantations of Late Antiquity, has a special intentional structure. As in Ancient Egyptian theology (cf. Memphis Theology, Atenism & Amun-theology), the conceptual ("sia"), creative, engendering command ("hu") of certain words & elocutions ("heka") was acknowledged. The "divine word" uttered by a supreme god creates the world.

But, as late as the 4th century AD, Greek magicians (the "magoi") would still invoke the Moon goddess and command her as follows :

"Tu feras quelque chose, que tu le veuilles ou non,
parce que je connais ta lumière dans ses détails infimes
et que de tes actions belles je suis le célébrant, le serviteur et le témoin, ô vierge.
Ce qui doit être, il n'est pas possible de la fuir.
Cette chose, tu la feras, que tu le veuilles ou non, je te conjure ..."
Prière adressée à la Lune sur son déclin,
Greek Papyrus IV (2241 - 2358), National Library, Paris.

The Neolithic stage of development (New Stone Age) was attained during the Holocene Epoch (the last 10,000 years of Earth history). During this Age, humans learned to grow crops and keep domestic livestock, and were no longer dependent on hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. The characteristics of early religion were continued but transformed. Shamanism developed, especially among the pastoralists of central and northern Asia, but also in Africa. Animals were viewed as the essences of higher beings and holocausted to "release" the "power of the gods", from which the whole community benefitted. Identical procedures are recorded in the case of human sacrifice, usually by willing, royal victims (sacrificial kings). A plurality of higher beings endowed with special knowledge & power emerged in the form of the Neolithic pantheons of the "great goddess", often given some shape and projected on astral cycles (like the stations of the Moon or the cardinal points of the local horizon related to the rising & setting of the Sun).

"In the last place, the dispositions of the soul of those that invoke the Gods to appear receive, when they become visible, a liberation from the passions, a transcendent perfection, and an energy entirely more excellent, and participate of divine love and an immense joy."
Porphyrius : Epistle to the Egyptian Anebo, chapter 9, translated by Thomas Taylor, 1821.

The Old Testament claims that the One God revealed Himself to Moses by speaking His own Name in a Holy Fire ("And Elohim said to Moses, 'I am that I am.'" - Exodus 3:14). Hence, Israel "knows" (cf. "Daath") the Divine (or "YHVH ALHYM"), for He made a covenant -the Torah- with His chosen people. Because of this link forged between the Divine and His chosen ones, we may understand the "berakoth" as an expression of their mutual relationship sui generis. So the Jewish prayers do not liberate "Divine energy" trapped in the form of a sacrificial animal, nor does it command the "gods" by knowing their light.

The Jewish prayer forms a continuous reply to the original Divine speech, using the words of that original speech, and thus re-enacting the experience initiating the covenant. Revelation always implies a direct relationship between humanity and the Divine. When this is established, no second is necessary, not even a higher one. In its fullest and most perfected sense, this prayer, by answering to the Creator, preludes the Jubilee of Jubilees (the Last Day of the Cosmoi). For one offers the given Word to Its Originator and so Immanence and Transcendence touch. The absolute first makes Itself known. Next, the chosen ones affirm that the Divine is a Presence ("shekinah") in their lives. Finally, they answer God by imitating the Divine speech which changed their hearts. They enter into another realm (namely the world of Divine nearness, experienced by the mystics called "Atziluth" in qabalah).

"I thank Thee, O Lord
for Thou hast upheld me by Thy strength.
Thou hast shed Thy Holy Spirit upon me
that I may not stumble.
Thou hast strengthened me
before the battles of wickedness,
and during all their disasters
Thou hast not permitted that fear
should cause me to desert Thy Covenant.
Thou hast made me like a strong tower, a high wall,
and hast established my edifice upon rock ;
eternal foundations
serve for my ground,
and all my ramparts are a tried wall
which shall not sway."
Qumran, 1QH, Thanksgiving Hymns
final shape in the last pre-Christian century, translated by Vermes, 1962.

The Divine Word given to Abraham was "Elohims" ("ALHYM"), a plurality of Divine Faces, pronounced as "Eloha" in the singular. To Abraham the Elohim are living, creative forces, able to love and to change the world as they will (the "Sephiroth" of the qabalah).

"And YHVH appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamrê as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day ; And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him : and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, Adonaï (...)"
Genesis, 18:1-2, my italics.

These Divine energies are more than a collection of "higher beings", "Divinities" or theophanies. Here, the fundamental difference between the Ancient Egyptian religion and the Abrahamic revelation comes to the fore : the former is henotheist and iconic, the latter theo-monist and mystical (in the sense of the hiddenness and secrecy of the "Shekinah", along with its Presence in the world). Because of their iconical presence as definite archetypes, the Egyptian "netjeru" maintain a strong polytheist, constellational association. Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Solomon worshipped "YHVH ALHYM", one ineffable, pre-existent essence (or "God" as such) and a plurality of Divine energies which animate all objects & forces in creation. Together they are One Divine Monarchy with its various hierarchies of created order.

The Elohim are the manifold expression of One God, who's essence remains unrevealed. But the manifold of Divine expressions are recognized (known) as the energies pouring out of a created and creating Divine Fountainhead of Unity within creation. "Eloha" being the first of the Elohim and the Source of all higher beings, the Crown of creation. The Judaic mindset understands God as "Yahweh Elohim", "YHVH" being singular and ineffable, "ALHYM" being plural and revelatoric. 

Next, Moses climbed the sacred mountain, the Horeb. YHVH Elohim revealed the core of Divine exteriority.

"And Moses said to Elohim, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, the Elohim of Your fathers hath sent me to You ; and they shall say to me, What is His Name ? what shall I say to them ? And Elohim said to Moses : "AHYH" (I AM AND WILL BECOME) (...) And Elohim said moreover to Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, YHVH the Elohim of Your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me to You (...)"
Exodus, 3:13-15.

The Name revealed to Moses is "AHYH". "YHVH" implies the transcendent Ain Soph (Aur), the ineffable, pre-existent essence of the Divine, or God, described in terms of a reality beyond being, beyond absence of being and veiled by negatives ("Deus absconditus"), also defined as "negative existence". "AHYH" is the revelation of the existence of the Divine within the created order, i.e. the transcendent-in-immanence or the "higher being" of the monarchy of a Creative Crown.

