Talk:Gospel of Thomas

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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.

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).

Jeff, on 31 Oct 2013 - 05:52 AM, said:
   ...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.

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

   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)
   Since man shall live “ 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)
   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)
   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)
   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) 
   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.