Saying 111

111 Jesus said: The heavens shall be rolled up and
the earth before your face, and he who lives in
the living One shall neither see death nor (fear);
because Jesus says: He who shall find himself, of
him the world is not worthy. (cf Rev. 6:14)

“The heavens shall be rolled up..” What a pungent phrase!
Scholars differ over whether Thomas got it from Rev. or
the writer of Rev. got it from Thomas. It certainly sounds
like an apocalyptic notion, but, read poetically, it may be
seen as a hyperbolic description of what happens to the one
“who lives in the living One”. He won’t see death or fear,
and the world is not worthy of him.

All of these phrases represent the good things that happen to
us when we get “on the track” and stay there long enough for
God’s redemptive work to take effect in our psche’s and spirits.

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7 responses

  1. Wow — I picture a window shade fully extended, being pulled from the bottom and retracting upwards into the roll. Only there is no window behind this shade. There is just nothingness — and that is where “he who lives in the living One” finds no fear. It must be incredible to ‘live in the living One’ because I’m still struck with terror at the notion that it all goes away, disappearing into nothingness. I know this reflects my limited perspective — because the nothinginess that I perceive may actually be everything — back into the Universal One from which we are all currently estranged and to which we wish to return.But, right now, to me, its terrifying. I think maybe this means I’m too attached to the material, because isn’t the idea of heaven and hell sort of a materialist view? We exist, we will continue to exist in some form, and we will go somewhere.Okay, I think my brain has just collapsed into itself. I shall seek solace in Elmo…

  2. ‘Nothing’ is Everything- absolutely. Re the material: I don’t believe that we ever lose the material (this may be unorthodox), but it is subsumed in the Eternal.C.S.Lewis in The Great Divorce describes Heaven as being much more substantial than what we know now. Goodness is in charge; otherwise things are much the same (small book; 45 minute read)Believe it or not I look forward to meeting old buddies (gone ahead), and in fact I expect to play a set or so with Kenny Rosewall. Well I can dream, can’t I?

  3. The heavens and earth will roll up in your presence … … this reminds me of Kant and his “spectacles” He thought that time and space (the spectacles through which we view the world) were ways we perceived our world, that we never see the world as it truly is in itself. Only God sees the universe as it is…. maybe if we find Thomas’ enlightenment, come to know ourselves, the world and heavens will roll up and we’ll experience things as they truly are.

  4. Amazon somehow never delivered Thomas to me – I don’t mean in any biblical sense, just the mail… (I’m housebound, can’t go to bookstores.)I was really hoping to get the whole thing on CD since physically I have trouble handling a book, but only saw CDs on Amazon ABOUT the gospel of Thomas, and not the book itself on tape… I’d also wondered if there’s any version of Thomas that’s considered the most accurate translation.Meanwhile, I’m wondering: did Thomas seem to emphasize our fallen, sinful nature? Or was he any different on that theme?

  5. Crystal wrote, “… maybe if we find Thomas’ enlightenment, come to know ourselves, the world and heavens will roll up and we’ll experience things as they truly are.”No maybe about it, Crystal. What is reality? I can tell you, my friend, that reality is extremely diverse: your reality is nothing like mine, and mine is nothing like David’s, etc. etc. Each person sees things in a different way than anybody else. We are all the spiritual descendants of those poor devils scattered from the Tower of Babel.Now Thomas comes along and he says, look within (to that of God in you), and all of these partial glimpses of reality will be subsumed in the unitary reality that is the mind of God. We will see things “as they truly are.”Paul wrote, “did Thomas seem to emphasize our fallen, sinful nature?” Yes and no. To Thomas our sinful nature was our compulsion to stick to the partial reality dictated by our ego. He called it poverty. Look at Logion 3Re an online Thomas: I don’t know which is best. Try mine.

  6. I, too, enjoy this imagery of the heavens being rolled up and the earth is before our face… to me this earth, indeed the whole of our cosmos as much as we know of it, is heaven. I am so enchanted by the nature of our universe – it is truly a magnificent display of magical and amazing intricacy and force. When the scripture says … “and he who lives in the living One shall neither see death nor fear” I again am brought back to the image of spiritual oneness with Christ (our Godlike nature), in which we live in Christ and Christ lives in us. When we live from this Christ perspective, there truly cannot be death, and certainly no fear. This describes a person who has achieved a unity with the Beloved One. I was puzzled by the phrase “He who shall find himself, of him the world is not worthy.” According to Gerd Theissen, “the world and with it the human body are devalued and become a synonym for death.” He writes, “The Father’s kingdom of light, knowledge and eternal life are to be attained only by radical ‘fasting from the world’.” In this explanation, worldliness is seen as an utterly negative thing, and entry into the kingdom is through separating oneself from worldly endeavors. Attaining this state, according to Thomas’s passage here, makes you above the rest, and the world unworthy of you. This makes me bristle – it feels superior in an uncompassionate way. I find more God-like reflection in the image of a Bodhisattva, “one who does not transcend the world, but remains within its turmoil to work for the enlightenment of all.” (John Tarrant) To me, this does not eclipse the notion of having unity – living in the living One, but rather reflects it even more wholly. Of note, Bentley Layton writes of the last sentence here: “probably a comment added to the text by an ancient reader and later erroneously incorporated in the text.” (The Gnostic Scriptures, p. 399)

  7. Meredith, I full agree re the world. Jesus loved the world, was severely censured by the pharisees as a party type. Christ wants us to enjoy the world. However the world to the gospels writers including Thomas had the connotation and intention of the fallen world: it is that that we are expected to renounce, or that, in Thomas’ phrase, the world that is not worthy of us.

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