In these Divine Words, only the "aleph" and the "vav" had to be interchanged to switch between the two poles of the bi-polarity of the Divine, i.e. between the transcendent, unique & ineffable "YHVH" and the summum bonum of existence, i.e. the Name of Kether in Atziluth ("AHYH"), the First of the Elohim, who made the cosmos and the Divine energies to appear by His words.

"vav" to "aleph" : exitus a Deo, involution, creation
"aleph" to "vav" : reditus in Deum, evolution, the return

In the Jewish qabalah (inspired by Greek Pythagorism), Tetragrammaton ("YHVH") is ineffable. God is revealed as beyond all possible being and not-being. Porphyrius said that God is "not-being beyond being" (Sententiae, 26). His master Plotinos had always remained vague and had frequently said that : "the One" is "other than being" (Enneads). In numerous books on qabalah, God is called "Ain Soph", Infinite Space. Nothing can be said about God's essence. God's existence is all we know (the King is unknown, only His Kingdom may be observed). 

The other Divine Word revealed during the Horeb-experience was "AHYH", "I am" (and will become), the Name of the Creator of the universe Himself. By revealing this Name, "YHVH Elohim" gave Himself to Israel by communicating His existence ("ALHYM") while veiling His essence ("YHVH"), which serves as infinite, boundless, absolute, eternal, pre-existent foundation. With "YHVH Elohim" all has been said : negative existence, creation & existence. The abstract simplicity of Jewish thought at this level is stunning, although these divisions existed in Egypt's Old Kingdom (cf. Nun, first occasion, creation).

The Torah became the expression of Jewish communal life between the Divine, i.e. "YHVH Elohim", and His people, Israel. "YHVH" communicates silence regarding God's ineffable nature (or apophatic postulate). The Elohim are His Divine energies creating multiple beings. The Divine Presence (the "shekinah") travels with Israel, i.e. the Elohim are dynamical & historical (near) whereas "YHVH" is static & transcendent (distant). The realization of the Temple of this Presence (were highpriests claim to utter the ineffable Name in secret) and the Jewish version of the Kingdom on Earth, culminated in the Sacerdotal & Royal Alliance (David, Solomon). What happened to the Divine Presence in Israel as a whole after the destruction of the First Temple ? Could Hellenized Judaism still claim any authenticity ? The Qumran-people answered with a negative.

In the Ptolemaic (Alexandrian) Septuagint, "YHVH Elohim" had been translated as "Kyrios Theos", later rendered via the Latin as "the Lord God". A complex plural was made into a simple singular.The original bi-polarity of the Divine was lost. To pierce the mystery of the "tzimtzum" was a matter for renegate mystics.

"N'oublions pas que si YHVH est Unique, Elohims est pluriel. Les prophètes n'ont jamais aspiré à voir surgir un univers monolitique : l'Unité qu'ils annoncent n'est pas faite d'uniformité, mais, nous y reviendrons, d'une universelle et vivante diversité, dans l'unité de l'Être qui la fonde, YHVH. Mieux que monothéistes, ils sont théo-monistes."
Chouraqui, A. : Moïse, du Rocher - Monaco, 1995, p.182, my italics.

The Torah (a unique, static sequence of letters which the orthodox Jew identifies as the "Words of Elohim") represents what was given to Israel as a whole -through Moses- (the law of Understanding) whereas Wisdom is the individual's answer to the Divine after He made Himself personally known ("Daath") in the heart of that individual. So Wisdom is the Presence of the Divine in the heart of each Israelite, the "Shekinah" which always & everywhere travels with him and who lives in his tent, where they gather before Him. She can also leave him, causing desolation and chaos in the soul. Understanding that this will not happen as long as the precepts are followed, does not away with collective holocausts, as history shows.

A last characteristic of the Divine Word in the Jewish tradition is it immediacy. Not only is this Word action (as it was in Ancient Egypt - cf. "heka", -magical- action through words), personal intervention (the Divine letting Himself known), and Divine Presence, but, being the Word of Elohim, it produced by its own virtues that which it announced. By uttering the Divine Word, its meaning is realized. So the "berakoth" answer "YHVH Elohim", directly manifesting the Divine intent of what has been said. They are more than supplications, invocations or magical commands, but immediate, direct & eternal Divine actions (theurgy), realizing (restoring) the Plan of the Divine within the physical realm (containing Kether in Malkuth). These prayers are theurgical acts. They constitute a Deifying elocution of the Divine abstract order by those wise enough to answer their personal experience of the Divine by means of the Words given by the Divine. Not unlike Pharaoh offered Maat to his divine father Re by uttering the Great Word, the "berakoth" broke all inertia and generated reality ...

So following stages are noted :

(1) the Divine reveals Himself in Words ;
(2) the Presence of the Divine is experienced by the individual ;
(3) prayers answer the Divine Presence using the Words (1) ;
(4) the elocution of these Words immediately create what they intent : spiritualization or the continuous revelation of the Divine.

the creative Word & the Memphis theology

The "logos" doctrine is predominant in more than one creation-myth of this period. Most of the time, creation is introduced in purely physical terms. It has been argued that both the notion of a pre-cosmic state ("Ain Soph Aur") combined with the fashioning of the cosmos through Thought ("Chockmah") and the radical unity of the Divine are unique for the Jewish approach. Although it is clear that both Greeks and Jews developed a fine & systematic rational model of the "logos", they were not the first to conceive creation in an intellectual, ante-rational way, i.e. as the sheer result of thought.

According to an exceptional Egyptian text known as the Memphis Theology, found on the Shabaka Stone, Ptah created humankind through the power of his heart (mind) and tongue (speech). The concept of creation (i.e. the "logos"), having been shaped in the heart of the creator, was brought into existence through the Divine utterance itself. In the text, abstractions are Deified. "Creative command" (or "authoritative utterance"), "perception" (or "intelligence") are personified as the tongue and the heart of Ptah.

Being free from the conventional physical analogies of the creative act (cf. the Heliopolitan theology of Atum-Re) and by its degree of concrete abstraction, this text is unique in what is known of Ancient Egyptian literature and wisdom discourses. Besides this notable feature, Ptah is identified with the stagant water of "Nun", the immeasurable potential of fertility pre-existing before creation itself happened. This pre-creational realm is also mentioned in the Pyramid Texts :

"... this Pharaoh Pepi was fashioned by his father Atum before the sky existed, before earth existed, before men existed, before the gods were born, before death existed ..."
Pyramid Texts, utterance 571, § 1466, my italics.

In the theology of Memphis, we find important elements of the qabalah of "YHVH Elohim" combined, to wit : (1) the pre-creational order, (2) the One Divine (Ptah is before, during & after Creation), (3) His creation of the cosmos by means of  Divine utterances (cf. the 10 "and God said" in the first chapter of Genesis). 

In the Zohar, the second Sephira "Chockmah" or "Wisdom" is also called "Thought". So besides "Kether" (1 - created Creator), rooted in the Infinite Light or "Ain Soph Aur" ({ø}) of the uncreated, ineffable creative God, Thought is the second best cause of all possible being (Philo of Alexandria calls the "logos" a "second God"). Thought (2 - Chockmah) is the Plan or Code which bring all into being.

"Oui, elle (la sagesse) est l'haleine de la puissance d'Elohim,
le pur effluve de la gloire de qui peut tout.
Aussi aucune contamination ne peut s'y introduire.
Oui, elle est le reflet de la lumière de pérennité,
le miroir immaculé de l'énergie d'Elohim, l'image de Sa bonté."
Sagesse de Shelomo, 7:25-26, translated by Chouraqui, 1989, my italics.

The ideas underlying the "berakoth" (like the direct creative power of the Divine Word) are not typically Israelite. Moreover, by interpreting this "word" as "speech", we draw nearer to the actual devotional practice of the devotional Egyptian who whispered his prayers in the gigantic ear of Amun or of the pious, sacrificial Jew, who blessed everything s/he does, using the formula : "Blessed are Thou, Adonai our Elohim, King of the Ages ...".

The relation of (human) sacrifice to the promotion of the Earth's fertility may explain why the phenomenon has been most widely adopted by agricultural (like the Ancient Egyptians or the Jews) rather than by hunting peoples. In particular, sacred kings (considered to embody gods of vegetation) were sacrificed when their vigour declined, in order to prevent corresponding effects on soil fertility ; or sometimes a substitute was assigned a "divine" status for a period of time and then put to death. This notion of "sacred kings" is important to understand the theology of the Cross as understood by the centrist Christians. It shows that the idea of Jesus Christ accepting his Father's wish to be sacrificed as "King of the Jews", taking our sins and saving us, was rooted the religions of Antiquity.

Various types of sacred kingship have prevailed in so-called primitive cultures as well as in the ancient Middle and Far East, Hellenistic and European cultures, and in pre-Colombian Meso-America and South America. This Saviour archetype is always Solar : Osiris, Horus, Tammuz, Krishna, Vyasa, Buddha, Marduk, Dionysus, Orpheus, Hercules, Adonis, Atys, Serapis, etc. While important features may be described as common to these traditions of sacred kingship in form, function, and ceremony, each individual variety can only be understood properly in its own particular historical, social, and religious context.

Three basic types of sacred kings may be observed :

(1) the receptacle of supernatural power ;
(2) the sacred ruler ; and
(3) the agent or mediator of the sacred.

(1) The first is more common among preliterate societies who view their rulers or chiefs as inheritors of the community's magical power. The ruler's power may be both malevolent and beneficial, and is believed to be essential in all dimensions of communal life, particularly in agriculture where the ruler's influence over the weather and the land's fertility ensures the harvest necessary for survival. The supernatural powers of the chief may also protect the community from enemies and calamities and so maintain welfare and order. However, in this concept of sacred kingship, the ruler's supernatural power is supported by or identical to his own life-force, which declines over time, and the ageing ruler must give way to a younger successor for the good of the community.

(2) In other societies, particularly those of ancient China, the Middle East, and South America, the ruler was identified with a particular "god" or was a god himself. The kings of Ancient Egypt and Persia and the ruler of the Hittites were regarded as incarnations of the Sun-god ; the Egyptian king was also identified with the Sky-god, as was the emperor of China. However, the god-king is usually considered a deity independent of all others, while another frequent type of sacred king is one regarded as the son of a "god", an idea found in the cultures of Japan, Peru (Incas), Mesopotamia, and the larger Greco-Roman world, among others. The queen mother may then be referred to as "mother of god" (cf. what happened to Miriam, mother of Jesus). Finally, a king or ruler may become deified after his death (compared this with the Jewish notion of "ascension" - cf. Isaiah 14:13).

(3) The third form of sacred kingship is that of the ruler as mediator or executive agent of a god. In this form it is the institution of kingship, more than an individual ruler, that bears the mark of the sacred. The deity remains the true lord, while the king seeks to do the will of this god in the community ; the king is the link between this god and man, the spiritual and the material.

All types of sacred kingship share a number of basic functions the king must fulfill to varying degrees, depending on the society and culture. In preliterate cultures, the king's role as bearer of magical power and his influence over the weather, fertility, and health are stressed, while in many other cultures the king is regarded as the good shepherd who feeds and cares for his flock. Protecting the community from enemies is yet another crucial function of many sacred kings who, as warlords, attempt to use their sacred knowledge and power to make strategic decisions and successfully carry out the proper course of action.

Sacred kingship was know to Israel in the form of Messianism. The Qumrân-texts prove its importance.

sacrifice as a bond

In the polytheist, animistic & mythical mind, sacrifice returns life to the divine source (through death), somehow regenerating the power of that source : life is fed by life. Hence the word of the Roman sacrificer to his "god" : "Be thou increased by this offering." It is, however, an increase of sacred power that is ultimately beneficial to the sacrificer. Here, pre-rational and proto-rational concepts are needed. In a rational sense, sacrifice is the impetus and guarantee of the reciprocal flow of the Divine life force between its source (the Divine) and its best receptacle (shaman, priest, sacred tribe, chosen people, humanity).

Often, the act of sacrifice involves the destruction of the oblation, but this destruction (by burning, slaughter, or whatever means) is not in itself the sacrifice, the "making holy." The killing of an animal is the means by which its consecrated life is "liberated" and thus made available to the deity, and the destruction of a food offering in an altar's fire is the means by which the deity receives (by olfaction, rather than ingestion) the offering. Sacrifice as such, however, is the total act of offering and not merely the mode in which it is performed. The fundamental meaning of sacrifice is that of effecting a necessary and efficacious relationship with sacred power and of establishing man and his world in the sacred order.

the revolution of Jesus (the) Christ

With the name "Jesus (the) Christ", a complex phenomenon is described.

Radical liberals find no proof of a historical Jesus of Nazareth, and understand the narrative gospels as gross fabrications on the basis of anterior Jewish and Egyptian mythologies. The latter were never meant to be taken literal. They are stories about the incarnation of the Divine in the soul of the human being. "Christ" is then just another name for this Divine indwelling.

Radical conservatives consider the New Testament as a historical, literal record of the ministery of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, the unique Son of God. They develop a fundamental theology based on these sanctified texts. A massive amount of historical, archeological & linguistic evidence rules against them. Fundamentalism is in crisis, for "sins against truth" weigh heavy.

Moderate liberals as myself, accept the layeredness of the phenomenon, and isolate five strata :

  1. the original teachings of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, who's existence is accepted (cf. Q1, Joseph ben Mathias & Flavius Josephus) ;

  2. the Jewish "Jesus Christ" adhered to by the Christians as soon as Jesus was gone, evidence of which is found in the Didachè and the Gospel of Matthew ;

  3. the Gentile  "Christ Jesus" introduced in "gnostic" terms by a "Philonic" Paul, who, being saved by the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus, knows the Christ within (cf. his authentic Letters) ;

  4. the magical, cosmic "Christ", the "Word of God" depicted by John, the Thomas-people and Mark ;

  5. the Catholic "Christ" of the "deposit of faith" of the various churches and traditions, first attested in the Gospel of Luke.

Only the first stratum is truly historical : the "Son of Man".

Ideological strata 2 to 5 are Messianic and refer to Christ, the Word of God, and "Son of God" descending upon the historical Jesus at his baptism.

"Christ" is either given a place in existing Judaism (stratum 2), or universalized and spiritualized (stratum 3). Paul was probably influenced by Philo of Alexandria. Stratum 4 is rooted in Egyptian and Roman religion and their Pagan Christs, in particular Hermes, Osiris (Serapis) and Mithras. Statum 5 is the divided dogmatic Christ of the Latin and Eastern Churches (cf. the "filioque").

  • before AD 30 : Jesus, the Jesus-people and the original wisdom teachings (Q1) ;

  • AD 30 - 50 : Jews develop the earliest Christ-theology and "Christ" is used to identify the growing Jewish sect ;

  • AD 50 - 67 : the Church of Jeruzalem (Peter) and Paul agree upon a centrist Christ, Paul serves a universal redeemer, Thomas and John develop a mystical & cosmic Christ and Early Christianity sees the light - about AD 65, Q2 is added to Q ;

  • AD 67 - 70 : after the death of Peter and Paul in Rome, Jewish and Gentile fractions merged to form the beginning of a centrist Roman orthodoxy ;

  • after AD 70 : with the destruction of the Temple, Rome, who "had the bones" as well as the "chair of Peter", takes over the leading role of Jeruzalem ;

  • AD 70 - 100 : between 69 and 96 AD, the Emperors stopped persecutions and so Roman Catholicism could organize itself - about AD 80, Q3 is added to Q. In the same period, Mark, Matthew, John, Thomas and the Didachè are written down. The centrists are literalists and focus on the historical person of Jesus Christ. The distinction between the historical Jesus and the "Christ" of theology is not made.

the Words of the Son of Man stress action

Jesus was a pious Jew. Let us first ask whether any resemblance between the Jewish "mirabilia Dei" (the "berakoth") and Q1 exists ? These sayings are more than a teaching or a philosophical statement. These "Words" were spoken by Jesus the "Son of Man", a phrase found in Ancient Egyptian wisdom texts (pointing to filial perfection) as well as in Daniel. The first "logion" of the more gnostic Gospel of Thomas, states that he who penetrates (with understanding) the meaning of these Words will not find death. This is often interpretated as if a hidden, deeper layer of meaning is implicate, usually because a special "gnosis" is offered (cf. like the one Jesus whispered in the ear of Thomas concerning his true identity, in many ways the non-centrist version of the "Prima Petri"-verse). 

Although Jesus did not ask his followers to stop praying in the unique way of their ancestors, he nevertheless reduced the many "berakoth" to one, namely the "berakah" to the Father, the great prayer of Christianity. 

Jesus urges his followers to do what his words teach. The parable of the house erected on sand is clear enough. Deeds are more important than words. The audacity with which he rejects circumcision & other major conventions is revolutionary and indicative of the special bond between the Son of Man and the Father, realizing the Kingdom of Elohim for all of humanity.

"His disciples said to him : 'Is circumcision useful or not ?'
He said to them : 'If it were useful, their Father would
beget them already circumcised from their mother.
Rather, the true circumcision in spirit is in all ways useful.'"
Gospel of Thomas, 53.

This clearly moves away from the practices of Hellenized Judaism, with their many mortifications, prayers, sacrifices and sacerdotal institutions fashioning the notion of redemption through their own bloody sacrificial activity. The presence of various subcultural religious formations a century before Jesus shows how Israel was divided (namely between those orthodox Jews who wanted the return of a Hebrew state and those accepting Greek & Roman cultures, translating everything into Greek - cf. the Alexandrian school). Jesus appeared when confusion peaked. He did not leave us a single word and placed all emphasis on open, uncompromizing, peaceful & healing deeds fashioning the Kingdom in each of us.

"His disciples asked and said to him :
'Do You want us to fast ? How shall we pray and give alms ? What diet shall we observe ?' Jesus said : 'Tell no lie and do not what You hate, for all things are plain in the face of Heaven. For nothing hidden will fail to be revealed, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered.'"

The Gospel of Thomas, 6 - to be compared with Q1 50.

Israel's enactment of the Divine Word is granted to all when offered to the Father in Words that need no blood. The first question always is, What have You done ? The spiritual deeds of Jesus' fellow Jews were not in accord with the necessary immediacy of the Divine Word which they claimed to speak. Greek Judaism was already a corrupt form which had only maintained the outer shell of Judaism.

"Jesus said : 'Damn the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor  does he let the oxen eat.'"
The Gospel of Thomas, 102.

No wonder the Great Sanhedrin feared Jesus, killed him, and tried to forget him. But history did not. Jerusalem and its (second) Temple were destroyed again (AD 70). Even in Q this event has left its trace, allowing science to isolate Q1, the earliest layer of textualization of what these Jewish Jesus-people put into writing of their experiences of and with Jesus, their Messiah.

the "Christ factor" in Q1 is the Father's interest -through Jesus- in humanity-as-such

The historical significance of Jesus, on the one hand, and the work of creative Christians of the first hour (the church of Jerusalem, Paul, Thomas, John, Peter, the Roman centrists etc.), on the other hand, should be distinguished. No foundational activities (Last Supper, "prima Petri", Pentecost, etc.) animate Q1. Hence, to allow Christianity to survive the next century, ecclesiastical theology and the liturgy have to be altered again (following the rule "ecclesia semper reformanda").  

The odd occurrence of the Danielic phrase "Son of Man", who has no place to rest, shows Jesus claims to be more than just another wisdom teacher. Although Jesus does not want to be associated with Solomon or the Messianic "Teacher of Righteousness", invoked by the Qumrân-people, he nevertheless defines the work done in such a way that the message is at least proto-Christic (Q1 27).

Jesus, as Son of Man, announced the Kingdom of Elohim, sending the chosen disciples out to do their work of peace and healing (Q1 32 - 41). The salvic factor is their missionary work, showing that the Kingdom of Elohim has come over the world. Saving the world from the oblivion of unawareness (Q1 23-25, 54, 61) which represses the memory of the fact the Father does not forget us (Q1 49, 53,  63-71) is all what is needed to experience the Divine Presence (realized without people being open enough to notice it). In Hindu Bhakti, the same surrender can be appreciated.

"His disciples said to him : 'When will the Kingdom come ?' Jesus said : 'It does not come by expecting it. It will not be a matter of saying : See, it is here ! or : Look, it is there ! Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread over the Earth and men do not see it.'"
Gospel of Thomas, 113.

The Jesus of Q1 is also proto-sacrificial. The pair suffering/resurrection is literal in Q1 87-88, but can also be observed in the "moral" which serves as an implicate common ground between the different parables. Salvation is always very near but people tend to look the other way. A sacrifice is often needed to realize the importance of the peace the Kingdom of Elohim offers. The "holocaust" is not some physical sacrifice (as was Jewish custom), but a major crisis (Q1 25), a bad choice (Q1  61-62), a missed opportunity (Q1 78-85). Most people are attached to their bad habits. To turn away from the world and follow Jesus is extremely difficult. When we look back we are unfit (Q1 31). The cross of Q1 symbolizes the burden each one of us has to accept if we want to follow Jesus, the Son of Man ...

Jesus the Christ

Undoubtedly, a theology of Jesus focusing on Q and in particular on Q1, will uncover the itinerant Jewish wisdom teacher, the Son of Man who stressed the "Kingdom" (either "of Elohim", but also "of the Father"). Nevertheless, even at this stage (AD 50), it is difficult not the read the further spiritual intentions of this historical Jesus, called, in later stages of Q, the "Son of God".

The important title "Christ" has various meanings : (a) Jesus performed miracles "in the name of the Father" (this was not spectacle magic - cf. Simon magus), (b) already at the time of the Jesus-people, some identified Jesus with the Messiah of Israel, the "anointed" one or "chrestos" in Greek and (c) the "Word of God" was, according to the Alexandrian Jews, the "second God". This is an important addition to the picture of the itinerant Jewish sage and lover of God.

The Thomas-people and Christian Gnostics in general, were inclined to seek the interior dialogue with Christ. In the Gospel of Thomas, the "gnostic section" elaborates on the Divine nature of Jesus, but does not mention the word "Christ" (in a later gnostic miscellany, the Pistis Sophia, the same absence surprises). John made the link between the interior, mystical side of Jesus and "Christ" as the cosmic Word of God and Son of God. Thanks to Paul, the substantiated Christ Jesus (the living Word) had the community as mystical body and was sacrificed for its salvation. It is this communal sense of the Christ factor which became orthodox, and Paul, more than Peter, is the founder of Roman Catholicism.

"Or, ce que les disciples du Christ ont vécu, exprimé et transmis, ressemble à l'expérience religieuse en général. Leur témoignage, en effet, n'est pas le pur écho des paroles et des actions de Jésus, mais l'attestation d'une expérience qui, fondée sur la perception directe et unique des événements de l'Incarnation, a pris tout sons sens en fonction d'une réalité intérieure située à un autre niveau et qui soutenait leur expérience de foi. (...) et qui est précisément l'expérience vitale de la présence de l'Esprit ; sans cette présence, les témoins oculaires eux-mêmes n'eussent pu passer du Christ historique à la foi au Fils de Dieu. (...) Appartenant à des communautés qui sollicitaient leur témoignage et leur enseignement, les écrivains du Nouveau Testament ont reconsidéré l'evenement Christ en sélectionnant les épisodes et les paroles qui correspondaient davantage aux besoins de leurs communautés."
Bernard, Ch.A. : Traité de Théologie Spirituelle, Cerf - Paris, 1986, p.75, my italics.

The name "Jesus" refers to the historical, begotten man born to Mary. Add "Christ" and this "Son of Man" becomes en plus the "Son of God" and the "Word of God". "Christ Jesus" (Paul), "undivided light" (Thomas), "Word of God" (John), etc. summarize the various extant Early Christologies, i.e. mindsets about Jesus as Christ between AD 30 and 95. In the second century, a few of these ideas were put together, harmonized and canonized by the centrists as "Jesus Christ".

the unique ontology of the Christian Trinity

In Antiquity, pre-existence was inert (Ancient Egypt), chaotic (Greece), void (Judaism). In Judaism, a step away from heno -and polytheism and towards monotheism was taken : no graven images were allowed and pre-existence was deemed to be completely filled with an unknown, infinite, negative Being called "YHVH". This Being was deemed Alone. This Ain Soph, emanated, generated or created the Elohim, thanks to which the universe came into being. The Christ theology of stratum 5 changed all this : God was deemed a positive, pre-existent being. He only needed Himself to fashion creation out of Himself.

the one Divine Order

Orthodox Christian
supreme cause, absolute, infinite, eternal, ineffable God
one essence - Three Persons :
Father, Son & Spirit.
first creative principle, supreme being, best of the best God creates the universe
"ex nihilo"
Supernal Trinity
 1, 2 & 3

transcendence in immanence : the being of Divine Presence

the Trinity has a Divine economy with which it rules creation

Divine Beings
4 ... 10

one community of Divine energies
co-creating worlds

This was a revolution. Before Christianity, pre-existence had always been inert, chaotic or ineffable. The Nun, Chaos as well as the Ain Soph had no distinguishing features, wholly undifferentiated and "negative". In Antiquity, the conceptualization of this ultimate, pre-existent state in all cases implied the hidden, remote, ineffable message of un-saying (in Egypt, the image of the deity remained hidden and only for Pharaoh and his representatives to behold ; in Judaism, a thick curtain separated the "holy of holies" from the rest of the temple). 

The narrative gospel of Matthew (27:51) tells us that when Jesus the Christ died, the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The "holy of holies" was opened at the moment when the Messiah of Israel left this world. This metaphor may be used theologically. Jesus the Christ and Christianity thereafter, redefined God as One, pre-existent and ultimate positive Being beyond being. The Kingdom of Elohim is what everybody could find, namely the concert of Divine energies at work in creation (present in oneself but also in the objective world). Energies which are directly from God without intermediary Deities. Taking Q in account, we rapidly conclude that the God of the Christians operates three distinct relationships and may be defined in terms of three different economies, gathered by the names "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit".

The formidable theological consequences of this new spirituality, made Christianity radically differ from all previous Mediterranean religions and philosophies. Christians claimed that before creation, there was only a good God : a positive, active Supreme Being who's essence is One (unity). Nothing necessitated this omnipresent, omnipotent and omnipresent God to create the universe. There was no "before" God (like "Nun" before "Atum", or "chaos" before "order" or "Ain" before "Ain Soph"). 

On top of this, this One transcendent God is approached in two ways, for besides God being one with His own essence -the only truly ineffable element of this mindset- God is positively described as having Divine properties of intra-Divine relatedness or "Persons", allowing Christians to believe that God is never Alone, but -in His own Divine existence with Himself- a Company, a Being eternally and extra-spatiotemporally expressive of His essential oneness in the intra-Divine participationism of His Persons. The old Pagan and Judaic mindsets could not outwit the splendour of this solution, eliminating the "old darkness" as well as allowing God His Company while underlining that His essence is unknown and that All is His Will (for nothing in creation stands on its own but is fed by Divine energies). And what about the substance of this God ? Is it not divided by the Persons ?

If the Divine Son is lower or higher than the Divine Father, then both would not have a symmetrical share in the mutual participation and Divine communication would be impossible. Hence, in this intra-Divine participation between the Divine Persons, no subordination may be allowed. To be able to think the essential unity of God, consubstantiality is crucial. Subordination may work in creation (namely to organize the Divine energies in 10 Sephiroth or a Holy Decad and the like), but does not express the true intention of the Christian solution, at work in the realm of the "Ain Soph Aur" of qabalah (cf. the "pleroma" of the gnostics).

The distinction between the Holy Trinity, the Divine energies (the Elohim) and creation is made in the following saying :

They showed Jesus a gold coin and said to Him : "Caesar's men demand taxes from us." He said to them : "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give Elohim what belongs to Elohim, and give Me what is Mine."
Gospel of Thomas, 100.

The pre-existent God is One in essence and Three in properties. These Divine properties are not meant to make creation or to fashion anything outside God. They are for God to be with for they are God, but from the perspective of His operations of relatedness. They constitute the ineffable essence of God in a state of perpetual Divine participationism. This God, filling up the limitlessness of pre-existence with His Essential Divine Being, has three Divine modes of auto-communication, auto-relatedness or auto-participation : He is Father, He is Son and He is Spirit. The eternal procession of the Divine Persons is not a negation of the stability of the Holy Trinity, the sheer reality of perfect Divine being, beyond necessity and contingency. There is no dependence in relation to created being on the part of this Holy Trinity.

There are no three Divine beings (Arius and Greek logic), for there is only the one essence of God. God is not one essence with three modes of manifestation (Sabellius), but one essence with three relational properties. The three Persons are ontologically one in all respects (consubstantial), but differ in how they relate this Divine unity to Themselves and to the Others, to wit : unbegottenness (Father), logoic filiation (the begotten Son) and eternal procession (the Spirit proceeds from the unbegotten Father but is manifested by and with the Son and is the Spirit of the Son - the West will allow the Spirit to proceed from the Son too).

The Divine circuit of the Holy Trinity is simple : its principle of unity is the Father, the source of all relations, causing Son and Spirit to proceed and laying down their relations of origin (generation for the Son and procession for the Spirit). The one essence of God (the monad) is extended into the triad, but the triad is recapitulated into the monad. The Three are One in God but the One is Three in extension, properties, names, accidents. Again, no way do the latter necessitate creation. The principle of the Son is filiation, laying down the principle of intimate, adoptive relatedness between Divine Father and Son. The Son of God Incarnates as the Living Word to save humanity from the forces of darkness. The principle of the Spirit is procession, fostering mediation, exchange and participation between the Persons of the Trinity, returning all to the Father from which it proceeds. 

the Kingdom

As said earlier, these orthodox teachings revolutionalized pre-creation. Instead of Ancient Egyptian, Judaic & Greek negative views on pre-existence, a positive one was proposed. God did not need anything outside God to create the universe. Before creation, He is One in Company. After creation, He thrones the universe and each of his Persons is given a particular "economy" :

  • the Father : sustains the unity of creation ;

  • the Son : exemplifies the eternal purpose God has with creation ;

  • the Holy Spirit : binds together, sanctifies creation and returns to the Father.

The realization of the Kingdom is the final objective of the teachings revealed by Jesus. What is the meaning of this Kingdom ? So many people have their faculties centered on their mental and/or emotional life rather than on the life of the Kingdom. Jesus uses everyday images to show its unexpected nearness. Moreover, in the 113th logion of the Gospel of Thomas, he affirms that the Kingdom is already present but that people do not see it. Likewise, in Q1 41 he makes his disciples affirm to all (even to those who rejected them) that the Kingdom has come over them. This is the Kingdom of Elohim, the realm of the Divine energies. These are all "of the Father", and hence, the Kingdom of Elohim is also the Kingdom of the Father.

Jesus the Christ affirms that the Kingdom of Elohim belongs to the Father. There is no evil "YHVH" between the Father and the Divine energies (supposedly ruled, according to the heretics, by the evil Ialdabaoth). He links both and points to the direct path between them. Jesus moved away from the serpentine path of the old school and offers his followers a direct passage to the Father.

By stressing the Kingdom, Jesus pointed to what holds the key to spiritual development. People do not see the Kingdom because their physical observation (the co-ordinated use of all the senses) is not working properly. An ambivalent attitude regarding the physical world brings with it a deliberate or unconscious compulsion to deny the physical senses their complete development. As a result, mental and/or emotional patterns tend to be more definitive in most people's way of life than what is offered by Miltonian sensuousness. The importance of the Kingdom in Q1 suggests that Jesus was far more interested in the physical world than his apostles later said he was (or the gnostics suggested). According to the orthodox, Christ's prime objective was to suffer & be physically destroyed in order to save them and the world. In Q1, the importance of the Kingdom springs to the fore both in quantity (its number of occurrence) and in quality (its importance as connotation in sayings where it does not occur).

Some have interpreted Jesus ethics as a set of (cynical) paradoxes : love Your enemies, bless those who curse You, pray for those who mistreat You, offer the other cheek as well, let the thief have more, give to anyone who asks, and if someone takes away which is hours, do not ask to have it back ... Is it not clear that he wanted to shock his audience ? His actions moved against the maxims of his fellow Jews. They painfully pointed to their worldly attachments. Actually, he offered a new way to observe their physical condition and outstanding weakness : the Jews did not love their enemies, cursed, hated and always wanted more & more physical wealth, despite the suffering of their fellow humans.

According to the qabalah, the 10th Sephiroth is the only Divine Numeration which belongs to the fourth world, called "Assiah", the world of action. In the physical world nothing is really stable, for change is everywhere. Although our senses need stability to be able to observe, they themselves are influenced by the continuous change of the surrounding physical conditions. Even in laboratories, stability is always relative to a structure set in place beforehand. Physical laws hold "in ceteris paribus". But, in the world of action, conditions change a lot and this is certainly holds true when more than two independent processes are being observed. Furthermore, small changes in the initial conditions may, after some time, produce unexpected large results (cf. chaostheory). It is in this everchanging world that humanity has to evolve & observe the Divine Presence of the Kingdom here & now. 

the bi-polarity of Jesus' message

History teaches the difference between the message of the historical Jesus & the myth of Christ. The historical Jesus of Q1 and the Gospel of Thomas, had little to say about the resurrection and nothing about the apostolic church, the holy orders or the redemption through sacrifice (which does not even figure in the Didachè).

By 200 AD, the majority of Christian churches had become "straight-thinking" or orthodox. This type had become institutionalized & was headed by a three-rank hierarchy of bishops, priests & deacons, understanding themselves to be the guardians of the "true faith". A century earlier, a different situation had been in place, which was again uncomparable with the original context of the life of the Jesus-people. Eventually around 350 AD, this early pluralism of churches was more or less destroyed and replaced by an enduring schism within the orthodox community itself (between East & West). Rather than incarnating the values of her initiator, the centrist, unifying goal of the Constantine Church served the installation of a sacred imperialism which could eradicate "de manu militari" all so-called false brethren, hypocrites, heathens and heretics. Pagan temple were desecrated and their libraries burnt.

First & second century Christianity was characterized by following independent but interactive groups :

(1) those who lived near Jeruzalem (the church of Jerusalem - Didachè) ;
(2) those converted by the Paul & his disciples (the Gentile communities) ;
(3) apostolic witnesses of Jesus the Christ (Matthew, Peter, John, Thomas ...) ;
(4) those who had their private revelations (prophets, like Marcion, Montanus) ;
(5) those who sought salvation in Christ (Christian Gnostics like Valentinus, Basilides or Marcus) ;
(6) centrists movements by clerico-administrative forces in the church of Rome.

By 200 AD, (2), (3), (5) & (6) constituted the orthodox majority (the church of Jerusalem had been more or less dislocated AD 70). Between 300 and 400, they systematically tried to destroy all traces of various Gnostic sects, alternative churches and Pagan worship in existence. As a result of their cultural holocaust, heretical texts had to be hid (cf. Nag Hammadi). Probably most have been destroyed or are still unavailable to science.

Prophets were tolerated by the "united" orthodox churches, as long as they did not create their own church by propagating so-called "false" teachings regarding Jesus Christ (which must have been often the case). Hence, as early as 100 AD the marks of a so-called false prophet were in the manuals (cf. Didachè). However, contrary to the inventive sacramental magic of the orthodox community of bishops (cleverly re-enacting the supposed salvic Passion as part of their readaptation of the Jewish prayer of thanksgiving and Pagan rituals), the role of prophets became increasingly less important. Finally they vanished. An ordained priest, protected by the Church, could act "in persona Christi". So inspired prophethood seemed less spiritually rewarding. How to be sure that a prophet is not a dangerous heretic or a servant of Satan ? An analogous dogmatic attitude regarding mystical experience is to be noted throughout history.

The Early Christian Gnostics were not a uniform group. Their organization was egalitarian & mystical, making use of a highly symbolical language to express their Christianity. They considered orthodox Christians, especially the hierarchy (deacon, priest, bishop) as "waterless canals" (Apocalypse of Peter).  Irenæus defined the truth as that what the apostolic succession of bishops guaranteed on the basis of the canon and the dogmatic magister of the church. By contrast, Gnosticism taught that the true church was invisible, only its members perceived who belonged to it and who did not. Against orthodox lies they declared that "this, therefore is the true testimony : when man knows himself, and God who is over the truth, he will be saved" (Testimony of Truth). 

In the Gospel of Truth, it is said that each person must receive "his own name", i.e. one's true identity. At the time when Gnosticism flourished (AD 80 - 200), trade routes between the Graeco-Roman world and the Far East were opening up. The influence of Buddhist & Brahmin spirituality on some forms of Christian Gnosticism (like that of the Thomas Christians) is not unlikely. Full-blown Christian Gnosticism, comes at its earliest at the end of the first or the beginning of the second century (Couliano, 1992). 

The core of Christian Gnosticism may be summarized as inner experience coupled with the renunciation of the world. Valentinian Christians gathered without the authority of a bishop. They believed that every initiate was -thanks to Christ- "a child of the Father". The initiation ritual gave the charismatic gift of direct inspiration through the Holy Spirit (compare this with Cathar spirituality). Their system insured the equality of all participants, men and women, allowing no hierarchy, and no "fixed order" of clergy (Irenæus tells us that when they met, all first participated in drawing lots, deciding who was designated to take the role of bishop, priest, prophet, reader etc.). 

They characterized the orthodox as those who want to command one another, outrivalling one another in their empty ambition, inflated as they are with lust for power, each one imagining that he is superior to the others ...
How true this sounds ...

In the historical teachings of Jesus the Christ, following bi-polarity emerges :

(1) the spirito-communal polarity : the notion of a spiritual community transcending all social distinctions, national boundaries & racial circumcisions, a diversity-under-unity, the Kingdom of the Father invisaged as a spiritualized humanity, people living on Earth with each other in peace (cf. Q1) ;
(2) the gnostic polarity : focus on inner experience and on the renunciation of the world (cf. Gospel of Thomas) - the mystical polarity or "gnosis".

The orthodox churches stressed the first polarity. When in the 4th century,  Christians hermits wanted to withdraw into the Egyptian desert to find Jesus, the church's reaction was hostile. Later, the monastic movement was only accepted when they organized in "monasteries" (Pachomius'wall) and abided by the rule of the congregation (sanctified by an orthodox bishop). Solitary insights were tolerated when the church could act as a "spiritual guide", checking all private revelations with the dogmatic deposit of faith of those bishops, priests & deacons initiated by the imperial church. 

This attitude has distorted the message of more than one Christian mystic, forced to pour his or her inner experiences into the fabricated and sterile categories of dogmatic dictators, those who wield the power to incarcerate, torture or kill all those who choose to live by alternative choices (heretics). Moreover, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was dogmatically reserved to these same male potentates. As a result, genuine Christian mystics strong enough to adhere to their own inner experiences are rather scarce. So by and large the spirito-communal polarity controlled & reduced the gnostic one. This implies the orthodox have misunderstood the message of Jesus

The Gnostic churches stressed the second part of the polarity. They considered themselves to be a superior, esoteric form of Christianity, a distinction which would last till the modern age (cf. Rosicrucianism, Martinism). In fact, if we do not consider their elaborate hierarchies, most Christian Gnostics adhere to the historical teaching that the Kingdom of the Father has come and that circumcision in the Holy Spirit is all that counts. The orthodox had restricted the action of the Holy Spirit by inventing the scenario of Pentecost (the Holy Spirit exclusively illuminating the spiritual top males). According to the Valentinian Gnostics, all initiated members received all authority (all graces). So no distinctions between Christian initiates may persist. This was in accord with Jesus' Jordan experience, making every baptized Christian a priest (cf. the idea behind 1 Peter, 2:4-10).

However, to organize the ignorant masses in times of trouble, the orthodox eternalized the "holy orders" and introduced the notion of their own absolute authority (after God). They were not inventive enough to find a system which would not reintroduce the Pagan distinction between the laity & the clergy (cf. Ancient Egyptian & Greek mystery rites). On the contrary. As soon as the imperial church was in place, every dogmatic fancy could be implemented, this time backed with the force of arms. Imperial priest dressed up for Mass in the garments of 4th century Roman nobility (they still do) ...

It is interesting to note, that due to its gnostic overtones, some orthodox churches were at first reluctant to accept the Gospel of John .The community of John had used -not unlike the Thomas Christians- a highly mythological & symbolical language and they too cherished Jesus' words as a means to attain personal salvation (enlightenment). The Divinity of Jesus (Son of God) is clearly proclaimed. The building blocks of the story of this community were the miracles of Jesus (Mack, 1997). Contrary to the rather unorthodox Thomas-people, their message did also contain a strong spirito-communal element, namely the idea of being the legitimate heir to the deposit of Israel. Their Gnosticism derived directly from a mystical approach of Jesus. Their texts complemented the stories of the synoptics & the Paulinian heritage. They superstructured this wonderful experience and equated Jesus the Christ with the pre-existent "Word of God". Because John most probably accepted the authority of the bishop of Rome, his community -the mythical outpost of apostolic thinking- was eventually considered orthodox and their texts canonical.

One of the major distinctions between early orthodox & most Gnostic Christians is the solution of the problem of evil. Whereas the former understand God to be the high & dignified Creator of the cosmos, the latter think someone else created everything. This Demiurge also created primordial matter and hence darkness. John does not introduce a "second God", and so his Gnosticism is not ontological but soteriological (Jesus as path, truth & light). But the Jesus of John is a cosmic being, who said : "I say unto You, Before Abraham was, I am." (8:58). The Johannine Gnosis is centered around love. Both Jesus and the Father love humanity. The harsh, vindictive nature of the Jewish YHVH is left behind, implying that the Father is untouched by evil, which never belonged to His intentions. This contradicts both the ideas of the other Christian Gnostics (with their evil Demiurge) and of the Jewish heritage (YHVH creating both light & darkness). Eventually unity is the result, and so John's Gnosticism was deemed valid.

"I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one ;
and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, 
and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."
Gospel of John, 17:23

In order to actualize the message of the Jesus the Christ, a balance between personal inner spiritual experiences (gnosis) and their spirito-social context (church) has to be established. In Q, the solitary & withdrawn Jesus is present but only in the background. The Jesus of Q is occupied with his disciples & followers. His sense of community & the importance of a binding spirito-moral code are evident. In the Gospel of Thomas, the secret, mystical, gnostic & Divine character of Jesus springs to the fore. The Thomas Christians offer secret teachings and contrary to the text of Q1 their Gospel of Thomas is very symbolical, attributing Divine status to Jesus.

"The Gospel of Thomas addresses itself only to a subtle elite, those capable of knowing, who then through knowing can come to see what Jesus insists is plainly visible before them, indeed all around them. This Jesus has not come to take away the sins of the world, or to atone for all humankind. (...) There is no haste in this Jesus, no apocalyptical intensity. He does not teach the end-time, but rather a transvaluation of time, in the here of our moment."
Bloom, H. : "A Reading", in Meyer, M. : The Gospel of Thomas, Harper - San Francisco, 1992, pp.117-118.


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initiated : 11 XI 1997 - last update : 25 XI 2005 - version n°8